Friday, August 29, 2014

The things we do for grandchildren

The tide goes out a long way in Swansea Bay and, if you walk far enough out, you find that, in patches, the sand turns to a slimy sticky sinky mud; I hate the feel of it on my feet it and I always have.

Bracelet Bay can, on occasions, depending on the weather and sea conditions, be covered by a deep layer of slippery squelchy seaweed. While I don't actually hate it I would rather not walk through it.

In the last few days, while GrandSon1 was staying, I've walked through both with him. He didn't blink an eye, in fact we walked back and for several times through the mud he enjoyed it so much (and I wanted to be close to grab him in case he slipped). And he chose not to walk across the path I'd made through the seaweed but straight up and down it. 

The mud, as I said, is very sticky so I had to scrub it off when I got home. Husband made some sort of rude remark about Welsh girls and old habits but it made more sense to wash my foot in the kitchen sink than to trail the mud upstairs. Though probably would have failed a kitchen hygiene check.


But I drew the line when he came into the house carrying first a worm and then a spider.
'Look, Nini! Do you want to hold it?'
'Oh, lovely. Why don't you ask Grandad. I'm sure he'd love to hold the worm/spider.'

The eye of David Cassidy

First jigsaw for ages. Real one that is as opposed to http://thejigsawpuzzles.com/

Amazingly I found an eye and knew without doubt it was David Cassidy's. And the teeth had to be Donny's. Ah Jackie, I did so love my weekly fix. Romantic stories, make-up advice, latest fashions and even - if you look closely at the left corner of the jigsaw you'll see it - guides to kissing. Not forgetting Cathy and Claire, resident agony sisters.

I was a very backward teenager, never going out - certainly not with boys - and not wearing make-up or fashionable clothes. I had to live life vicariously through the pages of Jackie. And how I dreamed of being one of those long-legged exotic creatures that graced its pages or even of being a hard-done-by girlfriend who could seek the advice of Cathy and Claire. 

Where have the years gone?

For the first time in 61 and a half years

I was born in Mumbles and have lived for most of my life in Swansea but never once had I walked out to the lighthouse. Never until yesterday.
Once a manned station where families lived - and at times a troop of soldiers - it's now on automatic and is maintained by Trinity House. It can be accessed only when the tide is out and, although it's not far, you have to keep an eye out for the tide coming in. 
'You must have gone out there when you were a child,' Husband said.
'No, we wouldn't go there because of the rats.'
'What made you think there were rats there?'
'Auntie Gay told me.' 
Like she told me, when I was scared to go on the pier, that it was strong enough to carry the Queen Mary. Although it wasn't the strength of it that concerned me as much as being able to see the sea through the planks.
Not looking quite so strong these days but now the new lifeboat station has been built at the end I'm assuming there will be some rebuilding going on. You usually have to pay to go on the pier but currently it's free, probably because of the danger you put yourself in walking on some very dubious looking planks.
Then, as we were walking that way and it was past lunchtime,
we had to stop at Verdi's for an ice cream - my second in two days!






Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hang on to your dreams

An excellent evening at Zac's on Tuesday. We've just finished a series on Paul's letter to the church at Colosse (and a quick look at his letter to Philemon too) so we took a break and had a ... Korean meal.

We're all delighted that Rowland, who's spent his life in mission work, considers Zac's to be his regular church (in as far as Zac's is regular) and comes every week unless he's off lecturing or travelling, and he usually brings with him at least two of the Korean students based at Nations in Llanelli. And two of those students were recruited to prepare the meal. 
I'm told Down (on the left) is the cook and Saerom the helper, and together they produced a delicious chicken and rice dish (with a choice of spicy or not so - spicy proving to be most popular).
While I was eating I was grumbling about the fact that my dream of reaching out in friendship to the girls in the massage parlours in Swansea (particularly the one at the end of the road Zac's is in) seemed to be taking forever to progress. Each step forward is followed by a leap back - or so it seems. But more of this later.

Sean had asked Rowland, as our tribal elder, to 'write' a letter to the church at Zac's to present after the meal. Rowland began it by passing around a box covered in a cloth. We were told to look in the box but to make no comment. Then he told an old story from a Kalahari tribes people about a man who married a beautiful but mysterious woman. The only condition the woman put on the marriage was that the man was never to look in the box she kept with her; if he did she would leave. Needless to say the day came when the woman was absent from the house and the man could resist no longer; he opened the box to find it empty. When she returned he laughed at her for keeping an empty box. Sadly she replied, 'That box held my dreams,' and, as she had promised, she left him.   


The message from this story was, 'Hang on to your dreams. Never give up on them.God, who put the dream in your heart, will fulfil it. '

At the end of the evening Mark came up to me and said, 'Will you come outside for a minute? I want you to meet someone.'
The person he wanted me to meet was one of the girls from the massage parlour at the end of the road. We chatted for about half an hour and she is keen to come to Zac's and bring another one of the girls too.

God works in mysterious ways. Whoopie doo!





Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Being happy is very tiring

I am well behind on my #100happydays challenge as I've been too busy being happy with the grandchildren for the last few days. My children have asked me not to post photos of the grandchildren (big sigh) so you'll have to take my word for it that they're growing and we all had a lovely time. 

Before Elder Son and family left today we had to pay a visit to Verdi's. I don't think 10.30 in the morning is too early for ice cream, do you?



Friday, August 22, 2014

Sneezy Central

I could have had a week's holiday in a (ropey) Tenerife hotel for what I spent in Sainsburys this morning. That will teach me to let the cupboard get so bare.

So bare that last night the only option available to us was fish fingers, chips and peas - tinned mushy in Husband's case and frozen in mine, as I have to live up to my PoshBird status. And it would have been quite nice if I hadn't burned the fish fingers. 

Never mind, my pantry and fridge are bulging now, which is just as well as Elder Son and family are down for a few days and Daughter and family will also be here for the weekend. By Monday I'll have to go to Sainsburys again. In fact, I need to go back there now as I forgot fizzy water for Husband (I don't know what's wrong with tap water) and 50-50 bread for the grandbabies.

Right, I've just put brownies in to cook before evacuating the kitchen: Husband is making chilli jam and it's Sneezerama in there.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My brilliant children

An article on the BBC website reports that now they reckon grown-up intelligence can be guesstimated from a 4-year-old child's drawings. Score is based on things like number of legs, eyes etc in the drawing of a person. 

I always knew my children were brilliant and this drawing by Elder Son aged 2 years and 7 months confirms it. Please note correct number of legs, arms, eyes and mouth. 
Ten out of ten for accuracy but four out of ten for observation: that's far too much hair for Daddy.

I don't have a comparative drawing from Daughter but I do have a story written when she was five years and eight months.
Once upon a time there was a little boy and he did not like the sun he likede the rain but not the sun and he likede the wind but he was naughty one day he decided to fight it so he went in a air balloon up up he went up to the sun but the sun had a crystal ball and the sun won and the little boy was sizzleed up lik a sausage

Party, party, party

So that was Friday. Saturday we were off again, this time to Rhoose Point near Cardiff for a family barbecue.
I used to think my cousin Jim (in lilac shirt) was tall at 6'3" but he's small next to his son, Corin (back left as you look at it) who's 6'9".

We had a lovely time catching up with family - and ate too much but still the fun wasn't over. On Sunday we'd been invited to Andrew and Carol's for a party lunch to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. (They're actually going to New England as a celebration but they couldn't let the day pass without a get-together.) Again we ate too much.
And as if that wasn't enough Monday saw us off again! To the dentist. Where I discovered/remembered that our appointment had been cancelled and that I'd actually made another one for September but had forgotten to delete this one from the calendar. The girl was most apologetic assuming I hadn't received the letter but I assured her it was my fault. And, as Husband said as we left, 'It's always nice not to have to go to the dentist.'

Then the fun really did stop and it's been a busy cleaning week for me: the children are down for the weekend and with the last few hectic weeks I'd got behind with things. (Again who am I trying to kid? Who's going to believe that I regularly do the cleaning?)

'You're not really going out like that, are you?'

And I'd just spent ages showering and getting ready.

But, glancing down at my falling-apart walking boots and Eric Morecambe shorts, I had to admit Husband had a point. I still went out like it.

Inspired by the BBC programme Countryfile that featured it recently, we were going to the north west corner of Gower, a part with which I am unfamiliar. I've stayed at St. Madoc camp and explored that side but had never ventured around Whiteford Point so that was our planned destination.

It's off the usual tourist map and the only parking is a farmer's field with an honesty box. (Apparently it was broken into recently and was ripe for breaking into again as it was ram-jammed full of coins.) Our walk took us along the beach,
 through the dunes, 
across the marsh, 



and into the woods,


 carefully avoiding potential unexploded bombs.

Who am I trying to kid? Of course we didn't avoid it; we went out of our way to inspect this round metal object. I didn't go so far as to kick it though. Just in case.

Whiteford Point is home to the last remaining iron lighthouse in Europe.
And the marsh is home to a herd of Welsh mountain ponies.

After three hours walking we felt we deserved a piece of cake and a cup of tea on our way home so we stopped at Siop y Bobl (literally shop of the people - community shop run by volunteers). You just know the cake is going to be good when you see a white-haired and slightly trembly granny figure in a pinny clearing tables. And it was. Carrot cake for Husband and rhubarb and custard cake for me.

Having enjoyed a good day out we once again resolved to spend more time enjoying ourselves in future!






Friday, August 15, 2014

Kissing a man without a moustache

As I said, Husband has a new-found passion for Facebook and this has led him to rummage in the attic for old photos. One he came across records the only time in our married life that he was without a moustache.

It was the Christmas season, some time in the 90s, and, as he was on holiday, he decided to shave it off. As he'd been moustachioed when I met him this was going to be the first time ever for me to see him clean-shaven.
I hated it, made him grow it back and have fought strenuously against his frequent suggestions that he should shave it off again. (He thinks he looks younger without.)

When I was searching just now for the quote, 'Kissing a man without a moustache is like eating an egg without salt,' I discovered that back in 2006 I blogged about Husband and his moustache. It seems the original quote is often wrongly attributed to Rudyard Kipling but most sources suggest it's an old Spanish proverb. Mr Kipling wrote a variation on it (allegedly) when he said, 'Kissing a man who doesn't wax his moustache is like eating an egg without salt.'

The rest of what I wrote in 2006 is here: 

Guy de Maupassant describes it thus in The Mustache.

... he has shaved off his mustache. You cannot imagine, my dear Lucy, how it changes him! I no longer recognize him-by day or at night. If he did not let it grow again I think I should no longer love him; he looks so horrid like this.
In fact, a man without a mustache is no longer a man. I do not care much for a beard; it almost always makes a man look untidy. But a mustache, oh, a mustache is indispensable to a manly face. No, you would never believe how these little hair bristles on the upper lip are a relief to the eye and good in other ways. I have thought over the matter a great deal but hardly dare to write my thoughts. Words look so different on paper and the subject is so difficult, so delicate, so dangerous that it requires infinite skill to tackle it.
Well, when my husband appeared, shaven, I understood at once that I never could fall in love with a strolling actor nor a preacher, even if it were Father Didon, the most charming of all! Later when I was alone with him (my husband) it was worse still. Oh, my dear Lucy, never let yourself be kissed by a man without a mustache; their kisses have no flavor, none whatever! They no longer have the charm, the mellowness and the snap- yes, the snap--of a real kiss. The mustache is the spice.
Imagine placing to your lips a piece of dry--or moist--parchment. That is the kiss of the man without a mustache. It is not worth while.
Whence comes this charm of the mustache, will you tell me? Do I know myself? It tickles your face, you feel it approaching your mouth and it sends a little shiver through you down to the tips of your toes.
And on your neck! Have you ever felt a mustache on your neck? It intoxicates you, makes you feel creepy, goes to the tips of your fingers. You wriggle, shake your shoulders, toss back your head. You wish to get away and at the same time to remain there; it is delightful, but irritating. But how good it is!
A lip without a mustache is like a body without clothing; and one must wear clothes, very few, if you like, but still some clothing.





Thursday, August 14, 2014

Heartbeat

Today I accompanied a pregnant young woman to hospital for the heart of her unborn baby to be checked by a foetal heart specialist. Two previous scans had shown it to have three instead of the four chambers.

I prayed for a miracle today, that the fourth chamber would be seen and normal. Even as I prayed I knew in my heart that, although I know God can and does perform miracles, I didn't expect this one.

Today's very thorough, very detailed scan showed the heart to be quite normal.

I'm sorry, God, and thank you.

And, yes, I know it's possible to explain this away medically but my prayer was answered either way.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Saying goodbye

Today the media is full of the news of the death of Robin Williams. It is very sad; he was an amazingly talented and funny man. Though I loved Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs Doubtfire, my favourite of his films has to be Dead Poets' Society.

If you can watch this without the hairs on the back of your neck rising then, well, I don't think you'll be able to.




But sad as this news is the good thing is that Robin Williams has left a legacy. He lived a full life, bringing pleasure to millions. He achieved fame and fortune but, more importantly, spent his time doing what he was good at, using his talent and ability to the full.

Earlier this year Andy from Zac's died and last week Nick (not his real name) died. Nick was an occasional at the bible studies but, I think, turned up more often at the coffee bar. Both deaths are tragic.

Andy, a regular at bible studies, was in his early fifties and had suffered with mental health issues for most of his life. The year before he died he was baptised and had, for possibly the first time in his life, found peace. In view of the way he died that's perhaps a strange thing to say. He'd had ups and downs and while you couldn't say he'd lived life to the full at the end I think he had finally come to terms with life and himself. 

Nick was in his very early thirties. I didn't see him often and didn't know him well but even I, unobservant as I am, noticed the deterioration in his physical health over the years. But when he did come to our tribal gatherings he was polite, well-spoken and gentle. An articulate and intelligent young man he certainly never achieved his potential. The possibilities, the could-have-beens that were Nick, he never saw. Or maybe he did see them but didn't believe in them. They were always out of his reach.

The evil that is drugs has much to answer for. Stealing hopes and dreams, crushing them before they have a chance to be nurtured, sucking life out of the young and old alike.

Nick's life wasn't a waste; he leaves memories. And I hope the inspiration for change for some.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

How many frogs do I have to kiss?

For the second time in a few weeks a frog has jumped literally under my foot while I've been walking in the woods. Okay, it was a toad last time but the coincidence is too great to ignore. I can't help but think they're trying to tell me something.

If it happens again maybe I should kiss the creature and see if it turns into a handsome prince. But then again what would I do with a prince? He would be hard to explain away to Husband. I suppose I could sell the story to Hello magazine but you know what they're like: they take photos everywhere. I'd have to scrub the kitchen floor.

No, on reflection, it's probably best if I don't go around kissing amphibians.

The BBC has a lot to answer for

A lot of our conversations (monologues?) begin with Husband saying, 'I read an interesting article on the BBC website,' which he then proceeds to tell me about. Usually that's as far as it goes but when he read about the extra health benefits of black tomatoes he said he had to grow some. And this is the result:

Quite tasty but not a heavy cropper meaning they're costing about £10 a kilo! Let's hope the health benefits are worth it.

I am a failure as a woman

I first began to have my doubts about my womanliness when I read about the Wife of Noble Character written about (undoubtedly by a man) in the book of Proverbs. If you're not familiar with her you might like to read the passage yourself (it's roughly midway through the bible) but I wouldn't advise it if you're female and have anything less than supreme self-confidence and hold yourself in high esteem. Let's just say she is a paragon of womanly virtue and ability. You can see why I began to have doubts.

Then this very morning listening to the radio in the car I heard this little gem:


I fear it would be hard to under-estimate this woman's touch. As Willy Wonka sang in the next song they played, 'It's what you're not that makes what you are.' 

Now excuse me, I must go and reupholster the sofa before I cook a cordon bleu dinner for my Lord and Master.


Sex and the single girl

I was befriended by a 20-moth-old Staffie today. I say befriended; I mean humped.

But it turned out that I was not really the object of his desire; he was just after the doggy treats in my pocket. He used me then when he'd had what he wanted discarded me like an old wrapper. Leaving me with nothing.

Except muddy shorts.

And a box full of blackberries.
It's an exceptionally good year for blackberries but let me offer some advice to would-be blackberry gatherers.
1) Don't wear shorts. I suspect I said the same thing last year. Maybe next year I will take my own advice.
2) You are not as tall as you think you are. You know those luscious plump juicy blackberries you are convinced you could reach if you just stretched a bit more? You can't. It will end in tears.

The ideal blackberry-gatherer will be tall and trousered. And, ideally, with Inspector Gadget arms.





Things not to do when waiting for the tea to brew

22. Decide to sort out a kitchen drawer.

Much later ...
Leading me to ask: what on earth is this and what is it doing in my kitchen drawer?
Oh wait! Now I have my glasses on it I can see that it says 'instrument to split convolulus vegetable made of inox metal'. I don't know why I didn't realise that straight away.

The question must also be asked: will I live long enough to make good use of all these cocktail sticks?
Would anyone? Yet it looks as if they came in a set making me think that maybe cutlery is old hat and I should be using sticks to eat my everyday meals.

Or maybe not.

Friday, August 08, 2014

You never know when it will come in useful

On the way out for our walk today George and I noticed that the road, which is narrow, was littered with odd tools, nails and pens. Being a good citizen I kicked them to the side of the road so they wouldn't cause damage to the tyres of any passing cars.

Then on the way back I collected them up.

Not this time for the greater good but for Rough Edges, the new charity shop for blokes that's opening as an offshoot of Zac's.

I am turning into a hobo; my father-in-law would be proud of me. There was nothing he liked better than rummaging in skips.

Please excuse the bad language

I was told off recently by someone I respect and by whom I am slightly intimidated. When being told off I panic; Husband compares me to the fainting goats - except I don't faint and it's my brain that freezes.


Words and sentences become blurred in my mind forming a huge blob-like mass of telling-offness leaving me quashed. It wasn't until this morning, several days later, that I remembered one bit of the reprimand and it suddenly struck me that it was complete bollocks.

It's incredibly liberating to realise that, to suddenly see that I don't need to listen to this crap. No, I do need to listen because some of it is relevant and I need to be aware of it. But this isn't gospel; it's one person's view, badly expressed.

I have now composed a riposte - less witty, more brutal - but I will never deliver it, of course. Any more than I will deliver the rude gesture that I practised (in a very delicate, ladylike and embarrassed way) in the woods.

Not this time anyway.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Am I a dirty old woman?

It was 8.10 yesterday evening before I realised I hadn't showered/washed. I'm not sure what's more concerning. Whether it's the fact I hadn't showered or the fact I wasn't bothered about it. Am I becoming a dirty old woman?

* * * * * * * * *
What do I mean 'becoming'? I am a dirty woman this afternoon after our walk in the woods. I wasn't going to walk by the river as I was wearing the wrong shoes (my old leaky trainers) and instead decided to wander further up the main cycle track. I don't usually like the cycle track as it attracts cyclists who, I find, can be quite obnoxious. Not all but many swear at dogs who get in their way. I mean, yes, George does occasionally meander across in front of a cyclist but he's not exactly speedy; a minor detour around him is all that is needed.

Anyway, don't get me started. As I was saying we walked up the main path when, all of a sudden, we came across a new path leading off through the woods! (This might not sound exciting to you but just because you have a life it doesn't entitle you to look down on the rest of us.)

Of course we had to follow it and what do you know? It went by the river. So I got wet feet anyway but it was a jolly lovely path made better by its newness to me. And when we arrived at a small signpost that offered us two choices - this way or this way - we went that way instead. We like to live on the edge, George and me.

It did occur to me that if I'd had a heart attack or broken my ankle Husband would never have found as us and I'd have to have relied on George to fetch help. #couldbeherealongtime

Monday, August 04, 2014

A good day at the coal face

In the morning I was mc-ing the Sunday service in prison. They're getting a chapel full these days, around 40 or more men, who are all very attentive and listen well. I wasn't doing the main talky bit so it was less stressful and everything went fine and dandy.

Then in the afternoon as it was the first Sunday of the month we had a tribal gathering at Zac's. Again I was in the chair and again it went well. Apart from me getting Jeremiah and Joshua confused and showing up my complete lack of knowledge of the Old Testament. But they're used to me being twp now.

There was a good discussion and we had some great stories from Jason and Nicky - and we sang some songs! Don't tell Sean! (Not that he has anything against singing you understand.) Paul said he wanted to sing every Tuesday and Redcoat said he was going to put in an official complaint. You can't please ...

This last week Redcoat celebrated 5 years of being drug-free. I first met him back in 2006 and I wrote about him at the time.

There's a new face in Zac's (new to me anyway). He's of slight build, wearing a red coat, and with alcohol on his breath. He sits at a table and his eyes are focused somewhere way beyond the confines of the room. I guess that he has stumbled across the place and is grateful for somewhere warm indoors to spend an evening; I think he will be asleep before long.

We're continuing in the run-up to Christmas with a look at Mary. I'd told Sean I had written a 'Mary monologue' and he'd asked me to read it. Before that we look at the places in the Bible that Mary gets a mention. A very world-wise view is expressed of how it would have been for both Mary and Joseph: a pregnant unmarried girl and the man who has to decide whether to take her on or cast her off.

Redcoat isn't asleep but is following intently. He has always felt that Joseph is undervalued. Several times he interrupts and in a rambling, drawn-out fashion - the pauses typical, I think, of a drunk getting his thoughts together - makes this point. Given the chance, I would exchange knowing smiles with someone. If I had been in charge I would have been tempted to step in, in one of the pauses, and carry on with what I was saying, hoping he would get the message, but Sean waits patiently until he is sure he has finished. Others speak up and acknowledge the truth of what he is saying, giving him respect. Then Sean asks me to read.

At the end of the bible study the first person to come and speak to me is Redcoat. 'That was incredible,' he says. I am humbled.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Dancing turtles

As you know, Younger Son and Nuora are in the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia setting up a marine conservation project, Blue Temple Conservation. One of the creatures they're particularly fond of and anxious for the future about is the turtle and one of the aims of the project is to help raise awareness. 

Boat trips providing opportunities for tourists to snorkel are a valuable source of income for the islanders but tourists can potentially cause harm to turtles through their lack of knowledge. Leafleting isn't a particularly successful method of increasing awareness so the team at Blue Temple are trying to think of more imaginative ways to draw attention to the plight of the turtle. Or at least to attract attention and to follow it up with a leaflet and chat. And one of their attention-drawing ploys is the Turtle Dance.

Younger Son put a video on Facebook of volunteers doing the Turtle Dance and suggested that others could make their own video and send it in. So, of course, any opportunity to be silly and I'm there.
video
And in case you're in any doubt over the threat to turtles know that the World Wildlife Fund appeal for June was specifically for marine turtles. They are included in the Endangered to Critically Endangered category on the risk of extinction list.


Saturday, August 02, 2014

Old blogging chums

 While Husband was going through old photos I came across a picture from our 2008 holiday in Canada.
First meeting with Leslie now Evans and Joan Bree in Vancouver, 2008.
The year before I'd met up with Shirley Davis and Pat Eggleton in Shirl's house in Britstol

In 2010 Katney (Kathy Sharman) and her husband came to visit us.
In 2012 Leslie made the trip over here.
And this year Shirl finally made it to us too!


Chased by cows

I was trying to get a photo of the calf feeding from its mum but another young calf decided to photobomb my shot!
I hung around for a while hoping to get another opportunity but then Mum began to look at me warily so I retreated bearing in mind the report from the BBC website that Husband recently relayed to me. Are you aware that in the years 2008-2011, 221 people were injured by cows and 6 killed?

It gives some justification to Daughter's adoption of panic mode whenever we have to cross a field with cows. In fact I was chased by a cow once. I say chased but it may have been coincidence that it was running towards me. But from where I was standing it was scary enough to warrant hiding behind a tree anyway.

Shady Business

... was more like a shadow of a better play.

We used to be regular theatre-goers. Then the authorities realised that tribute bands and rude comedians brought in bigger crowds than plays did leaving us with a four-week summer rep season. We went along faithfully for many years until it all became a bit sameish. A lot of the plays were dated and the cast tended to be has-been soap actors.

And then we went to Stratford and saw Macbeth done proper like and that just about ruined the rep season for me!

The last couple of years we've only been on occasion but it seemed only fair to give a new play a go so off we trotted last night to see Shady Business by Robin Hawden. Disappointing is the best description. A lacklustre script relying on old jokes and acting of limited quality meant we came away feeling we hadn't got our moneysworth (£32). But I did enjoy the Maltesers and the interval ice cream. So not all bad.

A few months ago I said I'd let you know what I thought of a couple of library books I'd borrowed. Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night by James Runcie turned out to a series of short stories about a vicar cum private investigator. I read the first one and didn't bother with the rest. the joy of library books - and getting older - is that I now know I don't have to feel obliged to read a book to the end if I'm not enjoying it.

The other was one of a series (actually they were both books in series) of books about private investigator Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear.

{There is an enormous fly buzzing around the room and I am sitting, fly swatter at hand, just waiting for it to settle.}

Set in London in the first half of the twentieth century the series revolves around Maisie Dobbs who is able to escape from a life of service thanks to her brain, a benevolent employer and a wise mentor. An interesting collection of characters and history make this an enjoyable read: I've read another in the series since. Maisie is a little too perfect for me - I prefer slightly flawed heroines - but likeable nevertheless. The author obviously did a lot of research into the period and is intent on including every detail, which is slightly irritating. It's not really necessary to know the name of every street or location of every tube station unless relevant to the plot. But I would definitely recommend this series. Try to start with the first one in the series as it explains Maisie's history.

Another recommendation would be for Provincial Daughter by RM Dashwood, a Virago Modern Classic. It's written by the real-life daughter of the author of Diary of  Provincial Lady in the same self-deprecating and amusing way so if you enjoyed EM Delafield's book you're sure to like this too.






Friday, August 01, 2014

I'm so lucky to have Husband really I am

Before I went out Wednesday morning Husband said, 'Shall we go and look at some new garden furniture this afternoon?'

A variety of visitors over the previous few days had shown up the flaws in our current outdoor seating, namely, anyone sitting down was taking a chance. Husband and I had perfected methods of sitting at just the right angle to prevent chairs collapsing but having to explain that to all and sundry ...

So, when I got back at lunchtime, it was under the impression that we'd be off to B&Q to buy some new furniture - hopefully the summer sale would have started.( Not that we're mean or anything.) Imagine my surprise/delight then to get home to find Husband in the process of turning 6 broken chairs into 4 bionic ones. 

'What about the table?'
'I'll paint that and it'll be fine.'

Oh good. Husband is so handy. I am really lucky to have him. I tell myself this regularly.

On the left, rebuilt; on the right, discarded - but he'll have to keep the wood - just in case ...