Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ceredigion versus Gower

Ceredigion is very lovely and we had a great holiday but for sheer beauty Gower is hard to beat. That's probably why it was the first area in Britain to be declared An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). And Three Cliffs Bay regularly gets voted on to Most Beautiful Beach in the World charts.
Three Cliffs Bay
Three Cliffs Bay

Tor Bay and Oxwich
Ceredigion does have dolphins and seals though. And on a more regular basis than Gower.

Lunar affectation ... or not?

Moon in waning crescent
6% Waning Crescent
So these peculiar dreams are happening in the third quarter just before new moon. Last time they were between new moon and first quarter.

I do find the charts slightly confusing as the new moon is completely black which flummoxes me. But it appears from my vast research - all two incidents - that my dreams are tied in with a new moon. Which obviously means something deep and philosophical.

But doesn't explain why in my dream:
Daughter is leaving home for places unknown and she won't tell us if she has anywhere to sleep so I am very upset;
and our women's bible study group, which is normally attended by four or five, was attended by about 30, including men, and lots of them had brought cake but refused to help clear up afterwards.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hooray for Mr Benn

Mr Benn
In the last post I mentioned Mr Benn. For those who don't know who he is let me explain.

He was a cartoon character from the 70s. Created by David McKee who also created Elmer the elephant, Mr Benn was an ordinary man who each episode left his home and visited a costume shop with a shopkeeper who appeared 'as if by magic'. Mr Benn would try on a costume and then walking through the changing-room door would find himself in an adventure.

Only 13 episodes were ever made and they were repeated twice a year for twenty years. Mr Benn still is regularly voted one of the most beloved children’s programmes of all time.

There was a certain amount of repetition in every episode and it's that familiarity that David McKee says is now missing from children's television cartoons. 

A 50th anniversary exhibition featuring fifty original Mr Benn artworks has just finished and it was in an interview in The Telegraph that the author made that statement. Now 82, Mr McKee said, '... as any parent will know, children want the same story repeated. My theory is that it’s security, they know what’s coming next and they feel safe with it.' He also claimed that modern animation is too frenetic and desperate to offer something different in every episode.

I used to love Mr Benn when I watched it with my children. Gentle and safe he was just brave enough but not superhuman, and it's true that children do love repetition. Every time GrandSon1 comes to visit, out of the large selection of books on the shelf, he always opts for the same few: Albert Herbert Hawkins, A Bad Week for the Three Bears, and, especially, Burglar Bill. And each one in turn has its own level of repetition. 

Bring back Mr Benn!

What Mr Benn has in common with my holiday reading

The first three books I read on holiday were Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Size 14 isn't Fat Either and Notes to My Mother-in-Law.

The first two although very different had one thing in common: I began reading and quickly decided  I wasn't going to like them but ended up thoroughly enjoying them.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Eleanor Oliphant (by Gail Honeyman) is a woman with a traumatic past that has led to her lacking social skills. The story relates how her life gradually changes and how she copes with it. It's both funny and tragic. ****

Mr Benn and the shopkeeper
I tried to find Size 14 Isn't Fat Either (Meg Cabot) on Amazon and ebay - for an image - but there's no sign of it anywhere, which is a little strange. I found it in a secondhand bookshop so maybe it was a magic shop a bit like the one Mr Benn used to visit.
Anyway I digress. While Eleanor Oliphant is sparsely written Size 14 bubbles over. It's a bit like me on this blog when I get distracted. The author is better-known for teenage and young adult books. The heroine is a part-time amateur sleuth - aren't they all? - and it's a jolly light-hearted story. Good holiday reading. *** and a half stars.

Phyllida Law, actress, wife of Eric Thompson, mother of Emma (and Sophie), wrote notes to her mother-in-law who lived with them when she began to go deaf. The book is in big print and hardly enough to fill a space on a shelf. It's fine as far as it goes. I read them expecting at least some of the notes to build up into some sort of story but they're all fairly unrelated and very ordinary. My conversations with George are more interesting. It does a glimpse into the ordinary lives of 'famous' people but that's about as far as it goes. And one can't help feeling that had she been anyone else the book would never have been published and certainly wouldn't have had the ecstatic recommendations from more 'famous' people on the cover. I'll still give it *** because it's ... no, I won't. I'll give it **.

P.S. Interesting to note that the more stars I award the less I write about the story.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

While I'm waiting for the chicken to cook

I've borrowed this from Treey who borrowed it from etc

1.What was the last thing you put in your mouth?
A cherry.

2. Where was your profile pic taken?
I can't remember what my profile picture is. Hang on, I'll try and find out. Oh, it's that little picture. Mumbles Post Office.

3. Worst pain you've ever experienced?
Every pain is the worst pain when I have it. 

4. Favourite place you've travelled?
Mwnt or Vietnam or New York.

5. How late did you stay up last night?
Not late.

6. If you could move somewhere else, where would it be?
The fairy tale house at the edge of Caswell bay.

8. Which of your Blogger friends lives closest to you.
Shirley in Bristol.

10. When was the last time you cried?
Too long ago to remember.

11. Who took your profile photo?

12. Who was the last person you took a picture with?
My dog, George.

13. What's your favourite season?
Spring because everything's waking up and new and fresh.

14. If you could have any career, what would it be?

15. Do you think relationships are ever worth it?
Of course.

16. If you could talk to ANYONE right now who would it be?
No-body. I don't like talking.

17. Are you a good influence?
Hm, you'd have to ask others.

18. Does pineapple belong on pizza?
Sort of.

19. You have the remote, what channel? 

20. Whom do you think will play along?
Anyone not upset by the bad grammar in that question.

21. What happened to questions 7 and 9?
They were abducted by aliens and even now are being probed for the recipe for yorkshire pudding.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Please look back at old posts!

Just to mention I've added photos to all my holiday posts. Now I'm home and have access to technology and a proper keyboard and stuff I've been able to do it. 

And, incidentally, all week we've walked around gusty cliffs - being very grateful that the wind was blowing onshore - and it hasn't rained on us. Then today we get home and walk in Clyne and it thunders and hails. 

We're home all right!

No need to tame a shrew

We met a tiny - probably baby - shrew on one of our shrew
* * * * * * * * 

There are some very old gravestones at the church of St. Michael and All Angel's in Penbryn. The church itself, said to be one the oldest in Wales, looks very like the one at Mwnt and indeed, they both have the same sort of roof/ceiling, the only two examples of its kind in south Wales and the reason for it being a listed building.

This gravestone caught my eye because it's unusual but it also has a wonderful tribute on it.
It's for a man and his wife, Margret who died April 1789 and  was 'distinguished for Meekness, piety and Charity, never known to turn a poor man from her Door Without relief and thus lived and died a ??? (stout maybe) Christian.'

What a fantastic way to be remembered.

In which George looks back on his holiday

Here I am keeping guard outside my holiday home. It was a cottage called Pencwnc near the village of Rhydlewis in Ceredigion. You didn't know I could speak Welsh, did you?
You can take the dog away from Gower but you can't stop him rescuing stones from the ocean. Where there is a stone to be rescued I am there!
Penbryn beach, ceredigion
They tried to get me to go further in this cave but I've read We're going on a bear hunt and I know what you find in deep dark caves.
If I'm looking a little weary here it's because they made me walk miles along a very windy coastal path to get to Llangrannog just so Lizzie could have an ice cream. And then we had to walk back!! I needed all the help I could get from St Caranog, that chap behind me with the staff.
Llangrannog, Ceredigion
'There's a church here somewhere,' Lizzie said, 'and it's supposed to be one of the oldest in Wales.' She had me scrambling through all sorts of bushes to find it.St Michael's church, Penbryn
I've saved my favourite photo till last. Here I am on the top of Mwnt, lord of all I survey. Bow me before me, minions!
Mwnt, Ceredigion
Okay, perhaps this is my favourite photo. Nothing like relaxing in front of a log fire after a long day out.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


So if you think it is catastrophic to discover you have shingles when you are on holiday imagine what it is like to have read three of your books and to find that you just can't get into the other two you have with you.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sculpture, seals and chips - updated

Imagine a beautiful garden with lots of sculptures and it's free and dogs are welcome. Sounds perfect? Now add free refreshments including a selection of delicious home made cakes. Could it get any better?

Such a place does exist and it's called Sculpture Heaven.

It was a fascinating place with lots of nooks and crannies, tiny doors to open, and even an opportunity to try water divining - I don't have the knack.

Now if you saw an exhibit that said that you'd have to turn over the stone, wouldn't you?

Donations were suggested for the tea and cakes and all profits went to the Halo Trust that clears landmines in poor countries to enable people to return to their homes.

Ginger and almond macroons, lemon drizzle, chocolate brownies, cherry flapjacks - all yummy!

After this relaxing morning we continued on our way to Cwmtydu and just when you think the day can't get any better it did. There on the beach were several baby seals and their mamas. Excited? Muchos!

These seal pups were between 3 and 12 days old. They're born on the beach where they stay until they're about 21 days old when mama encourages them into the sea - where they have to fend for themselves! Up till then the mother will leave them to go and feed in the sea returning to allow them to feed from her.

The volunteers who do Seal Watch can identify the mothers who return to Cwmtydu regularly to have their babies. And the males who keep hanging around! The mum in the photo above they said was a good mother who last year had continued to feed her baby - whom they nicknamed Fatty - for longer than usual before she could at last persuade him to go and do it himself

By the way, there are a lot of hills in this part of the world and it seems to me that more go up than come down.

Our planned excursion to Newquay for fish and chips didn't go quite as planned. We intended to eat our dinner sitting on the quay trying to spot dolphins but heavy rain put paid to that idea. Instead we sat in the car just like old people. All we needed was a thermos of tea.

Last time we stayed in the area we had fish and chips and Husband declared them to be the best he'd ever tasted so our holiday this time was based around a return visit. We had to choose a holiday cottage that was close enough to Newquay to make it practical. Then when it came to it Husband decided to pay heed to the Tripadvisor reports that named another chip shop as serving the best so we had 'posh' fish and chips from the Lime Crab instead. I say 'posh' because they came in a box with a slice of lemon, tartare sauce and even a sprinkling of something green. (Verdict: the fish could have been crisper.)

And would you believe it? My camera battery died on me at the start of the day. Thank goodness for phones and tablets.

Speaking of which I am taking my five a day. Tablets that is. They are supposed to prevent or at least lessen the potential pain that sometimes follows shingles. So far it's manageable. I don't have to start on the paracetamol until late afternoon. It's mostly just sore and uncomfortable.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Climbing a Mwnt-ain

Mwnt, CeredigionIn the car this morning during a heavy shower Husband was glum. 'It's colder than yesterday too,' he said.
'It's going to be fine,' I said. 'You are just a pessimist.'
'Not pessimist,' he said. 'Realist.'

By the time we reached our destination, Mwnt, the sun was shining. I smiled smugly.
'That's the good thing about being a realist,' Husband said. 'When things turn out better than I expect I am happy.'

On top of Mwnt
I shrugged. 'If it rains I will just laugh.'
'That's because you're a twit.'

Apparently, according to a report in the New Scientist, pessimists live longer than optimists. Or maybe it just seems longer.

Me chickening out and refusing to take the seaward side path down from the top. You can just see the path - the bit of grass in front of Husband in the photo.
* * * *

'Was that a red kite?' Husband asked.
'Oh, I saw a red bird. I thought it was strange for a sea gull ... Are red kites red?'

I am very good ornithologically speaking as you can tell.

* * *
Lovely walk. Not as far as yesterday. I stopped when the coastal path became a little too coastal ie too close to the edge. I was worried for George you understand. I've marked it in red on the photo. The nice encouraging sign on the post helped too.

* * *
Husband is such a man.

There is a book of walks in the cottage. My suggestion that we follow one was pooh-poohed. 'We don't need to follow a book.'

Firelighters are provided in the cottage. After the fire had gone out for the second time I suggested he use one.
'Nah, I've got paper,' he said.

I have shingles

It's just what you want when you're on holiday. To find out the rash and the 'broken rib' are actually symptoms of shingles.

Well done to Sharon and Luna for working it out!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Beach life - updated

Saturday evening we visited the closest beach at Llangrannog (above). Sunday we went to Aberporth and Tresaith again mostly for walks on the beach. We were breaking George in gently.

Unusually, at Tresaith, there is a waterfall on the cliffs.

The beach at Penbryn
Today we took him for a five mile walk from Penbryn to Llangrannog and back. I'm not sure who is most exhausted.

It's the first holiday we've had with George for years. I think he's enjoying it ...

I had suggested a shorter walk but Husband persuaded me into this one with the reminder that there was a good ice cream shop in Llangrannog. A scoop of salted caramel plus a scoop of raspberry and white chocolate kept me going long after the plum crumble tart I also had was just a memory.
The sea at Penbryn

And we're just about to sit down to Tesco curry. I could get used to this holiday life.
The cafe at Penbryn

In which I decide I probably don't have a broken rib

Monday and I've not yet had ice cream. What kind of holiday is this?

I have been getting a pain in my side. Not an internal sort of pain exactly but not an external one either. Mostly hurting when I am in bed and trying to sleep. Especially if I lie on my side. But it was better last night so I doubt that it's broken. My rib that is.

Co-incidentally a strange raised red rash appeared on my midriff. Hey ho, I am falling apart.

In other matters the cottage is very nice and comfy. On our bed we have a big furry rug making me feel like a Russian countess in a dacha.

But the ice cream problem is one that must be remedied today.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Falling on deaf ears

'I think that I shall never seeeeeeeeeeee ...a poem lovely as a treeee,' I trilled away merrily as I was dusting.
'I bet everyone wishes they could sing like me, don't you think, George?'
He didn't look up.
'George! I said I bet ...'
'Wait a minute,' he said, sitting up, 'let me take my ear-plugs out then I can hear what you're saying.'

Harsh, George. That's harsh. 'Just for that I'm going to make you move so I can hoover the rug instead of hoovering around you.'

A record-breaker!

I don't know if it's the increased frequency with which I am writing, the top SEO blogging tips I've been trying to follow, or just a blip in google's counter but this blog had 624 page views yesterday!!!

That's the most it's ever had. The number has been creeping up so that I was becoming blase about 200-300 views but when I hit 400 and something I was quite excited. 

I expect someone will tell me that page views aren't the same as visitors and I'm sure that many clicked on the page and instantly clicked out again on seeing what it was. But numbers are numbers and for want of a better system I'll settle for this and be jolly pleased.

I would be more pleased - of course there has to be a criticism - if more people left comments. I've tried ending with a question to inspire response but maybe my posts are too bland to encourage discussion.

Note to self: work on it.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Auntie Vi and the Women of Mumbles Head (Mumbles Myths III)

Joan and Gladys, my grandmother, were two of eight Honey children; another was my great-auntie Vi. She taught me two things for which I am grateful. She taught me to how to swear while remaining ladylike – she was, after all, an ex-president of the WI - and she made sure I knew my local history. Or her version of it anyway. And she did that by teaching me a poem.

The point where Swansea Bay ends abruptly at Mumbles is marked by a lighthouse. It was built in 1794, to warn passing ships of the Mixon Sands and Cherry Stone Rock, two huge undersea sand banks. 

The last lighthouse keeper retired in 1934, but it was the daughters of a previous keeper who went down in history as heroines, commemorated in a poem, The Women of Mumbles Head

On a stormy morning in January, 1883, Mumbles lifeboat was launched to go to the aid of a stricken German ship. In the middle of the rescue, the lifeboat itself was capsized and its crew thrown into the huge icy-cold waves. 

The poem begins:
Bring, novelists, your note-book! Bring, dramatists, your pen!
And I'll tell you a simple story of what women do for men.

It goes on to tell how the two women, clinging to each other, scrambled into a ferocious sea to save a drowning lifeboat-man. According to the poem, soldiers who were stationed on the lighthouse island stood by and watched while the women risked their lives.

The story of the women’s bravery in contrast to the soldiers’ cowardice spread rapidly across the country. The authorities, in an attempt to check these stories, said that the National Lifeboat Institution was considering rewarding one “Artilleryman Hutchings for the assistance he rendered in saving the lives of two of the lifeboat crew”. 

They went on to say that the women “rendered all the tender assistance that could be expected of brave women in such an emergency - that is they held the poor fellows’ heads and ministered to them as only the hand of woman can do”.

Try telling Auntie Vi that,

Gunner Hutchings was awarded a certificate and £2 by the Lifeboat Institute; the women were not acknowledged. Nevertheless, they received numerous gifts from the public, including gold brooches from the Empress of Germany.

Another village myth? 

Clement Scott, the author of the poem, didn’t think so. And nor did my Auntie Vi.

P.S. The women, Jessie Ace and Margaret Wright, are today commemorated by a Blue Plaque at the top of the steps leading to the pier beach. 
Jessie Ace and Margaret Wright, Women of Mumbles Head

Growing up in Mumbles (Mumbles Myths II)

Thirty-three years before my birth, my great-auntie Joan was born in Albert House. For the last years of her life, Joan lived in the house next door. Before she died I asked her about growing up in Mumbles.

Joan Honey, later Delve
She recalled, ‘Mumbles was a very happy and safe community; everyone knew everyone else and we had all we needed in the village. There were two cinemas – the Tivoli and the Regent – and a dance hall in the legion. In those days, the legion hall was on the sea-front, behind where Boots is now. It was a tin hut with a beautiful oak floor, wonderful for dancing. My sister, Gladys, and her husband, Jack, your grandparents (Auntie Joan points to me), were the stewards there and all us children used to go and help polish the floor. There was a buffet with chocolate biscuits and tea and coffee but no drinks: alcohol wasn’t allowed there. Doctors would play badminton in the hall during the week and there were three billiard tables that Jack used to iron.

‘I went to Oystermouth Church School and in the summer we’d have our annual outing to Collin’s field in Langland. West Cross and Newton seemed far away to us so this was a big treat. There’d be large enamel jugs full of tea and we’d have sandwiches and slab cake.

‘And every Saturday morning I’d go to dance class in the hut overlooking Rotherslade. It cost half a crown and at Christmas we’d go to the orphanage in Thistleboon to entertain the children. Billy Lockley’s dance troupe we were called.’

From the bedroom window in the last house she lived in Joan could look down on Dunns Lane and see Oystermouth library, which was built on the site of the old fire station. ‘I must have been about ten or eleven, when I watched, from my bedroom in Albert House, the Fire Station burning down! 

‘I left school at 14 and first of all I got a job in Ceaton’s newsagents, before I joined the Post Office as a telephonist in 1941. I used to catch the Mumbles train to work and each morning my mother would shout up at me, telling me I was going to miss it but from my bedroom I could hear it leaving Southend and then I knew I’d just have time to run down and catch it from Oystermouth Square. 

‘Then every Sunday afternoon, from when we were about 15, we’d go to fellowship in All Saints’. It was where I met Uncle Horace; it was where most of us met our husbands. And on Sunday evenings we used to go to Forte’s Ice Cream Parlour, when it used to be on the corner of the Square. Mr Macari was a lovely man. He’d say, ‘No need to go. It’s cold out there. Stay as along as you like.’ So we’d sit there all evening with just the one cup of coffee.’

Today the only Fortes’ ice cream parlour in Mumbles is at Limeslade. But the one on the corner of Oystermouth Square with its blue wicker chairs and glass-topped tables lives on in memories.

Ferocious Welsh Women (Mumbles Myths I)

I was born in Albert House in the village of Oystermouth in Mumbles. A grand-sounding address for what is, in truth, only a slightly-larger-than-the-rest terraced house in a village of terraces. But it wasn’t always just that, for, according to family legend, it used to be a pub. 

My grandmother frequently told the story of how, when she was having the front pebble-dashed, a local worthy by the name of Harry Libby, accosted her. ‘You are burying a piece of Mumbles history,’ he said. He was objecting to the fact that the pebble-dash was covering up the name Albert Inn, which was painted on the front of the house. (Which in itself seems to me to be a good reason to cover it up: after all, who wants thirsty strangers knocking on the door at all hours demanding their three-happence of ale.) Anyway Granny told him where he could bury his history and the pebble-dashing went ahead, leaving only a legend.

It’s certainly one of the oldest houses in the village with walls thick enough to keep out the Normans or the Germans, not that the Germans would have got as far as the house
with great-gran on guard at the gate with her carving knife. I come from a long line of ferocious Welsh women. 

Strangely enough though I’ve never been able to find a record of Albert Inn on any map or document. Maybe it was just wishful thinking on my grandmother’s part; she liked her daily pint of stout. Or maybe, like the ice cream, it is just another of those village legends. 

Being born some years after the war, I was brought up on the story of Mr Macari of Fortes Ice Cream Parlour, and how, on the day war ended, he gave free ice cream to every child in the village. Can you imagine anything more wonderful to a child than being given free ice cream?  It was the knickerbocker glory of dreams. But then someone poured sour cream on my legend.

I was recounting this story when a lady much older than me said, ‘That can’t be true. There was sugar rationing during the war: they can’t have made ice cream.’ 

The truth or a myth? I know which one I’d prefer.

Introducing Mumbles Myths

A number of years ago I had a Good Idea. (I should write a book entitled Liz's Good Ideas That Never Got Anywhere.)

I live in a beautiful part of the country. Gower was the first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK and is a popular place with tourists. There are various guides around and photo books about Gower but they tend to be quite factual and what I like to read is more personal, an insider's view or story. So my idea was to collaborate with a photographer and come up with such a book.

I spoke to one well-known local photographer and then another. Both expressed interest, especially the second, but neither pursued it eventually. In the meantime I'd got on and written a few bits and pieces to inspire their photographs.

I came across my writing the other day when I was looking for something else so I thought I may as well post it here. I'll subtitle all the different posts Mumbles Myths.

That's another thing about walking on my own: I write blog posts in my head while walking and then splurge them all out. 

The happy me post

Walking George in the woods today, just him and me (Husband's condition is deteriorating: he now has swollen glands and a sore throat) I thought, yes, this is happy me. 

Even having to run from tree to tree to shelter from the rain this is where I am most me. the only thing that would make me happier would be to be by the sea.

When people hear that I go into prison they sometimes say, 'Isn't that scary? That would be outside my comfort zone?' Well, actually, most of life is outside my comfort zone. Prison, church, meals with friends, all make me uncomfortable. And as for a party, oh goodness me! I yearn to go and dread it in equal measure. (Okay make that 10:90.)

But I know isolation isn't healthy so I make myself be sociable and, guess what? I survive. I even enjoy myself.

But there's no getting away from it: I'm always glad to get home. Because my family don't scare me and I can relax.

P.S. I am worrying now that people will be offended but you shouldn't be. There is absolutely nothing directed at anyone in this post. It's simply a reflection of how any social situation makes me feel.

In trouble with the law

conker, horse chestnut
Yay! My first proper conker of the year.

I found it at the entrance to Clyne Gardens and after I'd picked it up I waited for the hand on my shoulder.

When my cousin, Lynne, and I were young we were taken to Clyne. We must have wandered off from the family and we picked a small bunch of wild flowers. Suddenly we were surrounded by park-keepers! There must have been five at least. (Okay, maybe just two but it was still a bit excessive to apprehend two nine-year-old girls.)

They told us off and took the flowers from us. I've never picked wild flowers since. (That may not be strictly true but if I have it's been in a very sustainable way.)

I haven't told Husband this yet

I had set off for Zac's on Tuesday when I noticed the petrol gauge flashing. I didn't have my purse with me and I was already late so when Mini told me I had enough petrol for 23 miles that was fine. It's only a couple of miles to Zac's

It was less fine when I'd only driven about 50 yards down the road and the range dropped to 18 miles. 'Oh, stop being silly!' I reprimanded Mini.

When I got to Zac's the range was 17 miles. Two hours later when I left and started the car again it said 3 miles. By the end of the road it had gone down to 0. From there it went blank.

'Not to worry,' I thought. 'I have to drive uphill to drop Lily off but when I come down the gauge will go up again.'

It didn't. It stayed blank for the rest of the journey home. I literally got home on a prayer.

Next morning I was taking GrandDaughter2 to the library for singing. 'It will have gone up again now it's had a good night's sleep,' I told myself. It hadn't.

Now the petrol station is only down the road. Except the road is closed for water works so I have a long diversion. In between singing to GrandDaughter2 I muttered more desperate prayers. 

And we got there! I have never been so glad to fill up with petrol.

I will never let that happen again. Until the next time. Don't shout at me: I can't help it if I hate putting in petrol.

There a spider loose about the hoose

Taking my cup of tea back up to bed this morning I noticed an enormous spider on the stair skirting. 

When I went back down later it had gone. 

Husband said, 'So it's gone. What are you upset about?'

He doesn't grasp the difference between knowing there are undoubtedly spiders in the house and knowing there is a spider in the house. And a huge one at that.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

More than one use for a poo bag

Poo bag, blackberries
I didn't go out with the intention of blackberrying but they were so big and fat and juicy I couldn't resist. So I had to. And fortunately I had a spare poo bag with me. The fruits of my labour are now in the freezer and I feel like a proper housewife.

* * * * * * * * *
So, what's this being on retreat like? I hear you ask.

It's like doing everything I normally do plus writing. The problems are a) Husband has had man flu; and more significantly b) I cannot resist the lure of my grandchildren.

Sean, from Zac's, goes on a retreat every now and again - oh exciting news I will tell you later - but he goes to a remote cottage in the Brecon Beacons with no internet and no phone signal. And no people. I shall have to rethink my plan next time.

That exciting news: Sean has a contract with a big publisher to publish his book, the story of his life and ministry with bikers and Zac's. He just has to finish it first, hence the retreats.

On my retreat day today I have taken GrandDaughter2 to singing, played with GrandSon4, walked George, blackberried, rewritten the article I wrote yesterday for The Bay following my close encounter with a lifeboat, and half-cooked dinner - Husband was up to helping with the other half.

Ah, well, tomorrow, as Scarlett said, is another day.

Over-excited? Moi?

After singing at the library I walked Grand-Daughter2 in her pushchair - she was asleep - along the prom. We got as far as the arcade where I dithered about going on to the pier as I feared it might be a bit windy at the end but decided to give it a try. I was about halfway along when a man on a bicycle came whizzing past me. Closely followed by a running man.
'This can only mean one thing,' I said to the sleeping infant. 'They're launching the lifeboat!'

I scurried down and asked the lady in the shop. She said, yes, they were indeed, and I could watch from upstairs. She told me where to find the lift - although it took me longer than it might have as it was cunningly concealed behind the photo of a lifeboatman - and we got in. Now I've never been in a lift where you have to keep your  finger on the Up button if you want it to keep going up ... so again it took me longer than it should have done but, thankfully, they were waiting for a chap who was holding on tight to the lifeboat to let go. I think maybe he wanted to go too and they wouldn't let him. video
I have lived in this area for roughly 55 years and this is the first time I've seen the lifeboat being launched. Over-excited? Me? Hardly at all. I grinned all the way home. Which possibly isn't entirely appropriate as the lifeboat is usually only launched if someone's in trouble. But I was so thrilled!

Tuesday, September 05, 2017


We first started working on Christy's story way back when. Way back when this was my method of recording.
cassette recorder, old skool, retro
It still works.

* * * * * * * *
Today the Queen's Baton begins its trip around Wales on its way to the 2018 Commonwealth Games. It started in Mumbles at 7.30 this morning. I really intended to get up and go and cheer it on its way, really I did.

* * * * * * * *
We have run out of programmes to watch of an evening. Even with Netflix, Now and Amazon we can't find anything to watch. At least nothing that we can agree on. So yesterday, in a charity shop I bought a dvd for £1. Hope Springs with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones.

"Hilarious" and "Very funny" were two of the quotes on the cover of this 'new comedy'. I can only assume I inadvertently bought the Director's Cut, in which he cut out all the humour. Tommy Lee Jones' grumpy husband bore a striking resemblance to Husband at the beginning and it looked promising. But wasn't.

We needed cheering up afterwards so watched The Thick of It. We're working our way through the seasons alongside Yes, Minister, and The IT Crowd. Those two we've seen before but we never got into TTOI when it was on originally. (It was after our bedtime I believe.)

I'm guessing that both political comedies are very true to life as it was/is then. Give me Sir Humphrey over Malcolm Tucker any day. But the spin-doctor did have a wonderful line recently, one of the best descriptions of someone I've ever heard. About Ollie (left) he said, 'He looks like a drawing by Quentin Blake.'

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Proud Mam

Younger Son completed the sportive and even said he enjoyed it! (Not my idea of fun but there you are.)

Furthermore he came 13th out of 99 cyclists doing the long route in 4 hours, 39 minutes and 45 seconds. Not bad for his first attempt. 
Five Valleys sportive 2017, in training

Five Valleys or possibly Six Hills

Yesterday update: made a good start on my notes. That is I made a good start on transcribing them onto the computer. Making sense of them was slightly less successful.

'Ambassador from London. Wine fair, Saw a Picasso in a safe. He’s not spitting it out. Takes out a wallet.'

This could take some time.

* * * * * * * *

This morning Younger Son is doing a sponsored cycle ride in aid of prostate research. It's 72 miles and the name - Five Valleys Sportive - explains the route. I imagine if they called it Five - or possibly Six - Hills Sportive they might have fewer participants.

The weather has been appalling, windy and rainy. Not ideal conditions for a cycle ride of any sort let alone one of this length and difficulty. As one who struggles to stay on a bike on the flat I applaud him.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Going on retreat

So I have cleared my desk ready to begin my 'retreat'.
I am not, as Husband suggested, doing anything to avoid writing. It's just that I need some head space in which to think and spread out. So now I'm ready. And blogging. No, this is another essential. I need to set the scene.

I just need to do one more thing: update my Middle-aged, fat and frumpy blog otherwise that will be in my head wanting to be expressed and leaving no room for my Irishman.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Maybe not all lies

In November, 2014, I wrote a blog post called The trouble with lies. While decluttering I came across a letter my second cousin, Anne, wrote to me in response to that post. 
traditional Indian doll

In the post I mentioned that my absent father supposedly sent me an Indian doll and later sent me £5 for passing my 11+. I said that I had been told lies about my father (that he and my mother were married but separated and he lived in India) so, when I discovered the truth, I began to doubt that the doll and money actually came from him but were more likely just embellishments to maintain the pretence.

Anne wrote that though she lived away during my childhood she had a clear recollection of her mother (my gran's sister) telling her that my father had sent me a doll and that the family were very surprised. She wrote:
The story is true; your father travelled, thought of you, took the trouble to pick you a present he thought would give you pleasure and brought it all the way home for you. I have no recollection of the money you received but if the first story is true then it is more than likely that the second story is also true.

And this:
What I do know from first-hand experience is that you were loved and cherished by all of us. Margaret was a very special person with very special qualities. I loved and admired her and I still think of her and remember the happy times I spent with her.

P.S. I have added a photo of the Indian doll that I still have.

Life is unfair

My latest article on the unfairness of life is now available on The Bay website.

And if that doesn't entice you to go and read it, let me tell you the editor has used a photo of Alan Rickman to illustrate it. Now doesn't that make you curious/want to see it?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

I've been thinking about swearing

I dropped a glass and it broke. 'Oh poop!'

Is that offensive? No, of course not. (If it is I don't apologise.) But if I said, 'Oh shit!' would that offend you?

Years ago, not long after I'd become a Christian I was talking to a Christian friend and I said something along the lines of, 'I was really chuffed to receive the present.' My friend bit her lip - she is a very gentle person and hates any sort of conflict - and said, 'I don't think you should say that.'
'Say what?'
'What you said. I think it's rude.'

Really? Even if I don't know it's rude?

{Incidentally I just checked with Mr Chambers and he has nothing unpleasant to say about chuffed. The Urban Dictionary on the other hand suggests chuff could refer to female genitalia or even back bottom, for want of a euphemism. And some people use it as an alternative to a 'worse' swear word.}

I don't swear. At least not aloud or in public. Only under my breath or when I'm alone. Some people get upset about it but it doesn't really bother me.

There's a school of thought that says swearing reveals an uneducated mind or a poor vocabulary. I don't believe that. Look at Stephen Fry. And I'm not entirely sure how a word can be offensive. The way it is used can be certainly but in itself what damage does it do?

When it's used as an adjective/adverb six times in a sentence the listener's brain tends to ignore it - or mine does. But on occasion it can be effective and even funny. As the opening sequence of Four Weddings demonstrates.

Sustainable blackberrying

After I'd been blackberrying last time Younger Son asked me if I was picking sustainably.
'Um, what?'
'You're not stripping the bush?'

Today his words came back to me as I blackberried again.
'Has he ever been blackberry-picking?' I asked George.
'Of course he has,' George replied. 'He's your son. You would have forced him at least once.'
'Then he should know that even with me picking the middle tier and you munching your way through the bottom layer we wouldn't be able to strip a bush let alone a forest of bushes.'

Just waiting for my blackberry cake to cook. Mmmm.