Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Five Children and ...

five dinners.

Grandchild1 = fish fingers, beans, pasta, tomato ketchup.
Grandchild2 = fish fingers, beans.
Grandchild3 = meatballs.
Grandchild4 = pasta, tomato pasta sauce.
Grandchild5 = beans, cheese.

I told them that when I was little my granny put my dinner on the table in front of me and I had to eat it. Whatever it was. They were not impressed.

My fault. A soft touch.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Excuse the splurge of output. I've been too tied up to blog - and I miss it. And it's nearly November and we all know what that means.

No, I'm not going to grow a moustache (Movember). It's time for NaNoWriMo again. BUT I am NOT going to attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days this year. I've done it before and it's ridiculous. Completely the wrong month of the year to do it. January or February would be much better. November is just too busy in its own right let alone all the birthdays and Christmas prep that needs doing. Maybe they think all aspiring novelists live on their own in garrets. Or are prepared to get up at dawn to put in their word count before the start of their working day. Fat chance.

But I am going to resolve to write on my blog each day in November. I'm hoping that will get me back into the swing of writing, thinking, composing, dreaming again.

Going to cuddle a baby now.

Pandora's box but not so interesting

Elder Son and family have been with us for a few days providing ES with the opportunity to play again with his Lego. Yes, it waves.

 * * * * * * * * *

It seems mice have been eating the toilet rolls in the bottom of the airing cupboard.
I cleared it out today - well, I called Husband to go in the corner to get stuff out. Just in case. 

* * * * * * * * *

A while ago Husband gave me some brown pills. 'Take one every day,' he said. It wasn't until I'd been taking them for a few weeks that I thought to ask what they were. (Multi vitamins.) I am very trusting.

* * * * * * * * *

I had a letter from the doctor inviting me for a flu vaccination (that's a word I struggle to spell). I was a little surprised as I'm not: 65 or over, pregnant, morbidly obese or suffering with any chronic complaints. Still if they were offering it.

I got there and the vaccinator said, 'Why are you here?'
'I had an invitation.'
'Tut, you don't fit any of the criteria.'
I thought she was going to send me away unstabbed so I used the 'I spend time with the homeless, drug addicts and my grandchildren' ruse.
'Okay,' she said. 'We'll put you down as a carer.'

(I would have been happy to pay for it but they couldn't take money and I'd got up specially early on a Saturday morning for it so I reckoned I deserved it.)

* * * * * * * * *

Usually if one dog humps another the owners will exchange jocular comments. Unless the owner is the man I have always referred to as Old Grumps. Then he barely looks at me as he grunts what I suppose was meant to pass as a greeting. And, incidentally, George was the ... um ... recipient - unusually - today.

The Misguided Naturalist's Guide to Nature

Spotted in a tree in Clyne Gardens. 
There was some debate over whether they were beavers (teeth) but we finally agreed that they were rats.

And this isn't lugworm sperm. 

You see there is at this very moment being conducted on the shores of Britain a survey into lugworm sperm. The British public has, I hope, done its duty and taken part. I would have - if I'd known about it in time - and if I'd known what lugworm sperm looks like. (Seagull poo if you're interested.)

Lugworm, as any fisherman will tell you, play a vital role in the marine environment but, sadly, as they spend all their time underground they never get to meet the lady/man lugworm of their dreams. (Although judging by the number of worm casts on the beach at low tide I would have thought it would have been impossible to turn around underground without bumping into one. In fact it's a wonder the whole beach doesn't sink a foot a day so undermined must its foundations be.)

Anyway, I digress. It seems that once a year all the man lugworms produce sperm that forms into little milky puddles on the surface before it's distributed by the sea water, soaking into the ground whereupon, it is hoped, it comes across a welcoming female. But nobody knows what it is that triggers the mass ejaculation. Hence the survey.

Are you believing any of this? I wouldn't. But it's true. If you'd like to find out more pop along to the rather wonderfully titled Spermwatch website.

P.S. And I might be too late but I will look again next time I'm on the bay for the real thing and will photograph it for you obviously. because I know you are so gripped by this tale.

P.P.S. I bet David Attenborough never has this trouble.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A mini sort of bump

So ... I'm going in shopping this morning. I get in the car and drive down our little bit of road. A car reverses out from one of the neighbouring houses and into Mini.

The other driver and I both get out and she says, 'I'm sorry. Don't worry, I'll get it sorted but my husband's away at the moment. But don't worry. You know where I live.' Then she gets back into the car and I get back into my car and we drive off. (I am reminded of the time a car drove into me in the car park when I worked at DVLC. Instead of stopping and challenging  the driver of the other car I drove away. When I got back to the office the men I worked with shouted at me for not acting. 'What sort of car was it?' they asked. 'A grey one ...) 

Then I decide I had better tell Husband before going shopping so drive back. 
'The lady down the road just drove into me.' 
He groans. 'How did that happen?'
Then he comes out, examines the damage, takes photos and generally acts like an insurance assessor. Finally he says, 'Okay, you can go shopping now,' then as he starts to walk away I shout after him, 'I'm fine, thank you for asking.'

His excuse is that he could see I was absolutely fine. My feeling is that his first question should have been, 'Are you all right?' not 'How did that happen?'

But I'm not going to labour the point too much as I have yet to get insurance details from the other driver as I'm being a bit of a wimp about it. (Note to self: is it too late to take assertiveness classes?)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Getting old

I can think of only one possible benefit of losing my mind: I'd no longer worry about misplaced apostrophes.

Knowing my brain however it would probably be the one thing that would remain. I'd be forever breaking out of my nursing home and going on felt pen rampages.

This has been brought on because I've just been to visit my great-aunt. She's always been my role model: this is how I want to be when I'm 95. Suddenly, in what seems to be a couple of months, she's deteriorated. She's hardly there any more. Just a shrunken pained shell.

Depressed. Need chocolate.

A prayer for my bambino

Having written a prayer for the first two of my first-born grandchildren it was only right that I should write one for my little Italian baby.

A prayer for my bambino
You are a child of the world, a child born out of and into love. The journal of your life is yet to be written, blank pages for you to write your own story. And it will be an adventure story.

I pray that your life will be long and filled with love. I pray that you will grow strong and healthy in body and spirit. I pray that you will find delight in the ordinary and excitement in the extraordinary.

You can read the rest of it here.

P.S. Do you like my wonderful artwork?!!

Monday, September 19, 2016

BT do it again!

My email sender started playing up before we went on holiday. I thought perhaps a little break was all it needed and it would be fine when we came back. It wasn't.

Two BT experts couldn't resolve it and, more crucially, neither could Husband. I don't know what BT did in the end but they fixed it after thinking about it for 48 hours. It's remarkable the joy I feel in being able to send emails again! So quickly we become dependent on all this modern technology!

Anyway in all the excitement of being able to send I've sent off another submission to a literary agent. And that actually is a huge benefit of the internet: not having to print out loads of pages, package them up, take them to the Post Office, and pay large sums of money for postage. It's much simpler to be rejected these days. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Not without thorough research

So we're in the car going to Mothercare to look at baby seats. I say, 'Goody, I can get a stair gate at the same time.' (To stop GrandDaughter2 escaping up the stairs at every opportunity.)
'No, you can't,' says Husband.
'Why not?'
'You have to research it first. Find out which is the best one.'
'For goodness sake, it's only a stair gate. How complicated can it be?'
'Look what happened when you rushed out and bought a scales without first researching it.' (What happened was that, unlike our previous scales, this one doesn't store a record of your weight so you have to remember it from week to week.)

I mutter under my breath.

After a long and complicated discussion with not one but two store assistants we're no closer to choosing a car seat/pushchair than we were before. In spite of Husband's extremely time-consuming and thorough research.

I wander off to look for stair gates. Turns out I was right: it is very simple. You can have the permanent sort that you have to screw into the wall or a pressure-fit one, which is the one we need. 
'You're not going to let me buy it, are you?' I ask.
'No,' says Husband. 'We have to research it first.'

So tomorrow he's going to be the one chasing GrandDaughter2 every time she runs upstairs.

Is what you're standing on bad for the environment?

With a son who started the #freefromplastic campaign I can't help but be aware of the dangers posed to our environment by man-made materials; I thought I was safe though when it came to considering the ground that I stand on. It seems not.

I have a new project. I began a few weeks before we went on holiday and it's to clear/improve that bit of garden at the front of our front garden. It was intended to have a sort of informal look but turned into jungle-style. 

I forgot to take a photo before I began but this was at an early stage of the project.
And this was a bit later. Or possibly the same time but a different angle ...

Anyway progress is slow especially as weeds began to take over again as soon as my back was turned  - but I have plans. Trouble is that my plans tend to be a bit like Baldrick's with about as much success.

I had originally intended to put down a mixture of paving stones and pebbles but really I think grass would be nicer. Husband isn't so keen on that idea though. Our garden isn't huge but still he already has seven individual patches of grass that he has to mow, hence his reluctance to add another. Although I think he'll hardly notice one more ...

So far so good except the beds that already exist sort of slope down into the earth where the grass/paving stones will be and at the side dropping down to the steps. So I've decided that I need to do some stone walling as we have in the rest of the garden. Which means we need stones.

Husband's plan, that he pick one up in the woods each time he walks George, while economic, is possibly unnecessarily labour-intensive - and slow. Not to mention probably illegal and ... well, I'll tell you in a minute.

The Gower peninsula is mostly carboniferous limestone so working on the assumption that the original flower-bed walls and paths were probably  made of that I tootled off to the local builders' merchants yesterday to look for some. And found none. Turns out the nearest store selling stones is about 20 miles away. But while googling for stores I made a discovery, which although  it's taking me a long time to get there, is the whole point of this post.

Did you know that water-worn limestone hosts its own ecosystem and that the human habit of using said stones for garden walls and paths is damaging the fragile balance of man and nature? I have to check that the limestone being sold is deep-quarried. Oh for goodness sake.

I feel guilty enough as it is for all the plastic bottles in my home and I recycle with a fanatic's enthusiasm. Now I have to make sure the stones in the garden are eco-friendly.

Life was so much simpler in the old days. When I swam in the polluted sea without a care in the world ...

Saturday, September 17, 2016

101 ways to serve a tromboncino (actually 3)

Nuora's father is a keen gardener and he gave us a tromboncino he'd grown to bring home with us. That's a funny-shaped squash to you and me.
So we started with squash soup.

Then it was smoked pancetta and squash risotto.

 And finally Moroccan mince stuffed squash.
Encouraged by the almost-success of my invention of apple and blackberry ripple cake I 'adapted' a recipe from a magazine. They were meant to be stuffed tomatoes but I figured the same principle would work for squash. But then the mince looked a bit boring the way they suggested so I added a few extras. And then because everything is improved with cheese I popped in a layer of cheese (left-over burger slices) under the sweet potato topping. 

I was hoping to serve it neatly sliced but it sort of fell apart when I tried to cut it but it still tasted jolly nice.

I didn't faint

You know that if I begin a story about me trying to climb up a muddy bank, cross a river or circumnavigate brambly bushes it's going to end badly. But I'm not sure why that is.

In most aspects of my life I lack confidence and need frequent reassurance and regular encouragement but when it comes to doing stupid things in the woods I am suddenly full of misplaced certainty that I can do this.

Maybe it's because I'm in the woods and nobody is going to see me and, anyway, if I fail it only means wet/muddy/ripped clothing, which is easily remedied. Except the ripped. They stay ripped. I don't sew.

Perhaps I need a bit more of this don't-care attitude in my everyday life. So what if I try and fail? Fail is my default mode so it's not unexpected after all. 

I know someone who is always telling us how good she is at this or that and how much people like her. I'm pretty sure it's her insecurities that make her so boastful, create the need to believe in herself and convince others of her worthiness. I'm much more likely to tell a story about how useless I am. Which also displays my insecurities and the need to be reassured. 

All the hundreds of handy-mottoes-to-live-by that appear on Facebook suggest to me that most of us need frequent reminders of our worth. And judging by the frequency with which some people post them they're mostly not convinced.

But this has turned into a very serious post and veered away from what I was building up to which was the grass cut I gave myself attempting to pick a piece of grass while strolling through the woods. It's just behind my knuckle and I walked the rest of the way home with a tissue wrapped around it, repeating the mantra, 'I'm not going to faint.' I didn't feel as if I were about to but, if you recall the last time I gave blood, that's not necessarily a prerequisite. There I was, lying on the bed feeling fine, chatting merrily about sinks when all of a sudden I thought, 'I'm going to faint.' And that was it. No wooziness or darkening of the skies, no blood flooding my face, just boing and I was gone.

But today I made it home without further incidence which is just as well as Husband would have been cross with me for not taking my phone. (I never take my phone on walks. I rarely take it anywhere in fact.)