Friday, August 17, 2018

It's man that makes me fat

Every year I say the same thing, 'Next time I go blackberrying I'll wear trousers.' Come the next time and I think, 'It's too warm for trousers; I'll be okay in my shorts.' And  when I'm up to my thighs in brambles and nettles I regret that decision. 

All the best blackberries are too high or too low - might have been wee-ed on. But we got a good haul.

Now I know I said I wasn't collecting any this year but what's a girl to do when there's free food available? I think it must be my inner cave woman coming out. Husband is out catching my dinner - brontosaurus steak medium rare, please - and I feel the need to whip up a dessert.

It's a well-known fact that men and women differ in that men have an extra chromosome; what is less well known is the fact that women also have an extra and different chromosome: the dessert chromosome. It compels us towards dessert.

I don't think i'm being sexist in this. I've done extensive research with a wide sample i.e. Husband and me, and have proved it beyond any doubt.

When we go out for a meal I know Husband would rather have a starter than pudding. Well, I'm not going to sit and wait while he eats his starter so I have one too. But I still have dessert. Because, well, it's there.

So, in fact it's Husband's fault that I'm a bit overweight. Or if we strip it back to basics and remember our genetic make-up then it's the fault of man. I knew it couldn't be my fault.

Gluten-free apple and blackberry crumble with oats and coconut

Apples from the tree in Daughter's garden

Ancient and not so history

Leslie arrived on Monday and not wanting to waste the day I dragged her around the village of Oystermouth.

As part of the Swansea Festival of Stitch - while needles are anathema to me I do have friends who stitch - bollards at the pier had been yarn-bombed.
The pier was such an important part of my childhood. Various relatives worked there including, after he retired, my grandfather. I used to love to visit him: he was the ticket man in the little box at gate. A little snug box with a heater and enclosed against the weather. A childhood den.

But it's gone now. I was shocked to discover that not only has the entrance gate gone but all the railings have been removed as they've finally started work on repairing the pier itself. It's about time. Walking along it for the last few years has been a bit like playing Russian roulette. 

Then after a lunch break in Verdi's we continued to Oystermouth Castle ...
Leslie and an old ruin
and to All Saints' Church. I wanted to show Leslie the commemorative stained glass in memory of the crew of the lifeboat who all perished in the 1947 disaster but I also pointed out to her the ancient font, of prime importance because I was christened there.
We continued the local history theme with a visit to the birthplace and early home of Dylan Thomas - the place where he wrote two thirds of his works. It's largely the brainchild and investment of one man, Geoff Haden, who bought and restored the house to its former glory, and furnished it in the style of the early twentieth century when it was first built. He was fortunate enough to meet a woman who had been a maid for the Thomas family and she was able to give him a lot of information about how the place looked.

The front bedroom. Although Dylan was born in this room his parents later kept if as a guest bedroom. The room they slept in was at the back of the house over the kitchen - meaning it was warm - and with lovely views of Swansea Bay. My grandparents had a bed like that.

Dylan had an older sister who was an enthusiastic actress. She belonged to Swansea Little Theatre.

Dylan's room is the smallest in the house and is furnished from his days

The front room or parlour, again a rarely used room.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

I was licked on the nose by a lizard

Leslie is at this moment having her acrylic nails filled. I, with my bitten pathetic excuses for nails, have no clear idea of what this is so I have left her to it and come home to read a bit and blog a bit.

The last two days - is it really only two days? - have been full and I've walked Leslie off her feet. I'm so used to walking I forget not everyone is able-bodied enough to march up and down the hills of Wales. I have to remember to slow down and ... what's the saying? Smell the flowers? Which we did literally yesterday during our visit to the National Botanic Gardens.

A crash had completely closed the main road out west and though we only had to take a short diversion it took what felt like forever as the all the traffic that would have journeyed along the A road had to make its way down lanes and through small villages. Spotting a nice-looking pub I was tempted to say, 'Let's forget it and just go there for lunch.' It had by this time started drizzling as well.

But I'm glad we persevered. I've been to the gardens before but this time we were fortunate enough to see a special animal show, which was excellent. (And in a dry marquee.) With snakes - Leslie left the room at this point having a snake phobia - and a lizard, a cookaburra and a cockatoo, five baby meerkats as well as a mummy skunk and three of her babies, along with a bull frog and a toad. The presenter was brilliant both with the children and the adults, making some slightly risque comments that, it is to be hoped, the children didn't understand.

 I can't remember: I think that's a python, a baby one.
Leslie got to hold the mummy skunk.

The presenter with three of the babies. It is rare but not unknown for an albino skunk to be born; a brown and one is almost unheard of. So Mummy skunk did very well with her brood. 

Unfortunately the show, put on by DWAEC, was only visiting. I would have loved to take the grandchildren to see it. I could however take them to see the raptor flying display at the newly-opened British Bird of Prey Centre located in the Gardens.

Another great presenter and amazing flying displays from a peregrine falcon, red and black kites, a buzzard and a white-tailed sea eagle. As the falcon is the fastest animal on earth reaching speeds of nearly 300 miles per hour when it swoops it's not easy to get a photo ... and I was so awed when the eagle landed on the ground next to me that all I could do was gape.
Red kite

White-tailed sea eagle
We saw some nice flowers as well.

There was also a display of the different poisons used in Agatha Christie murders. For your information ...

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Old school blogging

Recently Saz commented on a post of mine, saying it was good to see I was still blogging and asking if I wanted to contribute to a new blog she and others have created for some old school blogging.

Old school blogging? Am I old school? What is old school?

Presumably I am as I've been invited along but I'm not entirely sure what the term means.

I've been blogging since 2005 and apart from one change of layout my blog remains the same as it was in the beginning. I don't specialise and I don't use it to raise money. I ramble mostly for my own benefit.

All of which might explain why my readership has never reached huge numbers and the people who comment are few. (Why don't you comment?)

After a gap for dinner and television - started re-watching The Big Bang Theory - just to say I wrote and submitted a piece for the new blog but I've not heard anything back. Maybe it wasn't good or old school enough?

Hijab cleaning

Leslie from Vancouver is coming to visit tomorrow. We're old blogging friends and we've met several times in real life both here and in Vancouver so because I don't want her to catch anything I've been cleaning.

Husband said, 'You realise if you kept the house immaculate at all times you wouldn't have to indulge in the mass clean every now and again.'
I smiled sweetly while contemplating the slow and painful death I have planned for him.

In reality my cleaning is rather like a hijab - or as Boris Johnson would say, a letterbox - in that it has a very limited spread. I don't do above eye level; I don't do low down; I don't do a lot in between if I'm honest.

Because really what is the point? It's only going to get dirty again. Much as I like it when the house is sparkly clean it doesn't stay that way for long. I have a dog and a husband. Yes, and I'm a bit of a scruff too.

All of which makes me wonder why I persist in buying white tablecloths when I regularly feed a family. And Husband. Who is more of a problem that all the grandchildren combined. Or why I continue to believe the reviews that say, 'Washes well. Even red wine stains come out.'  Red wine might; my lasagne doesn't.

'I despair'

I forgot to mention that I watched the film with my slankie draped over and snuggled in around me. Did we really have a heatwave? It's already a thing of the past it seems. Bedsocks are being worn and it was only the fact that it's August and I really shouldn't that stopped me putting the heating on.

I'm not complaining; it was a wonderful summer. A few more like that and we'd never need to go abroad. The children are still on summer holidays but that's the way I remember it from my growing up. Hot in June and July when we had exams and school and turning wetter and colder in August just in time for the holidays. Quite often followed in late September by a spell of mild or even warm weather again.

And it seems if the folly that is Brexit goes ahead it will be more difficult and expensive to travel to the continent. I read on FaceBook about a report today - albeit in the Mail so not necessarily true - that suggests a £6 visa will be required for each trip. Mail readers - pro-Brexit - are up in arms.

We had a friend many years ago named James. A slightly eccentric character his favourite catchphrase was, 'I despair.' I find myself thinking of him as I mutter that to myself more and more these days. In anything to do with Brexit, Trump or people like the woman who gave a beach a poor rating on TripAdvisor because the 'sand was too wet to make sand-castles.'

Saturday, August 11, 2018

What decadence!

The height of decadence in this house: watching a film on television on a Saturday afternoon.

The real decadence was in the film, Florence Foster Jenkins, set in the high society of 1940's New York. A heart-warmer - once I'd got over the appearance of Big Bang's Howard Walowich as a concert pianist - starring Meryl Streep in the title role as a society hostess who believes she can sing, with Hugh Grant as her husband who for twenty-five years has kept up the pretence.

It wasn't as funny as I expected but strangely appealing. Husband stuck his head around the door to ask, 'Why are you watching a film about a woman who can't sing?'
'Because I can relate to her!'

I love to sing but I, unlike Florence, am well aware of my complete lack of talent or ability to hold a note or sing in tune so I only sing in private - when I sound fantastic I think. 

Apparently we will spend eternity praising God. I hope he has his ear-plugs ready.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Travels in Trumpland

Been watching Travels in Trumpland, a documentary presented by Ed Balls, former Labour MP and now media trollop, about the people who voted for Trump. The episode we watched yesterday was about making America safe again. (Each episode looks at an aspect from Trump's speech about making America proud, safe, etc again.)

In the one we watched yesterday Ed Balls travelled to Texas and spoke to members of the NRA. They are scary people. He attended a class in learning how to use a gun and the first thing the man leading it said was, 'Run away from trouble; let the police deal with it.' Sadly that was the only sensible thing he said.

Balls also visited Parkland School in Florida, the site of a mass shooting just before he began his trip. One of the placards outside the school read, 'You have a gun and a child. Which one would you rather lose?'

I suspect the NRA man who said, 'I'd kill if they tried to take away my gun,' would have to think for some time about that one.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

No blackberry crumble tonight

My walks with George these days cover maybe a quarter of the distance they used to but take roughly the same length of time giving me plenty of opportunity to choose and eat the finest blackberries.
A couple of weeks ago the blackberries on the tip looked parched and hard; today, following the rain they're big, fat, juicy and sweet. And there are loads of them. But I didn't collect any. If I do I'll have to make crumble and I'll have to eat it - with cream or custard - and I'm supposed to be dieting. (The emphasis being on the word 'supposed' as I had ice cream in Verdi's for lunch today.)

But, I thought, I could post a photo on FaceBook and tell my friend, Maggi, where to find them as she makes blackberry wine every year. Then I remembered she's not on FaceBook. She's not on the internet at all and doesn't use a computer. She's one of those people who 'makes do' with real friends.

She's lived in the village and worked in the local chemist all of her life and she knows everyone and everyone knows her. She chats to everyone and has a smile and a kind word too. She's the happiest person I know, always game with a laugh and smile. (She went skinny dipping on her own at 1.00 am the other week and someone alerted the police, who turned up in force and asked her to come out of the water. She couldn't stop laughing.) She's genuine and while she doesn't have a big house or lots of money she's very rich in love and friendships.

But I can show you my blackberries.

How do you say caramel?

There's an article on the OED website today about pronunciation problems and it turns out I must be posher than I think. If way of speaking is an indicator.

As far as I'm concerned there is no argument about any of the words under question although I am puzzled by the inclusion of caramel: I would have thought there was only one way to say that.

For the rest it's mainly an American British divide rather than an internal British divide but in each case I'm on the standard British side.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Things I think about in the middle of the night No. 119

Chuckle BrothersWhich Chuckle Brother is dead?

Not that it makes any difference to me. It was just one of those things that one thinks about when woken suddenly from a dream.

P.S. The Chuckle Brothers were a comedy duo I think primarily for children. They had a television show called Chucklevision and like the greats before them one was the straight man and the other the silly one.

P.P.S. It was on the news a day or so ago that one had died.