Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Furthering my education

On Sunday, Harvs and I saw a gang of six magpies in a tree. After reciting:

1 for sorrow,

2 for joy,

3 for a girl,
and 4 for a boy,

5 for silver,

6 for gold ... (7 for a secret never to be told, Maaaaa-agpie),

I asked Harvs what he thought the correct term might be for a gang of magpies. He suggested crater. When I asked why, he said it just sounded good to him: a crater of magpies.

I wondered about chevron but he thought that was too obvious.

Anyway,today, blog-browsing, I came across this on Tumbled Words blog. It lists birds and the proper names for a group of them.

It's a tidings of magpies. And a siege of bitterns and a kettle of nighthawks. Fascinating. Now before a convocation of eagles arrives and carries me off ...

winning and losing

Sally is a nurse. Married to a doctor, they have two children. When she becomes an alcoholic her husband turns her out of their home and stops her seeing the children. She finds accommodation and begins her battle. She is winning when she goes on a binge. She collapses in the street on a cold night, and is found dead only yards away from her flat.

Dai is in Zac's tonight. It's the first time he's been sober for weeks. He's been going through a bad period and has taken refuge in drink. He'd been saving money to buy himself a good guitar but he's blown it all. He comes to Zac's to try and find something. He finds peace.

Pray God he can hang on to that, and find the strength to fight and win his battle.

Dim nuclear

I haven't been able to find out much about this, in particular what the original motion or the amendment say, but yesterday the Anglican synod 'came out against government plans to upgrade the Trident nuclear missile system, passing a pointed amendment to a more bland motion, declaring that it would be contrary to the UK's obligations in international law and the country's ethical principles.

The move followed a passionate intervention by Dr Rowan Williams that Trident was morally unacceptable. "I don't believe that there is a case for the moral acceptability of nuclear weapons that I could with integrity accept,' he said. "I believe that the least a Christian body ought to do would be ... to issue the strongest possible warnings and discouragements to our government."'

Da iawn, Rowan. (A Swansea boy, you see.)

But the amendment was only passed by 165 to 149. Which seems to be a sad indictment of the Anglican church in this country.

Hug a knee

If you have a pain in the bottom, this is a good remedy. Or so, Jules, our fitness guru tells us.

Sit on the floor, your right leg straight out in front of you. Put your left foot outside your right thigh. Wrap your arms around your left knee and hug it in towards your right shoulder. Mutter sweet nothings to it (that's optional).

Then do the same thing only the other way round.

It's also good for pain in the lower back.

Unfortunately it's not guaranteed to rid you of all pains in the bottom.

Grumpy Old Woman

Last night for dinner I had baked potato, pickled beetroot and stewed rhubarb. I think it was when I was doing the screwed-up face routine as I ate the rhubarb that I said to myself, 'Must go to the shops tomorrow.'

Normally I shop in Sainsburys but they're closed for four days for a re-vamp. In other words, they've closed just to upset me twice over. First time: making me go to Tesco's. Second time: I won't be able to find anything when they re-open. (I wonder if they're planning another series of Grumpy Old Women; I could audition.)

So there I am filling the car with petrol while being pelted with rain and blasted with wind, and I glance over at the car just leaving. It's driven by a woman and she's alone. And she looks as if she just stepped out of Vogue. Even with an extra-special effort I don't look like that even when I've just stepped out of the house; I certainly don't look like it now with my red nose and my hair looking as if I've been dragged, not through a hedge but, through a jungle, feet first. How do they do it, these women? As the King of Siam would have said - if he'd been scripted by Rodgers and Hammerstein, 'It is a puzzlement.'

* * * * * * * * * * *

We had a letter in work today. It said they were looking for people with 'a warm heart, a large teapot and a downstairs toilet'.

Also in work, Alun told me that the Welsh for microwave oven is popty ping. That's one of the better Welsh translations.

Monday, February 26, 2007


Quote of the week

Lynn Scully (who is living with pretending-to-be-reformed bad boy, Paul Robinson), on being told by her priest that she couldn't marry in church because she's divorced, 'The Pope will never forgive me.'

Now I'm trying to decide whether to post something I've written. I will ponder a little longer.

It's going to be one of those weeks ...

I can see.

I have a bad habit of not bothering to open mail if it looks boring; it's now reached the point where I don't even pick it up from the floor where it's landed.

But this morning, with new determination and good intentions, I picked it up. To find a letter from the tax man. 'That's okay,' I thought. 'He'll be thanking me for paying my dues.'

Huh! No such thing. He's trying to penalise me £100 for a late tax return! Rubbish! Not only was my assessment done online before the end of January (when it was due), but he cashed my payment cheque on 1st February. And I have the bank statement to prove it if he wants to argue! The little fibber!

Vital statistics

For some reason my counter stopped working this morning. It claimed that the code had changed. Rubbish. Silly technology. I knew roughly what my count was - I was getting excited as it was approaching 6000 - but it's lost all my statistics too. See what happens when you depend on anything other than your fingers and a bit of paper?

* * * * * * * * * * *

Elder Son tells me that his friend, Otty, is going to sing at the wedding, while they're signing the register. Otty is a rapper so I shall look forward to that.

I really must get started on the wedding cake this week too. Add it to the to-do list.

It's no laugh-in matter

I think I have my brain in upside-down.

Maybe it was a particularly enthusiastic circuits session that did it but it's not working the right way round.

Normally I sleep soundly at night, occasionally dreaming but nothing much that I recall; for the last week my dreams have been so vivid and so stressful, it's no wonder I am waking up exhausted and yawning all day.

Last night's dream involved Harvey and was, well, too horrid to think about.

Husband asked if I am worrying about anything: not that I know of.

Come to think of it, it's only started since I began eating yoghurts (those with Bifidus ActiRegularis in them). Hmm, interesting. But stoopid.

Harleys and whores

When Sean, from Zac's, was speaking in the prison last week, in the middle of his talk about the adulterous woman and the fact that none of us are without sin, one of the prisoners put up his hand and wanted to ask a question. Sean gently put him off saying, 'Leave it till later, okay, mate?' (Speakers are told not to engage in interaction with the prisoners as it can easily get out of hand; it's a fact that the majority of prison riots start in the chapel.)

Anyway, sure enough, as the meeting was about to finish the man put up his hand again and said, 'Can I ask my question now?'

Sean looked at the chaplain to confirm that it would be okay, and then said, 'Yeah, what you want to know?'

'What sort of bike have you got?'

That was almost as good as the time one of our musicians was praised for his guitar-playing. 'That was f***ing great.'

By the way, Sean's answer, 'A Harley,' was greeted with a murmur of approval.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Why is my dirty clothes basket ALWAYS full?

Why does Younger Son need to have 5 bath towels on the go at once?

Why does paint never look the same colour on your wall as it does on the tin/in the brochure?


Security is a towel in your mouth

Ever since he was a baby, Harvey has needed to have something in his mouth when he greets people: we call it his security blanket. He doesn't mind what it is; it could be a shoe, his bed, knickers from the dirty clothes basket, or, as in this case, a towel. (He didn't even have to get up for this; he just stretched up and grabbed it off the radiator.)

Even when we have been out for a walk together, when we return, he has to get into the house first and find something to put in his mouth to greet us. At least he used to; now he doesn't get into the house until someone has helped him. But even then he'll try and find something to hold.

He also still likes to be in the midst of whatever is going on - although he did get confused when Husband was on the scaffolding and talking to him - he couldn't work out where the voice was coming from!
I think he thought it might be the umbrella that's on the stairs; he's been suspicious of it ever since someone left it there, eyeing it when he thinks it's not expecting it.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Advice for ladies

Another cheat today as I'm copying an email I received. But I am adding my own bit on at the end.

Many women are afraid of their first mammogram, but there is no need to worry. By taking a few minutes each day for a week preceding the exam and doing the following exercises, you will be totally prepared for the test and best of all, you can do these simple exercises right in and around your home.

Open your refrigerator door and insert one breast in door. Shut the door as hard as possible and lean on the door for good measure. Hold that position for five seconds. Repeat again in case the first time wasn't effective enough.

Visit your garage at 3AM when the temperature of the cement floor is just perfect. Take off all your clothes and lie comfortably on the floor with one breast wedged under the rear tire of the car. Ask a friend to slowly back the car up until your breast is sufficiently flattened and chilled. Turn over and repeat with the other breast.

Freeze two metal bookends overnight. Strip to the waist. Invite a stranger into the room. Press the bookends against one of your breasts. Smash the bookends together as hard as you can. Set up an appointment with the stranger to meet next year and do it again.


At our Breast Test Centre they have a poster on the wall. Apparently designed by a staff member it shows women what to expect.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Beautiful Baby

I spent a large part of yesterday evening browsing through old photos looking for particular images. The search took a long time as I am easily distracted: this wasn't the photo I was looking for.

It is, however, the photo of Elder Son that I entered for Boots' Beautiful Baby competition.

Can you believe that he didn't win?!

I wonder if it was the vest that did it.

Community caff

This is Red Cafe (Cafe Coch), the home of Linden church's youth project. It's in the centre of the Mumbles Mile, a run of, I think about, 10 pubs, and was opened to provide a safe alternative venue for young teenagers.

As well as being open as a cafe, the project offers alternative education sessions for youngsters excluded from school and the like. It has internet facilities, a gym, a music studio, and it promotes good health and fairtrade options.

It's been open 6 years now and has a wonderful reputation with young people and the authorities.

This half-term, as it was last half-term and in the summer, the cafe is open during the day for the community, and today I've been in the kitchen making sandwiches, pouring coffee, and cooking pasta. It's like being a little girl pretending to run a restaurant.

I also made some of these chocolate raisin slices to sell. And very moreish they are too! Just ask my children.

And the winner is ...

Oxwich Beach in Gower has won the title of Best Beach in Britain acording to a report in The Travel Magazine.

The co-author of the report said, "We went looking for beaches that had a refined quality. We wanted to include beaches not just with natural beauty, good sand and sea quality, but also eco-friendly beaches with a 'just-this-minute-discovered' feel. What makes Oxwich so special is its Arcadian quality; there are 2.5 miles of wonderful pale sand, with safe, shallow seas. Even on the hottest of days, this secluded beach is quiet - the scenery is magnificent and unspoilt."

And it's not even the best beach in Gower!

Oxwich is also named in the Top 12 World Beaches. They are:
Pink Beach, Antigua
Ensenda Grande, Mexico
Kovalam Beach, India
White Island, Philippines
Praia da Lopes Mendes, Brazil
Whitehaven Beach, Australia
Oxwich Bay, Gower, UK
Guludo Beach, Mozambique
Super Paradise Beach, Greece
Eilat, Israel
One Foot Island, Cook Islands
Playa Flamenco, Puerto Rico

Last year another beach in Gower was voted best beach by viewers of BBC's Holiday programme. That one was Three Cliffs, which is one of my favourites.
So the moral of this story is: come to Gower for your hols!

Animal diaries

With thanks to Shirl, who sent me this in an email. I don't know what the etiquette is for reproducing circulated stories, but this is so funny and so true it deserves another reading.

Excerpts from a Dog's Diary
8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Excerpts from a Cat's Diary
Day 983 of my captivity.
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am. Bastards!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow --but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released – and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now...

Pancake postscript

Yesterday I bumped into one of the young volunteers from work. He'd been sent by another volunteer to get pancake mix and was trying to decide which one to get. Should he get the one that said 'add egg and milk'?

So that would be flour then?

Raspberry patch

The daffodils that shouldn't be there are doing very well in my raspberry patch ...

unlike the raspberries.

Daffodil, the flower of Wales

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Shrove Tuesday

It's Pancake Day today.

And it will be the first Pancake Day that I won't have had a pancake.

It's just me and Younger Son here and I am on a diet ...

Think of me when you're scoffing pannies!

On the same theme

I asked Alun today if he would do the 'tribute' at my funeral. I can guarantee that he will make it funny and I want to be remembered with a laugh.

He said he'd be delighted but that he would probably be dead before me on the grounds that, even though he's 5 years younger, women usually outlive men.

We tried to think of someone young and funny but decided no-one else would know me so well. So, the plan is, that if he looks a bit poorly, I will rush round with a video camera and he can record a tribute that can be played at my funeral. He will begin it by saying, 'If you're watching this, then both Liz and I are dead.'

I had better start thinking about some good points that he can include because I'm sure he won't!

What a difference a day makes

I would never say that someone won't be going to heaven. That's up to God not me (which is just as well because it would likely depend on what mood I was in and what my hormones were doing on that day).

However I do tend towards a Miss Superior attitude. I'm a Christian - my future is assured - but I don't really expect to see you there!

Today I went to see my great-aunt, Auntie Joan. I told her I didn't know that Uncle Horace had been in the Dambusters and she said that he wouldn't talk about it. He was recruited into the squadron just before they were married, and she didn't know until afterwards what it was he was doing.

Years later he was still having nightmares. Thirty, forty years later he would suddenly sit up in bed and shout, '2 o'clock!' When he was invited to a reunion in the 70s, he wouldn't go, couldn't face going.

I didn't know that they'd met in a church youth group either. I knew they'd been married in the church he was buried from but didn't realise that when she was 16 and he was 20, they started going out after the youth group. 'We used to go to church three times a Sunday then,' Auntie Joan said. 'We loved it.'

I've never known Uncle Horace go to church, except for weddings and funerals. I was learning a lot about him.

'Oh, yes,' Auntie Joan went on, 'on Sunday nights he used to say, "Let's have Songs of Praise on." We'd watch that and then he'd be happy. He was quite a religious man in his own way.'

There are Christians I know who would say, 'That doesn't make him a Christian; that doesn't guarantee him a place in heaven.' But I know where he is right now. And he's free from his nightmares.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Smile please

The good thing about going to an old uncle's funeral is that you see relatives you haven't seen since the last funeral. Or in this case, party. Cousin Deanne took this photo of me at Uncle John's party last October, just after we'd come back from Zante. As you can see, even then, I was practising the manic smile for the sake of your droopy jowls look. Husband is in the original of this photo but he wouldn't let me post it here as he has a silly look on his face!
The funeral was fine as far as funerals go. And what do you know: Uncle Horace was in 617 Squadron - the Dambusters! And I never knew. Or I would have quizzed him big-time.
That fact cropped up in the vicar's talk. The vicar had never met Uncle Horace and focused on the information that he was a hero, that it was because of him that we are free today.
Which is all very well and true but that wasn't the Horace most of the people there knew. We knew the joker, the steel-worker, the family man, the driving teacher (in my case, and a lot more patient he was than my official one who frequently ended a lesson, mopping his red brow), the car fixer, the friend, the tease, the smiling uncle.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Stop all the clocks

"He kisses her on the bottom every night when they go to bed."
"Oh, uckifee."

I'm pretty sure I wasn't meant to hear that conversation between my gran and one of her sisters but it's the sort of thing that sticks in a nine-year-old's mind.

They were discussing the bedtime routine of another of the sisters, my great-aunt Joan, and her husband, Horace. That's them in the photo, back in 1961.
We're going to Uncle Horace's funeral today. He died last Sunday, aged 91.
Uncle Horace was a tease. I liked him but, as a child, was always slightly wary of him: I wasn't sure what he would do next and being a shy child, I feared the embarrassment.
As I grew older, I grew to love him more. He was still a tease but I knew how to deal with it better. I suppose it's in the last 20 years really, that I've got to know him. A visit to their house always took longer than I intended. Mainly because Auntie Joan has the family trait of talking a lot (I missed out on that gene). While she would update me on the family news - being the only sister left, and living in the heart of the village of Mumbles, her house became the 'centre' of the family and she knew everything - Uncle Horace would sit in his usual chair, throwing in the odd one-liner, making Auntie Joan tut, and say, 'Don't listen to him!'
He had a stroke 12 years ago, while in South Africa visiting their son and his family, but apart from a slight physical weakness, it didn't damage him.
But in the last few years he has gradually and visibly become frailer. In the last year, what he's said has been less - but no less entertaining - and he's rarely gone outside the house. And in the last few months the sparkle went. Life disappeared.
He saw both his sons die at a young age from cancer; his only grandson was found mysteriously dead in bed at the age of 23 - that was the only time I saw him cry and tremble with grief. His wife survived cancer and has looked after him and run the home for all of his life: I don't think he knew how to make a cup of tea.
But he knew how to make us laugh.
There's so much more I could say, things that are coming into my mind as I write, but I have to get ready for the funeral now.
Goodbye, Uncle Horace.


March 25th, 2007, is the 200th anniversary of the Mumbles Train, the first passenger railway in the world.

It finally stopped running in 1960.

More Miscellany

We watched the very last episode of West Wing last night.

We missed it when it was shown on television but were introduced to its glories later. as a result for the last couple of years, for every birthday and Christmas, my presents have included a West Wing DVD. But now season 7 is done, and that's that.

The good news is that the right man got to be president and the best news is that A and B finally got together! Yay! But we shall miss it.
I was holding on for as long as I could, trying to slow our progress, not wanting it to end. Like Christmas, longing for it, but sad when it's over. What will we do now in the long evenings of dreadful reality television shows?
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Looking at myself in the mirror this morning I was sighing - I'm in that sort of mood - over my droopy jowls. 'All I'd need, ' I said to myself, pulling up my cheeks, 'is a little lift here and there.' (Yes, I am vain.) Then I discovered the answer!
Women all over the world need no longer pay thousands of pounds for surgeons to cut them up with lots of pain and uncertain results. Following the foolproof Hinds' method - which I really should patent - they can have the look without the agony. All they have to do is walk around all day smiling, with their mouths open.
Look at my before and after photos (taken very cleverly by me using a mirror) to see all the proof that you need.
Admittedly you might swallow a few flies and get a few funny looks but you're the one who's saved the money. You're the one who should be laughing.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Younger Son's latest - self-designed - tattoo: a phoenix. That child is spending too much time reading Harry Potter.

Sunday Miscellany

Yesterday Husband commented that I was looking miserable.

'What do you expect? a) I am on a diet; b) I'm not losing any weight; c) my roots are 1" long and very white at the front. I am turning into a little fat badger.'

I had a good eating week this week too (apart from the box of Venetian chocolates and the rice pudding). Pah!

* * * * * * * * * * *

And what's more, what has happened to wallpaper shops? They don't exist any more. The only places selling wallpaper are the big DIY stores and their choice is limited!

Husband is still in decorating mode; he's moved onto the hall and landing. By the way the reason I haven't posted a photo of our wonderful newly-decorated bedroom is that I haven't sorted out the curtains yet. That's another thing it's hard to find!

What I really want - for the hall - is darkish green or red paper with a tiny bit of pattern; the sort of thing Laura Ashley used to do well. In fact just the sort of thing we have over the fireplace in the living-room.

I've spent some time browsing on the web: do you know you can buy wallpaper for £112 a roll? I told Husband that, mainly so that when I say, 'Can I spend £15.99 a roll on wallpaper?' he'll think it's a bargain.

Husband is off on leave tomorrow and he has just told me he will be ready to start painting the ceiling. Oh dear. So what do you think? Green or red? Just for the bit below the wotsit; the bit above will be painted in ... another colour.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Looking at my blog statistics it seems that the overall number of visitors is increasing very gradually, but that's mostly due to first-timers. The number of returning visitors stays fairly constant, which suggests that I have a few regular readers, but that, for most people, one visit is enough. I can understand that.
* * * * * * * * * * *
In prison this morning, Sean from Zac's was speaking. Have I mentioned that they have a newish system for visitors on entering the prison? They keep everyone's fingerprints on record and compare them on the magic scanner. Most people have trouble either entering or leaving, getting the scanner to recognise their prints; I never have this problem. I had better not commit a crime: my fingerprints will be too clear and easily identifiable.
Sean read something about drinking from the crystal chalice. When we were talking afterwards, one of the other ladies said it made her think of Terry Waite; the chaplain said something equally spiritual. I didn't say it reminded me of Dumbledore and Harry Potter.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A bit of a blur

As well as being a blogging addict, I am becoming a digital-photo-taking addict (I wouldn't classify what I do as photography).

Hanging the washing on the line just now - it is a wonderful drying day - I was accompanied by a sweet little robin who was singing his heart out. I rushed inside to find the camera, got back out but fiddled around for so long trying to find him in the viewer that he gave up and flew away.

I am convinced the camera doesn't point at the thing it is photographing. For example, if I want to take a photo centred and focused on A, then I have to point the camera slightly to the left of A. Is this normal? The way cameras work? Or do we just have a dodgy camera?

Things aren't helped by my age-corrupted eyesight. Not being able to see clearly what I'm focusing on is a bit of a bummer; as is not being able to tell if the automatic focus is working properly. It isn't usually. Not when I'm trying to do close-ups. Husband has explained to me what setting I have to use but my memory is age-corrupted as well.

Talking about a bit of a bummer, i don't know what I did in circuits last night but my right buttock aches.

But all that was really just to explain why this photo isn't very clear.

It's my little fan heater. I have it on in the study when I'm working. The idea is that it is more efficient to warm this room than the whole of the house. It's my idea anyway. Could be right.

Anyway, if you can see, you'll see there are two dials. The top one controls how hot I want it to be; the bottom one has different settings. The settings include one called ECO.

I am under the belief that this stands for Economy, but how can that be? If the temperature is controlled by the top dial, then if I set the bottom dial on Economy, will it make me as warm more cheaply i.e. send a message to the Electricity shop and tell them I'm using the Economy setting so please don't charge me so much? Or will it use less energy - but take longer so it has to be on for longer - to reach the same temperature? Or is it just a magic button that was invented by a genius who worked out how to create energy from nothing? Thus disproving every law of energy there is, I expect.

That's it. And he was employed by the Electricity people who obviously don't want people knowing how to make energy from nothing or they'll be out of business, so they a) bribed him to keep quiet; b) said they'd use it as they have in my fan heater just to keep him happy; c) kidnapped him and even now he is a prisoner in a castle somewhere in deepest Cumbria.

Now for anyone who reads this who thinks I should be working i.e. Husband and Daughter, I'm on my lunch break.

Okay, so I'm outside, now what?

"Are you going to help me get in?"
"No, you can do it, come on."
"No, I can't."
"Yes, you can; you can do it. Come on, clever boy!"
"No, no, I can't."
"Don't be so stupid! Of course you can when you try. Just try!"
"No, I can't."
"Look, I'm not kneeling here all morning trying to persuade you. Come on!"
"Woof, woof, woof"
"Aw, come on, sweetheart, you can do it."
"Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof."
"Right, I'm going; are you coming in?"
"Help me!"
"No, you're quite capable of doing it if you don't think about it and just do it. Come on! And don't hang your head and look so pathetic; it won't work with me!"
"Purleese ..."

Younger Son got fed up with the woofing at this point and lifted him in.


Just heard a news report that a theatre, about to raise its ticket prices, had come up with a scheme to offer reduced prices to locals, who pay towards the upkeep via their council tax.

Sounds good and sensible to me.

Unfortunately the Maltings Theatre is in Berwick, which is only a few miles inside England away from the Scottish border. Now a Scottish Nationalist is claiming that it is racial discrimination against the Scots who would have to pay more.

Sometimes it's not necessary to say anything, is it? Things speak for themselves.

Then again, something like 41% of the theatre's audience comes from Scotland. The theatre management asked the region to contribute to its costs: the local authority refused. So it could be spin or spite.

Diet Bore II

I'm making a casserole for dinner but it's all right because I have the wonderful Fry Light, the one calorie extra virgin olive oil spray for slimmers.

Except I use at least 20 sprays. But how many calories can there be in that? So that's fine.

Except it doesn't look very good so I slop in some proper olive oil. And some more. But, still, it's not as if I'll be eating the entire casserole, so that's fine.

Except I was thinking of putting a rice pudding in to cook at the same time. If I don't I'll be hearing my granny's voice saying, 'You can't waste all that heat on cooking just one thing.' And foods high in calcium help you pooh more fat, so that's all right.

All that milk and rice mightn't be awfully slimming but I am going to circuits first and it is comfort food and it is Valentine's Day and I will be alone. Unless you count younger Son who is planning on eating his dinner in his room watching Arsenal.

So, yes, that's fine. Hardly a hiccup for the diet at all.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Shall I? Or shan't I?

Trying to persuade Harvey that he really really should go outside.

He's not convinced.

I was wrong!

I did get a card from Husband. This is it:

Apparently I have passed the test and meet all his criteria for a perfect Valentine. Either that or it was the only card he could find in the NAAFI shop on the MOD base he's working on at the moment.
He is the best.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Husband is away (of course) for Valentine's Day. Will I get a card? I doubt it; I haven't sent him one.

Anyway in Wales, we have our own patron saint of lovers. She is St Dwynwen and her day is celebrated on 25 January.

Dwynwen lived during the 5th century and was one of the prettiest of Brychan Brycheiniog's 24 daughters. Dwynwen fell in love with a prince called Maelon Dafodrill, but unfortunately her father had already arranged that she should marry someone else.

Dwynwen was so upset that she could not marry Maelon that she begged God to make her forget him. After falling asleep, Dwynwen was visited by an angel, who appeared carrying a sweet potion designed to erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into a block of ice.

God then gave three wishes to Dwynwen. Her first wish was that Maelon be thawed; her second that God meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers; and third, that she should never marry. All three were fulfilled, and as a mark of her thanks, Dwynwen devoted herself to God's service for the rest of her life.

She founded a convent on Llanddwyn, off the west coast of Anglesey, where a well named after her became a place of pilgrimage after her death in 465AD. Visitors to the well believed that the sacred fish or eels that lived in the well could foretell whether or not their relationship would be happy and whether love and happiness would be theirs. Remains of Dwynwen's church can still be seen today.

Sammy said ...

"When I was growing up I thought of God as a sort of cosmic skinhead, out to wreck my life. A bit like Rik Mayall in Bottom.

It wasn't until later that I discovered that God likes people.

Immanuel means 'God with us'. Take away God and us and you're left with 'with'. If you ask for coffee with milk in Zac's, you'll get it all mixed up, not with the milk in a jug on the side. That's the same word as God with us. Inseparable. Even when you can't make sense of life, God is in it with you."

Sammy also sang a song about a songwriter whose girlfriend left him because he couldn't get his words to rhyme.

"She's gone to him,

because I can't get my words to rim.

My life is oh so dull,

just pick up your phone and cull

my number."

Sammy, Sean and Doris.

Zac's received some funding to commission artwork on the theme of the Beatitudes. Doris symbolises 'Blessed are those who mourn.' In her back are lots of little drawers containing things lost.

I must do another post about the artwork soon. There is still some to be completed but it's part of the vision of Zac's to use different art forms for worship and to provoke thought. To use our God-given creativity to help us be the people we were created to be.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sex, crosswords and a good run

Over on Rhea's Babyboomer blog, she mentions that crosswords are good for keeping the brain alive. That reminded me of this card that we have stuck up on the wall in the toilet.
It's from Bev Williams's Spring Chicken card range.

Pobody's nerfect

On Sunday evening Sammy Horner was performing at Zac's.

Best known as main songwriter, bassist and front man of the Celtic rock combo, The Electrics, Sammy also tours alone and he's just produced a solo CD called, Songs for the Sick and Tired. If you like Celtic music, you'll love his. You can hear some on the website or his myspace.

He's Irish and intersperses his music with a wonderful narrative. He's got the blarney, all right.

He said he's often asked where he gets the inspiration for his songs. From everywhere, he replies, including a t-shirt Marge wore in one episode of The Simpsons. Here are the words of the song he wrote from that.

For as you judge so you shall be, it says so in the bible o
So please don't be too harsh on me for pobody's nerfect o.

I've tried my best to do my best because I think it's worth it o
But fail I do, yet loved I am, cause pobody's nerfect o.

And if you think you're better than the man who sits beside you o
Then be my guest and throw your stones, for pobody's nerfect o.

He's coming along to Zac's again tonight. I can't wait!

I don't want to be a diet bore ...

but I just want to point out that I am on a SERIOUS diet now.

And have been since Sunday. (Apart from the box of Venetian chocolates, which, incidentally, were very scrummy. 'Were' being the operative word.)

I am allowing myself four weeks to lose weight before looking for a wedding outfit.

I'm not going to go on about it; I just wanted you to be aware of it so that, should my posts get a bit grumpy, you'll know there is a reason for it.

But so far, so good. (Apart from the box of Venetian chocolates.)

Sorry, I'm dead

A Swansea woman has been caught trying to avoid a speeding fine by writing to the authorities and telling them she was dead.

We breed 'em smart in Swansea.

* * * * * * * * * *

I fear my hair is beginning to look like Peggy Mitchell's. Admittedly hers is blonde and perfectly coiffed while mine ... isn't, but it does seem to have its heart set on adopting a bouffant look.

I might have the bosom for it, but I'm not ready to take over from Barbara yet.

Does my English cut the mustard?

Your English Skills:
Grammar: 100%Spelling: 100%Punctuation: 80%Vocabulary: 60%

Monday, February 12, 2007

My 800th post

I should be celebrating! Instead I am in the doldrums.

No, I'm not really; but I should be after the way Wales played in their Six Nations match against Scotland yesterday.

Last week they lost to Ireland but played well. 'When we get our backs back, it'll be all right, ' we said. Well, we had one of our backs back, but the rest of the team were useless.

2005 Wales win the Grand Slam.
2006 Wales do badly but we put it down to a huge injury list.
2007 What's our excuse?

There seemed to be no hunger to win, no spirit, no hwyl. We were lacklustre, as if we were at the end of a hard season not at the beginning of World Cup year.

England were pretty dire too. But at least they won.

And not even my fantasy rugby team is helping. If it hadn't been for Scotsman, Chris Patterson, scoring so many points against Wales, I'd have been in the red. Good job I had him in my team. although being in my team seems to be a signal for players to get injured or substituted. I included - on Alun's advice - Iain Balshaw (injured) and Mike Tindall (substituted); Irish players, Andrew Trimble and Simon Easterby, both substituted, also figured in my team. Although that's a good thing as the Irish lost. (It's a very complicated scoring system.)

I'm now in 23,172nd position in the league.

A weekend in Devon

Just returned from a visit to Silverton, Devon. We took Holly and Charlie back home to Daughter and Son-in-law (who'd enjoyed their visit to Venice).

As a one-day belated birthday treat, we all - well, all the humans - ate out at Jack in the Green last night. It's our fourth visit there since Daughter has lived in Devon and it's probably about our favourite place to eat. We've never been disappointed.

Last night for starters I had Seared Sesame Tuna with Chive Crushed Potato, Black Olive and Cabernet Sauvignon Vinaigrette . Now I've never had fresh tuna before so I didn't know what to expect. What arrived was three small triangular slices of - well, Husband and Son-in-law who've both eaten tuna before assured me was - tuna. I was convinced they'd brought me the wrong thing. It tasted like ... no, not chicken ... duck or lamb maybe. Certainly it bore nor resemblance to tinned tuna, which I always consider to be a dry fish, which is why I've never chosen to have it before. Anyway it was delicious. Whatever it was.

Killerton House is a National trust property, close to Silverton.

The 'new' Severn Bridge is a very beautiful structure.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Happy Birthday, Daughter!

Charlie poses with Harvey and Holly to wish Daughter a happy birthday.
Can you spot the joins?

The weatherman said it was going to rain

It's not much but it doesn't snow here very often. The sea protects us, I believe. It gets me excited anyway.

When I left home this morning it was raining; by lunchtime the drive up to the building was getting untravellable, so, being the only person in work, I made an executive decision and sent myself home. Just as well I did too, as Alfie didn't like the slippery hill at all and was most reluctant to stop.

Two things from work though. First an I received an email about a survey being carried out, or as the writer put it, 'we're running a pole asking ...'. One hopes he stops running long enough to ask his questions.

Secondly, on making a phone call I got through to an answerphone that said, 'Your call cannot be answered at the moment and you cannot leave a message so - here the speaker took a breath, just long enough for me to wonder what she was going to say - please sod off.' Not really.

I used to leave amusing messages on the answerphone in work. Okay, I thought they were amusing. One time I said, 'I'm sorry, the answerphone isn't working but the filing cabinet will take a message and pass it on for you.'

I had to remove it after my boss kept getting people complaining that the answerphone wasn't working.

No wonder I have to blog. My creativity is stifled.

Remember those flowers from yesterday? See them today.

And the cross isn't a cross; it's the edge of a noticeboard (in the middle of the woods).

Friday, February 09, 2007

Public Confessions of a Middle-aged Woman

I asked Santa for this book, and he very kindly brought it for me.

I finished reading it a few weeks ago. Not very impressed. It's a collection of short articles written originally for Sainsburys' magazine, and lots of the pieces don't seem to have a point. Or if they do, they fizzle out with no 'ending'. Very waffly (and I should know being the Queen of Waffle).
Anyway I was looking through my bookshelf (it mainly runs around the top of the study wall) for something or other when I spotted a familiar-looking book. I got a chair, clambered up and got the book down.
You know what I'm going to say next, don't you?
Yes, it was the same book. I can vaguely recall asking Santa for it for a previous Christmas. It obviously didn't make an impact on me then either. Hey ho.