Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sleep tight, Harvey

In the garden yesterday.

We took Harvey to the vet for the last time this morning.

He could barely lift his head from his mat, his breathing was quick and shallow, and he was distressed. The vet came out to the car and we were stroking him at the end.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Rockin' Girls

Ruthie has awarded me this Rockin' Girl Blogger award! It's the first time I've ever had something like this and I am VERY excited - although I don't really cope very well with people being nice to me.
If anyone can tell me - in non-techie words of one syllable - how to get it into my side-bar, I would be very appreciative.
Now, to pass it on. Hm, that's difficult but I think it will be someone who, I'm willing to bet, would deny that her blog rocked, and instead would say, 'Oh, it's nothing.' But it's a 'nothing' I always enjoy reading, so I'm passing this award on to Elsie.

Dinner a deux

Dinner tonight - duck on a bed of leeks, cabbage and broccoli - looked so pretty I took a photo for you - before I added the burned butternut squash to the plate!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Have the All Blacks peaked too soon?

Okay, so I'm entering a competition to win a press pass for the rugby world cup. Husband is greatly entertained by this. He thinks, given the chance to interview some of my sporting heroes, I would go to jelly and be unable to utter more than the occasional squeak. Complete nonsense of course; I would be the consummate professional. (Ha!)

However for me to even get a chance, I need people to visit http://www.sportingo.com/home/all_blacks_need_get_back/1001,4164

read my article and comment on it. Discuss, agree, argue but comment.

I'd be awfully grateful if you would.

The Holly and the Harvey

We were supposed to be going to Devon this weekend to dogsit but we didn't want to leave Harvey so ... Husband, who was working away, travelled home via Devon, to bring Holly to stay with us.

Harvey, as usual when we have this young visitor, felt obliged to put on a show so, after Husband had lifted him into the garden, he walked round a bit. Very slowly but he did it. We waited to see what he would do when he reached the top of the steps as turning causes him some problems but, very gradually, little step by little step, he managed to turn himself round.

Holly can't understand why Harvey is apparently standing, staring into space; she doesn't realise he's adapting my 'I'm just admiring the scenery' approach when I stop, panting, halfway up a hill.

And this evening he ate some fish skin and a bit of dog food - hand-fed by me. One is born every minute.

* * * * * * * * * *

A couple of posts previously I said I'd put my foot in it again. This wasn't blogging related although several people seemed to think it was. Does this mean I have blogged something for which I should be apologising as well?!


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Saturday Photohunt - Creative

I made these brownies for the Community Cafe. Other than that, I'm not feeling very creative; I have other things on my mind.

But then I remembered a photo I submitted to Shoot my blog website. This involved taking a photo that creatively included the front page of that blog.


Like a teddy bear

I managed to get Harvey up this morning and he got as far as the rug in the hall. I couldn't get him out in time and then his left back leg sort of stopped working. He tried to walk but ended up going in circles.

You've got to laugh.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The road to hell

It will be on my tombstone: She meant well.

But good intentions aren't always enough. I've done it again, said the wrong thing at the wrong time. I can't say any more than that because of the other people involved; suffice it to say that I am kicking myself again.

* * * * * * * * * *

No change in Harvey, although he did walk a little on his own while I was out.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

In which I am a little concerned

Harvey continues with his dead dog routine. It's not funny any more, I've told him.

We got him onto bed in the kitchen last night and he hasn't moved from there. He hasn't looked for food since the day before yesterday and he doesn't raise his head when I talk to him. He did lift his head to take a couple of treats from me just now but it wasn't his usual grab'n'gulp.

Our community cafe is open for the summer holidays and I'm down there today. If it's very quiet this afternoon - as it might be with the rain we're having - I'll try and come home early.

Almost there

Here's a photo to get those spiders into perspective. The little blob you see just below the shelf is the fat spider; that's how far up he has been pulled by skinny-legs since yesterday afternoon. About three-quarters of a tile.

I don't like to interfere with nature so I'm happy to let them get on with it. I did think about taking fatty and feeding him to Spid (now he is a BIG spider) but thought again.

The end is nigh

The Court of Appeal in London has overturned the ruling by the High Court last week saving Shambo, the sacred bullock.

This morning inspectors arrived at the Skanda Vale community to collect Shambo. They were greeted by crowds of protesters from as far afield as Switzerland and New Zealand. The monks are holding a service of worship in front of Shambo, saying the inspectors will have to desecrate a temple and interrupt an act of worship to get to him.

A spokesman for the Farmers' Union said, 'We do sympathise. I spoke to a farmer yesterday and he'd lost 80 cattle over the last couple of months and you know there wasn't any television coverage of 80 cattle going off his farm but yet he had to face that and was quite emotional.'

He also said that they welcomed the publicity that the disease was getting: TB is an ongoing problem and needs to be dealt with.

I'll keep you informed.

How to play dead

Harvey has spent the day doing his dead dog impersonation. I do wish he wouldn't; it's very stressful having to keep checking if he's breathing.

He was very active yesterday even to the extent of getting his head stuck in the arm of the chair; today he is paying for such exertion.

I wonder if he has heard us saying that we're going to Devon to dogsit this weekend. Last time we went away he was poorly; maybe he's getting his 'I'm old, you can't go and leave me,' act together early. (Of course we're not leaving him alone; Younger Son is here to take care of him.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Spider Wars

I spotted these two in the kitchen. You'll have to look closely.
The long-legged, see-thru spider is wrapping the big fat spider in web-thread in an effort to lift him up to his store-house under the shelf. The big fat spider was still kicking and fighting against it but seemed to be losing the battle.

One for the bikers

Harley-Davidson is after the girls.

At a dealer convention in Tennessee, a marketing consultant told her audience how to attract the girls.

"Neatly groomed hair is a good start. Always maintain eye contact. Keep those handshakes firm, but not too firm. Clean the bathrooms. Set up a play area for kids. And do not forget the little things that can help draw in passers-by. Put a plant out there to say you are female-friendly," she said.

Harley-Davidson is making a real effort to win female customers by adjusting the dimensions of bikes - making them closer to the ground for little legs - and making the seat softer - for delicate bottoms. Apparently they've even adapted the skull emblem to include wings and flowers (although I couldn't find any mention of that on the Harley site).

And they're advertising in women's magazines with an image of a female biker using the chrome plating on a bike for a mirror to apply mascara. Because that's what girls do.

I'm not a biker but I think they'd need to make the bikes not only smaller but lighter. I've seen plenty of bikes and I wouldn't fancy holding one between my legs.

What not to say

Last year Mark was diagnosed with MS.

The first time I saw him after his diagnosis was when I was on the door at church welcoming people to the Sunday morning meeting. He and his wife arrived and I said the standard things and then, feeling I had to say something, I started talking. 'Do you watch West Wing?'

They shook their heads.

'Well, the President in that has MS and he does fine; he manages to run the country.' I could feel my sentence shrivelling up as it came out of my mouth.

They smiled weakly at me and moved on into the main hall.

The next people who arrived found me, statue-like, staring at the wall, muttering to myself, 'I didn't really say that, did I? I couldn't have; I couldn't be that stupid. Oh, I did, ohmigosh ...'

P.S. I apologised to them afterwards, and I've spoken to them lots of times since and we're fine.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Why, thank you, kind sir

I call him Thankyou Man. You can guarantee that any conversation he has, 50% of it will consist of him thanking the other person. Alun thinks Thankyou Man is great; he would rather have 50 Thankyou Men than some other people he could mention.

He drives me around the bend.

He thanks me for the work I do ... for doing my job. For which I get paid. I know I should be grateful, glad that someone appreciates what I do. But when the gratitude is churned out time and again as if it's on automatic , it's hard to believe it's real.

Yet in a strange way, I think it is. He is an unbelievably grateful man, who delights in expressing that gratitude. (Perhaps I should drop a hint that chocolate is a good way to say thank you ...)

I was in a meeting with him once. When he arrived he thanked everybody for coming (although he hadn't called the meeting); he thanked everybody for letting him come; he thanked the host for offering him a drink; he thanked one of the others for letting him have hot chocolate too (?); then he said, 'thank you for ... (We could see him struggling to think of something else and we waited agog - was he going to fail? would he have to end his sentence there?) ... letting me sit down.'

I am horrid but I do feel a bit sorry for him. I wonder if his gratitude is a result of low self-esteem, if he thinks it will make people like him more. He's told me about some things one of his children said to him and they were incredibly blunt and cruel; yet he went along with it in an accepting sort of way.

I must try harder.

* * * * * * * * * *

A church laptop, projector and mixing desk were stolen from the back of Alun's car last week. (And there was no sign of a break-in so it looks as though they won't be covered by insurance.)

If you recall last autumn I managed to wipe the hard drive in work completely clean. But I only lost the data; Alun has lost the computer too.

A number of people pointed out to me what an opportunity this was for me to get my own back: Alun has been known to make fun of me for this and other reasons. Encouraged by these others, I tentatively began to broach the subject. I had only just opened my mouth when Alun said, 'Don't even go there! Don't think about it! You know you'll regret it!'

And it's true.

Once - just once - I had to drop out of an event at the last moment; has he let me forget that? Months later he's still bringing it up, when I least expect it. Oh, yes, he is a torment.

But we get on really well. Work is a fun place to be when we're both in the office. We moan and nag and tease each other - and as I said, I usually come off worse. But when things are bad, when I'm struggling or doubting my ability or myself, Alun is the best support I could ask for. He can be serious and reassuring - when he's not showing me photos of his bongo.
That's Alun on the left, with Dave, our volunteer. They've just completed a tour of primary schools with their play about caring for the environment. They're two mad professors in case you couldn't guess.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Saturday Photohunt - Tiny

Last week I asked Husband for some ideas for the theme of shadow. He suggested taking a man named Richard around the cliffs in the sunshine. 'Then you've got Cliff Richard and the Shadow,' he said.

This week I decided to try asking Alun for inspiration. He suggested this:
Tie Knee. See?
What did I do to deserve such men in my life?
This is my real entry. Tiny: on the grand scale of life, me.


Friday, July 20, 2007

HP fever

Alun has a friend who is going away for the weekend with his family. They're taking the new Harry Potter with them and the father is going to read it to them all over the weekend.

Not long now. But I am still re-reading book 6 and have to wait for Younger Son to read book 7 first. Although he has said that he can't wait for it to be delivered on Saturday morning and will go to the shop at midnight and buy a copy. He intends to spend the weekend reading it.

Will Harry die, that's the question? Who else will? Will Snape finally be revealed for the goodie he really is? Will the Weasel twins become joke-shop millionaires?

Shambo saved!

At least temporarily. The bullock at the centre of a row has won a reprieve from the courts.

Shambo, a 'sacred' bullock who lives in a multi-faith community in Carmarthenshire, has tested positive for bovine TB. Normally this would mean a death sentence but monks at the temple have fought for his life to be spared on the grounds that it would breach the Human Rights Convention (Article 9).

The Welsh Assembly government has lodged an appeal and the fight goes on.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cucumber sandwiches anyone?

Last night in Zac's, Sean read the parable of the rich man's feast, and asked if we'd ever received an invite we hadn't expected, and how we'd felt. It reminded of the time when ...

Husband came home from work and said we'd been invited out and he made me guess by whom. I went through the usual suspects: friends, a work do, family. No, none of those.
'Oh, I don't know. The Prime Minister?!'
'Close,' he said. 'We've been invited to tea with the Queen.'

Along with several hundred others, we'd been invited to one of the Queen's summer garden parties at Buckingham Palace. In those days, Husband was a civil servant, and he'd just battled with cancer, so I think that was why we got the invite.

Although it could be said that I was following in a family tradition. My great-auntie Vi had been twice in her position as President of the local WI, and my uncle John had also been. (Auntie Vi was well-suited to her role in spite of the fact that she swore like a trooper: she had a collection of hats and loved to talk. In fact most members of my family have the gift of the gab, unlike me. Even kissing the blarney stone didn't help in my case.)

But I'm wandering off the point.

It was all very exciting going to the palace, and remarkably relaxed. Apart from soldiers on guard at the front and men with guns on the roof, you'd hardly have known there was any security.

But what I mentioned last night was the fact that, although we'd been invited, we were just part of the throng; the 'important people' were in a little enclosure of their own. And the path the Queen walked down was wide and fenced off.

What's more, late in the afternoon, when I went to ask for a drink, the waitress said she couldn't serve me as the national anthem had just been played and that meant the Queen had left the party so no more drinks could be served. Seeing my disappointment - it was a warm afternoon - she glanced around quickly and surreptitiously poured me a glass of lemon barley.

So what I said last night was that I hoped it wouldn't be like that in heaven. No separate enclosures for the elite - the Mother Teresas and Martin Luther Kings - or the seemingly-superior - the pope and Cliff Richard. And I hope it won't be like a posh feast where I don't know which cutlery to use.

And most of all I hope God won't leave the building.

P.S. The food was very good though. As it will be in heaven. Where chocolate won't be bad for you.xx

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The writing world

"The advance of the citizen journalist means that, hopefully, 'the truth' will be more likely to come out in the future."
Guido Fawkes, blogger, as quoted in August's Writers' News magazine.

If bloggers are making it into such august publications then what is the world coming to?

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Last month's Writing magazine (yes, I'm catching up on my reading) reported that the author of a self-published book previously being sold at the Steam Railway Museum in Swindon has been told that the book will no longer be stocked unless she takes out Public Liability insurance of £2,000,000. That's in case 'the book falls apart and gouges someone's eye out'.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

July's Writing magazine reported that you can buy wallpaper that looks like books on bookshelves.

Or maybe you'd prefer frocks on your wall.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Zac's Girls

aka Arty Girl, Hippy Girl, Ginger Girl, Smart Girl and Biker Girl, plus me: Posh Girl (I'm not really but I seem to have been designated as such.) We spent yesterday doing not a lot in truly peaceful surroundings in rural Breconshire.

After the unbelievably wet rain we had on Friday, it wasn't looking good but the sun came out for us and it was idyllic.

We went not really having any plans for the day. The cottage we were visiting is run as a retreat by its resident owner, Jenny, a counsellor for 25 years. And it showed. Sorry, that sounds very ungrateful but you can pick out a counsellor at 10 yards. And that wasn't what I was there for.

The others all seemed happy and two especially found it very beneficial. For my part, I was glad to be in the surroundings, in the company of Zac's Girls, and to find out a little more about people who are becoming friends. A good day.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Thank you

Big thanks to everyone who commented on the previous post. I will respond to each one of your comments but I won't be able to do it until this evening.

I'm off to a cottage retreat in the Breconshire countryside with Zac's Girls for the day!

I'll tell you about later as well.

Oh, yes, and I'll post a Photohunt piccie too!

Have a good weekend.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Third time

It was a surprise when I became pregnant for the third time. No, that's not true: it wasn't a surprise. But we weren't trying. In fact, we were actively not trying - except for that one caution to the wind, 'it's okay, it's the wrong time of the month to conceive', moment.

But I knew I was pregnant straightaway. It would have been more of a surprise if my period had begun as normal. I just knew it. It hadn't been like that with the other two; I'd waited anxiously, hopefully, then.

So when the doctor said my test was positive, I nodded and said we hadn't planned it. He looked worried; he knew we had two very young children. 'Are you all right with it?'
'Oh, yes,' I beamed. 'It's fine.'

We'd planned another one at least - just not quite yet. But it wasn't a problem.

Even though Husband was changing his job and we'd have to move to Southampton, it wasn't a problem. Even though I would be very pregnant by the time we moved, that was life: we'd cope.

I loved being pregnant. It was just the best time. I was fortunate to be healthy through my pregnancies and I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Is there anything better than feeling a new life kicking inside you? Than lying in the bath watching your belly be distorted this way and that as baby gets his exercise?

The first sign that anything was wrong was a slight blood spotting. I panicked and rushed to the doctor. 'Go home and rest. Put your feet up.'

I didn't move off the settee.

But it got worse. We called the doctor out. He hm-mmed and ha-hed and said to call again if it got worse. It got worse in the middle of the night.

A locum came. Said casually, 'You've almost certainly lost the baby. Let's get you to hospital.'

They took me in an ambulance while Husband stayed at home with the children. (I didn't have any family around - well, I didn't have any family.) The paramedic sitting with me made small talk; I stared at the roof of the ambulance.

In Emergency, a doctor fired questions at me. I couldn't understand what he was saying. At last the nurse sighed and said, 'He wants to know if you smoke.'
'No, no, I don't.'

They took me to a single room off a ward and left me there.

Sometime during the following afternoon a female doctor came in with a nurse. The doctor said, 'We'll just check what's happening.'

The nurse, before she came and sat at the head of the bed, put up a screen that stopped me seeing the doctor's hands. She sat down, took my hand and smiled at me; I smiled back at her. I was still innocent then.

The doctor said, 'It's halfway out.' The nurse squeezed my hand.

The doctor fiddled around a bit more and then that was that.

They took the screen away. And the bucket.

The doctor said, 'You'll be able to have more. Are you hungry?'

The nurse said, 'I'll go and see if I can get you a cup of tea, shall I?'

Then they were gone. With my baby. In a bucket.

* * * * * * * * * *

I had to have a D&C to clean me out properly. The ward I was on was full of women who'd miscarried. Some were childless and had miscarried for the fourth or fifth time. Nobody said anything but the silence after the questions, 'Is it your first miscarriage? Do you have any children?' spoke more than words. 'What are you so sad for? You've got a girl and boy already. What more do you want?' I'm probably misjudging them; it could be that no-one thought that but I only imagined they did. I would have done in their position.

When I saw my doctor afterwards and told him that it had felt as if I were being gutted like a chicken, he said, 'Um. Well, you'll be able to have another one. It was your hormones not being in balance.'

Oh, so it was my fault then.

When I was pregnant with Younger Son, and we were living in Southampton under another doctor, I told him of my anxieties after the miscarriage. He asked how many months I'd been when it had happened and then told me that at that point, it usually meant that the baby was unable to survive because of problems with the baby, not hormonal balance.

I've written this post after reading on jmb's blog about tributes that are made to lost babies (miscarried or aborted) in Japan. There's nothing like that here. Miscarriage is something we treat as normal, an everyday happening. At three months it's not even really a baby, is it? Lots of women I've met who've had miscarriages have been able - or have said they are able - to treat it as unimportant.

I've never written this down before. I've written a fictionalised version but not the reality. Even now I'm hesitant about pushing the Publish Post button.

The only comment my mother-in-law made to me, the only thing she said about my miscarriage, was, 'Well, it would have been difficult to move if you'd been that pregnant.'

Though, thinking about it, she must have said as well, 'You'll be able to have another one.'

But I wanted my baby, my lost one.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Fly me to the moon

Younger Son works at the airport. His work is completely unrelated to the airport; the company just happens to be occupying some accommodation there.

The last couple of days he tells me there have been some suspicious characters about.

One asked if he could leave a bag there for someone. He changed his mind later and came back to get it but had to answer some questions from the police.

The other was spotted taking photographs of the airport and I'm told this is illegal now.

Now this would all be rather more worrying if you hadn't seen the airport. I'll let these two quotes from The Budget Traveller's Guide to Sleeping in Airports tell the story for me.

"I lived in a tent off the runway for nearly a year after being evicted from Cork airport in Ireland. It's OK - but seems to lack general facilities, including aeroplanes. There used to be flights to London through Air Wales, but these have now stopped it seems. So if you ever get to the airport your only way out is by foot, bus or stolen car."

"Going to Ireland, rubbish airline delays, so I decided to sleep there. The airport has constant problems with sheep wandering onto the runway, and its facilities are more suited to battery farming than are conducive to a decent night's rest."

Hallelujah chorus

I'm waiting for two emails before I can get on with my work so I'll blog. (As if I need an excuse.)

Husband set off for Hook at about 6.15 this morning; Harvey set off barking at 6.45 this morning. At 7.00 am I gave up and got up.

Later, I went upstairs to shower and as I reached the landing I heard angelic voices singing sweetly. Younger Son had already left for work and Harvey's bark is anything but angelic so I was slightly puzzled. I wondered if my time had come. Would I, any minute, see a dark tunnel with a light at the end? It would come as a surprise but I've always said that's the way I want to go. I just hadn't anticipated it quite so soon, or unexpectedly.

I mean, if it's my time, last night in circuits would have seemed a more obvious place. I thought my blood would burst through my face after the third time on the NZ station (so-called because it's an exercise used by the All Blacks rugby team).

[I just googled to find images of strong men and weak women to illustrate my point: plenty of strong men but not a weak woman image to be found. Not pc?)

Anyway, back to my imminent death. I followed the noise into my bedroom - and discovered it coming from the alarm clock. Husband must have feared I would sleep all day so he kindly reset the alarm before leaving. He and Harvey conspire against me.

To sleep, perchance to dream.

One of the emails has arrived so back to work.

Is it me?

On the news this morning.

Suggested changes to the curriculum include teaching cookery. When was it removed? Younger Son did it and that was only 6/7 years ago.

A survey has found that the public's perception of Islam has been adversely affected by the recent failed bombings in London and Glasgow. Well, d'uh. And people get paid to find that out.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Welcome, newbies!

I see that Blogpower has a lot of new names on its roll. Welcome to you all!

There are lots of intelligent and thought-provoking blogs already on the roll - but this isn't one of them. I would hate for you to mistake me for someone intelligent. (Although Harvey is saying to me, 'Speak for yourself.')

So welcome, and may you be very happy and active members our community.

"I'm a wide-mouthed ...'

Younger Son wasn't impressed with my talking wide-mouthed melon. He claimed that a melon wouldn't speak 'in that sort of voice'.
'Have you ever heard a melon speak before?'
My point was proven.

And now I know where the inspiration for Zippy came from.

P.S. That is Husband's hairy arm not mine.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sunday round-up

Husband grumbled about the photo I posted on the previous post. He felt I should have used the one that shows his legs. 'People said I had lovely legs.' And he does.
Harvey can't understand why we've rushed indoors. I'm sure there must be something about the rain not falling on the innocent.

I've written to the local paper! I often threaten to but rarely does the enthusiasm endure. But this time I've actually done it.
There was a report in Friday's paper about a big effort by police to get drug dealers off the streets. Since March dozens of suspects have been arrested. It mentioned that three of them have now been imprisoned; the report also saw fit to say that the three were all Big issue sellers.
Too many people already have the wrong impression of Big Issue sellers: they see them as no-good beggars. In fact, the majority are trying hard to find a way off the streets. Selling the Big Issue magazine - which they have buy before they can sell it - is, for many, the first step to getting into employment and the community. It's work, not begging and part of the ethos of the Big Issue is to raise self-esteem in people who have a very low opinion of themselves by giving them something worthwhile to do, that earns them some money. Most of them are not drug dealers. To mention this in the report simply reinforces the stereotype that exists.
Off my soapbox.
Yesterday, after the gardening, we took a drive out to the marina. There must be a lot of rich people around. It's not just the price of the boat initially - £500,000 for the ones I really like - it's the cost of mooring it and technical terms that husband explained to me, but I wasn't really listening, preferring instead to imagine myself lounging on the deck of a boat, somewhere round the Caribbean, or shall we go to the Indian Ocean this month?

Rich people but we're not among them. Lots of flashy and not-so-flashy boats in the Marina. The national industrial museum is built on the edge of the marina and several of the exhibits are floating in it. As well as a lightship and something else - I think it was something to do with canning - there's a tug called Thomas. Thomas is a Normandy D-Day veteran and was the first diesel tug owned by the Admiralty.
It was interesting to see the old and the new juxtaposed.

How does your garden grow?

After the wettest June since records began, the first full weekend in July has been pleasant enough. Warm and sunny in between showers. So pleasant, in fact, that I took it into my head to do some gardening. Now I may have mentioned before that I am to plants what Jack the Ripper was to prostitutes, but never fear, I did the sort of gardening that i am good at: the destructive kind.

Give me a patch of overgrown ground and I am in my element. I clear the way; Husband plants and nurtures. We make a good team. So, inspired by the cottage garden we saw in Stratford, I set to with my three-pronged fork (Husband has had it since before we were married, so it's probably over 30 years old) and my rubber gloves. I am ruthless; I show no mercy.

The first photo shows the patch of garden as it was, overgrown with buttercups, which were very pretty when in flower but the very devil to dig up. Photo two shows the clean soil complete with the first of the plants we've bought in order to try to create the cottage garden look.

I would be slightly more hopeful about the result if it hadn't been for the raspberries.

Last year I cleared what had been the raspberry patch and we planted eight new sticks. No, that's not it. Canes! Three survived until last week when one got broken. Today I've planted six more canes: three of them look as though they might survive...
Harvey made his way out to join me during the afternoon. It was quite a challenge for him, so I promised him that we'd have a drink soon, and then I carried on gardening. After a bit Harvey wanted to know when we were getting this drink.
'Now, in a minute.'
'Do you mean now or in a minute?' he asked pedantically.
I looked at him. 'You're a Welsh dog; you know what I mean.'
He shrugged. 'Well, I assume you mean in a minute - or ten - as you're showing no sign of stopping gardening.'
I went and got him a drink.
He was born on a farm in Wales so he has no excuse. From the pedigree papers it looks as though someone else had him first and then changed their minds and returned him. We think it was because - hang on, I'll just make sure he can't hear what I'm typing - that's all right, he's in the other room, sleeping - he has a pink nose. Black-nosed Golden Retrievers look down their black noses on their pink-nosed cousins. There is snobbery in every walk of life.

Cherie and JK

I watched the programme about Cherie Blair this week. Considering she is a QC and used to performing, she didn't seem very comfortable. And her replies to the few delving questions that Kirsty Young (Wark, I don't know - blonde attractive TV presenter) asked her were less than barrister-like.

The film included a number of clips from interviews with a woman who was Tony Blair's personal assistant from 1997 till 2005. She was a first class bitch, who made it perfectly clear, in the most charming and subtle way, what she thought of Cherie. My guess is that she was in love with Tone herself and couldn't bear this intelligent woman having his ear. As well as the rest of him.

Also stayed up on Friday night to see JK Rowling being interviewed by Jonathan Ross. She described Book 7 as a 'bloodbath', then obviously thinking that this might deter some parents from buying it for their children, she corrected herself, 'Well, more than two people die.'

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Saturday Photohunt - Fake

Fake i.e. not the 'real thing'.
I asked Husband what came into his mind when I said the word 'fake'. Straightaway he replied, 'Boobs.'
So I really had to post this photo as well.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Meet Spid II

He lives under the computer shelf in the study. He comes out most evenings to keep me company. I like to think that he's the son of late-lamented Spid I, who was eaten when Charlie Cat came to visit.

As you can see, it's an ideal environment for him with all the dust and cobwebs on the floor. We don't intrude on each other's space and that suits me fine: Spid II is rather large.

Try telling Harry Potter there's no such thing as dragons

Last night Younger Son was telling me that he and friend had been out walking in the woods when they'd come across a caged enclosure. Younger Son decided it was to keep chickenraptors in, and he and his friend embarked on a chickenraptor hunt.

YS is 22; I am so pleased he can still hunt for chickenraptors.

A couple of months ago I took a 4-year-old for a walk. As we entered the woods, I said, 'Let's have an adventure! let's go a dragon hunt!'

He looked at me pityingly and said, 'Dragons aren't real.'

'Oh. Okay... what about hippopotamuses then?!'

He finally agreed to search for stick snakes.
Even though I have bought him books since he was a baby, he's not a story-lover. He's turned me down every time - even when he's had nothing else to do - when I've suggested reading a story to him. I suppose the fact that his parents aren't readers doesn't help, but it's so sad and limiting to a child's imagination.
Younger Son has laid first claim to the new Harry Potter book that comes out in 15 days and counting. He told me he has been waiting for this book for years. He can't wait to read it but he doesn't want to read it either - because that's the end. (I felt like that about West Wing Season 7.)
He has some very detailed theories about how HP will end. I will have to re-read book 6 again to remind myself of what's what. When YS has finished it - for the millionth time - that is.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Oh, Danny boy

I just read a post I wrote about a year ago. They say you should never go back: I think they're right. It was all about the Gila monster and a man in a white coat.

Well, anyway, I was looking to see if I had previously written about something that came to me while I was doing the dishes and listening to the Archers. I can't remember what brought it to mind, but last year - or maybe the year before - we went to Ireland on holiday. (It turns out it was 2004!)

We stayed in a beautiful, quite remote, little thatched cottage on the Dingle Peninsula. The lady we were renting it from was there to greet us when we arrived, with a pot of tea and a fresh rhubarb pie. It had been her family home but she now lived in the nearby village. As well as the warmth of the welcome, there was a wood-burning stove, and the house was filled with personal touches, some of which were quite unusual, such as the collection of ornaments on the dresser.

Although the Dingle peninsula is quite small, it takes some time to get anywhere as its road are narrow and windy. There is a main thoroughfare that runs around the peninsula and two lanes that cross it, going over the mountains in the middle. One day we decided we'd go to the north of the peninsula via a lane that led over the top of the mountains.

We were driving along the bottom coastal road when we saw the sign for the first of the 'mountain crossings'. Husband slowed down but as we came to the turning, we saw there was a Road Closed sign. As we were about to drive on, a workman, a hundred yards or so up the road, saw us and signalled to us to come on up.

'That's good,' I said. 'They must be opening the road.'

We drove up and as we approached him, he signalled again, this time for us to stop. I wound down the window and he leaned in before saying confidentially, 'The road's closed.'

Are they trying to tell us something?

Say a prayer

If you're a pray-er, spare a prayer for Shirl and husband, Pete, over at H, H & H. They're going through a rough time healthwise.

If you're not a pray-er, spare a kind thought.

"Some days. although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself."
Carol Ann Duffy

Happy 4th of July!

Corny, yes, but sometimes it takes a common foe to bring us together.

Hope all our American friends have a great celebratory holiday today!

"Everybody needs good neighbours"

I met Howie tonight. He's the UK President of the God Squad, association of Christian motor-bikers. He's about 6'8", bearded and dressed in the obligatory leather badged jerkin. And he uses moisturiser and lip gloss. No, perhaps it wasn't lip gloss but something like that. He recommended Clarins skin care products. And I had to admit he did have lovely skin.

Now a short story.

A man lies in the gutter, drunk, and probably out of it on drugs. He's been punched about a bit by some youths who think he's an easy target. He is barely conscious and his head is bleeding.

A car comes down the road and the driver, a vicar, slows down when he sees the man. The vicar, is on his way to his parish council meeting. He is hoping they will agree to pay for some new gold goblets for communion; the ones they have at present are losing their sheen. It won't look good if he's late for the meeting. He drives on.

A priest comes along the pavement. He has just finished hearing confession and is looking forward to getting home and eating his dinner cooked for him by his loyal housekeeper. He is wondering what delight she will have conjured up tonight when he spots the man in the gutter. He hesitates, then tells himself it would be wrong of him to let his dinner go cold when the poor woman has put so much effort into it. He doesn't think the man is one of his congregation anyway. The priest hurries past.

Ahmed from the corner shop is stretching his legs when he spots the man in the gutter. He hurries over and asks if he's all right. He sees that the man is bleeding badly and pulls him onto the pavement and leans him against a wall. He runs back to the shop, goes upstairs to his apartment and fetches a blanket. He tells his wife to call an ambulance then runs back and wraps the blanket round the man. He stays with him, talking quietly, trying to reassure him, although he's not sure how much the man is understanding.

The next day he phones the hospital to see how the man is. The nurse says he is improving; Ahmed is relieved.

"Love your neighbour as yourself."
"And who is my neighbour?"

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I notice Blogger has added new languages to its list. With everything from Catalan to something unpronounceable, there are are now about 38 languages available. But not Welsh.

It's the same in every drop down list of countries: Wales is a non-country as far as the rest of the world is concerned. Yes, we're part of the UK but if asked which country I live in, the answer is Wales.

I can appreciate that the number of bloggers wanting to write in Welsh is probably lower than those wanting to write in Lithuanian but I can see no excuse for ignoring us as a nation when it comes to our country. It's just not polite!


Son-in-law was one of about 5,000 cyclists who took part in a mass ride along the Tour de France route on Sunday. (The Tour de France this year starts in London. It's the first step by the French to surreptitiously conquer England.)

The 120-mile route went from Greenwich, London, to Canterbury, Kent.

Out of those 5,000 cyclists, Son-in-law had the 56th fastest time, only 22 minutes slower than the fastest.

As someone whose hips ache if she rides a bike more than a mile, I am full of awe. Well done, S-i-l. We're proud of you.

Especially for Clare

I forgot to mention that Macbeth was performed by men in kilts.

Monday, July 02, 2007

A question for American readers

Is your jelly what we call jam over here? As in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Would that be peanut butter and, say, strawberry jam? Or is it something quite different?

I'm writing a website article about sandwiches and don't want to make a terrible mistake!

"It must be jelly because jam doesn't wobble like that."

Back with avengeance

Having not blogged for seven days my brain is fair overloaded with nonsense - as you might have noticed if you've read any of my postings of the last two days.

Now, is this:

a) a waste of packaging;

b) a con to persuade customers that the pot of cream is worth £8;

c) both of the above?

* * * * * * * * *

In case you too were straining your brain to remember, the little white bull just took himself into the ring and charged the matador who applauded him saying, "torro little bull! You're not a little bull, you're a brave little bull. You're gonna be a great little bull, the best in Spain!"

* * * * * * * * *

My hair straightener stopped working round about the middle of the holiday. When we got home I asked Husband to see if the fuse had gone. He checked and confirmed the fuse was fine and asked me exactly what the problem was. 'I plug it in and it just doesn't come on.'
'Could that be something to do with this on/off switch that is in the Off position?'
'On/off switch? I didn't know there was an on/off switch.'

It turns out that there's a heat control setting too.

* * * * * * * * *

The final episode of Doctor Who was very exciting. I didn't have a clue what was going on but we got David Tennant back. The end of the world could have come but as long as we got David Tennant back it wouldn't have mattered.

Casanova continued what began in Blackpool and Who confirmed it: I have a thing for David Tennant.



For the sake of loyal readers I felt compelled to sample a number of cream teas while on holiday just so I could report back to you. And the winner is: Crabtree & Evelyn's teashop in Stratford. Followed very closely by Sylvia's tea-shop in Ambleside.

Both provided home-made scones and a choice of home-made jam along with a proper pot of tea. What edged C&E into the lead was the dollop of extra thick cream (not clotted but next best thing).

The other thing I forgot to mention was that I had my first Indian head massage in one of the hotel spas. It was good - relaxing and enjoyable - if over too quickly, but not as phwoaring as my orgasmatron.

And now something completely different.

While cleaning the toilet floor, I started singing to myself, 'Little White Bull,' and for the life of me I can't think how the little white bull came 'trotting right behind them,', when 'only black bulls fight'. A case for Google I think.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

This photo should be in the previous post but won't show

Apart from Japanese tourists and school parties, we saw ...

Husband is well-used to my eccentricities. He understands that when I yell, 'Spotty piggies!' his job is to stop the car so I can get out and take a photo.

Photo-wise, he prefers the grand panoramic views; I do the small stuff of life. Between us we cover most things. But I am definitely the animal-one.

Do you think this is the best place to raise a family? With the whole of Windermere just across the road?

Who's your daddy?

Stage 3 - if it's Thursday, this must be ...

Stratford. Via Leicester to spend the afternoon in the Public records Office. Which isn't as boring as it sounds. Husband had a number of documents he wanted to view for his family history research and they were so old I was surprised they allowed us to handle them, and they didn't even make us wear gloves.

From there it was off to Stratford, which wasn't what I expected at all. I mean I knew we were going to Stratford but the town wasn't as I had anticipated. Instead of an old market town, we found a normal small modern-day town. Admittedly it had a few old buildings - but not as many as Chester - but the main thoroughfare was lined with shops we have in Swansea: Next, WH Smith, M & S, and so on.

Of course what we don't have in Swansea is the house in which William Shakespeare was born.

Or the farm cottage that was the home of his wife-to-be, Anne Hathaway. Theirs was an unusual marriage in that he was 18 and she was 26 and three months pregnant when they wed. Men in those days were more likely to be in their late twenties when they married, having served a long apprenticeship to a craftsman first.

Nor do we have Nash House, the home of Shakespeare's grand-daughter, Elizabeth, until her death in 1616. She died childless, so Shakespeare's direct line ended with her.

As we'd only sorted out our trip a few weeks before going I hadn't booked for the theatre. It was sold out, of course, and the only option was to queue for returns.

For two hours I queued - and for one of those hours I was in a queue of one - and it was worth every second.

The main theatre is being rebuilt and the only play on was Macbeth, which was showing in the Swan Theatre, a fairly recent addition of a theatre in the round designed to reflect what it would have been like in Shakespeare's time. The auditorium was incredible. Talk about 'in your face'. I was hooked before the play even started.

The play. It was AMAZING! Dramatic, gripping, scary, powerful: everything Macbeth should be.

P.S. Looking for photos I saw a review in the Independent of this production: it was not so enthusiastic, but, hey, I'm a small town girl not a pretentious theatre critic. What do I know?