Thursday, August 30, 2007

Man about the house

Did I tell you that, when Harvey was struggling to stand up on our wooden floors, someone gave us a nice rug for the hall? Well, they did, and it was in very good condition but we didn't want it any more so I put it on Freecycle. A man came to collect it yesterday.

He came in and explained that he was recently divorced and was collecting things for his house and doing it up. 'As I see you are,' he said.
I stared at him blankly for an instant. Then I realised.

Remember back in about April - just checked and it was February - when we started decorating the hall? It's painted above the wotsit but still waiting for paper below. You forget you're living under these conditions until it's pointed out to you by someone with fresh eyes.

I can't believe we've been like this since February. I need a man about the house.

The bookshop, the hairdresser and the plaque

Newly shorn and brightly coloured, I am a new woman.

On my way to the hairdressers I noticed a new remainders bookshop. Well, I had to just peek inside, didn't I? It turned out to be much better than the other leftovers bookshop we have, with lot of recent hardbacks at £2 or £1.50, including The Interpretation of Murder (h/b £2 and I recently bought it in p/b for £3.99) and Fly Fishing in the Yemen (h/b £2). I bought that one. And four others. And they only cost me £9. What a bargain. Look how much money I saved!

I would have told you what other books I bought but I left them in the hairdressers.

Never mind. I have to go back into town in the next couple of days to get a plaque for Harvey's memorial stone, so I can pick them up then. I was supposed to be getting the plaque before I went to the hairdressers but I was in the bookshop then. There seems to be some sort of poetic irony in that. (And I have no idea what that means but it sounds good.)

Then on the way home I was behind a sleek sports car with the numberplate LE04SPY. That made me think about whether I could get a personalised numberplate that said something like LI24 .. a three-letter word? That's it! LI2 4 GOD! Then all those nice innocent Christians would think it was my version of a fish, while everyone who knew me would know it really meant I wanted to BE God.

Actually I'd hate to be God. Think of all those requests, and decisions, and all that 'with power comes responsibility' malarkey. No, thank you. I have enough trouble running my life; the world can be someone else's problem.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Lookity, lookity!

I've been trying all morning but I can't get the photo up. I blame the men doing the road outside.

Anyway imagine there's a photo here of a raspberry bush. If you look carefully you can just see some tiny green raspberries forming. Actually your imagination is better than my photo, which was a bit blurry.

I am very excited. There must be, oh, eight raspberries altogether. How shall I eat them? With a blob of clotted cream? Or just straight from the bush? Mmmm. Will I share them with Husband? Difficult one.

* * * * * * * *

I'm off to the hairdressers this afternoon. I was trying to wait until the last moment before going on holiday but even Younger Son has been commenting on my grey.

I am also trying the Kelloggs diet. Again. I am easily swayed by adverts; it's a good job I don't watch a lot of television. As it is I have a cupboard full of age-defying creams that I forget to use. The inventors didn't allow for memory loss in their thinking. Or perhaps they did. They can bring out a new one every week and someone will buy it because they've forgotten they have a cupboard full of ...

* * * * * * * *

What on earth is an enclosure link? Is it a bit like a winner's enclosure? Blogger keeps adding these new-fangled bits and pieces. James talks about Technorati - and stats and pings and readers.

Oh, yes, and why are these little stars appearing next to blog names in the Blogpower roll? What does it mean? Oh, it's beyond me. I'm going to the hairdressers. I need my quarterly fix of Hello magazine. Asuming I can get out of the closed-for-4-days road.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The hair of the cat

I am taking a short break from curing hangovers to place an order for a case of wine with Virgin (the third thing on my post-it if you look carefully).

Did you know that pulling your hair helps ease a headache? Or that a honey and banana milkshake is a good remedy for an overwrought stomach - if it doesn't make you sick first? The Irish suggest, allegedly, being buried up to your neck in sand - although it doesn't specify which way up. The trouble is, with me being a non-drinker, I'm not very sympathetic. I would tell people the best cure is to stop drinking to excess.

Or to drink pale expensive alcohol. It contains fewer toxins and you can't afford to drink so much.

(By the way, the Virgin wine service is very good. We also tried Laithwaites but Husband didn't like their wines so much.)

I have reached an age when ...

I have to stick post-its on myself to remember things.

There's nothing like a good shake!


Sometimes with secret pride I sigh

To think how tolerant I am;
Then wonder which is really mine:
Tolerance or a rubber spine?
Ogden Nash, 'Yes and No', 1938

There's a magazine that gets delivered to the church, monthly, maybe (or possibly quarterly). I flick through it. It's not usually engrossing but there's an article in the current edition about intolerance. It quotes from two books by AC Grayling. In Against All Gods, he writes, "It is time to demand of believers that they take their personal choices and preferences in these non-rational and too often dangerous matters into the private sphere, like their sexual proclivities."

But in The Meaning of Things, he argues, "An intolerant person ... wishes others to live as he thinks they ought and ... seeks to impose his practices and beliefs upon them."


I am as intolerant of intolerance as the next person. Someone who tries to dictate to me how I should live or what I should or should not do will not retain my attention nor deserve my love.

But I don't believe that is what Christianity is; it's certainly not what God is about. His 'rules' are for our good; his compassion is abundant; his forgiveness is quick.

When he says 'don't' - kill, covet, commit adultery etc - it's because people will end up getting up hurt. And above that, he says, 'Love.'

Grayling also writes, "It is time to demand ... a right to be free of proselytisation and the efforts of self-selected minority groups to impose their own choice of morality and practice on those who do not share their outlook."

I hope I don't proselytise (I just had to look that up in the dictionary and now I'm fairly sure I don't!) or try to impose my beliefs on anyone. As I've said before, we each have a choice; I can only write as it is for me.

There's a huge difference between those whose lives gently demonstrate God's love (Sean from Zac's springs to mind) and those who claim to be mouthpieces for God (fill in the name here).

To think on: the article said, "The mere fact that people distinguish between right and wrong is enough to convict them of intolerance." (Where I have written people, the article said Christians, but I think it applies to anyone.)

And now I have written far too many serious or gloomy posts of late; it's time to lighten up. I'll be back when I've planned my cocktail party ...

Told off

Elder Son has just reprimanded me for lack of faith. He reminded me of World Cup 2003.

The previous season Wales had lost all of their Six Nations games and were a low point. They came up against New Zealand in their pool and looked set for a thrashing.

At half-time, in what has been described as 'one of the best World Cup matches ever played', Wales led by 37-33. They went on to lose but, hey, who knows what could happen this time?

We have an IRB (International Rugby Board) World Cup 2003 DVD. It includes clips from all the best games and the Wales / New Zealand match in its entirety. ES and I are thinking of watching it later.

The interesting thing is that the coach at the time, Steve Hansen, decided to save his best players for games they had a chance of winning so it was virtually the second team that faced the All Blacks on that day. Maybe that's the answer ...


Monday, August 27, 2007

I knew I'd forgotten something

Ah, yes, the score. Well, Wales got a converted try (7 points) and France got a bit more.

There are large display screens at either end of the ground and each time Gareth Jenkins, the Wales coach, was shown, he was booed. That is very unusual for a Welsh crowd. French fans regularly boo their own team when they feel they're being let down, but that's always been a Gallic thing. For our coach to cause that reaction from the crowd says much about how the Welsh public is feeling.

But with the World cup only three weeks off, it's no time to be changing coaches.

Aw, well, the competition comes round every four years; there's always 2011 to look forward to.

A sea of red

Cardiff was a sea of red today for the Wales versus France game at the Millennium Stadium. It's a fabulous place. Although it seats about 80,000 (I think), you get a good view and feel close to the action wherever you are.

Above, the teams line up for the anthems.

We were up in one of the corners - for once the right corner! Normally tries are scored in the corner diagonally opposite and furthest away from where we are seated. Below, James Hook scores Wales's only try. He's the little red dot buried by white dots (the French, unusually, weren't playing in blue) just over the line. (Bear in mind that I was leaping up and screaming while trying to take this photo.)


Sunday, August 26, 2007


On my way to Sainsburys yesterday, I stopped at traffic lights behind one of those trendy jeep-type things. Lime-green, open-topped, wide-wheels, personalised number-plate. And written on the bottom of the number plate were these words: MY OTHER TOY HAS TITS.

I looked at the car and at the balding, middle-aged driver in his white wrap-round sunglasses, and thought, 'Gee, I really envy your girlfriend.'

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday Photohunt - Happy

Father and son - very happy at son's wedding party.

Why I need a dog

Last night, when I was in the kitchen ironing, Younger Son came in. He told me his friend had found some cheap flights and they were going on holiday in December.
'Oh, that's nice. Where are you going?'
'Eek, Amsterdam?!'
'Yeah, drink, drugs and prostitutes,' he said, grinning.
'Oh, no, not prostitutes,' I squeaked.
'No, not really, Mum.'
'Art galleries?'
Yeah, Mum, art galleries.'
Then he wandered off, chuckling to himself. My children know how to wind me up.

Later on, having finished my ginormous pile of ironing, I was catching up on my blog-reading, when I heard a strange noise outside the back door. Husband was away and YS was out: I was on my own!

I haven't been in, on my own, without a dog, and with strange noises outside, for years.

Even though, for the last year or so, a burglar could have trodden on his paw and Harvey wouldn't have noticed, it was just reassuring knowing he was there. It was the same if I opened the door to someone I didn't know: I always made Harvey come with me. I'd open the door just enough for the visitor to see him but not enough for him to get out and start licking them enthusiastically.

Where we live isn't secluded exactly but it is on the end of a lane off a road and there aren't many passers-by. I need a dog.

I needed to go outside to lock up the shed so when Husband phoned me later, I made him hang on while I went and locked up. 'That way, if I scream or don't come back, at least you can call the police.'

P.S. We are off to Crete in September; when we come back is puppy time!!!!

P.P.S. Daughter was grumbling about lack of Harvey photos on this blog, so here's one taken a number of years ago on the Isle of Wight. Harvey says, 'Please don't tell anyone I'm with that lot.'


Friday, August 24, 2007

B-52 anyone?

So here I am, a jolly little teetotaller, writing articles for a cocktails website. It's very illuminating.

I've spent a bit of time on the net researching the subject but it turns out I needn't have bothered:I could have just asked Younger Son.

'Do you know what a flatliner is?' says I, thinking I can impress him with my knowledge of what the young and hip people drink.
'Um, yeah, I had one on my 17th birthday.'
'Don't tell me that! I don't want to know things like that!!'

Then he asked me if I knew what a brain hemorrhage was. 'Oh, yes, of course I know that. It's also called a Bloody Brain. It comprises peach schnapps, grenadine and Baileys. The Baileys sort of curdles forming a clump-like brain onto which grenadine is poured until it bursts through, blood-like, hence the name.'

One comment I read recommended knocking it back quickly, in one swallow, so as not to gag on the 'brain'.

I'm so glad I'm not young any more.


Not for the sensitive

Whoa, just visited Steve G's blog - except it's not Steve's blog any more! It's covered with porno pictures. Okay, not porn, just naked girls, but not what I want to see when I click on a blog.

So I'm just warning anyone else who visits: I know Welshcakes does. We knew Steve was taking a sabbatical - and I was just checking to see if he'd changed his mind - but didn't think he'd hand over his blog name.

A crane by any other name

A post about cranes over at Nourishing Obscurity reminded me of my intention to blog about the same subject - only not in the same way.
We have lots of cranes towering over the Swansea skyline currently. The Marina and new dockland developments both demand their presence. And I'd never realised before how beautiful cranes are.
They have a sort of magical quality to them, an incredible mix of strength and fragility. They look as if a strong wind would topple them but they're capable of lifting and transporting huge weights. And of course, in a gale they simply sway and give with the prevailing wind.
And the lines are clean and straight but not harsh; they're too vulnerable to be severe.
I was pondering on these things when I heard a report on the news about villagers somewhere in middle England who are opposing plans by a local farmer to install three wind turbines on his land, to provide green energy.
There is a - I wonder what the collective noun is, tessail maybe - a tessail of turbines on one of the hills edging Swansea Bay. They stand out, of course they do, but they're not a scar on the landscape. I'd rather have those than a nuclear power station any day. Perhaps the farmer should suggest building that instead.

The cupboard is bare ... except for garlic

The bit of garden I am trying to turn into a cottage garden is where Husband used to grow courgettes and buried the cat. He was never very found of the cat but now I see that he must have suspected poor Toby of being of sinister character. I thought I had cleared the earth quite convincingly before planting but everywhere I look now I see garlic shooting up. Husband must have thought Toby would come back as a vampire.

But you see I am such a poor gardener that I don't even know about hoeing: does it get rid of the weeds or are you supposed to pick them up by hand as well? Will turning them back into the ground allow them to grow again? But I suppose it is just a constant battle until one of you - probably me - gives up.

No raspberries this year either. Not unless they're very late fruiting.

* * * * * * * * * *

Have you noticed that when you do a word verification it always includes at least one of the more obscure letters? And the majority of the letters in the word are on the left side of the keyboard? Does it assume that robotic spammers are right-handed?

* * * * * * * * * *

On the radio yesterday was a report about a study that had been carried out. Apparently people with breathing difficulties who don't have to be taken too far to hospital get on better than people with breathing difficulties who do have to be taken a long way to hospital. And researchers get funding for this.

* * * * * * * * * *

Oh, yes, I nearly forgot. I was invited out yesterday by a man called Michel le Blanc with a sexy French accent. Shall I tell you any more or keep you on tenter'ooks? (Read with French accent)

* * * * * * * * *

I don't know what I'm having for tea.

I had boiled eggs for lunch. Yes, just boiled eggs, no soldiers. And raw Frosties. I still haven't been to the shop so goodness knows what delightful concoction I'll be eating this evening.

Oh, cranes, I remember.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ain't life grand?

I have a guset post up on Shades's blog ( I am tempted to leave that mistyping in!) all about the Grand Theatre in Swansea. I could find very little information about its history actually and that has given me a whole new idea (which I am pondering). Anyway, I was in town yesterday and popped into the theatre to ask if I could take some photos.

The Duty Front of House Manager took me into the auditorium and I started snapping away. I'd taken a few when I realised I didn't have the flash on. I took a few more ... and the batteries died. Ever the professional, I had taken spare ones in case of this very eventuality.

None of those worked either.

I told the DFoHM that I had plenty and that would be fine, thank you, and left hurriedly.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Have I mentioned that Daughter and Son-in-law are about to become proud owners of an allotment? They take it on in September and Daughter has set up a blog to record how they progress. She'd love it if you'd go and visit! (The blog that is - although you'd be welcome to visit the allotment as well as long as you take a spade and are prepared to work.)

We went to look at it last weekend. It is a very large plot that hasn't been tended for a year or so - it used to belong to Walter who grew cabbages. Husband and I are booked for a weekend in September to take our muscles and forks. I'm good at that sort of clearance gardening!

Several of the plots are completely overgrown and untended but, unless the tenants agree to give them up, they can't be handed on to the next person on the waiting list. And there is a waiting list. But to rent the allotment only costs about £20 a year so people hang on in the hope that one day they'll have time to do something with them.

I still find it hard to believe that my daughter is grown up, a good cook and now a keen gardener! (All she needs now is babies - as I have mentioned to them several times ... {it's okay, they just laugh at me!})

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

In which I meet the devil

As I intimated in a previous post, I am a simple soul, and my faith is a simple one. Not for me the intellectual arguments and discussions that take place on other blogs and in other places. I am not worried about the contradictions of scripture; I am happy to not understand everything. That doesn't mean I am happy about everything or that I don't have doubts: I'm not and I do. But they don't cause my faith to stumble. Or at least they haven't yet.

I was christened as a baby. When I was about 10 or 11, my mum sent me to confirmation classes and I was confirmed as a member of the Church in Wales. I was brought up in that sort of background - not that my family was particularly religious: they were anything but! My mother went to church sometimes and it was my habit too. When my mum died, I turned to the church. I also tried yoga. I was looking for something.

Life went on, I got married and we moved to Southampton. I met and began to meet up with a group of Christian women. They had something i didn't have and I wanted it. I 'said the prayer', the 'I'm sorry and I want you in my life, God' prayer, and I 'became' a Christian.

Life didn't change dramatically: I don't think it does for most people. Paul (the apostle formerly known as Saul) had an unusual and dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus; other people talk of encountering God in a powerful way. That didn't happen for me.

What did happen, a few weeks after my 'conversion', was that I was assailed by doubt. Not just a little bit of doubt but a massive, throwing-it-all-at-me doubt. How could there possibly be a God? How could there be anyone big enough to be outside the universe, beyond infinity and eternity? And how or why would such a being care for me, know me by name even knowing the number of hairs on my head? It was just complete and utter nonsense that I was being taken in by. Everything that I'd always believed in one sense or another was total rubbish and utterly impossible. It wasn't God I was encountering but the devil.

These thoughts battled in my head, disturbing my nights and draining my days. I couldn't resolve it. My head felt it would burst. I remember throwing myself on the bed, crying out.

At the time I was attending on an occasional basis a church that was shared by Anglicans, Baptists and - I don't recall the other denomination - but they all took it in turns to lead the Sunday service and as far as I know everyone attended whatever denomination they were and whoever was running the service. (An example that hasn't been taken up even these years later.) Anyway, this particular Sunday the Baptist minister was preaching. He was an ex-policeman who was training and he was very down-to-earth. I spoke to him after the service and told him of my battle. He said simply, 'When I am overwhelmed by the enormity of it, I bring God down to size: I think of Jesus, the man, on the cross.'

Suddenly it all seemed simple.

If I believed that story then everything else - the minutiae - was unimportant. I could choose to believe or choose to disbelieve. I chose to believe.

That's why the contradictions don't bother me, why the errors, the factual inaccuracies, don't make an atheist of me. I have made my choice.

No-one forces us. It's simply a choice we're all offered.

The fact - as I see it - that it is accompanied with the offer of unconditional love is a bonus.

When Husband had cancer, he had to spend a week at a time in hospital having chemotherapy. One night, while Husband was away having his treatment, God held me in his hand. I couldn't have felt safer or more loved and secure if he had materialised before me.

I am a crappy Christian. I sin in thought, word and deed in spite of my best intentions. And very often my intentions aren't even good let alone best. I really hope people don't judge God by what they see in me. I am very aware of my faults, as is God. Yet if I say sorry, we can start again.

Those instances of meeting God or facing the devil so intensely haven't happened since. Sometimes I feel a very long way from God; other times I look at the sky - for it's easier to imagine Him up there somewhere - and smile and whisper, 'I love you.'


Thoughtful squared

I was delighted to receive the Thoughtful Blogger award from both Shirley and Shirley. No, honestly, there are two of them; I'm not seeing double. Big thanks to them, and for their nice words.

Also thanks to Welshcakes for her help. One non-techie helping another get the award on the sidebar. Sisters doing it for themselves, tra la...

Now I have to pass it on to someone. It's difficult because so many people have already been recipients, but I think it will be someone I am beginning to consider a friend rather than a blogging acquaintance. Someone whose posts are always thoughtful and thought-provoking, a regular blogger and reader. One of those people you can just tell you would like in real life. So I'm pleased to present the Thoughtful Blogger award to Kris over in her little corner of Oregon.

Monday, August 20, 2007

What colo(u)r crayon are you?

You Are a Green Crayon

Your world is colored in harmonious, peaceful, natural colors.
While some may associate green with money, you are one of the least materialistic people around.
Comfort is important to you. You like to feel as relaxed as possible - and you try to make others feel at ease.
You're very happy with who you are, and it certainly shows!

Your color wheel opposite is red. Every time you feel grounded, a red person does their best to shake you.
I don't know about you but I do loads of these tests - anything to avoid working - but I only publish the results if they're flattering to me!

It's not the Angel of the North

But rather the Tin Man of the South. He stands just alongside the M5 (hence the blurry photo), somewhere between Exeter and Bristol. I don't know who made him or why but his head is very small. And his arms fade away into nothingness. Perhaps they got to his shoulders and were running out of metal. Or maybe it's Art. * * * * * * * * * *

And I'll just say, 'Way-ales!' Hallelujah, we beat Argentina 27-20. It was better than the last result but we still have a lot of work to do and not much time to do it in (the World Cup competition starts in three weeks or so). I'll be at the Millennium Stadium next Sunday to see Wales take on France (who yesterday beat England for the second time in two weeks) in a friendly. Photos of the Stadium, which is a fabulous venue, will follow.

Blogpower bloggers

Last week, as I said, I tried to visit most of the Blogpower blogs. For my own benefit, to remind me who's whom, I've done a very short round-up. I've not included any of the blogs I already visit regularly.

You've got to admire a 19-year-old Thatcherite who wears a bow tie. Steven Bainbridge has spent the last two weeks performing at the Edinburgh Fringe for the second year running.
"I went last year with our youth theatre and we performed Shakespeare's Othello, in which I played Iago. That production got a 4* review and we packed the house nearly every day. ... (this year's) is called 45 minutes and basically explores the journey of one family who have only 45 minutes left to live."
Sadly, the final performance at the Fringe was yesterday but, no doubt, Steven will be back blogging soon to tell us all about it.

Andrew Allison drops a small but significant announcement into one of his recent posts.
"Becky and I went on holiday to Paris for a few days at the end of July and got engaged in a very plush Michelin starred restaurant."
I am a little concerned that he agrees with John Redwood (on anything) but many congratulations anyway to Andrew and Becky.

If you can remember who won an NME poll in 1965 or 1966, Richard Havers would like to hear from you. He has a photo on
his blog that he thinks might be the Rockin' Berries but would welcome anyone who knows differently. He's also got a great early review of the Beatles.

I used to visit
In Search of High Places regularly but, for some reason, I thought it had ceased. It hasn't. Alex, Matt and various others discuss, and disagree over, Christianity and atheism. Most of the arguments go way, way above my head but the most recent post is more on my level. Minnesota, where Alex lives, has been experiencing major storms - and he loves it.
"It seems we are all drawn to the fantastic. We'd all love to see a 'miracle' — something that just blows you away. I find myself ever drawn to this sense of awe. I love to be in the presence of great power. I like to feel small. I long to stand before something much greater than myself."

There's nothing more I need say so I'll stop.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday Photohunt - Two

Two coins, £2 and 2 pence.

Two two-lips!

Sorry, I'm away this wekend but will visit when I return.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I want to do what the common people do

In work today I received a brochure about various courses. One was entitled 'Coping with common children's ailments.'

Lawks a'mercy, I don't want anything to do with those common children.

(I'm trying to think of diseases that common children might get but my brain is not co-operating. They obviously won't be as grand as the ailments posh children get, so maybe, tinypox or hiccuping-cough. Rubbish! Can you come up with better?)

Little old men

On my way to work this morning I passed an elderly gentleman. He looked as if he were going to the shops.

He was wearing lime green sweat pants and an olive green anorak. I bet he didn't have a wife. Why are old widowers such a pathetic sight, so much sadder-looking than old widows? I hate it when I see them in a shop buying what is obviously food for one. I think it's because they're of a generation when the woman looked after her man; and I am of a generation that is used to seeing our grandmothers, mothers even, looking after their men. To see them alone then makes them appear lost and lonely. I'm sure they are all perfectly capable of cooking and seeing to their own needs - except perhaps when it comes choosing clothes.

When I got into work, I was telling my boss about the man's trousers and anorak and I didn't need to finish my sentence: she finished it for me. 'I bet John would be like that if he didn't have Megan!' (John was one of the founders of our church and is notorious for buying his clothes in car boot sales.)

Thirty years on

In which I am officially declared a dork

You remember that rugby competition I was entering to win a press pass to the World Cup? To enter, I had to submit at least four articles by the closing date, which I thought was this coming weekend; it was last night.

I am an idiot. When God was giving out brains, I must have been watching Neighbours.

On the other hand, at least, I can say that I didn't lose (because of bad writing). There's a silver-plated lining to every cloud.

* * * * * * * * * *

Over the last three days I have tried to visit every one on the Blogpower blogroll. Quite a few don't appear to have been updated for a while, while a larger number appear to be 'young' Conservatives. Is it me or is this very depressing? If you're not rebelling when you're young, when will you?

There are a variety of verification methods too. I was in the church office yesterday - not working, just had to be there - and I was commenting on a blog and the word verifier was heresy. That struck me as quite interesting as I was in a church building, and a church that many would describe as being on the edge at that. Now I come to relate it, it sounds remarkably boring but it amused me at the time. Such is my life.
* * * * * * * * * *
Husband usually grows tomatoes - especially Gardener's Delight - from seed but this year, because he was away so much, he left it too late and ended up buying a tray of mixed plants: the tomatoes time forgot. Some of them are blobby-shaped, others are pepper-shaped. None of them taste very inspiring. But they're pretty.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A bra changed my life ...

although Trinny and Suzannah helped a bit too.

Until about six years ago, I was Mrs Sloppy Jim. Then - I can't remember what the spur was - was it daughter's wedding? Or was it a slow realisation that I was an old frump? Whatever it was, it kicked me into action: I visited Madame Foner's.

Now, girls, are you wearing the right size bra? It's a fact that the majority of women aren't. I certainly wasn't. I was making the mistake of buying a larger size rather than a larger cup size.

I've written here a slightly fictionalised account of my first visit; the fact wasn't that far removed from the fiction. Apart from my description of the woman fitting me: she was much nicer than the dragon in the story. But she did womanhandle me.

But I left the shop with a 'phwoar' chest.

Then I took the advice of Trinny and Suzannah and chose clothes that showed off my figure rather than hiding it. The change was amazing. Suddenly I was taking an interest and pleasure in what I was wearing. I made an effort. It was a new me. I felt good about how I looked.

And - and this is the important bit - I suddenly had confidence. Not just about how I looked but about lots of aspects of my life. Life seemed to suddenly open up for me.

Over the last 18 months I've received compliments from 20-year-olds, 50-year-olds and every age in between. It's brilliant!

Now I know that I am more than how I look, that how I look doesn't or shouldn't matter. But what I'm trying to say is that changing my appearance has changed how I feel about me. In this instance I am the most important; it's my opinion that counts. I feel good; I get complimented; I feel good. It's the opposite of a vicious circle.

I'm not this wonderfully glamorous, made-up, face-lifted woman. I am a middle-aged wife and mother with grey hairs, love handles and furrows for wrinkles. And, sometimes, when I'm slopping around the house or walking the dog, I have to avoid small children for fear of frightening them. (Fortunately Husband can't see far without his glasses and I 'misplace' them whenever possible.) But when I want to and I make the effort, I'm pretty passable.

And it all started with a bra.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Forgive us our trespasses

In work this morning, Alun was flicking through the Bible, trying to find something - he didn't have any real work to do and wanted to make it look as if he were doing something useful - when he said, 'Where's Ezra?'

I looked at him. 'There 's a book in the Bible called Ezra? They haven't made a film of that one.'

I really am amazingly ignorant about matters religious. Sometimes I fear I will be found out and defrocked - or whatever the evangelical charismatic equivalent of that is - but then I remember I used to be part of a pub quiz team that included six Christians, three in positions of authority, who sometimes got the biblical questions wrong. That makes me feel better.

I know the important things. I know the things that don't come simply from reading a book.

In Zac's tonight we looked at forgiveness from the point of us forgiving others. It's rarely easy but until we do, we don't have peace. But even when we can forgive, we don't forget. But we don't have to.

The thing is that when God forgives us, he does forget.

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Jingle bells

It's been an eventful sort of day today. Not the sort of day that a BBC war correspondent would call eventful, but that's not me.

It started with not being able to find my cars keys (they were under my washing in the laundry basket), continued with me trying to use my home security code to get into Linden (I tried 3 times, wondering why it wasn't working), before reaching a crescendo with a little voice.

"The time now is 11:18; the time now is 11:18; the time now is ..."

My boss and I were both in the office when little voice started. We looked at each other and giggled nervously. I followed the voice to its source: it appeared to be coming from my handbag. I opened it and, sure enough, my mobile phone was telling me the time.

'You must have set the alarm,' my boss said.
'I don't know how to - and anyway, why would I set it for 11:18?'

Life is just a mystery.

A bit like the Christmas decorations.

Linden is a popular dumping ground. If anyone has something they don't want they say, 'It's too good to throw away so I'll leave it at Linden - but I won't mention it to anyone.' Sofas, hi-fi units, organs: we've had to get rid of them all in the past. Today it was the turn of the Christmas decorations.

We seem to have acquired a whole boxful of decorations. They're in good condition but we've already got more than enough baubles for our tree.

So I've taken out the few I really like and the rest are going to be discarded. And if anyone comes up to me at Christmas and says, 'Where's the box of decorations I left here for safe-keeping?' I'll reply, 'They've gone to the great grotto in the sky.'

No more Mrs Nice Girl.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On the rocks

Circuit training stops in the summer so last year Husband and I joined the local gym and we've stayed as members but on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Last week we went and I decided I might as well pay for a month because it's cheaper that way - if you go at least twice a week. Husband said, 'Are you sure you'll go twice a week?' (It's okay for him; he'll be going daily to the hotel gym.)

'Yes,' said I, definitely and determinedly. And thinking about it, stupidly.

I'm going soon. I want to time my trip so I can watch Neighbours while I'm on the treadmill. Such things are important if I am to maintain my enthusiasm and sanity.

Today's Top Tip
Never have ice with your malt whisky: it kills the aroma, an important part of your enjoyment.

Monday, August 13, 2007

More this'n'that

I just hung out the washing, came in, said, 'oh, Harvey,' and scritched him. It was almost satisfying.

Should I have done that? Told you, that is, not scritched him. I mean, I could see him. Well, not really obviously. Okay, it's probably time I changed the subject.

* * * * * * * * *

Apparently Manny Shinwell, MP, tried to get whisky made available on the National Health. He failed in that so then, when he was in the House of Lords, tried to have it declared a justifiable expense. I don't think he succeeded in that either but he did live to be over 100 on his glass or several of whisky a day.

* * * * * * * * *

I was reading posts on the Blogpower site this morning. I didn't understand half of it about feeds and stats,but I have now put that little thing at the side that shows me lovely piccies of my visitors (or their dogs or logos).

I noticed I was listed as one of the people who visits: that's not strictly true. I only visit those I like. And let's face it: my posts are fairly inane and of little interest to the political bloggers so I wouldn't expect them to visit me. I appreciate it when cbi and Lord Nazh call in; I don't consider James to be a political blogger or Jock, for that matter, although both of them do cover politics amongst a wider remit.

Anyway, I will make a point of visiting others - and trying to comment if I have the slightest idea what is being spoken about. Having a left-bent in a right-tilted blogroll doesn't help.


Yesterday and today, food and drink

Dinner last night: griddled ribeye steak topped with slices of peppercorn cheeseball. Yum, yum.

Today I'm researching the history of whisky for a website article I'm writing. I've done brandy, and I still have gin and tequila to go, as well as cocktail recipes. Not bad for a tee-totaller.

And I am a tee-totaller. I had another argument with someone on Friday who insisted I was a drinker. I don't know where people get this idea from!!

Man on roof

Neil was speaking in church this morning about the healing of the paralysed man, the one whose friends lowered him through the roof of the house in which Jesus was speaking - I often wonder what the owner of the house thought about the hole in his roof, and did Jesus miraculously mend it afterwards? - and he had a visual aid for us: he was going to have himself lowered from the roof.

Click, beep, whirp, health and safety, health and safety, mutterings abounded. A rethink was called for.
Neil wasn't in ergonomics for nothing. He'd erect some scaffolding and be lowered from that.
So, people arriving at church this morning were greeted by the sight of some scaffolding draped in cloths. But the day's speaker was noticeable by his absence. It wasn't until after we'd sung some songs and his wife had read the story from the Bible, that there was a scuffling sound from the top of the scaffolding and a pair of feet popped out thus:

I got my camera out (I don't usually take it to church but I knew what was coming), took the photo and waited ready to capture the next thrilling instalment. Which wasn't to be.

Once again, health and safety murmurings had spoiled the show. Alun (below in red shirt) had been keen to go for it, but Nigel (below and bearded) had more sense. So instead of being lowered from the top, Neil had to scramble down inside and be dragged out on a blanket thus:

It wasn't quite the spectacle it could have been but no-one could say it was boring.



Yesterday I had determined that I would catch up with some of my writing tasks, then Husband asked if I wanted to go for a ride in Brian (our open-top Beetle). I said yes without a blink.

That is why I am spectacularly unsuccessful at anything in life ... except enjoying it.

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

This weekend Younger Son has been to the Bulldog Bash, a music and motorbike festival, apparently run by Hell's Angels. On Thursday night The Wurzels were headlining; on Friday it was Status Quo. He wasn't impressed with the Quo: all their music sounds the same he said. D'uh, yes.

* * * * * * * * * * *

After nearly four months of working in Swansea, and mostly from home, from tomorrow, Husband starts working away all week again. We'll get used to it; we always do. It doesn't mean we enjoy it.

It's been lovely having him around.

Try again

For some reason the photo wouldn't display properly before so here, again, is the marsh samphire.

It grows in the same estuary as the world-famous Penclawdd cockles.

(We're told they're world-famous; it could be that no-one's heard of them!)

Sunday, August 12, 2007


We have a new regular visitor to our garden. She very obligingly turned round to pose for me when she saw me trying to get a photo. It's a bit blurry because it's taken through the window. (And my eyes aren't very good!)

I went to the market and I bought ...

When the children were small, on long car journeys we would sometimes play the old memory game: I went to market and I bought ... (the first person says something beginning with A; the next says something beginning with B and the first person's A item, and so on.)

Well, I went to the farmers's market today and I bought some samphire and something else (more later ...)

Now in case you're of a literary bent, this wasn't King Lear's samphire:
"Half-way down
Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!"

That's rock samphire; the one I bought today is marsh samphire. Buying it felt very Mediterranean as it was served by the handful. 'How much do you want? About this much?'

I cooked it this evening with sea bass, roasted red peppers and courgettes with garlic and mushrooms (they're not in the photo as they would have disturbed the layout of the plate!)

Samphire is very easy to cook. Simply plop it in a saucepan of boiling water for one minute then toss in a dressing of 5 parts olive oil to 1 part lemon juice.
Now you can see the other thing I bought at the market in the photo on the left: any ideas what it is?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I don't believe it!

I don't watch a lot of television and when I do, it's usually BBC. On those rare occasions when I tune in to ITV, I turn into my granny.

'They're not advertising that on television, surely?'

First it was towels with wings, then sachets for cystitis, but last night was the end: Soften hard stools with Dulcoease.

In the words of Victor Meldrew, 'I don't believe it!'

Saturday Photohunt - Row

A row of rowing boats.

Friday, August 10, 2007

And the Award for Schmoozing goes to ...

Now I have to award five bloggers who, I believe, have the power of schmooze: the ability to chat informally on their blog.

This is difficult, partly because there are lots I'd like to include, and partly because lots of people have already received it.

So I'll choose:

MDM, who lives with tyrannical twins and when he isn't swimming or doing karate is platform guard on the Nighttime Express;

Gledwood, who's proving with his blog that not all junkies are purse-snatching grandmother-killing psychos;

Ageis, who is a faithful visitor, as well as a motor-biking allotment-holder;

Robyn, over in Oz, who definitely has the power of schmooze;

and ...

Shades, who posts about theatres and lighting, and fascinating places, as well as his lovely family. And who, I've just discovered, posted a lovely video especially for me last week. Thank you, Ian.
I realised I had forgotten to include the award image and remind the five recipients that they now have to pass it on to five more!

Enter the Dragon

Okay, my next rugby article is up here,4320

In it I select my Best Ever Rugby XV. Now don't worry if you don't know anything about rugby, the criteria I use are slightly different from what you might expect: I go more for sexy accent or nice legs rather than playing ability, so please have a look and comment.

I'm a girl, okay? What do you expect?

A lot easier to carry

We collected Harvey's ashes from the vet this morning. They're in a wooden casket with his name on a little plaque at the top. We're hoping all the children will be home at the beginning of September so we can bury or scatter his ashes and plant a bush or tree in Harvey's memory.

Sometimes I just feel like hitting something.


The first Victoria plums of the season!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Like a banana

I was just ironing Husband's shirt - some things don't respond well to being sat upon - when, for some reason, it reminded me of a shirt I bought for him either before or just after we were married. He wore it regularly until it became frayed, and then he finally admitted that he had never liked it.

When he was having chemotherapy and was in hospital for a week at a time, I bought him some pyjamas. Bright yellow ones. I thought they would cheer him up. He didn't like those either.

Now he doesn't buy me clothes and I don't buy him clothes. It's simpler that way.

Aren't firemen wonderful?

Three fire engines and a boat were sent to rescue a duck trapped in a drainage tunnel near Solihull. The fire service denied it was a waste and said if a more urgent call had come up, the fire engines would have gone there.

Back in February fire fighters were called out to rescue a cat trapped on the ledge of a storm drain as waters rose around it.

And in March firefighters cut a horse out of a caravan after it had got trapped inside.

Aren't our firefighters wonderful?


Back again!

Look, my photo loaded!!! I was on my way back here with the image when I thought, 'You twit! You can't upload photos at the moment.' But I tried and it worked. Straightaway.
Hey ho, life is a mystery to some of us.
Anyway, I don't think I'm the only person who has seen this award on others's blogs and wondered why it would be an achievement to send people to sleep. But it's not. Schmooze, according to Welshcakes, according to jmb, is the ability to chat informally.
Yes, I can do that, thank you Welshcakes. On my blog that is; not in real life.
Now I have to work out how to put it in my sidebar. I wonder if I can do it the same way I did the Rockin' Girl award (after Thunderdragon explained it to me).
And I have to pass the award on to five others. Have to think about that. Be back again soon, but not before you've said, 'Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's dairy.'

My apologies

I have been lackadaisical about blogging - writing and reading - and about most things, this last week. Only yesterday I discovered that I didn't have any ironed t-shirts to wear to work and, while drying my hair, had to do the old sitting-on-a-t-shirt trick. And it worked! It was get-awayable enough to wear anyway. I might do that more often in future.

My blogging impetus, or lack of, isn't helped by my inability to post photos. I think my puta has nineoclockitis. Every time I try to upload a photo, that little clock thing appears, ticks round to nine and then stops.

And I don't really know what's going on in the world so I can't comment on that. Ooh, I remember: the lovely Welshcakes has awarded me with the power of - now I must spell this right - schmooze. I'll pop over there now, pick up the award and be back before you can say, Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Dancing on treadmills

While updating the link to the Harvey video in the left sidebar, I remembered this film on youtube. It was popular about a year ago and the song's okay, but the video is brilliant. The first time I saw it, it was on the television in the gym, where I was struggling to keep my balance on a treadmill.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Good grief!

You'd think I'd be able to cope with Sainsburys, wouldn't you? I was only going shopping after all. But even that turned into a minor traumatic experience.

I made a point of avoiding the dog food aisle but my eyes filled up when I saw - wait for it - air fresheners.

In the last year or so, the house smelled - not just old dog smells but other, even less pleasant, whiffs resulting from Harvey's 'little problem'. So I became something of a connoisseur when it came to air fresheners. And my conclusion: nothing works. (Except candles, which are an expensive way of dealing with the dilemma.)

Just last week I bought a fancy new perfume diffuser cum toilet cleanser; it's made the toilet smell like a public lavatory. The sort with the very distinctive and highly-artificial scent. The smell also lingers on the person who has just used the loo.

So I won't be buying that again.

There should be a photo here

Son-in-law came 7th in the cycling event at the weekend. He was disappointed to discover that he finished about 15 minutes after the winner but pleased with his time of five hours. It was only his second race and we're very proud and pleased for him. Anyone who can cycle 100 miles up and down Welsh hills and still stand at the end deserves plenty of praise.

Although why anyone would want to cycle 100 miles ...

Is anyone else having problems uploading photos to Blogger or is our newly-installed Home Hub playing up?

No-one will notice me

This morning Husband and I were discussing Harvey's behaviour with other dogs.

When out walking, if he saw a strange dog approaching - strange as in one we didn't know rather than one with five legs or fangs dripping blood - he adopted the Statue Response. He'd stand stock still, barely breathing, as close to the edge of the path or the trees as he could get, in the belief that, 'No-one will notice me like this.'

Now you know - you've seen photos of him - Harvey was a big dog, and golden. He didn't easily blend into a woody background.

Small dogs with a Napoleon complex were the biggest threat, but the worst Harvey ever did was accidentally stand on one that was running between his legs.

On three or maybe four occasions during his lifetime, he was forced to defend himself when set upon by a vicious big dog: he was well able to do that and never came off worst. But he much preferred not to have to.

On one of those occasions I had assured him that the other dog didn't pose a threat: 'don't be silly, Harvey; he's a nice friendly dog.' The look he gave me afterwards said it all. 'Well, that's shows how much you know. Next time I'll stick with my own instincts.'

We sometimes called him a big soppy coward but he wasn't that at all. He had power; it just wasn't his nature to use it.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

62 - 5

I'm not even going to mention Wales's narrow defeat by England yesterday. I was listening to it on the car radio while driving home from Abergavenny. It was obvious from the commentary that the Welsh team weren't even on the field for most of the game. If they had been, I'd have been seriously upset and worried by the result, but as they couldn't have been, it's fine.

Getting on

Son-in-law was cycling in a race yesterday in the Welsh hills so I took Holly up to be reunited with her people. Daughter did say we could keep her a bit longer if that would help but it would only have put off the inevitable dog-less day.

The house is very empty today and the kitchen seems enormous without a dog bed or bowls - or latterly, lots of bits of rug - to say nothing of a great smelly, slobbery, hairy monster.

We had a card from the vet. Inside it reads:
Grieve not,
nor speak of me with tears,
but laugh and talk of me
as if I were beside you ...
I loved you so -
'twas Heaven here with you.
Isla Paschal Richardson

Friday, August 03, 2007

I swallowed a fly

It has been fortuitous having Holly with us for the week: she has stopped us moping around. She thought sitting on my lap would cheer me up. And she was right.

We've also been on lots of Harvey's favourite walks, which he hadn't been able to do for some time. I say his favourite walks but actually any walk, or the one he was on at that particular moment, was his favourite. Even up to a couple of weeks ago he got excited if he thought he was going out - even though the reality was a lot harder than he remembered.

Holly and I have been exploring the woods. For the last eighteen months or so, council workmen have been clearing the undergrowth, particularly of the rogue rhododendrons that threatened to overwhelm the native woodland. Where there were narrow footpaths, now there are JCB-wide tracks and industrial-size shredders. It used to be that you could have put me down anywhere in the woods and I'd have had a good idea where I was but now all the familiar features have disappeared; it's very discombobulating.

Still we enjoyed ourselves although Holly now thinks her name is Harv-Holly.

Oh, yes, and I swallowed a fly. But I've no intention of following in the steps of the old lady.