Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve walkies

We did the Brandy Cove to Pwll Du walk today, round the cliff path. Although cliff track would be more accurate, coming scarily close, especially on a slippery frosty morning, to an almost sheer cliff. Steeper than it looks in this photo.

Not the best place to meet a little old lady nervously grabbing her dog.

But she and we all survived.

Husband thinks I have a fancy man

I washed some trousers and put them on the bed for Husband to put away. He looked at them and said, 'These aren't mine.'
'Yes, they are.'
'No, they're not.'
'They must be; they're your size.'
'They're not mine.'
'Well, they wouldn't fit the sons.'
'Well, they're not mine ... so you must have a fancy man.'
I looked at him. 'Let me tell you this: if I had a fancy man the last thing I'd be doing would be washing his trousers!'

How disgustingly decadent!

We've just spent £30 on ready-prepared food at M&S! Even buying mashed carrot and swede! My granny would be turning in her grave. But I am going to cook a bit of fresh broccoli with it though. Just to make myself feel better. And we had acquired £26-worth of M&S vouchers over the years so we didn't really spend that much.

I'll tell you tomorrow if M&S food is any better than just food.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

ABC Wednesday - X

Another impossible one! Strangely enough there are no Beatles song titles beginning with the letter X. So I'll have to be creative ...

What about an Xtra-special favourite of mine?

No, that doesn't work either as I was trying to think of one this morning and decided I couldn't possibly choose a favourite. I loved the early Beatles songs because they were simple and fun. And, judging by comments I've received, easy to singalong with and remember. Impossible to forget is perhaps more accurate!

As I grew through my teenage years so the Beatles music grew with me, adapting and changing, becoming more varied, more political, more complex - but still wonderful. So that isn't helping. Instead I'll use the time of year and look back and choose Yesterday as my Xtra-special theme for ABC Wednesday.

And if I think back over 2008 the most immediate impression I have of it is that it was the year of the dog. George, who started the year by being scared to leave the garden, and who ended it by being determined to leave the garden by whatever means he can find. So indulge me, please.

They're short films but I don't want to force you to watch them: we're all busy. So I'll add this last photo as well.

Yesterday we walked over Mumbles Hill

To take part in ABC Wednesday, go here.

Danger! Man at work!

The first step in restarting decorating the hall was fixing the light switches, one of which hasn't worked properly for years. This involved going to B&Q (several times including once to buy a screwdriver because the only one that would have fitted had mysteriously disappeared). As a result it was dark by the time dear Husband got round to attaching wires to switches.
See the expert electrician at work, torch in mouth.

Just Tuesday

Looking through our Christmas cards I notice that we have once again received a card from the mysterious Tom and Betty. They don't give up, I've got to say that for them. On the other hand, there are a number of cards missing. Cards that we'd normally receive haven't turned up. Mostly, I have to note, from elderly 'aunties' (i.e. aunties who aren't actually aunties). I do hope they haven't all died. It would be a very bad year for elderly 'aunties' if that were the case.

And now it's nearly New Year's Eve. Husband and I have pondered long on how to mark the coming of a new year with all the promise it holds. We've decided - or rather I've decided - that as most celebrations entail some sort of effort - Husband: we could go out for a meal. Me: Oooh, I'd have to get dressed up. - a quick trip to M&S (it's not just food; it's M&S food) followed by a quiet night in is what is required.

We know how to live.

P.S. And now I've set myself a punctuation poser. The full stops in the brief conversation above are surely out of place but how else could I do it? Write the sentence in a completely different form I guess.

P.P.S. I don't want to put a jinx on it but Husband has started to decorate the hall. I mean re-started. If you recall, he started two years ago ...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Oh me, oh mi

It's okay: Christmas wasn't that bad!

Just in case you're wondering what on earth's the matter with me and why the mournful previous post, it's because I was reminded of it by something I read on Calum's blog. I wrote it many years ago for a church meeting on the theme of hope. Does it sound hopeful? I hope it does. Finally.

Christmas was great for me. Hope it was for you too. I have eaten far more Thornton's chocolate-covered toffee than is good for a woman my shape but, hey, I'll diet in the New Year ...

Not many people have read - or commented on at least - my rugby post. Is that because you think it's about rugby? it's actually about knickers.


The fire’s out now and you stand alone in the wasteland of your life. All around you see the remnants of your past and your future. Helpless, lost, numb, you’re barely conscious of crimson icicles wrapping themselves around you, stifling the screams in your throat. A bitter-sharp blast of wind whips your face and tears rush, unbidden, to your eyes. Torn fragments of lost dreams circle and disappear with the gust, which whispers a melancholic dirge as it passes. “It’s finished, it’s finished.”

No. You’d shout if you cared. You rake half-heartedly through the ruins, searching for ... what? For something that will persuade you that this isn’t the end. For something that will make you believe in the impossible.

You’re bleeding now. Needle-sharp shards have pierced your heart, life is slipping away.

The light in your eyes grows weak. Your body is wracked by stabbing pain.

Then - something. At first you refuse to acknowledge the warmth but it’s there, just. You look but can’t see the source. It must be there. Now, suddenly alert, you grab wildly about you, scattering rubbish, shifting debris, cutting your hands as you dive into the wreckage. Just as you’re ready to give up, too weak to go on, you find it, camouflaged amongst the rubble. The wind that took your dreams blows softly on it and the darkness itself is lit by the glowing ember, the fire that can’t be extinguished, that’s always there, the hope that makes the difference between living and dying.

Helpful advice

How's this for a useful cooking guideline?

Odd Shot

I don't usually do Odd Shots but I'm doing one today. It's not so much an Odd Shot as an Odd Sock. Younger Son insists he hasn't been shot through the ankle but how else would you explain the perfectly lined-up matching holes?

The proper Odd Shotters will be found over at katney's blog.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I'm foompled!

Just saw a word verifier: foompled. I love it. Any suggestions for what it could mean?

I shall make it my New Year resolution to see foompled included in the next edition of the OED.

To foomple.

To be foompled.


'George, do stop foompling!'

Daughter will be mad at me for this

Twenty months ago Elder Son got married. We finally got hold of the wedding video recording this week and Husband's been trying to put it together to make a reasonable DVD. I took a tiny bit of it and have made my own little movie.

Elder Son and his bride asked Daughter to write and read a prayer at their wedding and this is the result: a prayer for the newly-weds. You'll notice Daughter struggles to read it (and has her hankie at the ready) and Elder Son is also battling by the end.

It could have been so different

The Ospreys beat the Scarlets 20 - 6 yesterday evening in a packed (20,500 spectators) Liberty Stadium and I feel I really must take some of the credit.

Yesterday morning when dressing I was about to put on my red knickers when it struck me: 'Oh no! I can't wear red. I don't want to give the Scarlets any help.' I wore my black knickers and the result speaks for itself.

Husband did the videoing (not of my knickers). He took the camera off me saying, 'You get far too excited; you'll miss all the action.'

We were sitting right behind the posts so had a perfect view of Mike Phillips gliding easily over the line to touch down for the first Ospreys try. When I'd stopped jumping up and down I said to Husband, 'Did you get that?'



'I was too busy watching.'


Friday, December 26, 2008

Back to normal now

Elder Son and Daughter-in-law left this morning so I popped over to Zac's to help with Boxing Day lunch for rough sleepers. It turned out there were more helpers than 'customers' so I mashed a bit of bubble and squeak and was home for two o'clock. The trouble is that I'm not very good at talking or befriending, which is what is really needed.

Off to the rugby tomorrow: Swansea Neath Ospreys take on Llanelli Scarlets in the traditional Christmas fixture. It's a sell-out so it should be a good atmosphere at the Liberty Stadium. As for tonight, well, I think after we've had fry-up for dinner I shall sleep the rest of the evening - at least until Pirates of the Caribbean.

But first a few visits ...

How was it for you?

George seems to have survived his turkey-eating unscathed - apart from an urgent need to go out to poo at 7 o'clock this morning. He is not the most popular dog in the world at the moment.

Apart from that, and the fact that Husband, who's been fighting a cold for the last few days, gave up yesterday afternoon at half past five and went to bed, our Christmas was fine and dandy. Oh, yes, and except for the fact that in my attempt to be organised I over-cooked the veg.

But it was lovely to have family here and be given lots of super presents - including a voucher for a de-stress massage. I'll be using that very soon ...
Daughter and son-in-law

Son and Daughter-in-law

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I am in trouble

I shut George in the kitchen when we were watching Doctor Who - and he ate the remains of the turkey!

Just these two wings were left when Younger Son went into the kitchen to make himself a turkey sandwich ...

So, how's your day been?!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Jesus is the reason for the season ...

but I love Santa, presents, the tree, food, choccies, carols, Doctor Who, and, most especially, family. And the hope that is Christmas.

George and I wish a very happy Christmas to one and all, and a wonderful and healthy 2009.

Christmas eve

Some seasonal advice

When serving turkey rolls there are some men to whom it is not wise to say, 'Do you want stuffing?'

I am way too excited for a 56-year-old woman who still has shopping to do.

Christmas lasagne

Meatballs, in herby tomato sauce with Italian salami, ricotta, mozzarella and lasagne. And very delicious it was too. It so nice to be cooked for!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

ABC Wednesday - W

With a little help from my friends (released by the Beatles, 1967, on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) I made turkey rolls in Zac's tonight.

To take part in ABC Wednesday, go to ABC Wednesday Round 3.

Nearly Christmas Eve

I think I've almost finished my Christmas shopping. Just Husband's presents to get ...

A car reversed into me in Sainsbury's car park today. I would have tooted if I'd known where the horn was. I was desperately pressing the Vauxhall badge in the middle of the steering wheel (which is where Betty's horn - or, more accurately, squeak - is). Still it was only a gentle bump and no harm was done.

Elder Son and Daughter-in-law are preparing dinner tonight: festive lasagne. Then I'm cooking turkey to take to Zac's for hot turkey rolls. Another example of my mouth not waiting for my brain to think.

We'll get there in the end. And then I'll sleep for 99 days.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Quick round-up

Last Monday I got really mad at Alun. I worried about it all week and when I went in again on Friday I said, 'I'm sorry I shouted at you.'
'When did you shout at me?'

Yesterday morning I apologised to Husband. I said, 'I'm sorry I was grumpy with you yesterday.'
'Were you grumpy with me?'

I'm obviously not very good at being mean. Not externally anyway. Internally - oh, you should hear me! - I can be really vicious!

But we've had a lovely family weekend. Our pretend Christmas dinner with roast rib of beef was yummy. I waited with bated breath as Husband sampled my Christmas pudding. 'Mm, it's good' he declared, '... but not as good as Evelyn's.'

And here's my elephant poo gift.
I've nearly finished Christmas shopping. Not the food, of course, but the presents. Just a few more to get. Today I saw a calendar being sold in aid of Wales Air Ambulance. It's called The Bay View Boys but it was sealed so I had to ask if it were pictures of helicopters or air ambulancemen?'
'Oh, men. That's why it's sealed: so children can't see it.'
'I'll take it.'
It's for my oldest friend (as in she's been my friend for the longest time). I've taken just a little peek inside: there seem to be lots of strategically-placed cricket bats, guitars and champagne magnums. I think she'll like it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas dinner x 2

We had our staff lunch today and very lovely it was too. I spent most of the time playing with and reading to Malachi and Evie, so I enjoyed myself playing at honorary grandma.
This is the cake I gave my to my giftee. It was meant to be holly not bells but I discovered late last night that cutting out holly freehand isn't as easy as you might think, and I happened to have a bell cutter.
My gift from Secret Santa was elephant poo. Complete with a Christmas tree seed. It says that by next Christmas I will have a mini tree. I shall keep you informed of progress though, knowing my talent for killing green things, I wouldn't hold your breath.
Now I'm about to get ready to go out for my second Christmas dinner of the day. It's a hard life but someone has to do it.
Daughter and Son-in-law plus Holly Dog and Charlie Cat have arrived for the weekend, and Elder Son and Daughter-in-law will be here later. We're having a pretend Christmas dinner tomorrow. Daughter brought some of her yummy cookies for me. Mmm. Just what I needed in between two dinners.
One of the friends we're eating with tonight is a Linden trustee and was invited to the lunchtime meal today but he turned it down saying he couldn't eat two dinners in one day ...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What I'm doing today

My idea of cleaning upstairs is to move things onto the landing 'until I can work out what to do with it.' Which is fine until the landing gets full and the toilet door falls off.

Currently on the landing we have a wardrobe, a television (broken), a digibox (broken), a television stand (not connected), a hoover, a sweeping brush, numerous piles of stuff to be recycled/thrown away/moved so I can put other stuff in its place, and a broken toilet door.

It's nearly four o'clock and still to be done are: showering; shopping; curry-making; cake-icing; circuit training; curry-eating; oh, yes, and landing-clearing.

So what am I doing sitting here blogging?

By the way, have you heard that Burger King has brought out a new perfume for men? Seriously, it's called Flame and is meant to capture the essence of burger love. I know you'll all want to rush out and buy it but I'm afraid it's only available in the US at the moment (or online).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A V.I.P.

I must be a Very Important Person.

The Chief Constable has written to me personally to ask for my opinion of the police. She says she is very interested in what I think. That's nice of her, isn't it?

And last night I met the man who might be the next High Sheriff. I am mixing with the crac-ac, you know.

Speaking of which I should tell you that we live in what is considered to be one of the better areas of Swansea (that's posh by Swansea standards of course). So it is with some concern that I note not one but two houses have been inappropriately and garishly decorated. Honestly the owners must think they're living in Blaenymaes. I'm surprised the local Neighbourhood Watch hasn't sent the boys round to have a quiet word.


I just spent £155 in a bookshop.

Guess what everyone's having for Christmas this year?

I'd planned to go to the dentist and then call into a couple of shops on my way home. Then I realised that the dentist was in the other direction so what started out as a quick trip ended up as a three and a half hour jaunt. Admittedly most of that time was spent in Borders.

I feel rather like a frenetic monkey.

ABC Wednesday - V

I suddenly remembered ABC Wednesday! And I've got to go to the dentist in a short while so this will be a bit thrown together ...

For ABC Wednesday - V we'll have to have a Variety of rejection letters from my Vast selection to fit the Beatles song I'm a Loser (released 1964 on the LP Beatles For Sale).

To participate in ABC Wednesday, visit Round3.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Voices in my head

Have you seen that card? The one that says, 'It's the little voices that tell me to go shopping.'

I don't have those voices. The voice in my head says, 'That's a good idea. Why don't you do that?' But what I really need is a little voice that says, 'That's a stupid idea! Don't do that!'

It's our staff lunch on Friday. Our Secret Santa gifts have to be ethical and sustainable: recycled, home-made or fairly-traded, you know the sort of thing. So today I decided I'd make Christmas cake. Instead of one big one, I'm making two small ones: one for my giftee and one for us (us being Husband as he's the only person who likes Christmas cake).

So first of all that meant going out and buying two small tins. But, I tell myself, they'll come in useful again for ... something.

And this time I've actually read the recipe in advance and put the dried fruit to soak. The recipe said to use 3 tablespoons brandy but that didn't look like much for a lot of fruit so I used 4 plus 3 tablespoons rum.

It's not as if I have anything else to do ...

My life is a to-do list

With each item dependent on another being done first. Which suggests that there must be a starting point - if I were to dig deep enough. But I haven't found it yet.

* * * * * * * * * *

One of the chaplaincy team said that some members of the congregation looked a bit prim and tight-lipped during Joseph's monologue.
'The men?'
'No! The church-going guests.'
'Oh, phhtt to them.'

Said in love of course. (The standard Christian cop-out when you're being nasty to someone as in, "I'm saying in love to you that I think God doesn't like you having a tattoo/long hair/pierced ears etc.")

I don't know what could have upset them though. Joseph does say, 'An angel, my arse!' and talks about not having sex but that's quite Biblical. (Maybe not the arse bit.) Maybe it's 'No sex please; we're Christians.'

This is the wall the dog climbed

This is the garden the dog sat in - chewing a bone he must have found in their bin.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I'm not sure which, the over-the-back-wall neighbours were out. And the side gate to their garden was locked so I had to stand peering over the wall and calling George. (I should explain: their garden is on a higher level than ours.)
I lured him back - eventually - with a banana.
'Come on, George. Look, mummy's got a banana, yum yum. Mmm, I'm peeling it. Listen. Mm, can you smell it? Yum yum.'
I do hope no-one was listening. It's hard to be calm-assertive when you're trying to make a banana sound alluring.

My boys dun good

They were marvellous!

It was the first night of the prison carol service yesterday. People with fancy gold chains mingled with inmates, the Sally Army band tooted their hearts out, and my boys read their monologues brilliantly.

All my early waking and worrying was needless, although as more and more people filed into the auditorium (aka visiting area) I could sense my boys tensing, but as soon as they stood up and began, their 'professionalism' took over. One of them is a media graduate but the other had never read to a large group before; strangely enough it was the drama bod who seemed most nervous. Or maybe not strangely enough: drama students can be rather melodramatic!

At the end the Lord Lieutenant of Glamorgan came over to congratulate them, as did a few other guests. And then it was back to their cells ready to do it all again tonight.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Right back at the start when I first went in, I asked the three men I was working with then (who over the course of the weeks changed into the completely different two I ended up with) about prison at Christmas. The first poem the boys read last night uses almost the exact words the first men you used to describe what it was like. I wrote the alternating lines to fit in.

Christmas is a special day.
Christmas is just another day in the big mansion.
I have an advent calendar and I count down the days to Christmas.
Time is irrelevant; I don’t keep track.
I love it when the Christmas adverts start on television.
The adverts start in October and all the jingles fry your 'ead.
I make a list of presents I’d like
Seeing stuff you can’t have
And things I want to buy for the children.
Knowing I can’t provide what I’d like for my kids.
And then Christmas Day itself, I love it.
Christmas Day does my 'ead in.
Being with the family,
No visits,
Eating Christmas dinner
All the nice food you can’t have,
Phoning family who can’t be with us,
Feeling like I’m interrupting if I phone my family
And those unexpected surprises.
Knowing what you’re going to be doing on Christmas Day and every day after it.
It’s just a wonderful day spent with people I love.
I’d rather shut myself away.
I love Christmas and I always feel a bit sad when it’s over.
Best thing is to ignore it and wait for January. A new month is good – it means another one has gone.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Spent the weekend doing the pre-Christmas visit to the in-laws. I'll respond to comments later but received this picture in an email and it made me laugh.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Right, I have made an appointment for us (George and me) to meet with a Pet Behaviour Counsellor in January. This last week or so he's become just too much, and reading Cesar's book, Be the Pack Leader, I can see that what we've been thinking of as his little quirks are actually signs of instability and unhappiness because he doesn't know his place in the pack.

So I've phoned this lady, called Claire, and after talking to her for a few minutes I feel much more positive and reassured.

The last time I went to training classes, with Harvey, they were run by a fierce German lady. I came away from each class with a thumping headache and I dreaded going. Claire sounds much nicer - and isn't a trainer as such. In the meantime we'll try walking George more. And ask the vet if it's possible that his operation didn't work as he's showing far too much interest in bitches ...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Recipe for Water

I went to a Poems & Pints night tonight except there were no pints. It was in my old college and every so often a couple of us who were on the MA course together try to attend. We thought it was the end of term readings from students but there was a guest poet, Gillian Clarke, who happens to be the National Poet for Wales. She was jolly good. I liked her poetry - it was very accessible and not too long - and she did very good chatty bits in-between.

We'd all taken some nibbles or drinks and, at the end I was hovering near the food table, trying to grab the last few Cadbury's Fingers when a woman picked up the box and put in a bag. I thought she was taking it home with her but then she said, 'Do you know where I can get rid of this rubbish?'

Rubbish?!!! That was half a box of Cadbury's Fingers she was talking about! Kelly and I said, 'Yes, we'll eat them!'

What is the world coming to?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

George's revenge

"I'll dig my way out then!"


My escape route is blocked!

Letter of last resort

When a new prime minister takes office, a high-ranking civil servant briefs him about the nuclear deterrent, and the PM has to write 4 letters, in his own hand, saying what he would want done should a first strike nuclear attack kill him. The 4 letters are kept in various places, including on Trident. They are destroyed unopened when the PM leaves office. Only one former PM, James Callaghan, ever said what was in his letter: retaliate.

I discovered all this while listening to a radio 4 programme while ironing. The programme included an interview with Denis Healy, who was - I think - Harold Wilson's 'Alternative Minister'. If Harold had been killed by a nuclear bomb, but Denis had survived, authority would have passed first to him, before the letter. Lord Healy, as he is now, said he couldn't have condemned millions of innocent people to death.

I was talking about this with Husband. He agreed with Mr Callaghan: retaliate. I said I couldn't see the point. He said, 'If you don't then evil has won.'

George and I were discussing this in the woods yesterday. I told him all about the programme and the letter and the options and what Husband had said. Then I said, 'But I can't help feeling that, if a nuclear attack is launched, then evil has won already. and anyway, what would happen if we did retaliate? Would the perpetrator then say, "Oh, I didn't expect that. I'd better not fire any more." I don't think so. What do you think, George?'
'I think ... whoa, is that a squirrel?!'

It's difficult to have a serious conversation with George in the woods.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

ABC Wednesday - U

My Beatles song for this week is U Can't Do That. (Okay, I'm cheating a bit.) Released in 1964 as the B-side of Can't Buy Me Love, it's also on A Hard Day's Night LP.

George! U Can't Do That!

Or that!

To take part in ABC Wednesday, visit mrs nesbitts place.


Definitely one of those days

Got home from prison via Tesco's to be greeted by Younger Son. 'Do you know how to change a fuse?'
'Um, yes, but ...'

The fusebox is high up in the shed; it's dark and cold; and I'm not entirely sure I know how to.

So we've got a dark upstairs for tonight. That's okay. We can cope.

Tomorrow is another day. (Said with Deep South drawl.)

* * * * * * * * * *

For the last weeks I've been working with prisoners to produce some pieces to be read at the carol service next week. Today we had our final rehearsal. Because the chapel is being renovated, the service will be happening in the visiting area, so the chaplain took us over there for a dry run.

I started out with 3 volunteers; I've ended up with 2 completely different men. Watching them standing up and reading tonight I got quite emotional, and I don't do emotion. Next week on Monday and Tuesday they'll be doing it for real in front of 120 people each evening. That'll be a mix of invited guests, from volunteers to 'important ' people like the Lord Lieutenant, and prisoners, some of whom will be hoping for a laugh if their mates make a mess of it. 'My boys' will need extra courage next week.

Although I'm not sure why I'm worrying about them: one at least is in for violent crime and they're both able to take care of themselves! But they're such lovely boys.

One of those days

I'm writing Christmas cards to try and clear my desk before getting stuck in to the overdue articles when the phone rings. It's Helen from the community cafe: she's desperate; can I help for an hour over lunchtime?

My head says, 'No, I'm far too busy.'
My heart says, 'She's really needs help.'
My mouth says, 'Yes.'

Alun is going to give me lessons in saying no. His assertiveness training worked quite well; I boss him now.

So I replan my day.

I'll walk George, shower, help at the cafe, write some articles - oops, no, I'll go to the prison, then I'll write ... no, I'll have to go to Tesco's to get some food ... but then I'll write - no, I'll cook dinner before going to Zac's. Ah, well, there's always tomorrow. But first I want a drink of water.

In the kitchen I turn on the tap: no water comes out. 'What on earth ... oh, fiddle, they're turning off our supply today.' Oh, pooper-scoopers! So plan is changed again to include a trip to Linden to use the - manky - shower there.

I'm getting undressed and allowing the shower to warm up when I notice water on the floor. Whoops! The showerhead is pointing outwards. Still it's only a little flood.

I get the feeling it's going to be one of those days.

Monday, December 08, 2008

look at me, mum!

Straight from work this afternoon, I went back to Zac's to clear out the left-over bric-a-brac. I was offered the help of a young man and a van, which I gratefully accepted. His big white van was almost filled so I don't know how I thought I was going to manage with Betty Beatle ...

But I digress. When we'd finished unloading all the leftovers at various charity shops, we discovered a teddy had been left behind. 'I'll take it home for George,' I said.

Within 20 minutes this is what George had done to teddy.

Monochrome Monday

Me and my big cousin in about 1955. I always thought we were holding hands in this photo; it's only when I looked closely at it just now that I saw that we're not.

To take part in Monochrome Monday, visit aileni.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

They won't ask me to help again

This morning I knew one of the Sunday club classes was short of a helper and I offered my assistance.

First off Sue told the story of Christmas, then the children coloured in cut-out characters. So far so good. Then Sue had planned that they'd make rice-krispie-cake mangers. All I had to do was melt the chocolate in the microwave.

A word of advice: always try to avoid burning chocolate in a microwave; it makes the room very smokey and smelly.

I blame the microwave myself.

What's in a name?

Thanks, all, for your encouraging comments. I feel much better today: I'm putting it down to experience!

As someone said, maybe it should have been called something other than a Christmas Fair as the area we're based in is predominantly Muslim/Indian ...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A bit down

Back from the Christmas Fair. Loads of stuff but not a lot of customers. So we only made £230ish. A bit disappointed with that. Husband says it's better than a kick in the teeth, but still ...

Tired now but it'll all look better in the morning.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Oh, George

When he looks this remorseful...

how can I be cross when he eats one of my NEW pudding basins?

(He took it out of soapy water in the sink.)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ready to sell

My mini Christmas puds!

Please excuse lack of visiting this week: up to my eyes in raisins and rum.

Here's to you, kev

There are four kinds of people at Zac's.

First of all there are the takers. The ones whose lives are so messed up that there's no room for giving or even thinking about it. Selfishness is almost an understood part of the condition. And that's fine; that's what Zac's is there for.

The next - very small - group take and could give but don't unless they really really have to. And, by the way, I'm not talking about financial giving.

The third group is the one I consider myself part of. I take but also try to give back when I can. The bikers belong to this group and I know they do a whole lot of stuff the specifics of which I'm unaware of.

And then there's Kev. Kev does it all. There are others like him but I'm picking him out specially because he's my co-organiser for Saturday's Christmas Fair. And if he hadn't been there I'd have really been wobbly on a straggly branch by now. (Sean and the bikers are away this weekend; yes, I know that's bad planning!)

Kev's done loads of manual labour in Zac's over the last months and he's well aware of the financial problems and wants to help. He doesn't have a lot materially and his life hasn't been easy but that doesn't stop him. We took some posters round local shops today and then flyered a couple of streets that hadn't been done. In that hour we saw a couple of Big Issue sellers and an addict and Kev knew them all by name. He hugged one and had words of encouragement for each.

He has a huge generosity of spirit that floods every aspect of his life - and a wonderful oop-north accent. Here's to you, Kev!

Retrieva retriever

When he phoned me last night Husband told me some exciting news! He'd heard on the radio that a new doggy gadget is being made available this month: the Retrieva.

From the Retrieva website:
Fed up with their mischievous canines roaming too far and the increasing number of dogs being stolen, the founders of Retrieva have developed a solution to instantly locate your dog by linking a Retrieva collar to your mobile phone to show its position.

All you need to do is open the mapping application on your phone and request the collar’s location, which will then appear live on the map.

The ICyou is an automated monitoring system that will alert you if the dog leaves home unexpectedly.

Sounds ideal. Husband grumbled that it didn't give the dog a short sharp shock if he left the garden but the only problem I see is that my mobile phone is old-tech. Oh, and it costs about £250. As Husband said, 'It'd be cheaper to put electric fencing all the way round the garden.'

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

And this time it's ...

chocolate on George's ear. That's what happens when you sit at mum's feet when she's melting chocolate.

It's tradition

I leapt out of bed today, saying to myself, 'It's Christmas pudding day!' My excitement waned a little when I read the recipe and it said I should have started the day before but, hey. I did think about starting and then finishing tomorrow but ... I didn't.

Stage 1: mixing everything together. I made Younger Son come and stir and make a wish. 'I'm busy,' he grumbled. 'Why do I have to make a wish?'
'Because it's tradition.'
'But you've never made puddings before.'
'Traditions have to start somewhere. Just stir and wish!'
Stage 2: all lined up in my lovely new Lakeland plastic pudding basins.

Stage 3: being steamed. The lid on the round pan fitted well but the fish kettle lid was a bit loose, hence the weights.

Stage 4: a finished mini-pudding. Question: how do you tell if a pudding is cooked?

At the restaurant for his birthday meal, Husband chose the Christmas pudding for afters. He said it was quite nice but lacked texture.


'Yes, it was very sameish.' He went on to tell me about the best Christmas pudding in the world. 'Do you remember Evelyn, the Scottish lady who used to work with me?'


'Well, she used to bring in her home-made puddings and they used to have crunchy bits. they were the best.'

So no pressure then.

I've searched through lots of recipes and couldn't find any with nuts in, but if Husband wants nuts he shall have nuts. I threw some pecans in. Along with about twice as much rum as the recipe said. I didn't think it looked enough.

I shall let you know his verdict after Christmas.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

ABC Wednesday - T

Tell me what you see.
(Released by The Beatles, August, 1965, Help)

What do you see? A snow-covered valley maybe?

It's actually the Athabasca Glacier on the Columbia Icefield, between Banff and Jasper National Parks. A huge stretch of 400-year-old ice. How huge? See the smudge circled in the photo below?

That's a snocoach, used to carry tourists onto the glacier. There are only 23 of these buses in existence: 22 are used on the icefield; one is owned by the US government and based in Antarctica. There are 6 wheels on each bus and the tyres cost $5,000 each.

Although the glacier is enormous it's only the edge of the Columbia Icefield and just up from where we were standing there are crevasses so deep that 14 buses - 7 down and 2 side by side - could be fitted in.

Meltwater from the Icefield flows to three oceans: Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic via Hudson Bay.

To take part in ABC Wednesday, visit mrs nesbitt.

Heinke's shortbread

Heinke makes the best shortbread in the world. She's given me the recipe but mine still isn't as good as hers. So I asked her if she'd make some for Zac's Christmas Fair.

Last Sunday she brought the shortbread to church for me. She said, 'There are two rounds and one is for you.' She knows how much I love it.

But, sighing deeply at my own nobility and generosity, I thought I'd give both to Zac's. Then I opened the packing and saw what Heinke'd written on it. 'For Liz (all for herself)'

Well, I couldn't' go against her so clearly stated wishes could I?


The Birthday Boy enjoys an ice cream by the sea-shore. (Actually I'm not sure if he enjoyed the ice-cream: I made him have it for the photo!)
When I was a little girl growing up in Mumbles, our local ice cream parlour was Fortes. When the Macari brothers who ran Fortes retired, Joe's took over their Mumbles parlour but the cafe in Limeslade retained the Fortes name and continued to make the same ice cream.
I suppose your favourite ice cream will depend on what you're brought up. As far as I was - and am - concerned, nobody can better Fortes; people brought up living closer to Swansea tend to be aficionados of Joe's.
So I was a little bit concerned when I saw my ice cream yesterday.
'Does this look the same as usual to you?'
'It looks a bit yellower than it usually does,' Husband said. Ah, so it wasn't just me!
'And do you think it tastes different too?'
'Not particularly.'
Well, I did. It seemed more granular. I was so convinced I went back in the cafe and asked if it was the same. The woman behind the counter, thinking I was complaining, instantly defended it, 'Yes, it was only made yesterday.'
Which wasn't what I meant. But she was on the defensive and wasn't going to admit that they'd changed the recipe even if they had.
I'm hoping it was just my cold tongue that wasn't working properly. I will be very distressed if proper Fortes ice cream has gone for ever.
And I'm betting Aileni is a Joe's man!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Monochrome Monday

For World AIDS Day I've chosen this photo for Monochrome Monday even though I didn't take it. It was taken by Chris, from church, on one of his visits to Mutende Children's Village in Zambia. As a church we try to help support the village, which is home to a large number of AIDS orphans. As well as financial support, different people choose to go out there to help practically - with anything from building work to playing with the children.
AIDS isn't black and white. It's a complex issue and a horrible disease with many innocent victims.
To take part in Monochrome Monday, visit aileni.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Step aside, Picasso!

A couple of months ago I bought a fat lady diver wall-hanging for the bathroom. (It only cost £1 at the charity shop and I'd fancied one for years.) Husband eventually got round to hanging her up but there was something not right. She looked a bit lost on our bathroom wall.

Then yesterday I had a brilliant idea. Husband quakes in his socks whenever I say that but what to do you think? Let me just say that it looked better in my head and I'm not an artist. In fact, I have the same technique with art as I do with hair-cutting.

'Whoops, that's a bit wonky; better take a bit more off the other side to even it.'

'Whoops, that's a bit rough; better make it a bit thicker to smooth it out. And add a different colour. And a few splashes. And a bit more paint, and sort of botch it about a bit.'

And I got a bit of paint on George. But it was his fault: he got in my way when I was wielding my stirring stick.

Do I come here often?

We were getting ready to walk George this afternoon when it occurred to me that I hadn't shown you my Wogan sweatshirt.

A few years ago I listened regularly to Terry Wogan's morning radio show. For those of you not familiar with Tel, let me say that's it's aimed at TOGs - Terry's Old Geezers - and the humour is appropriate for us.

Wogan's famous and highly-desirable sweatshirts weren't available in the shops; the only way to get one was by amusing Terry enough to get him to send you one. So when, a few days before my birthday, I realised that I was a year younger than I kept thinking I was, I emailed Terry to tell him so.

Hence I can proudly wear a 'Do I come here often?' sweatshirt and be recognised in the street by fellow TOGs.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Wales 21 Australia 18

Yay!!! Oh Yay!!!!!! Yippee, yippee, yippee!!!!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Saturday Photohunt - Metal

Our church runs a youth and community project based in Red Cafe in Mumbles. The ethos of the cafe is to be as environmentally friendly as reasonably possible. Much of the furniture is made from recycled materials. Recognise the base of this table?

Washing machine drums. Metal, of course!
To participate in Saturday Photohunters, visit tnchick.

Stars for Katney

Katney posted quilting stars for her ABC Wednesday this week and I said I'd post a photo of this quilt. It hangs on the wall in Linden Christian Centre, and was made by the group of quilters who meet there. It was entered in a national quilting competition and took second prize I think.
It shows lots of the stars that Katney mentions. I'm sorry it's not a very good photo: I used the flash and the colours are really much brighter and deeper than they appear.