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.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Postie to the rescue!

I've been getting a bit blasé about George.

He hasn't escaped for ages and I was beginning to think that perhaps his operation was finally taking effect and he'd lost the urge. Then I spotted him on several occasions wandering round all his old escape routes and testing them. He still didn't escape though so I thought we'd finally beaten him.

So, today, I'm working on the computer and he's in the garden. I can see him trying and failing to get out so I get stuck into discovering how champagne is made. A little bit later I become aware that I've not seen for a while. I'm usually vaguely conscious of him from the corner of my eye. I go to the door and call him. No response.

I put on shoes and wander round the garden: no George.

I collect his lead and some luring treats and I'm just going out through the gate when the post van pulls up. The postie leans over, opens the door, and says, 'Get in! I've got him cornered!'

He'd spotted George wandering round the back street and shut him in a garden. The old lady whose garden it was was a little concerned but Postie assured her, 'He'll only lick you to bits.'

I think George will have to get an extra special present for Postie this year!

And next week we look at homosexuality

On Tuesday in Zac's we continued to look at the first letter the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians. We've reached chapter 5.

Now the city of Corinth at the time was a pretty wild place with many temples especially to the goddess Aphrodite, from which thousands of prostitutes worked. The church in Corinth that Paul was writing to, had, in his opinion, let itself go a bit. So much so that one of its members was sleeping with his step-mother and nobody cared.

Paul was cross with the sinner but even crosser with the church for not doing something about it.

It can come over as a strict disciplinary message but I think it's more about community, responsibility and love. And I wonder if it's a message for the church today. Do we stand up and say, 'that's wrong,' or are we too afraid of being called fundamentalists or being politically incorrect?

If we think of the ten commandments, the ones that begin 'Thou shalt not ...' are written not to stop us having fun, but to stop us being hurt or hurting others. They're for our good but these days they're often seen as killjoy commandments.

Sean was having to tread very carefully when he talked about this passage. He definitely didn't want it to make people feel guilty. Many of us in Zac's at an early or precarious stage of faith, and are still in the process of clearing out the rubbish. It will be a lifetime job for all of us: we won't be perfect till we're in heaven (even Mr Practically Perfect Paul admits that). (I've said before that Paul isn't my favourite character; I love Peter who messes things up with remarkable regularity.)

And that's why the message of this chapter to the church is so important. It's about loving and caring enough to support, help, take action, and, yes, reprimand if necessary.

It's not about guilt. It is about changing, turning away from, asking forgiveness, and trying again. And again and again ...

Next week's chapter is all about sex and homosexuality. Tee hee, I can't wait to hear how Sean deals with that one!

For what?

I was thinking about the Whooping Cranes - it makes me smile just reading the name: I imagine them flying along going, 'Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!'

Operation Migration has been running for 7 years. It must be expensive and time-consuming and for what? To try and save a species from extinction. It's not even as if, as far as I know, we get any benefit from the cranes: we don't eat them or use their feathers for quill pens. They're just one species out of thousands.

And that makes me happy. That some people care enough to invest time, expertise and money for no financial reward. When we're in such gloomy times and every day it seems we hear of humans doing horrific things to children, it is life-enhancing to remember that the bad guys are in the minority; that the majority of people are good - and some even loopy enough to dress up in sheets with bird-head puppets on their hands.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Teaching birds to fly

Not really fly so much as migrate.

Since 2001, Operation Migration has been teaching Whooping Crane chicks to migrate. The Eastern American population of Whooping Cranes had reached a dangerously-near-extinction level and even today only numbers 77. That includes the latest batch of 14 hand-reared chicks, who, even as I write, are being led by microlight to Florida. Aww, just look at him!
On the 17th October, 14 chicks set off from Wisconsin on their first microlight-led migration. In the last 39 days they have only flown 6 times due to poor weather conditions but they have now reached Illinois. After they've done the journey to Florida once, they'll remember the way and be able to get back to Wisconsin on their own.
Notice the costumed handler's mummy-bird-shaped hand. A bit like Rod Hull and Emu.

Report from Radio 4's World on the Move and photos from Operation Migration.


Christmas doesn't start in our house until after 1st December, which is Husband's birthday. After that we get out the Christmas mugs and we start playing Christmas music. Okay, Husband doesn't and Younger Son doesn't; I do.

At the weekend I bought Younger Son an advent calendar.
'Didn't you get one?' he asked.

I had to go to Sainsburys today. I bought myself a Cadburys chocolate advent calendar. Roll on 1st December!

Doubting Lizzie

I'm involved in organising something and I'm suspicious. I shouldn't be but there's a little lingering niggle.

I was expecting - and dreading - that the person who's in charge would keep interfering and getting in the way but, on the contrary, he's keeping well out of it. So far out of it that even I am thinking it's about time he took more of an interest. He needs to know timings if nothing else. It's beginning to make me wonder. You see he was railroaded into this and I'm wondering if he's just waiting for us to fall flat on our faces so he can say, Told you so.' Of course if - when - we don't mess up but do brilliantly, he'll take the credit.

Maybe I'm being cynical but I'm not alone in these thoughts.

So, now, if you've read this, it'll be another mysterious post that doesn't make sense. Really it's just for me to empty my head. It's nothing to with blogging and I don't think anyone involved reads my blog but i don't want to be too specific - just in case!

I'm committed now

And there's those that will say 'about time too.'

But I mean committed to making Christmas puddings. Yes, I know it's a silly idea. Especially as nobody likes Christmas pudding. Well Husband does and my uncle who'll be having Christmas lunch with us does so that's two.

But I was writing about making Christmas puddings and I got this terrible craving. It's not complicated; it just takes a long time to steam so you have to be about to top up the water all day and make sure it doesn't burn dry and set the house afire. Apart from that ...

So, yes, I've ordered special pudding dishes from - wait for it - Lakeland Plastics! I know, I know: they're the people who make wondrous little things that you see in a catalogue and suddenly wonder how you've lived so long without an egg separator or dustbin cover in the shape of a hedge. No, wait, I'm thinking of Kleeneze! I am absolved. I can buy my little pudding dishes with peaceful heart, knowing I'm not a short trip away from the individual venetian blind wiper.

Anyway, I've ordered large and mini pudding basins as I'm thinking I can make some for Zac's Christmas fair.

The only thing that continues to be a worry is how can they make plastic dishes that can go in a saucepan and be steamed? What secret ingredient do they have that stops them melting? And is it, in the course of a few years, going to be proved to be carcinogenic? Ah, well, most things are for a time until the latest worry takes over.

And is Guinness stout? My recipe called for stout so I had to peer at the labels in Sainsburys today trying to find one that specified stout - a drink I always associate with Ena Sharples. I wasn't convinced about Guinness and eventually found one called Meantime, which claimed to be - and I'm sure is - 'hand-made in Greenwich, the home of stout.'

My gran always made her own Christmas puddings. She had an old boiler (for washing clothes) and she'd heat that up and for the day the house would be filled with steam and the scent of spicy alcoholic puddings cooking slowly.

I always had a stir and made a wish. I don't ever remember my wish coming true though ...

Hugs and smooches

Specially for Daryl, Fred, Bessie and Picowsso at out and about in New York City

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ABC Wednesday - S

When we were first married I trusted Husband implicitly. If he said something, he was right. I was amazed at his wide-ranging knowledge and wisdom. Whenever we discussed anything he would have statistics and facts to back up his arguments.

Then one day I caught him out. And I discovered that he'd been creative with his 'facts' for a very long time: if he didn't know something he'd make it up. Now it's a family joke. The Sons do the same thing. 'Just blag it,' they say. I blame the father. Whoever he is.

So I couldn't resist this photo opportunity in Monroe's Diner in Clearwater Valley.

And in spite of that, She Loves You, yeah, yeah, yeah!

Continuing with the theme of Beatles' songs for ABC Wednesday Round 3, She Loves You was released in 1963, and was their best-selling UK single.

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


Doing time

Into prison today. It's become a regular Tuesday thing, going in and working with a small group of men, preparing stuff for the Christmas Carol service. We have a great time: we chat, read, edit, laugh. Now one of 'my boys' has got parole and is to be released the weekend after the carol service. Which is fine except he said today that he might get ROTFL (I don't think that was the actual acronym but something like it), which is having the odd day or night out before release to practise for it. I said he couldn't go if it clashed with the service. He said, 'Tough!'

So then one of the lads went and dragged someone else in to be a stand-in and it turned out that this man is a great mimic and is happy to put on a woman's voice. As a result, the innkeeper's monologue is beginning to sound Pythonesque. (He's not the messiah; he's a very naughty boy.) Don't tell the chaplain that yet though. He's left us to it so we've got a free hand ...

Don't faint in hospitals!

I was thinking about the experience I touched upon in a previous post and I have to give you this advice: don't faint in hospitals. People make the most dreadful fuss. They make you sit down and then you have to answer their questions so they can fill out an incident report. Then they won't let you drive home.

Well, actually that was my friend who wouldn't let me drive home. I'd been visiting her husband when I came over all funny. I said, 'I'm just going to the toilet,' and she, having noticed the colour I'd gone, followed me. I got as far as the toilets then, as the door opened to let someone out, I collapsed at their feet.

When I came to, Jan was leaning over me saying, 'Liz, Liz.'
'Oh no, not again' I groaned, and we both burst out laughing. Of ourse, the nurse didn't think it was so funny when she had all the paperwork to do.

Then I was ready to go home.
'You can't drive yourself,' Jan said.
'Yes, of course, I can. I'm fine. I'm used to fainting.'
But she was adamant. 'I'm going to phone your husband to come and get you.'
'He's watching rugby on the television; he won't come out.'
'Rubbish, of course he will when I tell him you've fainted.'

She insisted so I let her have her way. She came off the phone disgusted, 'He laughed!'
'I told you: he's used to me fainting.'
'He said he wouldn't come until the game had finished.'

I tried again to persuade her to let me drive myself home but to no avail. Fortunately some friends arrived to visit and they said they'd take me home.

When we got to the car park I said, 'Okay, Jan can't see us now. I can drive home on my own.'
'Not likely! She'd never forgive us!'

So really, if you have to faint, don't do it in hospitals or with friends. It just causes too much bother.

Monday, November 24, 2008

What's my name?

We've been given a teddy bear for the Zac's fund-raising Christmas Fair. I think it will have to be a 'Guess my name' contest. Isn't he a cutie? Or maybe with the pink ribbon that should be 'she'.


Because of Husband's trip to the hospital I didn't get my Sainsburys shopping done so we had no food in the house so when we got back to Swansea after the match we went straight to the chip shop. I'd placed our order and was waiting for the fish to be cooked when I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the window. All over my cheek, I had a big red splodge where the three feathers of Wales had been earlier.

No wonder the chippy looked at me peculiarly. He is of eastern European origin so I doubt if the significance would have registered with him.

At the game

Yesterday videos and computers conspired to irritate me so I didn't write what I intended to to accompany the videos.

We had a brill time at the match. Cardiff on match day is always great fun: crowded with a sense of expectation. It's all very jovial and good-natured and on Saturday the atmosphere in the stadium was unbelievable.

We had seats about 3 rows from the front on the side opposite the players' entrance and just up from the corner. They weren't the best seats for a view of the full pitch but very close to the action. Or would have been if any of the action had taken place in our corner. In the first half it was all Wales and they were playing to the other end; second half they swapped and then it was all New Zealand - at the other end.

Tension, passion and thrills. At the end of the first half I sat down and said, 'I don't think I can cope with another half like that.' And, as it turned out, I didn't have to, but there you go. It was just great to be there. And at least we didn't do as badly as England.

I've never been to a football match but I get the impression that rival fans don't mix much. There's never any trouble at rugby matches. One lad close to us did get a little upset at one point and swore loudly and repeatedly at the referee, and just about everyone sitting nearby turned and gave him a 'this is rugby: we don't do that at rugby matches' look.

It's Australia next week. I'll be home watching it on television - and wishing I were there.

Congratulations, Shane!

Welsh winger, Shane Williams, was named IRB (International Rugby Board) Player of the Year at the award ceremony last night in London. Amongst those he beat to take the title was New Zealander, Dan Carter, scorer of so many of the points the All Blacks put up on the board against Wales the previous day. So that must have been quite sweet!

Although Dan Carter is rather lovely. In the photo he's shown on the big screen lining up to take the penalty kick that will change the score line. But for a brief few moments it did read Wales 6 New Zealand 0.

And especially for jmb.

Monochrome Monday

In the old town of Chester, England.

To take part in Monochrome Monday, visit aileni.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wales 9 New Zealand 29

Okay, so we lost the war but we won a battle.

The All Blacks traditionally perform the haka before a rugby game. It's seen as a challenge, a demonstration of what the opposition can expect. "More than any aspect of Maori culture, this complex dance is an expression of the passion, vigour and identity of the race." (from the All Blacks website)

The haka is performed after the anthems and before kick off. Normally once it's completed, both teams move to their positions and the game commences. Yesterday at the Millennium Stadium, Wales took a different approach. Ryan Jones, the Welsh captain, explained it thus: "What we were trying to show was that it was our stadium, our pitch, our fans and we weren't prepared to give up the ground."

The Welsh team did that by lining up to face the haka and then standing their ground. The referee ran from side to side, pleading with the teams to start the game and it was the All Blacks who cracked first.

It must have spooked them and boosted Wales because our first half was great. (We won't talk about the second half.)

So here's the haka - in case you've never seen it - and the response. Followed by the Welsh national anthem (specially for Welshcakes and Damon Lord and any one else who experiences hiraeth.)

And here's me getting my hopes up!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Flipping husbands

So I'm cleaning before I go to Sainsburys before we got to the rugby and Husband's working in the garden when he calls me, 'Can you come and help me, please?'
I tut about how I've got my own work to do but wander out only to find him sitting on the floor in the kitchen.
'I've gashed my leg,' he says.
And, sure enough, there's a stream of blood.
'And what exactly do you want me to do?' I ask. Which may sound hard-hearted but I am renowned for my inability to deal with blood. The blood donor organisation has banned me because of my tendency to faint.
'Get me some paper towel to staunch the bleeding.'
I get the towel and even try to dab the wound - while keeping my eyes averted.
'I think it needs stitching,' Husband says.

That involves a trip to the other side of Swansea.
'Well, come on, let's go,' I say.
'Hand me that scarf.'
'What for? It's not cold.'
'To tie round my leg.'
'That's my best scarf! you're not using that!'

I find him another one - with red on so the blood won't show - and I realise I haven't showered. I haven't even washed. 'Could you wait until I've ... no, okay, let's go.'

Waiting to see the triage nurse I take a sudden interest in the footballers on television. I'm not actually interested: I just want to take my mind off the fact that I'm getting hot and bothered. I'm not very good in hospitals either: I've fainted just visiting before now.

Now I'm home and Husband is still in hospital waiting to be stuck together. Apparently they don't stitch now. I've just eaten a bowl of Frosties for lunch and I'm about to shower while Elder Son goes to fetch Husband.

And I can't believe I didn't take a photo!

* * * * * * * * *

It's been 55 years since Wales last beat the All Blacks. In the intervening years they've lost to them 19 times. It must be 20 times lucky. I was one the last time Wales won and this is the first time I've been to an All Blacks game. It is destiny or ... what's the word? There was a film with the name. Serendipity. Or maybe Stupidity.

I was in prison last Sunday and talking to some of the men about the game. They laughed when I said I was going but I really think we can win. I mean if you don't think there's any chance why bother? You've got to go into a game, whether as player or spectator, with hope. There's always hope.

Must go and shower now else I'll never be ready.

Come on, Wales!!!!!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Saturday Photohunt - Reflection

I'm uploading my entry for Photohunt ridiculously early this week because I'm going to see a friend star as Nancy in Oliver at the Grand Theatre tonight and tomorrow we're off to Cardiff to see Wales take on the All Blacks. This photo was taken on our first evening in Vancouver.

To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick.

The Lord said

There is a certain type of Christian that is wont to say, 'The Lord told me to tell you ...' usually followed by a criticism. Like, 'The Lord told me to tell you that he thinks you should reconsider your decision to watch Eastenders.'

Today I think I had a message from one of that sort of person.

A package was left in the Linden kitchen. Written on it were the words: For Liz. Inside were two videos: Carol Vorderman's Detox Diet and Mr Motivator's Exercise Plan.

A pretty clear message I think. The Lord wants me to ... oh, wait, I've got it! He wants me to sell them in Zac's Christmas Fair! Yes! Phew, for a nasty moment there I thought the Lord was telling me to lose weight.

That is the message I shall take from the package anyway.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

And called it macaroni

I asked Husband what he wanted for dinner tonight when I get back from circuit training. 'Beans on toast or macaroni cheese?'
'I don't mind,' he said. 'Whichever's easiest.'
'We'll have beans on toast then as I don't have any macaroni.'

* * * * * * * *

It does sound weird, doesn't it? The 'Man,' in the previous post? It was just what I said to George when we were out and it felt right then - it added a little je ne sais quoi. But written down, it looks odd.

Oh dear, I'm a leftover hippy who's turned into Sybil Fawlty. ('Pretentious? Moi?')

As good as it gets

I found a mini packet of Maltesers in my camera bag when I was out this afternoon. So there we were, George and me, walking along the beautiful Gower cliffs, on a glorious day - with Maltesers. Man, I love my life!

Walking from Southgate towards Pobbles I - the renowned poo expert - remarked to George, 'That's unusual: this looks like cow poo.' While there are often ponies on the headland we rarely see cows.

Two minutes later ... 'Woof! Woof!'
'What's the matter, George? Oh!'

A pile of cows were sitting right across our path. I looked to the other path: there was only one sentry on guard there. We went that way. Now if Daughter had been with us we would have turned back immediately but I'm fine with cows. After all I listen to the Archers; I'm practically a farmer.
The stretch of beach you can see in the distance in the photo above is Oxwich but we were headed for Pobbles, the cove just this side of Three Cliffs.
George had a groovy time playing with a variety of dogs. He tried to outrun a greyhound but soon decided that retreat to mum was probably a better option. Then he had a great run around with a spaniel/collie dog. She - I'm sure she was a she as she looked very feminine - leapt gracefully over a big muddy puddle; George lay down in it. When she tried to persuade him to get up and play again, he whacked her on the shoulder, knocking her down into the mud too. That's my boy.
We walked back on a different path but found cows on this one too, and this time there was no avoiding them. One had horns but Husband says I mustn't judge a bull by its horns. I had to assume that no-one would leave a bull out on common land and, anyway, George was more scared of the calf sitting down. I said, 'Come on, George,' and we closed our eyes and walked quickly through them.

It was the sort of walk that reminds me how incredibly fortunate I am.

George has a mud bath and a new friend

Younger Son and his friend took George and Loggia for a lovely long walk together. Loggia is a young puppy and, according to Younger Son, much better behaved than George. I find that hard to believe: George is perfectly trained. He knows exactly what he's supposed to do. It just takes him a while to make up his mind whether he can be bothered to do it or not.
Thanks to Rob for the photos.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The uncommon reader

Younger Son just asked me what I was doing today; I told him I was writing.
'Oh,' he said. 'I thought you must be going out as you've showered.'
What kind of impression do my children have of me?!
* * * * * * * * * *
I've just read The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. It was a birthday gift from Husband, and it only took me two nights's bedtime reading to finish it.
As you may gather from that, it's not an epic, but it is a delightful short novel. It considers what might happen if the Queen suddenly discovered the joy of reading for pleasure. I don't how if HM reads for pleasure much now; I assume Mr Bennett had some foundation for his premise that the only reading she does is out of duty. And that probably mounts up, leaving not much time or inclination for anything else.
But in this novel, the Queen comes across a mobile library in the grounds of Buckingham Palace and out of politeness she borrows a book, and the rest of the story leads on from there.
The point is also made that reading and writing can have life-changing - and even world-changing? - implications.
Highly recommended.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ABC Wednesday - R

Rain, the B-side of Paperback Writer (my choice for ABC two weeks ago) and released by the Beatles in 1966.If there's one thing we know a lot about in Wales it's rain. Last year we took a holiday to the Lake District in June. En route we stayed for a day on the north Wales coast. It rained. This photo was taken from the car park at Rhyl.

In the Comments, people often say, 'I've got that song in my head now and I'll be singing it all day.' I consider myself a true Beatles fan but I can't even put a tune to this one! Let me know if you can.

To take part in ABC Wednesday, go to its home here.

Flipping cars!

I should be in Zac's now. I'm all ready. All I'm lacking is a car that goes.

Having decided to take Alfie Porsche instead of Betty Beetle, I unlocked the garage, opened the door (a feat in itself), got in Alfie and put the key in the ignition. Brrr ... brr ... br ... r. Phooey.

Oh well, I'll risk taking Betty; she's probably fine. Back in the house to get Betty's keys. Ten minutes later, having tried all the usual places, I work out where Betty's keys might be. I get in the car, put the key in the ignition. Nothing. Not so much as a r, let alone a brrm brrm.

So I'm here, sulking. Wanting chocolate.

Strangely satisfying

Does anyone else find it strangely satisfying to unblock a sink with a plunger?

No? Just me then.

But at least a plunger has a use. I spotted a man with one of these machines as I drove past the university grounds on my way to the prison this afternoon. What is the point of them?!! Don't they just blow leaves around? And the wind does that quite well. Especially when it's as fierce as it was this afternoon. I had to check Betty's window wasn't open or the door not properly closed such was the gale whipping around my ears. Turned out to be just Betty's natural air conditioning i.e. a gap around the door.
But she wasn't a happy car. On the way home she stopped. For no reason. As I was driving along the main Swansea to Mumbles road in the rush hour. Fortunately we were just approaching the entrance to a car park so I was able to let her slide gently on to the pavement where I panicked and kicked myself for not carrying my mobile phone with me at all times.
Then, as mysteriously as she'd stopped, she started again.
We had another quick splutter before we got home but a less dramatic one. Still I don't think I'll take her to Zac's tonight. I don't fancy waiting in a cold car on a cold night for the breakdown men.

Hey, boys,

Could you 'go' with the Madonna watching you? xx

Monday, November 17, 2008

Flashing away

We decided we'd walk on the the beach in the bay as dusk was drawing in when we went out. We - okay, George - I thought it would be less muddy and it was but significantly more exposed. Walking towards Swansea was fine but walking back into the wind and rain was less pleasant. I'll go further and say it was horrid! I was wet through to my wotsits.

But I did do a bit of jogging (impressed?!). The beach is flat and was unsurprisingly empty so I thought, 'good opportunity to limber up for circuit training tonight.' But I had to stop. George didn't like it. (That's my excuse anyway.) He doesn't like me to do things out of the usual; he prefers my predictable plod.

He enjoyed himself though chasing sticks and birds who waited until he was a few feet away before taking off and coming to land again some yards away.

Just off Mumbles Head we have the Mixon sands where a bell is anchored as a warning to sailors. Tonight the wind must have been in just the right direction as I could hear it clearly. And it was just as well that it was ringing loudly as the mist made the light from the lighthouse almost impossible to see. Although I don't suppose many ships rely on a man up a pole with spy-glass any longer. They probably have radar and sonar and all that new-fangled technology.

I expect you know that lighthouses all have their own distinct flash. Ours goes flash .. flash .. flash .. flash followed by a long pause before it starts again.

Incidentally, now and again, the Mixon sands, which are to the right of the lighthouse in the picture, are uncovered for a short period. In 1957, local community leaders landed on the sandbank and had tea there. It must have been a quick cup of tea as the sandbank was submerged again within 20 minutes.

Photo from The Mixture by Harry Libby, published about 1963.

Monochrome Monday

My grampy (seated) served in the first world war (I really should have used this photo last week) so I suppose this would have been taken about 1914-15, when he would have been about 20. On the back he's written , 'To mother, with best love, your loving son, Jack.'

I've realised on looking closer that this is a French postcard and, indeed, in the corner I can just make out the name Guillemmot, something & Co, Paris, and I assume that would have been the photo studio. Does that make sense? Would our soldiers have had access to a French photography studio? Or maybe the photographer went out and set up a tent in amongst the soldiers?
My grandfather was shot in the first world war when a bullet went straight through him. His chest I think but he also had a scar on his leg. He lived to his seventies in spite of that - and smoking all his life.
He was a very gentle man and deaf in his later years, and he would sit in the corner of the living room smoking and reading quietly. He had a hearing aid but it never seemed to work very well. Or perhaps he just didn't switch it on. That was the wisest course of action I suspect as my birth meant he was the only man in a house with four women, including his wife - a strong-minded, some would say, domineering, character - his mother-in-law, his daughter and grand-daughter.
I'm having to photograph all my old photos now as my scanner isn't working so forgive the quality please.
To take part in Monochrome Monday, please go here.

Oh fiddle!

It's Monochrome Monday! I forgot.

I will go and have a search.

Dara O'Briain's favourite joke

What would happen if you put Dettol in a pot of Yakult?

Okay, you had to be there. He'd been talking about bacteria and germs and how we over-protect our children and the advertising nonsense we believe. It was funny at the time. He said when he wrote that joke he was so pleased with it that he took the rest of the afternoon off.

It was funny but I preferred the one about the stealth kettle. Husband suggested that we have stealth tin openers, and that would explain a lot.

Now as I'm typing this about Dara O'Briain I'm saying it to myself in an Irish accent. Which is okay while I'm in southern Ireland but then I go north of the border and turn into IAN PAISLEY WHO SAYS EVERYTHING IN CATIPULS. (Catipuls?)

Just another day at the office

I was walking into work this morning when I had one of those inexplicable out of the blue revelations that I might just have done something wrong. You know, the sudden tummy flip and 'I can't have been that stupid surely' self-doubt? I hurried up the stairs to the fofcie (that was meant to be office but I rather like the idea of working in a fofcie) and checked.

Yes, I had been that stupid. The good - and unusual - news is that it wasn't my fault! Admittedly I had to empty the almost-full paper recycling bin onto the floor in order to find the bit of paper that was my hard evidence but I found the proof that I was just doing as I was told.

And admittedly maybe an administrator with a bit of sense would have used that sense and checked the date and realised it was wrong but ... but ... well, I didn't.

So I've come home and left a note for Alun asking him to clear up the mistake - that wasn't my fault. So all's well!

Happy anniversary, George!

George has been causing chaos in our home for exactly 1 year now!

Actually it was 1 year yesterday evening but we went to the theatre to see Dara O'Briain (who was excellent) so I couldn't post these photos then. In the second photo he looks a bit strange under his chin because he's still wet after his walk.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

What a night!

'What a night!' I said to Husband after being woken this morning by George barking.
'Fighting tigers in your dream, were you?' he asked.
'Worse than that: I was on holiday with your family!'

And there was a fancy dress ball but I couldn't find a costume to fit me and mother-in-law said, 'she's just saying that because she doesn't want to go,' and it was true that I didn't want to go but I couldn't find a costume either and we were being given live worms and tiny baby turtles to eat and George was going to eat one and I said, 'no, George, don't eat that,' and then I caught the lift back up to our room but instead it took me on trip around China and I lost Rhys who was in school with Younger Son and I knew his mum would be cross if I lost him even though he was only little. So really I was quite glad that George barked.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I've been tagged a few times recently by damon lord, dr stu, suburbia - oh, fiddle, that's a different one - and I've got a feeling I might have been tagged by jay too. Well, I'll do this one first.

First, the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Six things about me
1. I very rarely cry.
2. I can add up better if I don't think.
3. I was in make-up at BBC Television Centre with Matthew Pinsett.
4. I am very shy.
5. I like to pretend I'm a horse and gallop around the house.
6. I dislike intensely the number 7 - which makes doing suburbia's meme - 7 things - rather difficult. Not to worry; I'll just changes the rules so it's 5.

Five things
5 Things I plan to do before I die:
eat chocolate;
go to Venice;
start dancing lessons again;
become a famous author.

5 Things I do now:
feed George;
tell off George;
walk George;
chase George;
write about George.

5 Things I can't do (only 5?!):
control George;
type properly;
speak Russian;
argue sensibly;
eat one Malteser.

5 Things that attract me in the opposite sex: (in no particular order)
looking like Johnny Depp;
looking like George Clooney;
having a voice like whathisname - he played Snape in Harry Potter;
dancing but not looking like Fred Astaire;
playing rugby and looking like Johnny Wilkinson.

5 Things I say most often:
Come back, George!
Don't do that, George!
What are you eating, George?
What day is it?

5 Celebrities ( or people that should be famous) that I admire:
Nelson Mandela;
Johnny Wilkinson;
my great-auntie Joan who has seen her husband, her two sons and a grandson die and is still positive about life;
Welshcakes Limoncello who upped and went and strarted a new life in Sicily;
Sean who runs Zac's Place.

5 Favourite foods:

5 Bloggers who need to do this:
Please help yourself if you haven't yet done one of these. I'll name Damon Lord as he said he likes doing these things.

Wales win but England lose

We've just come back from the pub. How decadent I hear you thinking, going to the pub on a Saturday afternoon. But we had to go. Because money-grabbing England RFU sold their home game rights to Sky and we don't have Sky. I am surprised though at the number of people in the pub on a Saturday afternoon. I was going to say 'women' but that's sexist, even if I am thinking it. Don't they have anything better to do?

So rugby, yes. I tell you it's not often you'll hear the words, 'Come on, England!' in a Welsh pub. England lost, 28-14, mainly because Australia had a very good defence but England played the more exciting rugby. Husband wasn't expecting them to win so he wasn't unduly disappointed. But Danny Cipriani has a long way to go to replace lovely Johnny.

Last night I had to go to a play-reading. I call it that but it was far more shambolic than that sounds. I told you I'd submitted my play for the Play-offs (a monthly evening in the Dylan Thomas Theatre when local writers get the chance to have their work read in front of an audience, with the winners going on to a final) and the person in charge (a very loose description) told me to go along last night. So my play was cast and will be performed/read in the Play-offs on 11th February.

I think I will be able to have a say in directing although I could turn out to be the Gordon Ramsey of the profession. 'Call that acting? My effing cat could do better!'

The trouble is my play is so clear in my head that I know exactly how I want it done. And that might not be the 'right' way. I will be very precious about it I fear. See, I am already gathering my excuses for when my play doesn't win!

But it's about a Welsh family and involves rugby. The very fact that the actors were there last night - rather than watching Wales play Canada - and going on to the pub afterwards - rather than going home to watch the videoed game - suggests to me that they don't get rugby and won't grasp the passion it arouses. As one of them said, 'Is there a rugby game tonight?'

So, yes, I hurried home and we watched the game. It was a lacklustre performance from what was effectively a Wales second side. I didn't recognise many of them and that added to the fact that they were wearing yellow (YELLOW?!!!) jerseys meant that we spent the first 5 minutes cheering on the wrong side. Still we got the right result and next Saturday we go to the Millennium Stadium to see Wales take on the New Zealand All Blacks. Ooooh, I'm excited already!


Husband asked Younger Son to demolish the shed.
'Which shed?'
'The one in the corner of the garden.'
'NO! Not that one!'

Too late.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Saturday Photohunt - Ruin(ed)

Prehistoric round houses are formed either of upright granite slabs or of ‘drystone’ walling, with a gap for the entrance. They can be up to 1m in height and 3-10m in diameter. Originally they had a conical roof of wood and turf or thatch.

Round houses can be isolated but usually occur in groups, and this particular round house was part of a village on a hillside on Dartmoor, surrounded by an enclosure wall.
To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick.

Today in work

The automatic heating controls aren't working in Linden so, if I want heating upstairs in the office, I have to run down to the kitchen and press a button. That will give me one hour's heat. Trouble is that it warms me up and then gradually I get cold but I don't realise until I'm brr-cold. So I've come home chilled to the marrow.

And what's more, while I'm in grumbling mood, there was only a little drop of milk there too. I had one cup of tea okay but when I had my second one at lunchtime I had to water down the milk in order to have enough. Urgh, take my advice: don't water down milk. It doesn't work.

Anyway, as I said last week, one of my jobs is to do the weekly notices, both in paper and big screen format. I try to include birthday greetings and my boss tells me off if I don't put my own birthday in so this is the cartoon I used to illustrate my birthday last week.

P.S. Since having a new puta I haven't been able to use the scanner so I had to take a photo of this.

P.P.S. I promise (to try) not to mention my birthday again. Until next year.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Round the cliffs

Husband is working from home today and that means that the estate car is here and that means I was able to take George round the cliffs. (I still haven't got a harness for him that I can use in Betty.)

It was a grey day but we like it like that because you don't get many out there in miserable weather. This is looking towards Langland from the top cliff path, from the bit where I always do my aeroplane impersonation.

It wasn't cold though. In fact George needed to cool down when we got onto the beach.Do you remember the Osborne Hotel at Rotherslade, aileni? These are the apartments that have replaced it. It was the last of the local beach hotels to go. The Caswell and Langland Bay hotels were both demolished ages ago. Popular wedding reception venues now are the Oxwich Bay and King Arthur Hotels. Or, if you're wealthy beyond your dreams, Fairyhill.

Birthday card from Younger Son

Although the tin opener is probably more use.

By the way, I bought another new tin opener this morning and I've put it straight into the cutlery drawer. So when I say, 'Where is the tin opener?' please remind me.

Anyway, my birthday, yes. Thank you all for your greetings, and thank you, Amanda, for the special birthday candle post, and Furtheron and Leslie for my e-cards. I had a lovely day. I intended to work hard and catch up on the backlog of articles I have to write but somehow I kept getting distracted ...

Husband arrived home last night with his suitcase in one hand, his laptop and flowers in the other, and a fun-size pack of Maltesers between his teeth. I opened the door for him - and grabbed the Maltesers!

When we arrived at the restaurant the waitress brought out a bottle of champagne. 'It's from your uncle.' He'd phoned me earlier in the afternoon to apologise for missing my birthday and I'd mentioned that we were eating at PA's. It was a lovely gesture - but I don't drink! Husband enjoyed himself though.

And I still have Husband's present to come. He blames Amazon; I blame him for being a cheapskate and not ordering it for next-day delivery!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

By special request

A clip from Husband's video, captioned by me.

Happy birthday to me!!

'It's my birthday today!'

Younger Son is still in bed so it's just me and George. I keep prodding him and saying, 'It's my birthday today!'
He looks at me and says, 'Yeah, so? You were away for mine if you recall.' Then he goes back to sleep.

I get over-excited about birthdays. I usually start getting excited weeks ahead but this year I was surprisingly unbothered. I said to Husband, 'Do you think that after 55 you stop getting excited?'
He said, 'Most people stop after 25.'

But I'm pleased to tell him that I have my excityness back. I'll be able to tell him when he comes home this evening. He changed his going-away routine so he can be back tonight to take me out. Yay!

Have I mentioned I'm excited?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

ABC Wednesday - Q

If you've visited my blog at all during ABC Wednesday Round 3 you'll know that I've been following a Beatles theme. Well, guess what? There isn't a song beginning with Q!

Last week on my blog, I asked for help with finding a punning title. People were great and came up with all sorts of suggestions for which I thank you. Some of my favourites:
aileni suggested photographing all my Beatles LPs and captioning it 'Queued, cued and seguéd';
stu came up with 'Queer Prudence';
from Runee, 'Quiet days a week;
dragonstar pointed out that the Beatles were a quadrumvirate;
suburbia offered a Beatles quiz;
deejay wondered if the Ballad of John and Yoko was sung in a Queen-sized bed;
and Gary and Jams both mentioned the Quarrymen, the 'original' Beatles.

Bear with me, this explanation will take some telling.

I did some research on the Quarrymen and discovered that, while a member of that band, John wrote a song, which was much later recorded by the Beatles. Its title was 'One after 909'. Kapow! Lightbulb flashes above head! I'll go and take a photo of a door numbered 910.

We have two very long roads in Swansea - but wouldn't you know it? On both of them, the section in which 910 should be is devoid of houses. Lightbulb goes out.

But hyde dp reminded me that some of the song titles were Questions. And this is where I went. Thank you for your patience in sticking with me. Although even now you may struggle to see the link ...)

From A Hard Day's Night (1964)
If I fell in love with you would you promise to be true,
And help me understand?

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

This won't mean much to most of you

I just want to say that, while I disagree with jmb's views on crushed by ingsoc, I have absolutely no doubt about her honesty and integrity.

That's all.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Listen to this!

Yesterday I dropped a kilogram bag of basmati rice on the floor. George decided he liked it. (Don't tell anyone but I had to scoop some up off the floor to cook for dinner last night.)

Okay, let's see if it works doing it through youtube instead of Blogger.

Thank you for your concern about George but he seems fine. Just don't stand behind him. If anything he seems rather puzzled by it all. He went out this evening, coopied down, farted explosively and jumped out of his skin. He ran to the other side of the garden and started trying to look at his bottom in a most 'what was that?' way.

Monochrome Monday

Driftwood on Middle Beach, Tofino, Vancouver Island.

To join in with Monochrome Monday, visit Monochrome Maniacs.