Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New year!

A panorama

Three Cliffs and up the valley towards Pennard Castle.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Younger Son gave me Maltesers for Christmas

Unfortunately he dropped a hammer on them.
Fortunately it didn't deter me.

Pennard Castle for Aileni

New Year resolutions

Dumpling has written a thoughtful post about New Year resolutions that got me thinking while I was out with George. (The first proper walk in the woods he and I have been on for ages.)

When I was little I made the same resolutions every year: give up biting my nails and stop being shy. I still bite my nails and am shy, although not so cripplingly, so they weren't the most successful of resolutions.

What shall I resolve this year I pondered as I wandered. (Do you like that? Poetic?)

My first thought was that I shall resolve to lose weight.

No, I shall only make resolutions I can type without laughing. So I'll resolve to become a best-selling ... no good, I can't get as far as author without giggling.

What about 'I'll be a nicer and less selfish person'? Well, I got to the end but that's a bit worthy. I know 'I'll be nice to Chris in work.' But he won't be nice to me and I'm not going to be nice to him if he's not nice to me so that's not a good one. Looks like I'm left with 'I'll be nice to Jonathan in Zac's.' No, wait, a resolution should at least be achievable ...

Guess I'll just have to resolve to continue to be as gorgeous and talented and wonderful as I already am. That'll be easy then.

Kitchen update

Well, it's nearly finished. The man's coming this afternoon or tomorrow to fit the final tiny piece of granite and Husband is currently repainting the kitchen.

Re-painting, yes. I decided I wasn't sure about the first colour so we're changing it. (And don't tell him but I'm not absolutely certain about this one either. No, I'm sure it'll be fine. You see the problem is that when the paint-mixer-man was mixing the paint for us, some of the tint went over the edge of the tin, which suggests to me that the colour inside isn't as dark as it should be. I should have said something at the time but I was being terribly British and didn't want to cause a fuss. So it's just that underlying suspicion that is causing me concern rather than the actual colour that is going on the walls. So, yes, it'll be fine. Won't it?) Husband is used to my little foibles; I can't tell you how many walls he's had to repaint over the years as I've changed my mind. He has come to expect it.

Then there are the lights to fit, the blind to put up and ... oh, that might be all.

Then it will be time to start on the bathroom ...

But I'm having a relaxing day today, the first real one of the holiday. I'm doing my jigsaw and nothing else. Except walking George in the pouring rain. But I have new wellies so we can splish splash through the puddles.

P.S. You'll be as pleased as Husband is to know that I do like the new colour.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What I did today

Elder Son and Daughter-in-law left late this afternoon for Devon to go and see Grand-Daughter. So I made Nigella's butternut squash and goat's cheese lasagne for them to take with them, as well as some vanilla cupcakes from my new recipe book. And now I realise I've spent the afternoon cooking and we don't have anything for dinner! Ah well, left-overs again ...

Two of my favourite pressies

Monday, December 28, 2009

Our day-after-Boxing-Day walk

George fitted in Mouse ... just. If you look very carefully in the middle of the sun light on the water you'll see a lone surfer.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Simply having a wonderful Christmastime

We had a wonderful Christmas. I hope you did too.

Uncle joined Younger Son, Husband and me for dinner, which in spite of the new oven and mistiming everything, tasted better than it looked.

Then last night Elder Son and Daughter-in-law arrived for a couple of days. And I had a webcam for Christmas so we even got to see Grand-Daughter on the big day and that was lovely even though she was asleep.

Our Christmas television watching consisted of:
1) Christmas Eve - Victoria Wood - okayish;
2) Christmas Day - Doctor Who - disappointing;
3) Christmas Day - Dad's Army - reliable;
4) Christmas Day - Blackadder - fell asleep;
5) Christmas Day - Royle Family - fell asleep;
6) Christmas day - Gavin and Stacey - good;
7) Boxing Day - Scarlets versus Ospreys - good (Ospreys won, yay!)

And that was the sum total of our telly-viewing. All BBC, of course: is there another channel?

Good collection of pressies, loads of food, plenty of choccies. Mmmm, yes, a good Christmas.

Have I mentioned how happy I am? And how incredibly blessed?

P.S. Anyone else got a webcam and want to chat?!!

Meet Mouse

The reason Husband went to Stoke two days before Christmas. (Mouse is her/his temporary name as we can't agree.) And I thought he'd got over his midlife crisis with the Porsche.
No, the reasons we've bought a mini are:
1) it's economical to run;
2) it has cheap insurance and road tax;
3) it has very low emissions;
4) it's FUNKY!

I drove her today for the first time. She has six, yes 6, gears. I never found use for 5, but she tells you when to change gear. Which is rather useful as I'm often not sure what gear I'm in. Except I now have to look at the rev counter/gear changer instructor and keep an eye on my speed as well as still watching the road. Which is a bit too much, don't you think?

She also switches off the engine when we stop, at traffic lights for instance. As someone who's used to panicking when Betty Beetle does that, I found it a bit unnerving until I got used to it. Now I rush to red traffic lights just so I can demonstrate to Husband how it's done: he hasn't got the knack of it yet.

The big question: will George fit in the boot? We're going to find out this afternoon when we take him to the beach.

Is it for me, mum?

George looks longingly at our poshest-looking present: a tower of treats.
Definitely not for you, George!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The fridge is in the hall ...

where we usually have a Christmas tree so ... I've decorated it.
A very jolly Christmas to one and all. I hope you have a wonderful day and an amazing and healthy New Year.

Yay! It's Christmas!

Nearly. And I'm ready!! We're off for our traditional Christmas Eve curry in a minute or two and then it's time to flop in front of the television. (Oh, yes, after I've wrapped Husband's presents!)

Today, in between shopping, cleaning and visiting I made a Christmas cake. I used Nigella's recipe for a cake with a difference. It was a bit over-cooked (a new oven you see!) but I've scraped off the burnt bits, and covered the rest in icing sugar and no-one will know.
And this was Zac's Christmas cake. My polar bears aren't quite as good as 'Kirstie's Homemade Christmas' ones but they amused me.

I'm planning on blogging again later to send Christmas wishes to one and all but in case I don't make it have a fabulous one!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Don't panic!

The hall and the dining-room. As of this moment.
But it'll be fine, won't it?
I'm just going to make a cake for Zac's tonight and then I'll get back to it.
Husband has just left to catch a train to Stoke. He must have seen the murder in my eyes.
And I've just had an email from Bosch telling me where I can buy a replacement shelf for our new fridge - the shelf that broke when Husband was taking the plastic off if you recall. I have told them what they can do with their 'pay for' replacement shelf. (Provide it for free obviously.) They have picked the wrong day to mess with me.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I love my husband, honest I do

The kitchen isn't finished so I can't put things away so the house is a tip. The tree is up but undecorated. I have Christmas shopping, cooking and visiting to do.

And Husband decides to buy a car and tell me we have to go to Stoke-on-Trent to collect it.

If he finds cyanide in his tea, it will be an accident, you understand that, don't you?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

On the border

After I heard on the radio that Borders closes its doors on Tuesday I thought I'd better pay a visit. I went along at about 5, thinking it would be quiet: it was packed.

It was very sad and felt wrong, rather like rummaging through the belongings of a dead relative, looking for anything worth keeping. That didn't stop me doing it though.

I did quite well until I reached the children's section. There I stocked up on books for Grand-Daughter's library. Mostly poetry ranging from A.A. Milne to Roger McGough, T.S. Eliot to Carol Ann Duffy.

By the time I reached checkout my basket was over-flowing but I wasn't worried as the signs promised me 80% off.

I really should have read the signs better. What they actually said was 'Up to 80% off'.

Still money spent on books is an investment. Isn't it?

From Borders I carried on to Tesco where I engaged in a slanging match with the Self-Service checkout. The machine told me to, 'Place scanned item on tray (or whatever they call it).'
'I have done.'
'Place scanned item on tray.'
'I have done, you stupid machine.'
'Place scanned item on tray.'
'Look, it's there! Just because it's so light you can't register it doesn't mean I haven't put it there.'

And being a machine it doesn't lose its temper and maintains a calm voice. Unlike me.

I'm going to bed now.

Gay rugby players

So Gareth Thomas, former Wales rugby captain, has publicly announced that he is gay. If that was supposed to be a secret it must be the worst-kept in the world.

He says that, at times, he's considered suicide. That is so sad.

He retired from international rugby a few years ago but was a fantastic player, great captain, and wonderful ambassador for the sport. I am confident that he will be amazed by the support he will receive from rugby players and fans everywhere.


I keep taking deep breaths and telling myself, 'Don't worry! It'll be fine.' Then I look around the war zone that is my home and think of all the things I have to do before Christmas and begin to hyperventilate again.

But, hey, it'll be fine. I have a gorgeous grand-daughter.

Very quick catch-up.

Prison carol service was fine on Monday in spite of prison lockdown preventing final/first proper rehearsals. Even better on Tuesday after the afternoon was spent rehearsing. Which was just as well as it was recorded by Swansea Sound local radio, for broadcast on Christmas Eve at 6 pm.
I spent the rest of the week in Devon, getting home yesterday at about 6 ready to shower and change to go out for a Christmas meal with friends. And very nice it was too.
I can't help thinking I've left out some vital and no doubt really interesting stuff but I'm slightly brain-dead. But must remember to go to Borders before it closes on Tuesday.
And do something with my legs. They are so hairy there could be a tribe of tiny people living on them and I wouldn't know. And I must remember that today is Saturday and that means that it's Sunday tomorrow and I'm in the prison.
Will try to do some blog-visiting soon too. Big thanks to those of you who've continued visiting in spite of my absence.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I am DIY expert

I put together an Ikea stool.
But I think I will allow someone else the privilege of being first to sit on it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Haven't mentioned Grand-Daughter for a bit

Younger Son and Girlfriend went to visit Grand-Daughter last week.

Nice little motors

Just round the corner and across the road from Elder Son's house is a Maserati and Ferrari dealer. They must have best part of £1,000,000's worth of cars on the forecourt.

The 'cheap' Maseratis. The slightly more expensive Ferrari. (Yes, that's £151, 850.)
And, amazingly, just behind the garage, you walk into National Trust property of fields and woods, leading up to the national Air Force Memorial (which was closed by the time we got there after our very long lunch).

Oooh, yum!

We've had a lovely weekend with Elder Son and Daughter-in-law. Yesterday lunchtime, as a belated 60th birthday treat for Husband they took us to a Michelin-starred restaurant, The Glasshouse, in Kew. (Not to be confused with the nearby Greenhouse cafe.) I had a ham and potato cake for starters.
Cod and vegetables - the smoothest mash and the teeniest bits of cauli you've ever seen!

And syrup sponge with real custard. (Real as in made with eggs not Bird's) (And with an extra jug of custard for pouring - and, in my case, scraping out the last dregs with a spoon.)

It was all delicious - oh, and so was the bread - and The Glasshouse has probably taken the title of 'our favourite restaurant' away from Jack in the Green in Devon. You know a restaurant's good when you could sit and just eat a plate of mash.
Thank you very much, Elder Son and Daughter-in-law!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Ikea phenomenon

'I'll call into Ikea Cardiff on my way home from Devon and pick up the lights.'
'Do you know where Ikea is?'
'Yes, of course.'

You can hear the alarm bells ringing, can't you? I couldn't. Which is why I drove around all of west Cardiff - not to mention Dinas Powis - before phoning Husband. 'Where exactly is Ikea?'

And once in, it's as if the normal rules of time and space no longer exist. If you've ever been in Ikea you'll know what I mean. It's hard to explain except to say, 'Think Tardis.' Bigger on the inside than the outside.'

I came out two and a half hours later with a trolley-load of stuff I didn't know I needed.

Quick catch-up

I'm home. Briefly.

In prison this morning, work this afternoon and off to Surrey tonight to visit Elder Son and Daughter-in-law.

The night before last I phoned Husband. He said, 'There's good news and bad news.'
I sighed. 'Tell me the good news.'
'Your cooker has arrived.'
'Yay! ... Oh no, don't tell me it's the wrong one!'
'No, it's the right one.'
'You've broken it!'
'What's the bad news then?'
'I've broken a dish.'

Phew. Is that all?

So when I got home last night the cooker and hood had been fitted, as had the replacement glass doors. The waste disposal was working and Daft Dai had even fixed the bath taps (the ones that we'd been without for about three months or more). It's like all my birthdays at once!

The house is still a tip, the kitchen has to be painted and the granite worktop finished, but there is hope now.

And Grand-Daughter is absolutely perfect. I know all grannies say this about their grand-children but she really is. Here she's saying, 'No, granny, I'm not going to open my eyes in this bright sunlight!'

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Oh aar

I'm in Devon at the moment helping Daughter. Primarily that means walking HollyDog.

We usually walk in the grounds of Killerton Estate, a National Trust property. It's excellent for dog-walking as it's a mix of open spaces and woods. I've got to know it well over the last few months but it's a good job Holly knows her way back to the car as every time I think I know where a path is leading, we end up somewhere else.

It's very much gentry country and most of the dog-walkers are green-welly-wearing spaniel owners. They're awfully nice and pass the time of day, commenting on the weather, giving me the opportunity to put on my telephone voice and say, 'Oh, yes, it's terribly muddy here.'

Unfortunately when faced with having to make conversation with anyone other than Holly or myself, I get flustered and turn into a yokel. 'Urm yeurh.'

Mud-caked trousers and fell-out-of-bed hair probably don't help either.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Things that make me faint

In the past, times that I have fainted included:
in a first aid class;
when I cut myself;
when I thought Husband had been injured playing rugby;
when Younger Son as a toddler cut himself (I took him to hospital and I was the one who had to lie down);
giving blood (twice - they've banned me now);
and - until today the silliest - when visiting someone in hospital.

Today I excelled myself.

I fainted at the optician's.

Okay, I didn't actually faint but I had to ask if I could lie on the floor. Twice.

But my eyes are fine.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The joy of grandfatherhood

Husband and I were both quite depressed on Friday evening so it was a good job we could get down to Devon yesterday to be brightened up. Kitchens don't seem so important when you're holding Grand-Daughter. Any resemblance to Grand-dad is unavoidable! Although Grand-daughter has more hair.

Elder Son and Daughter-in-law were also visiting. Here proud uncle tries to look not too terrified while holding a precious bundle. And he's rewarded with a rare eyes-open moment.

Friday, December 04, 2009

And it goes on ...

While trying to get the plastic off the new fridge Husband broke one of the glass shelves.

While trying to work out how to work the new dishwasher Husband chipped a plate AND the new granite worktop.

And what's more, we have been blessed with Daft Dai, the thickest plumber this side of Merthyr. He's supposed to be coming back tomorrow morning at 11. Yeah, right, he said that last week too.

Good job we're going to see Grand-daughter tomorrow!

The kitchen saga continues

End of week 2. Where shall I begin?

The cooker that should have been delivered next Wednesday won't be coming until the week after. Thus its fitting and that of the hood is delayed. (Will we have it for Christmas do you think?)

The new fridge didn't fit in the gap. Slav, our Ukrainian fitter, has had to remove skirting tiles.

The glass doors that were missing from the original order have been fitted - but now we've discovered they're the wrong colour. New replacements will be fitted the same time as the cooker.

We won't be able to open the dishwasher if we have the proper handle i.e. the same as all the rest, on the cupboard next to it. Slav is going to try to find an alternative handle as similar as possible. (And we paid 180 'beeping' pounds for those handles!)

Aren't these the sort of things kitchen designers are supposed to think about?!!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Things I haven't mentioned

In all the kerfuffle of new grand-baby, new kitchen, Husband's birthday and being poorly, I haven't told you about:
a) George being beaten up by a small three-legged dog;
b) HollyDog and me being chased into bushes by cows (4-legged ones in spite of my drawing - I couldn't work out how to do the other legs);
c) Driving round the same roundabout in Exeter twice two times and using a Buses Only road.
So life pretty much as normal in the Hinds' household.

Too coincidental to be a coincidence

I spent ages on Sunday afternoon looking for a book I knew I had. I went through my bookshelves several times in that 'I know it's here somewhere' manner, but with no joy. I assumed I must have lent or given it to someone.

I particularly wanted it before yesterday afternoon so I could write a short monologue from the information in it. I phoned someone else I thought probably had it: he didn't but suggested the library. I tried the library: they couldn't get it for me until the 9th.

I gave up and thought I'd have to borrow it from the prison chaplain yesterday afternoon; he didn't have a copy either.

My first choice for a monologue character had already disappeared off the face of the earth so I was getting a bit desperate now. I came home and started going through my shelves again. 'God, I really need this book!'

And there it was, not lined up neatly with the others, but actually sticking out from the shelf.

Coincidence? Maybe. But it's strange how often coincidences happen when I pray

How to win friends

'I think you should read the part of the drug dealer because you're rough.'
'Oh yeah?'
'I mean, well, you sound rough.'
(Quizzical look.)
'No, what I mean is ... well ... you're from London.'

I'm thinking of a career change: there must be a diplomatic post in the Middle East for a woman of my talents.

P.S. Fortunately 'rough Londoner' was laughing. I say fortunately because not so long ago his reaction might be have been entirely more physical.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Happy birthday, sweetie!

It's Husband's 60th birthday today! And I'm sure this rose shouldn't be blooming in December!

Before we got up this morning I said, 'Do you want breakfast in bed?'
'No, I'll get up.'
'Wait then while I go and put the oven on for the croissants.' (Luckily George had only managed to eat one before I caught him.)
'Nah, I'll just have toast for breakfast.'
'Okay, you can have bacon and brie croissants for lunch.'
'I was going to have cereal for lunch.'
'Oh, for heaven's sake! You are going to celebrate your birthday whether you want to or not!'

So we had croissants for breakfast on the dining table in between his laptop, an empty milk bottle, a piece of kitchen shelving and a pile of last night's dishes.

I could just imagine Albert Steptoe screwing up his nose and picking at a croissant while Harold wore a stripey jumper and said, 'This is the life for me, pater; I was born in the wrong country.'

P.S. If you don't know Steptoe and Son were rag and bone men and their home was a storehouse for their goods. Harold aspired to middle-classness.