Tuesday, November 30, 2010

George, don't do that!

We're off to Devon tomorrow - which is also husband's 61st birthday. I'm taking him to Jack in the Green in Rockbeare in the evening. It's one of our favouritest restaurants and won the 09/10 title of Best Restaurant in the West.

Coincidentally the latest newsletter from the Rosemary Conley School of Slimming gives tips on surviving the Christmas season diet intact. They include:
not having butter with your bread;
opting for the less creamy dishes;
and not eating the chocolate mint at the end of the meal (thereby saving 35 calories).

I'll obviously be doing all of those ...

Then it's home on Thursday, work on Friday and up to Derby on Saturday to see the in-laws. With a family meal out on the Saturday. Coming home on Sunday in time for me to 'entertain' a group of elderly men and women.

Some people from Linden do a monthly tea for the elderly and, as it's the Christmas party tea on Sunday, they're making it a bit longer and providing entertainment in the form of someone reading poems and me reading ... something. I'm not yet decided.

I think it will be my Joyce Grenfell take-off, a monologue in a primary teacher's voice as she tries to explain Christmas to a group of young children. The good thing is that, as they're elderly, they will remember the original Joyce Grenfell monologues; the bad thing is that they have varying stages of deafness so may not hear it.

Now I'm wondering if it was prophetic giving George his name: did I 'know' when we named him that I would frequently be saying, 'George, don't do that!' (One of the best remembered lines from Ms Grenfell's schoolteacher monologues.)

Are drunks in Wales less worthwhile than abused children in Cambodia?

Chris and some others from Linden have just returned from visiting a family in Cambodia. The family lived in Swansea for four years while Glenn did his Ph.D. before returning to work with trafficked and abused children in Cambodia.

Chris was telling us about his trip and saying that the country had a very different feel, a bit like Africa but different again. He told us about the amazing people they met and the work going on there and said you can't imagine it unless you've been there.

A while ago I wrote about Chris returning from visiting the orphanage Linden helps support in Zambia and saying something along the lines of, 'Everyone should go there to get out of their comfort zone and see what real need is.' I wrote - and i spoke to him about it - that I felt it diminished the work done in this country e.g. in Zac's. My family and life commitments don't allow me to spend a couple of weeks experiencing what Chris sees as real life. More to the point, I have no desire to.

But that does mean anything I do here is less important?

Yes, sexually abused children have no say in their treatment and it's horrific; alcoholic grown men choose their way of life (to some extent). It's much easier to feel compassion for wide-eyed orphans.

I was talking to Husband about this when we were out walking George this afternoon. I always feel that he puts up with my do-gooding as it keeps me happy and wasn't sure what his response would be. What he said surprised me.

He pointed out that each individual is needy in their own way and, what's more, to suggest that someone isn't a good Christian because he doesn't go to Africa for example isn't very Christian. (Not that Chris was saying that.) And he said that he's very proud of me for what I do at Zac's and in prison. He's never said that to me before.

Some times I love my husband.

P.S. Then I think perhaps just by writing this I am showing my own prejudice, my guilt maybe, my need to be valued, my insecurities. Oh, phooey, a little therapy insight is a terrible thing.

A good funeral

It was the funeral of the 90-year-old mum of my friend today.

Maggi and I have been friends for almost 50 years since she moved to live just up the road from us. When we were teenagers and my mum had a brain haemorrhage it was Maggi who sat with me as we waited for news. Auntie Gay set us polishing the silver cutlery (which wasn't even silver) and we sat there quietly together, Maggi being a friend and support.

Our lives followed very different paths and now, in spite of living only a couple of miles apart, we see each other maybe once or twice a year. But when we do it's as if it were yesterday we last met.

It was good to be at the funeral today although I'd only seen Mrs T on rare occasions over the last few years. The church was packed, a tribute to her and her four daughters, and the words the vicar read about her were lovely. Not overwhelmingly sweet and unreal like the last funeral I attended but you knew from what was said that this was a good woman.

Girls can't get it

I should have explained more.

The proceeds from Sunday evening's unplugged acoustic music event (that i read at last month) were going to the prostate cancer charity and moustaches were the theme of the evening what with it being MOvember (grow a moustache for a month in aid of the charity).

I was behind the bar so naturally had to go moustachioed. There wasn't a lot of competition for the girls' title; just one other female had entered into the spirit and drawn on a moustache and she thought I should win. What could I say? I've never won a sash before.

My prize also included a lot of information about prostate cancer so if there's anything you want to know ...

P.S. Girls can't get it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Miss Movember!!

My aristocratic moustache won me the title of Miss Movember last night. I'm seen here with Mr Movember aka Sam Brown.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Minus 6 and all's well

The temperature dropped to -6 in the night but it was a glorious morning and I stopped on my way to church to take these photos (making me late needless to say). The photos don't do justice to the beauty of the morning but they hint at it.

There is the thinnest film of ice on the edge of the sea: you can see where it finishes.
There's snow on tham thar hills.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Aria or aristocrat?

I had to go shopping today. There was something I needed but when it came to it I couldn't decide.

The operatic singer was rather debonair while it's hard to resist a Mexican bandit. In the end it had to be the aristocrat.

Guessed what it is yet?

All will be revealed tomorrow.

* * * * * * * * * *
It's nearly time for the Wales All Blacks kick off.

How bad can it be, I ask myself - and then wish I hadn't followed that path.

It's times like these that a girl needs chocolate - and doesn't have any.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Why do I feel it only could happen to me?

Some people say that they can't think what to blog about. They should be me for an hour; my life is one long blog post. I mean, who else could make a loaf of bread like this?Note the coin-shaped edge to the sticky-up bit where the dough has come up against the roof of the breadmaker. That's what happens when you buy a ready-mix packet. I thought, 'This sounds a nice and even simpler way of making a parmesan and sun-dried tomato loaf.' That'll learn me, as they say in this part of the world.

I don't think it's meant to have two inches of uncooked flour at the bottom either.
Let's hope my parsnip soup - invented by my own fair hand - is better.

(I can hear the bells of doom already ... anyone for fish and chips?)

The bread was quite tasty though its texture was a bit chewy and crumpet-like. The soup - slightly spicy - was declared a hit and Younger Son scraped the pressure cooker clean.

Are you dead?

I am frightening myself.

How? I hear you ask.

I'm writing Christmas cards and it's not even December.

The trouble is that every year I get a recurring nightmare that it's Christmas Eve and I realise that I haven't sent any cards. Actually I'm not entirely sure that it isn't based on fact and that I did forget one year. But I can't remember.

So Husband said, 'Why don't you get them written and out of the way?'
So that's what I'm doing.

In a sort of half-hearted and disorganised way.

But what about all those people who didn't send me a card last year? Do I assume they're dead?

So I'm sitting here in Wales, writing cards made in China, with a picture of London on the front. I didn't realise it was London when I bought them or I wouldn't have. Not because I have anything against London - I love to visit - but because I should be sending a picture of Wales.

Which doesn't help with my dead dilemma.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving and blueberry muffins

In honour of America's Thanksgiving Day I made some blueberry muffins.
Okay, that's not strictly true: I was writing about blueberries, happened to have some in the fridge, and got a craving for them. I wasn't sure how they'd turn out as it was a slightly unusual muffin recipe but they're fine. Not quite as muffiny as you might expect but tasty enough.

So happy thanksgiving to America blog readers - who'll all be enjoying the festivities and not reading blogs. Have a wonderful family time.

I should get out more

We have a doorbell!

That might not sound like a big deal but it's the first time in my entire 58 years that I've had one.

And what do you think it plays?

It was a difficult decision - and don't tell Husband just yet but I've already changed my mind. I really wanted the dogs barking (as George doesn't) but he didn't like that. (George that is.)

It really should be Men of Harlech or Delilah but I've had to settle - at least for today - with Oh Suzannah.

I should get out more.

Fisherman's friends

When Elder Son and Daughter-in-law were down at the weekend they gave me my birthday presents one of which was Fisherman's Friends - not the throat sweet but the shanty singers from a small village in Cornwall.

Swapping shoes

A gave his right shoe to a man who'd had his left leg amputated.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

As if I'd say something stupid

I decided I'd go and visit A, he of the amputated leg, in hospital tonight.

In Zac's last night we read how Paul the apostle had seemingly lost his cool and verbally abused a hypocritical high priest. One theory is that it wasprophetic and God was speaking through Paul to denounce this baddy. The bible tells us that God will sometimes give us the words to say, although I find that when I've tried that I've ended up saying something silly or nothing at all.

When I get flustered or I don't know what to say I tend to make a joke or say something stupid. No, I know it's hard to believe that of me but it's true. So as I was driving to hospital tonight I was praying hard, 'Please, God, don't let me say anything inappropriate, stupid or fatuous. (Except I didn't say fatuous because I only just thought of that word.) Please, please, don't let me say anything stupid.'

So I got there, found the ward and ... he wasn't there.

This is often the story of my hospital visiting. the person I am planning on seeing has either been discharged already, sleeps through my visit or, as in this case, isn't to be found.

He turned up eventually though, after visiting had finished, so we sat in the corridor and chatted. I asked him how he was doing and he said, 'I'm hopping mad.' A good start. And it wasn't me that said it so that's a plus.

He was in a wheelchair and his stump was exposed and I was resolutely not looking at it when he began telling me about it and the technology they were using and blood and stuff, and I'm saying to myself, 'Just don't look and keep breathing. Keep breathing, that's it, nice and slowly and don't panic. You're not going to faint or be sick. You can do this.' (Remember I'm the woman who fainted in the optician's.)

Then we began talking about physio and exercise and muscle building and I could breathe easy again.

He's okay. Very tired but determined to walk into Zac's again one day. Please God.

How not to lead a bible study

So, as I was saying, I led the bible study in Zac's last night. (God answered my prayer and Gerry was reasonably quiet throughout.)

We continued looking at Acts and it was okay. I had 'the boys' behind me to chip in when I got stuck and, afterwards, lots of people said I'd done well. But they're nice people so they would, wouldn't they? But I don't know.

Things I got wrong:
I didn't thank people for reading - and I'd given lots of people extra verses to read;
I had prepared but hadn't been over it enough times so didn't feel confident and my lack of confidence showed;
one of the verses I'd given out to be read was completely the wrong one so that threw me as I didn't have my notes with the right verse on it;
my praying was stuttery and hesitant.

As I said, it went okay, but I need to learn from my mistakes.

If you're pray-ers, please remember these people:
J, wife of a Zac's person, had an operation today to remove a brain tumour;
A, a Zaccer, who's had his leg amputated;
M, an ex-Zaccer, who's waiting to find out if he's been infected with HIV.

Jesus not only wept he LOL too

Last Sunday I led the service in prison. Ric and Nigel from Zac's did most of the work (Ric the music and Nigel the talky bit) and they were brill so my bit was easy. Then last night I led the bible study in Zac's as Sean was away (more later).

So what I'm thinking is how did that happen?

I don't get to lead anything in Linden. I'm not in ... I was going to say the 'in crowd' but that's not fair so I'll say among 'the wise ones'. Nobody thinks of me if they need a speaker or good advice or sound theological knowledge; they only come to me if they want a twit. Which is fine as, after all, Paul said, '... he gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some to be pastors and teachers and some to be twits.'
(Editor's note: you may not find that in your bible as it's only in the very earliest scrolls and the last section was dropped when the early church fathers were deciding which bits were going to be in the bible.)

After all we are made in God's image and we laugh a lot so he must so therefore he would have decreed the need for twits. But those boring old early church fathers took out all the obvious humour deeming it inappropriate. They left in the verse 'Jesus wept' but deleted the verse 'Jesus LOL when Peter told him about the rabbi, the vicar and David Beckham.'

And now I seem to have lost the thread of this post. I can't remember what the point was. If there was one.

I have done some silly things in my life

I picked up my prescription for my happy pill last week and instead of taking it straight to the chemist I left it lying it around for ages. I did almost go to the chemist once but then couldn't park.

So, this afternoon, as I've run out of pills I really needed to get organised. And, of course, I couldn't find my prescription.

After much hunting and muttering I phoned to ask for a repeat repeat prescription.
'Because of the nature of your prescription you must report it to the police and then come back to us with an incident number before we can re-issue it.'

Nice police lady: where did you lose it to?
Me (biting my tongue to avoid saying if I knew where I'd lost it it wouldn't be lost): I might have posted it with some letters by mistake.

I have done some silly things in my life ...

P.S. On the plus side, while emptying my handbag in my search I came across a chocolate bar. Out of bad comes good.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

There's no logic to it

I've had a terrible two weeks eating wise. What with my birthday, GrandDaughter's birthday, eating out, party food and Maltesers, my diet has gone to pot.

So how come I've lost 2 lbs and got Slimmer of the Week?!

It's beyond me. I can only assume it's the fact that I've hardly sat down at all for the last two weeks.

Taking this to its logical conclusion by the time Christmas has been and gone I should be waif-like.

I'm celebrating by eating fry-up for lunch. With cheese. Real cheese not Laughing Cow Extra Light.

Happy 1st birthday, GrandDaughter!

We love you so very much!

Before you were born we were happy: we had good health, a lovely home, a wonderful family, each other. Then you were born.

You are the chocolate flake in the ice cream, the refreshing breeze on a hot summer's day, the first violet of Spring on a cliff walk. You make life better than I would have believed possible.

Thank you, GrandDaughter, for the joy you brought with you!
We look forward to the years ahead with anticipation and delight.

May God bless you as he's blessed us with you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Party games

Probably enjoyed more by the grown-ups than by the birthday girl herself!
A proper party tea with a jungle theme.

The week until Saturday

So ... on Wednesday we drove through torrential rain down to Devon where the sun came out so we could have a lovely walk in Killerton with Holly and GrandDaugher, whose pushchair is a three-wheeled one made for rugged terrain. But not for inches-deep mud. I had to concede defeat in places and hand over pushing duties to Husband (who was a bath of sweat by the time we finished our walk). There are some interesting little touches around the Killerton estate including this harp tree. If you look closely you'll see the strings.
On Thursday we decided to play it safe and restrict our walk to the quiet lanes surrounding the village. In the centre of the village is an old house that has been in the renovating stage for about two years. They must have been thatching it for at least one year but they're finally getting to the end and finishing it off with the familiar criss cross pattern. (Familiar to jigsaw-doers anyway.)
Thursday evening we drove home ready to prepare for our visitors.

The next day I got home from work early afternoon to find Elder Son and Daughter-in-law had already arrived - and I hadn't been home long before Daughter, Son-in-law, GrandDaughter, Holly Dog and Charlie Cat all arrived too. So that put paid to the last-minute cleaning I was planning on doing. Shame.

Friday evening I watched the first half of the Wales versus Fiji game before I gave up in disgust and helped Daughter prepare party food instead. (End result, a pathetic draw leading me to say out loud the unthinkable: maybe I'll start supporting England instead. Don't worry, I'll have got over it by Saturday when Wales take on - and beat!!!! - the All Blacks! It's not impossible. Unlikely yes but impossible, no. No, it's not. No, definitely not impossible ... big big sigh.)

Then Saturday morning I'd booked us in for a photo session. One of the young men from church is setting himself up as a photographer and this was his first weekend in a studio and I'd booked his first appointment.

Of course, what I should have done before getting everyone up early and out was to check exactly where the studio was.

The fact that the location I took us to was actually about 20 minutes in the opposite direction of the studio didn't endear me to people. We finally got to the studio an hour late ...

But we all relaxed then, the photographer put us at ease, we had a great session and I'm longing to see the end results. Which must be better than the photos I took of GrandDaughter at her party.

Where am I? Oh, yes, Saturday ... I'll start a new post I think before you get too bored.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Birthday food

So much to report since I last blogged but let's start with the important stuff: cakes.

All the family are home for the weekend to celebrate GrandDaughter's first birthday - which is actually on Tuesday but she's having a prolonged celebration.

First of all the cake for the grown-ups: Malteser cheesecake.
Then the birthday cake decorated by Daughter for the jungle-themed party.And the candles I bought. Special exploding candles. I asked the lady in the shop if there were special holders I needed to put them in. She looked at me and the candles I had in my hand. She took the candles from me, turned them the other way up and said, 'You stick the pointy end in the cake.'
'Oh. I thought that was the bit you lit.'

It was an easy mistake to make, wasn't it?

When I got home I told Younger Son and Son-in-law that I might have made a fool of myself in the shop. As one man they said, 'What? You? Surely not?'

I'm pretty sure they weren't being sarcastic ...

The candle looked very pretty anyway.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A ring on her finger

I can't believe William gave Kate his mother's engagement ring. There's so much history to it not to mention bad memories. And a girl wants her own ring, doesn't she?

Not to mention that it wasn't even attractive when Diana had it.

Nobody else's granny

Remember I said that someone else's granny was going to be looking after GrandDaughter? Well, she's not.

Husband and I are going to go to Devon most weeks, as required, for a couple of days to child-mind so Daughter can get on with her freelance copywriting work. Yay!

At least we're going to give it a try and see if it works or see if Daughter and Son-in-law get fed up of the sight of us.

So tomorrow we go and we come back on Thursday evening. Then on Friday all the family come home ready for GrandDaughter's first birthday party, which is being held here on Saturday. Isn't life just so good?

(Even though I was very embarrassed in Zac's tonight because Di had brought me a birthday cake and everyone sang Happy Birthday.)

And I am beginning to suspect that my love for my new boots is a bit excessive.

The vanishing cake

Here's the cake I invented for Zac's tonight.
Invented is probably too generous a word. Adapted is more like it. I can't decide whether to call it apple surprise or pear and pecan cake. Although at the rate Husband is going the rapidly-vanishing cake will be a more appropriate name.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Watch out! Meteor approaching!

I was just listening to a serious programme on radio 4, the serious station, with proper serious scientists who were talking about the apocalypse and the serious possibility of a big meteor hitting earth and one of them said, 'One way to stop the meteor would be to paint it black.'

Uh huh.

You'd only have to paint one side, apparently, as that would be enough to change its course. Ah, that's not so hard then.

Books and films

It's been over three years since Harvey died but, watching Marley and Me at the weekend, we realised how raw it still feels.

The film was more about family life than about Marley, unlike the book, which incorporated far more Marley stories, but I enjoyed it nevertheless - until the last few minutes.

The DVD was a birthday gift from Younger Son and Girlfriend; Husband gave me season 1 of House. I've heard good reviews so I shall look forward to watching that. And hope it doesn't make me cry.

Oh, and I've finished Can't Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg. It's a delightful, slightly whimsical and thoroughly feel-good book. I can really recommend it. It's a vanilla cupcake of a book.

My funky boots!

Don't you just love them?!

They'd arrived when I got home from work. I tried them on and haven't taken them off since!

And to think I almost bought boring brown boots.
And suddenly I'm wondering why everyone doesn't wear purple boots - or red or yellow or blue - and wouldn't the world be a happier place if they did?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Living the dream

Two large boxes of Maltesers. What more could a girl want?There was a bit of a theme running through my presents. Daughter bought me a lovely Neal's Yard aroma stone oil burner type thingy with the oil to go with it: Optimism for inner confidence and joy. Younger Son and Girlfriend bought me this mug. Note the crisis management theme?
And today I went into town and picked up my birthday present coat that I'd ordered and had another look for boots.

I found a lovely pair: nice brown ones, not too high or too low, not too wide or too tight, just Baby Bear right in fact. And I'd tried them on and was admiring them in the mirror when I saw my downfall: purple Doc Marten's.

The sensible bit of my brain said, 'Get these nice brown ones'; the other bit - the larger bit - said, 'Purple Doc Marten's, mmmmm, nice.'

They didn't have them in my size ... so I've ordered them. (They're not the traditional DMs but a shorter slip-on type.)

I blame the poster on the wall in the shoe shop. It said, 'Don't dream the life; live the dream,' so that's what I'm doing. When I told Husband he said, 'I dread to think what your dreams are like.'

"When I am an old woman I shall wear purple." (Jenny Joseph)

Not that I'm old. I never liked being 57 (even with its Hinds/Heinz connotations) because it's an ugly number but I like being 58.

Wales 25 - 29 South Africa

Oh my good gosh! I cannot sit through many games like that one!

Wales had a brilliant start and South Africa were rubbish in the first half. At that point I said to Husband, 'I think I get more tense when Wales are winning,' because I know it's not going to last!

And it didn't. But what an exciting game. I had to eat a whole box of Maltesers to calm myself down.

The diet restarts today!

We had a lovely meal at Out of the Blue last night. I had sardines for starters followed by monkfish in a creamy smoked bacon, cockle and leek sauce. I was going to post a photo of it but I I realise it looked like a plate of vomit so I won't. It tasted delicious though! Lots of strong flavours.

Then for pudding Husband had a trio
of crème brulee (normal plus alcoholic ones) and I had panna cotta. Younger Son and Girlfriend had brownies, which weren't as good the ones we make.

And I was thinking: it's nice to go out to eat but it's rare to get food that is better than we have sometimes at home. The meals I've had this week cooked by Girlfriend and Daughter were just as nice as the restaurant food. I suppose it's just the being waited on, the wide variety of dishes that you wouldn't normally have at home and having it cooked for you that make a meal out special rather than the quality of the food.

Having said that we have had extra-special meals at Jack in the Green in Devon and The Greenhouse in Kew.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Food, glorious food

Wednesday evening Girlfriend cooked a lovely meal of stuffed rolled chicken and roast vegetables for us, followed by fresh pomegranates. I'd never had pomegranate before but Husband regaled us with tales of when he 'were a lad' and his mother would give him a pomegranate and a pin. It would keep him quiet for hours.

And so he insisted we should use pins.

It was quite nice but probably not worth the effort. Apparently you can buy packs of ready-seeded pomegranates so I think, should I decide to tackle a Nigella recipe - and she is very fond of throwing on pomegranate seeds - I'll buy those.

Then last night in Devon Daughter cooked us a special pre-birthday meal: haddock with a creamy leek sauce and lovely perfectly cooked vegetables. Followed by home-made sticky toffee pudding.

Tonight, for my birthday meal, Husband, Younger Son, Girlfriend and I are going to Out of the Blue, a new seafood restaurant in Mumbles.

I could get used to this life.

But I probably won't weigh next week!!

(Especially as I'm sitting here munching my way through a box of Thornton's mint chocolates, given to me by Janet.)

Views from the canal bank

Not sure I'd want either of these as my neighbours!

Canal boats laid up for the winter.This is the last remaining aqueduct on the Devon section of the Grand Western canal. The railway lines - part of the Great Western Railway - that were built under it eventually were part of the downfall of the canal system as trains could transport goods more efficiently than the old barges.

Fortunately in 1971 Devon Council responded to a campaign by local people to stop the canal being filled in and turned it into a country park.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The alternative to Superwoman

Hoovering the stairs this morning - for the first time in ages - I decided I'd be very thorough and use the brush for the steps and the long pipe for the bits in-between the uprights in the banister. That lasted for all of six steps before I had a Shirley Conran moment.

(For those too young to remember, Shirley Conran, who was at the time married to Terence of Habitat, wrote a book called Superwoman, with the most famous quote from it being, 'Life's too short to stuff a mushroom.' By the way, all of the facts within the parentheses are open to correction as I dragged them from my memory, life being too short to google Shirley Conran.)

And that inspired me to come up with my brilliant idea: the Sodit range of greeting cards. Can be adapted to suit all situations. The only problem being, as you can see, that I can't draw.

Tony Blair's bad sex

Tony Blair has been nominated for a Bad Sex Award. In writing I should add.

'I needed that love Cherie gave me, selfishly. I devoured it to give me strength. I was an animal following my instinct.'

The award is normally only for fiction but an exception has been made in Tony's case. Possibly.

(I reaped this little nugget from Writers' News magazine.)

Me and My Girl

'Do you remember that television series with Robin wotsit and his daughter when there was a shot of Three Cliffs in the opening sequence?'
I stared at husband. 'That rings absolutely no bells whatsoever.'
'You know, he was in Man About the House.'
'Yes, I know who you mean but I think Robin was his character's name because he had a restaurant called Robin's Nest.'
'You could be right. He died young.'
'Are you thinking of whatisname?'
'Yes, Godber. I could be.'

The worrying thing is that this conversation made perfect sense to both of us. (We spent a lot of time in the seventies watching television as we had children and no babysitters.)

P.S. The television series was called Me and My Girl and here's the opening sequence, which was indeed filmed on Three Cliffs beach. And I still don't remember it. I put it down to lack of sleep.

First catch your cow

China China closed down and has been replaced by Peachy Keens whose slogan is 'Live Buffet'. There's a bit of me that wants to go there just to find out how live the buffet is.

But most of me thinks, 'Nooooo.'

George and the pouffe

Younger Son brought me a pouffe home from Turkey a few years ago. I like to sit on it to watch television but I have to fight for it.
George got Husband up in the night. And again early this morning. Possibly because of the mouldy cabbage he stole from the compost heap. Or the two pieces of apple cake he stole from Husband's plate.

We are going to have to rethink our food composting. Half a watermelon disappeared as well but I don't think we can blame George for that as he's not keen on melon.

Don't you ever feel the need to gallop?

'Not even when you were little?'
'I may have ridden my horse but then it was my horse that was galloping and not me.'

After a morning cleaning I needed some sea air so we took George to Pobbles. I was struggling to gallop to the top of a hill and I said, 'I bet real horses don't have this problem.'
'No,' said Husband, 'but they don't have to hold their trousers up while they're galloping.'
'True. And they don't have to waste vital breath clip-clopping.'

Sometimes you just have to gallop.

But I'll be glad when GrandDaughter is old enough to gallop with me then I won't look quite so foolish when we suddenly come across people. (Although I might have been galloping but they were digging up sods of soil so who was smarter?)
It wasn't as dark as it looks; that's just because I was taking the photo into the sunlight. If that makes sense.

Last year ... and next

This photo appeared on my screen saver when I popped into the study just now. It made me smile remembering our Corsica holiday 2009.
Continuing with his economy drive Husband worked out that the swimming pool pump cost us £500 to run this summer. You remember this summer? No, I don't blame you if you don't; there wasn't one as such. Maybe twice we went in the pool?

I can see me next year being forced to go swimming five times a day come hell or high water just to get our money's worth.

A right stroppy cow

These are the apple cakes I made to take to Zac's last night.They didn't make it: they're still sitting on my kitchen worktop. Up until 7.30 I was going but then I just couldn't do it. I'd been in a funny mood all day and, if I'm honest, I probably had doubts about going earlier but I kept thinking, 'I'll enjoy it when I'm there.' And I would have but ...

I have absolutely no reason to be depressed so I think it was probably the combination of not taking my happy pill for a couple of days and putting on one pound in weight.

Now I know 1lb is nothing but it's what it says:
a) Look how easy it is to put on weight. Fat cells are like balloons and get easier to fill each consecutive time.
b) This isn't a diet; it's a life change.

I made two further mistakes.
1) I browsed through the recipes in a magazine. Every single one contained more calories than I am allowed in my lifestyle-changed eating regime. I love cooking; I love eating. I know I can adapt them to be lower fat and just not eat such big portions but the mood I was in, I wasn't going to consider something as sensible as that.
2) Disgusted with the recipes I picked up my writing magazine - and read about all the competitions I won't win and the publishers who'll reject me.

Oh, yes, I was a miserable moo.

Then I went into the kitchen where the not-slow-cooked meat in the oven was still as tough as horse hide. Aaaarrrggghhhh!

So I spent the evening cwtched on the sofa with Husband falling asleep in front of an old Midsomer Murders.

But today the sun is shining, I'm feeling dynamic and all is right with the world. And I've remembered to take my happy pill.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A tortoise sort of day

Inspired by ideas in slimming class this morning - and Husband's economy drive - I decided to dig out my slow cooker and make a stew.

What I forgot is that slow cooking is ... well, slow. Dinner could be a bit late tonight.

The slow cooker was one of Husband's Christmas presents to me many years ago. I was surprised to receive it as I hadn't requested or indicated any interest in one. It turned out he'd won it in a raffle in work.

My life is a little disorganised at the moment so this morning I did what any sensible woman does at such times: I made a list.

Progress through it is about as speedy as the slow cooker. Although I have posted two birthday cards - both of which are at least 2 weeks late. Are you spotting a trend here?

I suppose I should be doing something now rather than blogging. I know: I'll add some more things to my list.

The Domestic Goddess strikes again: I gave up and put the slow cooker in the oven.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Husband has a new toy

It's called an Energy Saving Eco Friendly Wireless Power Electricity Smart Monitor Meter and it tells you by the minute how much electricity you're using in your home and how much it costs. So I got home this afternoon, made a cup of tea and Husband said, 'Look how the usage shot up when you made tea!' Goodness knows what it will do when I use the washing machine.

He's wandering around turning off lights and switching off anything that stands still long enough. It's all part of his newly-retired-so-we-must-economise drive. I'm all in favour of saving both money and the environment but I fear this is going to get slightly silly. Already his newly installed timer switches have meant the digibox didn't record the programmes we wanted it to over the weekend.

In their new house Daughter and Son-in-law have an electricity meter and Saturday evening we'd just sat down to watch the England rugby highlights when the house was thrown into darkness - and I walked nose-first into a wall.

I predict a few black eyes and bruises if Husband gets too carried away. And that will just be what I do to him.

In which I set off an alarm in Tesco's

Really I shouldn't have gone there. And having gone there I should have known better than to use the self service checkout. But I do love pretending I'm a checkout girl. (And there's a brill Springsteen song called 'I'm in love with the Queen of the supermarket'.)

Having screamed at my computer in work this morning - paypal I hate you, have I told you this? And I mean really hate you - I should have realised I wasn't technologically on the ball.

But really if the scale is not precise enough to recognise a packet of tags then it should know that and allow for it. It's not rocket science. And if it's going to allow you to put through a tagged item it should simultaneously call the assistant to remove the tag or at least warn you - before you set off the alarm on the door.

Having gone there straight from prison I had visions of being back in prison before the day was out. The security guard - young, bored - looked at me suspiciously: I admit I was having a very bad hair day. Or maybe he thought I was just another menopausal woman who'd 'forgotten' to pay.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Moving and shaking

We've been in Devon this weekend helping Daughter and Son-in-law move from one end of the village to the other, and look what we found in one of the boxes! (It's a rubbish photo as my camera had been in the car all night and was cold and condensated but she looks so cute I couldn't resist it.)
Looking out from the back garden gate.

"Look, granddad, if I put this over my head mummy won't notice if you pack me in the suitcase and take me home."
"I'm coming with you too!"
The plan was that the television would be set up by 3 o'clock on Saturday afternoon so we could watch the Wales Australia rugby game. At 3.15 pm the search was still underway for a television cable. As a result I had to settle for cleaning kitchen cupboards while listening to the ... wait for it ... England All Blacks game on the radio. Greater love hath no mother ...

A cable was finally patched together and we could watch the last 20 minutes of the Wales game. It's quite depressing when the best the commentators can say about each of the rugby games (Ireland also played South Africa) this weekend is, 'It wasn't a bad loss for the home team.'

The southern hemisphere teams continue to show us how it's done and with the world cup coming up next year we need to learn some lessons pretty quickly.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Prison today, Devon tomorrow

On my way home from prison this afternoon there was a report on the radio news about the latest report into re-offending. Apparently it was the largest investigation ever done into numbers and there was some amazement at the high proportion of prisoners who re-offend.

I imagine a lot of money was spent on this research. I could have told them the same thing. I spend more time in prison than the average person but it's still only a tiny amount yet I know that you'd have to speak to an awful lot of inmates before you found one who hadn't been in prison before. The majority of the men I have had any dealings with are repeat offenders.

Like the 19-year-old who's spent the last 9 Christmases away from home in secure accommodation of some sort. Or the 40-year-old who's been in and out of prison for the last 25 years.

Maybe it would be more useful of they spent some of the money on preventing the men - young boys - from getting into trouble to begin with. Or funding the work of more people like the community chaplain at Swansea.

The community chaplaincy was piloted at HMP Swansea and has gone on to be copied at other prisons. The chaplain tries to help those men who want help when they get out of prison. Many of them leave with very little money, no job and often nowhere to live. Little surprise they end up going to the pub, meeting up with old friends who offer a floor to sleep on, a bottle to share and drugs to help take away the pain. And in return want help to get the money to pay for the drugs.

The chaplain meets the man outside prison when he's released, takes him to accommodation that's been organised and puts him in touch with people who will support him and help him. While not an infallible system it has been getting good results.

This afternoon we were preparing for the Christmas carol service and there was a touching moment: one of the men in our group expressed his gratitude to one of the others who had helped to teach him to read when he'd been in in 2008.

And tomorrow we're off to Devon at the crack of dawn: Daughter is moving house. Only to the other side of the village but we're going down to help. At least it means they'll have a spare bedroom and we'll be able to sleep over!

See you when we get back.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Purple mash?

Purple mash, sausages and red wine and onion gravy.

Is the bible relevant today?

We are continuing, still, with the book of Acts, and last night we looked at Paul's imminent return to Jerusalem from what is now Turkey (I think).

Before he left Ephesus he called the leaders of the church together and said they'd never see him again. When he got to Israel (as it is now) everybody - his friends, church leaders, prophets - said, 'Don't go to Jerusalem. There's trouble brewing; it will be dangerous. Please don't go.'

But Paul believed it was God's will that he should go so he said, 'Sorry, I'm going even though it could be to my death.'

1. I can't imagine ever being in the sort of situation where my life could be endangered if I chose to do something but if I were and all my friends, including people I respect - such as Sean and the God Squadders - told me not to go, I very much doubt that my conviction that I knew what God wanted of me better than anyone else did would be strong enough to resist the pressure.

I was a little worried about this perceived lack of faith on my part but then I thought: God knows me, he knows what a weeble I am. He either wouldn't put me in this position or he would give me such conviction that I'd be convinced. And I suspect it would be the former. I can imagine God raising his eyebrows, shaking his head and saying, 'What am I going to do with you, you dippy girl?'

2. S was with us last night. A few months ago this young man left us to go and work in an area of the Middle East currently very much in the news. He had to return home because of visa problems. He very much wants to go back as it's been his dream for a long time. He earnestly wants to serve God. He is trying to decide what to do at the moment, whether to take another option or to hang on and try to get back there.

If I were his mother I'd be saying, 'You don't want to go there. Not right now. It's dangerous.' Does he listen to others or to God? Or is it God? How do you know? How does he know? He doesn't have what could be seen as the arrogance of Paul to assume he knows best. He wants to know clearly and definitely what God wants him to do.

P.S. Actually S may be safer going to that country rather than staying here as they're the ones sending the bombs out. Unless America decides to bomb them of course ...

New cake

Tried out a new recipe for Zac's last night: lemon tray bake cake. I made double quantities and did half with lemon and half with lime and coconut.

It was a really easy recipe and tasted delicious. A nice light sponge-type cake with a sharp sweet slightly crunchy topping.

Mm, yum.

A snippet

Gerry excelled himself at the bible study in Zac's last night.

'Why do you keep talking about Jews? I don't come here to listen to you talking about Jews all the time.'

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

On his hands and knees

Poor Husband has spent the last three days on his hands and knees.

Step 1
Using expensive Heavy Duty Stone Tile Cleaner and scouring pads, scrub the kitchen floor. Leave to dry.

Step 2
When that doesn't work, go over it again with Cif cream cleanser and a scrubbing brush. Leave to dry.

Step 3
Apply Tile Sealer. Leave to dry.

Step 4
Apply 2nd coat of Tile Sealer. Leave to dry.

Step 5
Apply polish. Leave to dry.

Step 6
Apply 2nd coat of polish. Leave to dry.

Step 7

Will it work? Will it, if not stop the floor getting dirty, make it easier to clean? We can only wait and see.

For the time being no-one's allowed to use the back door and George is banned from the kitchen.

drunkards and carousers

How to look sexy when exercising

In today's world the fitness enthusiast has a wide choice of clothing with whole ranges dedicated to exercise in its every form.

You might like to choose tight and skimpy or if that's too revealing you can opt for close-fitting head-to-toe.

Or you can go for the Eric Morecambe look.
Husband pointed out that my shorts looked even sillier now I'd lost weight so I dug around in my drawers until I found a pair of shorts from my previous slimmer incarnation days. Hmmm, George isn't convinced.And, as I noticed when hugging my knee to my chest, it means I'm gong to have shave the tops of my legs as well.

When Younger Son saw me this morning he said, 'What are you doing?! Are you going jogging?'
'Jogging? Me? Do I look that stupid?'
He looked me up and down. Before he could speak I said, 'That was a rhetorical question meaning how likely do you think that would be rather than do I look stupid.'

I drowned a spider!

Accidentally of course.

I felt something tickling my back during the evening. I scratched around and it stopped. Then later on, when I was in the bathroom getting ready for bed, my ear started itching. I glanced in the mirror and there was a huge SPIDER! Panic! I flung my arm and flapped around and was vaguely aware of a black body flying away from me. I leapt up and down in case he was making his way back to crawl up my leg but there was no sign of him on the floor.

Puzzled I turned to the sink to wash my face, and there, at the bottom of the basin was the poor little spider.

The monster that had scrambled over my ear had shrunk - it must have been the effect of the hot water - to the size of a baby's fingernail.

He was still kicking his little legs too.

But I figured, even if I rescued him, he'd die so it would probably be quicker and less painful for him if I just left him in the water.

I know, I know - I should have given him the kiss of life. You don't have to tell me; I feel guilty enough as it is.

This is what happened

So, Sunday evening went really well. Once I'd calmed down. And I didn't panic too much even when I forgot my lines in the middle.

The evening went like this. First on was Steve Aston and band (one man) (I can't really comment on what he was like as I was in a place of terror at that time) followed by me reading Wendy Cope poems and some poetry by friends. Then it was the amazing Scotty, a singer/songwriter. Husband said she sounded a little like Tanita Takara (but I've never heard of her and think husband may have dreamt her). More me reading a poem and some prose of my own creating. Followed by the fabulous Captain Cat & the Sailors. I'll post some video of them later on today (when I get back from slimming class).

The audience wasn't huge but they were very receptive to the singers and to me - keeping quiet while I read which was amazing. I was afraid I was going to have to go and slap people if they carried on talking ...

The evening raised money for Love146, an organisation working to rescue children caught in the sex trade.

And, do you know, when Dan at the end asked me if I'd come back and do it again, I did it again: my mouth said, 'Yes!'

Monday, November 01, 2010


I began my 'set' with a couple of poems by Wendy Cope.


At unplugged, at Red Cafe, Mumbles, on Sunday 31st October, 2010.

There is a God!

Chris spent last night with his head over the toilet bowl.

(See earlier post, He is so going to get slapped.)

'Revenge is mine,' saith the Lord.