Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lenten thanks 12

I am grateful for my beautiful daughter (here celebrating her 30th birthday).

She's clever (1st class Honours), talented (Freelancer of the Year 2008), a gifted writer, a wonderful cook and a marvellous mother. She's also loving, kind, supportive, encouraging, forgiving, sensitive, wise and thoughtful.

I am delighted to call her Daughter.

Lenten thanks 11

Belatedly, my gratitude for yesterday is for the GX volunteers who came to the tea dance and made it the success it was. (We had a great time and I do so want to start dancing again!)

We have nine GX volunteers in Swansea. The scheme is a joint VSO/British Council initiative and involves volunteers from Britain and a third world country working together for 3 months at a time in Britain and the third world country. This year the overseas volunteers are from Zambia. The volunteers live with host families and in this country get £15 a week and in Zambia £3.

It was lovely to have them with us last night and two of them taught us a Zambian dance.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Amaretti biscuits

Poisoned but fairly

Probably the time to abandon a recipe is when you discover the main ingredient is toxic.

But you know me: never one to give up.

We have a Tea Dance at Linden this evening. It's part of Fairtrade Fortnight, the focus of which is on tea this year. We have a couple of accomplished dancers in the church so they agreed to lead a teaching session. Sadly I fear my enthusiasm for sexy, up close dancing isn't shared by most of the church so I am expecting a very small turn-out - but I intend to enjoy myself whatever.

But as I'm organising it I decided to make, as refreshments, some of the amaretti biscuits from the recipe given in the Fairtrade Foundation leaflet. And it was while searching in the shops for the required apricot kernels that I found out that they are potentially toxic. The recommendation on the packet - and in the leaflet that Julian Graves kindly supplied - is not to eat more than 2 kernels in any 24 hours. (And they definitely should not be eaten by pregnant women.)

Now I worked out that each biscuit would have at least 10-15 kernels in it meaning I could potentially have poisoned a small section of the church.

I decided to swap the apricot kernels for roasted hazelnuts. They had to be ground up anyway so I couldn't imagine it could make much difference. Whether it was that or just a crummy recipe but the 'malleable paste' I was supposed to end up with was more of a sticky goo.

So I'm not making those again. Even though they taste okayish.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lenten thanks 10

I am so glad that Wales didn't get totally annihilated by France.

Granddaughter will be cheering the boys on tonight

Not with me sadly but I'll be seeing her next week when I go to Devon on Wednesday to do some baby-sitting to allow Daughter to get on with some work that's come in for her.

I could do with a Grandbaby to distract me tonight as it will be a tense game: Wales take on France who were on fire last game. And with half our team injured - or dropped for driving a golf buggy down a motorway ... - it could be a stressful hour and a half.

Honestly when English football players get arrested for motoring offences they're driving Ferraris or Lamborghinis; Welsh rugby players get caught in golf buggies.

Half-time: Wales losing 20-0. Big big sigh ...
Final score: Wales 20 - 26 France. The boys dun good. They didn't give up and fought back magnificently. France didn't really win the game as much as Wales gave it to them with two silly tries in the first half. Ah well, onward and upward.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lenten thanks 9

Last night before I went to sleep I was reading A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton. She's written a series of books (alphabetical) about female private investigator, Kinsey Milhone.

The book I'm reading is actually a compendium of the first three novels in the series and I bought it second-hand in Red Cafe. Looking at my bookshelves now I realise I already have A is for Alibi - and have read it - but it was a long time ago and I've forgotten what it was about (one advantage of older age is that I can reread books and watch films again without knowing what's going to happen).

I have a number in the series but they've usually been random finds in charity shops or second-hand book stalls so I've C, K, I, M etc, rather than an orderly A, B, C.

Unlike my Stephanie Plum novels. I have the whole set, which is currently up to Finger Lickin' Fifteen.

I was thinking about being grateful for books generally but decided I'd be more specific and say I am so very thankful for this series of novels, written by Janet Evanovich, about a New Jersey 'bounty hunter' or fugitive apprehension agent.

They consistently make me laugh out loud and are also responsible for my longing to be called cupcake (preferably by an American Italian cop named Joe).

And this is what they were supposed to look like

Freshly baked chocolate chunk cookies to go on sale at Red Community Cafe today. Celebrating Fairtrade Fortnight, these are made with fairtrade sugar (2 sorts) and chocolate.

If you're in Mumbles, call in between 10 am and 3 pm, for fairtrade tea and coffee, light lunches, and cookies, of course. Very child-friendly, free internet access and secondhand book stall.

Opposite Southend playground, just down from the Antelope.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

And a low-cut leopardskin top

I am a little worried as to what people think about me.

A few of us gathered in Zac's this morning to sort donated clothes. Some really good quality things, including a sheepskin coat, were put in the recycling pile simply because they were too big. You don't get many fat people living on the streets. The good news is that a company pays for the unwanted clothes so Zac's benefits from the many donations in one way or another.

Anyway, just before we left we were standing around chatting and Bas looked at me and said, 'Have you got a black leather mini-skirt?'
'Noooo. Why?'
'I just thought you'd make a good barmaid.'
Sean joined in, 'Don't encourage her: she's looking for an excuse to buy red stilettos.'
'To wear with my fishnet tights I suppose?'

Honestly, what kind of impression am I giving people?! I should be careful what I write on Facebook.

Lenten thanks 8

I have come to the conclusion that what most people regard as a simple little job is, inevitably, going to mean at least six months of chaos for us.

Last summer I told you about our bath/shower tap that hadn't been working properly almost since we'd had it, and the plumber who came and took it out and then left to travel the world for a year. Yesterday I gave the newly-painted bathroom a good clean, put down the new mat and sighed, grateful that the job had been finished at last. The tap is mended, the side of the bath finally replaced, and we have our bathroom back.

Sometimes gratitude can be for a very basic thing.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

And here's a cake made with it!

It's Sean's birthday on Friday so we're celebrating early tonight.

Lenten thanks 7

Quite early in our married life Husband bought me a Kenwood food processor for Christmas. I was delighted and amazed: a few months earlier I'd see one in a Good Housekeeping magazine and thought how wonderful it would be to have one but I didn't think I'd mentioned it.

Whether Husband got lucky in his inspiration or whether I was talking about it in my sleep I'll never know but I was and am very grateful for it.

People often compliment me on my sponge cakes: I put it down to my wonderful Kenwood food processor.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lenten thanks 6

I can't decide what to be grateful for today.

I mean, I have loads but, on previous days, one thing has just sprung out at me. So, dum de dum, what shall it be?

I know: I am grateful for good health.

I have a sniffly cold at the moment - and probably if you judged by my blog you'd think I'm always ill as I moan about the slightest thing - but really I am one of the healthiest people I know.

I spent nearly a lifetime being a hypochondriac and worrying my life away until the doctor gave me a little white happy pill; now I'm not only healthy, I think I'm healthy too.

And when I see what others have to deal with, either long or dramatic short-term illnesses, I am especially grateful for something I usually take for granted.

My Man Drawer

I had a very productive morning at work: I now have my own Man Drawer!

When Alun left last summer he bequeathed to me his three drawers and their contents. Such was the trauma of his involuntary redundancy that I haven't been able to face doing anything with the drawers until now.

So this morning I sorted them out and the bottom one is now officially my Man Drawer! For those of you who haven't seen the Michael McKintyre sketch a Man Drawer is one of those places that all men have and treasure. It contains vital things like bits of wire, a tape measure (one that goes whiss in and out), plugs, those black bent metal things, batteries and all the sort of stuff that I would never use but feel I can't throw away 'because it will come in useful one day.'

I feel like a new woman.

'Twas on a Monday morning

'Twas on a Monday morning the maintenance man came to do the annual check on our security alarm system in work. He said, 'Have you got the User Manual? It will be in a little plastic folder.'
'Oh yes, it's in the file.'
I got the file down and flicked through it. 'Here it ... oh, no, that's the fire alarm manual. Umm.'
'Never mind. Can you just show me the control panel?'
'Yes! That's in the kitchen.'

I led him downstairs and confidently pointed out the white box on the wall. He shook his head. 'That's the fire alarm control panel.'

'Oh dear, um, oh I know.' I opened the door to the little box that sets the alarm. I looked at his face hopefully. He shook his head again.

Much later we found the control panel. And much much later I came across the User Manual.

I am so good at building administration; someone ought to employ me to do it. Oh, wait, they already do.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lenten thanks 5

For blogging friends, some of whom I've met, like jmb and Leslie in Vancouverand Shirl and Welshcakes in Bristol.
I've also met up with Suburbia and soon hope to get together with Devonshire Dumpling - whose birthday it is today.
Happy birthday, DD!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Surely not?

There was a 51-year-old woman on Doc Martin last night. She was complaining about always being tired, not being able to lose weight. And she had cold hands. 'I have all of that!' I exclaimed.

The Doc did some tests: she was pregnant ...

Nah, the reason I can't lose weight is more likely to be down to the fact that I eat too much.

Wanna swap?

Fairtrade Fortnight starts on Monday and the Fairtrade Foundation is trying to get people to join in the Big Swap. They want 1,000,001 people to swap at least one item for its fairtrade equivalent.

I'm doing my bit: I swapped my usual flowers for fairtrade lilies from Kenya.

Sainsburys and the co-op are both excellent sources of fairtrade goods. I can't speak for other shops but I'm sure more and more stores are now including fairly traded items in their ranges. And they don't cost that much more.

Lenten thanks 4

The Beatles provided the background music to my growing-up. I loved them then and I still do now. You can't beat a Beatles song. So thank you, John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Another good day at the oven face

The cold that affected me in work yesterday must have penetrated my brain too.

As I was in cooking mode and making leek and potato soup for dinner I decided I'd make some cookies as well. Ffion had made them in the community cafe on Thursday and they were jolly nice, but I thought I'd double up on quantities.

I started well with twice the amount of butter but then forgot until the end when there didn't seem to be much mixture in the bowl. I stirred in another egg and more sugar, and carefully weighed out the extra flour - but forgot to put it in. (And it was self-raising instead of plain.)

So my cookies went a little bit wrong ...
But they're still edible!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lenten thanks 3

I don't want to work logically through all the obvious causes for thankfulness. To list my family in a block would get boring so I'm going to leap around as and how I feel like - with no logic.

So today I'd planned one thing but then driving to work I changed my mind. I am so glad my route to work takes me along the road next to the sea front. How fortunate am I?

A woman's mind

I was in work and getting colder and colder - until I finally realised that the heating, which was supposed to be on, had gone off. We have a temperamental boiler and it occasionally trips its switch for no apparent reason. The remedy is to go and flip it back but how or why that works I have no idea. I am a girl.

And a girl who wanted to go to the toilet but the cold had chilled me down to my bones, so, instead of going to the Ladies' as normal, I went to the Disabled Toilet. There, if you're flexible, you can sit on the toilet seat and swing your legs about thus setting off the hand-dryer and have hot air blown at you.

The wonders of the female mind.

Unlike the wonders of the mind of a photocopier.

I had a big fight with it today and must have wasted umpteen sheets of A3 paper. I had to give up in the end. How hard can it be, you say, to enlarge an A4 sheet to A3 size? Very is the answer.

When we first had it I had a big argument with Alun about how to do double-sided photocopying. If you had 2 sheets and you wanted them printed back to back on 1 sheet, and there was an option which said '2 to 1', then wouldn't you think that was the option to go for?

Yes, ladies, precisely.

It's not. No, you have to take the '1 to 2' option. 'That's logical,' Alun said.

To a man maybe. Not to anyone with any sense. So now Alun no longer works with me and I need a man who can think like a photocopier to help me enlarge my home-made calendar. Honestly, it would have been quicker for me to draw it on paper.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lenten thanks 2

Yesterday I wrote about Husband. Today I'm using the second part of the same piece in my 'things for which I am grateful' Lent series.

As I explained, the book these writings are taken from was a collection of letters to God, with introductory paragraphs. No surprise then that I am thankful today that I know the love of God. But ... well, read the letter for yourself.

Dear God

Love is truly blind. How else can you explain the way people love each other? And put up with each other? No, not blind but maybe crazy: it has its eyes opened and still loves.

It’s very odd the way we love each other; sometimes he drives me mad; sometimes, no doubt, I drive him mad, but we manage to cling on to something bigger than minor irritations.

It’s the same with the children, I suppose, only more so. They, too, can drive me mad, but I love them. If I can see all this love and how I, in spite of my human failings, can express it and feel it, and know that I could never not love them, why do I struggle with your love for me? Why do I find your love so hard to believe in? Why do I imagine that every little, or not so little, misdemeanour, is another black mark which will make me less lovable? Do I love my children any less when they’ve been naughty? Of course not.

Do you really love me because of my good points? And in spite of my bad habits? Do you really love me just because I’m me, your creation, your child?

I know you love me but there’s a big difference between knowing in my head and grasping in my heart the truth of that love.

Maybe it’s just warm feelings that I’m looking for, cheap thrills, an easy ride.

Thank God my faith has stronger foundations than that. It isn’t built on feelings; I can continue believing even if I don’t feel ... even if I don’t feel.

But a cwtch now and then would help.



Wednesday, February 17, 2010


At about 6 last night my phone rang. My mobile ringing always gives me a fright as I have a manic child crying as my ringtone, and then once that starts, and I've realised it is my phone, I have to go on a phone-hunt. It's a good job very few people call me on it. In fact nobody calls me on the landline either... aaaah ... just call me Lizzy-no-mates.

But back to the story.

'Hello,' I said, when I'd found it.
'Pancakes,' the voice on the other end breathed.
'It's Shrove Tuesday. I just wanted to make sure you'd remembered.'

It was Steve who comes to Zac's.

'I've made muffins for tonight but I'm bringing just a few pancakes.'
'Ah, good.'
'They'll be under the counter in a brown paper bag. Just wink at Di and she'll sneak you one.'

Honestly, they're putting in requests now.

Minus the dangly bits

Off to the hairdresser's soon

Husband said, 'Go for it. Get rid of the dangly bits.' (Of hair he specified.)

Taking the advice of commenters I've been googling hair styles. I found a few I liked but all the models are very young, skinny and attractive so it's hard to imagine what the style would like on someone older, chubbier and less attractive.

Then I googled on hairstyles for older women and the choice is pretty much between Judi Dench, Helen Mirren and my granny.

Actually the two styles I like best of all are both men's.

Watch this space ...

Lenten thanks 1

You may have noticed that the only times Husband appears on this blog is when he's said or done something, usually unromantic, he really shouldn't have and you may wonder how our marriage has survived so long - 32 years this summer.

Or maybe you realise the reason I can write these things - and, yes, he does read this blog - is because we have a strong and loving relationship. He's my safety net, the one I can run home to, the one who loves me for, not in spite of, my 'extra-cuddly' bits.

Many years ago Daughter and I wrote a collection of books - okay, collection is a bit grand for four titles. Two we wrote together and two individually. Our individual books were called Dear God and Dear Daddy (now out of print - I say that because I know you'll want to run out and buy them!) and consisted of letters to God each with a preamble about what led up to the circumstance that precipitated that particular one.

The last letter in my collection was entitled True Love, and it still stands, so I'm using the preamble today and the letter tomorrow to demonstrate things for which I am grateful.

We disagree about most things.

For a start he doesn’t share my faith. He leans to the right; I have leftish tendencies. I can be moved to tears by something I see; he says it’s their own fault. He’s English; I’m Welsh. I love reading; he hates books. He loves a glass of malt whiskey; I have to go to the other side of the room because I can’t bear the smell. He can tell you what model of car it is from a quick glimpse of its bumper; I'll notice that it's blue. He’s bossy; I’m put upon. He’s organised; I’m untidy. I’m easily distracted; he’s single-minded. He likes Terminator; I like Sense and Sensibility. He cleans his shoes; I can’t remember what colour mine are.

And yet we love each other. I love the way that when we’re watching the news and the reporter says something happened at Prestatyn, he’ll say ‘Press what in?’, and I love the way we both associate the same songs with events or things that happened. And sometimes I’ll say something knowing what his response will be, and if he doesn’t say it straightaway I look at him enquiringly, and he’ll realise what I’m waiting for and he’ll say it. I love it when we both say we’re dieting and then we devour a large bar of chocolate watching a video. I love it when he has a very busy day at work and I phone him and say ‘meet me for lunch?’ and he doesn't hesitate to say ‘OK’.

I love someone who’s bossy and grumpy and he loves someone who’s disorganised and selfish. Love is strange.

True love is about knowing someone really well. It’s about knowing his little habits and loving him for them. It’s about knowing his faults and loving him in spite of them.

True love can be expressed in a word, a touch, a look, a kiss or death on a cross.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

So for Lent this year ...

It's Pancake Day today and that means the start of Lent tomorrow. As a child and young adult, I always gave up something for Lent and even in recent years I've given up chocolate and spider solitaire. But there's no real meaning in it as far as I'm concerned: it's a reason with a time limit.

I believe the idea behind Lent, the fasting from food as it was traditionally, is to cause us to meditate on what Christ did for us in going to the cross, to share in his suffering and to be grateful. Well, I was thinking about this when we were walking. Christians believe Christ suffered so we wouldn't have to. So it seems a bit pointless to make myself undergo something meaningless. (Good cop-out, eh?)

But I've seen gratitude memes of various sorts of a number of different blogs recently so I decided I'd do my own version. Thus, for the six weeks of Lent up until Easter, I'm going to post each day on something I'm thankful for. It may be big; it may be small; it may be silly; it may be serious. And there may be days when it will be a challenge - especially if I come back from the hairdresser's tomorrow hating my hair ...

Hair today, gone tomorrow?

Over the last few years my hair has gradually got shorter. At the back at least. I've kept the dangly bits at the side.

Tomorrow I'm going to the hairdresser's - I can be old and grey no longer - and the question is: shall I get rid of my dangly bits?

I mean, it will grow again if I don't like it. But if I hate it, I'll have to stay indoors for two months.

Decisions, decisions.

I was very brave last time and had Mark do away with my parting so perhaps I'll go that one step further tomorrow. Oh dear.

Oh George!

We'd just gone past the muddy pond - where I am certain all life began - and halfway up the steps when I spotted a stick. George by this time was at the top so I stopped, picked it up, turned and threw it back down towards the pond.

I waited expectantly for George to come thundering past me.

And waited.

I looked around and he was sitting staring down at me. Giving him the benefit of the doubt in case he may not have seen me throwing it, I said politely, 'Go and fetch the stick.'
He looked back at me.
'Go and fetch the stick!' (A little less politely.)
He continued to stare at me disdainfully.
'You're a dog! More than that you're a retriever! Go and fetch the stupid stick!' (Definitely not politely.)

George shrugged, turned and went on his own way.

I despair of my dog sometimes.

Further on we met Leonberger (his breed not his name). He is still a puppy and already at least twice George's bulk and what does George do every time they meet?

Tries to hump him.

Leonberger sits through it calmly, glancing back occasionally, wondering what this midget is doing dangling from his back.

I really despair of my dog sometimes.

P.S. Spellchecker picked up Leonberger as a misspelled word; it suggested what I meant to say was Aberconwy. It's obviously one of those days.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Can't I say sexy in church?

Fairtrade Fortnight is coming up and the focus this year is on tea. The organisers have suggested that groups all over the country have a tea dance on the middle Saturday (26th February) and that's what we're doing at linden.

Because I thought a tea dance might sound a bit boring I went out the front in church yesterday to encourage people to come along.

Having told everyone how sexy proper dancing is I'd just suggested they come along and get up close and personal when both my former and current bosses spoke up simultaneously, 'Okay, perhaps you'd better sit down now!'

Wassamatter? Can't I say sexy in church on a Sunday morning?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The door is still open

Minni Car is a Welsh mam by nature. She thinks she always knows what's best for you and isn't backward in coming forward to tell you. She'll tell you what day it is, what the weather's like, and what song is playing. She warns you when it's very cold or when she thinks you might forget to get petrol. She also reminds you to put on your seat belt and won't let you leave the house without a clean hankie.

So the other night, after circuit training, when we got in her and her display said, Door is still open, we didn't argue with her. Husband said to me, 'You can't have closed your door properly.'
'Yes, I have,' I said, but I opened and closed it again anyway.
The display still said, Door is still open.
'It must be your door.'
'No,' Husband said, 'it's not,' but he opened and closed it again just in case. And still Minni was insisting that there was a door open.

Husband was just about to get out and check the back doors when Dean Martin started crooning, 'And the door is still open to my heart.'

Men in kilts

The good thing about the weekend when Wales plays Scotland in Cardiff is that we always get some Scottish supporters staying in Swansea. Men in kilts, mmmmmm.

I was driving to Sainsbury's this morning and a gang of them crossed the road in front of me. I turned into the female equivalent of Benny Hill. 'Phwoar!' It's very strange how what I would normally consider an unattractive man becomes sexy as soon as he's in a kilt.

Then I was so stressed after the game (Wales won) that I had to bake some of Nigella's white chocolate, cranberry and pecan cookies to calm myself down.

It did seem a bit unfair as Scotland played so well and Wales were so rubbish until the last ten minutes when there must have been pacemakers crashing all over Wales.

But I have to say that France looked to be in an altogether different league. The only good thing is that they have a tendency to be erratic: they can play five out of six games brilliantly but go to pieces in one. We'll just have to hope they throw their wobbly in the Wales game.

How was Valentine's Day for you?

I'd been talking to an acquaintance who'd had an horrendous internet dating experience and I was telling Husband about it. I said, 'I couldn't be bothered with all that again; I'd settle for a hot water bottle.'
'I'm going to make sure I go first,' Husband said. 'I couldn't manage without you.'
'Nonsense, you can cook and you know where the washing-machine is.'
'I don't need you for the housework ...' Which is where he should have stopped but as inevitably as Monday follows Sunday he continued, 'You don't do any.'

I would have argued but I'd rather be blogging.

It's a good job we'd already agreed that we wouldn't send each other Valentine's cards this year. We've never done anything more exciting than cards anyway; Husband objects to the fact that everything goes up in price around Valentine's Day. (That and the fact he doesn't have more than one romantic bone in his body.)

'I can buy you flowers another time.'
'Yes, but you don't.'
'No, but I often think about buying you flowers.'

Sigh ...

Thursday, February 11, 2010


After four and half months our kitchen is finished!
Before After

To the future ...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My 2,999th post

On Monday I found myself walking both George and Holly. Now on the george scale of good behaviour, George is reasonably well-behaved when walking on the lead; Holly isn't. Even though she is very good normally and can do all sorts of tricks, put her on the lead and she immediately pulls like mad. So it was with some trepidation that I set off, one dog lead in each hand.

I had just about got them not under control but manageable when we had to walk past the house of George's arch-enemy. He spotted us and began throwing himself against the window and barking and growling like the hound of the Baskervilles.

At this, George who had been happily sniffing an old bottle decided that maybe Holly had the right idea after all and set off at a pace that Usain Bolt would have been proud of.

I was at the other end of the road before I'd regained what little control I'd had. Panting and puffing and yelling, 'You stupid dogs!! Stop will you!!!'

No wonder the neighbours all avoid me ...

P.S. Did you notice my post title? Now I am dithering what to post for my 3,000th. I feel it should be of significance and meaningful as so many of my posts - like this one - are. Shall I look back over my past writings? Or look to the future? Or just post a photo of Grand-daughter?! This could take me some time.

Darling girls

Daughter looking gorgeous on her thirtieth birthday. (Grand-daughter frowns in the sunlight!)
Grand-daughter on the quilt made by Pat.

Did I mention that I'm a granny now?

It was a lovely weekend.

With Elder Son and Daughter-in-law here as well to make it even more special. We spent a lot of time eating - and cooking in my case - and it was just lovely to be a family being together. Even the disappointment of the rugby on Saturday couldn't spoil it.

Have I mentioned that I'm a granny?!! And I've taught Grand-daughter to poke out her tongue!

We took her out yesterday to meet some of her ancient relations - her great-great-uncle John and her great-great-great-auntie Joan - and she was wonderfully behaved and smiling to order. She is an absolute delight.

And I got to push her in our old pram that Granddaddy had so carefully cleaned.

P.S. Blogger won't let me move the photos around.

Weekend food

Butternut squash and goat's cheese lasagne.
Roast rib of beef.
Birthday cake (Nigella's sour cream chocolate cake).

My beautiful family

Fantasy rugby

I'm not talking about last weekend's rugby.

Except to say that in our fantasy league I am ahead of Husband! That's in spite of him having three teams and doing incredibly complicated statistical calculations to work out the best combinations.

To be totally honest one of his teams has the same number of pints as mine but I come first alphabetically. And that's good enough for me.


So much to catch up on!

It's been a busy few days - no time for blogging is busy indeed!

Where to begin? At the beginning I suppose, so right back to last Friday and the bingo.

Have you played bingo recently? You don't know what you're missing: bingo is the new rock'n'roll. Allegedly, although most of the 'rockers' looked more like Dot Cotton than Ozzy Osbourne.

We turned up, the three of us, like virgins at an orgy. Having been registered as members - yes, I'm a card-carrying member now - we were pointed in the direction of the door. 'Go and find a seat,' Mikey, who must have trained in the Blackpool ballrooms, told us.
We looked around the large brightly-lit hall and didn't move.
'You can sit anywhere,' Mikey reassured us.
We still hovered nervously.
'Um, what do we do?' I asked.
'You do know how to play bingo, don't you?'
'Well, you cross out numbers ...'
'MAUREEN!' Mikey yelled across at a ferocious-looking lady. 'Come and show these ...' he hesitated, 'beginners how to play bingo.'

Maureen turned out to be very nice and helpful, saying things like, 'If you only need one number and say it's 34, as soon as he says three and four, shout "house". Don't wait for him to say thirty-four.'

This would have been a very useful thing to know had a) one of us had got as close as needing just one number, and b) we hadn't still been trying to find the number he'd called when he'd already gone on to the next one. (And if the next number is being called you've missed your chance and won't win.)

I tell a lie: Ellie got to the just needing one number for a full house stage. (In the picture she's on the right, holding up her almost-winning card; Carolyn, like me, got as close as needing two.)

If we had been taking it seriously it would have been incredibly stressful; as it was it was only mildly stressful.

But the highlight of the evening didn't concern the bingo as such.

Mikey had just called two and eight, twenty-eight, when he stopped, and seemed to be listening intently. When he spoke again he said, 'This is a staff announcement: Mr Alert is in the building. I repeat: Mr Alert is in the building.'

At this check-shirted staff appeared from every door and began surrounding us. Ellie, Carolyn and I looked at each other ... and burst out laughing. 'Mr Alert?!!!'

Mikey continued, 'This is a customer announcement: please make your way to the nearest exit, which staff will be indicating.'

Still giggling, the three of us joined the throng heading for the door, and round to the car park. As we waited in the car park we noticed that everyone - except us - had taken their bingo cards with them. We'd brought our drinks and crisps.

The problem turned out to be burned sticky toffee pudding but, as Ellie pointed out, it could have been a terrorist. We were, after all, gambling in Mecca.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Our visitors

Grand-daughter is coming to visit tomorrow!!

Along with Daughter and Son-in-law obviously. And we're delighted because Elder Son and Daughter-in-law are also coming for the weekend. the reason for the gathering is that it's Daughter's 30th birthday next Tuesday. (I can't believe she is thirty. There must have been an accounting error. I can't possibly have a 30-year-old daughter.)

So I've been out to buy a bath, nappies and doggy treats - we can't have George and Holly Dog feeling left out by the celebrations - and I am suitably excited.

When our children were babies the only decision we had to make when buying a bath was what colour we wanted; it's not that simple today as I realised after I'd spent 40 minutes perusing the selection. As well as the choice of styles there's a whole range of different options. I settled for ... a bath. And a bath thermometer and big soft wrap. Well, it'll come in useful for all our grand-babies whenever they arrive.

And today, when I was in work, Pat, one of the quilters meeting downstairs popped up to give me a hand-made cot quilt!

Quilters are a lovely bunch (apart from the one or two awkward ones I've met through work)! Katney, my blogging quilting friend in America, sent a quilt over for Baby and now I have another. Daughter can take one back home with her and I'll keep one here.

And to round off my day today, I'm going to play bingo! I'm going with two young - in their twenties - friends so I'm hoping they'll be able to keep up with the action and shout loudly when we win - as we inevitably will!!!!

Must remember to take my glasses, must remember to take my glasses, must ...

PMT continued

I must have the touch of death: three of my fantasy starting line-up have been injured in training.

What sort of training do these men do?! I do think they should save their energy for the game.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Welsh rugby

Jamie Roberts


On Tuesday night a friend said to me, 'I've got PMT already.'
'Tell me about it!'

The Six Nations rugby tournament starts on Saturday and throughout Wales thousands are suffering pre-match tension.

Of course, each team wants to win their first game but Wales take on England, the old enemy, at Twickenham, England's home ground. Oh my, oh my, oh my. It's the game that means more than any other. Victory and the rest of the tournament can be faced with equanimity; defeat - defeat is unthinkable.

Each of the last 3 years I've joined a fantasy rugby league. (You choose your players then depending on how the team does, you get points. You're allowed a maximum of 4 players from any one country and you're allowed to make substitutions in between games.)

I have a very scientific way of choosing my players:
a) do I recognise the name?
b) is he good-looking?
Add to that the fact that I have been known to choose players who aren't even playing and it explains why, in a league of several thousands, I usually end up in 2,745th position, give or take a few hundred.

But this time I'm really trying hard. I checked the matches out and decided which I thought would be the winning teams this weekend - Wales, Ireland and France - and have chosen the majority of my players from these teams. But that only gives me 12 players and I need 15.

My head tells me to put in some English players - Wales' record at Twickers isn't good - but my heart says that is disloyal, that by acknowledging the very possibility of an English win, I'm allowing it to happen.

Husband has entered 3 teams and has drawn up a very complicated system of odds and options, giving him a good chance of doing well in the league. He doesn't allow sentiment or national pride to get in the way.

But I'm Welsh; it matters to me.

P.S. Ladies, I'm going to look for some photos now ...

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


We were looking at worship last night in Zac's and what it means to people. Preparing for it earlier in the day I remembered a piece of writing I'd done, probably about 10 years ago.

At the time the children were still in school and I was struggling with anxiety and depression. Just the thought of going to Sainsburys was enough to panic me. We had a writers' group in church and our set task one evening was to write about worship. I'd recently read in the Message version of the bible the first verse of Romans chapter 12, and using that as my reference point I wrote this:


Got up. Made porridge and sandwiches. Dressed. Took children to school. Went to Sainsburys. Came home. Resisted temptation to leave shopping on kitchen floor and unpacked bag after bag after bag of shopping. Listened to the Archers. Walked the dog. Fetched children from school. Cooked dinner. Took son to football training. Fetched son from football training. Watched TV. Went to bed. Fell in gratefully, relieved to have got through another day. Thank God.

(Continued on my bits that are too long)

Monday, February 01, 2010