Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Off to the party isle

The idea for this cake - the rear end of a bike speeding off - looked good in my head. Never mind: I'm only dropping it off at Zac's as I won't be staying.
We're off to Ibiza in the morning. Leaving Cardiff airport at 6.30 means we have to get up at 2.30. So it'll be early bed for us tonight.

We've been to the library to stock up on holiday reading material and George is installed in the kennels (much to his disapproval). We're doing half board at the hotel; that's something we've never done before preferring bed and breakfast or self-catering, but by the time we booked our holiday that was the only option available. (Note to self: must not eat too much just because we've paid for it and it's there.)

I've also stocked up on Lemsip Max and paracetamol as I'm battling a cough/cold/throat infection. What I need is a holiday.

Signs of a good granny

A good granny can always bring her GrandDaughter into the conversation.

For example:
'Have you been on holiday this year?'
'Well, we go to Devon at least once a month to see GrandDaughter. She's 9 months old now and ...'

Or:
'Have you seen the film XXX?'
'Yes, I think we saw it on dvd in Devon when we were visiting GrandDaughter. She's growing so fast and ...'

Or:
'What's the weather going to do today?'
'It's not going to be as sunny - in my heart - as when GrandDaughter was here.'

What do you mean 'obsessed'?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Zac's jam pot 1

It's been a funny old week

The sitcom Open All Hours featured Ronnie Barker as a corner-shopkeeper. His was an old-fashioned sort of shop with a display outside and, at the end of each episode, he was seen putting stuff away as he reflected on the day. I'm not sure if he always said, 'It's been a funny old day,' or whether he said it once and it's stuck in my mind, but I associate him with that phrase.

So, anyway, it's been a funny old week.

It's certainly been a busy week or 10 days, beginning with our trip to Taunton last weekend for the family party. At the buffet lunch on Sunday a film was running on the television. It was a collection of bits and pieces, largely featuring the wedding of the couple celebrating their 50th anniversary. It had been taken by an amateur with a cine camera - rare in those days! - and had been spliced together and put on dvd by super-whizzo technology.

As well as the wedding shots there were clips from holidays, including some of me as a 10-year-old. At one point the camera focused on my mum. Just on her face and it stayed there for maybe 20 seconds. I hadn't been expecting it and to suddenly see her face animated and smiling and alive was a shock. Strangely, it was probably the clearest image in the whole film.

To come face to face with the woman I knew as my mother but didn't really know was just the start.

I'd expected a cousin of mine, whose mother had attended the wedding originally (and that was one of the ways they picked their guests for this weekend: if they'd been at the wedding they, or their descendants, were invited) to be there and as she wasn't I asked the host if she'd been invited. 'No, I haven't seen her for ages.' I mulled this over and came to the conclusion that I'd been invited, not just because of my mother but because I was actually wanted there. That's sounds pathetic and silly but I've spent a lifetime believing I'm the mistake, the one who's tagged on, the one who gets invited because of obligation. For someone to invite me because they might actually like me ...

On Tuesday at Zac's the bible study was led by Reverend Doctor John Smith, founder of God's Squad (Christian motor cyclists), and over from Australia for the 15th anniversary celebrations of the UK chapter.

His presence had been announced and bikers and others turned up from all over the country to hear him. So it wasn't your average Tuesday night (as if there is such a thing). But he did carry on with study of the book of Acts in a talk that touched many people. His message was really quite simple: God is near us; he loves us; and we're on a journey.

Afterwards Blossum introduced me and John Smith moved his hands as if to shake mine, but as I went to respond he drew me to him in a bear hug, and held me safely for a long moment. Some things feel right.


The next two days I attended the arts seminar that he was leading at Zac's with musicians and visual artists. The Wednesday night I came home thoroughly depressed: I was with a group of people who were all more articulate, more intelligent, more artistic, more spiritual - more everything - than I. I felt like a sore thumb. I don't cope well with a group of people I don't know. I went to bed and tossed and turned until morning came.

Oddly enough, and I'm not sure how, my focus had changed by the morning. I resolved to go along and take some of my writing to read. I shared 2 pieces about Zac's, one prose and one a blog post. They went down okay and John's keynote talk, which was the main point of the seminar, was encouraging. Basically, go and use your talents to help others. I think - I hope - I already do this with prison, so it was an affirmation of that work.

So, all in all, it's been a funny old week, and I suspect ripples generated by it will be around for a while. I need time to think so it's a good job we're going on holiday on Wednesday. (Yes, again.) We're off to Ibiza to party. No, not really. We are going to Ibiza but to the quieter side where Younger Son and Girlfriend are based at the dive school.

So now I suppose I should start packing ...

Breakfast time

GrandDaughter, George and Holly all hoping that Husband will drop some of his croissant.

A Saturday stroll

We've had a lovely Bank Holiday weekend. Elder Son and Daughter-in-law came down from London and Daughter, Son-in-law and GrandDaughter came up from Devon. And Saturday afternoon her parents trusted us to take GrandDaughter out in the pram on our own! (Yes, she's a bit big for the pram now but I was determined to use it.)

We had a lovely stroll along the prom, just as far as Ripples ice cream parlour.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Clever little Minnie

Minnie Mini is very clever!

I've told you about some of her clever tricks before but I've discovered a new one.

If I get in the car on my own, the radio comes on; if there are two of us in the car, it doesn't.

It works out that, if you're on your own, you must want music to keep you company, but if you've a passenger their lively conversation will keep you entertained. At least that's my theory.

(Husband doesn't believe me and thinks it depends on whether the radio was on when you last drove the car, but it doesn't.)


A rose by any other name

Husband and I were nestled together in bed when Husband burped three times in quick succession. 'Isn't it so romantic?' he said.
'You see,' I said, 'this is where you're going wrong. Flowers and chocolates are romantic. Writing poetry is romantic. Burping in your loved one's ear isn't.'
'But flowers and chocolates are boring.'

I wonder if it's too late to change him. I'd be willing to take part exchange.


Hunter gatherer and her dog

George and I have just been blackberrying. I've been going blackberrying ever since I was a wee girl so you'd think I'd know that shorts and thin-soled trainers didn't make good clothes for foraging in brambles. You'd think.

I say George and I were blackberrying but George wasn't a lot of help. Especially not after I made the mistake of giving him a blackberry to eat. 'You mean I can eat those black things? Mmm, and they taste good too.' It became a battle after that to get to the fat juicy ones before he did.

'If you want my body ...'

This is what I've been doing today. Making, from left, chilli, butternut squash soup, rhubarb cake, apple cake and brownies.We've 2 days of arts workshop tomorrow and Thursday at Zac's, led by Rev John Smith, Australian founder of God's Squad. He's over here to help celebrate the 15th anniversary of the UK chapter and as well as doing stuff like speaking at Greenbelt, the big Christian arts festival this weekend, he's leading the bible study tonight. Should be groovy.

Eat chillies and fidget

That's what you have to do if you want to increase your metabolic rate. And eat more. Or at least, eat more often little quantities of healthy food.

Teacher in slimming class did explain why; it's all to do with dietary thermogenics. But for some reason I struggle to make sense of metabolic rate so I just pay attention to what I have to do not why.

Little things like walking around while making a phone call can all help to increase your metabolic rate and thus the speed at which you can use calories and I put that into practice this afternoon.

I was making brownies and had to beat the eggs and sugar together for 10 minutes so, accompanied by Tom Jones, I strutted my stuff around my mixing bowl. If you want my body and you think I'm sexy makes very good beating music. Honky Tonk Woman is pretty good too.

It's a good job the hedge outside the kitchen window has grown again.

Monday, August 23, 2010

You might well look embarrassed!

Pure heart

At one point during Sunday's lunch, this little darling - the 11-week-old not her 6'8" daddy - was serenaded by a choir of Welsh women singing Calon Lan (Pure heart). She seemed to enjoy it. Well, she slept right through it so it can't have disturbed her much. (Actually it sounded really good.)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Even more of a do

This morning, as part of the weekend entertainment, a guided walk around historic Taunton had been organised for those interested. It's a fascinating old town with Saxon and Norman roots. Did you know, by the way, that anything ending with sex is Saxon?

This, the old library, is much later, and was funded by a generous donation from renowned philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie. It's now part of a pub chain, however, over the door you can still see the Taunton coat of arms.
Except ... it should have been removed as it breaks the rules of heraldry. That is an imperial crown and, on a coat of arms, there should be nothing above an imperial crown. Other sorts of crowns and it's okay, and in most cases where this crest appeared they changed the crown but they seem to have missed this one. Ssssh, don't tell!

After the walk we went to the home of my cousin and his wife where their children had prepared a fabulous buffet lunch.

My diet has totally gone to pot this weekend ...

But we've had a lovely time and are very grateful to our generous hosts.





A bit of a do - continued

We didn't camp. Husband denied asking me about the sleeping bag. In fact he looked at me blankly - not that unusual an occurrence - and accused me of dreaming things.

So, anyway, this is the 4 star Castle Hotel in Taunton and very posh it is too. That's wisteria covering the front fa├žade and apparently it's 160 years old. It must look glorious when it's in full blue bloom.
And look at our enormous bed! (How sad am I taking a photo of a bed?!)
And here's me in my posh frock, complete with fetching tan marks. At this point I'm still securely pinned in; later in the evening I had to keep my fluffy shrug on as my pins bent under the strain of too much good food.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A surprise weekend?

I am in the shower when I hear Husband call to me, 'What sleeping bag do you want?'

And I'm thinking: the hotel we're staying in - where the party is being held - is four star; surely I don't need a sleeping bag.

But then I wonder if Husband is living up to his retirement mantra - we must save money - and has cancelled the hotel booking in favour of camping. And I recall that he has left the inflatable mattress and pump, which he found in the attic, on the bedroom floor.

He's out walking George now. I shall quiz him when he gets back. And if he has planned a 'surprise' for me, Cousin's golden wedding party could turn into our divorce party.

P.S. And, seriously, I need to be pinned into my dress if I am to avoid an embarrassing moment.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A bit of a do

Phew, that was a bit heavy for me. Now something a bit lighter.

The UK chapter of the God Squad is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year and this weekend lots of people are gathering in a field somewhere to party. On Tuesday in Zac's Una said to me, 'You should come, Liz.'

Yeah, I'm a biker chick. Apart from the biker bit. And the chick bit.

And I've definitely done with camping in muddy fields in the pouring rain.

Anyway, we're going to 'a bit of a do'. My second cousin and his wife are celebrating their golden wedding anniversary and have invited friends and the original guests from their wedding - or if they're dead the next in line - to an evening at a smart hotel in Taunton. My mum went so I'm invited, and it's a dinner jacket and posh frock affair.

Last weekend I dug out the strapless - not topless, strapless is the word I must remember to use - top and long skirt that I wore to one of Husband's work dos and tried them on. The skirt was a snug fit but the top was loose. Never in my life, at least not since having babies, can I be said to have been lacking in the bosom department so this came as a bit of a shock.

I'm going to have to remember to keep still and not jig around too much.

Ground Zero

On the PM programme on Radio 4 tonight they played a clip from an advert running in the States opposing the building of a mosque at Ground Zero. The advert was funded by a Republican group.

I'm not sure about the wisdom of building a mosque on the site. Far better to have a park and memorial ground I would have thought but I'm not American and don't have the right to interfere. But what I am sure is wrong is the wording of the advertisement. I don't remember the exact phrasing but basically it said 'They want to build a monument to celebrate the murder of thousands of Americans.' It was the repeated use of the word 'they' that astounded me. They?

In the way I've written that quote, you could think it was a specific 'they' being spoken of, but the general usage of the word throughout the clip was far more obviously aimed at Muslims in general. The suggestion was that they, the whole of the Muslim world, are evil. They, the whole of the Muslim world, are the enemy of freedom and democracy.

It wasn't that long ago that America had legalised segregation; could it happen again?


Elder Son on MTV


Sort of. Elder Son wrote the original music for this track.

Kof ft Wiley & Chelcee Grimes - 'Fire It Up' from MTV - The Wrap Up on Vimeo.


Recycling brass

The men came and put down the extra insulation in our loft. It took them 40 minutes. It took us 5 days to prepare and is taking even longer to put stuff away again. Partly, but not entirely, because we keep getting distracted.

When I was a little girl growing up I lived in my grandparents' house and my gran had a large collection of brass. She'd put aside a whole morning every now and again, cover the table with newspaper, and polish it all. One of the pieces taking pride of place on the fireplace for this tankard. It's made from brass salvaged from the battlefields of North Africa. My mum brought it home for her grandfather, after spending time in Egypt during the war, in the WAAF.
There are several boxes of brass ornaments that have gone straight back up to the attic; I haven't even opened them. I can't get rid of them even though they're sitting uselessly in boxes hidden away. My children won't have the sentimental memories that I have and will be able to sell/throw without a care after I've gone. Maybe I'll do it myself one day ...

Anyway, I digress. This tankard was on its own so I brought it down to the kitchen and spent 30 minutes - that could have been used doing something useful! - cleaning and polishing it. Just because.

It is very satisfying polishing brass but Brasso doesn't half pong!

Husband meanwhile was going through my memory box to try and rearrange things so the lid would fit on. 'Why are you keeping this?' he asked. 'And what on earth is this for? And what's the point of keeping that?'
'Just because.'

Bye bye hounds

As I no longer visit any of the Bloghounds or Blogpower sites - except friends and those I have links to - I've finally removed them from my sidebar. It didn't seem fair to keep them there as I wasn't playing my part as an active member.

I enjoyed being involved with both groups and appreciated the work put in by the administrators but these days I don't have time to visit even my favourite sites as much as I'd like so those I felt I should visit out of duty fell along the wayside.

I suppose I should revamp my blog one day. I've used the same template since the very beginning. But I'm scared in case anything goes wrong and I lose it all, and, anyway, it suits me as it is. Simple, like me.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I set a record!

The community cafe takes on average £90-£100 a day; today we took £37.50.

Chris says I have the touch of death for the cafe. Each time I've been in charge this summer we've had quiet days. But none as quiet as today.

On the bright side I beat Ffion at German whist! (She won 3 games to my 1 but who's counting?)

I'm turning into my granny

One of Betty's back tyres was looking flat so I drove into the garage and pulled up at the air machine. I was just wondering why it said it needed tokens when I realised it was a vacuum cleaner.

I drove a bit further on to the next pump thing and was about to get out when I read that this was a power wash machine.

I drove back round to the entrance of the garage and began again.

Only to find that I needed 50p for the air machine. I object to paying for air - and I didn't have any money - so gave up and went to another garage.

Straight to the air machine this time. Noticed I had to press the button to make it start and all was going well - until I tried to read the gauge.

Stopped putting air in tyres, stood up, went and got my glasses from the car and tried again.

At this point the man - good-looking as it happened - who was waiting in his sports car got out and walked up to me. 'Are you all right? Can you manage?' He only needed to add 'dear,' for me to have become my granny good and proper.
'Yes, thanks,' I smiled sweetly. 'I'm fine,' muttering under my breath, 'I just can't read this sodding thing!'

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pineapple shortbread recipe

This was originally in a very old Family Circle magazine (October 1984). It's from a collection of recipes devised by Stork margarine and was intended to make baking simpler as you don't need a weighing scales. Instead they used a 150ml yogurt pot and a block of hard Stork margarine. I've adapted it to use a measuring jug.

So for pineapple shortbread you need:

125g hard marg or butter

225ml plain flour

75ml caster sugar

tin pineapple chunks, drained and chopped

Preheat the oven to 180oC, gas mark 4. Mix the fat, flour and sugar together either with a fork or a mixer. I use a food processor. Knead lightly and divide into 2 pieces. Flatten each piece and shape to fit an 8" round tin. Then you want to make a sandwich of dough/pineapple/dough. Don't worry if it breaks up; just push it together and you won't see the joins by the time it's cooked.

Bake for about 30 minutes. The recipe says to decorate the top with a fork but when I do that, it just disappears during cooking.

Cool and enjoy.

Late night posting

Husband is still in Derby. It turns out that Mother-in-law had a heart attack and they're keeping her in hospital for a few days. So Husband is staying there tonight and was taking his dad out for steak and chips.

I thought about them eating steak and chips when I tucked into my baked potato, lettuce and beetroot, which, sadly, was all the salad I could find. I was going to save Husband some of the pineapple shortbread but I feel justified in eating it now with my late-night cup of tea.

Two things not to tell Husband (for different reasons):
a) I've put a hot water bottle in the bed;
b) I went out for a walk this afternoon and left the front door open.

In which George is embarrassing

Husband threw a stick in the lake for George but George had already spotted the bits of bread floating on the surface.

Pineapple shortbread for Zac's tonight


I hadn't made pineapple shortbread for ages but Daughter reminded me about it and asked for the recipe. So as I had it to hand ...

In which I do kung fu in the woods

Husband went to Derby this morning as Mother-in-law was hospitalised last night with an angina attack, so this afternoon George and I went for a power-walk. Meaning I walked a bit faster than normal while swinging my arms; George did what he always does.

Which was fine until I became convinced there was someone following me!

I glanced over my shoulder a couple of times but he was too fast for me so I came up with a cunning plan. I strolled along casually, whistling for a bit and then I spun around in full kung fu attack fashion, while emitting an ear-piercing scream.

Husband says the only effect that will have is to make my would-be assailant laugh but that is all part of my cunning plan. When his defences are down I shall swiftly execute a front kick followed up with a nifty jab and cross and ending with a hefty right hook. If he's still laughing - which I doubt - I'll elbow him in the face.

I demonstrated this to George in the woods today. He watched me and then said, 'You have quite a vicious streak in you, don't you?'
'I'm not vicious,' I said. 'I'm highly strung. Each nerve is stretched taut, alert, ready to respond to the slightest hint of danger.'
'Me too,' George said, as he wallowed in a muddy puddle, bits of grass dangling from his jowls.

Of course we both know that really I'd wet myself and run screaming like a girly. This afternoon I leapt out of my chair with fright when James walked in the house. And I was expecting him.

Almost there

Two pounds gone and three to go to reach my goal.

At the end of class teacher asked if we could think of one small thing that we could change to help our weight loss. I shook my head and she said - in front of all the class! - 'You don't need to, Liz, you're there!' Whoop, whoop.

I could get addicted to this dieting lark.

Yeah right.

Now I'm going to make pineapple shortbread. For Zac's but I'll have to taste it obviously.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Do you know how many calories there are in 28g of French stick?

Seventy-six. That's right: 76 calories. And do you know how big 28g of French bread is?

Not big enough to notice when you swallow it.

Oh, I have been yearning for French bread yesterday and today. I bought some for Husband to have with our barbecued meat (2 low-fat sausages for me, 2 low-fat sausages plus a bacon steak for him). But I resisted. Are you proud of me? (Except one mouthful I begged from him tonight. With thick butter.)

It's weigh-day tomorrow. I think my eating this last week has been a bit erratic. Some days I had cakes and treats; other days I didn't eat enough calories. So we shall see.

I think it's possible that dieting has affected my brain.

I'd been in the bath for 10 minutes before I realised that the reason the bath bomb wasn't fizzing and dissolving wasn't that it was out-of-date and useless but rather that I'd forgotten to remove the plastic coating.

Can I blame that on dieting, do you think? Or low blood pressure? There must be a reason: I'm normally so on the ball.

Autumn's on its way

But today was the hottest it's been for a while. And this stonechat was very chatty.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I was a very brave girl today

'Do you mind if my daughter watches? She wants to have hers done but wants to know if it hurts.'

I smiled reluctantly. 'Fine.' And inwardly cringed.

I was having my ears pierced - or rather re-pierced - and being watched was the last thing I wanted. It was bad enough sitting in the shop window. (The shop next door was advertising cheap piercings 'but not including genital or nipple piercing'; I really hope they don't do those in the shop window.)

But what do you know? It hardly hurt at all.

Now I have little gold balls in my ears. Except they're plated in something - rhodium or ridium or some such - and look like the little silver balls they used to put on cakes. I never understood why: you couldn't really eat them. Well, you could but they weren't very pleasurable. I'm just hoping my inner fattie doesn't wake up in the night and eat my earrings.

There's a place called what?

My latest jigsaw features a map of Britain with famous landmarks around the edges. I am shocked by my appalling lack of geographical knowledge. There are counties I didn't even know existed, let alone where they are. And even the most basic stuff like maybe west Ballycounty is probably on the left of Ballycounty escapes me.

Like blogging, doing jigsaws is educational.

Shooting stars

"A treat is in store for star-gazers with the meteor shower anticipated tonight."

I dragged Husband out into the garden. 'We have to look for shooting stars.'
'Where?'
'In the sky, duh.'
'I meant ... oh, never mind.'

We didn't stay out long. I retain this sneaky suspicion that it's all a plot by alien life forms and that if I see a meteor storm I'll be blinded and eaten by triffids.

Just walking in the rain

Whoever wrote romantic songs about walking in the rain obviously never stood under a tree shivering in soggy shorts and a hoodie.

But then the sun came out.
And we were rewarded by a posing heron.


Who's the daddy?

Was it Bill?
Or was it Ben?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Another flying visit to Devon

We took the dogs for a walk along the bank of the Grand Western Canal at Tiverton. We timed our arrival perfectly to catch this lovely horse setting off ...pulling this canal boat laden with tourists.
Then, after we'd used up lots of calories, we stopped at the little tea shop, which was very tea-themed.


Tell me again how you fell off the toilet

'So how exactly did you fall off the toilet?'

It was a normal sort of greeting from Ric in Zac's on Tuesday. I explained the story as detailed here on this blog and at the end Ric turned to the man standing next to him and introduced me saying, 'And that story sums up all you need to know about Liz.'

I don't know what he meant by that ...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How I want to spend my last hours

If I wake up dead in the morning I do not want to remember that I spent the last few hours of my life trying to force blue bits of cardboard to fit together.

That's why I've given up doing one jigsaw and have started on another.

But I haven't quite come to terms with myself yet. I can hear my old maths teacher saying, 'You give up on everything. You have no perseverance.'

I will know I have truly come of age when I can do only the interesting bits of jigsaw and not worry about the sky.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A case for Sherlock

Trying to take my mind off the fact that my lunch consisted of a slim-a-cup-a-soup and marmite on a slice of bread, I perused the reading matter to hand. 'One spray tan away from perfection-a-soup.'
I peered a bit closer. 'One spray tan away from perfection-a-soup.'
I wasn't wearing my glasses; I called Husband. 'Are you wearing your reading glasses?'
'No, but I can read in these.'
'What does this say?'
He took it over to the light, studied it carefully, held it at a variety of angles and finally said, 'One spray tan away from perfection-a-soup.'
'One spray tan away from perfection-a-soup? What does that mean? Does that make any sense to you?'
He shook his head. I went and fetched my glasses and read it again. 'One spray tan away from perfection-a-soup.'
'It must be in code,' I said. 'Someone is being kept prisoner in a soup packaging factory and this is the only way they can get a message out.'

So, there, I've done the hard bit. Over to you now Sherlock. All you have to do is decipher the code and find out where the prisoner is being kept before time runs out and he is as orange as that man on the antique show.

In which I fall off the toilet

It all started with my dancing legs.

Do you ever get that? Late yesterday evening my legs went all twitchy and wriggly and couldn't keep still. It was just before bed too, so it wasn't good timing. I walked upstairs, muttering to myself about legs that want to go out on the town while the rest of me wants to sleep, and, in this state of distraction, sat down on the toilet - to promptly fall off.

When you've been using the same toilet for 20 years you come to know what to expect. Your bottom anticipates a certain height and feel to the seat. If it doesn't find that, your whole body is thrown into turmoil. Or mine was. Hence the slight tumble.

And all because Husband left the seat up.

(And, yes, I know I've used a split infinitive but, as I've said before, when you understand the rules, you can break them.)

Monday, August 09, 2010

Zumba!

I had my first proper Zumba class tonight. It was fun with great music and involved lots of screaming, which I'm not good at. But it didn't make me very breathless, possibly because I couldn't follow the steps fast enough. And now the teacher's going on holiday for 2 weeks ...

I normally go circuit training on a Monday evening but it's not on during August, hence the zumba replacement. But let me tell you: it cost £4 each and there were 49 women there (no, sorry, there were 48 women and 1 lad).

Even allowing for hall hire it was a nice little earner, as Arthur Daley would have said.

Next time I go I must remember not to wear my usual exercise clothes. Lots of the women there looked like J-Lo; I bore a closer resemblance to Eric Morecambe.

Lookity, it's Burglar Bill!

Husband found two suitcases in the attic - full of books! Including Peepo, The Elephant and the Bad Baby, and Burglar Bill!

who's sleeping with who?

I have come to the conclusion that I should get a life. And I would if I had time. But for now it'll have to wait until I have had my say about last night's episode of Sherlock.

Yes, yes, it was brilliant and all that but for some time I was unable to concentrate because of something Sherlock said at approximately 4 minutes and 24 seconds into the episode. I know the time for sure as I just watched it again - and again - or the BBC iplayer. To quote, he said, '... or who's sleeping with who ...'

You see my difficulty?

Now normally I wouldn't worry about something like that - no, really, I wouldn't - but the episode had started with Sherlock correcting a prisoner's grammar over and over again. So I ask you: would a man particular about grammar say who's sleeping with who?

Even though my Good English Guide suggests that 'whom is being progressively dispossessed', I do not believe a man of Sherlock's grammatical fibre would so casually discard it.

There I've had my say. I'll go and start looking for that life now.

Agatha flipping Raisin

I was late for church yesterday. Late even by my standards, which are barely raised from the floor. Why? I hear you ask.

Because of stupid Agatha Raisin.

I only had a few chapters to go to finish the book so I had to stay in bed until I'd done so. But what I don't understand is why.

Have you read any Agatha Raisin books? You have plenty to choose from: there are at least 20 in the series. They've been amongst the NY Times bestsellers and, apparently, a radio series starring Penelope Keith has also been made. But they are so badly written!

Agatha herself is thoroughly unlikeable and almost as unbelievable as the stories of murder and mayhem in small Cotswold villages. They're written in a very bland 'this happened and then that happened' way, yet this is probably the fourth one I've read. The best I can say for them is that the plot is good - in a Midsomer Murder style. They're easy to read and it doesn't matter if you lose the thread.

But I really need a break from her now ...

Sunday, August 08, 2010

In case of marauding Englishmen

I've offered to make a wedding cake for sometime fellow bloggers and Facebookers, Hubba and Bobo. Which is fine and dandy except I live in Swansea, Wales, and they live in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I asked Husband which would travel best: a square cake or a round one. 'Hm,' he stroked his chin thoughtfully. 'In school I learned that they stopped building square towers on castles and built round ones instead because the square edges were vulnerable to attack by catapult.'

So, in case on its journey north it is attacked by marauding Englishmen, the cake had better be round.

It's a good job Husband paid attention in class all those years ago.

How do you know they're lilies?

Because Lily's wearing them. (Sorry, you have to be my age to get the reference - and it doesn't work for punctuation pedants. Like me.)

I must have used up at least 1,000,000 calories this afternoon digging up a bed of lilies that had become leaves. You would not believe how complicated and deep the root system is. At one point I thought I'd have to summon SuperHusband but, in spite - or maybe because - of falling flat on my face in the earth, I refused to be beaten by lilies.

Incidentally Husband asked if it were physically possible for me to fall flat on my face. I sometimes wonder why I married him.

Look what else we found in the attic

Yes, it's Miss Haversham!I must not have had ANY boobs in those days!

I wonder if 32 years qualifies me to sell it on ebay as an antique.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

How things change

For our first anniversary Husband gave me this padded card; this year we didn't even exchange cards.

We have much better ways of expressing our love!

My first teddy

The record player might be nearly 30 years old but Teddy is nearly 60 years!

An unusual load for the dishwasher

But Fisher Price toys were built to last. Nearly 30 years in the case of this record player!

I really hope GrandDaughter likes reading ...

as much as her mummy did.

A few weeks ago we had a phone call. It was a sales call, which normally I'd hang up on, but the magic word was mentioned: grant. Apparently the government is sponsoring an initiative to do cavity wall (we already have it) or roof insulation. I was dubious about being eligible for any sort of grant but it turns out anyone can get - while the money lasts - a 70% grant towards 10" of insulation if you don't already have it. So we're having it.

That's the good news. the bad news is that before they can put the insulation down we have to empty the attic. This is how it looked:
And this:

Husband has spent about 5 days up there so far. Unfortunately his answer to emptying the loft seems to be moving things into bedrooms for me to sort out. (No, that's not strictly true: he has taken car-loads of rubbish to the tip already.)

Our children had lots of books. Lots and lots of books. I sorted them out before I put any away in the loft, taking those I didn't think much of to the charity shop. Today I went through them again. Here is the shelf of books I'm keeping:
And here are the 2 boxes of books going to a charity shop:
I'm not going to show you - because it grieves me too much - the bagful of books, too dilapidated or tatty, for anything except the recycling bin.

But here are a couple of keeping favourites: Mortimer the raven and Casey, the utterly impossible horse.
Not forgetting Lambert, the sheepish lion. The front cover is missing but I adore Lambert so the book's staying regardless.
And here are the picture books that survived:
Ahh, see Dogger? And Mr Magnolia? Lovely books. But where are Each Peach, Pear, Plum, and Five Minutes' Peace, and Burglar Bill? Daughter, have you stolen them?

Friday, August 06, 2010

Katney comes to town

We've had a lovely couple of days with Katney and her husband, who came all the way from Washington State to meet George. The sun shone on us and we were able to take our visitors to see Three Cliffs and Rhossili (which have both topped polls for Britain's loveliest beaches.)

It was wonderful to spend time with two such delightful and gentle people. Isn't blogging great for developing friendships?

Mr & Mrs Katney are in London for the weekend before returning home so I hope the rest of their trip is fabulous for them and the journey home smooth.




Monday, August 02, 2010

The budget

'I've been doing some sums.'

These aren't the words to be greeted with when arriving home. Especially when said in that tone of voice.

'We're spending more than I allowed for when I worked out if I could afford to retire.'
'Oh.'
'We're spending too much.'
'On what?'
'Everything. Except George.'

Even allowing for extra trips to the vet George is in budget. So he can stay.

However the jury's still out on my position.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Honking

I went down to see my uncle who's been poorly and I was just walking back to the car when I got honked at by a gang of lads in a passing car. It was from the back: they must have had a nasty shock when they drove past and saw my front. ''Urgh, no, we've honked at at a geriatric!'

Still it put an extra swing in my step!

It rounded off a good day. I've been working, catching up on website article writing. I earned £100 today and that's a jolly feeling. Especially as I'm now up to date and I can relax and prepare for the special visitors who are arriving later this week.

Katney, from Katney's Kaboodle, is coming all the way from the north-western coast of America just to see George. (I don't know; she might have had some other reason for coming to the UK but George played an important part.)

Blogging is such a marvellous word

It's not neat like pristine or clever like yacht; it's not pretty like feather or silly like hiccup. It's not ugly like ... ugly. (Can you think of an uglier word?) And it's not nasty like ...hm, it's hard to disassociate words and their meanings. And I'm trying to select words by their shape and sound, their feel rather than the obvious. So instead of kill I'll opt for king. K is a harsh metallic letter and g is abrasive. Jangling i is my least favourite vowel.

In spite of all the gs blogging is a fun word. Blogging is messy and tumbling and rolling over itself in its verve for life. It's not attractive but it has a huge sense of humour, the personality to compensate for its flaws and deficiencies.

No wonder it's so addictive.