Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tonight at Zac's

Sean is a Reading boy so he and his family went up for the game yesterday and are staying there for a few days so he asked if Martin and I would lead the meeting tonight.

Now, if you recall, the last couple of times Sean's arranged this Martin has come up with all sorts of excuses as to why he hasn't prepared; well, he's already been on the phone to me this morning getting his excuses in early. This time something blew up on his car. He says.

So tonight will be interesting what with the Swans victory parade going past the door and us not prepared ...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Footie update 2

Yay! Swansea goes up to the premiership!

By half time Husband had finished planting plants so agreed to come to watch the football. The score by now was 3-0 to Swansea. First pub we went to, we thought, oh, this seems very civilised then we realised that was because they didn't have the game on television.

A trip down to Mumbles later and we were squeezing into the White Rose.

It's a bit of a culture shock being amongst a crowd of football supporters. As Husband said, 'For most of them it's more about tribal rites than the graceful art of football.' And these were all good-natured football fans.

Still, a tense 45 minutes later, and Swansea's the first Welsh team to make it into the premiership.

Footie update

Husband has decided to plant his petunias and Younger Son is watching the game in his friend's parents' house so I'm listening to the game on the radio. That's fine when I listen to rugby but I've discovered a problem: I don't the names of players so don't know which side is which.

And they seem to be calling the goal-keeper Doris.

What's more they've got Dobbie playing for them. Does Harry Potter know?

Change of plans

I found out that the reason I couldn't get into the art exhibition was that I'd gone to the wrong place. I tried again and this time success!

It confirmed what I thought: I just don't 'get' art.

I went because two of the young people who come along to Zac's have been doing the foundation art course and this was their end of year exhibition.

This is Lisa's exhibit:
And this is Kallan's:

Come on, Swansea!

An interesting weekend.

Saturday selling bric-a-brac at an indoors garden party in a day centre for the elderly; Sunday morning prison; Monday morning a failed attempt to go to an art exhibition - couldn't find a way in - or it had closed ; Monday afternoon very tempted to go to the pub and become a football fan for a few hours.

Swansea City play Reading at Wembley this afternoon to decide which team will go up to the Premiership (top league in England and Wales and probably the world!) next season. Much of Swansea is draped in the team's colours of black and white and the city centre is dead. Apparently 40,000 fans have travelled up to Wembley and the rest will be watching it on television. But not us, at least not at home, as it's on Sky and we don't have Sky.

I've never been to a football match in my life - except when the Sons played - but I've been infected by the fever and will either persuade Husband to accompany me to the pub or I will embarrass Younger Son and tag along with him. I'm hoping Husband will relent as he will be more willing to explain to me what's going on.

If Swansea go up it will mean that teams like Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool will come and play in our Liberty Stadium (I say our because it's used for the rugby as well); it also means that the club will get a £90,000,000 investment!

Way back when, before there was a premier league, when it was just league 1,2, 3 and 4, I recall, when John Toshack was manager, Swansea being in the first division and, briefly, probably just for one week, being top of that division. Since then the club has sunk down to the depths, come close to bankruptcy, and clawed its way back up to be in this position today.

So yes I think I must go and support them, and I hope I'm more successful at seeing the game than I was the art exhibition.

Although, on the plus side, it was easy to park at the exhibition.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Am I missing a bit?

Just about every time I've done a jigsaw there come moments when I cannot place a piece and I am convinced that the piece doesn't belong to the jigsaw (I buy my jigsaws from ebay or charity shops so it's possible). Inevitably I finally complete the jigsaw and, of course, the odd piece does belong.

Except today! Can you see those two lone pieces on the left-hand-side of the completed jigsaw?
I checked the jigsaw carefully several times, running my fingers over it as well as looking and I felt justified that, this time at least, it wasn't me!

It wasn't until I'd left the room for some time and then returned that, looking at it from a different angle, I noticed two gaps in the jigsaw - and what do you know? The two left-over pieces fitted perfectly.

Monday's Odd Shots

A lonely Christmas decoration on a tree in a lake.

Thinking thoughts

I arrived home from work on Friday to find 2 hand-addressed envelopes waiting for me! How exciting was that?! Most mail these days is boring stuff that I don't bother opening (Husband eventually gets fed up and opens/replies/files it for me) so to have not one but two pieces of personal post was lovely.

One was a thank you card and the other was this lovely greeting from Shirl, my oldest (in terms of how long we've known each other) blogging buddy.
Shirl now has her own website promoting her business of designing and creating individual cards for special occasions.

She sent me this card to wish my manuscript God speed. She said, 'May it land on the right desk at the right time and be read by the right person.' Oh, I hope so, Shirl. Thank you so much.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rapture, revival, Rob Bell and why God isn't fair

The good thing - or bad depending on your viewpoint - about walking Georgie is that it gives me time to think. Do philosophers get paid? How do you get a job as one? I could do thinking well. As long as I was walking; sitting down I might fall asleep.

Wasn't it amazing that the crazy prediction of a fundamentalist American preacher made the news all over the world and, even more incredible, people believed him and gave him away their possessions? A quick glance in the bible would have told anyone in any doubt that only God knows when the end is nigh.

My favourite story to come out was about the entrepreneurs who set up a website offering, for a fee, to look after pets when the owner had been raptured away. Apparently quite a few pet-owning fools took them up on the offer.

And everyone knows that before the rapture there will be revival (or did I make that up?) One of the Swansea churches is currently hosting regular long-into-the-night weekend meetings featuring American (there's that word again) preachers. The words outpouring and fire feature heavily. My favourite quote is from Sean who when told about these fabulous revival meetings, said, 'And does their revival include tending the poor?'

That probably comes a long way down the list after personal drenching in the Holy Spirit, much arm-raising, shaking, laughing and crying hysterically. I'm sorry, do I sound cynical?

Jesus, in his first and possibly most significant sermon, put the emphasis on love, humility and caring for others. That's what Zac's is about and why I love it so much. However I have failed and will continue to fail so often to live up to the standard set that were it dependent on me I wouldn't stand a hope of getting to heaven.

And heaven and who will be there is a subject that is dividing the church at the moment, all because of a book, Love Wins, by Rob Bell. I haven't read it but I've read that what people object to in it is its apparent belief that everybody goes to heaven regardless.

I know I'm going to heaven but as for who else will be there, well, I'm sure I'll have some surprises. And I know there'll be some there about whom I'll say, 'What's he doing here? That's not fair!'

But God isn't fair, not by the world's standards. God's idea of fairness is to let his son die to take our punishment. When all we have to do is be sorry. And while I like that idea when it applies to me, I'm not so sure about it being okay for others.

But that's grace for you. Amazing grace.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Life's little trials

Life is far too complicated even for a highly intelligent woman like me.

How am I supposed to know where the horn is? And as for what gear I'm in or which lane I'm supposed to be in: have you driven around Swansea lately? The new road system means there are cars coming at you from all sorts of strange directions. If I have to cross the road I look every way at least three times.

I can see the appeal of being Queen and being driven around everywhere.

I've just come back, you see, from a trip to the garden centre. I thought they'd have a special 'Shade garden' section but they didn't so I just bought a lavender to replace one of those that died in that horrendously cold winter and a pack of seeds. Notice the important words on the front of the packet: Easy, Beginners.

Then I went to Sainsburys to get the ingredients for the recipe I'm making for tea tonight. They didn't have the sausages it said or the sauce so it won't be exactly as it's meant to be but close enough I'm thinking.

On the plus side, while I was looking for my sunglasses in my handbag I found a chocolate bar. You can't argue with fate.

I've planted my seeds as directed now I wait with bated breath to see if they grow. Despite Easy and Beginners I have my doubts.

What does your garden grow?

The trouble with being a gardener who doesn't know anything is that I don't know what plants are or, thus, how big they'll grow.

I bought a pack of 12 cottage garden plants a while back and the only clue to what they were was written on the sort of egg-boxes they arrived in. I transplanted them into bigger pots to let them grow a bit before facing the wilds of the garden but I acregully (that is carefully badly typed!) kept them in order and retained the packaging. Only problem is that by the time I got round to planting them out - yesterday - the writing on the packaging had faded.

I know they include lupins, which I haven't had much success with before, so we shall see. The photo on the left shows my intended cottage garden, with, on the right, George protection. (I think I mentioned before that his deadly enemy lives just behind that fence.)

In my head I have such plans ...

Scatterbrained? Moi?

Some people seem to be under the misapprehension that I am scatterbrained.

I am a highly intelligent woman. I mean, seriously, can you honestly say you can find anything in my blog to suggest that I am less than totally on the ball?

The fact that I walked into Zac's last night and said, 'Morning,' should not be taken into consideration; it was a one-off aberration.

Moses, Ruth and George

George and I have just been for a walk. So what you say? Well, what with work and being away a lot I don't get to accompany George on his walks very often these days and when I do it's usually with Husband. Today Husband has gone to Derby to see Mother-in-law so it was just the two of us as it used to be B.R. (before retirement).
Which was good as I could do some thinking.

As I said, we've been looking at the story of Ruth in Zac's. I was amazed to find that Husband had never heard of Ruth; I thought it was the sort of bible story that everyone knew. An erroneous assumption on my part. And that always makes me think of the one who's not Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain (I bet he gets fed up of being called that; I can see his face clearly but I keep thinking Danny Kaye and I know it's not him). 'Moses supposes his toeses are roses but Moses supposes erroneously for Moses he knowses his toeses aren't roses as Moses supposes his toeses to be.'

Anyway, back to Ruth. I keep thinking that there must be a monologue in there somewhere but, although Ruth is a good woman, I don't feel passionate about her, and couldn't think of a hook on which to hang a monologue. But on our walk I found one. Now all I have to do is think of a way of describing an erection without getting sniggers from everyone at Zac's.

Yes, I know: it's not going to be possible.

And back to George. I really shouldn't have read him the story of the gruffalo. He's always kept a wary eye open for squirrels and foxes, bears and hippos, but now he frequently eyes the bushes with a very concerned expression.

Prison - from bad to worse

My trip to prison on Sunday nearly started very badly when, flinging out my arm to wave to Ric and Nigel, I almost a decapitated a passing cyclist.

When we finally got into the chapel after being thoroughly searched, I noticed that the chairs in were set out in two lots as normal but the gap between them seemed to be a bit wider. Sitting at the back in line with the gap and my stand-at-the-front lectern were two less-than-happy prison officers.

Some don't mind being on chapel duty; others dislike it - and show their resentment. And these were directly in my line of vision.

People sometimes ask me if it's scary going into prison and talking to the inmates. Not half as bad as facing these two prison officers I can tell you.

Place your bets on the daisy

I have Viva las Vegas on the brain now and I can't help but think that I may be singing the wrong words:
There's blackjack and clover and a roulette wheel ...'

We've come a long way, baby

Husband is very interested in genealogy and he's been doing some research in old newspapers. It turns out that one of my ancestors, Sarah Chegwidden, was a fishwife in Swansea and she was arrested at least twice, once for fighting and once for selling dodgy fish.

She was, let me think ... in my great-grandmother's line, and sounds like a fishwife as defined by Chambers: both a seller of fish and a coarse, loud-mouthed woman. It used to be a popular term of abuse but has died out, I suppose, because young people don't know what a fishwife is or was.

Among her descendants are graduates of Oxford and Cambridge and a pupil at Eton as well as the rest of us who live comfortable generally law-abiding lives. And only behave like fishwives when we're really cross.

Although some of us haven't come quite as far as we'd like to make out.

My cousin, who grew up in a terraced house in one of the poorer areas of Swansea, went to university in the south of England. The first time I saw her after she'd started there was in her gran's house. She'd brought her boyfriend to visit and, when she spoke to me I nearly fell off my chair. She'd adopted this accent - I think she was trying to imitate the Queen - a terrible affected drawl of an accent. I stared at her - I might have been open-mouthed - and thought, in today's vernacular, she's having a laff.

But she wasn't.

I was transfixed, kept waiting for her to forget and return to her ordinary Welsh vowels, but she must have been practising hard. I don't know how she managed to keep it up.

I saw her again for the first time for ages last year - and she was still doing it, slightly modified, not quite as affected but definitely keeping up with the Smyths in Surbiton where she and her family live.

We've not come that far, baby.

Dirty bits

We've been reading the book of Ruth in Zac's for the last four weeks and learning about kinsman-redeemers - basically how the closest relative had a duty to care for widows. Last night Sean read us a bit from the book of Deuteronomy where the laws tell exactly what has to be done.

I was sitting with Lara and we read that bit and then we both carried on reading the next verse. It dealt with the instance of a fight between two men and the wife of one of them coming to his aid. '... and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand.'

The pair of us giggled like naughty schoolgirls who'd found the dirty bit in DH Lawrence.

As Sean said, when he'd pointed us and the verse out, 'Thank God we have a new covenant to replace the old.'

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

First submission - or not

I feel physically sick.

I have just emailed my novel to an agent (one of the few that accepts, requests even, email submissions). It still needs lots of work but the first three chapters have been written and edited to death so they're going now.

And when I entered it into my online diary I discovered that it has, in fact, already been turned down by the one agent I approached ...

However, on the plus side, the publisher I sent the first three chapters to last year wanted to see the finished manuscript so I shall hang on to that.

And that sicky feeling could just be connected with the excess chocolate I ate while making fairy cakes for Zac's this evening ...

I'm going to plant some plants now. Fresh air and exercise that's what I need.

Monday, May 23, 2011

George is on a high

Every morning, as well as my happy pill, I take a variety of supplements: glucosamine and cod liver oil for the joints, evening primrose for female stuff (I can't remember exactly what), ginseng for energy (I think) and gingko biloba to help me remember to take them. But it doesn't always work.

This morning for instance I forgot so got them out at lunchtime but because there was already milk in my cup decided to drink my tea first and then take my pills. But I forgot again and left the pills on the work surface where they remained until at some point George decided they may be edible. He spat out the ginseng, ignored the glucosamine and gingko but ate the capsules of oil - naturally - and, apparently, my happy pill.

I just hope he doesn't wake us all up singing and dancing in the middle of the night.

The novel is finished!

I have finished the novel!!!

Sort of. First draft anyway. I know there are changes and additions I need to make to it but the base is there now on which I can work.

73, 922 words. Are they any good? Who knows? I thought novel 1 was funny and entertaining but not a single agent agreed with me. This novel is gloomy and painful, much more authentically 'my voice', but would anyone want to read it? Husband asked me that before asking if I'd want to read it. 'Good heavens, no! But I'm obviously no judge of a good book.'

Now I will start on the rejection trail otherwise known as submitting to agents. With Novel 1 I was convinced they would be fighting over each other to buy the rights and I'd already cast Alan Rickman as the hero in the film. Umpteen disappointments later I promise myself I will begin this time with no hope - although I know that is impossible. I will continue to dream and imagine and hope for publication.

I feel depressed at the thought of what I am letting myself in for. That's no good: I have completed a novel; I should be celebrating. Maybe tomorrow I will feel more like it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

In which Younger Son proves he's a better dancer than his mother

I love George ... and Granddad!

Chorus girl in prison

It was a weekend of firsts for me ranging from the sublime to the cor blimey: writing the bible to being a chorus girl in prison.

On Saturday the Methodist church in Mumbles was inviting volunteers to take part in a nationwide initiative, part of the 400th anniversary of the King James bible celebrations, to hand-write the bible. Different Methodist churches throughout the UK were allocated certain chapters and when it's finished they'll all be collected together and bound for perpetuity.

I was in Mumbles and I saw the poster outside so went in and wrote a verse (Matthew 13:54 since you asked).

I think it's a lovely idea but, strangely, one of the organisers told me that some members of that church, regular attendees, hadn't been keen to take part. Daughter and Son-in-law who were down for the weekend also did their bit.
They had just been to enjoy lunch at Verdi's while I walked from home to Verdi's and back to Oystermouth village to meet them at Great-auntie Joan's - pushing GrandDaughter of course. (Just about as far as you can see in this photo taken from Oystermouth. Notice the remains of old wrecks in the mud.)
By the time I reached Verdi's I felt I deserved an apple crumble and praline pecan cone because not only had I pushed a pushchair a good distance I also felt disenchanted with people.

There were lots of walkers on the promenade but you try getting a smile out of them let alone a good morning. After I'd been ignored for the umpteenth time I decided the way to go about it was to start smiling - actually I wander along smiling to myself which could be the reason I get ignored ... - well before I reached them and then to say loudly, 'good morning.'

This method did seem to get a slightly better response but some people still deliberately turned away from me. Really, I think, why be out if you're going to be so miserable? Of course they didn't have the delight of having Granddaughter who is enough to make me smile constantly.

These rather cool scooters - 'Lambretta SX,' Husband said instantly on seeing the photo - were parked outside Verdi's and attracted a lot of attention. Husband was a Mod back in the days before I knew him and, according to the legend on the side of the Union Jack scooter, once a mod always a mod. I spotted the drivers and, judging by their style of dress, I have to say that I don't think that saying is necessarily true.

As for being a chorus girl in prison, well, maybe backing singer would be more apt - although if you've ever heard me sing, you may think backing squawker is more like it.

We were taking the service in prison this morning. The prison is currently undergoing some sort of audit so they're being very rule-conscious and we all had to be searched. When the warder patted my bottom she felt a strange lump. Warily she stuck her hand in my pocket - and pulled out two dirty tissues. What did she expect?

Ric was our musician and as an ex-professional we gave him a solo to do. Except he decided to sing Things. People my age will remember the Bobby Darin version; younger generation may associate it with Robbie Williams. Ric thought it would be a good idea if I and one other sang the Things bits. You know the song: thinking 'bout things - like a walk in the park; things - like a kiss in the dark etc. I was prepared for this and I'd planned to rope someone in and practise when we got to prison. However with the search and extra security we were rushed straight into the service so one of the other women - who can actually sing - was hauled up and forced to do it with me. Well, I enjoyed myself. And I think the men enjoyed it too. They certainly laughed a lot ...

And it did relate to what we were saying ... sort of.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rules and stuff

How do you add 9 to something?

Husband and I were discussing this when walking George the other day. I said, 'I add 10 and take away 1.'
Husband agreed that, although he thought he just added 9, he was probably subconsciously adding 10 and taking away 1.

'Unless,' I said, 'I'm adding it to a number ending in 5 then I add 5 and 4. Or if it's to a number ending in 0 then it's easy.'

Husband patted me on the shoulder.

Later we talked about spelling. I'm a good speller except when it comes to double letters; Husband claims it was only the invention of the computer spellchecker that enabled him to progress upwards in the civil service.

On an episode of QI recently another claim was made: that the rule of i before e except after c is broken more often than it is abided by. Twenty-one times more in fact. Stephen Fry showed some examples such as species and glacier and being and weird. I could just about get that the first two were breaking the rule but the last two just threw me - as they did the members of the QI team, in particular Lee Mack. 'But there's no c!'

As I explained to Husband, - who naturally understood Mr Fry's argument perfectly - for me, the rule is about the c not about the i and the e. But it seems even then, as illustrated, it can't be trusted. And if you can't trust i before e except after c what can you rely on?

It's a very funny clip if you haven't seen it. Or even if you have.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cookie Galore

I had a bit of a production line going this afternoon when I decided to try some recipes from the latest Sainsburys magazine.Which cookie would you choose? Choc chunk, maple syrup and pecan or double choc?

Good news!

April's son has been found, shot in the leg but otherwise okay. Thank God!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday's Odd Shots

Now, is it me - or does this tree look like a stag's head?

I give blondes a good name

For two weeks I've been trying to back up my computer in work onto a hard disc drive. I used to do it regularly - after I wiped the entire hard disc by accident - but the disc was full and needed sorting out so I'd been putting it off.

So for two weeks I've been yelling at the disc drive - 'you stupid disc drive!' - because it wasn't showing up and just wasn't working properly. In the end I took it home so I could check it on my computer.

I plugged it into my puta this morning and again it didn't show up. I tried a different connecting wire but still had no success. I said to Husband, 'Will you have a look on the internet and see what the best deal is so I can buy a new one?'
He was busy looking at my disc drive.
'Did you hear me?' I said.
'Shouldn't it be plugged in?' he said.
'It is plugged in.'
'Not to the computer, to a power source.'
'No, it doesn't need that.'
'How does it work then?'
'It just ... works.'

Or not if it's not plugged in.

I give blondes a good name.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Missing in action

Last Sunday Damien, a rough sleeper and alcoholic in his late twenties, died. Back in January I blogged about him. This is what I wrote:
Damien, paralytic and barely conscious, offered to read some verses for the bible study. Through the incoherence of his mumblings some words stood out. They weren't in the section he was 'reading' but I guess he thought they should be. The words were Jesus, need and cry.

In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:26

I believe God will have answered the prayer of his soul and that he'll finally have found peace from his tortured life.

April's son was killed six years ago serving in Afghanistan, shot by a sniper; as a result she turned to heroin. She's been clean now for three years. This week she heard that her other son is missing in action in Afghanistan.

If you're a pray-er please say a prayer for her and that her boy comes home safe.

Good advice for women

I bought a new bra last week.

Since Husband is now retired and goes on about me wasting money I bought two bras for £8 in M&S earlier in the year; they were rubbish. So I went back to Madame Fifi, paid a fortune and got a bra I could live in and love.

While fitting me, the corsetiere gave me this valuable advice that I thought I should pass on:
"Make sure you stick your hand in and hoink them up."

Two men

Some people make my back go prickly very easily. Like the man who spoke in church this morning. He was saying how he'd been unemployed at one point and he'd had to find work in a factory. He worked with 25 young women who teased him because he was the only one there with a university degree 'needless to say'. It was that last bit that got me.

Unnecessary to say because obviously a woman working in a factory wouldn't have a degree?

It reminded me of another time he spoke when he mentioned Neighbours (Australian soap opera for those who don't know) adding, 'Not that I watch it, of course.'

No, of course not because only morons like me watch it.


Fortunately another man also spoke this morning and he told us about his bipolarity and his struggle to understand why God hadn't healed him. Brave and honest.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Walking - and stopping

The village of Ellerhayes seen from the Killerton hills in Devon. I don't imagine this scene will have changed much over the centuries.Our walk wouldn't have taken quite so long if GrandDaughter hadn't insisted on stopping at each group of dock leaves to pick one.
Or on throwing HollyDog's stick for her.
Do you like our matching buttercups behind the ears? (And, yes, I know she's wearing a pyjama top but I didn't realise when I dressed her.)

You can't get the bosses these days

I get lonely in work. So I amuse myself when I can.

Today Chris phoned and asked if I could quickly tell him the number of the house John lives in. I said, 'deny den.'
He said, 'What?'
'Denty den.'
'What are you talking about?!'
'You said you wanted me to quickly tell you; was that quickly enough?'

And then Chris, well-respected (in some circles) church leader, told me, 'Shut up!'

Is that any way to address your employee and church administrator? To say nothing of an older woman. (I said say nothing of the older woman!)

Still it made my day.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The finished cake

At a party tomorrow, Ann is celebrating her retirement as well as the progress she has made in the year following a stroke.

How to spend a sunny afternoon

I tried to do something I've never done before today: make royal icing for piping. I'll confess straight off that I was using the cheat's method i.e. a packet of royal icing mix that just needed water to be added to it.

But it still didn't start off well.

The first instruction was 'Accurately measure 75 ml cold water.'

I was making half the quantity so needed 37 and a half ml and the smallest mark I had on a measuring jug was 50 ml. And how often does a recipe say 'accurately'? I ended up with too runny a mix and had to keep throwing in more sugar by the dollop until it was stiff enough. So much for accurately.

And now I have blobs of icing all over my clothes, the wall and the clean dishes. Hey ho. I'll show the result later when it's set (I hope) and I've added the finishing touches.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Monday's Odd Shots

'Oh, yeah, and are you going to stop me?!' We'd already seen this pussycat see off two dogs.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Words written today


My son, the wild-haired academic

I'm delighted to say that Younger Son's application to present a paper at the Royal Geographic Society's annual conference has been accepted.

It's based on his dissertation that looks at public awareness of marine environmental issues and, uniquely, the use of social media, such as Facebook, as a resource tool. Lots of you very kindly completed his on-line questionnaire that provided the information for his paper. So thank you very much.

When he is a famous wild-haired academic you can say, 'I taught him all he knows.'

The resilience of nature

As in many parts of the country, areas of Clyne wood have been burned recently. The air is still tinged with the familiar acrid smell.Here and there, amidst the scorched bushes, odd clumps of bluebells survived unscathed.

And nature is resilient. New life soon springs out of the devastation.

This wild rose was well away from the fires growing on the remains of the old corporation rubbish tip. I wish you could smell it - the rose not the tip that is.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

A fully fledged nag

The cleaner at Linden has resigned because 'Liz nags me too much.'

I feel quite pleased with myself: I have acquired a new skill. Nagging has never been my forte - not counting nagging the children, 'When are you going to have babies? Isn't it about time you had a baby? You don't want to leave having babies too late, you know.'

In my defence let me say that when Younger Son went into the toilet in Linden he exclaimed, 'This is filthy; it looks as if it hasn't been cleaned for ages.' And Younger Son:
a) has lived in student accommodation;
b) is used to my standards, which wouldn't pass most people's scrutiny.

I shall have to practise my new-found talent. 'Husband, when are you going to ...'

Friday, May 06, 2011

Words written today


I am approaching the end of my novel and I realise I haven't worked out what is going to happen. I mean I know what is going to happen next but what will the outcome be. No, I suppose I do know that but how to do it without it being cheesy and too neat is what I mean really.

It can't be very happy given the circumstances but there has to be hope.

I expect it will come. I've found that, as I've worked more regularly on my novel, it's flowed much more fluidly and taken turns in unexpected directions. I wonder if there will be an obvious difference between the later chapters and the earlier ones, which were written over a longer period of time and in phases.

I'm reading A Prayer for Owen Meany at the moment. Now that's a well-written book. It puts my effort to shame. But is also encouraging me to be more - I can't think of the phrase - hop-aboutish, and nonconformist. Trouble is, I'm not sure if that's really my voice.

I've just had this good idea: I'll stop analysing on my blog and concentrate on writing the novel!

Taking on Paypal

It is over.

My 8 month battle with Paypal is finally over. It's an incredibly long and complicated story but to sum it up:
a) When setting up accounts I made several mistakes that came to light when we were given a donation of more than £1,000;
b) I explained to Paypal, apologised and asked them to put it right so I could access the money intended for a children's orphanage in Zambia;
c) Paypal repeatedly quoted EU money-laundering rules at me and told me I had to comply with certain requirements;
d) I did as requested but hit problems because of my original mistakes;
e) They said 'you've got to do this and this' and I said, 'But I can't,' and they said, 'You've got to do this and this,' and I said, 'I've just told you that I can't';
f) I brought in the Financial Ombudsman;
g) Paypal realised I was serious and gave me a real person to talk to;
h) Sadly real person was no higher up the chain of responsibility and couldn't make executive decisions;
i) And so on and so on and so on;
j) Last month Paypal finally agreed that they would manually transfer the remaining money (£222) to our bank account (which is what I asked them to do back in October);
k) Today I received notification that the absolute final bit of money - £1.54 that Paypal had put into their own charity account without asking us - had been transferred back to our account too.

Somewhere along the way they did say that they'd make a goodwill payment to our charity but, in spite of my requests that they pay up, it doesn't seem to be forthcoming. Do I have the energy to continue the fight?

I was going to say that I took on Paypal and won but the amount of time, energy and emotion I've put into this fight make it less of a victory. The only good thing is that it will have cost them a lot of money to deal with me too.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

This week in Devon

My new best friend after I fed him (her?) grapes. I had to crush them a little before piggy realised grapes were nice to eat but then she couldn't get enough. When I stuck my hand in between the fencing to point to a fallen grape (oh, the shame!) she tried to chew my arm but soon realised that fluffy jumpers weren't edible.You're lucky: there could have been a photo of dog poo on here but I resisted the temptation. But honestly you'd have been tempted too if you'd seen the colour of HollyDog's poo. If I didn't suspect her of eating green playdoh I would have been seriously worried.

And on the way out on our walk, as we passed cars parked outside the church, I said to Holly and GrandDaughter, who might have been asleep by then, 'Bother, Granny's knickers are falling down already.' That was just before I noticed the man sitting in the car with the window open.

The new shorts I bought on Tuesday have turned out to be the same size as the ones I already had that are too big.

We got home tonight just in time to vote. I was thrown slightly when I got there and I was handed three ballot papers so it was a good job I'd taken my glasses with me. And that's a strange place to end a post but my brain has stopped working.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The man and his cake

Plus cigarette!

Words written today


Four fingers? Seriously?

I had a very successful shopping trip this morning! (Not something I say very often.)

Now I've lost weight all my clothes are too big for me which is great except ... all my clothes are too big for me. So today I bought denim shorts and 2 t-shirts - stripey ones that I've always had to avoid before but can get away with now. The only disappointment was that all the lovely swimwear I saw in M&S a few weeks ago but could never be bothered to try on has gone and all that's left is boring.

And I was resolute in keeping my eyes averted from the baby section: each time I've tried before to buy new clothes I've ended up with nothing but baby stuff.

AND Cadburys Fingers were Buy One Get One Free. I put down the first packets I picked up and continued shopping but, well, they must have snook back into my basket somehow. But it's all right because on the packet it says a serving is only 120 calories. Whether their idea of a serving is the same as mine i.e. a whole box in one go, is doubtful, but they should be more specific.

Husband has pointed out the small print. A serving is 4 Fingers. 4? Seriously? Who stops at 4?

Monday, May 02, 2011

Did Lent work?

So my novel-writing Lenten discipline worked very well. In all there were only two days when I didn't write anything at all although I did think about what I would write on those days. Anyway, apparently, according to Girlfriend who is a practising Roman Catholic - off the point for a moment, why is it so easy to identify Jehovah's Witnesses coming up your path? - Lent is supposed to be 40 days but it's actually more than that so RCs don't include Sundays. Or something like that. So by that logic I would have completed my Lent 'fast' easily.

However since Easter Day I've struggled to write on more than a couple of days. Which is very odd. I'd hoped and planned to maintain the discipline but somehow without that compulsion, rule, I don't know what you'd call it, I've failed miserably.

I was telling Husband this and told him he had to set me a deadline to finish the novel. 'Okay,' he said. 'Thursday.'

So ignoring Husband I'm going to try again to make sure I write a bit of novel every day. I shall report on here how many words I've completed daily - and it doesn't matter how many that is: the important thing is the doing.

Today I've written 469 words.

Monday's Odd Shots

A couple of odd parking signs this week. The first is unusual but self-explanatory:The second is just plain confusing.
For Katney's Odd Shots.

Girls just wanna have fun

Had a 'Me' morning beginning with exercise with Wii Dance. You should have seen me strutting my stuff to Fame (I'm gonna live forever), I like to move it move it, Girls just wanna have fun, A little less conversation (a little more action) but best of all, Eye of the Tiger, with my hooks and upper cuts warranting the 'Great!' acclamation.

Having had my fun it was down to the serious business of hair removal, bleach, washing and sun-tanning. By the time I'd done all that I was ready for bed but stayed awake long enough to enjoy a lovely walk by the river with Husband and George. (My word, the hugest fly in the world has just landed on my pinboard.)

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Did I do that aloud?

I was in the delicatessen yesterday. Now the shop is about big enough for three customers if one of them stands outside so it's quite intimate.

I was being served when the woman behind said to me, 'Are you dancing? You're dancing, aren't you?'
'Oh, dear, yes, I might be.'
'That's a relief; I thought I was getting dizzy.'

The man serving said, 'It's good to dance,' but he probably wanted to keep his customers happy ... and ease their embarrassment.

Great little trains of Wales

Just behind our garden and along a bit is the home of the Swansea Steam and Model Engine Society. On Bank Holidays they open to the public for train rides. I haven't been for a few years as my children refuse to come with me but, this year, Younger Son promised to take Girlfriend on them so I went too!

It costs 20p to get in and then rides cost 50p so we could have a few. First of all we went on the Canadian Pacific but that's a modern electric one so, though faster, wasn't as good as the proper steam engine that we went on next.
This one smells like old trains and makes the right whistling noise when going through the tunnel.
You don't really need to duck to go through the tunnel but it's hard not to.

Baby talk

When Daughter was pregnant, Katney made and sent a lovely cot quilt from America; now Daughter-in-law is pregnant, Katney has made another quilt for us! Isn't it fab? With a froggie marching band.
Its arrival on Saturday was very well-timed as Elder Son and Daughter-in-law were down to stay this weekend and they were delighted to take this quilt home with them.