Monday, October 31, 2011

No longer a sat nav virgin

Paignton Pier on the English Riviera on a wet October afternoon.
We went to visit Younger Son and Fiancée in Paignton on Saturday and borrowed Son-in-law's tom-tom. I've never had one before so it was a novel experience. She was quieter than I expected but it was fairly straightforward until we reached the first sign for Paignton.

'Turn left in 450 yards,' she said.
'Didn't Younger Son say we should ignore the first sign?' I asked.
'We'd better take this turning if the sat-nav says.'
'You mean you're not going to argue with her directions?'
'You argue with me when I tell you which way to go. You say, "Are you sure?"'
Husband just smiled; he'd already taken the left turn.

I sat back and sulked.

A short while after we came to a crossroads. Miss Clever Dick said, 'Turn right.'
Husband turned right. Sat-nav was quiet for a minute as if thinking then she said, 'do a U-turn.'
When we got back to the crossroads she told us to go straight ahead - which would have been turn left not right originally. She got it WRONG!

But did she say sorry? Not a word of it. Just 'do a u-turn,' no explanations or apologies for her mistake. Not even an acknowledgement that she'd been in error.

I sat back and smirked. Huh.

Mobile meditations

I'd parked in a very narrow road and was putting some stuff in the car when a van approached. I thought I'd better move out of the way and close the door so he could pass rather than keep him waiting. I slammed the door shut, tried to move away ... and discovered I'd shut my coat in the door.

I shrugged and squeezed in against the car but the van-driver signalled to me to set myself free, which I did with a very embarrassed grin.

Why do these things happen to me? I was pondering this when I drove away and as they do one thought led to another.

There's a person I know whose every communication is godly and sweet and positive, so much so that I don't bother paying any attention. I've even been known to do sick-making gestures. In the car as I thought this I verbally slapped my wrist but then realised that God loves me just as much as the godly person even though I'm so rubbish and ungodly. Which is pretty amazing when you think about it.

If only he would stop stupid things like getting my coat stuck in the door happening. I could be a much better person then ... I know I could.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fab view, shame about the tea

The Meridian Tower, the tallest residential building in Wales, was opened in Swansea's Marina a year or so ago; today we finally got to visit the restaurant/bar that sits on the top 28th floor.The Tower doesn't actually lean ... but the lamp-post does.

And this was the view we enjoyed over the Marina.
Fab view, shame about the tea. It was a Costa franchise so Husband's latte was fine, it was just my tea-bag in a cup of barely hot water that disappointed.

The food on the restaurant menu sounded good so maybe we'll give it try one day but next time we want afternoon tea we'll go to a proper tea-shop.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday's Odd Shots

You have to wonder how a garden chair came to be in the middle of the woods.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Stone who?

I was just listening to a radio 4 programme about the Stone Roses, a musical combo (I believe that's the correct term) who've announced they're re-forming the band. Apparently they were one of the biggest things of whatever decade they were popular in.

I couldn't tell you which decade or name a song they sing. I wouldn't recognise their music if they played it at my funeral. I must have missed them somewhere along the lines. And that suggests to me that they were big in the 80s. The 80s was when I had babies who became toddlers who became children.

I missed most of the 80s.

Before that programme, File on Four was looking at the problem of child abuse in madrassas, after-school schools for Muslim children to learn and memorise the Koran. Amazingly the strict rules about corporal punishment and child protection that apply in state schools don't count in religious schools, and teachers who have been found guilty of abuse are still able to teach in madrassas.

It's amazing what I learn when I'm making stew.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rebel Yell

Ric used to be in a band called Rebel Yell so when he mentioned that he still had a memento bottle of bourbon by the same name it was the cue for a birthday cake.

ABC Wednesday - N (Belatedly)

N is for North Wales. We've had some lovely times in North Wales and we've had some wet ones.

The top of Snowdon covered in mist - although this time we did actually manage to get to the top unlike a previous attempt when it had been too windy for even the little train to go up it.
Prestatyn (press what in? as Husband is prone to say) sea front in June.
Llandudno sea front also in June.

It's not me but the fact that I'm a woman

Sean mentioned that he thought that one of the more difficult regulars at Zac's had a problem with women. At first I didn't see it but thinking about it I think Sean could be right.

This man is fine with me when I'm making him coffee or even better lasagne but he doesn't like it when I lead the bible study. Admittedly on occasion he has a go at Sean but he has his insults ready then, usually based on football or the fact that Sean has four children; he lacks that ammunition when I lead so his comments are more snidey. And can be downright rude.

Okay, now I see that I can handle it.

In which I realise I am the fount of all knowledge

Chris, my boss, and some of the youth workers from church spent part of last week in France at a place they're intending to take some of the young people next year. While there they met a young couple who, it turned out, knew Elder Son as they'd been in university with him. Now meeting someone who knows someone you know isn't that weird, even in a different country, especially in Christian circles, which can be quite small, but the really weird thing happened later.

The boy of the couple talks in his sleep and, apparently, one night he was heard to say, 'Liz Hinds will know.'

Now that is weird. And raises multitudinous questions.

What will I know? Why did he think I would know? Have we ever even met?

You see? Weird. So I pondered this for a bit and decided 'it must have been a message from God.'

Obviously I know something God wants the world to know. But what could that be? I know so much ... that is of use to neither man nor beast so what could I possibly know that is so important that God felt the need to use a prophet to draw it out of me?

Again I pondered long and hard while I was cleaning my teeth and came to the only possible conclusion: I must know the answer to life, the universe and everything. Oh yes, it is much speculated that the answer is 42 but now we know better.

Having established that I was the vessel into which this knowledge had been poured I sought to find it. It took me some time but it finally came to me in the middle of Sainsburys.

And I am willing to share the answer to life, the universe and everything with you for just £19.99. I don't think that's too much to ask for such significant knowledge, do you?

And before you ask why God would choose me to be the repository for such vital information, let me say one thing: God specialises in choosing the unlikely. Point proven.

I accept cheques, postal orders and paypal, but if you can't afford that, well, tough. I finally understand the prosperity gospel that people preach.

I think maybe I should take a pill now ... all this thinking is making my head ache. it's not easy being a repository.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

George is such am embarrassment

We overtook another dog walker in the woods today. I say 'we' meaning Husband and I; George attached himself to the other walker.

He demonstrated perfectly the art of walking to heel while staring up at the man with loving eyes. Nobody can resist him for long.

The man got a treat out of his pocket and gave it to George who devoured it and then rejoined us.

He is such an embarrassment.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

First incarcerated then plastered

Which is unusual as for most people it's the other way: getting plastered leads to incarceration.

In prison this morning and I talked about Jesus as the first truly holistic healer. Okay, maybe not the first but the best. It's what I was getting excited about when I led the bible study in Zac's and when I'd finished this morning I let out a big sigh. It's unusual for me to feel so strongly and I hope that came over. Lots of the men said thank you after and appreciated the service, which included some great singing led by Jez - not me you'll be relieved to hear if you've ever had the misfortune of standing next to me when I've been in full voice at a rugby match - and a solo from him.

From prison I went straight to Tina's. She's an artist working on a piece for Zac's Place. Sean had funding and commissioned a number of artists to create works based on the beatitudes. Tina has 'Blessed are the merciful' and she's making faces.

The first layer: the stuff dentists use to make moulds of teeth.
Artist at work.
Second (and third and fourth) layer: plaster bandage that had to be left on to dry.
The finished mould looking depressingly life-like with all my wrinkles.
Tina will use the mould to make a clay face and then she'll combine all the faces she's doing into a larger piece, which I'll show you when it's finally competed and unveiled.

So that's how I spent my Sunday ...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wales forever

We were beaten not by 15 Frenchmen but by 1 half-French man. Unbelievable performance from the boys in red. They dun us proud.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I helped turn Wales red

The Welsh Rugby Union wanted to turn Wales red today and asked everyone to go to work wearing red. I was all on my own in work but I heeded the call!
Then I came home and decorated the remaining cakes.
I was doing so well. I kept telling myself that already Wales had got further in the rugby world cup than I'd expected so anything else was a bonus. A semi-final against France tomorrow was the metaphorical icing on the cake.

But then I started to hope ... and to believe.
So much easier when you don't have expectation.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

That'll teach me

Back in 2009 I submitted the first few chapters of my second novel to Parthian Books, an independent Welsh publisher. The commissioning editor asked to see more and then requested the whole manuscript as it looked like an interesting project. I hadn't finished it at the time so couldn't comply with her request.

This last week I've been editing, tweaking and generally going through the manuscript and I emailed the editor again to remind her of the interest she'd expressed. She replied quickly.

She's about to leave the job.

Back to the drawing board, batman.

P.S. Didn't get through to the finals of the Mills & Boon competition either. That's what happens when you have a town planner for a hero.

With Sam our captain, we'll take the cup home

Warning: contains adult material. This is a rugby song after all.

Corroding at the edges

I probably should have read ALL the instructions on the washing machine before I took it apart. Still it was only a little flood.

More seriously I should have read and paid attention to the TOXIC material warning on the soda crystals before I made it into a solution and stuck my hands in it.

I didn't have a problem until Husband pointed the warning out, saying it was a mild corrosive. Now my hands are stinging and itching. Psychomatic? Or am I going rusty?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

ABC Wednesday - M

There was only one place I could possibly use for the letter M and that's Mumbles, village of my birth and home of my heart.
It's said that the name Mumbles comes from the French word 'mammelles' meaning breasts. It's claimed that the Normans sailing into the bay gave it that name because the two islands - that you can't see clearly in the above photo! - looked like breasts. (That's the French for you.)

Mumbles is a suburb of Swansea these days but once it was an independent village with a thriving oyster industry and in Victorian times became a popular holiday destination. On the edge of the Gower peninsula it's still popular with tourists and, it's said, that there is once again a thriving but secret oyster farming project in existence ...

When I was a child Mumbles was a village in a truer sense of the word than it is today. Everyone knew everyone else - and their business. Today the boundaries of many of the surrounding villages have, with the creeping in of new housing estates, blurred into a more amorphous blob.

Here you've got George (much younger!) and me on Mumbles hill with the village immediately below and behind us.
Both my great-uncle and later, when he retired from his job as an insurance man, my grandfather worked on Mumbles Pier, my uncle on the skee rolls and my grandfather in the kiosk entrance to the pier itself. Naturally the pier played a large role in my growing-up.

As a child I was scared to walk on its wooden slats but my Auntie Gay assured me that 'the pier could hold the Queen Mary' (the liner that was). I wasn't wholly convinced but conquered my fear, although to this day it's a major plucking-up-the-courage job if I'm to walk from the pier along the small bridge to the lifeboat house.

The last time we went on the pier, last year, it was in a state of disrepair and parts were sectioned off as unsafe. Now the entire pier is closed until a plan has been agreed/money has been found for its renovation.
I hope it can be saved. Mumbles wouldn't be the same without the pier.

To take part in ABC Wednesday go here.

Why we went to a service station

Father-in-law had a heart attack a week or so ago and has been in hospital. He was okay so we didn't visit as Husband hasn't long come out of hospital himself and we didn't want to take a long (over 3 hour) journey to Derby unless vital.

Then late Monday night we had a phone call from Sister-in-law who was at the hospital having been summoned. By morning F-i-l had rallied but Husband wanted to go and see him anyway so off we set (having dumped George on our long-suffering friends).

By the time we got to see him F-i-l was much perkier (I suspect seeing Husband did him a lot of good) and much like his old self. Which isn't particularly well but not at death's door. In fact, he was back to causing trouble: they've had to put sensors on his mattress to alert the nurses if he tries to get out of bed on his own. His right leg isn't working as it should and, heaven knows, he fell over enough before this latest attack. Naturally he insists he's fine and can manage and can get out - and then falls over.

He's going to need a lot of therapy and rehab before he's able to go home alone again but that's his aim. Whether he'll achieve it is yet to be seen.

Pub grub

I met a friend in a pub today. One of those pubs that does food. Like burgers and chips and treacle pudding and custard. I sat and sniffed the air, drooled over the photos in the menu and dribbled on people's shoulders.

Then I came home for parsnip soup.

Very nice parsnip soup but ...

But then I'm the woman who gets excited about meals on planes and going to a service station.

We very rarely stop at service stations unless it's an exceptionally long journey; Husband likes to get where we're going. But yesterday he needed to stretch (explained in next post) so we pulled into Strensham (where I am overtaken by the uncontrollable urge to say, 'Strensham, spelled S-t-r-e-n-s-h-a-m, which only old listeners of Radio Luxemburg will understand - possibly).

I was quite overcome. 'Oh we could have a McDonalds! Or fish and chips or prawn mayonnaise sandwiches or toasted ciabatta or reggae reggae chicken melt or ...'

We settled for muffins. Sticky toffee pudding muffin and latte for Husband and raspberry and white chocolate muffin and fresh orange juice for me.

Of course calories don't count when you're travelling.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Monday's Odd Shots

Probably aren't too many of those in Swansea.

Blogging and bloggers

Katney has asked some questions about blogging and I thought I'd answer them. Katney's hoping to get a wide range of responses and has set up a Linky thing on her blog, so if you fancy thinking about and answering these questions on blogging, do let her know.

What inspires you to blog?
Any and every thing. Things that make me happy, things that make me cross, people I've come in touch with, God's love, stupid things, sensible things (rarely), big things, little things. Just about everything - except what's going on in the wider world. Mine is a parochial blog. I don't know much about current affairs - at least not enough to write intelligently - and others do it far better anyway. My blogging is personal, an opportunity to empty my brain of stuff that would otherwise just hang around in there and take up valuable space.

How do you decide how often to post?
It just happens. I blog several times a week, sometimes several times in a day. That usually happens when I'm cleaning and my brain is free to think while my hands work.

Why do you choose the kind of things you do to blog about?
See question 1. I don't choose so much as things present themselves to me as topics. Quite often when I'm out walking or driving I'll compose a blog post in my head, possibly as a result of something I've seen or experienced or for another totally unrelated reason.

How do you view your readers and followers? Have you met any of them? What kind of relationships have you established online? When do online friends become realtime friends?
Although I have said - and do say - that my blogging is primarily for my benefit I love to have readers. That's what all wannabe writers want. And when I get responses it makes me happy because it's stirred someone enough to make an effort.
I've met several bloggers face to face and hope to meet more. I suppose that makes them realtime friends but there are those amongst my regular visitors that I haven't met that I consider as friends anyway. I think sometimes you just know you're in tune with another person and that you'd get on. (And the opposite as well!)
I think the support bloggers get from each other is tremendous. I kept my blog-readers up-to-date about Husband's recent illness and was cheered by the reactions, good wishes, prayers that came our way.

Do you ever get a "block"--writer's block or photographer's block--and how do you get out of it?
No. Maybe I won't write for a day or two simply because I have nothing interesting to say but I soon get over that. Even if I still have nothing of interest to say!

What kind of memes do you participate in? Why do you do memes? or why not?
I do Odd Shots on Mondays (when I can find a photo!) because Katney runs it and because I sometimes find myself thinking, 'That's an odd sight.' It may not be pretty or interesting but odd in my eyes so this is a good chance to use it.
And I've started doing ABC Wednesday again, which I enjoy because I give myself a theme with which to work.
The only problem with memes is finding time to visit others.

What does blog visiting mean to you? How often do you visit favorite blogs and bloggers? How important is that?
I don't visit enough. I am aware that some people visit me far more often than I return the compliment. I blame lack of time, which isn't a good excuse really. I'd like to visit more and build my circle but time ...
I have a blog list in my sidebar but among those I visit my favourites more often than the others. I really should sort it out a bit.

Don't forget to let Katney know if you're going to answer these questions on your blog!

Here's my story!

I break the first rule of M&B story-writing: it should feature a sheik or millionaire.

My hero works in town planning.

P.S. Click on the title of the post to get to my story.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

I didn't buy a skirt today because ...

it made my nose look big.

To be fair, it wasn't the skirt that made it look big; it is big. It's just that normally I don't have to look at it. But faced with M&S's view-everything-at-once-even-if-you-don't-want-to-see-it mirrors it was my nose that stole the show.

A store like M&S, that caters for the more mature woman, should know better. Fewer mirrors and dimmer lighting would make for more sales I'm sure.

It put me off everything . I came home in a sulk.

But not before I'd invited a woman I'd never met before to come to Italy with me to find me an outfit for the wedding, which happens to be on her birthday. It seemed a good idea at the time ...

Jamie Roberts is my hero

It wasn't until early afternoon that I began to squeak excitedly.

It took me that long to wake up and realise what Wales had done. (I was watching the game at 6 am after all.) Not only did they win but they played brilliantly! The best I can remember them playing. It was fan-dabby-dozy!

Best of all is that Wales beat Brian O'Driscoll. I like Ireland and the Irish; I can't stand Mr O'Driscoll. Or Ronan O'Gara.

England were disappointing but Husband is generous in his support for Wales although I don't know if I can cope with the stress of a semi-final weekend. But one thing's for certain: if Wales win the world cup I'm going to Cardiff for the triumphant victory parade!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Romance is not dead

There I've done it.

Submitted my first chapter to the Mills & Boon New Voices competition. I'll let you know when it's up on their website because I know you'll all be desperate to read it!

It stars a certain dog you might recognise ...

How not to describe people

'I used to think he was gay. He's married but he has that certain campness about him.'

'She's the sort of person who would never laugh enough to wet herself.'

I really should be more careful about what I say.

My beautiful cauli

I just accidentally ate a whole packet of Cadbury's Fingers.

Who am I trying to fool? There was nothing accidental about it.

Anyway what do you think of this cauli? I bought it because it was so beautiful.
We're having cauliflower (and bacon) cheese for dinner. Healthy? Questionable. Yummy? Definitely. I need stress relief with the Big Game tomorrow. That's my excuse.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Blowing the cobwebs away

Husband felt like walk at Rhossili today. We intended to walk along the headland towards the Worm but the wind was ferocious and I'd neglected to take a coat with me thinking, 'It'll be fine.'
So we walked down to the beach instead (oh, my writing's gone blue!) with the what-turned-out-to-be-false thinking that it would be less windy there. The paler bands in the sand below are where it's being whisked along.
Froth at the edge of the surf.
My souvenirs: a mermaid's purse and an oyster shell.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

ABC Wednesday - L

What else could I choose for the letter L but the village with the longest name in Britain?
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch meaning Saint Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave.

The town was originally called Llanfairpwllgwyngyll but had the extra letters added on in the late nineteenth century, some say as an early publicity stunt to attract tourists. It certainly worked as the small town on the island of Anglesey just off the North Wales coast is a popular tourist destination, everyone wanting to have their photo taken with the famous railway sign.

If you ever visit Wales you'll find hundreds of places beginning with Llan, which means church, such as Llangollen, (church of Collen), Llandeilo (Teilo), Llanmadoc (Madoc) and so on.

To take part in ABC Wednesday, go here.

I wish I hadn't asked

During the discussion on demon possession and the sorts of things that can control us and when it's right to use medication Ric and Martin were chatting together at the bar. At an appropriate break in the discussion I went all teacher-like and demanded they share with the class what they'd been saying.

Ric said, 'I used to have a problem with kleptomania but it was my own fault. I didn't take anything for it.'

I really shouldn't have asked. I should have known better.

I have a ladle and I'm not afraid to use it

Sean was away last night so he asked me to lead the bible study at Zac's. To his notes about it he added the comment, 'There's nothing controversial in it.' The alarm bells should have started ringing then.

The passage was largely about healing and when I prepared for it I got quite excited because of the radicalness of the healing that Jesus did. His was an holistic approach, repairing body and soul and returning people to their rightful place in society where they had dignity and honour. So many people today need that sort of healing for so many reasons. And I found out that the ancient healers put more value on the state of being of the person rather than his physical condition or ability to do something. I suppose we'd use the term quality of life these days.

Anyway there was I all enthused about it until we read the passage, which also just happened to mention casting out of demons. Now we'd looked at one instance of that the previous week with Sean and it had been fine. No questions, no discussion, no argument.

Oh, no, they were saving it all for me this week.

It was the same with circumcision. No nonsense for Sean, all the questions/double entendres for me.

Oh, yes, the title of this post. In the past when I've led the study it has on occasion become a little rowdy so I planned to take a hammer because I have a weedy squeaky voice when I try to speak loudly to maintain order. But I forgot to look for it early on and when I set off it would have meant going to the shed in the dark and wet so I improvised. And used a ladle.

I only had to use it once.

On the mend

I left Husband alone twice yesterday, in the morning when I walked George and in the evening when I went to Zac's. When I came home in the morning I found him mowing the front lawn. In the rain. In the evening I discovered he'd eaten lots of cake and drunk 3 glasses of whisky. (Three glasses?!)

This morning he woke up saying he'd had a bad night with a lot of pain. I added to that pain by slapping him soundly.

I'm not leaving him alone again.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Is it me?

Last night some of us were discussing the Wales Fiji game and I said, 'Oh did you hear what the commentator said? He said one of the players who plays for Fiji is following his father; his brother plays for Samoa following his mother.'
So then I'm rolling around on the floor laughing at this when I glance at the people I was talking to: they're staring at me straight-faced. I get up and say, 'Following his mother. Playing rugby. For Fiji.'
They smile politely, I make my excuses and leave.

Well, I thought it was funny.

You can't beat Heinz

A glut of tomatoes - decreasing more slowly since Husband hasn't been around to help eat them - resulted in last night's dinner: roasted tomato and thyme soup.

Ready for roasting.
The finished product.A bit too garlicky (Husband's view) and not quite right (mine). Trouble is, I never expected it to be brilliant. I grew up on Heinz tomato soup and I like it like that. Maybe if the tomatoes had had more sun and been sweeter and it wasn't so late in the season it might have been better. Never mind, at least we don't have so many in the kitchen now.

What you don't want to see first thing in the morning

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Monday's Odd Shots

Until recently thought to be extinct one has now been spotted in the south Wales area.
Yes, it's the sabre-tooth retriever.

Of the spooky kind

You know in films you can tell when the spaceship is about to land or Mary Poppins is going to appear because strange things start to happen? Well, that's what it was like in our garden today.

It was a still calm afternoon when all of a sudden there was a rustling and lots of leaves fell off the tree overhanging our garden. Then as suddenly as the fall began it stopped. A few seconds later the same thing happened to another tree just along the road.

Uoh uh uh uh oooh (that's meant to be the noise from Close Encounters).

Unfortunately there was no sign of Ms Poppins. But it did remind me of the notice I saw in the hospital. It said if you were over 55 and being discharged from hospital you could get help with stuff including light housework.

I wonder if it's too late for Husband to ask for that.

Which in turn reminds me of the builder's van I passed on Friday and which I'm sure had this notice on the back: Huge discounts for nymphomaniacs.

You're going to do what?

Husband needed a stress pill this afternoon: I told him I was going to mow the lawn.

Mowing the grass is Husband's job and one he takes pride in so the thought of an amateur being let loose on it caused him no little anxiety. If his concern had been health and safety related I could have understood, the number of times I got the wire wound around my arms or legs or banged my head on the washing 'thing' - what do you call that upside-down umbrella thing? - but his concern was aesthetic. But as you can see from the photo, I hope, he had no reason to be alarmed.
It takes great aesthetic sensitivity to make a fine crop circle.