Saturday, December 31, 2011

On the last day of December

The last day of December and we still have geraniums in the garden.

I've just been to the chemist to collect an out-of-hours prescription for antibiotics. Let's just say I've been advised to drink plenty of cranberry juice. And we're going to a wedding today! Hey ho.

Ah well, better go and bleach my moustache; I don't want to frighten the bridesmaids.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Being me

The good thing about being me is that I don't realise what I've forgotten - until someone tells me. That's the bad thing about being in work; someone usually tells me. The god thing is that life is getting back to normal. I am no longer anticipating it but living it, which is always easier than the anticipation I think.

Another good thing about getting back to normal is that we can watch television - and hear what's being said now. When the children are with us they say, 'Turn the television down. It's too loud!'

And now I am sitting here at the computer next to an almost empty box of chocolates wondering if my dislike of coffee chocolates is greater than my desire to eat another one.

Of course there is always my store of Maltesers in the other room ...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Just a phase?

While indulging in a wash-dry-iron bedlinen marathon I find myself becoming a little maudlin. Probably something to do with ironing duvet covers while suffering the indigestiony result of eating 6 cookies this morning but nonetheless ...

I always used to suffer post-Christmas blues but in recent years thought I'd got over it. I don't think it's blues now exactly anyway: I have far too much to enjoy in my life and stuff to anticipate. It's more a sense of realism: accepting that maybe 'Liz is a writer' was just a phase in my life. I'm never going to be a famous author.

There was a period in my life when 'it' was happening for me. Opportunities to write articles and even non-fiction books were coming along easily and regularly. They happened to me rather than me struggling to achieve anything. Now, well, now I blog, I write stuff for prison and Zac's, and I even get paid for the occasional online article. 

I love what I write - I mean I love the opportunities and enjoy writing these things, and I know they have their own intrinsic value - and, importantly, that they have sometimes meant a lot to others as well. 

I couldn't not blog; my head would surely explode. And the other stuff I write helps me to study and understand the bible better too. But ... I see my novel lying face down on my desk. I'd printed it out to send to a publisher but have been waiting because of a change of editor. GrandDaughter has used pages of it to scribble on. I don't mind that - it's easily printed again - it's just whether there is really any point.

Oh, don't mind me, old gloomyguts! I'll finish ironing soon and my tummy will stop aching and I'll pick myself up and start again. 

Maybe I'll go and watch one of the dvds I had for Christmas (most of which, incidentally, were children's cartoons ...)

P.S. I shall cheer myself up by reminding myself that at least I'm not like my Mother-in-law who would have the beds stripped, sheets in the wash and sometimes on the line before we'd even left the premises after staying with them.

Zac's Place carol service, part 2

Zac's Place carol service, part 1

Now and then

My cousin, Carol, and her husband of 50 years, Bob.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Who's crackers?

Crackers come in boxes of 6. On 2 occasions I wanted 6 and then 8 crackers thus, by my logic, I needed 1 and a bit boxes twice. So I bought 4 boxes. 

Trouble is, I'd probably do the same again.

50 years ago today

We're off to my cousin's golden wedding anniversary celebrations this afternoon (5 - 8 pm, very civilised time!).  Carol and Bob's was the first wedding at which I was called upon to do my bridesmaiding duties. That's me sitting on the floor on the left as you look at the photo.
Puff-sleeved peach velvet dresses - on probably the coldest day of the year. See the photo below of my great-gran (4th from the left) and her children at the same wedding. Note the fur stoles and thick hats? Yep, that was one cold day.
Of her children only the two youngest, Great-auntie Joan (with eyes closed) and Great-uncle Woodie (peeping over my great-gran) are still alive. Both in their 90s now and will be at the party this afternoon. 

I was bridesmaid on two other occasions: to Uncle Woodie's daughter, Sue, and Auntie Joan's son, Spencer. I realise now as I think back that Sue and Spencer both died too young from cancer. Which is a gloomy point at which to leave this post, which should be celebratory. 

So I'll finish by looking forward to the party that will be a chance to celebrate 50 years of marriage and family life and say hooray for the enjoyment of the good times and thanks for the strength to get through the bad.
It was Fiancée's birthday yesterday so we went out for a meal last night. I called the restaurant to book; I needn't have bothered. There were only 8 people altogether in the large restaurant. The chefs must have been pleased to see us - or maybe not if they'd been hoping to have the night off.

Anyway Younger Son and Fiancée are back off to Paignton today and then, after a long Christmas season - it started 2 weeks ago on 14th December with the arrival of Daughter & Co - it'll be back to normal with just the three of us (Husband, me and George).

It's been a wonderful time, seeing and sharing with all the children, grandchildren and partners. And the celebrations aren't quite over yet ...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Man tin

I burst out laughing in the shop when I saw this. I resisted at first but ended up going back and buying it for Husband. It's a good size but - if I have anything to do with it - will be full very quickly!

Christmas desserts

Christmas pudding being set alight
 The alternative: hazelnut and raspberry meringue

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas greetings

Sorry I haven't been doing any blog visiting of late but I promise I will catch up in the post-Christmas calm-down.

Hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and a healthy and wonderful 2012.

Santa's reindeer

Last Saturday we went to get a Christmas tree and we saw Santa's reindeer! The farm that grows the trees also has the only reindeer herd in Wales. They're smaller than you would expect so it's no wonder Santa needs so many to pull his sleigh.

Christmas crafts

No prizes for guessing who's been making spinach pie. I am definitely retaining my title of Messiest Cook in the World. Whatever I make, a good percentage of the ingredients ends up on the floor. I've learned to allow for it now.
GrandDaughter's been staying and after watching Mr Maker make bugs on cbeebies I came up with the idea (patent pending don't you think?) for these reindeer. I was rather proud of myself I have to say. Trouble was that I went to the shop for some googly eyes and ended up spending twenty something pounds on craft stuff. 
No, I didn't make this festive tea-cosy, which was my rather lovely birthday present.

I can't help feeling that I've forgotten something major; I seem to have time to spare, time to sit and relax - and blog. Ah well, shops are closed now so whatever it is I've forgotten will have to stay forgotten. 

Monday, December 19, 2011


I seem to have cut up the wrong debit card.

You see I have 2 debit cards: one for our joint account and one that is mine, all mine. When a new card arrived and Husband gave it to me to sign I assumed it was to replace our joint card. But as I discovered when I tried to get some money out and it refused to recognise my PIN, it wasn't.

I'm going to have to explain this to the bank now.

Not your usual staff Christmas lunch

This is the Roundhouse where we were going to have our Christmas lunch but Helen thought it would be more fun to go deeper into the woods.
While Helen was cooking some of us made a den!
It's amazing how much fun grown men can have with a flaccid sausage.
The staff of Linden Church Trust after playing Mob!

Catching up

Good grief, it's been nearly a week since I last blogged ... and I find Blogger's gone queer. Ah well, hey ho, I'm sure I'll get used to it. Lots to catch up on but where to start? let's begin at the beginning with the prison carol service.

Minor panic on first night as one of the participants came into the room where the service was being held and had a wobbly. 'I can't do this! Not with all these people!' We talked him into it and he stole the show.

He's a lad from Liverpool with a truly scrumptious Scouse accent and as he was reading lines for Mary's father it added a certain something. In fact as soon as he spoke the audience burst out laughing.

The theme of the carol service was the ripple effect. A lot of the men have been doing a course on restorative justice - thinking about the victim and others affected by your crime -  so we carried this on using the birth of Christ as the stone dropped in the water causing ripples. We heard from the shepherd who declared that going to see this newborn baby was more important than his job looking after the sheep, and then from his boss who didn't agree and, in true Alan Sugar style,  said, 'You're fired.'

Our Scouser had gained so much confidence by the second night that, in his role as boss, declared, 'You're fired! Now p**** off out of here!' 

As one of the 'congregation' said, 'F***ing h***l, you can't use that language in church!'

Not your average church carol service.

We continued on with the ripple theme and heard the story of one of the men who took part in our carol service last year. He's now in another prison but I went to see him the week before and got his story, which he was happy for us to use. I'll put it on my long bits blog if you'd like to read it; it is very moving and hopeful. And even better is the fact that the man who read it introduced it by saying how pleased he was because he could relate to a lot of it and is going through a similar 'conversion'. I don't like the word conversion; it's more like redemption. 

Now let's see how I get this new-fangled blogger to post.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thank you, Katney!

A new quilt for a new baby (due February) from Katney. Thank you so much!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

And then my straighteners said

I could have sworn this morning that my hair straighteners were wishing me 'masseltof' (excuse the spelling).

They've never spoken to me before but perhaps they were just waiting for the right opportunity.

Christmas has begun

It started today with our annual Christmas meal out with the in-laws ... in Derby. Three and a half hours each way is a long time to be sitting in a car but it was good to see Father-in-law. He's settling into the home but ... well, it's not his home.

I remembered I hadn't shown you our grotto!
Complete with stag at bay. Now why would you pay £80 when lights wound around a few sticks do just as well?!!
Tomorrow and Tuesday evening it's the prison carol services. We've got quite a few volunteers taking part this year, which is good, but I quite liked it when it was just a couple of lads - as it was on at least two occasions - and we developed a sort of Dunkirk spirit: we can do this! I was very proud of 'my boys'. It's not quite the same this year but I'm sure it will go well. Our Scouser King Herod might well steal the show.

Friday we have our works' Christmas do - more about that later - and on Saturday we're out for a traditional Christmas get-together meal with 'the gang'.

It's a good job I was poorly and off my food last week; the next few weeks will be non-stop eating.

Friday, December 09, 2011

A chill wind

I don't work on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday so if the window was to be replaced in my office you might think one of those days would be a good choice for it to be done.

When I arrived in work today, Friday, the entire window and frame was already out. Leaving a dirty great hole.

He was a very nice man and the sun was shining but it was still freezing. And later redolent of glue. Not to mention the difficulty in getting to my desk.

I spent the morning sorting out Christmas baubles and joining in with the quilters' Christmas partying. I did have a go at being arty with a string of red bally stuff but discovered that if I closed my eyes and tossed it randomly on the floor the final effect was about the same.

Then I gave up and came home. Now I'll have to go in tomorrow morning to do the essentials.

And before you ask, no, it wasn't me who arranged it.

P.S. Nigel Slater just promised me the recipe for the perfect pomegranate and Prosecco jelly if I buy the Observer on Sunday. I hope my children don't feel deprived because I've never achieved the perfect (or even considered an ordinary) pomegranate and Prosecco jelly at Christmas. So many undiscovered flaws in my life.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

I can recommend

The trouble with going to Waterstone's for Christmas presents is that other things inevitably end up in my basket.

Like a copy of The Night before Christmas for GrandSon. Well, he has to have it and there's no point giving it to him for Christmas as it's too late then. So that's justifiable.

The copy of Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm is sort of a Christmas present for me but the logic is the same as previously: I wouldn't want to read it after Christmas. And I've been poorly, y'know. It's a slight misnomer as it's a collection of short stories some loosely associated with Christmas and only one at the farm, but any disquiet I might have felt was dispersed instantly by the very first story, which is a delightful tale in the Miss Pettigrew/ Capture the Castle style. Absolutely charming and just what you want from a Christmas tale.

Things not to do when ...

you can't sleep and you feel nauseous.

1) Reminisce about when you fell asleep at the drop of an eyelid and worry if you'll ever sleep again.
2) Think about food.
3) Think about all the things you haven't been able to do this week ... and fret about how you're going to fit them in to your already full next week.
4) Wonder how Facebook can be worth £100 billion dollars and why anyone would Like a company page.
5) Consider the implication of being 'in the world but not of it' and whether you are one more than the other.
6) Compose a blog post in your head.
7) Realise that there are not many middle-aged women who feel the uncontrollable urge to skip while walking around town and wonder - for the first time - if you really are a bit odd.
8) Diagnose yourself using knowledge gleaned from Grey's Anatomy and House.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The secret behind Batman's success

After a morning of feeling much improved I've had a relapse.

Still it meant I could watch Ice Age 3 and a brilliant bit of Batman.

Robin: I think that was our closest shave ever, Batman. I was scared.
Batman: I wasn't.
Robin: You weren't. Holy cow, why not Batman?
Batman: Haven't you noticed, Robin, how we always manage to escape from the tightest of situations. Have you ever wondered why that is?
Robin: I guess it's because we're smarter, Batman.
Batman: I like to think it's because our hearts are pure.

Thinking about funerals ...

and what people would say. The good thing is that people are always nice at funerals, at least about the deceased. Fortunately it wasn't until this morning that I remembered that Chris and I had, after one particularly 'gooder than Jesus' funeral, resolved to tell the truth at our funerals - whoever went first obviously.

I imagine Chris would mention the time I wiped the Linden computer. Completely. Totally.

In spite of the computer's protestations.
'Are you sure you want to delete?'
Are you absolutely sure?'
'Yes, I just told you I did; now do it.'
A pause then 'Just let me be clear: you definitely want me to delete this information?'
'YES! Now do it!'

And afterwards, Chris saying, 'Well, we can reload the programs and I assume you kept back-ups of your files.'
'You did keep back-ups?'
'Well, I will do in future!'

I've been poorly

I have the occasional sore throat, cough or snuffle and I grumble a lot but I am rarely incapacitated as I've been for the last couple of days. I have been proper poorly.

Some sort of virus I guess. Not bad enough to be flu but enough to stop any activity. I've spent the time on the sofa feeling sorry for myself: I do not like being ill!!!

On the plus side I've sat through a Downton Abbey fest. I missed the television series but Daughter gave me season 1 for Christmas last year and I finally managed to watch it. And I finished The Girl Who Played with Fire so it's not all bad. Except lying on the sofa made me ache by bed time - heart attack type chest pains ache, so I went to bed thinking how inconvenient it would be if I died now just before Christmas. And then I launched into the old familiar 'what would people say at my funeral?' routine. That soon sent me to sleep ...

P.S. Don't watch House if you're feeling poorly: it's amazing how the most innocent of symptoms can mean the most obscure of deadly diseases. The only dilemma is deciding which 'longcomplicatednameillness' you have today.

P.P.S. Husband just came in and said, 'You must be feeling better if you're blogging.'

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Getting in the Christmas spirit

Now we've passed Husband's birthday (December 1st) we can start concentrating on Christmas. We began this morning by visiting one of the big stores that sells loads of Christmassy stuff. Husband bought some lovely lights for outside - preparing for the reindeer to come ... - and I bought these essential accessories.I am convinced that having grandchildren brings out the latent chav (translation: someone very into bling and tack).

I didn't buy this but was strangely fascinated by the idea of making my own snow.
And today I've discovered Spotify and I'm compiling a playlist of Christmas music. I'm having so much fun! Best title so far is All I Want for Christmas is a Hippopotamus.
Mine is a very eclectic mix with Ella in between Santa getting stuck up the chimney, a gospel choir and a wombling Christmas.

I've also started shooting turkeys in the hope that by Christmas I might actually hit one. Tomorrow is 'Make a reindeer day' or maybe that should be 'Try to make a reindeer day'. Or even more likely, 'Fail to make a reindeer day'.

It was all set off by nightmare last night. I dreamed it was 2.00 pm on Christmas Eve and I suddenly realised I'd forgotten to buy a turkey or any vegetables and all the shops had either moved or closed early. The closest thing I could find to a turkey was a blackened shot-riddled thing (guilt for all the turkey shooting I'm doing?)

When I told Husband he said, 'That wasn't a nightmare; that was a memory.' Which is a ridiculous exaggeration. It was midnight the day before Christmas eve that I had us driving around Swansea looking for - and not finding - a turkey.

I used an adaptation of that tale in my first novel and the woman from the Romantic Novelists' Association who critiqued it (and hated it) said that was ridiculous: no woman would ever do that. Huh, shows how much she knows!

Rapidly putting nasty ladies behind me, I'm so excited: can you tell?

Friday, December 02, 2011

Winter draws on

I worked different hours today so when I came out this afternoon it was cold, dark, raining and miserable. I got in the car and thought, 'I want to go home and never go out again.'

I quickly decided that might be a bit extreme but a week's hibernation is do-able, don't you think? no? Okay.

This is one of the rare occasions when I wish we had a television in the bedroom. Curling up in bed with some mindless tv or A Wonderful Life is just what the doctor ordered.

Actually the doctor ordered antibiotics but that's another story.