Monday, March 28, 2011

And Chanel No. 5

When I was in my mid-teens my mum gave me, as part of my Christmas present, a bar of Chanel No. 5 soap. She couldn't afford the perfume but thought this would be a nice 'grown-up' present. I put it in my knicker drawer to make it smell nice and that's where it still is today. Without its scent of course.

My mum died soon after that so it was one of my last presents from her.

Dating George Clooney

As I was leaving work today there was a black cat just about to cross the drive in front of me. I slowed down and the cat looked at me, then turned around and walked the other way.

If I were suspicious I'd think I was - no, wait, I mean superstitious - headed for bad luck.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Because of our enormous new bed we're having to replace my bedside cabinet. I've bought one from ebay and it turns out to be a lot smaller in every way than the original. So this afternoon I started the cull of my knicker and sock drawer.

Any socks with holes - even if I like them very much - have been binned as have tatty knickers but I still have three piles: best, everyday and worn but comfy. Try as I might I am unable to think of an occasion that would warrant me wearing my magic squeeze-you-in-till-you can't-breathe-and-then-some-more knickers though.

I mean, how likely is a date with George Clooney? Seriously.

(By the way, what's wrong with this picture? That's right: no bulging over the top.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The woman who went up a hill

So wise so soon

Sometimes GrandDaughter gives me a 'Please tell me we're not related' look.
It's a look I've often seen on George's face too.

Monday's Odd Shots

What's so odd about the Deanery at Brecon Cathedral you may wonder. Well, take a closer look at the garden ornament on the bottom right of the photo.'I know I buried my bone here somewhere.'
For Katney's Odd Shots.

Life in the Borders

We stayed in a converted barn on the edge of the little village of Llangattock, which itself was on the edge of Crickhowell. The town takes its name from the Welsh name Crug Hwyel meaning Hywel's fort. Hywel was an ancient king of Wales in the time of Offa (him of the dyke) and one interesting fact about him was that he employed a Royal Footholder whose job it was to sit at the King's feet and massage them.
The fort itself was on the top of the nearby mountain, now called Table Mountain (the obvious table topped mountain you can see to the left in this view from the car parking area of our cottage). The countryside around is very beautiful, with gentle hills and lush pastures. It doesn't have the dramatic scenery of North Wales but is peaceful and lovely. And comparatively affluent especially if compared with the nearby valleys of south Wales that suffered from the pit closures of the Thatcher years.

The Brecon Beacons have more than their fair share of rain - but not recently - so waterfalls and reservoirs both feature in the landscape. Granddaughter was very determined to walk straight into the reservoir ...

Happy birthday, Younger Son!

My baby is 26 today. He said, 'You've got another baby now.'
I said, 'You'll always be my baby.'
Girlfriend made him a yummy chocolate birthday cake.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hello ... and goodbye

A very brief hello. We arrived home from our hols last night and we're off to London this evening so we can help Elder Son with tree shredding.

I don't have time to catch up properly so just a quick glimpse of the mountain we climbed. It's called Sugarloaf and isn't that high until you have to push a pushchair up it. I'll own up: I did most of the pushing on the flattish bits; the steep bits I left to Husband.
On top of the world. I told GrandDaughter she was a princess of this country. 'All you can see is yours. And mine.'
The topmost bit of the path was unnavigable for pushchairs so Husband had to carry GrandDaughter.
It was just the three of us and HollyDog. Daughter and I view hills differently. I see a hill and say, 'Let's go climb it!'
Daughter sees a mountain and says, 'Why?'
I say, 'To see what we can see from the top.'
Daughter says, 'It'll only be more mountains.'

As it happened we couldn't see anything very clearly as it was hazy but let's face it, this is Wales: if it hadn't been hazy it would have been raining.

Back after the weekend with a full rundown on our holiday. Bet you can't wait!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A tip to make your life easier

The good thing about going to the doctor's - and especially being kept waiting - is that you get to catch up on magazine reading. Albeit five-year-old magazines but at least they're better than the golfing mags the dentist used to specialise in.

One had a feature where lots of celebrities and women who should know offered one simple tip that makes their life easier. My favourite was this: always insist on silk pillowcases then your hair will be as sleek in the morning when you wake as it was when you went to sleep.

Hmm. So many things I could say.

Friday, March 18, 2011

On our hols

We're going to Crickhowell for our holiday. 'Where?' I hear you ask. Good question. I had to google it myself to find out too.

Daughter, Son-in-law and GrandDaughter are in a cottage there for a week and they invited us to join them. Crickhowell is on the edge of the Brecon Beacons national park and is close to the old market town of Brecon and to Hay-on-Wye, town of books.

We're planning on doing a bit of walking, a bit of browsing and lots of relaxing, reading and most of all playing with GrandDaughter. (And a good pub has already been recommended to me.)

But we're not going until Sunday because it's Super Saturday, the finale of the Six Nations, which we're staying home to watch on our lovely big television and which, in theory, Wales could still win. Ha ha ha ha hee hee ha ha. But England could do the Grand Slam, which would make Husband a very happy hare.


By a Highland calf named Robbie at Dart's Farm near Exeter.
'I'm not entirely sure about this head-band, mummy.'
'I love swimming with Granddad and Granny!

Flipping doctors' receptionists

I've asked before but I have to ask again: why are doctors' receptionists so miserable?

I phoned this morning. 'Could I see a doctor, please?'
'10.30. Date of birth ....... Name ....... Goodbye.'

Honestly, it was early so she didn't have the excuse of having had lots of difficult patients already. I only have a sore throat (okay, since you insist - I have an incredibly tender throat that feels as if there are little goblins in there stabbing my tonsils) but some people who call the surgery are really ill or anxious about their own health or that of a loved one. Efficiency is one thing but it can still be done in a friendly tone of voice.

Fortunately the receptionist when I arrived raised my opinion slightly. She said, 'Your doctor's running a bit late.'
'So I have time to go to the toilet then?'
'You've got time to go for a bacon sandwich if you like.'

And it was true. My appointment was for 10.40 and I didn't get in to the doctor until 11.38. And as I was out at 11.42 it does make me wonder what the five people who went in in front of me had wrong with them to take up so much time.

And my appointment included a chat about my happy pills and my runny nose. She's given me a chitty to go for allergy testing when I'm over my cold. She said they test for a range of common allergens and then she listed lots; I hope they don't have to take too much blood ...

Normally I'd wait for my cold/sore throat to work its way out but we're going on holiday on Sunday with GrandDaughter and I hate not being able to hug her properly!

It just came off in my hand

Having spent the morning driving without a rearview mirror I can safely that I don't really need one anyway. It's more important to see where I'm going than where I've been.

And I'm sure a bit of superglue will fix it anyway.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Off again

Yesterday's word count = 156.
Today's (a last minute desperate 'I have to write something before I go to bed) = 67.

Off to Devon tomorrow but Husband has loaded my novel onto his laptop and is taking that so I can keep up my resolve.

See you soon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

This'n'that and then some

When Husband first retired he looked forward to our weekly trips to Sainsburys; he'd get upset if I suggested going without him. Now, nearly a year on, he's discovering that supermarket shopping isn't that exciting when you have to do it every week.

* * * * * * * * * * *

My day in work started well. I found a mike on the desk so just had to do a quick rendition of Simply the Best, complete with gyrations.

It went downhill rapidly after that when I checked my regular email from paypal. I am so frustrated I could scream. I have been trying since September to get money from them, money that rightly belongs to Mutende Children's Village in Zambia. I made mistakes in the setting up of accounts but it should have been simple for them to see what I'd done and just let me correct it. But no, I have to jump through 101 hoops and then some more.

Today, in their email, they said they'd make a small donation to the charity - what do you call it? I can't remember the phrase but a peace offering I suppose or, more likely, a camouflage to prevent their name being further tarnished. They can keep their money: just give me ours!!!

* * * * * * * * * *

There were a number of things in my head to blog about but I can't remember them ... And tonight, after circuits, I have to take notes at the trustee meeting. (Note to self: try to stay awake.) And it's the second part of Waking the Dead this evening. Not that there's much chance of it making any more sense to me than it does now.

* * * * * * * * * *

And now I must write at least 10 words in my novel as I'm unlikely to have time later.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lenten discipline

Words written on novel today: 854

That's over 3500 words since Wednesday. I could almost finish my novel by the end of Lent if I keep this up.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Using my loaf

My best loaf of bread so far.

What are you doing this weekend?

Over on his blog, Nick writes that a new survey reveals that many people lie about what they do on weekends. Ha! Poor sad souls. Unfortunates who don't lead the sort of thrilling life that is mine. Now you're probably going to think that I've made this up but, honest ponest, this is absolutely true.

This morning I was in town by 9.30 to go Christmas shopping with Younger Son. Now you couldn't make that, could you?

And the difference between H&M (trendy young store) and M&S (trying to think of a good description - might come back to this) is a big cushion.

For sitting on while waiting outside the changing room.

And I am reminded of a story.

When I was a little girl my mum worked with a lady who had seen better days but who had still wealthy relatives who lived in Pangbourne, near Reading. Their house was on the Thames riverbank and they owned horses. Somehow these relatives invited my mum (and me) to stay with them in this terribly grand house. My idea of a nightmare but my mum loved it; she was very sociable.

So, one evening, I'd been packed off to bed and my mum was enjoying herself at a cocktail party. (Cocktail party? In Swansea in the fifties such fripperies were unheard of.) She began chatting to a gentleman who politely asked where she was from. My mum said Swansea and he replied, 'Oh, Swansea, yes, I have a little shop down there.'
'Really?' said my mum. 'What's the name? I might know it.'
'Marks & Spencer's.'

Them and us.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Words written on novel today so far: 662.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Beatitudinal art

Sean had some funding to commission artwork for Zac's Place and he asked a variety of artists to create work based on the beatitudes. I meant to show them alongside my writing but here are the first two.

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
In the first third of the painting heaven, indicated by the gold colouring, appears to be in the sky a long way off but as you close in on the girl, who seems dejected and down, waiting at the bus stop you can see the gold in the tear in her eye.

Doris is a sculpture of mourning. In her back there are small drawers that can be opened and that contain different things illustrating loss.

(I can't remember the artists' names; I must check and add them.)

A good bad shopping day

Went to look for a new bedside cabinet today. Because we have our new super size gigantic bed - I love it to bits - my current cabinet doesn't fit and the bedroom looks a total mess. Trouble is that our furniture is dark wood and, it appears, dark wood is no longer fashionable for bedrooms. So failed on that front.

But did come home with a plant pot, jumper and book from the charity shop. So not a complete waste of time.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Words written on novel today (so far) = 719.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Lenten discipline

So it's the first day of Lent today. Last year I blogged each day about something for which I was thankful; this year I'm resolving to write some of my novel every day. Even if it's only 10 words.

There's nothing religious or even Christian about my decision; it's just that the Lenten discipline seems to work for me. I seem to be able to stick to things better than if I set my own targets at random. I have no idea why it should be so but it's worked successfully in previous years so I'm going for it.

It's 9.30 pm now and I've only just done some novel writing but I managed about 600 words so that's cool.

We'll see how it goes ...

P.S. Maryb has a great post about Lent again this year. She's a fab writer and well worth visiting.

Do I look that old?

As I had to go into town to go to the building society today I decided to have another go at buying new clothes.

I shouldn't have bothered.

The man in the building society kept asking me, 'Are you in receipt of a state pension?' I mean, do I look that old?

So I wasn't in the right frame of mind to try on clothes. I went to Wallis and Red Herring when I obviously should have been in the OAP department in M&S. "A nice beige twinset and brown nylon slacks don't show the dirt and they come up a treat in the wash."

In the end I bought two tops including one t-shirt that was in the sale in Republic and which I didn't try on until I got home. Which was a mistake. I forgot that when trendy shop labels say size 12 they mean small size 12 not M&S size 12.

I am beginning to sympathise with Victor Meldrew.

Is my brain leaking?

When we were walking today I said to husband, 'I'm seriously thinking of going to the doctor's about my permanently runny nose.'
'You're not going to tell him you think your brain is leaking, are you?'
'Well, he might not have seen that episode of Grey's Anatomy; he might not know it's a possibility.'

I have little enough brain as it is; I really don't need to lose any more.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Monday's Odd Shot (belatedly)

What's odd about a clock?

This particular one happens to be built into the pavement in Windsor.

Choc chip cookie production line

Beatitudes 2


are those who

mourn for they know

what it is to love. They have

trodden in the footsteps

of Christ.

Beatitudes 1

Last week in Zac's we started a study of the beatitudes (the bit in the sermon on the mount where Jesus says, 'Blessed are those etc').

The first one is: Blessed are those who are poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. I've set myself the task of writing something each week to go along with the verse we're looking at so last week I wrote this:

I am spiritually bankrupt.

The store of good deeds I keep under the bed is all used up.

The brownie points in the safety deposit box have been declared null and void.

Even my secret numbered Swiss bank account, the repository for my gold stars, has been closed for lack of deposits.

I have nothing.

So I am blessed.

But even as I write this I wonder, do I really believe it?

That there is truly nothing I can do?

Isn’t there a bit of me that thinks surely the patience I used in my dealings with my boss must be rewarded?

God must be watching me when I insist on fairtrade tea.

My generosity must earn me a better seat at the feast.

It must.

And isn’t that easier to accept?

That I can earn if not my way then at least a trouble-free passage into heaven.

An ABC of boxes to tick.

Didn’t swear when provoked by a stupid man driver: tick.

Did make extra effort to deal gently with my mother-in-law: tick.

Did make time for a friend when I didn’t really have time: tick.

Didn’t feel proud of myself for that act of nobility: cross.

And I find myself again at the cross, aware that even these superficialities of behaviour don’t even scratch the surface of my sinful self.

And at the cross I kneel,

Head bowed, empty handed, acknowledging my need

Wanting to believe

Wanting to accept

Wanting to be accepted

Wondering why it’s so hard to



That I can be




Not through me

But through you

In whom my treasure lives.

Finding love on Pwll Du

It was a lovely day for a walk around the cliffs and onto Pwll Du this morning. That was my excuse anyway for not going to slimming class. It was nothing to do with being scared to get on the scales after last week's eating frenzy.

And the beach, which is usually bereft of sticks, was littered with them, of all shapes and sizes. So many I wanted to bring home but Husband was being unco-operative about dragging tree trunks back through the lanes so I settled for this rather wonderful one.
Looking back I can't believe I didn't bring this stone home with me. But it was rather large and my pockets and hands were already full of sticks and stones so I made do with a photo.I am tempted to go back to the beach and look for it though ...

Monday, March 07, 2011

A little roly poly

I have done nothing but eat this last week.

Daughter cooked for us on Wednesday and then sent us out to Jack in the Green for a meal on Thursday. You can tell a restaurant's posh when, before you get your starter, the chef sends you a complimentary appetiser of shellfish bisque in a tiny cup and saucer.
And for pudding I had milk chocolate and hazelnut mousse with salted peanut caramel. And yummy it was too.
Friday we had bread and cheese with the in-laws and Saturday morning Daughter-in-law made us delicious blueberry American pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast. Then it was cream tea as previously mentioned for 'lunch' followed by a delicious roast dinner. We were supposed to be having the chocolate cheesecake Elder Son had made for dessert but it wasn't quite ready in time ... so we had to have some before and after lunch of home-made roasted tomato and pepper soup on Sunday. But I was so busy eating that I forgot to take photos of any of it!

When we got home last night Younger Son and Girlfriend had prepared curry for dinner for us and this lovely fresh fruit platter with a minty syrup.
See what I mean about eating a lot? I might not go and be weighed tomorrow ...

Now this time we really will get to America

Even closer than Windsor is Runnymede, site of the signing of the Magna Carta by King John back in 1215. Not originally intended as a bill of rights, in its amended form, it became seen as one and Runnymede is widely recognised as the birthplace of democracy (if you ignore Ancient History).

From the National Archives:
... in 1297, Magna Carta was formally recognised as law. Three important clauses still form a part of English statute law today. The best known is:
'No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions ... except by the lawful judgement of his peers.'

Two clauses from it became the American fifth and sixth amendments and the American Bar Association paid for a memorial to be erected in Runnymede Meadows.

Just a few hundred yards away is the memorial to JFK situated in an acre of land given to America by the Queen on behalf of the British people. When we went there I was half expecting an American solider to be on guard duty at the gate but it was an empty and peaceful setting.But it felt quite strange to be standing on American territory while in the heart of England.

In which we go to America

We left Devon on Friday morning to travel to Derby to visit the in-laws and from there we drove down to London to spend the weekend with Elder Son and Daughter-in-law.

They live quite close to Windsor so on Saturday we went to see the castle, and, do you know, they didn't have a tea room? A huge palace like that you think they could spare a room for thirsty trippers.

The royal standard was flying meaning the Queen was there - as she and Prince Philip are most weekends apparently. It was very tempting to knock on a door and say, 'Pregnant woman here. Any chance of a cup of tea for her - and her mother-in-law?' I didn't though. Instead we had to wait until we got outside and then pay extortionate prices for a Lady Bedfordshire cream tea (tea, scones, jam and cream otherwise known as a Devon cream tea in most places).

But on a sensible note the castle was very impressive and worth visiting. It's huge and
quite the grandest castle I've been in (limited though my experience is). It was only £16.50 entry fee (less for over 60s as I took great delight in pointing out to Husband) and that included headphones and audio guide. Well worth the ticket price.

I especially liked the way the guide commented that we'd colonised places and acquired items as opposed to fought battles with and stole treasures.
There was a huge fire at the castle in 1992 with a lot of damage. Fortunately most of the treasures in the affected areas had happened to have been removed during refurbishment so it was only the structure of the building that was damaged. But that was bad enough.

Depending on the extent of the damage the rooms were either restored to their former glory or changed and resurrected. It was a horrible thing to happen and cost a lot of money to repair but it wasn't the first time there'd been a fire at the castle or the first time that major changes had taken place. It wasn't in the way anyone would have wished for but, I suppose, it all contributes to the evolution of the castle that has survived 900 years by adapting.

We did enjoy our tea and scones though, in the Crooked House of Windsor (no reflection on the Royal family I'm almost sure.) The photo on the left is of a drawing on the wall inside the tea shop of the original building before it began to lean.

The street to the left as we look at the photo, lined on the other side by the blue wall, is Queen Charlotte Street, recorded as the shortest street in Britain, being 51'10" long.

A brief interlude

In work this morning the phone rang. I picked it up and said, 'Good morning, Red Cafe. Oh, no, it's not Red Cafe; it's Linden church. What am I talking about?'

The day could only go downhill from there.

I didn't open the door enough and walked into it. I am still limping and have a huge lump on my knee. Then I banged my head on the desk. No, I don't mean I banged my head on the desk; I mean I banged my head accidentally on the desk when I was under it.

I think it was at this point that I penned the less than usually polite email to PayPal. I seem to recall it starting with the words, 'Did you actually bother to read my last email to you before you replied to me?'

I'm usually polite to Paypal in spite of everything so I must have been having a good day.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The trip started in Devon

"I'm not going to lie back because if I lie back I'll fall asleep and then I might miss something and I'm not tired anyway and I'm ... zzzz"
(Don't worry, I pushed her back when she was fast asleep so she could sleep comfortably and didn't wake up with a stiff neck.)

But she was awake when we fed the family of swans on the canal.
And when I spotted the first violets - although I don't think she was excited as I was.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Apologies again

Right, we're off now to Devon at the start of our Round Britain Trip. (See earlier post.) I'm sorry if I've not been visiting you recently. I will try and catch up soon, honest.

Why I won't be voting Lib Dem

I had an email today from the Liberal Democrat’s Assembly candidate for the Swansea West seat. He's given me his personal mobile number so I can contact him about anything that concerns me. I'm thinking of phoning him and saying, 'Thank you for the email but if you can't even get my name right, how likely am I to vote for you?' (Apart from all the obvious reasons why I wouldn't vote for him.)

It's not as if it's a minor error: Heather Hillman doesn't bear a lot of resemblance to Liz Hinds.

When you're in a hole ...

As it was St. David's day I took welshcakes to Zac's last night. When I arrived I found some already on the counter.Thinking I'd better sample one I broke a bit off and tasted it. 'Hm,' I said, 'nice but mine are better.'

At this Baz sidled up to me and whispered that the person who made them was standing at the end of the counter talking to Sean. Quick as a flash I recovered saying loudly, 'But not much better.'

For some reason everyone burst out laughing and Lucy said, 'Stop digging NOW!'

What I meant was that my welshcakes are more sconey than cakey and I prefer them that way. It's all down to personal taste. But somehow it didn't come out that way ...

Shoe shining is man's work

When I was a little girl - and a big girl - my granddad cleaned my shoes for me. When I got married I couldn't believe it when Husband refused to take on this duty.
'But it's man's work!'

So I ended up cleaning my own - and later - the children's shoes. Which meant that no-one in our family, other than Husband who gave his shoes a quick rub each day, had shiny shoes. To this day I wear dirty shoes.

But as we're going to the in-laws I thought I'd give my beloved boots a polish. (Mainly because they'd got Devonshire mud on them.) George was in the front garden so I took my pouf and shoe-shining equipment out there and sat with him in the sunshine.

Which would have been fine had not Younger Son come home and started getting his lunch. Food is always more appealing to George than my company so I was left on my own sitting on the path, polishing my boots and looking like a twit.

Speaking of George, I was watching him the other day and thinking that, really, he's a pretty good dog these days.

Apart from the escaping of course. And eating his bed. And digging up the flower tubs.

A shopping spree

Why is it that when I'm in town looking for presents or rushing for some reason I see clothes I like but don't have time to try on, but when I go out specifically to buy clothes I can't find anything I like?

All my clothes are quite loose on me now (yay!) so, as we're away for the rest of this week, I planned a shopping trip this morning.

I found myself wandering around thinking, 'is that a dress or a top?' and, 'do I want to look like a circus elephant?'

I came back with one t-shirt.

So the money I didn't spend on clothes I spent on baby things.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

How can you lose a griddle?

It was my granny's griddle and it was a heavy lump of metal. I last saw it before we had the kitchen refitted. I was sure I'd moved it to a safe place but if I have it's so safe I can't find it. We can only assume that, somehow, it got thrown out by the workmen.

So I finally gave up this morning and went and bought a new one. It's only about a quarter of the thickness of the original and takes a bit of adjusting to. (Hence the burnt welshcakes.)

But you've got to have welshcakes on St. David's Day. And may I wish a happy day to all Welsh men and women everywhere.