Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mummy porn

Things must have changed since my day. When I was a young mummy the thing that made me drool with anticipation was the thought of a bed with clean sheets (i.e. no baby sick) and a full night's sleep.

I haven't read the latest publishing phenomenon, Fifty Shades of Grey, so I'm not able to comment on it. I did however watch the Channel 4 documentary about it. And it made me laugh. But not want to read the book.

They had a good variety of people discussing various aspects of the book including a woman's reading group, dominatrices and a happily married suburban couple who were pleased to show the camera their collection of dusters, paddles ('That was your birthday present to me, wasn't it?' the man asked his wife) and bondage. I could only wonder what their children made of their lack of inhibition - or their children's schoolfriends more to the point.

The fact that the book features male dominance of a woman is slightly disturbing although according to the wife mentioned above, modern woman with all the authority and power she assumes in the day job, is only too happy to hand over control in the bedroom. I wonder.

Unfortunately the most strident feminist on the programme was rather stereotypical and for some it seemed to be an effort they were determined to make to appear 'cool' about DBSM. 

My favourite quote from the show came from a woman - unfortunately I can't remember her name - who said, 'I don't have time to read pornography; I've too busy having sex.'
Now there's a wise woman.

Malteser Surprise

Deciding to make Malteser cupcakes when you're already on your way to the shop isn't the best idea, not if you can't remember what you need. I knew it was something to do with malt and the only thing I could find was Horlicks (malted milk drink).

Unfortunately when I got home and searched through my recipes I found I also needed buttermilk or digestive biscuits or cream, none of which I had. 'How hard can it be to make up a recipe?' thinks I. And it wasn't. I just added some Horlicks plus some milk to my usual cake mix and mixed smashed Maltesers in with butter and sugar for the topping. 

And for the Surprise in the title I popped a Malteser in the middle of each cake. And when I sampled them I discovered why none of the chefs had made such a suggestion in their recipes: the crunchy wispy Malteser ends up as a tough treacly nugget. 

Hey ho, Husband likes them. And I'm sure they'll be eaten in Zac's tonight.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A lady down the road from us walks past our house most days when she exercises her two small dogs. On her return she's always -at least every time I see her - talking on her phone.

Is it just because I'm not a talker that I don't understand this? Surely walking the dogs is a good way to get peace and quiet and think or rest your brain? The same sort of thing happened on our day's fishing last week: people had and used their phones when we out bobbing about on the beautiful calm briny. 

Maybe it's just that I'm Lizzie No-mates - I don't get phone calls, not the sort when friends just call up for a chat - and I prefer not to make them either. Email, messenging and text was made for me.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

In which I lose the motorway

And then there was the M4.

I got to the Festival site quite easily. After leaving the motorway I just had to follow the brown horse signs so that was simple. Getting back was another story. 

Now, we live in the west, that is, west of most things. To get to where we live we most often have to go west (or north or south). And if I am at any place, I might be able to point in the direction I'm supposed to be going in order to get somewhere but if you were to ask me on a map, is that east or west I'd have to do that North South East West thing with my finger before I could tell you.

But I'm in the wilds of Welsh Wales where they speak Welsh and the road signs are bi-lingual. So I come to a roundabout and I have to decide, do I want M4 Gn, M4 W, or M4 Dn, M4 E. you try reading that quickly, while trying to remember which way you're going and tell me it's simple.

But suddenly I didn't have to make the decision any more: I'd lost the motorway. Apparently the day before at the festival they'd lost an author. I can understand that: authors are notoriously moveable. Motorways, I'd thought, tended to stay where they're supposed to be. A bit like Cardiff. But I lost that once too.

As it turned out, losing the motorway was a good thing; my journey home was much quicker and prettier. And it took me past M&S where I was able to buy a Two Dine for £10 meal deal that unfortunately included profiteroles - so we had to eat them.

Women in planes

 Not your everyday road sign.

On the way to the festival I had to drive through Burry Port, previously only known to me as the place my auntie was born. It's a small village on the coast - as you'd expect from somewhere with 'port' in its name though that never struck me before - but it has a place in history as it turns out.

I noticed signs for the Amelia Earhart monument and mused to myself why there should be one somewhere so unlikely. My knowledge of history, great moments etc, is sadly lacking, so on my way back I made a small diversion and sought out the monument - of which there are two.

The original was erected to commemorate the landing there of Miss Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, in 1928. The second, which is in the harbour, is at the place where she actually landed. It says it was rededicated on the 75th anniversary in 2003. (I'd misread it and thought it had been put up then but maybe it's been there since the beginning.)

Reading up on the event, it seems that Miss Earhart didn't pilot the plane at all. She was listed as assistant pilot but never took the controls. The huge fuss was made simply because she was the first woman to cross the Atlantic by air I suppose. She still remains one of the great pioneers of aviation history.

You've got to laugh

So there we were the three of us, me, the Duke of Edinburgh's official biographer and internationally-renowned author Adele Geras, all down to speak at 11 in different venues at the Kidwell-e Festival. The only problem was that nobody had turned up to listen to us. So we'd taken ourselves off to the bar and were drinking coffee when a festival organiser approached our table. We all looked up expectantly - although with different expectations I suspect.
'Liz Hinds?' she said.
'Yes,' I waved, expecting to be told, 'You can go home now.'
'You have an audience.'
No, actually she didn't say that. She said, 'You have one lady waiting to hear you speak; do you want to talk to her?'
'Yes!' I leapt up.
It turned out my audience was also a writer - and probably a better one than I - and we had a lovely long chat about writing and the difficulties. She told me about her work in progress, which sounded really exciting. I don't know if I helped her with her block but I threw a few suggestions at her, mainly, 'perhaps you should move.' Which was logical, trust me.

This is me and my audience in front of the rather spectacular sculpture (the venue was a race course in the middle of nowhere).

Apropos of nothing, my journey there took me though Pwll and past Pinged. I said to Husband when I returned, 'I would love to be able to say I live in Pinged, which is just outside Pwll.' He just looked at me in the way he so often does.

And here I am with Adele Geras and Mary Hooper, both best-selling authors. Everyone involved seemed very relaxed and jolly about the whole shambles.

I didn't get to meet the main organiser and inspiration behind the festival - a weekend dedicated to promoting e- and independent publishing - which had seemed such a good idea originally. He failed to show up this morning but I got the impression that he was a bit of a maverick, someone who'd been critical of mainstream literary publishers, festivals and arts councils generally. Maybe he spoke out about them once too often and they returned the favour by staying away and, if not actively discouraging others from attending, refusing to promote the festival in any way.

Whatever, it was all an experience. I'd been warned by a friend who'd been due to speak there today but who'd visited the site yesterday and had withdrawn her support that it was likely to be a disaster so I went without any expectations. 

In addition, even if the event had been well-attended, I was still an unknown author speaking first in the morning in competition with other better-known writers so I would have been happy with a very small audience. 

I knew I should have taken Husband with me. He'd have doubled the crowd.

On the way back I lost the M4 but that's another story.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olives, chocolates and tomatoes

A selection of the tomatoes Husband has grown in the greenhouse this year. From left:
olive tomato (the best in flavour and texture), chocolate tomato (doesn't taste like chocolate and not particularly exciting), gardener's delight (an old favourite) and mini plum tomato (almost as good as the olive).

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The shark wot I caught

It was a glorious morning as we left the marina, just perfect for a day's fishing.
You like the stance? You can tell I'm a natural at this.

And it worked! I caught a 'shark'. Okay, dogfish. And not even one big enough to  keep but look: I'm holding it! Even more amazing was the fact that I put a worm - a LIVE worm - on a hook. Yes, I had to wrap it in a bit of newspaper to pick it up and didn't actually look as I was doing the deed but I did it.  But we don't have a photo of that. 

I was, in fact, the first person today to catch a fish, this mackerel. (When I say 'catch' I mean it was on 'my'  borrowed rod that had been baited and cast and pulled in by Ray. I just happened to be standing next to it ...) And it was almost the last fish as well. Everyone on the boat, all experienced and regular fishermen, agreed it was the worst fishing day they could remember. I think in total about 10 mackerel were caught. A lot of dogfish were landed but they were all thrown back.
The sight of my mackerel on the hook made me think of Nemo and all those mummy and daddy fish frantically searching for their children so I was glad we didn't catch many. It was just a beautiful day to be out on the water.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'll sing you a song of the fish of the sea

We're going sea fishing tomorrow. I know - but it seemed a good idea at the time.

We're being picked up at 7.15 am. If I'd known that earlier we might not have been going sea fishing tomorrow. Still the forecast is good so it should be a good day out.

My only experience of sea fishing is watching Jaws and I'm hoping there won't be many similarities. After university Husband sailed around the Channel Islands on a catamaran and when the money ran out they lived on foraged berries and fish caught by trailing a line behind the boat. The lunch I'm packing for tomorrow would probably have kept them fed for a week.

I will, of course, be taking lots of photos especially of the huge fish I shall catch - although if I have to kill it myself it will be going back into the sea. After the photo has been taken.

Boing said Lizzee

My early (by 4 months) birthday present arrived yesterday.

Today has been a combination of bouncing, bathing and sunning - but with not too much bouncing as too much sun had given me a headache and headaches and bouncing don't go together. Never mind, I have a summer of bouncing to which to look forward.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Incoming flak

The chaplain took me by the hand. 'Come and sit down, ' he said. Then when I was seated he asked, 'Are you all right?'

He described it as incoming flak. One of the warders as he left grinned and said, 'You had your hands full today.' Not your average Sunday morning service.

It all started 2 weeks ago. 

I visited someone in prison and mentioned that I would be leading the service. I asked if he had any suggestions as to what it should be on. Without hesitation he replied, 'Job.'
My first thought was, 'Oh poop. I don't know much about Job.'

I went home and read the book of Job. My first thought was, 'Oh poop. What on earth do I get out of this?'

I googled it. The internet's a wonderful thing: you can find whole sermons on most bible verses. What most people seemed to focus on in Job was the question, 'Why does a loving God allow suffering?' My first thought was - can you guess? Yes, that's right. Oh poop.
That's a huge topic. It would take a learned theologian much longer than the 10 minutes or so we would have to talk about that subject. And it would take me less than a minute, my answer being, 'I haven't got a clue.' Which is why they are learned theologians and I'm not.

Forget it, I thought. I'll do something else. He'll probably not remember that he suggested it anyway.

I went to visit him again and he said, 'I'm looking forward to Sunday. I've told my cell mate to come to hear about Job.'
Oh triple poop.

Back to the drawing board. Saturday morning found me frantically typing out my thoughts on the subject. Saturday afternoon I walked George over the tip so I could practise it, decided I didn't like it and rewrote it in my head.

And finally the day dawned ...
And the man who'd suggested Job wasn't in the service!!! (He was unwell.)

All was going okay until someone asked me a question. And my answer confused us both and it went downhill from there with voices coming from every where in the room. It wasn't aggressive and once we'd sung another song - giving me time to think and give him a proper reply - the service went from potentially terribly bad to really good. Still lots of input from the guys but they seemed to be on my side. I felt comfortable and had an opportunity to give a totally unprepared and frank answer to the question of 'how do you become a Christian?'

As I say, afterwards the chaplain said, 'let's all sit down and debrief.'  He never says that so I thought I was going to be in big trouble. (He doesn't encourage anything that demands a response from the 'congregation' as it can get out of hand - and very nearly did.) But he was really positive. Said I'd done brilliantly!!!! (He's never said that before either.) And that my honesty and the topic had touched people and that was why there'd been the openness and discussion. 

I tell you I came away from there on a cloud. Once I'd stopped twitching ...

Oh yes, and when I was trying to remember how long ago I'd become a Christian - was it 20? no, 30 years - I commented how old I was getting and one man said, 'you only look about 60.'
I said, 'Cheek! I'm not 60 until November.'
'I said SIXTEEN!' 
Untrue but lovely compliment - and I blew it! Deafness comes with old age they say.

Summer's here!

Friday, July 20, 2012

See the frog?

'Are you coming upstairs?' I called to Husband.
'Will you bring the camera with you, please/'
'Um, why?'
'Because I want to take a photo of the leaf on the bathroom floor. It looks like a frog catching flies.'

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Please leave the gate open

(Now why has Blogger done that to my font?)
George was off and away this morning for a while before Husband asked where he was and I remembered I'd let him out much earlier. 'Just before the postman came.'
Fortunately it's bin day so he hadn't gone far; he was down the road opposite going through their black sacks.

But I noticed that our garden is looking particularly colourful and pretty. At least the bits Husband is in charge of are. My bit of garden is washed out and battered. I'm not showing you a photo of that.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Toilet talk

I'm spending too much time on the floors of the toilets in Zac's.

First it was Ric persuading me to get up close and personal with the scrubbed floor in the gents' then it's mopping up a flood, the result of a broken cistern in the ladies'.

It's hard to describe last night's bible study in Zac's. Impossible to capture the atmosphere, the emotions, the noise, anger, happiness, a mix of highs and lows, good and bad. Considering Jesus before Pontius Pilate (or pilates as one lady called him) and the Sanhedrin, his confession of himself as the Christ, the coming of his time. Major, crucial, points for our faith. Almost getting lost in the mayhem of accusation and denial, drunkenness and pain, and birthday celebrations.

And somewhere in the mix, one man who's changing. Who's found love in human form but is still searching for reassurance of love divine. Who's learning to trust again.

And then there was the first-time visitor who told me, 'It's like Wind Street on a Saturday night in here. There should be a rule: no one who's drunk or drugged should be allowed in.'
From my mouth came the words, 'Well, it's Zac's policy that everyone can come in.' In my head I spoke different words, 'Your first time here and you believe you have the right to not only think that but to pronounce it? Who do you think you are?' Pah!

I'm not going to think about that idiot again. Instead I'll remember the barriers that show signs of crumbling, the hungry lad well-fed for the first time in days, the ex-addict, hard man with a messed up head who really seems to be sorting out his life this time - and the man who'd done a good job of hogging the discussion who ended up by saying, 'Some people are all hot air and all they do is talk.'

Flashed at

Driving down Mayals hill I was surprised when lots of cars coming up the hill flashed their lights at me. 'Why are you doing that? Have I got my lights on? Do I know you? Do I have spinach on my teeth?'
I was so busy trying to work out the reason I almost sped past the police car with its speed camera set up. 

It made me wonder if there's a secret code that everyone knows except me. If so, maybe it should be written into the highway code: to warn others of speed trap, flash lights twice quickly followed by a gap followed by 2 slow flashes. Or something like that so at least everyone is flashing to the same tune.

If I get a speeding ticket I shall tell them that.

My flowers!

Kinsley without a g gave me this lovely bouquet of flowers last night in appreciation of all I do at Zac's (he said). And he was the one who should have been having presents as it was his birthday.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fifty shades of administration

The everyday life of a  church administrator

Arrive in work and put on kettle. While it boils test fire alarms. Struggle as always to stop fire alarms. Make tea.
Attempt to untangle telephone cable while simultaneously making a phone call. Should remember am unable to multi-task. With jumper seemingly irrevocably wound around telephone cable have to speak into handset with head on desk. Not sure of logic behind this but it seems right at the time.

Discover there is trustee meeting in evening - everyone except the secretary to the trust i.e. me, seems to be aware of this - and should have done an agenda. Fail to find agenda from last time so don't know what was on it that was deferred until this time. Grateful to have trustees with bad memories. Make up an agenda.

Am told that water boiler isn't working and fire hydrant is in strange place. (It's been hung on the support for the anti-toddler gate.)
Tackle boiler first being something of an expert in this field. Cannot find user manual only installation book but that tells me how to relight it. Do as told. No success. Light's on but no gas at home. Check manual. One of its suggestions is to purge the gas line. Am unable to find gas line as pipe work does not resemble drawing in manual. Think this is probably for the best on the whole.

Go back up to office and find myself feeling slightly light-headed. Wonder if my deduction that no gas was entering the system was erroneous. Am grateful to know that, at least, fire alarm works should there be an explosion. Although noise of explosion would probably do the job.

Go downstairs again to investigate fire hydrant. Decide I might as well make another cup of tea while there. Examine fire hydrant. Looks like a simple job to put it back in its correct position so go back upstairs to search in my man drawer for a screwdriver. Only find one and it's not a Phillips but it might do at a push. 
Back downstairs, it doesn't. Delve into depths of electric cupboard to look for alternative screwdriver. Drool over the choice. I have man box envy. Bang head coming out of cupboard.

However still impossible to find one that fits exactly but I am woman: I manage. Stand back and admire my handiwork. Fire hydrant now back in proper place. Only held with one screw but seems secure. Return screwdrivers to man box in cupboard under the stairs. Bang head on way out.

Back in the office while drinking tea I head-write a Fifty Shades of Administration tweet: Mounted hydrant and screwed it against the wall. Not brave enough to press Publish button. Suspect it is more nudge, nudge, wink, wink than pornography so maybe just as well.

Call Superman aka Colin. He will look at boiler tomorrow. Later in day, at trustee meeting, have to resist temptation to punch the air when David is suggested as the person who should review the on-going boiler problems. 

Rest of morning passes in a blur: combination of gas poisoning, lack of sleep and euphoria at DIY success.

After work have to go into town. Call into Zac's on the way back. Ric invites me to 'come into the Gents' with me and see where I've been scrubbing the wee off the floor.' He is so proud of his achievement I can't say no.

From there I go to vet's for flea and worming treatment. Wonder if I'm still under the influence of gas when she tells me, 'That's £72, please.'

Wonder if we could hire George out. He'd probably make money than I do.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ta dah!

I have my 'wedding dress'! Yay! And it was quite a simple shopping expedition: two shops, five dresses. 

Now all I need is a shrug, shoes, headpiece, bag and jewellery. Should be a doddle. Oh yes and bra that doesn't stick out above the dress. 

Also need to be lose a bit of fat from my tummy. Not such a doddle. Facelift would also help.

Never mind, I'm on the way.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

things come in threes

Dropped my keys in a bucket of dirty water, walked into a rake and got hit in the face ... what's going to happen next?

Last week I found a jacket and some tops for April in a bag of clothes at Zac's. She was delighted and said, 'Better to be born lucky than rich.'

Lucky? April: abandoned as a baby, abused in the care home, beaten up by men, had three children die. Lucky? That's April. She's always - nearly always unless someone has really really annoyed her - smiling and cheerful, upbeat - when her place in rehab was given to another she said, 'They must be in a worse state so they need it more' - and positive about the future.

Some of us could learn a lot from her.

Beautiful boy

We had a wonderful weekend in Surrey celebrating GrandSon1's first birthday. Family and friends joined together for a barbecue - the rain kept off - and the babies had a wonderful time playing with toys and in the ball pit. 

Daughter and family travelled up from Devon but sadly Younger Son and Fiancée weren't able to make it because of work. They were missed but Husband and I ate enough to make up for their absence. Including jelly and dinosaur cake!

Big and bouncy

I had a go on a friend's trampoline yesterday (Husband said I had to try one to make sure I liked it before he spent lots of money). (Seriously? He thought I wouldn't like it?)

Aw, it was so bouncy!!!! It was fab!

When I came off it took about 5 minutes for my head to realise I'd stopped bouncing. I told Husband this and he said, 'And it took your boobs 10.'


After all the festivities of the weekend I weighed this morning to find I'd put back on the pound and half I lost last week. Good job I'm not going to slimming class today. And the reason I'm not is Brian.

Brian is our convertible Beetle. He only comes out in the summer and Husband hasn't been able to start him this year so this morning Brian was booked into the garage. The only problem with that being he won't start. 'I'm going to pump up his tyres and then you can come and push him,' Husband said to me.
'Just down the drive?'
'No, he probably won't start then. You'll have to push him down the drive, across the road and then down Ashleigh Road.' (The only good thing about this sentence is the word 'down'.) Husband carried on, 'Then if he's still not started we'll have to tow him back and go through it all again.'

I think Husband forgets I'm a feeble girl. 

As it happens - and fortunately because my legs were giving way - before we were halfway down Ashleigh Road Brian was rolling faster than I could run. And then he started. He really is a very lovely little Beetle.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Object of desire

According to a report in Husband's motoring magazine not getting enough sleep can make you fat. It's something to do with slowing down your metabolic rate. In another report researchers say that fasting for 1 or 2 days a week will help prevent or slow down brain degeneration. Apparently fasting causes your brain to panic and increases the number of neurons produced. Or something like that.

So ... if I stay in bed for 24 hours sleeping as much and eating as little as I can I'm in a win win situation.

Admittedly these facts did come from husband's motoring magazine. Which also features a monthly Object of Desire, this month's being the MGB. To this day Husband swears I only married him because he had an MGB. As if I'd be so shallow ... it was his body I was after.
And to prove I was young and slim once - look at those ribs! (And ignore the anti-sunburn tissues).

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Just anger

Last week I had a number of things in my head but lacked the time to blog so I'm going to catch up now. Beware, this could get lengthy. (I made notes to remind myself of everything - all the vital must-blog that moments that I know you've been missing and longing for. (Anyone coming to this blog for the first time would get an odd impression of me.)

Where to begin? Find notebook first is a good idea. Righto, here goes.

Getting into the car in the pouring rain I sing, 'Summertime and the living is easy,' in my best sultry jazz singer voice. I sigh and say to husband, 'My voice in my head sounds better. No, I mean, my voice sounds better in my head.'
'Maybe you should keep your voice in your head then,' Husband says, less than encouragingly.
'But I won't be able to hear it then.'

I start again, 'Jeremiah was a bullfrog, he was a good friend of mine, tra la la la la la, la.' I can't remember the rest of it, can you?'
'I've never heard it,' Husband says. 
'You must have done! It's famous.'
'Gosh, perhaps I just made it up. Perhaps I am a late developer song-writer. Perhaps I am the next Lennon and McCartney. Or one of them at least.'
Do you know the song? Disillusion me and tell me you do otherwise I'll be heading off to the recording studio.

* * * * * * * * *
You see though, don't you, the difference between 'my voice in my head sounds better' and 'my voice sounds better in my head'?

Which is why grammar and punctuation are important. To make others understand what we're saying. 

When I speak I talk too fast, get my words muddled and sound like an idiot. If I make the effort to think about what I want to say and speak slowly, I sound like an idiot. So I don't talk much; I'm better at writing because I can think, amend, correct, completely change what I'm writing before I press publish. Even so I still get it wrong sometimes. 

On occasion I'll do it deliberately to make a point or for effect and because I know what I'm doing that's okay. But I've often completely rewritten a sentence using different phraseology just because I can't work out the correct grammar for it. And other times I'll just get it wrong.

But a word I've been thinking about a lot recently is hopefully. Now there's an oft misused word. Because it's an adverb it should describe the verb and very often it doesn't e.g. they will arrive, hopefully, at 6. Can you arrive hopefully? I suppose you could but i don't think that's the intended meaning. We're hoping they will arrive at 6 - that's better. And so on. 

If I am spending a lot of time thinking about words does it mean I have too much time on my hands? I don't think so; I barely have time to breathe. It's my brain; it's peculiar. But words and brains leads me to my next topic.

* * * * * * * * * *
I've recently read Starter for Ten by David Nicholls, having acquired it in a second-hand bookshop in Devon. It's the story of a young man setting off for university and his first year there. Set in 1985 the story revolves mostly around his passion for a girl he meets in his first week and how they come to be on a University Challenge team. He is the archetypal spotty nerd and I spent a lot of time cringing and thinking, 'Oh no, he's not going to do/say that, is he?' And of course he does.

But right at the beginning, before he sets off for university, he describes what he thinks a university education will give him e.g. a taste for and knowledge of fine wines, opera, great art, as well as an incisive wit and the ability - and time - to sit up into the night discussing philosophy, politics and ethics. Which basically is what I hoped I'd get out of university too.

Sadly, one doesn't end up as Stephen Fry unless one starts out as Stephen Fry or, at least, has some inherent qualities such as great intelligence, wit, assurance and more interest in philosophy than pop music.

All I left university with was a degree and an inflated idea of my own cleverness.

* * * * * * * * * *
But back to talking proper. When I titled this post, Just anger, I didn't mean simply/solely anger; I meant justified anger. See how I'm cunningly bringing myself back to the beginning? Or going in circles, if you prefer.

A rough sleeper died on the streets of Swansea a week or so ago. According to Kay, there's a lot of bad heroin on the streets, 'there's all sorts mixed in with it.' I didn't know him although I'd seen him in Zac's a couple of times, most recently only 3 weeks ago. 

There are frequent deaths on the streets and they hardly warrant a mention. But this one made me suddenly angry. It's such a mess. We see so many lives being wasted and I look at the people and look at their situations and think, 'What can we do to change this?'

Sometimes it goes back to family, upbringing, circumstances; others times it's what they've lived through or seen; sometimes it's rebellion that went too far. It's not a case of simply changing one thing or another; it's far more complex than that. And it just seems impossible.

But then I think of one man. Whose sacrifice saved us all but who dealt - and deals - with individuals, who healed and comforted and helped on a one-to-one basis. So maybe that's all we - I - can do. Take his example. (Not the dying on a cross bit. Preferably.) My best for one person at a time. 

I don't usually photograph our hotel toilet ...

but this was unusual. The hotel was primarily a conference centre/business hotel so maybe the owners thought their guests would want to be reminded, when sitting on the toilet, that time is money!

The flooding in Wales

Dr Stu requested I blog about the flooding in Swansea. Well, we've been away for the weekend but Husband happened - or possibly it was deliberate - to leave a jam jar out and it was completely empty on our return. Not a lot of sign of flooding in our garden.

Friday, July 06, 2012

My cunning plan

Husband and I are embroiled in an ongoing argument - no, discussion - no, you can't even call it that as Husband refuses to consider the options: he is definitely not getting a new suit for Younger Son's wedding. 
1) There is no point spending all that money on a suit he'll never wear again.
2) He has a perfectly good suit leftover from his work days; it only needs cleaning.

So today I asked him if he'd like to come to Marks & Spencer's with me to choose something for GrandSon1's first birthday. He reluctantly agreed (it was raining and peak traffic time)  but what do you think we 'discovered'? Men's suits are just alongside children's wear.  It seemed silly not to have a look as he was there.

And why not try on a jacket? Just for size. And style. Admittedly it was hard to judge exactly how a suit would look when the jacket was worn with a bright yellow t-shirt and khaki shorts but still. Step One completed.

The battle's not over yet.

Cheeky George!

George has got more comments that I get!

Huh! Cheeky dog. There'll be no stopping now. So I'll tell you a tale about him while he's not here. Husband took him to the kennels today and the first thing he did was to stick his head into a bag of left-over food for the ducks and came out with a whole loaf in his mouth. 

It's not like the staff there to leave food around; they generally hide it when they see George coming. His reputation goes before him. 

He may be greedy and lazy but he's good to take a nap with.
Or to play with peekaboo with.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Call the RSPCA!

George here. I've sneaked on the computer while Mum is baking to send this urgent message to all my friends out there: call the RSPCA! Call Social services! I am a neglected dog. You don't believe me? Wait until I tell you what happened yesterday ...

Mum sends me out as usual for my late-night wee and check of the garden for monsters - I frighten off a few with my ferocious barking - and then I have a little wander around the place, sniffing the grass for signs of those doggone foxes. I notice the lights going out in the hall as I'm passing the front door and can just hear Mum saying, 'Night, George, see you in the morning, sleep tight,' and I'm thinking this is a bit odd but don't make too much of it.

I make my final sortie, and go and sit on the front door step and wait to be let in. And wait. And wait. I hear Bob in his garden round the back so I run back there to woof good night and finally, when I'm there, I hear Mum shouting, 'George, George, where are you?'

When I get back to the front door, Mum's standing there in her nightie, saying, 'Oh George, you twit! Why didn't you bark to remind me to let you in!'

So it's my fault now? She goes to bed and forgets about me and it's my fault? Same as it was my fault that I got left behind in Devon I suppose.

They forget about me, make me go for long walks in the rain, tell me I'm fat and on a diet and they expect me to be their faithful hound. Take me back to the kennels, please, someone! 

Monday, July 02, 2012

75 days to go

Apart from speaking in the Kidwell-e Festival at the end of July my 'book' diary is empty. August is a quiet holiday month  so I'll start again in September, contacting women's groups and church groups to see if anyone wants a speaker. I come very cheap: a cup of tea and a biccie and I'm yours. In fact a glass water will do.

So that leaves me free to concentrate on the very important writing commission I have: prayers for the wedding of Younger Son and Fiancée in Italy in September. My Italian's not quite up to it yet; I could ask the happy couple, 'Vourebe mangare domani?' (would you like to eat tomorrow? in phonics) but I'm not sure the priest would think much of that as a prayer so they'll have to be in English.

I am so pleased that they've asked and I want to write something special for them. I've got a few themes in mind, I just have to put them into words that make sense. In English for starters.

(I was going to write the title of my post in Italian but we've only got as far as 60 - and I can't remember that.)

You rotten schwine!

In Zac's last Tuesday I sat on the back row. I don't usually sit there and Rachel who I plumped down next to got up and went and sat on another table. Then Kay on my right moved further away from me. Honestly, I don't think I smelled.

But the trouble started when Martin came and sat next to me. Martin is very knowledgeable and through the study kept muttering comments to me until, at one point, I flicked through my bible engrossed in my search until I found the reference I was looking for and passed it across to him, whispering, 'Have a look at that.'
'That there,' I said pointing.

Which is when Sean said, 'What do you think about that, Liz?'
I looked up, horrified: the naughty girl caught out talking in the back row. Then I realised everyone was laughing. In the words of Bluebottle, 'You rotten schwine, you deaded me!'

The kingdom of God

Heavy is not an adjective you can apply to Zac's.

Noisy, chaotic, scary, wonderful, thought-provoking, educational, rumbustious, heavenly yes; heavy no. In fact I was recalling an incident while listening to the talk on church and kingdom yesterday. It involved a couple of drunks, a bowl of water, and a humble man. I  wrote about it here 

That's how you teach about God's kingdom.

Rain, rain, go away

I'm not sure if it was the fact that I had a slightly fuzzy head yesterday morning but the talk didn't really seem to say anything. And for once I'd gone along enthusiastically, thinking 'church and kingdom' would be a good topic. 

And I'd gone determined to absorb and enjoy church. I find I'm a bit negative about meetings these days. I go because I should and if I can think of an excuse not to then I'm happy. But, as I said, I'd determined to improve my attitude.

The first song was one of my favourites so I'm thinking, 'Fantastic,' but it too lacked its usual oomph. I realised that we didn't have a drummer so maybe that affected the atmosphere but it all felt heavy. 

It was probably just me. And the weather. 

Money, money

I was thinking about that £2.3 million awarded to Penllergare Trust - and wondering what they're doing with it. No doubt these things take time but I can't help thinking £2.3m is an awful lot of money. they must have put forward a very good application. I know from the experience of the youth cafe we run how difficult it is to get funding (although we haven't yet applied to the Lottery after protests from several members of Linden - me included).

And while I am in favour of beautiful well-cared-for green spaces for the public to use there's still a bit of me that thinks, 'What a lot of good for the community Zac's Place could do with that money.' Or the cafe. Or Breakout (an organisation working with those on the edge, using outdoor pursuits). And they're just the things I'm associated with. And even shared between all three of them it would go a long way. 

I'm glad I'm not on a funding committee; I'd never be able to choose between worthwhile causes let alone the rest.

I mean, things like helping to save for the country paintings that cost millions of pounds. Really? Wouldn't a copy be just as good? 

Ignore me, I'm just a philistine.

Sunday, July 01, 2012


It's the second time we've used a guided walk book and the second time the map has been rubbish. And I don't think it's just down to our inability to follow a map. But we got where we wanted to nevertheless; it's just frustrating when the path that really should be there isn't - or is when it shouldn't be.

Anyway this afternoon we took George to Penllergare valley woods. We first visited a long time ago when a friend introduced us to the place. Since then it's been taken over by the Penllergare Trust who last year were awarded £2.3 million from the Lottery.

Penllergare estate was developed by John Dillwyn Llewelyn who inherited it from his grandmother. A man of independent means, as well as a philanthropist, he was a noted amateur scientist and botanist, and he introduced shrubs, trees and plants from all over the world into the gardens.  He's possibly best remembered now for his pioneering photographic work with Henry Fox Talbot.

He and his family lived on the estate but the house is long gone. The grounds have been neglected for many years but since the formation in 2000 of the Trust work has been done to restore it to some of its former glory.

The waterfall is fed by the upper lake, below. Yes that is a lake but so silted up it now has not only reeds but trees growing in the middle of it.
The lower lake.

Yes, I did buy this carrot ...

just so I could its photo on my blog.


I was touting my wares after church this morning (yes, I know Jesus rid the temple of traders ...) and one lady read the back of my book and said, 'I'll have a copy, please. I like trash to read when I'm on holiday.'

I don't think she realised what she'd said and while I acknowledge that it may be trash it's not usually the done thing to tell the author! It's a good job I'm not easily offended. If I were I would spend most of my life in a state of Offence.

Husband and I were discussing an elderly lady with dementia and I said, 'I hope I don't lose the plot.'
Husband snorted with laughter. 'You don't even know what the plot is.'

And long may that continue.