Thursday, December 19, 2013

I need a beautiful hat!

Our Italian in-laws will be here soon: Younger Son and Nuora have gone to Stansted to collect them. And I haven't bought a hat, beautiful or otherwise, yet.

They're staying in my cousin's cottage but, obviously, we'll be seeing a bit of them including on Christmas Day. Currently the closest I can get to anything like conversation in Italian is 'O comprato del vino ed un bel capello.' (Excuse the spelling; it's a course on cd that we borrowed from the library and don't have the books to go with it.) If I want to ask where Venezia Street is or if the shops are open, or exclaim at the cost of petrol, I can do but that won't make a very satisfactory dialogue. Unless we can get on to journeying and how far it is from here to there and whether they had to go to the right or the left and if their car is Italian or English. Yes, you're right: that sounds as thrilling as some conversations I've endured.

So I shall have to go and buy a beautiful hat and some wine. (I wonder if I could pretend I bought the one I was given ...)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas fever has set in

I just clicked on the Debenhams website - not to buy anything but to advise on the choice of a gift for someone else - and a flashing sign came up saying, '10% off today!'

I must buy. I must buy. (You don't want anything in Debenhams.) I must buy. 10% off. I must buy. (Resist. Resist.)

My latest brilliant idea

We've lived in this house 26 years and in all that time we've had 12 steps leading up from the front gate to our path. And every time I go down in the dark I count the steps. And every time I get to step 11 and stop ... and tentatively feel for the ground at the bottom.

It's as if I distrust my counting or fear that, overnight, someone will have stolen the bottom step or, worse, added an extra one. 

The fact that we don't have a light on the steps doesn't help. We kept talking about putting one in but ...

Anyway now I've had a brilliant idea. Nuora's parents are visiting over Christmas and though they're not staying with us they will be coming to our house on occasions and, no doubt, sometimes leaving in the dark. So my brilliant idea is that we collect glass jars and put candles in them to light up the steps. Pretty good huh?

Unless it rains. 

And, of course, someone has to go out first and light the candles. I nominate Younger Son for that. 

My son the diving instructor

Younger Son passed his exams and is now a fully qualified diving instructor (quite fortunate as he's about to set up a project that will involve teaching people to dive). He was very stressed about the weekend in spite of all our assurances that he'd be fine so there's huge relief all around.

He took Husband diving when we visited them in Ibiza a couple of years ago and he was a very good instructor then so we knew he'd do well but this morning he did have to dive in 20 m of very cold water in a quarry in the middle of England and that must have been a bit unpleasant. 

Anyway now he's home and he's given up his job so he can clear the dining room of all his junk (he was working from home and spread himself across the table and floor)! Hip hip hooray!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Orange? Really?

Walking along a lane in Devon this week I was surprised when a car reversed up the lane and stopped next to me. The driver wound down his window and said, 'Oh, I'm sorry: I saw your orange hair and thought you were someone else.'

There's not much a girl can say to that.

* * * * * * * * *
Going to get organised this weekend (ha ha ha) but I'm feeling a bit run down and under the weather (getting my excuses in early).

Younger Son is in Rugby (I think) sitting or rather swimming his dive instructor exams; Nuora is working flat out at the restaurant; Husband is going to check their house for wet patches after he removed the chimney; and I'm going to clean ready for the Christmas tree and decorations. The good thing about putting up the decorations is that it is really hard to clean around them so you can't do much after that ...

Monday, December 09, 2013

What the devil?

 Even by my standards my handbag was unusually messy.
But you'd still think I'd know how I came to acquire a pen with The Devil's Testicles written on the side.

Full of Christmas spirit

One of the perks of working at Linden is that I get to decorate the Christmas tree! Some people like the minimalist approach; I'm of the more the merrier persuasion.

However, it also means scrambling through the undergrowth to find big stones to put in the bucket as we seem to have lost our tree stand.

And we've had out first Merry Messiahmas card in work. In fact it's the first Messiahmas card I've ever seen.

I am wearing my Ho Ho Ho jumper, listening to Christmas music, watching seasonal films ... but, as I posted on Facebook today, that old black dog is whimpering to be let in and it's a struggle to resist. But put up a fight I will!

Helped by filling - belatedly - the drawers in my/our advent calendar with chocolates while eating all the Malteaser ones.

* * * * * * * *
I made my Christmas cake some time ago but decided to make another small one for someone else so searched for a last minute cake recipe. The one I opted for needed stout so I trotted off to the off-licence and asked for the cheapest stout. Somehow I managed to end up buying probably the most expensive  but the man told me it was worth it as it was very chocolatey. 'In fact,' he said, 'it's like drinking melted milk chocolate.'

I would be willing to bet 5p that, were I to taste it, I would not think that. (Husband was compelled to finish the bottle and he confirmed it did taste like chocolate and was very nice.) But I still bet I wouldn't like it.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Just what I've always wanted

I recently received a Lakeland catalogue and yesterday afternoon I settled down to look at it very excited at the prospect of all those pans and baking essentials - yes, I know that's sad but the way I look at it some people get excited by power tools, shoes or handbags; for me, it's saucepans every time.

Imagine then my disappointment when I discover it's 100 pages of cleaning and storage stuff! Seriously? There are tools in it to clean things I didn't even know you were supposed to clean. My favourite item though - and one that will be top of my Christmas wish list this year - stay dry sleeve protectors. It was close between that and the water-stop gloves but the elegance of the former, not to mention the personal recommendation of Kelly from Marketing, swung it for me.
P.S. To my children, if you think it might be fun to buy these for mum, be warned: I WILL disinherit you.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Not forgetting ...

My rock and the person I always want to come home to. Husband had a low key birthday yesterday because of everything else that was going on. It's his generosity of spirit that allows me to do the things that I do and I love him to bits.

Which, incidentally, is nearly what became of his birthday cheesecake when it fell out of the fridge.

It's amazing what a bit of cream and fruit can hide.

Finally getting to sit down and enjoy his cake after a long day!

What a weekend!

Okay, so I made it through to December, yay! A little rest this week I think and then I can concentrate on the run-up to Christmas in earnest.

Having finished NaNoWriMo a few days early I was able to put writing aside and think about this last weekend. On Saturday we went to Cardiff for the Wales Australia rugby game. When Wales scored in the first few minutes our hopes were raised but from then on it was more or less downhill. the final score (26-30) was quite flattering to Wales, though it grieves me to write that.

But it was great as always to be in the Millennium Stadium - and as we were there and we weren't going to be having any dinner as such we had to have the traditional pie and a pint - or bottle of water in my case.
Walking back to the car after I did lots of oohing and aahing at the pretty Christmas lights. The capital's city centre puts Swansea's to shame. 

* * * * * * * * *
Sunday and A Taste of Italy. Not a huge number of people but everyone seemed to enjoy it, especially the sampling.
Chef and his lovely assistant. 

Doughballs deep fried, plain or with olives.

As it was the first Sunday in the month there was also a Zac's Tribal gathering, with a celebration of Sean's 25 years in ministry. As I couldn't be there I sent a cake.
Who'd have thought 'congratulations' was such a long word? I kept thinking I must have put in an extra 'a' because it looked as though it were going to run over the edge of the cake. As it was I had to  improvise and add a star so that it looked as though the writing were deliberately off-centre ...

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thank goodness it's Friday

Not the best of days today. It's strange, isn't it, how you can imagine something happening and what your response would be but when it does your response is quite different?

Never mind, off to Cardiff tomorrow afternoon for the Wales Australia rugby game at the Millennium Stadium.

And then A Taste of Italy on Sunday. Unfortunately I don't think there'll be many people there: lots either away or busy or not interested. But we will enjoy it I'm sure.

It's also Husband's birthday on Sunday and the first day of December so on Monday we can get out the Christmas mugs and start on the Christmas music. Yay!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I'm a winner!

Woop, woop! I've done it! Written 50,000 words in November. In spite of my birthday and GrandDaughter's birthday celebrations I am a NaNoWriMo WINNER!
Now you may get some sense out of me.

Apart from getting Moses baskets ready for the midwife tomorrow, work on Friday, going to Cardiff for the rugby on Saturday, Husband's birthday plus Younger Son and Nuora's big fund-raising cookery demonstration on Sunday, Christmas planning and a few other things I must get done, I don't have anything to do ...

And of course 50,000 words doth not a novel make. My heroine is currently in big trouble and I have yet to work out how she's going to wriggle out of it. But at least I can take my time now - and maybe, as I did last year, put it off until Spring. 

So I'll be out and about blog visiting soon. But first of all I shall a deep breath and ... I was going to say eat chocolate but I don't have any. phooey. Bad planning, Mrs Hinds.

Monday, November 25, 2013

More Doctor Who than marmite

We watched the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special - and most excellent it was - on Saturday and at the end I said, 'I understood that. Apart from a tiny bit.' As I have failed to understand what's going on about 90% of the time during the last three doctors that was quite an achievement.

On Sunday morning I started thinking about it again and realised that, in fact, I understood very little of it.

Later, after our church meeting, one of the mums who'd been in crèche asked me what the speaker had been like. I paused and then said, 'So-so. I didn't like some of the stuff he said but every now and again he made a good point.'

Marmite uses the slogan 'you love it or hate it' in its advertising campaigns. Now I neither love nor hate it: I like a little bit spread thinly. And I was thinking much the same about the speaker: I didn't love or hate him.

Today I pondered more about it and posted three statuses on Facebook entitled Things that put me off, 1, 2 and 3.
1: when the speaker uses the words cosmic twice and cosmology once in the first three minutes of his talk.
2: when the speaker singles someone out and publicly prophesies over him especially when preceding it with the words 'I'm not prophesying over you.'
3: when the speaker says he's unhappy with his prayer life then says, 'it's probably a prayer life you'd envy but I'm not happy with it.'

As I couldn't remember a single good thing he'd said I came to the conclusion that while not hating him I can't have enjoyed his talk very much.

So it was less like Marmite and more like Doctor Who, in that thinking about it brought me to a different conclusion. 

If that makes sense then welcome to my world. 

Incidentally, in work today I was listening to the talk given by the speaker the week before. (It's part of my job to put talks on the website.) He was self-deprecating and excellent. Also didn't ramble or go on for ages. My sort of speaker.

Happy birthday to my princess!

Apologies for lack of blogging this month. NaNoWriMo is taking up most of my time - along with birthdays, Christmas, work, Zac's and stuff.

This last weekend we were in Devon for GrandDaughter's 4th birthday. Daughter made this fab cake for the little girl obsessed with princesses, in particular, Aurora.

While some of the guests were still doing crafty stuff a few of us began the balloon dance.

Grandson2 had a good time wandering around eating left-overs from people's plates - or more particularly icing off the top of cupcakes.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Beautiful birthday flowers

From Sean at Zac's.

A fresh expression of church

On Saturday Zac's Place hosted a Fresh Expressions Vision day.

Fresh Expressions is an initiative of the Anglican and Methodist churches (at least mainly I think) aimed at creating and encouraging fresh expressions of church. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the old expressions and many people love them but falling attendance and closing buildings suggest that they're not attracting as many people today as they might have done in the past.

Zac's is vaunted as an example of a fresh expression of church that works and it was great on Saturday to be able to welcome a number of Anglican, Methodist and Salvation Army people for one of the vision days run in different venues around the country by the Fresh Expressions people.

Because I am so much part of Zac's and it part of me I find it very strange to think of it as unusual. It feels normal and as church should be but sadly church often doesn't live up to the New Testament version and we have many regulars who can tell their stories of abuse by church.

It would be interesting to hear what the participants said to their congregation/family/friends about the day and particularly their views on Zac's from what they saw and heard of it.

P.S. I've just looked at the FE website and read a report about the recent Vision Day held in Edinburgh attended by 120 people. I hope the the very much lower attendance at ours doesn't reflect an ingrained attitude in the Church in Wales.

A Jew or not a Jew?

I thought I saw a man in the woods today standing by a tree. An Orthodox Jew to be precise. My imaginings are very specific.

I blame George: he'd stood and stared so maybe he imagined him too.

I had been thinking about Abraham ready for tonight's bible study but I don't think anyone would classify him as an Orthodox Jew. In fact were he to turn up and ask to join an OJ synagogue today they'd probably uncircumcise him or whatever they do for being a disgrace.

Yet God loved him and that is a great relief to us less than perfect people.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I'm just a girl who can't ...

I seem to have become - or maybe always have been - a girl who can't say no.

Thus my hall currently looks like this:
It was one of the twice yearly NCT nearly new sales this morning. I'd contacted the organisers asking if I could have first refusal on any left-over Moses baskets etc that could be given to destitute pregnant young women and she'd told me to come along after the sale had finished. The Red Cross always collects the remains but she said I could have first pick. 

Unfortunately the Red Cross men got there first and weren't very sympathetic to my cause. So I was standing a bit like an unwanted guest at a wedding until one of the organisers spotted me and they did a special announcement explaining exactly who I was and what I was doing so sellers who had leftover small baby stuff they didn't want to take home again came and gave it to me and gave everything else to the Red Cross. 

I did two trips in Mini and, thankfully, my next door neighbour was there and she was able to bring home a car-load too. I did refuse some stuff saying, 'no, give that to the Red Cross,' but still it was a bit, 'Do you want this?' 'Yes please.'
'Do you want this?'
'Yes please.'
'Do you want this cumbersome electricity-guzzling machine that makes life-size ice models of duck-billed platypuses?'
'Yes please ... um wait ... oh go on then.'

Huge thanks to the mums who were so generous and also to Steve Porter, who by agreeing to store some of the stuff has prevented me being divorced by Husband. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Happy birthday to me!

I've had a lovely 61st birthday today!

We took George via Pobbles to Three Cliffs and while walking up the valley there was a celebration fly past, first of an old plane and then a heron. 

It's a bit blurry but here's the sun reflecting (refracting?) through a water droplet.
Then Husband took me to PAs for lunch where I ate far too much. I really should have stopped before the apple and blackcurrant crumble - with extra custard.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Excuse my whine

I intended to keep my writing posts on my other blog but allow me to beg your sympathy: I came home from work to yet another rejection.

The email began 'Despite your funny and engaging style ...' So she must have liked it - but not enough.

I have yet to write my day's allocation of words (about 1,700) on my NaNoWriMo novel too. And I have a stiff neck after digging the garden yesterday. 

Is there anything else I can moan about while I'm at it?

And yes I know they're having terrible typhoons in the Philippines and there are people with all sorts of terrible ailments and problems but for this minute, for me, this is poopy.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The pox

I shouldn't be here. 

I should be in Devon but the grandbabies have chickenpox. GrandSon2 is spotty at the moment but GrandDaughter has the early symptoms. (As does Son-in-law who has googled it and thinks he has shingles and will die.)

I would love to be there to help look after grumpy children - no, really I would - but I had chickenpox as a child and then again when my children were little. (Yes, I know you're only supposed to be able to get it once; maybe I'm susceptible to it.) I definitely don't want it again or shingles so we're staying away I'm afraid until all is well. What a bad granny I must be!

* * * * * * * 

On Monday Husband phoned me in work to find out how to work the washing machine. Thirty-five years of marriage has spoiled him.

Sometimes I worry about my brain

You've just got to the end of leading a bible study, you think, 'that was okayish,' and someone comes across and whispers to you, 'I could see you were struggling at the end and I would have stepped in but I didn't think it was my place.'

Okay, so at least that suggests it was only obvious I was struggling at one point ...

Anyway Martin said, 'well done,' which I consider to be the equivalent of an Olympic gold medal so I won't worry too much.

I was leading the study on Abraham's three visitors in Genesis 18. I really enjoyed preparing for it and was quite enthused and excited leading it, which possibly means as Ric said, 'you should get out more.'

On the plus side I didn't run out of things to say. If anything I think I talked too much but nobody else seemed to be in a discussionary mood. Or maybe I didn't ask the right questions to get them talking. In the end I'm afraid I had to resort to the church option. 'Have you ever felt let down by God, by the CHURCH or by others?' That worked a treat releasing, as it always does, a stream of fury against churches.

Praying at the end I had one of those blank moments. Halfway through a prayer for someone whose parent had died I realised I couldn't remember if it was the dad or the mum: ' in the loss of ... this special character.'

One good thing about being in Zac's is that we tend to be a depository for leftover food. Last night before we started we were given 4 trays of posh Marks & Spencers' sandwiches including prawn, smoked salmon and pastrami. Afterwards Steve turned up with the remains from a bonfire party, including hot dogs, sausage rolls and cakes. And most of it was eaten too. there was a good crowd and it was a cold night.

I also made up two bags of tinned food for a couple of the guys to take home. One of the lads, Ben, was on his pushbike. When he left he returned a few moments later and said, 'My handle's broken; do you have a couple of carrier bags I could have?'
I stared at him for a moment then went and fetched 2 from the kitchen. I gave them to him and said to Steve, 'His handle's broken,' trying to telepathically suggest that he go and help him fix it. Because for the life of me I couldn't see how 2 carrier bags would be of any help with a broken pushbike handle.
Yes, you're there before me, aren't you? It wasn't the handlebar of his pushbike that had broken but the handle of the carrier bag I'd put his food in. 

Sometimes I worry about my brain.

Monday, November 04, 2013


In a craft fayre on Saturday with Nuora. The weather was against us as was the fact that there was another craft fayre on in the village on the same day. End result: I sold one copy of my book! On the plus side Nuora did rather better with her crafts, selling them to raise money towards funding their marine conservation project in Malaysia. 

The bags on the right are made from sustainable bamboo and printed by Nuora. The softness of the bamboo created quite a bit of interest - and a few sales.

As I said the weather was horrendous, very very windy. On returning from the craft fayre I dragged George down to the sea front so I could see the wind-blown tide. It was a bit like when you're walking over hills and you think, 'That's the top; I'll just go that far,' but when you get there you realise there's another higher bit a bit further on. In this case it was, 'the waves are breaking best just along there; we'll go there,' but it was always a bit further on or even behind us, where we'd just walked.
With prison Sunday morning and Zac's in the afternoon I've been squeezing in my writing for NaNoWriMo. To succeed i.e. write 50,000 words in November, I have to write roughly 1,700 words a day. After 3 days of writing my estimated finishing date is 1st December. Not bad but not good enough! Must do better. In fact that's what I'm supposed to be doing now ...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Not a cheerful post

I knew my weight had been creeping up but when I got on the scales this morning I leapt off again squealing. So it's time to take this seriously.

I'm setting myself the challenge of losing a pound a week for the next 8 weeks. That's doable, isn't it? If I give up bread and cheese, chocolate and cake. Oh let's just give up living.

No, I am going to look on this as a challenge, like people who climb Mount Everest for fun. I'm going to be positive and excited and happy about the change I will see in myself. Yes, yes, I will.

Of course I've also committed to writing 50,000 words during November. So I will be hungry, miserable and stressed. 

No, no, this is going to be fun. I can do this. Think how happy I'll be at the end. Positive thoughts. I can talk myself into this. I can. I can. Like the little train going up the hill, I think I can, I think I can.

But first allow me some time to curl up into a small ball and whinge pathetically about how I didn't think I'd eaten that much AND I thought I was getting more exercise AND how come it's so much easier to put on weight than to lose it?

Oh plifille plhopple.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hidden depths

George and I went to Pwll Du this afternoon while everyone else was working on the house (belonging to YS and Nuora). It was a little bit wild but not yet as bad as has been forecast and it stayed dry, which was a bonus.

The worst part was negotiating my way through the flooded lane. Going, I clung to the edges but afterwards it occurred to me that allowing for the road's camber it should be shallower in the middle. But there's something innately scary about walking right through the middle of a puddle. There's always that fear that it may be concealing a big hole or a troll trap. Fortunately George volunteered to go first. 
Hence George is the only dog who can come back from the beach absolutely filthy. 

who needs the road to Damascus?

Did I tell you I had a revelation in Sainsburys this week?

It suddenly struck me that ... (I feel there should be a fanfare) ... you don't have to put glacé cherries and mixed peel in a Christmas cake.

It's irrelevant really as even without peel and cherries I wouldn't eat rich fruit cake but it was still an eye-opening moment. May the sainted Delia forgive me.

So I currently have soaking in brandy a mix of sultanas, dried cherries, cranberries, apricots and a few dates. I have a thing about currants too. Too reminiscent of rabbit poo possibly. Delia said to use 3 tablespoons of brandy but that wasn't enough so I finished the bottle.

* * * * * * * * *
For two years, since buying our new super king size bed, I have grumbled because the fitted sheet doesn't fit properly.

It was only when Husband, who happened to be in the room at the time and was helping me, pointed out that I was putting it on the wrong way that I discovered that actually it fits perfectly.

What is really depressing about this story is that no-one will be surprised.

Friday, October 25, 2013

A sad realisation

Having just been ignored myself I could understand why a visitor to Parents and Toddlers described the locals as 'fur coat and no knickers'. 

I've heard similar things said often over the years and it seems that there has been no improvement. Groups within the church that are supposed to be open and welcoming tend to be cliquey. 

In the case of P&T I'm sure they're all very lovely yummy mummies individually but exclusivity isn't a nice trait.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

And the coal face just got dirtier

After my debacle with the laundry I was looking forward to meeting a friend for lunch. 

I drove to hers and was surprised to see, as I was approaching, that she appeared to be mopping her front step and looking more prepared for an afternoon's hard labour than a pleasant lunch.

Turned out I'd got the wrong day. Tomorrow we're meeting for lunch.

There are some days I shouldn't bother getting out of bed. It would help if I knew in advance though.

Another good day at the coal face

The sun is shining, the freshly washed laundry is blowing on the line in the wind, I stand back and sigh happily.

I return to the washing machine to put in another load and discover ... the pot of washing liquid that I didn't put in with my first wash.

Much yelling and head-hitting ensues.

Just a little snip

You would not believe how much fun circumcision can be!

Steve was leading the bible study last night - thankfully - on the bit where God makes this wonderful agreement with Abraham. God says, 'You'll have lots of children, the land of Canaan and I'll be with you and your descendants for ever.' That sort of thing. At which point Abraham is no doubt thinking, 'Cool.'
Then God says, 'All I want you to do in return is ... cut off the end of your willy (as Steve explained it).'

Still it was only a little thing to ask really. (And you would not believe the number of plays on words that can be thought up by an irreverent crowd. Snippets. Tip of the iceberg. Etc.)

At one point Ric said, 'This topic was made for Liz to cover.'
Steve agreed, 'I feel I am depriving her.'

No, really, you carry on. I'm happy to be in the crowd for this one.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wonderful morning

What a brilliant morning!

Before Husband retired I made time to walk George everyday; now Husband tends to walk him and I do other things. And I'm missing it. Both the exercise and the fresh air. So this morning I resolved to take George around the cliffs. On my own. I wanted to think too.

So off we set. And before we'd gone very far I saw a seal! At first I thought it was a log - I'm notorious for 'seeing' things in the water. 'Oh look a ... penguin?' But then it raised its nose and dived under emerging again a distance away. I was watching for it again and beaming when another walker passed. 'You've seen the seal?' she asked.
'Yes!' I squeaked.

A little further on a cormorant flew by. Normally we only see them close to the water but this one flew just above my head. Then a rather elegant gull with black wing tips flew past too. I don't usually find gulls elegant but this was less scary than some.

I was positively floating for most of the walk.

And the fresh air cleared my head and helped inspire me too. So, all in all, a brilliant morning.

The only negative was the discovery that while I knew one of my boots had a hole, when hopping through a stream, I realised the other one did too. Still I've had them since we went to Canada in whenever it was so they've lasted well.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Visitors = cleaning

We had Husband's sisters and their partners down at the weekend hence my absence from blogland last week: visitors = major cleaning attack. By the time they arrived the house was clean and the sun was shining so we could enjoy a walk along the sea front.

Why do you go to church?

In prison yesterday. We were taking the service but I wasn't speaking just - what's the word? Facilitating? Fronting? Anyway, I did the intro, links and round-up. 

In between I sat next to a familiar face. Spends more time inside than he does out, a result of his drunk and disorderliness. Yet he loves God and knows God loves him. 

He chatters on but unfortunately I only understand about one word in ten so I do a lot of smiling and nodding. And laughing. He's a very jolly chap - when he's sober.

There was a good crowd of men in for the service. They come for all sorts of reasons: to get out of their cells, for companionship, to pass drugs to each other, and some even for the service. The amazing thing is that, whatever their reason for being there, they all listen attentively and are, in the main, well-behaved. And the chaplains tell us that they're often asked questions about what was said or the men discuss it amongst themselves, so they do really listen. And for some it does make a difference.

Some, like my neighbour, have an assurance of God's love. We may wish it would make a more apparent difference and help them to change but until they're ready to take that step we can wish as much as we like and it won't have the slightest effect.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An abuse of privilege

One of the wonderful things about Zac's is that it is an open forum. Everyone is encouraged to take part, share their sometimes opposing views on what we're reading, and is listened to. That, as I say, is an unwritten rule - and a privilege - and usually it's respected as such. Not so last night.

Last night some occasional visitors abused that privilege and hijacked the study for their own purposes, which was largely to use it as a platform for their own agenda. I think it's safe to say they had no interest in the subject of the study (Abram, Sarai and Ishmael) but that didn't stop them finding ways ostensibly to ask questions while not being interested in the answers and, indeed, usually providing the answers themselves. To talk at length about whatever issue they could vaguely relate to the topic while staying far away from the story.

It's a powerful story and we lost it in the mayhem. There were so many things that could have come up and been questioned and discussed but even our normally vociferous were silenced in the face of such rudeness for that's what it was even if it were masquerading as a search for knowledge.

And finally it turned into obvious rudeness and then I had to speak up. Until then I'd mostly tuned out and was praying for a family who've just lost their wife and mother. 

It was a good job I wasn't leading or I might have been unable to resist the urge to give the rude man a good slap. Sean, who was leading, is much more patient and gentle. When he finally managed to get a word in he made some excellent points about boundaries and relying on feelings but, unfortunately, they fell on deaf ears.

It's a very fine line between freedom of expression and abuse of privilege. At Zac's we err on the freedom side - which is a good thing - but sometimes it can be very frustrating.

Monday, October 14, 2013

the Monkey's Forehead

'The Monkey's Forehead is a silly name for a pub,' I remarked to Husband as we drove past.
There was a moment's pause then he said, 'You do know it's slang for a lady's bits?'
'Really? ... Then it's an even sillier name for a pub.'

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A swirly kind of dinner

When I got up this morning at 7.45 Younger Son was making bread. We had it for dinner tonight.
Pesto swirl bread
 with pesto swirl soup made by Nuora.
Both delicious. I do enjoy being fed by my children.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

When God doesn't speak

The meeting in Linden last Sunday was different. An opportunity to reflect on phrases aided by music and images. I went into it with an open mind but it didn't really work for me I'm afraid. Especially at the end when one of the leaders stood up and said, 'God is speaking to lots of people this morning.' And I thought, 'But not to me.' (I should do a sad face smiley thing here but I don't like them.)

But when I arrived home I found an email from Glenn in Cambodia. An encouraging and supportive email so I guess God did speak to me, but in his time.

I can already hear all the cynics, 'yeah, well, you could make anything fit that,' and it's true but if you know me you'll know it's not something I'm inclined to do. I'm far more likely to shrug and accept my hard-done-by lot. In fact I'm more the other way inclined: I am wary of people who regularly say that God spoke to them or revealed something to them.

The meeting in Zac's in the afternoon, on the other hand, was great. Andy told us about something that had happened to him recently when he'd made himself available to be used by God and it was an inspiring tale. And we heard about some of the persecution that Christians are undergoing today across the world, tying in with our consideration of 'Blessed are the persecuted'. Makes me jolly glad I'm not in that position. I honestly don't know whether my faith would be enough to let me resist back-peddling and denying Christ.

Impersonating a Ninja

We surprised a woman in the woods. She jumped and said, 'I didn't hear you coming.'
To which I replied, (wait for it) 'I thought you were Father Christmas.'

On reflection it might have made more sense if I'd said the other thing that was in my brain: You never hear a Ninja approaching.

Then again maybe not.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Don't ask the question

Keith is a serial womaniser.
I said to Alan, 'Should I be offended that he hasn't tried it on with me?'
'He might have done and you didn't notice.'

Quite true and a much better option than the one I was leaving myself open to in asking this question of a notoriously blunt speaker i.e. 'You're too old for him.'

Thursday, October 03, 2013

No to violence against women

So after 8 years I've changed the template of my blog!

It wasn't entirely deliberate but having messed the original up so much that it looked ungainly I thought I might as well go for a complete makeover. 

And it seems to have worked okay, unlike my efforts with Not another wannabe writer where, try as I might, I cannot make the Comments option appear. It has been a very frustrating afternoon/evening.

Not helped by the smells coming from the kitchen where Husband has been making chilli jam and tomato and chilli chutney. A bumper crop of chillies again this year.

And I'll mention here that I'm saying No for November.
November is NaNoWriMo - national novel writing month - and I'm taking part again. It happens to coincide with an initiative to support Beyond the Streets: say no to exploitation of and sexual violence against women. NOvember is fund-raising to help find routes out of prostitution for women.

So I'm saying no to solitaire (and freecell) for November to free up time to write my novel! 

Could you say no to something to raise money for this cause?

P.S. Having been unable to correct the settings I've changed the template of my other blog and now comments can be made.


Meet our temporary house guest, Pecorino.

We think he's a young parakeet and he's very friendly but does love to bite on metal, such as necklaces or earrings. He also likes nestling under hair and when his little claws pitter and patter across my skin it makes me shiver.

Curse you, Blogger!

Oh dear. In attempting to update my blog - mainly to shorten the huge archive list - I seem to have lost all my links.

If you're missing from my 'Blogs I like' list it's not - necessarily - because I've deleted you. In fact it's highly unlikely that I've deleted you. I will try and work through old comments and trace the missing links but it may take some time. I will need lots of cups of tea to get through this.

You see, this is why I didn't update my blog before. For years Blogger has been suggesting I do it but it adds that you 'may lose some of your previous changes'. That's what's put me off. The reassurance that 'you can always revert to the original' didn't convince me - and I was right to be distrustful as it's proved to be.

Me and technical don't really go together.

This is all part of my new social media marketing scheme. And already it shows signs of being a huge success, don't you think?


I've been booked to speak to a ladies' group about my novel, This Time Next Year. And it wasn't by one of the groups I've approached: they're all ignoring me. It was, apparently, word of mouth; I was recommended by someone who'd heard me speak before. How cool is that?

So I receive this phone call and the lady asks if I'm willing to speak and I say yes and she says, 'Oh good. Well, let me see, can you do June 24th?'
'Don't you need to check your diary?'
'Oh, um, yes, of course. Let me see ...' (pause while I flick through an imaginary book) 'yes, that's fine.'
'Excellent, now I only need to know how much you charge?'
'Oh I don't charge.' (Laughing.)
'Really? You're one of the few who don't then.'

I expect the ones who do have real diaries with things written in them.

As it happens June 24th 2014 will be our 36th wedding anniversary. But anniversaries happen every year. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Does the term old crock spring to mind?

I currently bear a painfully striking resemblance to an old crock. (Crockery must have affected my brain too as I am looking at 'bear' and wondering, 'should it be bare'? No, surely not.)

I was fine yesterday - until I began tossing around 12 kg kettle bells. I was bending my legs properly too. Just like this. (I wish.)

Ah well, at least it's taken my mind off my bad foot. (Much much better now incidentally, than you for asking.)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Not another wannabe writer

Following a suggestion from Daughter that I should specialise more in my blogging - she didn't exactly say that but something along those lines - I decided, after mulling it over for, oh, several months, that I wouldn't. But that I would write a separate blog just about writing.

It seems to make good marketing sense to try and build a following - see how hard I am trying to be with it, using social media type terms? - and I think it's best if I keep the two blogs separate. I say two but I also have my The bits that are too long blog for actual writing as opposed to writing about writing (not another wannabe writer) or anything else (Finding life hard?). Not to mention This Time Next Year, which, strictly speaking, isn't my blog but that of the fictional heroine of my novel of the same name. Confused? You will be.  I certainly am.

So where was I? Or who am I? 

Friday, September 27, 2013

In which I am even more embarrassing than usual

I dial a number. It rings and I wait. It rings a long time so I browse through emails. At last a man answers, 'Hello.'
'Oh ... hello ... oh dear, my mind's gone blank. I can't remember why I'm calling you.'
'Um, who am I speaking to?'
'John Jones.' 
This makes it worse: I don't know a John Jones. 'Oh dear I can't remember why I was calling you.'
At this point I spot a name in amongst the emails. 'Oh wait, is your wife called Julie?'
'Yes, Julie Jones.'
'Ah I didn't know her name, you see.'
'She's the one I want to talk to.'
'She's not here.'
'Okay, goodbye.'
And I hurriedly hang up before he can ask my name.

I probably wouldn't be able to remember that either.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Stop all the clocks

Husband has gone off to an auction with the intention of buying a house.

Younger Son and Nuora have a deposit saved but as they're off to Malaysia they thought they'd like to invest and get on the property ladder so Husband suggested that we go part shares.

I went with him and Nuora to view two houses, very cheap houses and when we saw them we could see why: the sides were falling off. Although Husband and YS while he's here are capable and prepared to do some work this was really big builder territory.

Nuora and I though were slightly distracted during the viewing.

The house had been in the same family for many years and presumably the remaining family member had died. The house hadn't yet been cleared so while Husband was lifting up floorboards and peering behind wallpaper, Nuora and I were oohing and aahing over the lovely china in the glass-fronted alcove. And the piano.

We guessed that the last owner was a musical Welsh-speaking chapel-going woman from the piano, piles of sheet music and framed bible quote in Welsh hanging over the bed.

And the garden was full of fruit trees and bushes, not to mention an air raid shelter. Such a shame the house was falling apart.

But saddest of all was the clock on the piano, still ticking away and keeping good time. I'm with WH Auden on this: when death comes along by rights the world should stop. When I've been in a home affected by death it always comes as a surprise to go outside and find life is continuing as normal, as if your world hadn't just been destroyed, as if your loss matters not a jot.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Or the books ...

With more than an average amount of rain and damaged ankles we had to spend quite a lot of time just sitting in the cottage and reading. A real hardship I know.

Books I read
Body at the Tower by Y S Lee. A Young Adult book set during the building of the Houses of Parliament. An easy to digest history lesson with murder, mystery and love woven in.
Rogue in Porcelain by Anthea Fraser. I got this out of the library having misread the author and thinking it was by Antonia Fraser. Another easy read. A journalist researching the family history behind an old local business uncovers a secret. There is a murder but it's late on in the book, which is more about family difficulties and romance. 
The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith. The latest in the Precious Ramotswe series, you know what to expect and it's lovingly delivered. For the first time I did begin to wish Precious was just a teeny bit less perfect but enjoyable as always.
Jennie by Paul Gallico. A classic that I'd never read about a boy who turns into a cat and who is taught to survive and enjoys many adventures with the tabby Jennie of the title. An incredibly believable story. You'll never look at a cat in the same way again.
The Cream Puff Murders by Joanne Fluke. Started reading but after a few pages of being told rather than shown who was who and what was what I gave up. Shame because she's written a whole series and it's fab when you discover a new collection of novels waiting for you. I still remember when I read my first Barbara Pym.
Not That kind of Girl by Catherine Alliott. She's one of my favourite writers of light romantic yarns. I'm about halfway through this one and it's a expected. Not challenging but entertaining.
The Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne. I've saved my absolute favourite for last. Another YA book this is so gripping it pulls you in to caring deeply for the heroine who's in prison for what you don't know at the beginning but the hints are there that it's something truly bad. If you liked Girl, Interrupted or The Bell Jar you'll enjoy this. Thoroughly engaging. (According to the Telegraph the book is "a gritty psychological thriller set in the psychiatric unit of a Young Offenders' Institution." Okay, I suppose it is gritty but it's about heart and mind.)

And today I was delighted to discover that the library was able to source for me The Supremes at Earl's All-you-can-eat, as recommended by Rose, so I'm looking forward to reading that.

Not forgetting the dolphins!

Cardigan Bay has the second largest population of bottlenose dolphins in Europe and most days (in summer) they can be seen from the harbour wall in New Quay. 

We'd been scanning the sea eagerly each day we'd been walking but up until Thursday the sea was way too choppy. Every white horse and black buoy was a potential dolphin or seal and I'd resigned myself to not seeing any but then we went to New Quay on a relatively calm day. 

It's hard to take a photo or film something when you're jumping up and down and squeaking excitedly. (Strangely enough I seemed to be the only person on the harbour wall thus affected ) Even when I handed the camera over to Husband he didn't do much better so this isn't Cecil B de Mille. 

And finally ... for now

'Do you think someone jumped here?!'
'Or proposed?' Husband for once the romantic.
'Or the favourite spot of someone dead?' Me again. It's the writer in me. Much better if it's tragic.

Man with a gun

When you're miles from anywhere and surrounded by farmland it's not entirely surprising to see a man with a gun.

It's a little more unusual when that man is creeping about in the hedgerows, dressed in full camouflage gear and his rifle has a silencer. 

After we'd passed him I whispered to Husband, 'Do you think I should have taken a photo of him?'
'Do you think that would have been a wise idea?'

He was certainly taking poaching to a new level. If that's what he was doing.

Traffic jams in Wales

I really felt for these girls with full dangling udders.

When it's you and a tractor who'll give way? (The tractor fortunately.)
You've got love a place called Plwmp.

The road sign was bigger than the place.

Just so Welsh!

We needed sustenance

With all these long healthy walks we needed occasional refreshment stops and I have to say we didn't have a bad experience - other than Naturally Scrumptious in Aberaeron where I was given a teabag in a cup but even there the welshcakes were very good. 

The cafe in the car park at Llangrannog had lovely home made cakes and ice cream and Creme Pen Cai in New Quay had an amazing range of home made ice creams and sorbets. I eventually opted for honeycomb & butterscotch with creme brulee while Husband had sticky toffee, fig and walnut. Quite expensive but worth it. Oh and the tiny little cafe in Cwmtydu also had good home made cakes especially the plum crumble cake - and proper tea in a tea pot .

In New Quay we enjoyed 'the best fish and chips I can remember having' according to Husband, sitting on the sea front spotting dolphins. It's not much that will drag my attention away from my chips but dolphins do the trick.

Then last night, for our farewell dinner, we went to the Harbour Master in Aberaeron. A Michelin restaurant it was certainly very popular. My starter of Cardigan Bay crab bhajis was nice but I couldn't taste the crab but my Cardigan Bay lobster with warm rocket and potato salad was divine.

Cat lovers look away now

This was the cat belonging to the owners of the holiday cottage we were staying in. Their house was next door but they too were on holiday so we didn't see them. Just their cat. And very sweet and lovely she was. But Husband hates cats. So, in spite of her piteous crying at the door, and my, 'she wouldn't do any harm and she can sit with me,' he refused to let her in. 

I had to avert my gaze to avoid meeting her eyes and seeing the hurt and/or resentment in them.

The cottage was called Heddfan, meaning peaceful, and it was that.

The garden was beautifully laid out and there was a path into the adjoining orchard where there were hooks for a hammock. Unfortunately a strong wind and a dodgy ankle meant I didn't get to swing low beneath the boughs.
During the week we had our share of wet days - first at poppit Sands
(see even when on holiday we remember George!) and then at Aberaeron.
But we had mostly dry though breezy days.

Mwnt takes its name from the little mountain created by glaciers hundreds of thousands of years ago. The beach and Mwnt itself are owned by the National Trust but the tiny chapel, Holy Cross Church, belongs to the Church in Wales and is used for services weekly.

The building probably dates from the about the 13th century.
It was on this ridge, overlooking Mwnt beach that husband and I fell out.

'Take my photo standing at the edge,' Husband said.
'No, move further over; you'll get a better shot,' Husband told me.
'Go on, move across.'
'Well, you go and sit on that edge and I'll take your photo.'
What Husband didn't appreciate was that I was throwing a wobbly. Having scrambled to the top (with bad ankle) before realising there was nothing on the other side except a drop I was clinging on to the very rock for dear life.
'I'm going down now.'
'You wuss!'
'Yes, I'm a wuss and I don't care as long as I get back to a grounder level sooner rather than later.'

 Amazingly we were still speaking on Thursday, when, with my ankle strapped, I was able to walk about 6 miles and on Friday we managed 8, mostly on cliff paths, some of which were just a little hairy. I really didn't think I could manage this one.
'Talk to me,' I said.
'What about?'
'Anything boring to take my mind off where I'm walking.'

The previous day I'd got up a steep slope while he'd explained potential energy to me. (Incidentally I firmly believe that physicists have made it all up.) And it worked again this time. Two sweaty palms later and I was rewarded for my bravery by a dolphin who'd chosen the spot just below our bit of the cliff path to browse.

In fact I did so well ... that we came back the same way. Partly, it's true, because we couldn't find the alternative path that was supposed to exist.

This is quite a long post so I'll let you have a break now ...