Monday, January 27, 2014

Conversation with a dog

'Oh look, George, that's an unusual bird.'
'That's not a bird; it's a leaf. Get your glasses on, you blind old bat.'
'Hey, less of the old, please.'
'You said it.'

There's not much I could say to that.
Actually I may be a deaf old bat too.

A man and his dog approached us. The dog ran ahead to say hello to George and the man, as he passed me, said, 'Panyatatail?'
There wasn't much I could say to that either so I just smiled.

We had a prowler!

A night-time visitor and not of the nice kind.

On Saturday morning Younger Son noticed some broken bits of car outside our back/side gate. It looked as if joy-riders might have dumped them. He reported it to the police and that was that.

Now Nuora works in an Italian restaurant and they were busy on Saturday evening so it was almost midnight when she got home. She was in the bathroom cleaning her teeth when she noticed the security light was on outside. Because of the morning's events she called Younger Son who peered out and saw a prowler. They bravely rushed downstairs and outside by which time the prowler had gone. Thankfully.  (George meantime had refused to get out of bed.)

It looks as if one or more of the scallywags from the Friday evening, having seen Nuora's scooter on the drive, had returned to steal it. 

It's now safely ensconced in the garage and we're just grateful that the intruder wasn't there when Nuora got home from work. And George is never going to live down the shame of sleeping through the intruder's visit. Not that he cares. He was tired. Bless him. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

George's Great Adventure

I'm not sure which part of my brain was engaged this morning when I said to George, 'Let's walk by the river.' It certainly wasn't the 'it's been raining heavily for ages' bit; more likely the 'sunshine! yippee' bit.

But it was okay. Only about 70% of the path had been swamped and the bogs in which I temporarily sojourned weren't that deep. I could have done with Indy to machete a path through the brambles for me though.

On the plus side I didn't actually lose my welly and, because of the conditions, there was no-one to hear my distinctly unladylike unChristian shrieks and general mutterings. And George didn't get washed away.

George loves to swim and there are places on the riverbank that he always waits expectantly for a stick to be thrown. Because the river was running so fast I made sure I only threw them in on bends where the water was a little more still* or in an eddy, but at the end of the walk, at the point where he always goes in to clean up a bit, there wasn't a slow patch. I threw the stick in thinking he'd dip his paw in and then back out but no, not George. He lolloped in and swam downstream after the stick, which he caught. And that was when the problem started. 

The current was too strong for him to swim against to get back to me so he sensibly clambered out where he was. Except he climbed out on the wrong side. 

Then followed a few minutes of panic for both of us. We continued on our way downstream for a little hoping we'd find a spot he could cross. I realised we weren't that far from the bridge so if we kept on he'd be able to cross there and I tried to reassure him by telling him that. Unfortunately George was way too panicky to listen to me. He turned around and galloped back upstream ignoring my shouts and whistles. 

At some point, panic must have overcome fear, and he must have braved the rapids and fought his way across because next thing he was racing down the path towards me. On the right side. 

What a hero! He had some extra treats for his bravery and lots of praise.

And I haven't even mentioned the Jack Russell that bit his tail. (I don't think George noticed.)

*more still or stiller? Can you have degrees of stillness? Or is it like unique?Perhaps I should have changed it to calmer but that isn't quite right.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Weathered and worn

I'd planned to take George to the woods today but we got outside and, on the spur of the moment - cos I'm that sort of girl - we went down to the beach instead.

The recent high tides and storms have taken their toll. The sand dunes, such as they are, between Blackpill and Swansea look as if they've had a big chunk sliced off with a knife. 

The walk to Swansea was okay. I was  regretting not wearing a hat or gloves but with the hood of my coat - or rather Nuora's coat - up it wasn't too bad. But then we turned around and headed back. Into the wind. Into a gale. Okay, that may be an exaggeration but I'd barely gone 50 yards and I was struggling. 

I figured that the closer I walked inshore the less windy it would be but the sand there is much softer and harder to walk on. In the end I compromised and for a while walked along the high tide line. That meant I could do a bit of beach combing. Sadly most of the stuff washed up these days is plastic but you occasionally find a nice bit of weathered wood. Not today but at least browsing took my mind off the battle I was waging with the wind. 

And the wind doesn't half make my nose run!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Am I seeking approval?

This afternoon I followed a link from a tweet about what we put on social media. By the time I had read it I was feeling thoroughly disheartened.

It was about 5 questions to ask before you tweet.

1. Am I seeking approval? Probably, yes.
2. Am I boasting? Sometimes, yes.
3. Am I discontent i.e. envious of others? No, not usually.
4. Do I really need to share this special moment? I have been known to take photos for the purpose of Facebooking them rather than living in the moment.
5. Is it kind? A sore point at the moment after being told off for something considered unkind.

Instant reaction was to immediately condemn myself and decide to give up facebook. But I stopped and went through my old posts. In most of them the only person I am making fun of is myself so that's all right - or is it? We all know that what I'm really doing is trying to show myself in a good light, as someone who's not really stupid but fun and intelligent enough to be aware and write creatively enough to amuse and make people like me. So it's back to question 1.

But does it really matter? Don't we all want approval? No, actually I don't think Husband cares what others think of him. He is confident and happy enough in himself to not care. And I know I shouldn't care or do things in an effort to make people like/approve of me, but I do. 

Katney's quilting kaboodle

To celebrate the arrival of GrandChild4 Katney of Katney's Kaboodle  sent me this wonderful quilt she made. She has very generously sent me a quilt for the birth of each grandchild and I am so very grateful. And in awe of her skill. 

Look at some of the detail in this.
Isn't it just beautiful?

He fought the mouse - and the mouse won

I think I've mentioned that we helped Younger Son and Nuora to buy a house to rent out while they're living in Malaysia. Husband, and since he finished his job in November, YS, (and Nuora's dad and brother when they were over here) have been working hard to renovate it ever since. One problem Husband hadn't anticipated was that the shower wouldn't work. He ventured into the loft to find out what was wrong and he discovered this:
The water had apparently been turned off because the pipes had been gnawed through. That was back in December.

Husband ordered four mouse-traps and set them with biscuit as bait. When he returned to check, the biscuits had gone. He's since tried a variety of bait including raisins, which proved to be the most successful resulting in the capture of one mouse, but it seems they are cunning little devils.

We have been encouraging him to get some humane traps - Younger Son even offered to make one based on the design he used very successfully when in student accommodation - but for some reason Husband is resisting. However I can't help thinking he's running out of options.

I have an affliction

When I am with someone who has a strong regional accent or who sounds particularly camp I adopt that person's manner of speaking. It's not intentional - when I realise I'm doing it I stop - or try to - but I must appear very rude. I'm sure a psychologist would have a field day with me and no doubt there's a term just for people who do it. And I don't mean copycat. 

Does anyone else have the same affliction?

* * * * * * * * 
Bruce Springsteen's newly released cd has gone straight to number 1 making it his 10th UK number 1 and putting him on a par with The Rolling Stones and U2. The only people with more are The Beatles (15), Madonna (12) and Elvis and Robbie Williams each with 11. (I'm guessing that must include cds Robbie made with Take That.)

High Hopes has received mixed reviews. Springsteen's last, Wrecking Ball, was absolutely brilliant and a return to his old style. This one apparently is largely a collection of the ones that didn't make it to cd originally and will have to be pretty amazing to better Wrecking Ball.

I shall have to wait and see.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

(Practically) perfect in every way

So Daniel Peter arrived safely on Thursday 16th January. Weighing in at 8 lb 3 oz he's absolutely gorgeous obviously. Mother and baby both doing well. He was born late in the evening so on the Friday Husband and I scooted off to Surrey to meet him and have our share of cuddles. What can you say about a new-born except that he's perfect in every way?

It occurred to me at some time afterwards that it is likely that not one of our grandchildren will be born in Wales: the first four were born in England and should Younger Son and Nuora have children it's possible they could be born in Malaysia or Italy. However Younger Son, who was born in England and has an English father, insists on being Welsh - to Husband's disgust! - so our grandchildren will have a strong Celtic tie I'm sure.

Husband has always said that if I don't have things to worry about I invent things. A little while ago I woke in the middle of the night and began to think: suppose YS and Nuora have a baby in Malaysia and suppose it gets ill in the middle of the night. They will be on a remotish island; how will they get medical help?

I managed to tell myself not to be so stupid and that babies have been born and survived in the Perhentian Islands for centuries so I've stopped worrying about that but now I have a concern that is potentially even more difficult to resolve.

Suppose YS and Nuora one day have a son and he grows up and plays rugby for Italy. Who on earth would I support when Wales played Italy in the Six Nations? You see what I mean? Huge dilemma.

Strangely enough I only seem to worry about future possible grandchildren rather than the existing ones. Like Husband says, when I don't have anything to worry about I make it up.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Your wrong

I found this in Linden. I don't know whose it is but I have adopted it.

Not only does my graduate look like a witch she has orange rather than black hair. Hey ho.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Not here yet

Grandchild 4 was due 9 days ago. 

We're still waiting. And jumping each time the phone rings.

Taking one day at a time

Some time before Christmas when life was crazy I said, 'If I can get through Christmas then things will calm down.' You knew I was living in a dream world, didn't you?

So, after a few hectic days Husband and I are going to SA3 bistro in Mumbles tonight to take advantage of the voucher my uncle gave us for Christmas. We went there for Nuora's birthday lunch and it was very nice so my mouth is watering already - and it's only half past three.

Yesterday I was in the prison all day on a training course so I can help on the next Sycamore Tree (restorative justice) course. The trainer was very good and it was an interesting day but I must learn to speak up. When I eventually pluck up my courage to say something in a group nobody hears me. And that is very disheartening.

Then it was off to lead Zac's in the evening. Another  good discussion and peaceful evening (I'm beginning to get used to this) where we said congratulations and goodbye to Cheryl (following successful completion of her Masters she's off back to Malaysia).
My first plan for the cake was to make a model of a graduate but she ended up looking more like a witch so I took the simpler way out with mortar board and certificate.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Christmas television and why I shouldn't be writing this

I really shouldn't be on the computer. Today my to-do list is longer than the time available, a situation not helped by the fact that I got up tired and grumpy because I lay awake for an hour in the night trying to work out how to fit everything in.

But I've just returned from work via Sainsburys and am having a cup of tea before I start. So that's my excuse.

I realise I never mentioned television over Christmas. I am reminded of this after some Facebook discussion today about last night's Sherlock

After the once-a-year excitement of buying the double issue Radio Times I watched very little over the festive season, but I did of course watch Doctor Who (disappointing) and Mrs Brown's Boys (disappointing). Christmas Eve's showing of The Good Life 'Christmas hasn't been delivered' episode was my particular highlight. It never fails to delight.

Then I had to wait until New Year's day for Sherlock to return. Ah, bliss. And now the new series has finished! Three episodes? Seriously? Again? 

Oh yes and I watched Just Henry, an adaptation of a Michelle Magorian ya book that I read last year. It was a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours but not half as good as the book or the wonderful adaptation of Goodnight, Mister Tom with John Thaw from a number of years ago.

And speaking of ya (young adult) books I have recently finished Boys Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman. About a 17-year-old boy, about to set off for university, who receives a visit from a one-night stand who then clears off and leaves their baby with him. His reaction, how he copes and his complex family life is all described wonderfully. Ms Blackman is currently Children's Laureate and well-deservedly.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The simple things in life

A slow-cooked beef casserole with mash and runner beans followed by rice pudding. Sometimes it's the simpler things in life that please. Especially after getting soaked through walking George again. But this time my feet were dry!!

Yes, dear reader, I have invested - finally - in a new pair of wellies. Sensible green ones bought from a DIY superstore. I have come to the conclusion that pretty ones may look nice, and are adequate for splashing through a few puddles, but for lots of muddy George-walks I need the real thing. Let's hope these prove my theory and last a bit longer.

But - and prepare yourself for a revelation - when visiting said superstore I popped in to the shop next door to buy lemons and honey (for my poorly menfolk). And the name of the shop in which I bought these essentials: Lidl. Not winner of Best Supermarket of the Year award - that was Aldi - but a close second surely. 

Previously I've only ever been to Lidl to buy pear juice, it being the only place on the planet - okay, maybe Swansea - that I could find it. I suppose it's the unfamiliarity of the brands that cause suspicion but a lemon is a lemon and the honey I bought was a famous brand sold cheaply. The trouble I find with these shops is temptation in the form of chocolate sold very cheaply. Mostly continental brands but yesterday they had offers on Cadburys too; but I resisted. I was so proud of myself that, on our walk, I treated myself to an extra-large ice cream from Ripples.

It was a lovely sunny afternoon when I returned with my new wellies so instead of tramping through the woods Nuora and I walked along the sea front and having got as far as Ripples it would have seemed rude not to indulge. Especially as I'd taken money with me for just such an emergency.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Are there a lot of Peruvians in Malaysia?

At Zac's on Tuesday I asked a Peruvian boy if he were the brother of a Malaysian girl.

Let me explain. 
I hadn't seen him before.
He came in with her and sat next to her but at the time of asking she wasn't there.
I was leading the study so my stress levels were high.
I knew her family were coming over for her graduation so a sibling relationship was an easy leap to make.

If I'd just laughed as they did and not tried to explain the hole wouldn't have got any deeper but, like I said, my stress levels were high.

Anyway, apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play? The study was fine. Instead of being Hagar and carrying on with Abraham, as I didn't have much time to prepare, I thought we'd read the story of Zaccheus and think about the impact of the change on him and how easy - or not - it is to bring about significant changes in our own lives. (Written that way, articulate with thought and good grammar, it sounds a lot more straightforward than it turned out to be in reality.)

It was quiet just before the study started but filled up rapidly and there seemed to be a constant buzz underneath at the same time as the main discussion so I spent a lot of time shouting - and being ignored. But I wasn't really needed as a good discussion ensued although not necessarily about the topic I'd planned.

Such is Zac's.

Oh, yes, and Zac's and an interview with Sean feature in an article on the Guardian newspaper website if you're interested in finding out more, and a review of the Fresh Expressions day a couple of months ago here.

Note to self: buy new boots

'It's going to stop raining,' I said. 'And, anyway, with a plastic bag over my foot I'll be fine. And, yes, my coat is waterproof.'

It didn't, I wasn't, and it isn't: even my bra was wet.

I thought only one welly had a hole but it turned out to be both of them. Not that the plastic bag made any difference.
By the time I got back on the cycle path on the way home I was thinking seriously about walking in bare feet. My feet wouldn't have been any wetter and probably more comfortable.

So that's both of my walking boots and both wellies that have holes. Today I'm going to buy myself some new wellies. I really don't want trench-foot.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Blowing in the wind

We had a gorgeous walk around the cliffs today. Yes, it was windy - flipping windy at the very top - but it was onshore so the only danger came from being blown sideways into a gorse bush. Ouch!

The tide was out so there was no danger from breaking waves either, which also meant it wasn't quite as spectacular as it probably has been in recent days. But George and I enjoyed ourselves.

And I was very sensible: when we came to the bit of the path that was closed because of danger of the cliff being washed away I took the diversion rather than squeeze past the tape blocking it.

(That strange doughnut-like phenomenon in the sky in the last photo is the result of a rain drop on the lens.)

Signs and omens

I've been trying to make a decision for ages and yesterday I asked God to make the answer clear to me.

During the meeting we had to peg bits of paper onto a tree - it made sense at the time - and what do you think? Mine fell off!

Is this a sign? 
An answer to my question?
Or am I finally falling off my perch?

P.S. When I pegged it on I knew it wasn't very secure. Does this mean I subconsciously wanted it to fall off? Did I know the answer all along? (Strokes chin and narrows eyes thoughtfully.) Am I in danger of taking this seriously? (I think we all know the answer to that.) Am I asking more questions than have answers? Does that sentence make sense?

It's been a long time ...

since my last post. Probably the longest gap ever in the history of my blogging. And it became like anything else: the longer you put it off the harder it is to pick it up again. So I must crack on with it.

Where to begin? A quick round-up of the festive season I think. Not too much detail as that would only bore so a fly-past - appropriately as that is what Christmas does. 

The weekend before Christmas saw us in Surrey visiting Elder Son, heavily-pregnant Daughter-in-law and GrandSon1. When I wasn't being Mr McGregor or Lily Rabbit, hopping around the place, I was dancing to singing penguins or deer-hunting in Windsor Great Park, so I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Home in time for Christmas with the Italian in-laws when my uncle joined us for dinner on the day itself. 
Younger Son did lots of cooking over the holiday including festive lasagne for Christmas eve dinner and ravioli for starters and nutella and vanilla ice cream for pudding on New Year's eve, making his own pasta, of course. I am so pleased I have children who can cook and who enjoy it.

As if we didn't have enough to eat we were taken out for lunch on the 27th to celebrate Nuora's birthday. Such a hardship!!

Daughter and her family joined us the weekend between Christmas and New Year and when GrandDaughter and I get together ice cream at Verdi's has to happen. (Everyone else - except younger Son and GrandSon2 - was very civilised and had hot chocolate or a drink.)

We celebrated the passing of 2013 with dinner followed by Anglo-Italian pictionary, and Prosecco.

And now it's all over.

Except Younger Son and Nuora fly out to Malaysia in less than a month, Daughter-in-law's baby's due date is today, and I still have books I want to get published. So here's to 2014 and all the excitement and adventure in store!