Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How I lost 3lbs in a week

Either that or I've gained 2lbs.

The read-out ... display, that's what it's called ... is difficult to read at the moment. I think it may have something to do with the grandchildren deciding to weigh themselves and possibly dropping the scales. 

Anyway it appears that I have either lost 3 or gained 2 pounds. Neither seems very likely. Admittedly gaining 2lbs seems more credible but is too horrific to contemplate so I shall opt for losing 3lbs. 

Whoopee, I shall celebrate with a chocolate brownie when they've cooled.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

It just leapt out in front of me

On the beach with George and Holly, Husband bent to pick up a stick, turned back and fell flat on his face over a gigantic rock.
You would have been proud of me. There he was, spread-eagled, feet dangling off one end, chin almost in the sand on the other, and I didn't laugh. Not immediately anyway.

I played the role of caring wife very well. 'Are you all right, dear? That was a nasty fall.'

He was fine - although momentarily confused as to why he was horizontal instead of vertical - apart from a nasty cut on his leg so then I laughed.

And spent the rest of the afternoon spontaneously erupting into giggles every time I thought of it. These little pleasures of married life are what make it worthwhile.

Me and the sat nav - you just know what is going to come next, don't you?

Before setting off for a visit to a friend on the other side of Swansea I stopped to google the map. I knew roughly where she lived; I just wanted to confirm which of a number of turnings I should take.
'Why not use the sat nav?' Husband asked.

New Mini (still not named as we can't agree: I like Stanley) has built-in sat nav so Husband came and sat in the car with me as we tried to work out how to work it. The first option was to use voice control. I say first option but it tuned to that automatically and we couldn't figure out how to change it.

'Okay,' I said, 'lets' have a go. I want to go to SA6 1XY.'
'Did you mean Sudbury?'
'No, of course not. I meant SA6 1XY.'
'Did you mean Southend?'
'No, you stupid thing!'

Husband took over. 'Let me try.' He cleared his throat and enunciated, 'SA6 1XY.'
'Did you mean Almondsbury?'
'Oh for goodness sake.'

I'll draw a blind over the rest of this experience. Suffice it to say that I could have got to my friend's house in the time it took us to instruct the sat nav.

And it wouldn't have been so bad if it then hadn't tried to send me first into a car park and then back on myself. After shouting at the sat nav I proceeded to ignore it, which led to a sulk on sat nav's part. I assume she was sulking; she didn't speak to me again until my journey was almost over - at which point she did serve the purpose I'd wanted her to. More or less.

I mean, 'After 200 yards turn right.'
Seriously, who has any idea how far 200 yards is?

P.S. Husband's advice that 200 yards is approximately the length of 2 rugby pitches doesn't help.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A little Treasure

I was in Treasure in Mumbles today. It's one of those 'nice' shops, full of expensive glass and beautiful things as well as Belgian chocolates and other goodies. There was a sale on and lots of the shelves were empty, indeed, some of the shelves had been sold. Even so I don't think the assistant need have looked quite so far down her nose when I asked, 'Should I assume from this that the shop is closing down?'

The owners are retiring after 48 years running the shop - and did they have a branch in the old Sidney Heath building in town? - so they must only have been open for a few years when I worked in the coffee shop there as a waitress in 1974. In those days it was only one shop wide; it later expanded both ways so the frontage covers three shops now.
The coffee shop in around  1978, from the Treasure Facebook page

We had one regular customer who sticks in my memory. We called him 'the professor' - he may or may not have been an academic - and he was very particular about his plate, his cup, his tea, his scone. I'd serve him and then we'd watch to see if everything passed his inspection. He was a tall, thin, slightly sad-looking man; maybe he'd been unable to find a companion who could live up to his rigorous standards.

The soup and scones were freshly made on the premises every morning - but from a packet mix. When customers asked me to compliment the cook I'd just smile and nod.

The highlight of my short time there was when the entire Wales football squad came in and I was complimented on my legs. (That wasn't the reason they came in incidentally, just to admire my appendages.) I suppose I should have been offended and gone all feminist on it but they were different days and, besides, I've never been one to turn down a compliment. And at least they were my own real legs. Unlike the soup.

Buttons and bags and baby dresses

The village of Mumbles has always been a bit posh but latterly the 'top shops'* have become very stylish and it seems now that other parts of Mumbles are getting in on the act.

Chapel Street, until recently famous only for Johnnie's chip shop - my local where as children my friend and I would go for six-pennorth of chips please - has joined the trend. We now have a barber's and upcycled shop (in one unit), buying and selling items from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, and a pre-loved clothes for children shop. It's amazing how desirable second-hand goods can become with a positive spin.

I spotted two lovely baby dresses in the window of Buttons and enquired as to the price. 
'£22.50 each. As new they both cost £90.'
'Okay, thank you. Perhaps not today.'

(I did end up buying another dress for £10 and it is very lovely.)

I had the idea first though, of opening a shop selling only second-hand baby and children goods. The difference between my shop and the one I visited today is that mine would be a charity shop with low prices and the freedom to give clothes away if necessary. I still hang on to that dream but I've noticed even charity shops are getting expensive these days.

I called into one today. An elderly lady was asking the price of a handbag in the window. She was told, 'It's £75. It's a designer brand and still has the original label saying £105.'

She didn't buy it.

*The top shops are at the top of the main shopping street, up a hill, which incidentally is much steeper than you'd think.

I knew I wasn't a Scorpio!

I've always said that someone must have lied about my birth date because I am about as untypical a Scorpio as there can be -for example they can be highly obsessive, compulsive, self-confident, self-possessed, enjoy a good fight - so it's come as no surprise to learn that the astrologers got it wrong and have got it wrong for about the 86% of people.

It's all to do with the constellation of stars that appeared behind the sun on the day you were born. But these star signs were set 2,000 years ago and since then the stars have been moving. So instead of being a Scorpio I'm now a Libran. 

"Always fashionable, elegant and well groomed, she is tasteful and sophisticated, with an eye for quality, beauty and harmony in all things. Among the most sociable of all the signs, she probably has a very large network of friends and a hectic social life."

Ah yes, that's definitely me. I don't think.

But what about all those people who've paid good money to astrologers to have their fortunes told, or have sought advice on life changing decisions? Does this mean that what they were told wasn't accurate?

Well, who'd have thought it?

P.S. Husband is now an Ophiuchan.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Death and cookies make you appreciate life more

Remember that diet I started two weeks ago? No, neither do I really.

It's vaguely in my mind and I try a little bit but I do seem to have lost control of my eating. But then something happens and a bit of extra weight doesn't seem to matter so much.

I heard today that a woman from Linden had died. She's been ill for some time and it was expected but she's not much older than me - too young to die - and has children and grandchildren as I do.

When death happens life seems all the more precious. Clichéd I know but clichés are almost always true.

So I'd like to say that I made chocolate chip cookies because I could, because I'm alive and healthy, because life is too short to always make the right choice. 

(But actually I'd decided to make them before I heard.)

(And I really do want to take control of my eating again. But not today.)

'You have been removed ...'

Another long gap between blog posts. Such is life. You'd think being retired I'd have lots more time to waste spend on doing interesting things but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Speaking of retirement I've been retired now since last summer so a message last week from Facebook came as a surprise. 'You have been removed from your role in Linden Church.'

I assume someone had at last realised that I was still an administrator for Linden as far as Facebook was concerned and took me off. I'm surprised it wasn't done long ago and it's the obvious thing to do but ... I suppose it's the way facebook framed their message to me: you've been removed. As if I'd done something wrong. (I haven't.) It just caught me unawares and you know what a sensitive flower I am.

So what else have I been doing? Hm, walking George in Parc le Breos, preparing and leading the women's study on The Wife of Noble Character (aka Miss Piggin' Perfect), watching rugby on television for the best part of a day, and, oh, yes, watching the eclipse.

Parc le Breos was a medieval deer park but was inhabited long before that. At least 14,000 years before that a tribe of hunter gatherers lived there as the oldest cave art found in Britain proved when it was discovered in 2011 in Cathole Cave. The cave is fenced off now so you can't go deep inside to see it sadly.

 But it was a glorious morning and we had the parc almost to ourselves for most of our walk.
Super Saturday saw the finale of the Six Nations Rugby Tournament with three games being played one after the other, with Wales in the first one and England in the last. Shall I bore you with details? Let's just say before it began England or Ireland looked most likely to win the championship but Wales didn't go down without a fight in what was a fantastic day of free-running and try-scoring rugby. 

Starting off as outsiders Wales set the target to beat. Ireland beat it and set an even bigger target for England. Which they almost, very almost, in the last minutes did. But it wasn't to be and Ireland, probably rightfully on their performances throughout the tournament, won. But we (the Welsh) can be very proud of our boys.

Almost as entertaining as the rugby was the refereeing in the final game. Nigel Owens was in charge and he doesn't take any nonsense but nor does he award penalties willy nilly. After a scrap between a couple of players he asked to see a replay of the incident on the big screen. Up it came with arms and fists flying and burly men squaring up to equally burly opponents and at the end Nigel said, 'That looks all right to me. Carry on.'
Just a case of 'handbags' but when it started again later I was fully expecting the ref (who's Welsh) to say, 'Do I have to call your mams and tell them how you've been behaving?'

Later Chris Robshaw, the England captain, queried one of his decisions. Nigel explained why he'd made it as he had but the captain wasn't satisfied and went to carry on the argument. Nigel held up his hand and said one word. 'Christopher.' We didn't see but I imagine his eyebrows were raised. Not another word from the captain who turned and walked away head hung low.

This compilation doesn't include his brilliant comment on a throw in that isn't exactly straight. (He's gay by the way.)

So what does that leave? Oh yes, the eclipse on Friday.

Having walked town on Thursday to try and buy some of the special eclipse-viewing glasses that the BBC assured me were out there and failing to find any, 9.00 am on Friday morning found Husband and me building our own binocular eclipse watcher.

I say Husband and me: all I did was cut the holes out of the cardboard; Husband did the rest.

Not being able to look directly at the eclipse gives me a great deal of sympathy for Lot's wife. The temptation is huge.

More on Miss Piggin' Perfect later.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

God bless the Duke of Argyll!

I was scratching my back against a tree in the park when Husband exclaimed, 'God bless the Duke of Argyll!'

I've never known him to be particularly monarchist before so I queried his outburst. In reply he repeated his comment. Ever helpful. 
'Yes, yes, I heard what you said; I wondered why you said it.'
'Someone said it to me in 1968.'
'Now it makes perfect sense.'

In 1968, before university, Husband had a holiday job working in t'mill. Not actually weaving but building something or other. And one of his co-workers said it to him, I assume because he was scratching his back.

This particular Duke of Argyll was a decent sort. He spotted that his animals liked to scratch themselves - probably because of their parasites - but his land was typically bare of trees. So he had posts installed and ensured the passing of a law that any pasture used for cattle, if it were bereft of trees, should have scratching posts. Naturally soon the posts became popular with the animal herders, who quite probably were also infected with ticks and lice. And it became commonplace for any scratching to be accompanied with a grateful blessing on his lordship.

So now we know. Husband is such a fount of useless knowledge.

Thinking about mothers and children

My mum in her WAAF days

My children about 1986

Happy Mother's Day

Being looked after by Husband today. At this moment he is in the kitchen preparing his special shepherd's pie. It may sound pretty basic but takes hours to make and is absolutely delicious.

That's after he brought me breakfast in bed - warm croissants, butter and raspberry conserve.

This morning Daughter phoned to suggest that we meet them at Verdi's this afternoon. Of course, as the diet started on Tuesday, I shall only have a cup of tea. 

Paul O'Connell (left) voted sexiest Irish rugby player 2015
The Maltesers Husband bought me yesterday have already been eaten: the stress of the Wales Ireland game drove me to them. What a game! I was struggling to believe before the game started and even when Wales went in front I still feared a comeback from the Irish who were playing to retain their hopes of a Grand Slam. Then when all the action was on the Wales try-line I could hardly breathe. But the boys - as everyone in Wales thinks of the team - did us proud. Awesome. Their performance has been likened to that of the regiment at Rorke's Drift. That's possibly a slight exaggeration but it felt like it at the time. In fact it was such a victory that maybe I should allow myself a little celebration cake with my cup of tea at Verdi's.

After breakfast today we went out for a long walk up through the woods, down through the park and across the beach.

So, thinking about it, I've probably used lots of calories so maybe I could have just a little ice cream in Verdi's. Maybe apple crumble and honeycomb. With a flake - a little bit of chocolate on Mother's day is acceptable - and maybe a swirl of cream - which is mostly air anyway.

Mm, yes, that'll do nicely.

Spotty teenagers and bolshy cars

In the course of one day I was judged by a spotty teenager to be an unfit person to have a goldfish and by the car as a poor driver. It's very hard being me.

Apparently the tank we have kept two goldfish in for the last umpteen years is only big enough for one, I don't do a complete water change frequently enough, and, to cap it all, I'm washing the filter in tap water when I should be using (dirty?) tank water, because the chlorine in the tap water kills something or other, the bacteria maybe, that's needed to make the filter work properly. By this point my head was hung so low in shame that I couldn't hear properly what he was saying. (And I wish I'd thought of what Husband pointed out when I got home: the tank water came from the tap too. Are we supposed to buying Perrier water to refill the tank?) 

Then I had to drive to the other side of town in our new still-unnamed car. As I said previously, car has many wondrous features that we still have to discover but one of its delights - according to Husband - is that it has a green environmentally friendly setting. When using this an indicator is displayed showing you how green your driving is, your reward being that it tells you how much fuel you've saved by the way you're driving. Or not. If it goes blue, watch out!

It's like having Husband sitting in the passenger seat permanently.

I'm not that bad.No, really I'm not. It just seems to want me to change very quickly from third to fourth gear. Before I really have time to do it in fact. It's really quite impatient. Not to mention neurotic.

Get too close to something when you're reversing and the car goes into panic mode. The beeps start slowly but speed up and get louder the more you ignore them. And telling it not to worry and that there's plenty of room doesn't calm it down at all.

There must be a switch off button somewhere.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My beautiful flowers

The other week I came home after a particularly busy few days/weeks to find maltesers and flowers. Here are the fully-opened lilies:

The diet starts here

Having been thoroughly depressed by the scales this morning I resolved that today would definitely be the day I began a proper diet. As opposed to the improper ones I have been playing around with for the last two years.

Breakfast of two weetabix as usual and so far so good.
Lunch of boiled eggs, ryvita and a banana, pretty good.
Then we went for a ride in our new car. Over the common and back via Verdi's.

It was Husband's idea! But I didn't resist very hard. (For very hard read 'at all'.)

On the plus side we're celebrating birthdays in Zac's tonight so there's no left-over cake to eat as there is when I do a tray bake or muffins. I say left-over when what I mean is that we eat some before I take it to Zac's.

The cake this week was a challenge. Two birthdays to mark: a 20-year-old goth and a 2-year-old. This is what I came up with:
Do you like the detail around the eyes?

Our new car has arrived!

Husband says, 'It's got three driving modes, very good fuel economy, goes faster than our old one (me: but surely only if you press the pedal harder?), has sat nav ...'
'Yes but you're forgetting the absolute best thing about it. It has digital radio!!!'

Husband knew but didn't tell me as he knew how happy it would make me and what a lovely surprise it would be.

Of course we haven't worked out how to change channel so we could be listening to Classic Fm for some time. But at least it's not 5 Live.

Another interesting thing is that it doesn't need a key to start it. 

But enough of the chatter, you want to see it.
We were boring in our choice of name for Mini so must do better this time around. But what? I feel he is a boy so will ponder.

Mea culpa

I got confused. We're not getting two new phones, just one, which I will share with the car. It's to be a smart phone although I'm not sure what that means other than it's very ... well, smart looking. And I won't be laughed at when I bring out my phone.

I have no doubt it will be able to do all sorts of clever things giving me more than enough scope for further confusion. As if I need any more.

Monday, March 09, 2015

The car needs a phone

Travelling up to Surrey on Saturday Husband announced that he would have to get a smart phone. I should explain that we both have the most basic of models and use them very little - although apparently I use mine more than I thought - but more of that later.

'But you've only had yours a little while i.e. 4 years, and when I bought it for you you said you wanted something simple.'
'Yes, but the new car needs one.'
'Excuse me? We're buying the car its own phone?'
'Yes, so when the car is due for a service it can call the garage itself and arrange it.'

Which sounds like just an excuse - and a pretty poor one - for Husband to get a new phone if you ask me.

But it seems I'm to get one too!

I pay as I go and it turns out that I'm spending more than I would be if I had a contract which gives me all sorts of clever things and a phone for less money.

But I probably still won't be able to find it when I need it.

P.S. We had a lovely time in Surrey. Both grandsons were snuffling and coughing but when GrandSon1 offers kisses and cuddles you don't worry about things like that; you just resign yourself to getting a cold.

The mole and me

When the increase in the number of skin cancers was first beginning to hit the headlines there were various campaigns to make people aware and one of the suggestions was: if you spot a new mole go and see the doctor. I said then and I say now, if I went to see the doctor for each new mole I'd be living in the surgery.

But I do have one on my shoulder that was getting big so I thought I'd better check it out. The doctor said it was a something or other that comes with, he hesitated, years. A less obvious way of saying, 'You're getting old, woman.' He thought it was two that had been growing close together and had merged.

I can see it now. 

One morning Husband will wake and turn over expecting to see the woman he has woken up next to for the last umpteen years and in her place will be one giant mole. Rather like the hero of The Metamorphosis who awakes to find he has turned into a cockroach. Franz Kafka's story is said to be one of the most important works of the twentieth century so I could yet be a famous author/character.

P.S. I remembered what the doctor called it: seborrheic keratosis or as it says on google, senile warts. I'm glad he didn't say that.

P.P.S. I have my mammogram in Tesco's car park on Wednesday. I just hope it's not a self-scanning system.

Friday, March 06, 2015

A mini dliemma

We've had Mini just over 5 years now and she's beginning to rattle a little so Husband has decided it's time to buy a new car. Actually he decided this at least 6 months ago and has been researching, pondering and contemplating ever since.

So last week he dragged me with him to see the choices he'd narrowed it down to: a sensible granny car or another mini.

Now with Daughter and family having moved back to Swansea and expecting a new arrival in April it means we'll likely be needing to transport 3 children on occasion. Not to mention 2 dogs. So a sensible-granny car is the best option.

He took me first to the Mini dealer where my head was instantly turned as we walked into the showroom.
'Oh, yes,' I exclaimed over an even more impractical than usual convertible mini in red. Husband patted my hand and led me away in other directions.

The countryman would meet all our needs but didn't look like a mini. 'Can't we have another clubman?' I asked.
Husband shook his head. 'They stopped making them 18 months ago.'

We peered and sat in the new 5-door models.
'It's okay,' I said, 'but I really like my little secret half door; can't we get one with that in?'
'They stopped making those 18 months ago.'

Then he took me to a Ford dealer where we looked at B and C-max cars. 
'Ooh, there's lots of room in this, and look at all the space George would have in the boot. Ooh and it's got a special slidy door!'

So we're getting a mini.

The best-selling author

In the library last week I noticed a display of the top 40 authors - I assume it meant most borrowed probably in the Swansea area. I recognised most of the names but I had not only not read any by the number one author, I hadn't even heard of her.

Her name is Stephanie Laurens and apparently, according to my later research on Amazon, she is one of the world's most popular authors of historical romances. I quickly glanced at the books on display in the library and concluded they were of the Mills and Boon ilk, which might be and probably is an unfair, sweeping and uninformed comment. Judging by the covers I don't think they'd be to my taste though. (I know, I know, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but don't we all?)

Monday, March 02, 2015

I was going to clean today ...

but then the sun shone. So off we set.

Our walk began in Oxwich car park heading off towards Sy. Illtyd's Church. Originally the site of a 6th century monastic cell the nave and tower date from the 12th century. 
I love old churchyards but they are sad places when you notice the high rate of infant mortality, often in the same family. This was an interesting one though:
Ashes of Lieutenant Edna Maria Morgan W.R.A.C., citizen, stationer and newspaper maker, City of London. There's a Welsh inscription at the bottom so I guess she had Welsh connections of some sort.

We decided we'd do a circular walk out to Oxwich Point, starting with a climb up the hillside - 278 steps. I know because I counted. Then it was out into the open fields and a flat path over the headland pausing only long enough for Husband to help me up onto the trig point. I originally intended to stand up there but chickened out: it was pretty windy!
And then down a gradual slope onto the coastal path that leads (after about 4 miles) to Port Eynon.
Now you'd think, wouldn't you, that the coastal path would take us back around the bottom of the cliffs to Oxwich? Like this: 
(Not to scale I should point out in case you are misled by my exceptional mapping skills.)

But no. This is Wales after all. Land of valleys and therefore hills.

The coastal path veered away from the coast and straight back up the hill. As we were passing the trig point again Husband said encouragingly, 'Oh well, at least it will all be downhill from here.' He paused. 'Unless we have to go up again.'

It was worth it though.

Whether I'll think that when I'm struggling in circuit training tonight is another thing. My thighs were aching yesterday after I'd spent some time crawling around a soft play centre the day before so I dread to imagine how I'll feel later.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Happy St. David's day

From George and the ... daffodil.