Wednesday, January 28, 2015

An old boot

Had to go on a photo shoot this afternoon. Me and a load of old boots. I feared I was setting myself up for a punchline.

As it turned out the old boots were less worn than I am. 
Abacus, a recruitment company, was getting rid of about 20 pairs of almost new waterproof shoes and boots, and one of their employees, Pete Russell, who's a good friend of Zac's, suggested they give them to us in return for a photo and a bit of publicity. Sean volunteered me for the photo shoot hence today's little trip.

The two young women in the photo with me are employees of Abacus persuaded by Pete (who's also a professional photographer) to be photographed. They both insisted they looked too knackered, were too fat, would have to do their make-up before they agreed and just look how gorgeous they are!

Pete also wanted a quote for the press release so here's what I said:
“Foot problems are common amongst rough sleepers because, in wet weather, they have no facilities to dry their feet or spare shoes to change into, so we’re delighted to receive this donation of waterproof shoes from Abacus.

“We’ll keep most of them at Zac’s Place, in central Swansea, to hand out as needed but a few pairs will be going to Rough Edges, our charity shop for men in Gors Avenue. The profits from the shop help support the work that Zac’s does with the homeless all year round.”

P.S. Before I left the house I asked Husband if I looked all right to have my photo taken. He looked at me and said, 'You smell nice.' (Especially for Furtheron!)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A nasty shock

Got on the scales this morning and leapt off very quickly. Time to get serious. Flab is gathering about my hips and while it's not horrendous I feel happier when I weigh less so please note my resolve and tell me off if you see me eating something naughty - or at least too much of it.

Trouble is I've been feeling a bit stressed recently. Not sure why. When I'm on a high or even a plateau I can cope but if I'm teetering I fall easily into 'I can't do this' mode. And we all know that stressed spelled backwards is desserts so I'm pulled towards chocolate at these times. 

A vicious circle, a ride that it's hard to get off. But I can do it. I was half-heartedly listening to a TED talk yesterday (Husband was in the same room listening to it) and the speaker was talking about reasons why we'll never have a great career or even a good career. (Larry Smith on Why you'll fail to have a great career was addressing a younger audience; it's in the quarter-life crisis group of talks.) Which sounds quite negative but I recognised lots of the reasons as the excuses I give for not submitting my manuscript or generally believing in myself. 

Unfortunately it takes more than being inspired to change an attitude borne of many years.

Come on, girl, shake a leg. Get with the beat. Hakuna matata. And other jollying phrases.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Add slam to poetry and it gets attention

Got home in time to go to Red Cafe to hear Harry Baker. He's a brilliant young performance poet, one time World Slam Champion, and maths student.

I was tired on arriving home and it was raining and it was very tempting to curl up and stay in but I'm so glad I made the effort. I love 99 problems but maths ain't one of them and Dinosaur love but this one, written more recently (he's 22), was my favourite last night.

It was my first Linden event since leaving and I was rather nervous. I should add that I get nervous opening a closed door and walking into a room in almost all circumstances let alone these. Red Cafe had had building work since the last time I was there so I wasn't even sure which door to use. Imagine opening the door, walking in and finding yourself standing in front of and interrupting the performing poet (I was late naturally). Eventually I hovered outside until someone else turned up and followed them in. And how delighted I was to see Kerry and Tim Tudor near the back with a spare seat at their table! I pounced on it. 'Is anyone sitting here? Can I join you?' (Actually I'm not sure if I asked or whether I just plonked myself down with a relieved sigh and they were too polite to tell me to clear off.)

So it wasn't as bad as I feared and the first time is done now. If I'd left it much longer I suspect I would never have gone to a Linden event again; My scarediness would have built up to monstrous proportions. And, yes, I know there is no need for it. I left with their blessing and for good reasons and most of them are lovely people but somehow knowing that doesn't help when you're a big girl's blouse.

Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink

A lovely weekend with Elder Son, Daughter-in-law and grandchildren in Surrey. Hardly recognised Elder Son at first ...

and still not sure where the red comes from.

A first for me: I watched The Voice but only because a friend of Elder Son's was appearing. Sadly no-one turned around for Otty, as we knew in advance, but exciting all the same. Otty sang at Elder Son and Daughter-in-law's wedding, during the register signing, and he is amazing. And very dedicated to his music. He wasn't given a choice about the song he sang and it didn't really work for him.

This is Otty (but not on The Voice).

It is very satisfying when your child overtakes you in ability. Not that I have much ability but I can cook so when Elder Son makes a rich satisfying casserole that's better than any of my efforts there is a certain pleasure to be found. And the cookies he and Grandson1 made on Sunday were to die for. Elder Son is a bit of a cookery nerd and has started his own cooking blog Where the elite meet to eat.

Sunday we went to Savill Garden, part of the Royal Estate. The area abounds in Royal parks and posh houses!

We'll have to go back in the summer when the rose garden is in flower.

Not real snow but part of the display in the temperate house.

But best part of the weekend, obviously, was playing with GrandSons especially as GrandSon3 didn't cry on sight of me once. 

Worst part, apart from Otty's disappointment, was the water. We lived in Southampton for four years and had to put up with horrid hard water. We're spoiled in Wales. Best country in the world and best water too.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I'm getting bolshy in my old age

On Mrs Nesbitt's blog she sang the praises of a bag for cooking baked potatoes/pre-cooking chips. It sounded like a wonderful invention and lots of people thought so, so Mrs N kindly did some research and put a link on her blog to a company selling them at a bargain price. I ordered one. (What I am about to say is absolutely no reflection on Mrs N who is a lovely lady but rather on the company and my own decision-making.)

Now when it came to placing the order I found that, though the bags (they came in twos) only cost £3.99, postage and packing was £4.99. Hmm. I dithered before pressing the confirm order button but thought, oh well, if that's the cost of packing and delivering my parcel so be it.

Today my parcel arrived. No complaints about delivery time but a HUGE complaint about the parcel. The reason the p&p was so costly was that it included an unrequested catalogue.
My item weighed about 100g.

The catalogue and bumpf weighed nearly 700g.
I have sent off a bloshy email concluding that I shall not be using this company again.

Save the rain forests ... of the oceans

This is the project that Younger Son and Nuora have set up in the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia. If you are able to donate even a small amount it will help save the 'rain forests of the oceans.'

Thank you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

'Have you ever tried to be Jesus?'

I thought it was going to be a quiet night in Zac's. 

Sean was away so I was leading the study. The dreadful weather must have put people off as numbers were low so I was in confident mood to begin. And therein lay my downfall.

'Can I ask a question?' one of our more characterful fairly-regulars asked.
'Yes, of course.'
Have you ever tried to be Jesus?'
'Er no.'
'I have. It's f***ing hard. Whoops, sorry.'

We were supposed to be reading, thinking about and learning from the book of Daniel, from the bit where Nebuchadnezzar has some bad dreams and threatens to kill all the sorcerers/wise men because they can't tell him a) what his dream was; b) what it meant. (Which seems a trifle harsh unless you think that a sorcerer who claims to be able to tell you the future should be able to tell you the past as well.)

So how we ended up considering complaints about the night shelter is a mystery. Mind you we did get there via 'Why did the police say all the Jews want to go back to Israel?' and 'Why are there all these different churches - evan-whatever it was, Roman catholic, Buddhist, c of e? It's just confusing.'

And all this was conducted with a faint background hum of chatter. It's no wonder I came home hoarse.

Oh yes, and was Jesus a Jew?

But the cake with which we celebrated Nicky's birthday tasted good.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A delicate subject

Turn away now if you are offended by the mention of poo ...

Okay, so you're sticking with me while I share my ponderings on being 60 and being a woman.

If you recall, the first delivery of post in 2015 brought me an 'invitation' for bowel screening. For those who are fortunate enough not to have yet reached this stage of life it involves taking samples of poo on three different days but within ten days.

Immediately I find I suffer from stress constipation. Do I want to go? Or is it a false alarm? Do I need to be ready with my piece of paper? Or am I just going to wee over it? (This must be easier for men.) And now I've succeeded to collect sample one I know I've only got nine days to do the next two. Now normally that would be no problem; but as I said stress constipation strikes and I'm counting days anxiously.

I am something of an expert when it comes to baby poo; I can deal with dog poo with no problem. So why is it so hard when faced with my own faecal matter?

I am reminded of a quote from Germaine Greer from many many years ago. She said, 'If you think you are emancipated, you might consider the idea of tasting your own menstrual blood - if it makes you sick, you've got a long way to go, baby.' 

I would say I have a long way to go but then I think: why would I want to taste my own menstrual blood? In what circumstances would it be necessary? 

I fear feminists would say I am a lost cause, and not just for this reason. I am not above playing the pathetic female to get out of doing an unpleasant task. Yet the idea that men are inherently superior to women is patently nonsense. As individuals we have different strengths and weaknesses that sometimes mean we veer off the normal graph line for women/men but normal is only the average and who wants to be average?

I've petered out now. I didn't really mean to go here so don't have the thoughts to keep up with my fingers. 

Really all I want to say is 'Poo!'

P.S. I'm pretty sure that in 8 years or more of blogging I've never labelled a post 'Germaine Greer' before!
P.P.S. Dr Stu has sent me a photo of Different Shades of Poop an indication apparently of how healthy it is. If you'd like a copy of the photo just let me know!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

It might have been the bang on the head

Remember that chap who'd been hit on the head by a saucepan? (By his wife I believe.) Anyway I saw him this morning near the prison. He was across the road from me but he waved and shouted, 'Praise the Lord.'

What could I do but return his wave and shout, 'Praise the lord, brother!'

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A fishy soup to be in

I've been trying out a few new recipes this week. I say a few; I mean two.

Yesterday as we had a surplus of rather sad-looking vegetables I made root vegetable and lentil soup. I think it could probably have done with a few more minutes cooking as the lentils, even though they were whizzed, were still in evidence. But I served it with cheese scones that I've made numerous times before and every time they amaze me. They have a very high cheese content and you'd think that would make them stodgy but they're invariably the lightest and fluffiest scones you could wish for. I followed that up with baked pears and cream (as they were selling off a packet of only-just-in-date pears in Sainsburys, reduced from £2.25 to 69p - how could I ignore them?)

Today it was a recipe from the Sainsburys magazine I attempted: prawn and coconut soup. 

Mine doesn't look exactly the same as the picture in the magazine but tasted yummy nevertheless. But salty. I shall be drinking water all night long.

Tomorrow it's back to boring roast chicken but tonight it's raspberries and cream and The Bucket List, number 3 for us to watch in my series of Christmas present dvds.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cold callers

Don't you just hate the new trick being employed by cold callers, that of trying to fool you into thinking you're in a relationship with them?
'Hi, Mrs Hinds, this is Tracey from Smeary Windows. And how are you today?'
Being a naturally polite person you immediately respond, 'Oh, I'm fine, thank you,' and before you know where you are you've arranged for their man who happens to be in your area to come and measure you up for a conservatory, porch and retreat/shed at the end of the garden for you to do your writing in.

But really before they call me they should learn how to say my name. It's not Hin as in pin but Hin as in pine.

And yes we are on the Telephone Preference Service but it doesn't seem to make much difference.

We had a very persistent one yesterday. The phone rang, Husband answered, listened and very quickly said, 'Not interested, thank you,' and put the phone down. Seconds later it rang again. This time I picked it up.
'Why did you put the phone down on me?' The poor man actually sounded surprised and a little hurt.
I explained that we weren't interested.
'But you were involved in a car accident.'
'Er no.'
'Are you sure? You might not have been in the car.'
'I don't remember.' (I did but wasn't going to encourage him. Not that he needed encouraging ...)
'An accident involving a third party that wasn't your fault? You don't remember it?'
I think by now he was convinced I'd suffered brain damage and memory loss as a result of the accident where I wasn't in the car.
'No, really, we're not interested.'
Then I put the phone down.

Seconds later it rang again. Husband's turn.
Man then went on to try and persuade Husband that even though the insurance had paid for the repairs to the car we were entitled to and should be claiming huge damages. Poor man just couldn't believe that anyone would give up the chance of litigation and possibly monies coming our way.

He finally gave up. But it is a sad indictment of society that so many people jump at any chance of something for nothing.

P.S. When writing this I couldn't remember the name of the Telephone Preference Service nor indictment and had to go and ask Husband what the word was I was looking for. Dictionaries are no use in that situation so it's a good job I have Husband.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Maybe it was me who was hit with a saucepan

You'll be pleased to hear - although that is making rather an assumption that you care so I'll rephrase it - I am delighted to say that I have my mojo back. Very nearly fully. So my week has been more like normal. Normal for me that is.

Helping in the night shelter at Zac's. Dinner was a relaxed affair so guests chose to eat their pudding sitting on their air beds. Avril invited me to join in so I sat down - here you must remember that Avril is only a tiny dwt - and she and her strudel took off and flew into the air.

In Zac's one of the homeless men kept asking me where he knew me from. I said, 'Here? Zac's?'
'No,' he shook his head. 'Somewhere else.'
'Um ... prison?' I asked tentatively.
'That's it!' He was delighted to have fixed me in his head. 'You were with the chaplain when I got hit on the head with a saucepan, remember? Do you remember? You do remember, don't you?'
'Er, yes.' (No, but he did apparently.)

I'd arranged, via the internet, to pick up a buggy for a needy mum from a man living on the far side of Gowerton (about 5 miles). As I didn't know this man I asked Husband to drive me. We got as far as this side of Gowerton before I remembered that he said he'd be out on Wednesday. 
Husband was surprisingly relaxed about our unnecessary journey - and he's taking me again tonight.

Half a tin of beans left in the fridge so I had beans on toast for lunch. Bad weather deterred me from shopping so planned on having eggs on toast for dinner. Discovered I'd run out of eggs so I had ... yes, you've guessed it, beans on toast for dinner.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Why I should have read the large print before biting

For no apparent reason today I am depressed. It could be fall-out from Younger Son's depression (funding and problems with lack of communication with supervisors in university) about which I can do nothing (although I have suggested that I travel to Plymouth and kick some butt) or more likely it's this grey wet and windy weather. I feel I should do something practical to combat my lethargy but I feel too lethargic to bother. Hey ho. All things will pass.

So, anyway, this afternoon to relieve my misery I rummaged in the pantry for something yummy to eat being rather desperate as I finished the very last of my Christmas Maltesers yesterday. My eyes alighted upon Amaretti, Italian specialist biscuits, a Christmas gift. 'If only they weren't almond-flavoured,' I thought seeing as how I don't like almond. 'But are they?' I further thought.  

I was desperate. I took them in the study and studied the small print.
No mention of almonds there, just apricot kernels. 'That's odd but ...' I opened the box and unwrapped one of the delightfully packaged sweetmeats. I bit into it.
'Urgh!!!! Almonds! they lied to me!'

That was when I noticed in big writing on the front of the box:
A little googling however shows that both almonds and apricots are from the same genus, prunus, and that their poisonous seeds contain cyanide. Except for the originally rare few that didn't and which have been cloned by budding and grafting to provide the almond-growers of the world with a source that won't kill people. 

So I guess in some cases that apricot kernels are used in place of almonds. Indeed in China there has even been a court case about the misleading naming of products. Who'd have thought it? 

Paddington in the Grand Budapest Hotel

It seems we are ahead of the crowd for once!

Today we've learned that The Grand Budapest Hotel won Best Comedy Golden Globe; on Saturday we watched the dvd, it being one of Husband's meticulously researched choices for Christmas presents for me.

And it was jolly good. Gentle, entertaining, intriguing, wonderful scenery and the feeling that no-one is taking themselves too awfully seriously. And all at a relaxed pace. It had the feel of the Coen Brothers about it I felt.

Then on Sunday I took GrandDaughter to the cinema to see Paddington. Another lovely film. And Paddington is so real! You just accept him as a talking bear that it's nothing especially out of the ordinary for him to be wandering around London.

The music in it was also brilliant. Every now and then the scene includes a calypso busker band. I can't find a clip including them unfortunately but enjoy this trailer anyway.

At one point all was quiet in the cinema and all that could be heard was Granddaughter's little voice shouting, 'No, no!' as Paddington was going with the baddie (although he didn't know that at the time).

P.S. I haven't been to the cinema for a long time so was shocked to find that 2 tickets plus 2 ice creams cost me over £20.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Fifty shades of grey

After our walk I showered, put on my pyjamas and settled down ... another drum roll if you please ... to write. Or rather to edit my novel.

One of the long-time friends whom we hadn't seen for a long time asked how the writing was going. I shrugged and um-ed and ah-ed. Truth is I'd been putting it off. Having finished novel4 at the end of October I'm at the editing stage. That isn't too bad in itself but it's the thought that once it's edited - or the first few chapters at least are at a stage fit to be seen - I have to start sending it off to agents. And that means rejection.

'Not necessarily,' long-time friend said.

And it's true. And, as I've said before, I do think this is 'the one'. But I thought that about the others. But I must think it's good because if I don't there's not really much point writing and I do but if I start to say and act on that then hope will pop its cheerful little head above the parapets and we all know where that will lead.

But this afternoon I did. Do some editing that is. And I remember that I do like my story and I do find it entertaining and surely there must be an agent out there who's looking for something just like this. At this very moment she's glancing through yet another manuscript with the old boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl and all is well theme in one context or another and she's desperate to find the next Harry Potter (mine's not about boy wizards or even girl wizards) or Fifty Shades of Grey (the most erotic bit in my novel is ... well, you'll have to read it to find out). 

All I have to do is find her.

An embarrassing incident at the Post Office

Nuora's father in Italy likes British tea and Nuora and Younger Son took some over with them when they went but asked me if I could send some more. I duly bought two 1kg bags of teabags (that were on special offer).

I didn't have any brown paper so, taking sealing tape, a scissors, the address and a pen with me, I headed off for the PO to but some wrapping paper. Instead I saw a flat-pack box that was an ideal size. Putting out of my head all those boxes that arrived and that we threw away before Christmas I waved it at the woman behind the counter to explain I intended to pay for it all together. She nodded and watched as I set about putting the box together. (It was a quiet time.)

First put on glasses. Next study pictorial instructions on side. 'Okay, that looks ... straightforward-ish. First I put B here. No wait, where's A? There isn't an A in the picture. What am I supposed to do with A? Oh flip. well, how does that stay together then? ... No, that's E. ... But if that's E, where's C?'

And so on. And, yes, I am, I realise, saying these things aloud. Not that woman behind counter rushes to my aid. 

Eventually ... drum roll, trumpet call ... I have a box. I pack it, seal it with extra tape, write on the address and take it to the counter.
'What's in the parcel?' the woman asks - even though she watched me fill it.
'Where's it going?'
'That'll be £35.'

And that's the cheap option. I don't bother. I'll suggest to YS that Father-in-law goes to St Mark's Square in Venice (allegedly the most expensive cafes in the world). Even with the travel costs for him it would be cheaper.

So I leave the Post Office still laden and £1.99 (being the cost of the box) worse off .

I pass an elderly gentleman going in the opposite direction. As I walk on I hear a rustling noise and glance back to see he has dropped a piece of paper. I look again and see it's a £10 note. I turn around, hurry before the wind takes it into the traffic - I might be a saint but I don't want to be a dead one - and pick it up - not an easy job with parcel in hand and legs that hurt like crazy when I bend, then hurry after the gentleman who is proving to be surprisingly fast on his feet. 

He is grateful leaving me with a nice warm feeling, proving that Random Acts of Kindness are good for you.

Husband does it again

Circuit training on Thursday morning for the first time since the end of November meant I can barely walk or sit down in comfort but today I struggled up the side of Clyne hill. My legs ached but more than that I panted even more than usual.

I'm always aware that I seem to pant more heavily and loudly and sooner than most people do. I mentioned this to Husband who blamed my slow metabolism. 
'It means it doesn't take much exercise for your lungs to go into over-drive,' he said, adding, 'you'll be like Auntie Joan and live to a grand old age with an alert mind.'
I smiled and preened myself.
'After all,' he continued, 'neither your body or brain have been used very much.'

Friday, January 09, 2015

Should you take a pushchair on a bike ramp?

'Shall we go over this bike ramp?'
No answer from GrandSon2 in pushchair so I take that as a yes and wheel him up. It's only when I need to climb on to the ramp in order to keep control of the pushchair that I discover it's very slippery. 
'Whoops ... hang on ... I'll have to think about this ... okay I've got it ... now let's just ... oo-er ... hang on! ... let me just ... phew we made it. That was scary, wasn't it?'
'Do you think we should? Oh all right!'

Granny shouldn't be left alone with a grandchild and a pushchair.

Before that we'd had great fun on the beach making a super daleky sandcastle (so cross I didn't have my camera with me) and afterwards more fun at the playground. 

It is wonderful having grandchildren living within impromptu baby-sitting distance.

P.S. After two days and night of wind and rain sandcastle is still standing.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

What your best friend won't tell you

Sorting out a bag of food for a guy in Zac's on Tuesday I hesitated as I left the store-room. 'Actually,' I thought, 'he needs ...' And I went back in and dug out some shower gel and deodorant.

Subtle as a brick, that's me.

Je suis Charlie

I know very little about Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or any of the many religions; I don't even know that much about many aspects of Christianity, certainly when it comes to the Old Testament. But I do know what Jesus, when asked, said is the most important commandment:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself."

Love. Nothing there about hate or kill or fight God's battles for him. God doesn't need us to do that; what he wants us to do is love each other. As we love ourselves. And maybe that's where the problem arises for so many.

We struggle to live up to ideals, to reach a level at which we will be considered successful or even acceptable. We don't like, let alone love, ourselves. Yet it's as we are now that God loves us. With all our imperfections and weaknesses.

There are crazy - I was going to say fundamentalists but it occurred to me that the most basic fundamental is that of loving although it's something that those termed fundamentalists seem to forget - people in every religion. Don't blame God; blame those who do evil in whatever name.

Good etiquette for pelicans

Every time I find myself behind a VW Touareg I find myself trying to work out what it is an anagram of. I mean, no-one would really call a car a Touareg would they? Not unless it was a cunning joke, understood only by those in the know, who cover their mouths with their hands and snigger every time they see one on the road.

It's not even a proper word.

(Bother, I just blew my nose with the tissue I used to mop up tea.)

And talking of roads, what is the correct etiquette for pelican crossings?

If you've pressed the button and are waiting patiently when a gap in the traffic appears while the man is still red, do you:
a) ignore it and wait for the green man;
b) cross in the gap with never a second thought for the cars who will soon have to stop for no-one;
c) cross guiltily in the gap and then hide so none of the drivers realises it's you who pressed the button?

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Old friends, new friends

A good couple of days.

Yesterday a young Afghan who comes to Zac's was granted asylum. He has been in this country for 7 years after fleeing his homeland where his brother and father were murdered. Since then he's become a Christian (because of his experiences with Christians on his journey here).

Two years ago he was arrested and sent to a Reading deportation centre. An appeal and campaign resulted in him coming back to Swansea but a few months ago his latest appeal - on the grounds that his life would be in danger if he returned, especially as he is now a Christian - was turned down and he was given one last chance to prove his case. A massive campaign was mounted and letters of support gathered ready for the hearing yesterday. He was told that the best he could hope for was a 3-hour hearing resulting in the judge saying that he would give his decision in 3 or 4 weeks. He was in court for 10 minutes, the only question he was asked was his name and then the judge declared himself satisfied and granted asylum. We celebrated in Zac's last night.
Tam with Mike and Cath Sheehan who have been leading the campaign.

Then today we met up for coffee with 'old' friends. Husband was best man at their wedding, which was a few years before ours, and over recent years, apart from Christmas cards, we've not had much contact. So it was time to catch up. And it was just like we'd seen each other yesterday. We all looked positively youthful of course, even though we  were discussing bus passes, grown-up children, the joys of retirement (especially staying in bed in the mornings) and motorhomes.
By the way I've put the old in quotes because Steve objected to it on my Facebook post!

Destined to eat Weetabix for ever

I have two Weetabix for breakfast. Over the Christmas period someone had one Weetabix (or possibly three) leaving me with an odd number in the box. So I can never finish the box without starting a new one. Unless I have one (not enough) or three (which I could easily eat but really really shouldn't).

It is a dilemma. It's a good job I like Weetabix.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

The difference between being 62 and 89

On New Year's Eve Husband and I had steak and salad for dinner then were in bed by 10.30 pm.

My uncle, who is 89, went to a friend's for a dinner party, arrived home just after midnight, was invited in for a drink by his neighbours and got to bed by about 2.00 am.

I am looking forward to being 89.

"I thought about buying you ..."

a) A camera. That was the first thing Husband suggested as my Christmas present and I turned it down! Much as I would like a fancy camera with a proper view-finder so I can see what I'm taking a photo of, I figured that a clever camera wouldn't actually improve my photography and that the one I have is adequate for my needs. 

b) A new food processor/mixer. I've had my current one almost as long as we've been married and the bowl is starting to crack. (Make up your own jokes here.) 'But I thought you'd want to be involved in choosing it so I didn't,' he said.

c) A small furry pet. (Again, insert own jokes.) My great-aunt asked me to call in and collect 'the hamster,' (my word not hers) leading Husband to tell me of his thinking-outside-the-box present ideas. Sadly he discarded this one as it 'would be too much of a bind.'

So resorting to more usual present ideas he did some meticulous research into films 'Liz might like' and came up with five dvds, one of which we watched last night. 

Last Vegas stars Robert de Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline as old friends who take a trip to Las Vegas for the bachelor party for the only remaining bachelor, Billy (Michael Douglas), who is marrying a girl less than half his age. It's not a huge dramatic tale nor are there any especially hilarious scenes, but the characters are lovely, the humour is gentle - and funny. I very much enjoyed it. So it's a tick for the first one on the list; I'll let you know how I fare with his other choices.

I'm not ill

But neither am I 100% either. Since the end of November I've not been on top of my game - had I game on top of which I would ever be unless dog-walking counts or possibly jelly splash - and I am FED UP of it. 

It's only sniffles, dry throat, occasional coughs and frequent weariness but it's driving me mad. I have even greater respect for people will long-term conditions when I struggle so much with petty ailments like these. 

What can I do to fight the bugs? Do you have any old wives' - or old husbands' if it comes to that - advice to give me? What's your favourite pick-me-up? And don't say gin, please, because I don't drink.

Right now I'm off for a dose of extra-strong vitamin C, although I find that tends to make things bearable rather than getting rid of them altogether. And then maybe curl up with a book. Or sleep.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Qualms, runcible spoons and being ept

Miranda, in the penultimate episode ever of her marvellous sitcom, had qualms about marrying Gary. Or did she think he had qualms? Anyway, she used one of her signature devices and played with the word, qualm. When you think about it you would expect it to have an r where the l is (unless I am pronouncing it wrongly, which I don't think I am.) But what can you expect of a language where a word is spelled y-a-c-h-t and pronounced ye-ot?

Fast-forward to yesterday, New Year's Day. Daughter and family came to lunch. (How wonderful that they can now do this! And go home afterwards!) After eating, GrandDaughter and GrandSon2 put on a performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves for us. Somehow GrandDad and Granny got roped in as all seven dwarves and the wicked queen respectively while Mummy and Daddy sat back and relaxed. Apart from a spectacular performance from the old hag, 'Come eat my beautiful apple, my precious,'  there seemed to be a lot of GrandDaughter pretending to be asleep and needing a kiss from the handsome prince (or Ninja Turtle as he preferred to think of himself). Then having taken their bows GrandDaughter insisted it was my turn to 'put on a show'. 

So I recited - with actions - The Owl and the Pussycat, which leads us to the runcible spoon. Since I first heard the poem I have pondered what a runcible spoon is - but never thought to find out. Until today. And what do you know? It's a made-up word of Edward Lear's! Well, blow me down.

Reading back over this post I questioned my spelling of dwarves. Should it be dwarfs, I wondered. Having my trusty Chambers dictionary to hand I checked. Apparently dwarfs is the common plural; dwarves is acceptable but rare. Except in this house. 

And finally, continuing the wordy theme of this post, why can't you be ept? My young friend complained that she was socially inept (she's not although it would explain why she's friends with me) but how can you be inept if you can't first be ept? You have apt, inapt and aptitude so where is eptitude?

When I am a famous author I shall include ept in a novel and and people will say, 'I didn't know ept was a word but it must be if Liz Hinds uses it for she is a famous novelist so I shall use it too' and it will become a commonly-used word and my novel will go down in one of those books about 'earliest use of the word' and will feature in the Times crossword and be eligible for scrabble. Which means it will have to be included in the Chambers Dictionary and may even be credited to me so my name shall live in perpetuity as The Ept Woman.

And now I think I must cease this babbling. Forgive me: I am over-excited at the return of The Musketeers this evening. Chips on the beach and Aragon in one day. (Aragon? Or is he in Lord of the Rings?) Aramis! That's the one.

Chips on the beach!

You can tell I wasn't with Husband. He would never have suggested/agreed to having chips on the beach in the middle of the day; he is much too sensible. But I jumped up and down with glee, the experience being made even better by the fact that I got a little wooden fork too! 

And the company as well of course. My lovely young friend.
Our third attempt at a selfie. Number 1 exposed my wrinkled forehead and then Elin grumbled about number 2, so we changed direction using the claim that we'd get a better view of the beach this way and not that it meant that our faces were in the shade. (The best photos of me are taken in the shade, preferably darkness.)
The chips came at the end of our time together. It wasn't what we'd gone there to do although Elin was commenting from early on on the delicious smell of the chips so it was totally her fault. We began with tea and cake - a maple and pecan sort of flapjacky-but-not-really thing that would do rather nicely for Zac's if I'd found out what it was called and could have googled a recipe - followed by a stroll on the (over-crowded) beach followed by a selfie and sit-down followed by chips and another sit-down.

So by the time I got round to walking George (Husband has had a poorly stomach and has had to spend the day playing Civilisation on his laptop) it was getting late. 'Just a quick walk,' I told George - before I got carried away.
We started off along the beach.

And then cut back through the park.
I was a little worried, as the sun was setting, that we may get locked in the park. I was concerned, purely for George of course, as, unlike me obviously, he'd never be able to vault safely over tall pointy metal railings so I kept an eye open for gaps in the fence. And let me tell you: there aren't many. Which is strange considering its proximity to the university halls of residence. So it was a relief when we reached the other side safely even though it did mean walking quickly which in the cold evening air with a dodgy chest and throat isn't necessarily the wisest action.

Lemsip to bed I think tonight.