Monday, May 30, 2016

Wearing big pants

How odd. 

While glancing at my blog stats I noticed that one of the most popular posts recently was one from April 2006. I say most popular; I mean had a lot of page views (comparatively - we're talking single figures here). I clicked on it and read this:

It was Angelo's farewell lunch today. He's been with us (as part of a team and the volunteering with Alun) for nearly three years. Alun made a (very) short but surprisingly serious speech and Angelo did the same. Aah, bless. We shall miss him.

For the last two years, while Angelo has been working with Alun in our office, the phrase most often on my lips has been 'Pull your trousers up, Angelo!' Today in his honour we - although I noticed it was only the women who put the effort in - wore big exposed pants. Yes, we shall miss him.

I have absolutely no memory of wearing big exposed pants. Admittedly it was 10 years ago but, still, it's the sort of thing you'd think I'd remember. Or take a photo of.

Earlier this morning I started singing an old song and surprised myself by knowing all the words. At this moment I can remember the song but trust me, they weren't beautiful memorable words. Something involving monkeys and ... something else. Now I am going to be trying to remember that instead of concentrating on the church in Philadelphia and the rapture and other tricky topics that will crop up in bible study at Zac's tomorrow.

Aaah, wait. 

Six, eight, nine, the goose drank wine, the monkey chewed tobacco on the street car line, the line broke, the monkey got choked and we all went to heaven in a little row boat, clap hands ...

Stamp your feet, banging on a big bass drum, what a picture, what a picture, stick in the family album.

(Yes, I know they're two different songs but one leads naturally into the other.) 
Now aren't you glad I remembered that? You'll have a new ear worm, which is marginally worse than 'Give me oil in my lamp keep me burning.'

My tree education continues

Thanks to Husband I now know the difference between Ash and Mountain Ash (or Rowan). At least I do in spring when the Mountain Ash has white flowers
And the difference between Horse and Sweet Chestnut. Horse has white flowers and Sweet has pink. The leaves also differ enough to be able to differentiate in the absence of flowers.

I will soon be a fully fledged Tree Woman.

The fact that Husband will suddenly point at a tree and say, 'What's that?' is doing wonders for my knowledge but playing havoc with my nerves as I stutter, 'Ash? No, sycamore? No, beech? Hazel? Birch?'

I may have a while to go to reach Expert status ...

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Secret Paris Cinema Club

I love books that make me happy and books that make me angry; The Secret Paris Cinema Club does the former and The Invention of Wings the latter. Juliet Naked does neither.

I nearly gave up on Juliet Naked but because the author, Nick Hornby, does tend to take a while to get going I carried on and eventually finished it because I didn't care enough to give up. If that makes any sense.

On the other hand I didn't want the first two to end.

The Secret Paris Cinema Club is a tale of love and celebrity in a small old-fashioned cinema in - unsurprisingly - Paris. Wonderful characters, an intriguing story and the sights and smells of Paris: what more could you want?

I've not read anything by Barreau before but will look out for his earlier success, The Ingredients of Love.

I loved The Secret Life of Bees so was pleased when I discovered another of Kidd's novels in the library. And The Invention of Wings is just as wonderful but in a painful way. Set in Charleston in the early nineteenth century it's told from the differing viewpoints of two young women, the daughter of the white land-owner and the slave girl she is given on her eleventh birthday.

The horrors of slavery and, in a different way, inequality are described vividly, and it makes me so glad I'm living in these days where we are at least closer to true equality of the sexes. Slavery sadly appears to be on the rise again and is a terrible indictment of our society.

Monday, May 23, 2016

erotic flea poetry

I've created a new blog! (Yes, another one.) This time to make public my efforts to lose weight in an attempt to make myself stick to it. I've called it, Middle-aged, fat and frumpy - you can tell I was feeling really good when I wrote that!

We shall see. I know what I should do - or shouldn't - but whether I abide by that only time will tell.

* * * * * * 

In the car this morning I heard an excerpt from a poem by John Donne, the 15th/16th century metaphysical poet. Called The Flea It made me laugh although I'm not sure that was the intention of the author, who spent much of his time, it seems, writing poetry to persuade women to go to bed with him. I don't how successful he was but, judging from this one, I wouldn't have thought very.

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deny'st me is;
It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea, our two bloods mingled be;
Thou knowest that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead.
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pampered, swells with one blood made of two,
And this, alas, is more than we would do.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Smelly old woman

Twice today I have taken clothes out of the dirty washing basket and said, 'Oh they'll do,' before putting them on.

In my defence I am aware that I am doing this but also that it is verging perilously close to putting me in the 'smelly old woman' category. But I was cleaning. On the first occasion at least. And the second time I was only coming into contact with an estate agent.

Oh yes, Uncle has decided he wants to leave his lovely retirement apartment and buy a bungalow instead. So we've been doing a bit of house hunting with him.

It's not the apartment as such that he is unhappy with; rather it's the management. There is only one lift (he's on the second floor) and it keeps breaking down. Management's answer is that it's the fault of his new mobility scooter. And also, they say, they've had complaints about the noise it makes - a beeping - when it goes backwards. As he only uses it occasionally to go out at lunchtime and, as far as I am aware, he prefers to drive forwards, this seems rather petty. And if a lift in a retirement complex can't cope with an old person's aid, which, incidentally, weighs less than I do, that is bad planning on their part I would have thought. Plus they use every opportunity to charge him for one added extra or another.

One of the places we've arranged a viewing for him is on the sea front at Mumbles. An ideal location for him as he says, 'I could have lunch in the Mermaid (the nearby restaurant) every day.'

So we could have a busy few months ahead.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Cherrypie suggested that i ask a friend - so I'm asking you lovely blog readers: any idea what this tree is? 

If you can't help, my efforts to become a tree expert may flounder at the first hurdle.

On the plus side we did have a lovely walk in the woods today.

And clouts may be cast but carefully.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My little Wheel of Trees and me

Did I mention that last weekend I decided I was going to be better? 

At everything. Tackling one flaw at a time would be too time-consuming - I don't have that many years left on the planet - so I'm planning a general betterment scheme, 

I started today, in Singleton Park, on the path to becoming a tree expert. With my Wheel of Trees I began the learning process. But let me tell you it's not as easy as you might think.

Now I'm okay on oaks and conker trees but is this a Field Maple (sounds unlikely) or a sycamore (not convinced)? Or neither? Its leaves don't exactly match either.

It seems I need at least one or two extra criteria in order to confidently be able to identify my birch from my beech. Like trunk colour and texture for example. You see, I already have the ... technology - no, language - mm, not exactly, dictionary - VOCABULARY! Trunk. That's a good tree expert word.

I probably also need to be able to remember names from one tree to the next before I can rightfully claim expert level. But isn't my little wheel fun?

Is it a willy?

I was quite pleased with my prototype Little Mrs Men O'Paws.
But it seems I may have to rethink my design. Common consensus - largely among women I have to say - deems it too penis-like.

Back to the drawing board.

* * * * * * * * 
Husband had a tooth out today. He's been waiting to see the private oral surgeon to whom the hospital outsourced him since he was referred by our dentist back in December. Since then he's not had too much pain from his tooth thankfully.

I went with him so I could drive him back in case he wasn't up to it and I took my glasses and planned a good time spent browsing trashy magazines, finding out what is really happening in the world. And there wasn't a single Hello to be seen. The only options were the sort of glossies that recommend handbags at £2,500 and holidays in 5* luxury in rural Tibet. This is what happens when the Tories are in power too long.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Women of a certain age

During my clear-out - well, half a clear-out - I realised I have folders and drawers full of writing. From courses, odd ideas, things that never got any further than a few scribblings, jottings that I may not even have written so unfamiliar are they. So I decided I'd go through them all with one eye on the recycling bin and one on future possible ventures. Which doesn't actually leave me an eye to scan the writing. Hm, must rethink that.

Anyway, needless to say, I have not progressed with that idea. No time. Yes, I could have done it instead of playing solitaire or checking Facebook every five minutes, but I need a concentrated space of time to, well, concentrate. Yes, that's always my excuse. I will do it. Who knows? Maybe I have a yet-to-be-discovered masterpiece lurking in there.

In the unlikelihood of that, in the meantime, I thought some people may enjoy a piece I wrote a few years ago. It's the fun version of another longer story I wrote that was published in the Parthian anthology, Mama's Baby (Papa's Maybe).  Daughter also has a story in the collection. (Talented family, see.)

Anyway you'll find Little Mrs Men O'Paws here. And here's a taster:

The next morning  Mrs O’Paws and Mr O’Paws were having breakfast in the kitchen. They were having dry corn flakes and black tea because  Mrs O’Paws had forgotten to get any milk.
 Mr O’Paws was reading his newspaper. He looked at  Mrs O’Paws.
 ‘It’s a lovely morning, isn’t it?’ he said.
  Mrs O’Paws burst into tears and ran upstairs to the bathroom. She stood behind the door sniffling. Mr O’Paws followed the noise. 
 ‘What’s the matter, dear?’ he said.
 ‘Nothing. Everything. I don’t know.’

If this sounds familiar find out how Mrs Men O'Paws resolves her problems here.

What it needs, of course, is illustrations. I shall work on that.

Monday, May 09, 2016

The things you find on shelves

I've been having a clear out. 

I was going to have a major sort out of the study but as I began and looked around i realised that was a bit ambitious for a Monday morning so settled for a minor sort out.

It's amazing the stuff I keep. Feeling ruthless - a) I haven't used this for the last umpteen years, and b) the children won't want to sort it out after I've gone (taking lessons from Uncle) - I've filled two green bags of paper for recycling and two boxes of books for charity shops. 

Among the stuff I've come across are five enormous Mr Forgetful birthday cards, two copies of Hollybrook Cookery and several drawings I did years ago.
 A friend and I organised the Hollybrook school  recipe collection  to raise money for the Special Care Baby Unit at Southampton's Princess Anne Hospital after the unexplained cot death of a baby of one of the mum's in the school. That must have been thirty years ago. But i was and still am pleased with it.

Less so with Mr Forgetful. I have no recollection of buying the cards, I don't like them and I never buy in bulk like that. So it's a mystery. Maybe I inherited them from someone.

A few years ago - nay, a goodly few years ago - I tried my hand at drawing. Not from life but from pictures. I was rather pleased with the poppy.

I also have a stack of files of writing from various courses and groups I've been involved with. One day I will sort through them. Really I will. But I also remembered a series of short articles I wrote for the local evening paper when Daughter was getting married back in 2003. You may _ I hope - find them entertaining so I'll publish them on my long bits blog. But here's a taster to be going on with:

Valentine Countdown
1st January 2003
New Year resolution number 1: I will no longer leave everything until the last minute but will emulate boy scouts and be prepared, and well-organised.
New Year resolution number 2: start serious diet as of now.

Shall begin by taking in hand organisation of daughter’s upcoming nuptials. Consult Ms Etty Kett’s Guide to Modern Marriage. Page 43, Invitations should be sent out at least three months in advance.
Wedding is 14th February, giving us, let’s see, six weeks and two days precisely. Bother. Must be a record – breaking New Year resolution that quickly - even for me. Christmas truffles offer consolation. Mmmm, feel better already ... oh, bother, bother. 

Will not be downhearted at obvious flaw in resolution plans i.e. me, but will persevere. Make list of ‘things to do’, in no particular order.

Slightly concerned about length of list and number of times word ‘buy’ crops up. Tell myself that that, at least, is husband’s worry, not mine and concentrate instead on most important task: write piece to read at wedding. Plan to write moving and sensitive piece to ensure wet-eyed delight, foiled by daughter saying, ‘you won’t write anything cheesy and sentimental, will you?’ Bother, bother, bother. Could be a long and too short six weeks.

For the rest go here.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Treading the Path of Doom

So, as I mentioned before we left, Husband planned for us to walk up a volcano.
This is what I thought was the volcano we were going to walk up.
But we got halfway up and realised we were then at the bottom of the actual volcano that had been hiding behind. You see the path on the right? That's the one we took. The path on the left, which seems to circle the bottom of the volcano rather than go to the top, is the one we should have taken. 

As it was, we scrambled, slipped, sweated and swore quietly, up the scree to the top. According to the internet guide the path was cobbled. 'Huh! Call this cobbled? mutter, mutter, mutter.' Before I go on let me say I'm not good with heights. Or climbing up mountains. So I was a little nervous even though I knew it was illogical. Even if I'd fallen I'd only have tumbled down and scraped and grazed myself. It wasn't life-threatening. Yet.

So it was when we reached the top that we realised there was a proper path - that went up to a viewing platform on the opposite side. (You may just be able to see it in the photo.)

This was as close as I would go to the edge. 
The guide said it was about 1 kilometre around the circumference so rather than attempt to get back down the hard way Husband suggested we walk around the rim to the proper path.

Well, it started off fine but as we walked it got narrower and narrower and less path-like until eventually we were just manoeuvring from foothold to foothold. Husband was in front and I was clinging on to his hand so tightly he almost lost feeling in it. He could just about feel how wet and sweaty my palm was. Now it was life-threatening. Okay, maybe not, but still jolly scary.

'Look at that,' he'd say occasionally.
'I'm not looking at anything and don't you look either! Just keep going!' I snapped back.

Our path of doom.

'See? I'm not scared at all!'
There were loads of these Barbary ground squirrels around the viewing platform, coming right up to our bag when we rustled it.
With the inuksuk I made.

George is in the naughty corner

George won't be invited to stay at Daughter's again. Not that he was invited this time: he was only allowed ('He smells and he's naughty!') because we played the 'Look at all the times we have your children/dog' card.

So this time he escaped twice resulting in long searches in pyjamas (I should stress they get bathed and changed very early) and stole Daughter's lunch at least once. There was a message on our phone when we returned from someone who had our dog. Not in a 'give me the money or the dog gets it' kind of way - which is just as well because if Daughter had been in charge she would probably have let the dog get it - but meaning he'd been found and the kind people were looking after him.

But, and this is the interesting bit, it wasn't just George. Holly was with him. So what I want to know is: who took the initiative? Who led the escape committee? Naturally the expectation is that it was George but he's been awfully good recently. Even when the fence blew down and there was a huge gap for several days before Husband got round to replacing it he didn't leave the garden.

So my premise is this: Holly was just waiting for the moment when she'd have her bestie with her to go on a road trip. I'm just saying.