Monday, November 28, 2016

little posers

As all the family were gathered for the party on Saturday I grabbed the opportunity to book us in for a photo shoot with Rasa Mombeini on Sunday morning. She was highly recommended by a friend so I'm hoping for some good results. 

It was promising that she told me to push my head forward a little so I wouldn't have a double chin. A  small but significant detail I think.

GrandSon1 and GrandDaughter2 are absolute naturals at this posing lark. In fact GrandDaughter2 had to be dragged away at the end as she climbed back on the stool and wanted to pose some more.

Then, as we were in the area, we stopped at Verdi's for an ice cream lunch. Well, you've got to.

My intention to collapse in a heap on Sunday afternoon was stymied by a soulful look from George so he and I went for a solitary wander in the woods where with a sudden burst of energy George spotted a dog up ahead of us on the path and bounded off to greet him. It wasn't until he was quite close that he saw what I had already seen: it was one big dog. So big, in fact, that George only came up to his shoulders.

i dread to think what his food bill comes to.

Flashed at

Driving to Daughter's this morning I was tootling away on my imaginary trumpet to Mozart's Horn Concerto when there was a sudden flash in front of my eyes.

Was I hallucinating? Strange hallucination if it were. Was it lightning? With a clear blue sky it seemed unlikely. Leaving the only possible answer: the speed camera flashed at me.

I blame Mozart. I drive the road loads of times and I always slow down when the speed limit changes from 40 to 30. Really there should be a slow-down zone where a little bit of excess speed doesn't count. I think.

Well, I can't go on a speed awareness course before Christmas; I'm too busy.

But last week I scratched the front side of Mini reversing out of Uncle's underground car park. It is a very narrow turnround area and Husband has done it himself but it has set me thinking that maybe I should give up driving. Or definitely pay more attention.

Anyway, poopy, poopy, poopy.

And then it was off to Hogwart's

So, with the wedding done and dusted, it was time to move on to the next celebration: GrandDaughter's 7th birthday party. On the theme of Harry Potter.

Entrance was from Platform 9 and 3/4.
Dangerous wizard, Sirius Black, was on the loose.
And Professor Trelawney was there with her crystal ball.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The wedding of the year

A lovely day yesterday at the wedding of James and Heather at Corran Spa Hotel. Would have been better if the heating in our room had been working but we weren't in there that much.
And, as promised, the cake as made by my fair hands. The wedding was travel-themed.
And ... I wore high heels all day! At least from 2-7, which fortunately included a lot of sitting down although I was afraid to take them off in case I couldn't get them back on. And I only had one problem, that is if you don't count walking: we all had to go outside on the cobblestones for a photo and my heel got stuck between two stones so my foot moved and my shoe stayed behind.
That's my Vietnam dress; I don't think I've shown you before. It's the one I had made to measure in 24 hours in - oh, can't remember where exactly other than Vietnam. See? High heels.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Just call me Mary

I've spent the day making and decorating a wedding cake for a wedding tomorrow. When that's been and gone I'll post a photo here. It doesn't look quite as I imagined it ...

Other than that we delivered Granddaughter1's birthday presents. She's seven today. It doesn't feel like a minute since I was rushing down to Devon when her mum was in labour. And suddenly she seems very grown-up. 

I forgot to remind you what a brave girl I was in the hospital. Uncle was bleeding non-stop remember. Not a huge amount but he did keep on showing me the bits of blood-soaked tissue he had stuffed up his nose. When it came to the cauterisation I had no idea what to expect and feared the worst. Actually what I expected was that they would burn the inside of his nose which is what they sort of did I suppose only it was with silver nitrate rather than an open flame.

I distracted myself from a possible blood-induced panic/faint by mentally correcting all the grammar and punctuation on the notices on the wall. I had a biro on me and if it hadn't been for the fact that I abhor biro-corrected notices almost as much as the original error I'd have been pointing out that if the stationery hadn't been stationary it would have gone missing. If you see what I mean.

P.S. As in Mary Berry

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Friday? Really?

My last post was as long ago as that? So much for my resolve to write each day ...

In my defence blah, blah, blah. Excuses.

Saturday we joined Elder Son and GrandSon1 in Cardiff for GS1's first rugby international. Not a completely traditional afternoon as I insisted on trying pies from the Pieminster shop rather than buy them (at exorbitant prices and not very good) in the stadium. I opted for  Heidi pie with squash, spinach and goats' cheese, which was a bit strong but otherwise tasty. And it came with mash and gravy!

GS1 and I both had our faces painted.
And from that point on the afternoon went downhill with a lacklustre performance from Wales against Japan. We won. Just. 33-30 thanks to a last minute drop goal. Next week we take on South Africa. I am not looking forward to what could be another thrashing.

Sunday - can't remember. Spent the morning playing games with GS1 before he went home then, oh, yes, I remember: I spent the rest of the day in A&E with Uncle.

His nose had been bleeding since midnight. Not pouring but a steady trickle and when he called and spoke to a doctor he was advised to go to A&E immediately. He's nearly 91 and is on warfarin, which thins the blood I think so they were a little concerned.

So at about 1.30 pm I set off to pick him up and take him to Morriston hospital on the other side of town. I finally got home again at 11.00 pm. Which is more than Uncle did as they insisted on keeping him in for the night.

2.15 pm Arrive at A&E.
See Triage nurse.
See doctor who wants him to see an ENT doctor.
Told to go and wait elsewhere.
Get there and nurse says, 'You shouldn't be here; we haven't got room.' Then she sighs and says, 'Oh sit in the waiting room.'
See doctor.
Doctor does what he has to do.
Uncle fights against staying in but is persuaded by doctor and me that's in its his best interest because of his high INR levels - whatever they are.
10.40 pm I go home.
Monday 8.30 am Uncle phones to say he's ready to go home.

The staff were all very kind and, when dealing with Uncle, very efficient, but the waiting in between was ridiculous. Uncle used to be someone important in the NHS and I suspect he is going to write to someone who is now important suggesting ways of streamlining the system. One way might be to cut down the number of people who ask and write down the answers to the same questions.

So that was Sunday and half of Monday. Rest of day spent searching for birthday presents for GrandDaughter1 who is seven tomorrow. Followed by attendance at the opening night of the Zac's art exhibition in the Grand Theatre.

Today it's been looking after GrandDaughter2 day. Husband, who'd normally lend a hand, has been poorly and only able to sit in his chair and play Civilisation on his computer for the last three days. So tonight, when I should be in Zac's, I'm here writing this because I'm just too knackered.

Running on Lemsip.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Yet more flatulence

Going to bed last night I realised that not only was my face covered in glitter but I was a parrot short of a pair. Most annoying as they were my favourite earrings.

Hairdresser today where, in a posh fashionable clothes magazine, I saw an advert for flatulence filtering jeans. Would have thought that would be more appropriate in Saga or The Oldie mags. Surely young trendy women don't suffer with flatulence!

And this evening I discovered that the first chaplain was a Roman soldier named Martin. Martin?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Love, happiness and creativity

I fear you could be bored with me talking about a) my birthday, b) how busy my life is, and c) well, that's probably it really, so, anyway I thought you might like this little picture.
I found it when I was looking for something else as is always the case. It was part of a calendar I had some years ago and I kept a few of the cartoons for ... some reason. Just as well I did as I now have something about which to write, which isn't one of the aforementioned boring topics.

I consider myself fortunate in having much beauty, love and happiness in my life and currently quite a lot of chocolate too, in the form of birthday Maltesers. 

I've just noticed a scrap of paper that is pinned on my noticeboard behind my desk - or is that in front of? I'm looking at it so it must be in front of. Maybe. It's possible to look at things and not see them though as I'm sure we all know. I don't know where this scrap of paper came from - and it's been there a long time as you can tell from the number of pinholes in it - but I need to take some of its advice. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A disaster!

That's the only way to describe my leading of bible study last night.

I'd hadn't practised enough - Younger Son and Nuora took me out for a belated birthday ice cream in the afternoon when I should have been practising. (My toffee chip crunch sundae was delicious and I don't regret it for one minute.) And it shouldn't have mattered.

The parable of the sower is a familiar story and I knew what I wanted to say but somehow when I started I lost all confidence and ended up stuttering my way through it. On the bright side there were a few entertaining moments though.

Like when I asked what fruit God wanted us to produce and Jayne, our special lady, said, 'Apples. And pears.'
'Um, yes, but what fruit does he want us personally to produce?'
'Bananas. Grapes. Tangerines.'

I tried to rephrase my question again but it was too late: this was much too much fun and soon I was being inundated with fruity suggestions.

Monty, one of our revered leaders, has got into the habit of finding an excuse to give out sweets during the studies he leads. This unsurprisingly makes him very popular so I thought what I needed was a bit of sweet cred.

'A careful farmer would avoid spilling seed on the path or rocky areas,' I said, 'but God sows his seed willy nilly. (On reading that now I realise it could easily have been misconstrued.) He wants everyone to have a chance to get to know him.' Giving me the perfect excuse to throw sweeties out into the crowd. No humans were harmed in the act. (Although Marcus nearly got a Quality Street in the eye.)

Finally it was prayer time. I said a prayer and paused just before the end so I could think if there was anything else I wanted to say. And in that moment of peace, that special quiet time, one of our younger Zaccers let fly a string of noisy farts.

What else could I say then except Amen!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Whoops again

Forgot to do a post yesterday. I'd like to blame busyness but actually I just forgot.

My birthday is the start of a birthday season. Next is GrandDaughter1 who'll be 7 in just over a week. She's having a Harry Potter themed party and I'm dressing up as Professor Trelawney. (She appeals to the old hippie in me.)

For my costume I only need to find the clothes, the glasses and the hair. I have the crystal ball. (Okay, old bedroom lamp.) Now I'm wondering if Professor Sprout might not be easier.

After that is Husband's birthday but before both is Heather and James' wedding. For which I'm making the cake.

We're also off to Cardiff next Saturday to meet Elder Son and GrandSon1 for GS1's first rugby match - Wales versus Japan at the Millennium Stadium. No, wait, that's changed. It's Principality Stadium now I think.

Tonight I'm leading bible study at Zac's. Supposedly on the parable of the sower but I'm going to begin with a defence of Mary Magdalene who wasn't an ex-prostitute. In 1591 Pope Gregory (who wasn't) the Great concluded the evidence proved her to be one and the RC church didn't change their position until 1969. 

Also each week I lead Rubies bible study for women and grandchild-mind. Oh and I'm doing a community chaplaincy course. 

So if you want me to do anything don't ask until after 3rd December. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

For richer for poorer, in sickness and in health

Husband was listing the reasons why he'd made a good choice in picking me as his wife. (I let him believe he picked me; we all know I chose him.)

He said, 'You're cheap to run because you're not very materialistic. And you don't have any health issues so I don't have to look after you. Oh and you're sexy and gorgeous.'

Ah well, can't argue with that, can I?

We all live in a yellow submarine

Husband bought me some face paints for my birthday. Of course GrandDaughter1 had to try them out on me with a butterfly on one cheek, a rabbit on the other and a rather dashing moustache to round it off.

The yummy birthday tea ended in style with this Yellow Submarine cake, continuing the Beatles theme, made by Younger Son. Do you like his ingenious resolution of the problem of not having a 4 candle?

The face paints, Husband explained, were at half price in Sainsburys having been left over from Halloween. I upset him today by telling him that all the Halloween stuff is now marked down to 5p!

Face paints are just the latest in the long line of ... let's say unusual present ideas of Husband's. Others include a hair-cutting kit ('think of the money you'll save by cutting our hair'), fat balls and dvds he wanted to see. (To be fair, he's also bought me jewellery, perfume and dvds I want to see.) I really am a very fortunate woman.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A birthday gallop ...

turns into a birthday flip flop!

Now I'm 64

In 1967 when the Beatles released their Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band LP I was 15 and the very idea of actually being 64 was inconceivable. Why, that was old. My great-aunt was in her sixties and she was ancient.

Today, on my birthday, I realise how foolish that perception was! Sixty-four is nothing! I am at my peak. Well, perhaps I've crept down again the other side but just a bit! Hardly worth mentioning.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Surprise, surprise!

Lunch today with Jihye, a lovely young Korean friend, followed by an appointment which the appointee must have forgotten as he'd left. Still I managed to find out what I needed to know so it wasn't a waste of time.

Came home to find the latest issue of The Bay magazine had been delivered and was lying on the sideboard in the hall open at this page.

Much excitement from me as my first article for The Bay is published! Love the illustration but still unsure about the title and that apostrophe though ...

You can read the article online here.

Whoops! Missed a day!


Women's study group at Zac's.
Finishing preparing for above.
Returning car seat to Daughter.
Reading facebook reaction to Trump.
Heather and James for dinner.
Um ... that's it.

My Facebook page is depressingly aligned, I suppose because most of my FB friends are 'people like me'. We hope that he won't be as bad as we expect and pray that he said some things for effect and, presumably, to attract disenfranchised voters.

But I still can't get over the fact that people voted for him. Took him seriously enough not to care that he would be the face of America in its world dealings. But, hey, I don't know much so I'll return to thinking about things that matter, like what sort of wedding cake I will make for Heather and James.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016


Remember the 60s? When we thought we could change the world with love and peace?

Fifty years on and now the instigators of change are fear and hatred.

Looking at my 11-week-old grandson this morning I realised that this is the world he will grow up in, and that he and others like him will have to be the change we've failed to be. But for now the responsibility is on us. If we can do it right, if we can put strong foundations in place, if we can encourage and teach and above all love these children, who knows what they will achieve? Maybe even a world where no-one has to ask, 'But who is my neighbour?'

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

One mystery solved

Daughter phoned last night. 'Your glasses are behind the cushions on the sofa in the lounge.'
'GrandDaughter2 was walking around with them.'
'So behind the cushions seemed like a good alternative?'

My glasses are safely back on my nose now. Of course I still can't get digital radio in the kitchen. I am threatening to stop all kitchen-related activity unless the problem is solved but as Younger Son is doing most of the cooking these days I probably won't be missed.

Today's the day

Today the American people vote for their next President. The polls make it look like a close race although we all know how accurate polls are.

What amazes me is that Trump has got this far. He surely can't win? Points against him: he's an idiot; he's a republican; he's an idiot - oh, have I said that already?

You can tell my grasp of American politics is loose but you can't deny the brilliance of my argument. But what do I know? I thought nobody would be silly enough to vote for Farage, Boris and Leave.

Monday, November 07, 2016

The man from del Monte says yes

But the woman from derwen fawr she say no. At least she's going to try to.

Last week I bumped into someone I hadn't seen for a long time. She's one of those people that everybody likes and says is wonderful. A good loving woman. But she admitted she was a little depressed; she'd had to say no.

Her heart wanted her to help someone but her head told her that it could turn into a long-term commitment and she had to acknowledge it wouldn't be good for her mental well-being. So she said no. Reluctantly and regretfully.

Which I felt gave me permission to say no too. Of course I haven't done it yet ...

Sunday, November 06, 2016

My tongue is worn out with overuse

It was a glorious day. And we live in the most beautiful of places. So naturally enough lots of people took advantage and walked around the cliffs. Under such circumstances you might expect them to be happy and carefree. Alas, my tongue was fair worn out after being poked out at so many miserable walkers who ignored my smile or greeting. (If you read my blog regularly you may recall I decided some time ago to poke out my tongue at the retreating backs of old miseries.) 

You do wonder why some people bother to walk when they could stay at home and be miserable.

This little dragon - or possibly shag - was pleased to pose for me though.

In other news I am disturbed at the loss of two things. Firstly my glasses. (I'm wearing my old glasses to type this in case you're wondering and, you'll be pleased to hear, I have my new new upstairs glasses for bedtime reading.) The last time I recall using them was to read some sausages in the kitchen last night. I'm fairly sure I took them from the study in to the kitchen leaving the case in the study. But the case is missing too so it throws doubt on that memory and possibly my sanity.

The other thing to have gone missing - strangely enough also from the kitchen - is my digital radio service. This is seriously irreplaceable and threatens my well-being. Husband can usually fix these sort of things but he has given up. 'You'll have to listen to FM,' he says. Huh!

Saturday, November 05, 2016

oooh, aaah!

Fireworks can still be heard as I write this at 9.30. Just about acceptable as long as they don't go on after 10.00! I'm getting old and need my sleep.

As a child I loved firework night and for weeks before I would save my pocket money and buy one firework a week from Billy's newsagent on the corner. I kept them in a tin - very safety conscious you see - but took them out and admired them each week. My mum would buy a box too so on November 5th we'd have our own little display. Nothing like as big or as stunning as the fireworks you get today but just as enjoyable.

I hated bangers and jumping jacks: they terrified me! But loved rockets and especially Catherine wheels. 

A few weeks ago Daughter said, 'We were going to have fireworks and invite you around but there are ducks next door so could you host us?' And buy the fireworks and feed us beforehand obviously.

The grandchildren were, of course, much braver than I was. I was squeaking and ducking while they just laughed and a jolly time was had by all even 11-week-old GrandSon4 even though he may not remember much of his first firework night.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Busy busy day

Hence last minute blog post. 

Speaking to a group of Koreans at Zac's today.

Then looking after GrandDaughter2 over tea time.

Then chaplaincy course this evening.

Seemed to miss dinner somewhere along the way ...

Thursday, November 03, 2016

My life in perfume

I love smells. Of roses and lilacs and bluebells. Of bread and welshcakes cooking. Of memories. Memories of people or places, times or things. And I love to smell good.

Blue Grass by Elizabeth Arden was my first perfume of choice. Introduced to it by my mum - and for some reason I associate it with my godmother too - I loved its light floral scent. Aqua Manda, another floral but on an altogether different note, came next seeing me through university. Inevitably Charlie - the 'perfume for the modern young woman' - took me through my working days.

I would have preferred Je Reviens - another of my mum's favourites - but Charlie was in my price range. And somewhere along the line I flirted with Estee Lauder's Youth Dew as worn by the elegantly glamorous woman I babysat for and longed to emulate but which was totally inappropriate for a young innocent such as I.

Another Lauder perfume, Beautiful, graced my wrists for a few years but these days, always on my birthday and Christmas lists you'll find Chanel No. 5. Their Allure is a good night-time perfume but for daily wear I stick with No. 5. At least until I run out.

The only problem with No. 5 is that I can only smell it on me when I'm washing dishes. And, I suspect, nobody else can smell it on me unless they get very close. Which raises the question: for whom do we wear perfume?

I like it when I'm in a shop and I get a sniff of something lovely as someone passes by (although my 'oh you smell nice' comments are greeted with a variety of not always positive responses) although some are just too over-powering and chemical. 

Husband rarely notices when I wear perfume but I will sometimes sniff my wrist just to inhale the scent for my own pleasure. So I guess I wear it for me. 

Whoops, I nearly forgot to mention those heady university days when I wore Brut - because, hey, this was the 70s and we weren't bound by gender specifics. And doing a little bit of research for this post I discover that my favourites are all old: No. 5 1921, Je Reviens 1932, Blue Grass 1934 and even Youth Dew 1953. I also discovered that Blue Grass, which I thought was no longer made because I can't find it in airport duty-free shops is still available. Looks like my Christmas list is about to become longer.

So what do you wear and for whom do you wear it?

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

I was very brave

I invented a recipe. Normally I am a great one for sticking to rules and recipes but of late I've been a little more daring and my specially-invented pumpkin soup was well received at Zac's. I thought it was too salty but everyone enjoyed it nevertheless. So here is my recipe for:

Halloween Soup
All quantities are very rough
1kg chopped pumpkin flesh
2 large onions
1" ginger grated
3 cloves garlic
2l chicken stock
creme fraiche (about half a tub)

Roast the pumpkin in oil with a little added drizzle of maple syrup if you like. Meanwhile saute the onions until soft then add garlic, ginger and bacon. Continue cooking until bacon is cooked. Add pumpkin and stock and simmer for about 30 minutes. Whizz. Stir in creme fraiche and check seasoning (I added salt and pepper when cooking and needn't have added salt as there was plenty from the bacon and stock).

While we're on the topic of made-up recipes here's my recipe for: 

gluten-free Welshcakes
8oz gf self-raising flour
4 oz margarine (or butter)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
3 oz caster sugar
3 oz sultanas
1 egg
pinch salt

Rub the fat and flour (and cinnamon, baking powder and xanthan gum) together. Stir in the sultanas and sugar. Add the beaten egg and make a sticky dough.

With well-floured hands and surface, squish together and flatten. It may be easier if you divide into smaller pieces. When it's about this thick - I don't know, maybe 3/4 cm - cut into circles and cook on a pre-heated and greased griddle. Be patient and cook slowly. Cool and sprinkle with sugar. Eat quickly because they will disappear otherwise.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

I don't like Halloween

The large scale celebrations of Halloween were only just becoming popular when my children were growing up so we got away with not joining in but it's going to be much harder for my grandchildren - assuming they/their parents don't want to go down that route.

There seems to me to be something inherently wrong with a celebration of evil. I think maybe I'm taking it too seriously but the niggle remains. While a very few individuals may find it a way into the occult and satanic practices I'm sure that for the majority it's just an opportunity to dress up - and there are some wonderful costumes - and collect sweets. Which brings me to my next niggle.

How is it all right to encourage children to knock on neighbours' doors and say, 'Give me something nice or I'll do something horrid to you'? Yes, I'm taking it seriously again but that's basically what it is. Which doesn't seem to be a good lesson to teach children. And when they turn the tables on you in later life and refuse to do something for you unless you first do something for them and they bring up the 'well, it was okay at Halloween' argument what can you fall back on? 

The children I saw had carrier-bags full of goodies. Dentist and Obesity Clinic this way. (One year we had trick or treaters. We had nothing in the house except Weightwatchers chocolate bars. They never came again. So the following year when I bought a box of Quality Street ready no-one came and Husband and I had to eat them all.) 

No, I don't like Halloween which isn't to say I didn't enjoy the bloody soup with eyeballs and vampire bread served up for tea at Daughter's yesterday. Or that I didn't leave and then creep back, jumper over head and make whoo noises until they gave me chocolate. 

Or that I haven't made pumpkin soup for Zac's tonight albeit a night late. We had a huge pumpkin donated so I had to do something with it.