Sunday, July 31, 2016

In which George does something disgusting

Walked around a part of Singleton Park's ornamental gardens I hadn't walked in before and it was lovely ... 
Exhibiting the Christmas look.

Before the dirty deed.

A fluffy chick I'm guessing.
until George rolled in something long-dead and rotten with a smell that made me retch.

I had to rush all the way home to try and keep ahead and upwind of George or else walk with my hankie over my nose.

I berated him non-stop and bathed him as soon as we got home.
The hang dog look because he's not allowed in the house or in the garden - where he will roll in dirt.

Dig a hole? How big?

I went to see someone in hospital yesterday and as I left the car to go into the ward I prayed earnestly, 'Please, God, don't let me say anything stupid. PLEASE, don't let me say anything stupid.'

You see I have a tendency to panic and, with good intentions, say things in an attempt to lighten the mood but very quickly I realise that what I've said is totally inappropriate. People sometimes laugh but sometimes they stare at me in a 'You do realise you've said something completely inappropriate, don't you? Are you completely insane?' way. And, to be honest, that's the more normal reaction.

But thank you, God, I didn't yesterday. At least I don't think I did. I wasn't aware that I did because when I do become aware I keep digging in an effort to put it right.

On the other hand I may have said something inappropriate when speaking to Dave and Sarah earlier in Sainsburys. If I did I am very sorry!

I'm not very good at talking. And this morning I'm not very good at writing either; I can't think of words.

I don't care what the weatherman says ...

I say, 'It's going to be fine; I don't need a coat. And if it rains I'll just get wet.'

And that's usually my attitude to most things: it'll be fine. I might panic and rush like a crazy person but I nearly always expect things, small or big, to turn out okay.

But lately I've been so busy I think I've been forgetting to take my happy pill meaning as well as the odd sudden dip in my state of mind I'm finding the world in general a bit of a gloomy place. 

I can't listen to the news any more. As with everything else I've had the 'It'll be okay' mentality when people start talking about the end days and how everything's going bad, but suddenly I find myself in a mire of misery.

In the car I foolishly put on the news and the item was about national insurance fraud - okay, I can cope with that - but it went on to migrants and the underlying sense of  us and them, and aggression was palpable and I switched over.

To Nation Gold, 'playing Wales' favourite oldies', and to Eleanor Rigby. All the lonely people, where do they all come from?

I turned off the radio.

Elder Son and family had just gone home after a lovely few days with us (well, I enjoyed it!) and I was undeniably suffering from grandchild deprivation but I began thinking, 'What if I die before I see them again? Or what if I die before they grow up, graduate, get married, have babies? Will they remember me? And it won't be long before this lovely closeness we have becomes a teenager's off-handedness. I don't want to die. Ever.'

It's okay; don't worry: I'm making sure I take my pill regularly now. It'll be fine. 

All you need is cool shades

Called in to see Daughter and family and found GrandSon2 in just his pants. Later when I was leaving he said he was coming with me.
'You can't come in just your pants,' I said, as I hurried to make my escape.
So he went and got ready.

He put on his shoes and his sunglasses.

One day I'll call his bluff and take him in the car with me. But knowing GrandSon2 he'd be perfectly happy and we'd end up with GrandSon2 having an unplanned sleepover. (Thus making GrandDaughter1 cross and leading to us then having her to stay and so on ...)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Having fun in the holidays

We've had a lovely few days with Elder Son and family staying. Although the weather hasn't been the best it was dry for long enough for us to get out and enjoy ourselves.
Eating the world's largest ice cream at the pier.

Climbing trees and looking for trolls under bridges in Clyne Gardens.

Exploring Lady Alina's chapel at Oystermouth Castle.

Getting stuck in the mud on Swansea bay.

Out of the mouths of babes

The grandchildren were discussing the oldies. They decided that GrandDad was the most serious one then GrandSon1 said, 'And Neenee (granny) is the greatest ...'
I began to preen.

* * * * * * * *
We were sticking cardboard boxes together to make a spaceship when I lost the end of the sellotape. 'Oh bother,' I said, 'GrandDad will tell me off!'
GrandSon1 looked at me seriously.
'GrandDad tells you off for a lot of things,' he said.

What can I say? (Apart from the fact that I should be careful what I say.)

Only this morning after doing something stupid I said, 'I'll try not to do it again,' and Husband said, 'But you will because you're a plonker.'

Hey ho.

Although it wasn't me who took this photo supposedly of GrandSon1 being a knight. And, no, it hasn't been cropped. That's the whole photo. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Could you/would you eat a chilli?

I don't have photos of Younger Son coming home or of Daughter in Race for Life but I do have plenty of the cook-out.

It was a beautiful day on Saturday for the chilli cook-out. The festival was teeming with people all enjoying a lovely day on Gower. Twelve competitors, each with their own tent and cooking equipment were gathered and, come 12 noon, the cooking began. This was Elder Son's first attempt at a cook-out competition - unlike most of the other entrants many of whom travelled around the country and had won various competitions.

Sunday saw a complete change in the weather. Actually in this photo it doesn't look as bad as it was. As we were driving there in the middle of the day you could only see the approaching cars by their headlights. We being Husband and me. Elder Son had set off the site at 6.30 in the morning to get prepared.
Glazing the chicken with barbecue sauce.
After a tense waiting time Elder Son took third place (out of three). But still got £50 and a bottle of prosecco. 

For the chilli comp the rules specified that you could decorate it but no points would be awarded. Not sure if that applied to the barbecue too but the winning entry was pretty spectacular.
Unlike Elder Son's. He had concentrated most on the chilli comp and hadn't really through either the cooking plan or the presentation. But taste was jolly good.

He is already planning what he has to do next year to improve his ranking.

One thing he won't be doing is entering the chilli eating competition. This was the starting line-up, each holding their first chilli, a jalapeno.
The chillis got progressively hotter and each one had to be chewed before being swallowed, seeds and all. I stayed until one boy had been sick, and two others had come very close to it before deciding this was really getting too obscene and left so I'm not sure who won but I know all would have suffered majorly later on. Can't really see that the fleeting glory would have been worth it.

A momentous weekend

This has been a momentous weekend for each of my children - and thus for me.

Daughter took part in the 5K Run for Life in Exeter in memory of her friend, a mum of two young children, who died last year. It was Daughter's first entry into the world of event running since taking up running less than a year ago so it was a challenge for her and one she successfully completed - when she finally realised the siren meant the race had begun - in spite of all her last minute panicking and stressing.

Elder Son and his family are staying with us for a few days, partly so he could enter the Gower Chilli Festival Cook-out, which this year included a barbecue competition for the first time as well. So he's spent most of the weekend in a field in Gower sweating over a hot smoker. (He couldn't get his barbecue apart so had to do all his cooking on his smoker that we'd already brought back from Surrey with us on our last trip there.)

He came 9th out of 12 entrants for the chilli and 3rd for the barbecue (out of three!) so although a little disappointed with the chilli result he's learned a great deal from the competition and the other contestants many of whom were old hands who've won a variety of competitions before.

Being completely unbiased view Husband and I thought his chilli was the best. One of the judges said it tasted and smelled burned - a complete nonsense! It was smoky but not in the least burned and I am very sensitive to anything that has a burned flavour. Ah well, just another person to add to my 'one day I'm going to slap them' list.

For the barbecue challenge entrants had to cook ribs and a chicken and another item of choice. The judges declared Son's chicken to be the best but his ribs let him down. Also the judges - I don't know where they get them from honestly - kept saying everything was too smokey. For his freestyle he did short ribs beef, which looked black but were delicious and perfectly cooked (I thought).

Presentation might have let him down a tad ...

And the winning entry ...

Meanwhile Younger Son left the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia, this weekend for the last time (possibly). With his data collected for his PhD research he is flying back to Italy to be with Nuora and wait for the birth of their first child in late August. 

It's been a long six month separation for them and an even longer and sometimes very hard three years of Blue Temple Conservation

I am incredibly proud of my three children not for what they have or haven't achieved but for who they are. And I love them heaps.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The difference between pop and rock

GrandDaughter1 is in the car with me.
She says, 'Granny, what's the difference between rock and pop?'
'Um, well, rock is usually noisy and bangier while pop is a bit sweeter.'
(She chose the right person to ask with my wide-ranging musical knowledge.)
'I hate pop,' she declares.
'What about ... Katy Perry (the only musician I think we might both know)? She's sort of pop.'
'No, she's not! She's rock.'

We're on our way to a holiday art workshop in the Dylan Thomas Centre. When we get there GrandDaughter1 decides she isn't going to talk to anybody except me so we find a place at a table and start to make journal covers. 

After a while GrandDaughter1 condescends to talk to the very helpful and friendly art tutors on hand. I can understand her reluctance: I'd rather be left alone than having to keep talking to people who want to offer ideas and suggestions.

GrandDaughter1 knows what she wants to do: have an undersea-based cover so when she grows up and can dive she can record all the creatures she sees and here it is.

And my rather pathetic effort!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Plans, flaws and being overcomers

Plan 1
Walk across the golf course, onto the beach, around the Three Cliffs and back up through Pobbles.

Flaw 1
I'd forgotten to allow for the flowing of the tide, meaning Pobbles was cut off from Three Cliffs beach.

Plan 2
Go over the top via this sort-of path.

'No, George and Holly, that way is far too precarious.'

Flaw 2
I almost throw a wobbly but keep telling myself, 'Just keep looking ahead; don't look to the side. Whatever you do, don't look to the side.'

Flaw 2 is discovered when sort-of path suddenly peters out just here rather than on top of cliff.
Plan 3
Sit and think. Then send George to find a new path.

Now I know what you're thinking but you underestimate George when he has dinner on his mind. He found a path for us to battle our way through to the very top. Yay for George!

Our reward is a deserted Pobbles just for us.

The water was surprisingly pleasant. If I'd had a bathing costume or a towel at least and, more crucially, there hadn't been a fierce under-current I might even have ventured in myself.

Babies, crickets and chilli

I'm sitting on the floor and GrandSon2 says, 'One, two, three,' then charges at me. 

If I'm prepared I catch him and lift him on my knees as I roll back. If he catches me unawares he flattens me and we wrestle on the floor until Mummy says, 'Let Granny get up now. She has to cook dinner.'

'Do you do this to your other Nanny?' I ask.
'She's obviously got more sense than me.'

GrandDaughter1 meanwhile is fearless when it comes to the cold water of the swimming pool. While Daughter and I stand around for ages plucking up our courage and then  scream when we go under GrandDaughter1 splashes around happily. 
'Aren't you cold?' I ask.
'Yes,' she says.
'Do you want to come out then?'
'No!' She looks at me as if I'm crazy for suggesting such a thing. Much the way I must have looked at my mother many moons ago when she'd suggest it might be time to come out now when I'd stay in the sea until I was blue and shivering. 
'No, it's l-l-l-lovely in h-h-h-here.'

And GrandDaughter2, like all babies, has no sense of fear and attempts to step off the edge of the pool into the water. She is most put out when Daddy stops her.

Sadly summer seems to have gone behind a cloud today. Let's hope it makes a reappearance at the weekend when Elder Son is entering the Chill Festival Cook-out and Barbecue competitions. If you recall last year I had the never-to-be-repeated opportunity to sample crickets.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I have walked the Serengeti

I have my Serengeti badge!

Forgive me, I was never a girl guide so any kind of achievement rewarded by a badge gets me excited. And today FitBit told me I had walked the equivalent of the distance across the Serengeti, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

So how far is that I hear you ask. Five hundred miles. Yes, 500 miles. Which sounded mighty impressive until:
a) I looked up Serengeti on a map and saw how small it is on the grand scale of things; and
b) I realised it's taken me six months.

But it's still as good an excuse as any to re-post this video clip.

Conversation with George

'I love the way you're always so full of energy and enthusiasm, George.'
'Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, you know.'
No, you're the lowest form of wit!' I retort wittily.
George looks at me and raises his eyebrows. 'Really? Is that the best you can do?'
'It's raining.'

George shrugs and walks on a bit then he stops and says, 'I suppose you're going to post that on Facebook, aren't you?'
He looks me up and down. 'Then I think you should take a photo of you too. It's only fair.'
'Oh no, it doesn't work like that,' I reply.
'I see,' George says. 'One rule for the dog and another for the owner.'
'That's right.'
He wanders off muttering something about a revolution.

A few steps later and he tries a different tack.
'Didn't Jesus say something about doing as you would be done by?'
'No, that was Mrs DoAsYouWouldBeDoneBy in The Water Babies.'
George sighs. 'I think you'll find that Charles Kingsley got the idea from Jesus.'
George wanders off saying something I don't quite catch but it sounds a bit like, 'Call yourself a Christian?'

So in the interest of fairness here we are on our return home.
And here is George before I sent him in the river. 
How come George is always dirtier than every other dog I see?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Are you here by accident?

Why, I wonder, do so few people comment on my blog?

Should I make it more controversial? But that wouldn't be me. 
Should I make it more interesting? But that wouldn't be me either!

It seems from my stats that a goodly number of people visit each day but very few - and only ever regulars - comment. Perhaps everyone else just falls in by accident, looking for something else.

'Tis a mystery.

Friday, July 15, 2016

In which I break the law ... possibly

There are large sections of Swansea Bay along which dogs are banned. Only in the summer and I understand the logic behind it. I think it's quite right that dogs should be banned from popular beaches where children play. Sadly there are still some irresponsible owners who don't clean up after their dogs.

But Swansea bay isn't one of those beaches that is popular with families. There are stretches of it where people will sit on a sunny day but the tide goes so far out across muddy banks it's not an ideal beach. The only time it's crowded is for the Air Show.

And it definitely isn't crowded on wet school days.
In fact George and I were the only people there. And George is a dog. 

The bit where dogs are allowed runs from the bottom of Sketty Lane (left or possibly east) to 360 cafe. The bit where dogs aren't allowed runs from the bottom of Sketty Lane (right or possibly west) to West Cross - meaning we can't get on the beach where we go all the rest of the year.

So today I might have broken the law. I'm not saying I did (in case there are any council officials reading) I'm just saying I might have been tempted, seeing as how the beach was empty, it was raining and I always clear up after my dog anyway. And - and I think this is the important bit - we were mostly below tide level. 

You see I have this vague recollection - or possibly invention - that the bit of beach between high and low tide levels belongs to the Queen, meaning the council don't have jurisdiction. Unless they are acting for HM but she is a dog-lover and I'm sure would agree that sometimes the law is an ass. Although whether that would stand up in court is doubtful.

Kissing babies

Apparently, at least according to the Trending column in Facebook, there was a big fuss after Victoria Beckham posted a photo of herself kissing her 5-year-old daughter on the lips. All kinds of craziness and accusations flew around.

Which strikes me as crazy. 

When babies first learn to kiss using their lips the most natural thing is for them to put their lips to the lips of another. Whether it's Mummy, Daddy, big brother or sister, or even Granny. 

They soon discover for themselves what and with whom they feel comfortable and most will offer a cheek or a hug instead of lip to lip contact. Indeed, they very early on become embarrassed by any sign of affection in public! 

The Beckhams seem like a close family and I don't think it's just put on for the media. Long may mums and children - and dads - share kisses without criticism.

And who could resist, and offer a cheek to, a runny-nosed sniffly adorable smiling baby when her lips are pursed towards yours? Not me certainly. Which possibly explains the number of colds I had last winter.

It's a different matter, of course, when it's a strange adult who forces a lip-to-lip greeting on you, as an old friend of my uncle's did to me a few years ago. Shudder!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

It's a date!

When people try to guess what's in these flapjacks they usually say orange or apple or any other number of fruits but rarely do they reach the correct answer, which is dates. Admittedly dates simmered in orange juice.

When I offer them to people I don't say what's in them either or I try to evade the question if asked because, like me, a lot of people will hear the word 'dates' and think, 'yuck!'

But these date flapjacks are simply probably the most moreish of any of the cakes I make. 

The recipe is one I was given by a friend, a parent from Hollybrook First School in Southampton, and as you can see it's well used. We've been back in Swansea for about 28 years so it's one that's stood the test of time.

I often make it for Zac's and a few weeks ago one of our young European men went crazy for it, doing the whole continental finger-kissing bit and saying, 'it's divine.' He wanted the recipe and I've finally remembered to write it out for him, hence this post.

The quantities at the bottom make enough for a roasting tin. I sized it up many years ago as a small batch was never enough.

Monday, July 11, 2016

When WonderWoman met the Iron Man

Took two of the Swansea grandchildren to Surrey for GrandSon1's 5th birthday party. Checked first that Husband could find an hotel with a family room for us. He googled and muttered about the ridiculous price of most rooms then said, 'I suppose you wouldn't want to share a bathroom?'
'With the children?'
'No. Other people.'

At last he said, 'Okay, I've found one.'
'With our own bathroom?'

Got through the journey without too much grumbling - from the children that is: Husband moaned a bit about other drivers - and arrived at the house of Elder Son and family just in time to change. 

Then Elder Son said we were going to walk to the hall for the party.
'Not drive?'
'It's not far and there's nowhere to park.'

Egham is a remarkable place. You'd think that WonderGranny walking down the street accompanied by mini Spiderman, Superman and WonderGirl would at least raise a few eyebrows but the locals took it all in their stride. 

It was a great party. Elder Son and Daughter-in-law had worked so hard and continued to do so throughout the traditional party, with crafts and games and party tea.

Made by Elder Son

Amazing backdrop made by Daughter-in-law

Elder Son who started a new job this week came as Iron Man on his day off
Everyone enjoyed the party although GrandDaughter1 and GrandSon2 were a little shy with so many children they didn't know. They soon came into their own though when we got back to their cousins' house and could all play together. I wouldn't like to tell you exactly what they ate during the day/weekend but sugar figured prominently.

Then it was back to the hotel to sleep. The room was ... fine. It was clean. Four single beds in a row and a bathroom of our own with shower, toilet and sink - but no plug. Understandable: they're easily stolen. And of course no bedside lamps or hair-dryers.

One big factor in favour of the hotel as far as GrandSon2 was concerned was the aeroplanes. You get a good close-up view as they zoom over when your hotel is at the end of a runway at Heathrow.

But we all got home safe and sound after a fab weekend and I slept like a log last night.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

I could be a second Dorothy Parker

It's very strange. In the morning I shower and dress and my boobs are perfectly positioned in my bra. Come dinner-time they've gone astray. How does that happen? Do they have minds of their own? It would explain a lot, for example, how some people can make them twirl in opposite directions. No matter how I try they simply shudder and flop back down. Then again I struggle to even do the tapping head rubbing tummy trick. So if each bit of my body controlled itself it would explain my lack of general togetherness. 

Ah well, just another of life's mysteries. A bit like the fact that I never come up with a sharp and biting retort to something until at least two hours after needed. Then I have a wonderful riposte and nowhere to put it. Such a waste. I could be another Dorothy Parker if ... well, quite a few things probably.

I've also left it too late to order WonderWoman knickers. 

And on a separate note, George has eaten our guest-dog's bed. 

It's very confusing having an Ollie to stay when we have a grand-dog called Holly. Especially as they're both brown. Ollie has one of those stretchy leads and I took him out by myself today for the first time. Pretty soon we got wrapped around a tree.
Ollie also doesn't like steps. He came to greet me and then couldn't be bothered to come back up the steps, settling himself down at the bottom in preference.

I fear I was a jinx

So I watched the football last night. A big game, Wales v Portugal in the Euro16 semi-finals. It's the best the Welsh football has ever done (I believe) and the excitement has been steadily mounting as the team has progressed. 

I should have watched the quarter-finals. Then Wales played Belgium, the second-ranked team in the world - is that right? It sounds unlikely - and came back from one down to win 3-1. I began to watch it but got bored after about 5 minutes. Which is a shame as it was reputedly an excellent and exciting game. Which is more than can be said for last night's. 

Wales never really looked like scoring - in my lack-of-football-knowledge opinion - and according to Husband, Portugal wasn't very good either.

Still, the country has been united behind the team and now the world knows, for a short while at least until it forgets, that Wales is a country in its own right, not part of England. The team and its fans have been acclaimed for their good behaviour and spirit. It's not really surprising: Wales, with the exception of a few Swansea and Cardiff thugs, is basically a country of rugby fans and they know how to behave.

Delilah and I watched the game, although I was a little worried, rightly so as it turned out, that we might jinx it  and we even posted a photo with some words of encouragement from Delilah on Facebook. Something about other teams being bigger and shinier but without the heart.

Monday, July 04, 2016

They make 'em tough in Mumbles

On Saturday Uncle made himself a bacon sandwich for the first time since he fell and broke his hip about this time last year: in his new apartment he can get into the kitchen.

Yesterday he ate all his cawl and dumpling followed by jelly for lunch, and bacon, egg, fried bread and tomatoes for dinner. And he took himself out on his mobility scooter, having made it down to the garage using his zimmer frame. 

I was very pleased that he ate properly (his appetite has been very poor for some time) and he was delighted that he'd made it out on his own. 'I feel free again,' he said.

Last summer he was talking about wishing he were dead and saying he was no use to anyone but just a burden. It seemed almost unlikely that he'd make it to his 90th birthday in December. The way he is now I can see him getting a telegram from the Queen/King on his 100th. 

They make 'em tough in Mumbles.

Friday, July 01, 2016

How to escape when eaten by a monster

Grandchild-minding this morning. Made lunch for GrandSon2 and then said, 'Now I have to go and get lunch for Uncle.'
'Does he like cheese and crackers too?'
'Yes, I think he does.'
'Okay. But can we look for monsters first?'

I'd only just had a narrow escape after being eaten by a monster so I thought it best to let sleeping monsters lie.

How to Escape When Eaten by a Monster
Bounce up and down on his tongue.
Punch out his tooth.
Wen he opens his mouth to say, 'Ow!' jump out.