Sunday, December 31, 2017

A new career

I am thinking of starting 2018 with a change of direction: I shall become a purveyor of gift bags.
As far as I recall I have never bought a gift bag in my life yet I have a huge stock of them. Who actually buys them? If I need one I use one of the ones previously given to me or to Husband (usually bottle-shaped in his case). They're always in immaculate condition and very few people write on the tags, and if they are written on they are easily removed.

Maybe this is the way forward. My idea of recycling wrapping paper fell at the first hurdle as it's easily torn and creased, and unreusable. Gift bags on the other hand are sturdy and long-lasting. More expensive initially and probably not suitable for large toys for children but definitely to be considered for next year. If I remember.

* * * * * * *
Toni ErdmannSpeaking of presents Husband likes to think outside the box or in this case inside the boxes. My Christmas dvds are:
Grey's Anatomy Season 12 (not seen before unlike one year where I settled down to watch the new series only to discover it had a familiar ring to it);
Their Finest, "a top-notch British movie" and one I wanted to see so a good choice;
The Lego Batman Movie, highly recommended by our children and grandchildren;
and, the most off-the-wall, Toni Erdmann, a German comedy.

I shall let you know ...

My New Year starts today

the narrow path
My resolutions are:
to get back on the narrow path to the slim door;
to walk George every day as well as join an exercise class;
to blog every day;
to finish Christy's book;
to be more organised;
to stop wasting time especially playing solitaire;
to limit my visits to Facebook;
to de-clutter;
and to generally be perfect.
And not split infinitives.

Now we all know many of those resolutions will be broken before midday today but, hey, a girl's got to try. Have a dream or at least an aim. What do they say? Aim for the moon and at least you'll hit a star. Or not end up in the gutter anyway.

George was off his food yesterday and when he forced himself to eat it promptly threw up. Twice. So he may not be walked today. His week has been quite stressful having a young dog staying and out of his routine such that it is i.e. mostly sleeping.

But I am definitely going to finish Christy's book. 

Calm after the storm

Husband suggests I am drained after a week or more of festivities. I think it's possible. After a week of excitement, anticipation and stress.

Stress because:
I want to please everyone and fear I please no-one;
I want to be a good host and worry the turkey will give everyone salmonella or, worse, be dry;
I want to be the best possible granny but sometimes want to run and hide for just five minutes;
in short I want to be perfect but forget I'm human.

I look back and think of the things that went wrong. The broccoli being overcooked is the only thing that springs to mind. Oh and my timing of things so nothing is cooked at exactly the right moment and is less than hot when it arrives at the table.

Really it could be a lot worse.

But don't think I didn't enjoy Christmas. I had a lovely time and was very happy. It's just in the calm afterwards that I contemplate and think that Husband is probably right: I could be drained. What I'm working up to is the idea that maybe I should have a day off doing nothing?

Sounds good to me.
calm after the storm
Snowdrops from last January, a reminder of what is to come

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A singular sorrow

So it's all over.

Our visitors have gone, nearly all the left-overs have been eaten, and all we're left with with is a pile of washing and dishes. And as usual I am left with a feeling of ... emptiness. It won't last long I know but while it does ...

ice cream at verdi'sMuch later
I stopped writing because I was feeling too dreary. But a trip to Verdi's with GrandSon4 complete with ice cream (yes, I know I'm on a diet but I'll explain now in a minute) cheered me up no end.

That's hazelnut and honeycomb ice cream with cream and a flake if you're interested.

So, yes, I'm on a diet but as someone wrote on the Slimming World Facebook page, 'It's not what happens between Christmas and New Year that matters; it's what happens between New Year and Christmas.'

So as my diet went to pot starting last Sunday with the curry buffet at Mumbai I was only rounding off a week of synning really today. Tomorrow it's back to the frylight and no cheese. Definitely.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Tomorrow is another day - and another turkey dinner

Christmas flapjackThey were going to be Nigel Slater's seasonal flapjacks - until I discovered a lack of figs, walnuts and ground almonds in the pantry. So they became Granny's seasonal flapjacks with pecans, coconut, cranberries and chocolate chips. Rather nice too.

But not as nice as Nuora's birthday salted caramel and Malteser pavlova made by Daughter.
At least we had a little bit of exercise to justify the birthday tea.
Toby, a water dog, had been scared of puddles but encouraged by his big cousins, George and Holly, took the plunge. 

As for me I should have been at Weigh-In yesterday. But it coincided with said birthday tea. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. But must get back to eating sensibly. Really I must. Tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The daffies and the daleks

I was marching along merrily with George when I noticed an ache in the region of my belly button. 'Whoops, perhaps I am marching a little too enthusiastically.' It is, after all, less than three weeks since my operation, and even though it was keyhole surgery it was still surgery and my belly was cut, a fact I don't think revelled in enough. 

So I slowed down. It is the first time I've walked George since surgery, mainly because I've just had too much other stuff to do, but as Husband was cooking the Boxing Day ham I decided some exercise and fresh air would do me good. 

And I had to keep telling myself, 'This is doing you good,' when what felt like little icicles of rain were lashing against me on the beach.  But it was good to be out again and see the Clyne rats enjoying Christmas as well as some early daffs.

Early daffodils in Clyne Gardens
The stream has finally broken through on the most direct route to the sea leaving an island and, if vague memories of geography classes serve well, what would be, on a larger scale, an oxbow lake.
Finally signs of a youth spent reading John Wyndham novels. I see a scene and write a script.

'Die Triffids!
'But we will return bigger and stronger!' (Said in a dalek voice. Media cross over.)

And let Christmas part 2 commence

A lovely Christmas day.

For the first time in thirty-eight years Husband and I woke up alone in the house on Christmas morning. You might think that would mean a lazy lie-in but no! Granny gets far too excited to stay in bed for long.

We did open our presents in bed - another first - and Husband enjoyed his first chocolate of the day while still snuggled under the duvet. Then it was up and pondering how long the turkey would take to cook. Husband made the stuffing - two-sorts: sausage meat and chestnut, and sausage meat and chilli - before enjoying a champagne breakfast.
Once all that was done it was just a case of waiting for the first arrivals - and they made us wait! But at last Younger Son, Nuora and GrandSon4 arrived and it was dinner time.
Christmas dinner table
I think GrandSon4 enjoyed his Christmas Eve curry at Mumbai more than his Christmas dinner but we all loved our reusable crackers including Christmas hats made by Nuora, with jokes and riddles courtesy of YS. And they even came with a bang so, unlike Tom and Barbara (The Good Life) we didn't have to make the sound effects.
Daughter and family arrived before we'd finished eating and much to GrandSon2's distress present opening had to wait.

Everyone was happy with their presents, much food was enjoyed and the cousins had a good time playing together. Today we await the arrival of Grandsons 1 and 3 along with Elder Son and Daughter-in-law. Then Christmas part 2 can begin.

And the only Christmas television I watched was The Good Life on Christmas Eve and Doctor Who on Christmas Day. A most satisfactory state of affairs.

But before I leave I must show you one of the presents I received from Husband.

A motion sensitive (obviously) nightlight to make your midnight trips to the toilet that little bit more fun.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Signs to look out for

On the radio in the car yesterday I heard that an NHS expert has brought out a list of things to look out for in elderly relatives over Christmas. Things like forgetting to turn the oven on, losing presents, not knowing where they are or why.

Which sounds like 'what I like to call Christmas.'

I hope my children didn't hear the news item. I could be in a home for the Christmas-challenged before this year is out. 

P.S. I'm not making light of dementia; the list just sounded to me to much like my life.

A certain sadness to the season

Driving around Mumbles yesterday, my quest for a parking space led me up all sorts of back streets I'd not been in for years. And as I drove I was overcome by a sadness that I hadn't expected.

I'm not sure why as I'd been in a very jolly Christmassy mood but suddenly it changed although it didn't last long: I was soon distracted by chocolate satsumas.

This last year has been a sad year family wise as Auntie Joan, the matriarch, died very soon after Christmas followed by Uncle John in February. The deaths of two cousins later in the year added to the pot of grief and I think it was for times past that I mourned yesterday. Memories of people, memories of Christmas, memories of days that have long gone. Not that all memories were good but seen through the rosy spectacles of seasonal nostalgia they have a certain charm.

Advent candles
It was good to be in prison this morning for the last Sunday in Advent service. A series of readings and reflections, prayers and carols. A time of tranquillity away from the madness of the season and a reminder to make space for God in these days.

Lastly, one simple memory to share. Christmas present unwrapping was always done very carefully so my mum could save the paper to use again the next year. Likewise Christmas cards were kept to cut up and use as gift tags the following year.  For my mum, who didn't have much money, it was purely economical. Today we may be able to afford fancy paper but can our planet?

Happy Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

It is finished!

Without wishing to make you think I have delusions of divinity I too can say, 'It is finished,' although I don't think Jesus added, 'Except the bathroom.' He might have done of course and they just didn't bother mentioning it in the gospels. For all we know he may well have said, 'Don't worry, I'll pop back in three days and give the bathroom a good going over.' Possibly.

My success is due to the fact that, as I was awake from 3.30 am thinking about what I needed to do, I was in Sainsburys by 7.00 am, putting me ahead of my day by a good margin. You wouldn't believe how many people were shopping at 7.00 am. For goodness sake, didn't they have anything better to do?

Listening to Christmas music today when Jingle Bells came on reminding me of the version we sang in the pub last Sunday night.
Jingle bells, Batman smells,
Robin's flown away.
Uncle Billy lost his willy 
on the motorway. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

I forgot!

To show you my first attempt at bread-making using the dough hook on my mixer.
From a Paul Hollywood recipe, it tasted nice with butternut squash soup but wasn't so good the following day or toasted. Quite pleased with how it looked though especially as my yeast was best before Sept 2017.

If I write my autobiography ...

I will call it, 'Oops, that wasn't meant to happen.' Because it's a favourite phrase of mine both in my daily life and in my life as a whole. I mean that life tends to happen to me and I go along with it. And I make a lot of mistakes on a regular basis.

I do think at the moment though that I am making life more stressful for myself. For instance, by worrying about whether my favourite bra will be clean for Christmas Day. And whether Santa will still come even though I changed the sheets on my bed today and not on Christmas Eve.

And once again I am regretting my earlier choices: yes, that is on so'n'so's wish list but it's a bit boring so I'll look for something more interesting. Three days before Christmas I find myself resorting to the boring gift because a) I don't have time left to look any more, and b) my idea of interesting is quite probably different from so'n'so's.

Shopping in town yesterday I felt rather like the King in the Milne poem, The King's Breakfast. 'No-one,' he whimpered, 'could call me a fussy man; I only want a little bit of butter for my bread.' I wasn't looking for butter but the thing I was looking for - nothing out of the ordinary I must stress - was only to be found in the wrong sizes or in colours or materials I didn't like. And yes I whimpered as I wandered around. 

Stores should be prepared for people like me. Have a little corner where we can go and have little sob and a nice cup of tea, a pat on the shoulder from a kindly old lady and a nice, 'there, there, dear, it'll be alright.' Which, incidentally isn't what I originally thought of when I wrote that stores should be prepared for people like me: I meant last minute shoppers and have plenty of everything in stock. But then I thought that, actually, a cup of tea and words of reassurance would be more useful.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The temptation to be happy

No sooner do I comment on bloggers who don't blog than a week goes by (almost) without a post from me. It's Christmas. What else can I say?

Three evenings, three lots of carol singing - and all very different affairs.

Sunday night I joined my cousin, Rhian, and her husband, Tony, at the Park Inn in Mumbles for carols with Cap'n Cat & the Sailors. A very enjoyable jolly - if not slightly crowded - event.

Monday night it was into prison for the annual carol service with inmates and invited guests, including the Lord Mayor, the High Sheriff and the deputy Lieutenant of the county. A much more muted time the only excitement being checking to see if the Lord Mayor still had his chain after a power cut and few moments of darkness.

A number of years ago for a few consecutive years I worked with various prisoners to write and present alternative carol services. I thoroughly enjoyed the experiences - like being locked in a room with a dozen Liverpudlian drug dealers - and was always so proud of 'my boys'. 

One year I invited Husband to come in and see what I'd been working on. He and Ric, a musician from Zac's, were sitting in the front row when the Lord Mayor at the time went around shaking hands with everyone. He shook Husband's hand and then said, 'And how long are you in for?'

Then Tuesday night it was Christmas Stories at Zac's, a mixture of monologues and carols, followed by celeriac and bacon soup and mince pies. Stu, who moved into the area this year from London way, turned up his nose at the soup when he heard it was celeriac. 'Yuck, aniseed,' he said.
'Try some,' I suggested. 'It doesn't taste of aniseed I promise you.'
He sampled a spoonful, decided he liked it and had a cupful. 'The trouble with growing up in evangelical circles is that every Christian buffet included salads made with grated raw celeriac,' he said.
'Really?' I said. 'Gosh, Wales didn't get celeriac until recently.'

Wednesday was childminding day. Two children this time as GrandDaughter1 followed her little sister's example and had a perforated ear drum. She was feeling okay but couldn't hear much which made conversations rather difficult.

Today it was off to the hairdresser's. A last minute decision on my part as I felt in control with plenty of time on my hands. That was until this morning when I sorted out the presents I'd bought and realised there were people I'd ignored completely. Important people too. So the trip to town for a relaxing hour or so in the hair salon turned into a much longer trip with much hiking back and for between shops.

I found a book in Smith's I thought would make a good gift but it looked very tatty so I went back to Waterstone's to see if they had it in: they didn't. Back to Smith's where I psyched myself up to ask an assistant who looked quite important how much I could have 'this tatty book for'. He studied it. 'It is very tatty,' he said. 'Five pounds?'
'Sounds good to me.'
We took it to the till whereupon we discovered it had already been marked down to £3. Win win.

The good thing about going to a real bookshop is that you get to see lots of alternative choices, pick them up and flick through them before making a decision; the bad thing about going to a bookshop is you decide you want lots of them yourself. Or you want ridiculously expensive books just because they're so beautiful.

In other news Husband has mended the downstairs toilet, I have received my Club 10 certificate from Slimming World. (No, I didn't know what that meant either.) And I am very much enjoying The Temptation to Be Happy by Lorenzo Marone.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Was it something I said?

A number of bloggers on my list seem to blog infrequently now. I don't mean 'now' as specifically Christmas time but over recent months. So I looked for some new ones to visit and found three who both blogged and return visited and whose blogs I enjoyed - I am quite fussy. And would you believe it: Sharon has disappeared and Luna has denied me access to her blog. (I don't know if I've upset her and it's just me she's denied access or whether it was another reason for her to make her blog by permission only.) 

I could get a complex about this.

But more important things: we've finally got our Christmas tree up and decorated. 

Choosing the tree has been an annual event for as long as I can remember - although I don't recall being involved as a child. My mum had a variety of contacts and she may well have just 'acquired' one rather like the turkey that turned up, still slightly feathered, each year.

Husband and I were on our own when we chose the tree this year - Daughter and family whom we'd arranged to meet there hadn't yet turned up - so it didn't take quite as long as usual. Also the farm had lots on display rather than all lying on top of each other and  hundreds having to be picked up, shaken and examined.

A highlight of the outing remains meeting and feeding the reindeer.
reindeer on Gower
And seeing piglets and lambs. This little one was the only one of his siblings with a straight tail.
I am not very up on animal husbandry: do all tails start out straight and gradually curl or is he fated to be the odd one out for all of his life?

I'll post photos of the tree later. I know you can't wait to see it!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

I may have overdone it

These last few days I've been quite busy but it's not the physical activity I've overdone: it's the wearing of tight trousers. I now have a sorer belly button. So I'm back in my big baggy trews for the duration.

Meanwhile I have resorted to good old-fashioned paper to draw up the timetable for the coming week. It may look empty at the moment but remember that any spaces will be filled with cleaning and shopping, not to mention wrapping. (What did I just say?!!) And I also have this vague feeling that there are things I've left off, like the just-remembered visiting of relatives. And making soup for Zac's and possible Rubies get-together and ...

But we've had a lovely card from my Australian cousin. I was put  in touch with her and her daughters by Uncle John, who visited them a few years ago. Angie lives in a gorgeous part of Australia, Noosa, and it's wonderful seeing the photos on Facebook of her and her family. Facebook definitely has its good points.
Australian Christmas card
In other news, why Designated Survivor, why? Why did that have to happen? At Christmas time too. When things were going well for one of the characters I said, 'Oh dear, something's not going to happen, is it?'
'No,' Husband said. 'It's Christmas; it will be a nice happy ending.'

But happy endings don't make viewers tune in. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

A jolly week

Two lunches out: one with my oldest - but younger than me - friend and one with the women's group from Zac's.
After our Christmas lunch at the local carvery
Amazingly that didn't stop me from getting my one stone sticker at Slimming World, where we played a sort of lottery game that was such fun that I did it again with the women's group. But Allison had run out of certificates.
One stone sticker Slimming World

Not so good was the fact that both granddaughters have had ear infections that have resulted in perforated ear drums.

Anything else? I've been taking it easy and Husband has done all the cooking this week, which has been rather nice. Other than that I've written Christmas cards, posted Christmas mail and done a lot of online ordering. My good plans for shopping locally flopped out of necessity. 

Next week I intend to spring into action, get the cleaning done, the decorations up and the shopping finished. No, really I do.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Releasing the inner blinger in me

I have only just - and belatedly - realised that having grandchildren gives me a good excuse to release my inner blinger.

So ... we took a trip to Homebase and B&Q today to stock up on Christmas lights and fal-de-rols. All in the best possible taste of course.

Miracle on 34th street
Meanwhile, making the most of my 'enforced rest' I have been watching Christmas films: Arthur Christmas, Dude, Where's My Donkey? and Miracle on 34th Street. You may find this hard to believe but I have never before seen Miracle on 34th, either version. Strangely enough Husband has - although I fear he may be a little confused as he swore it starred Richard Attenborough (it did) and was in black and white (it wasn't). I thoroughly enjoyed them all. 

Every year I buy the Radio Times and get excited about the films or programmes I want to watch - and end up watching very little because I'm just too busy. So I am enjoying this little break. (Operation Sausage update: getting better every day but still painful to do up trousers as I found when I went to B&Q.)

I also spent Sunday binge-watching the recent BBC dramatisation of Howard's End. What a strange story. I'm not surely I entirely approved of the transformation of Margaret. Maybe I was missing something. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The sausage, the seal and me

Or 'How I performed an appendectomy with no medical training.'

So Operation Sausage has been and come and gone. The afternoon before i was due to go in I received a phone call telling me they had a bed for me and if I wanted to be sure of keeping it I should go in that evening. Quick panic on my part: I still had too much to do. But I got there and was safely installed.

The following morning a variety of people came around getting me to sign my life away. A student asked if I minded if she and another student had a good poke around before the operation: carry on, I said - as long as I'm unconscious. The registrar (who was to do my operation I think, and who had overdone the after shave that morning) frightened me to death with the list of possible complications but as it didn't categorically say that death was a possibility I signed anyway. Then the nice anaesthetist I'd seen in my pre-op popped in for a chat too. 

By the time Paul, a surgeon friend from Linden church, stuck his head around the curtain I was a little anxious. He reassured me that was normal and that it would be abnormal not to be. Then he said, 'I'm the expert at keyhole surgery; would you like me to do your operation?'
'Oh yes please!' (I had my suspicions - probably unfounded - that the registrar would be a whip-it-all-out-and-ask-questions-later man.)

I remember panicking when the anaesthetist told me to think of something nice to dream about - and I couldn't - and the next thing was I was waking up and it was all over.

Now the interesting bit. 

Both Paul and his wife, Jo, also a gynaecologist, came to see me later and explained what had happened. Bear in mind I was still a little dopey at this point (yes, even dopier than usual) so some of the details may not be exactly correct ... but this is what seems to have happened.

A mucous seal developed some distance up my appendix. It grew around the appendix and eventually cut off the blood supply leading to my body effectively amputating its own organ. (This would have been what caused my severe stomach pains this time last year.) Then I get a bit more confused but I think the bit of appendix went walkabout and ended up in the area of my lady parts leading to the theory that I had a problem with a fallopian tube. 

No wonder everyone was puzzled when the looked at the scans.

Paul said, 'I've never seen this happen before.' 

I am hoping he will write a paper for a medical journal and Hinds Sausage Syndrome will become a recognised thing. I may never be a famous author but my name will live forever in the annals of medical weirdos. 

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Operation Sausage

In preparation for Operation Sausage I did some cleaning today working on the principle that I want it to be tidy in case I don't come out.

Then I realised that was ridiculous: if I don't come out I don't have to worry about how it looks. But when I do come out I will be thinking about how it looks.

Exactly a year ago before severe tummy pains landed me in hospital - thus beginning Operation Sausage - while lying in bed, in between groaning in pain I studied the damp patch on the ceiling and thought, 'We really must decorate our bedroom soon.' (Note: still not done.)

Now you might find it hard to believe considering the amount of blogging and Facebooking I do but I very rarely sit down and just relax. So on the assumption that, even if it is keyhole surgery, I will need to rest for a day at least I want to be in a calm clean area. 

I may have to limit the rooms I go in but as long as I have a path to my bedroom I'll be fine.

Think of the Chinese

'Don't panic!' I said to myself as I tipped dirty water over a clean floor. 'Think of the Chinese.'

But why? Are the Chinese people particularly renowned for not panicking? Or is it a saying I have misremembered, misheard or made up myself?

By the time I had pondered these things I had cleaned up the mess without panicking. So it works. 

* * * * * * *
On a similar but slightly different topic, why is it that the cream I use to bleach my ... ahem ... 'facial hair' takes ten minutes to do an inefficient job on my face yet instantly bleaches the carpet?

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Have you read Gilead?

Again in the car - I get most of my listening done there - I heard bits of a World Book Club programme where they spoke to the author of Gilead. Apparently it's one of President Obama's favourite books but he never told me so I've never heard of it let alone read it.

As I say I heard bits of it - having to get in and out the car interrupted my listening - so I may not have all these details correct.

The author said the name Gilead came from 'the balm of Gilead', a healing lotion, mentioned in the bible. I believe there are several towns in middle America named Gilead and it indicates that they were founded by abolitionists along the slave escape route, providing refuge and tunnels. The founding fathers were usually educated and intelligent people: teachers, preachers, doctors and the like.

It's a fascinating bit of history that I had no idea about so I am thinking about reading the book, which is told in the form of letters from a grandfather, a preacher, who wants to make sure his grandson understands the history of his people and the town. 

But I am not sure if it might be a bit heavy going for late night reading. The author read a section on the radio and I think an audio version would suit me just fine. Rather like Garrison Keillor, whom I love to listen to but can't read his books. 

A quick google reveals that Gilead by Marilynne Robinson won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 so there will undoubtedly be someone out there who has read it and can recommend it or not. Some of the reviewers on Goodreads are less than fulsome.

What's in your bag?

Out-of-date Sainsburys vouchers, old till receipts and sweetie wrappers. It was hard to find anything in my handbag rummaging through all that. Tidy-up Time!

Having cleared all aforesaid rubbish I found in my handbag:
a notebook - obviously all writers should carry one;
a generous supply of pens and pencils (in case the pens don't work);
several packets of paracetamol - better to be prepared;
four mini packs of tissues - my nose runs;
a huge piece of white chalk - to draw around a body should I chance upon one;
a wee sample bottle (as in sample bottle for wee, unused, not small sample bottle) - because you never know;
a perfect skimming stone in case the opportunity arises to show off my prowess - but I must use it wisely - I only have one.

No purse (unusual), no mobile phone (not at all unusual). 

From Hovis to Alien

On the same car journey the presenter mentioned that it was Ridley Scott's birthday, his 80th I think. Sir Ridley Scott is famous for many of the films he's directed but I didn't realise that before he directed Alien and Blade Runner he made, amongst the other things, adverts. Including what is apparently Britain's favourite television ad, for Hovis back in 1973.

It must have been twenty years after that that I wrote a nativity play for Sunday school in Linden Church. I wrote it as though it were being reported by television news and in the middle we had a break for advertisements, which I'd cunningly adapted from real television adverts. So instead of Hovis we advertised the 'bread of life' that never runs out - a specially expanding loaf that I constructed but don't ask me how!

I also used the Gold Blend coffee advert where a woman asks her new neighbour if she can borrow some coffee. I can't remember my twist on it but it must have been something about 'drink this and you'll never be thirsty again'.

But for now here's the Hovis advertisement, one of a series of three.

Come away, come away with William Tell!

I had a jolly time in the car the other day. The William Tell overture came on the radio and I was in my element, at first dum-diddle-um-diddle-um-diddle-um-ing (I think I might have slipped into Bonanza there) ah, yes, diddle-um-diddle-um-diddle-um-dum-dum-ing and then conducting. Such fun.

It instantly took me back to the television series on when I was a child. And the name of the leading man, Conrad Phillips, just leapt into my head. If only useful things did that too.

Life is good

Wales won the final game in their autumn international season (beating South Africa) and I have Michael Buble singing Christmas songs in the kitchen. Life is good.

Plus there's been a single chocolate eclair sweet sitting in the kitchen for a few days. Today, at half time, I said, 'If Wales win I will eat you to celebrate.'

* * * * * 
Delicious meal at Slice last night. Unfortunately we didn't discover until we refused dessert that it was a set price for three courses. So we had to have dessert. And I'd been so good not eating any of Husband's birthday cheesecake.
Delia Smith cheesecake

Friday, December 01, 2017

Happy birthday, Husband!

Today is Husband's 68th birthday. To celebrate we are going to Slice this evening while this morning we walked through Crawley Woods onto the beach and back through Oxwich Nature reserve.

And we will have cake this afternoon when the children come around.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The bad and the good

Got home from walking George to be told I had to phone the hospital. Can I go in for my operation a week Thursday, 7th December? Um, yes. 

Just long enough notice to start to panic.

I was sort of hoping they'd forget about me until after Christmas.

But we had a fun afternoon yesterday visiting the local garden centre with GrandDaughter2 (aged 2) to see all the lights and decorations. I think everyone in the shop could hear how much GrandDaughter2 was enjoying it.

And Granny enjoyed herself too.
Granny and the gorilla
No comments please about who has the bigger boobs or hairier chin.

Monday, November 27, 2017

A bit of endocannabinoids do you good ... possibly

Maybe what I need to help my brain is to 'awaken your endocannabinoid senses.'

I was a little surprised to see that on a poster in an e-cigarette shop window. Should we be awakening those senses I asked Helen, who's a nurse and knows about such things.

'Those are the good bits of cannabis,' Helen explained. 'The pain killing bits. But I don't think they're actually legal here.'

So I was probably right in the first place. People already think I'm a drinker.

Black Friday came and went

I arrived home from birthday breakfast on Friday and Husband said, 'They have boxes of Ferrero Rocher on sale on Amazon; how many do we need?'
'Um, none.'
'Oh you can only order three boxes per person.'
'That's okay. I don't want any.'
'But we need Christmas presents for (he listed several people) and a few spare would be useful in case of emergencies. You were caught out last year bu the neighbours.' He waved an admonishing finger at me.

But I know what will happen. The chocolates will arrive and one evening in the near future he will say, 'I feel like something sweet to nibble on. Where are those chocolates?' And I am so weak-willed I will join him in scoffing a boxful.

But he hadn't finished. 'Go on Amazon,' he said. 'Look at the deals. You may be able to find some Christmas presents.'
I sighed. 'Okay.'
'Now,' he said, 'while the deals are on!'

I ended up putting in an order but I forgot the chocolates and instead ordered three Christmas books for me. That weren't in the sale.

Later when I told Daughter she asked which books.
'A book of essays about Christmas by Nina Stibbe and a book of short stories by Rachel Joyce. The Snow Garden, I think.'
'I bought you The Snow Garden for Christmas last year,' she said. 'And then you passed it on to me.'
'Oh. Did I enjoy it?'

So someone - not Daughter - may be having a book of seasonal short stories for Christmas this year ...

P.S. Looking for an image on Amazon I notice it had a different cover last year so that's why I didn't recognise it. Although it may just be my brain. I asked the librarian in Mumbles if they had a book called The Diary of a Librarian. I was puzzled that they not only didn't have it but it wasn't coming up as a recognised title. 'It's a small local library, possibly in a village in Scotland, and a true account of the characters who go there,' I explained. I said I'd check and let her know the author.

Turns out it's called Diary of a Bookseller.

P.P.S. And now google won't let me display a photo. Hey ho.

Too early for Christmas music

It's Husband's birthday on Friday, 1st December. We're not allowed to play Christmas music until after that date. I say 'we' but obviously I mean 'I'. It's not that Husband doesn't like Christmas he's just ... not into it like some of us. Daughter, for example, has been playing Christmas music for months.

But I was in the car the other day and I began thinking about Christmas music. My absolute favourite Christmas song - although it's not really Christmassy except it's included on a number of compilation cds - is A Winter's Tale by David Essex.

And my favourite carol is In the Bleak Midwinter. Are you spotting a theme here? Haunting, slow, a bit depressing-sounding. But really it's only the title - okay, and the music - of In the Bleak Midwinter that is a bit sad. And my favourite words of all are in the last verse of ITBM (originally a poem by Christina Rossetti):
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

'I don't want a boy!'

I took GrandDaughter1 shopping yesterday afternoon for the boots I promised her for her birthday.

First stop Costa, where GrandDaughter1 had mint hot chocolate and we shared a millionaire's shortbread. (She insisted.)

There are remarkably few shoe shops in town these days. After getting measured and trying on some boots at Clarks we tried Schuh and then, after a phone call to Mum to check what exactly she was allowed to have in the way of boots for school, I dragged her to Marks and Spencers. (Via Jenkins the pasty shop for a cheese and onion pasty.) (For her not me.)

I said, 'Do you like any of these boots?'
She took one look while  munching and said, 'No, I hate them all.'

Back to Schuh to try on some Doc Martens. 'I don't want a boy,' Granddaughter1 whispered. 'I'm not going in if I have to have a boy.'
'It's okay, you don't have to have a boy to serve you. We can wait for a girl.'
Which proved easier to say than to do. 

The crowds had dispersed leaving three boy assistants hovering hopefully. GrandDaughter1 and I hung around 'just looking' at shoes for ages. What with her giggling and hiding her face in my coat I feared we would be asked to leave as suspicious characters before a girl assistant became available.

We finally got home with cherry Doc Martens. Just like her old ones except one size bigger.

Cherry Doc Martens for children
You can't see in this picture but they have zips making them much easier to put on and take off and I speak from experience. Of not having zips that is.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

A week in the life of

Cleaned - but only the bits people can see - and then worked on Christy's book.

Gentle Exercise Class in the morning. I missed the week before (sickness) and felt it. We did a lot of stretching exercises, which may sound easy and gentle but trust me they're not. They hurt at the time and the next couple of days, well ... Let's just say if I saw something on the floor I had to stop and ask myself, 'Does it really need to be picked up now? Or could it stay there for a day or two?'

In the afternoon I made a birthday cake for Lily in Zac's.
I was originally on the rota to lead Zac's but Steve had offered to swap with me as I'd been under the weather. It turned out to be a good move as there was some disruption. Of course I may live to regret it if there's even more next week.

Looking after GrandDaughter2. Singing in the library followed by lots of playing. My attempt to get her to sleep all cwtched up watching Bing failed as did the story of The Tiger Who Came to Tea on the bed. Had to resort to driving around until she fell asleep.

Off to Slimming World - I lost half a pound this week - before coming home for my belated birthday dinner cooked by Husband. He makes The Best shepherd's pie in the world.

Then made another cake for Lily, to share with Margaret this time, in Rubies on Thursday.

We had a guest speaker in Rubies his morning: Cerys from Ogof Adullam, the homeless drop-in. She told us about growing up, how she'd become a Christian, and how she'd met her now husband which had led to all sorts of changes in her life. She spoke particularly about how, looking back, she could God at work throughout.

Then it was down to Pennard for GrandDaughter1's birthday tea. Ate too much but had good fun. Played Row, row, row your boat over vigorously with GrandSon2, fed slivers of orange into random children's mouths, and caught sick in my hand.

Afterwards Husband said, 'I don't know how you keep going; I find them exhausting.'
'I'm a granny: I have superpowers.'

We were going to watch the lights being turned on in Mumbles but decided we couldn't face the crowds so instead went home and watched episode 5 of series 2 of I Know Who You Are. Elias is really very evil.

Birthday breakfast at a Toby Inn for Lily and Margaret (in the picture with Helen, who shares leading the group with me).

Followed by child-minding. Daughter is co-chair of the school pta and was very involved in organising last night's Festive Fayre, a Christmas shopping evening (with prosecco and pies).  When I finally got home Husband asked me, 'Was she very stressed?'
'Last time I saw her she was sampling vodkas, so no.'

Looked after GrandSon4 while his parents went Christmas shopping at the car boot sale. And this afternoon I'm off to the pictures to see Paddington 2 with GrandDaughter1 and family. Then we're off to dinner at Younger Son's. We'll record the rugby (Wales v the All Blacks) and watch it when we get home.

And that's why I haven't done any blogging this week. Even though I've had a few things I wanted to write about I've not had time. And now I can't remember what they were ...

P.S. Remembered two of them to blog about later: black friday, waken up your senses.

P.P.S. I feel tired just reading this post. Must keep reminding myself I'm old!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Just because it's a cliche

It's a family tradition that I buy Daughter, and now GrandDaughter1, a personalised Thorntons chocolate heart for their birthdays.

This year, inspired by all the life mottoes that people insist on sharing on FaceBook, I thought perhaps I should choose something different, a slogan for GrandDaughter1's life. So I had a ponder.

First thought: You can be whatever you want to be

Trouble is, that's not true, is it? For example she can't be Queen. Not unless an awful lot of people were to die suddenly. I do have royal blood somewhere in my genealogy but they're mostly Welsh kings - and they don't include the one that counts i.e. Henry Tudor. Of course she might have royal genes on her paternal side but it would still take a disaster on a world scale to bring her to the throne and then people probably wouldn't want a Queen anyway.

So scrap that one. 

What about: Every moment matters?

No, no, it doesn't. Not on the grand scale of things.

Much later
I got distracted looking at sayings on google so I think I'll settle for Happy Birthday, and just show you these:
mottoes to live by

Making a butterfly

GrandDaughter1 is growing up. She will be eight on Thursday but that's not exactly what I mean. She was explaining something to me the other day and I suddenly realised she wasn't using little girl language but something that is more akin to teenage speech. She is growing and developing and making friendships that will help shape her in many ways. But I am pleased to say that she is not easily swayed or led into things. She knows her own mind and isn't showing any signs yet of having a 'going with the crowd' mentality.

I am so enjoying being a granny. For loads of different reasons but partly because of the slight distance that allows me to watch and observe the changes that occur. I think when I was rearing my own children I was so concerned with the moment, so busy, so wrapped up in timetables and development charts and who's taking them to cubs this evening and who is coming to tea, that I missed the subtle changes. They were babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, students without my noticing the cocoon stages.

Somewhere along the line the butterflies emerged and new generations began. I'm grateful for the second chance.

A little under the weather

At times of illness Husband favours the 'do nothing' approach, as in sitting down playing Civilisation on the computer. He says scientific research has proven that rest is the best cure.

Not that I'm ill. My tummy has recovered and apart from a tender nose - well, something that big takes a while to heal - I am not suffering following my sickness debacle earlier in the week. But I do have the snuffles, a dry mouth and throat, and a niggling headache.

I am inclined to take Husband's advice and I would like to take it. But when I do all that happens is that I sit around feeling sorry for myself. I'm not convinced I get better any faster. But I excel at feeling sorry for myself.

So today I went to the Green Fayre and Sainsburys with Younger Son, Nuora and GrandSon4. That was fine; it wasn't until I watched two episodes of Grey's Anatomy, including the horrendous one where Derrick dies, that I began to feel proper poorly again. 

So I've come on here to blog and take my mind off things. And this photo will help ...

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sanctimonious bullshit

sanctimonious bullshit
I was lying in bed one night and those were the words that came to me. (It was that sort of night: I'd been lying awake for ages amongst other things composing a depressing blog post about perspective, family favourites, dead cousins, Nazis and quashing of the spirit.)

If I were asked for a dictionary definition for sanctimonious bullshit I'd be hard-pressed to come up with one but it just felt right for what I'd had to listen to. So I'm going to store the phrase behind my ear and next time it happens I'll bring it out and let it bob happily on a sea of calm until my anger passes.

P.S. According to Mr Chambers to behave in a sanctimonious way is to simulate holiness especially hypocritically. Rather like the pharisees.