Sunday, April 30, 2017

Beauty in the broken

I've just discovered I've been singing a song wrong for all these years.

Be Thou my Vision is one of my favourite hymns and I've always sung the first line of verse 4 as 'Riches I need not nor man's empty praise,' but it turns out that it's actually 'heed not'. Which is a small but subtle difference.

I say I've always sung but, in fact, what I should have said is that I've always struggled to sing verse 4 line 1 because I do need man's empty praise. I shouldn't but I do. 

Which is why it's so lovely that Sean, leader of Zac's, tweeted a link to my article in May's issue of The Bay magazine. Here's what he said: A Sunday reflection on 'finding beauty in the broken' from our Liz

Isn't that lovely? It's so good to be part of a church that acknowledges the things you do inside and outside church. Acknowledges your value instead of treating you as a bit of a joke. 

Back to that subtle difference. It's probably worse that I heed man's empty praise even if it's usually briefly as I am here until it becomes in my thinking 'just Sean being nice and he didn't really mean it, and even if he did I don't deserve it,' and it disappears. Unlike man's empty criticism, which lives forever in my head.

P.S. In case you didn't notice you can read the latest issue, including my article, of The Bay online.

George thinks he's about to be de-cluttered

De-cluttering seems to have involved buying a new floor lamp as well as a shoe rack. 

It's only taken us nearly thirty years in this house to realise that a shoe rack might stop people just throwing their shoes in the under-stairs cupboard with the resultant bulging open door exposing our mess to the world. Or anyone who comes in our hall anyway. 

The fact that the children have now all left home - at least for the time being - never say never - and we'll have fewer shoes to house is irrelevant. I had it fixed in my mind that this was what I wanted and this was what I got on my mini shopping spree yesterday afternoon.

I also wanted a floor lamp for the lounge. It's ended up in the hall but that's another story. And while unwrapping it some of the cardboard fell on George. He panicked and didn't know what to do.
So currently our hall is full. There are lots of separate piles for:
Daughter, Younger Son, charity shop, Rough Edges (charity shop for men), Zac's.

Not to mention the various stuff cluttering the kitchen that has to go to the tip. I'm hoping Husband will eventually get fed up of walking around it and will dispose of it.


So in the woods I am sticking my hand down the back of my trousers to pull up my knickers when turning slightly I realise there is a man behind me.

I hastily withdraw my hand and hiss at George, 'Why didn't you tell me?'
He gave his usual 'what's the point?' shrug.
'The point is I wouldn't have done that then.'
'Maybe you shouldn't have worn fally-down knickers to begin with.'
'I didn't know I was going out when I put them on.'
He gave another 'do I look like I care?' shrug.

By the time we reached the main road my knickers were dangling around my thighs. I was wearing trousers - obviously - but I felt naked. Exposed. As if the whole world could see my bottom. There might have been a thin layer of material between me and the world but it didn't feel like it. I kept touching my bottom to reassure myself. (Which, on reflection, could explain some of the strange looks I got.)

It was seriously incredible the difference it made: I felt vulnerable. How can people go commando? I believe that's the correct expression. Apart from hygiene it's just ...un-bare-able.

P.S. I hereby resolve to throw away my remaining fally-down knickers.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Why my diet wasn't a total fail today - only partly

You'll be pleased to hear I began a serious attempt at de-cluttering today. Well, you may not care less but I am glad. I feel re-energised. Until I look at all the various piles of things that I know will sit around for ages until they're eventually taken to the tip/charity shop/Zac's. 

But no, I shall be positive. These things WILL be done and sooner rather than later.

And for dinner we had an M&S Meal Deal. Main course, side, dessert and bottle of wine for £10. (It's a really good deal as buying separately the items would cost double that. That's my excuse anyway.) I opted for the chicken kiev for main, mixed veg for side and then I struggled. I'm on a diet and I shouldn't eat sweet. Also, and more significantly, they didn't have any desserts I particularly liked. So I chose a gluten-free apple pie and gave it to Younger Son. A good compromise I thought.

Husband was less impressed. He looked at the chicken and veg and said, 'That's not much for dinner.'
Sulking because I'd given away his pudding he insisted on having potatoes as well. So I had to have a few but they were very little and as I was already over my calorie count I thought it probably didn't matter. (Please don't point how wrong that logic is.)

Friday, April 28, 2017

How to keep a granny entertained

Good day today. A walk in the morning with Ffion and George through the wonderful bluebell woods, then shopping for GrandDaughter2's birthday presents this afternoon. Carrying GrandSon4 in a sling!

I keep up a running commentary: 'Look at the waterfall; isn't it beautiful? See the way the water goes trickle, trickle, trickle. Ah, look at that huge seagull! Now let's go and look at the castle. What does that sign say? Oh, dangerous walls, do not climb. Okay, that's fine. Now what's over here? Ooh, a bridge. It goes wibble wobble.'

He falls asleep somewhere between seagull and walls but it doesn't stop my monologue.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A good bit of gossip

This is getting depressing. I'm on Day 4 of The Diet now and I've had 4 fails.

On the plus side I haven't given up, eaten ice cream, or said, 'Blow it, let's go out for a meal.' And I just picked up and instantly put down a bar of chocolate.

In other news I very much want to vote for Labour and Jeremy Corbyn but ...

I say that because we discussed the upcoming general election in women's bible study group in Zac's today. We also looked at Caiaphas, a Sadducee high priest, who would have been a Tory were he alive now. And we pondered how John, the gospel writer, would have known what was said in a private meeting between the chief priests and the pharisees. The general consensus put it down to gossip.

Why does it feel like Friday today?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Last night in Zac's

Linda, Dawn and I were 'commissioned' as community chaplains. 
We completed a course, courtesy of the Methodist Church, and lat night we explained a bit about it  and our reasons for doing it, and Sean spoke and read and prayed for us.

One of the scriptures he read was from Philippians chapter 2 encouraging us to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus who made himself nothing and humbled himself. No pressure there then.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A strange coincidence involving George

On the very day that I re-posted that story about George escaping he did it again!

He hasn't even tried for ages. I think he's finally accepted that he's probably not going to get a better home plus the fact that everyone knows him now and they won't feed him. And to be fair I don't think he did try to escape it was just a series of unfortunate incidents.

Daughter came in leaving the gate open for Son-in-law. 
George went out for a quick sniff.
Son-in-law doesn't notice George and comes in closing the gate behind him.
George finds himself locked out.

What's a dog to do in these circumstances?

He could bark loudly; he is very capable of it when he thinks he needs to, which is usually last thing at night when all the neighbours are trying to get to sleep.

Or he could go around the block, find an open gate and go and peer pitifully through a window so that he is brought home by a neighbour who thinks what heartless creatures we are for locking out such a lovely dog.

No prizes for guessing which option he chose.

Why I'm not queen of the world

Uncle had a nice fountain pen that I thought I'd like to use it but the ink cartridge was empty. It's an old pen so I spent some time wandering around shops and asking questions about the right type of cartridge to buy. At last I managed to find one and took it home delightedly. 

I took out the old cartridge and replaced it with the new one. At this point Husband wandered in, picked up the old one and said, 'You realise this is a refillable cartridge, don't you?'

Two points arise from this.

First, the staff who advised me obviously didn't know their cartridge from their elbow. 
Second, the articles I read in magazines in the dentist's waiting room about how to make your life more effective - things like allotting dedicated time slots, focusing on one thing at a time etc - don't take account of innate stupidity.

If it were not for that, with my 'brilliant ideas' and optimism against the odds, I could be queen of the world by now undoubtedly.

Monday, April 24, 2017

What about a cement coffin?

Husband this morning uncovered a letter he'd had from a great-uncle of mine a few years ago. Like Husband, Uncle Woodie was interested in genealogy so he sent us a load of family information. Some of it Husband has disproved - or rather not been able to find any trace of actual evidence - such as Count Otto von Bismarck having an illegitimate child by a distant relation of ours, but other bits are more fact-based though less colourful.

Such as this cutting from an old newspaper. It refers to my great-grandfather, Hobart Pasha Honey. I assume it's from the local Swansea paper but have no idea of date. My great-grandfather died in about 1951 but I imagine it was quite a while before that.

The article reports that Mr H. P. Honey had invented a metal-reinforced cement coffin and was proposing it as an alternative to the traditional because of the current high price of wood. He suggests they are also much better from a sanitary point of view.

The article ends with Mr Honey saying he would be glad to consult with any interested undertakers.

As far as I know the idea never caught on except with gangsters.

And, on a separate note, I am dubious about the claim that all children love syrup of figs. 

Feeling fat, fat, fat

A lovely weekend in Surrey with Elder Son and his family. Good weather - but not as good as in Swansea and that is very unusual! - great barbecue and wonderful grandchildren. 

Now I don't know if the mirror in the hotel was one of those funny ones - that's what I'm hoping - but I felt hideously fat. Now I know I'm not actually hideously fat but I feel much better when I weigh about a stone less than at present so today I signed up for a Rosemary Conley online slimming course!

I did RC classes a few years ago and was successful at losing weight but they weren't online, we had a brilliant and fun teacher in Cherie, and included an exercise session, so I don't know how well I'll do with this. It's mainly the incentive value: I've paid for the quarter so I should jolly well make sure I lose weight.

Hence my shopping list for Sainsburys this morning included very low fat cheese spread, very low fat sausages and two packets of Mug Shots. Even as I'm taking them off the shelf I'm thinking, 'These are going to be horrible,' but I'm not very good at lunches. I like something quick and there are only so many days you can eat ryvita. And they contain less than 2% fat. In fact they probably contain very little of any substance or worth but I'll let you know what they taste like when I've sampled them.

Oh, that's a good idea: I'll copy and paste this writing into my Middle-aged, fat and frumpy blog. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Earthquakes in London

Last night I went to the theatre. On my own. 

It was an amateur production of a play called Earthquakes in London and I knew two of the people appearing in it. It was a last minute decision to go: I'd been dithering but wanted to support them, so I checked the start time on their Facebook page and went.

And arrived just after it had started - 15 minutes before Facebook had said.

I slid into a seat, which happened to be on the front row. It's one of those trendy small theatre areas that don't have a raised stage and you're eyeball to eyeball with the performers. And then I noticed it. The strange smell. No, not strange, downright horrible. Rather like stinky fish but worse. It was so bad it distracted me from the play.

I tried to sniff my neighbours - subtly of course - but couldn't work out from where the smell emanated so I was greatly relieved when it came time for the interval. It happened that I knew three women sitting in the row behind. One of them said she'd noticed the smell and thought it came from the little woman on my right.

There was a spare seat in their row so for the second half I joined them and, apart from the odd whiff, it was happily pong-free. I can only assume the poor woman had a problem - in university there was a boy who although always scrupulously clean and smartly dressed had a strange odour that was alleged to be hormone related - and I do feel sorry for her, but, oh, I still had the smell in my nose when I got home and went to bed.

As for the play, well, it was long and quite depressing but very well done.

I was looking for something else and came across this from January 2008

George makes a break for it

Yes, that's right, George 'Don't make me go out of the front door on my own' has discovered the joys of 'other people's gardens'. 

He loves the postman. As soon as he spots the post-van pulling up he gets excited, then, after the postman has been to our house (or made a fuss of him even if he isn't delivering to us), George stands at the front of the garden and watches him on his way.Our garden has a drop at the front as you see so he can't get out that way but, a few minutes after the postman had gone, I realised he'd disappeared. I wandered round the garden and house, calling, but there was no response.

Outside on the road there was no sign of him and he didn't appear when I called. At that moment, the postman came along, returning to his van. 'Have you lost him?' he said. 'Geeoorrgge!'

At the sound of the postman's voice, George comes round from the back of the next-door-but-one-neighbour's house, looking innocent as the day is long.

We - the postman and I - figured he'd squeezed round the very front of the wall separating the neighbours' garden from ours; I've put a bucket there temporarily until Husband comes home at the weekend and can fix it.

Our garden is beginning to look like it's been done-over by one of those trendy television gardening programmes. Wire mesh is the new decking, don't you know?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Incomplete without ice cream

A while ago I complained about my mouse. Last week, just before the bank holiday, I said, 'Right, that's it! I'm getting a new one. This one is driving me crazy.'

Imagine my delight then when the next time I came to use my mouse it was working fine. Husband had worked his magic on it.

'How did you do that?' I asked him.
'Bit of spit and a tissue.'


* * * * * * * * *
Having been assured by the doctor yesterday that going away on holiday was fine - even with my 'condition' - Husband has booked us a week in Lanzarote in May. Since the end of November at least life has been a bit full on what with one thing and another. It's no wonder several people have remarked on how tired I look. (And there was me thinking I looked as gorgeous as ever!)

Within the Canary islands we've visited Fuerteventura and Tenerife but not Lanzarote. Apparently there's a live volcano and you can eat in a restaurant that uses the heat of the volcano to cook. I'll be glad just to lie in the sun/shade and read and swim and sleep. And eat ice cream. I just hope we can find an ice cream shop as good as the one run by an Italian lady in Fuerteventura. The success of my holiday depends on it.
In Italy in March 2012

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Calm after the storm

If I'd been a premenstrual grammar pedant instead of just a grammar pedant I might have done serious damage in the waiting room at the hospital today. 'One in three women suffer premenstrual tension.'

Still, arguing with Husband about its correctness or not took my mind off my up-coming appointment. And when we'd finally agreed to disagree guessing the make-up of the British Lions squad (due to be announced at noon) took us through another thirty minutes.

The registrar apologised when we eventually got in: she was doing the clinic on her own. And it's the same old, same old. My cyst or whatever it is is the same size but my blood markers have gone down - so that's good. Generally the registrar suggested it's better to avoid surgery and as I'm very low risk that's what we agreed I'd do. Go back in four months for another scan, blood test, check, and so on. 

I'd gone there thinking I'd say yes to surgery to avoid having this hanging over me but, hey, I'm fine, so let's carry on as we are.

'You should have the coil removed though,' the registrar said.
'Will they do that if I have surgery?'
'I'll do it now for you.'

Oh no, really? You don't have to do that. I'm fine. It's been there donkey's years; it can stay a bit longer, I don't mind. Honestly I don't ... 'Go in that examination room? Really? It will hurt.'
'No, it won't,' she assured me. 'If I can't see it easily I won't do it.'

Then when the nurse says, 'You can squeeze my hand,' you know it is going to hurt. But not for long. So now I am foreign-body-less.

Now the hospital is right next to Singleton Park so after the appointment we went to visit the botanic garden. It is a beautiful oasis of calm.

At first sight I thought this was a peony.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Is Put in?

So there is to be a general election. The conservatives are riding high in the polls and are likely to win, which can only mean things are going to get worse.

And with education being one of the services to suffer we'll no doubt see more of the 'In Constant Use' signs in front of drives when they quite clearly are not in constant use. Frequent use, regular use, occasional use, yes, but not constant. Forgive me. One of my little foibles.

The NHS, which is under pressure now, will struggle even more with four years of Tory rule especially if they have a clear majority, so perhaps when I go to see the consultant tomorrow, if they offer me an operation, I should take it before waiting list times get even longer. Oh dear.

At 5.30 am I could think of a whole host of things that I urgently needed to do today but by the time I got up, after tossing and turning for two hours, I'd forgotten them all. 

I'm sorry, this post is very gloomy. I won't publish it just yet. I shall wait to see if I can think of something more cheerful. Oh I know!

Yesterday on the radio I heard part of a TED talk. Apparently back in the first half of the 20th century a psychiatrist did experiments on human brains studying the effect that electric currents had on different lobes. Nowadays they're not allowed to experiment on people so this particualr scientist is doing similar tests on the brains of drosophila. Do you know what drosophila are? I do but only because we studied genetics in school using them. They are fruit flies. Have you seena fruit fly? Can you imagine how small its brain is? 

Yet scientists are applying electricity to specific parts (?) and then, wait for it, checking to see if it affects the emotions. Of a fruit fly.

I think this scientist might have been exaggerating slightly because when quizzed it turned out that what they do is blow at them. 'Puff' 'And the more we puff at them the more agitated they seem to become. Like wasps when you try to swat them.'

Then he tried to say that in 50 years time they'll be able to apply electricity to certain parts of teh brain using a pill.

Either these people are extraordinarily clever or I am extraordinarily dumb.

And then there was the researcher - who presumably got paid money - who found out that shoe laces come loose because of the movement of the shoe. Now, who'd have thought it?

Finally my take on an old - but my favourite - joke.
What a beautiful day, the sort of day that makes you want to go and knock on the door of the Kremlin and ask, 'Is Put in?'

Okay, perhaps not as good as Ken Dodd's Lenin but I was pleased with myself.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The best little railway in town

Just watched the last episode of Homeland and more confused than ever.

It doesn't help that we're also watching Designated Survivor and I keep getting confused in what's happened where. Then switching to Grace and Frankie where Jed Bartlett is now gay and auditioning for musical theatre ...

Meanwhile back in the real world, we went on the little trains today! Yay! Twice! In the morning with GrandSon4 - his first ever ride on the miniature railway - and then this afternoon with the other local grandchildren. Social media has a lot to answer for. It used to be a quiet little place that only the locals and regulars knew about. Then someone mentioned it on Facebook as a great way to entertain children at a very cheap price - 50p a ride - and now the queues go round in circles. Great fun though.

Spent most of the rest of the day trying to design a poster for an exercise class. Tomorrow I'll have to start distributing it.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

What do you call a starfish with four legs?

So it's Easter Sunday and that means Lent is over and with it my Lenten resolution to blog every day. However I think it's a good disciple so I shall try to maintain it.

As I write this my typing is even worse than usual as I can barely keep my eyes open. Up at 5.30 to cook breakfast in Zac's followed by prison followed by a lovely walk to Pobbles with family - and the inevitable bear hunt in caves - finishing up with leftover lamb and salad for dinner, an episode of Suits and an episode of Gilmore Girls and I'm ready for bed.

But here's the four-limbed starfish GrandDaughter1 rescued from a rock and returned to a pool where it perked up immediately.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Deadlines, flipping deadlines

Today, 15th of the month, is the deadline for my next article for The Bay magazine. While I can't imagine that anyone will do anything with it before Tuesday it's a matter of principle for me to get it in on time. 

When I was in Linden church I edited the local newspaper we published and the problems I had with people missing their deadlines ... I'm clenching my fists even as I think about it.

So I'm sitting at the computer finishing off the article. Yes, it's a bit late - 7.59 pm - but it's still the 15th and that's what counts. I'd thought a bit about what I would write and thought I'd planned it out but when I started writing yesterday the prose was very dull and glum so I had to rethink it.

The rewrite began well but floundered towards the end, which is where I'm struggling now. I think I've finished it to my satisfaction but I'm in such a state of panic that I can no longer judge whether what I'm writing even makes sense.

But I'm going to send it off now - in a minute. That good old Welsh time, which could be anywhere between now and when I go to bed. Which had better not be too late as I'm up at 5.30 tomorrow to go and cook bacon at Zac's. Every Easter Sunday people from a number of churches in Swansea gather for a sunrise service on the beach and come back to us for breakfast afterwards. And then I'm in prison.

I know how to live.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Not quite in bloom yet

We had a lovely walk through the secret bluebell woods and then into Clyne Gardens today. It's not 'In Bloom' until next month but some of the rhododendrons don't know that!
Wild garlic

Frilly tulip

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Passing over the pain of potatoes

Today in Zac's the women's group, Rubies, shared a Passover meal. We used an abbreviated version of the traditional seder (meal) with a Christian slant. Until I investigated it for today I never realised that so much of the symbolism and the traditions are relevant for us as Christians. 

The table laid for the seder or meal. Seder means order as a specific order is used for the story-telling and symbolic actions.

The seder plate: a lamb bone to represent the sacrificed lamb; an egg, the symbol of mourning and because it has no beginning and no end it's also a symbol of hope; parsley and  romaine lettuce representing life; horseradish for the bitterness and pain of slavery in any form; charoset, a mixture of nuts and dates, giving hope of a sweeter future.

More than Rubies.
For the meal itself we had brisket of beef in red wine and potato kugel, again both made using traditional Jewish recipes. 

A large dish of kugel involves peeling and grating 5lbs potatoes so it wasn't a good time for my food processor, on its first use as a grater, to break. Grating 4 and 3/4 lbs potatoes by hand is no fun, let me tell you!

But a good time was had by all I think. I certainly enjoyed the learning and the way of the meal. And, even though I say it myself, the table when set looked a picture - and most un-Zac's like!

Next year in New Jerusalem!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

When I'm dead

We had grandchildren for the day today. GrandDaughter1 asked if she could have my foxes 'when you're dead.'
I said, 'Yes, but hadn't you better put a label on it so no-one else takes it?'
'That's a good idea. Have you got a label?'
'Can GrandSon2 stick a label on the medal he wants too?'

Husband shook his head. 'I don't think this is to be encouraged. They'll be pushing you under a bus next.'

Today I smell

... clean. 

I rescued some of Uncle's unused Wrights Coal Tar soap from his apartment and used it today. The smell straightaway takes me to Bristol. To Auntie Lottie's house in Air Balloon Road. Isn't that a wonderful name for a road?

Auntie Lottie was eventually rehoused in a high rise block of flats, which must have been one of the early ones. I'd never been in one before (and haven't been in that many since). From her flat you could see right across the Downs, to where Lily-over-the-downs lived. I never met Lily-over-the-downs but I heard a lot about her.

The other thing I remember about the flat is my cousin, Lynne, getting her finger trapped in the big swing doors, and me throwing a wobbly - I was and am a sensitive soul even when no blood is involved - and being told off for wanting attention - when attention was the last thing I ever wanted. Have I mentioned that I was painfully shy?

But back to the soap. The smell was slightly different from what I remember. Still distinctive but there was something about it. I wonder if it is no longer made with real coal tar. Which was a strange thing from which to make soap anyway. This calls for Google.

Coal tar soap was created in 1860 by Mr Wright using the liquid by-product from the distillation of coal. It was designed as an antiseptic soap for the treatment of skin diseases. In 2013 the EU banned the use of coal tar in non-prescription products and now tea tree oil is used as the disinfectant agent although the current manufacturers have tried to replicate the look and smell of the original. The soap is now called Wrights Traditional Soap. 

Except by us old people.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

This is not displacement activity

Today I washed my dusters.
(Okay, they might look like t-shirts and towels to you but they're what passes as dusters in this house.)

Don't go thinking this is a displacement activity because I'm missing GrandSon4 since he moved out. I'd just run of things to wash. 

P.S. Displacement activity: If an animal is stimulated to express a basic drive (need to cuddle baby) but the action is frustrated (absence of baby), the drive may find an outlet by inducing fragments of the pattern of behaviour properly belonging to another drive (housework). This is known as displacement activity. (From American Anthropologist, 2009)

What the fashionable woman wears to walk in the woods

Walked by Clyne River for the first time for ages today. Even though it has been dry for a while I wore my new waterproof walking boots, which, incidentally, with cropped jeans and a toothpaste-smeared jumper are the very height of chic, and it proved a wise decision.

It took a lot of manoeuvring and some hastily-sent-up prayers of 'Please let this stone be stable/branch take my weight,' to get through bits of the path without falling knee deep into mud.

It was worth it though. Just a little bit of babbling brook and birdsong can soothe a troubled soul.
Walked through the new housing development next to us on the way there. Very posh. The residents might want to put gates on the path if they want to keep out undesirable dog-walkers who just want a nose around.

My guilt trip to town

Why is it that a shopping trip for me becomes a guilt trip?

First of all I parked in Tesco's car park. I am going to do some shopping there but first I have to go to the post office. So I feel guilty about using the car park. Even though I'm going to be shopping there.

Then I pass a Big Issue salesman and I feel guilty even when I've already bought a copy of the magazine.

Then two teenage girls walk directly across my path yet I'm the one who veers away and apologises.

It's not easy being me.

Much later after I've returned home and written a letter of complaint to Tesco's about the attitude of a security guard (I'll explain later on) during the follow-up phone call the helpful young man on the other end suggests that 'the guard may be removed from his position' and I feel guilty again. (By the way he didn't mean sack him but send him to work somewhere else.)

It's definitely not easy.

* * * * * * * * *
So ... I used a token to release the trolley in Tesco's, did my shopping and then returned the trolley to the trolley park. I clicked it into the next trolley and went to retrieve my token but it wasn't there.

An elderly gentleman was on trolley parking duty so i explained to him. He was a little puzzled and said he'd ask a security guard.

A big burly guard came out, looked at the lock and said, 'There isn't a coin there.'
'No,' I said, 'but I put one in.'
'It's not there now,' he said. 'It must have jumped out.'
Then he walked off.

Another lady helped me have a thorough look around on the floor under the trollies but there was no sign of my token. Fortunately the elderly gentleman came back and gave me a replacement token. 

When I said to the lady, who I think might have been an employee just going off duty, that I didn't like the attitude of the security guard she said, 'Aw, you've got to take it on the chin, say, whatever.'

But I thought, no, I haven't. So as soon as I got home I emailed a letter of complaint to Tesco. And had a very prompt and polite phone call in return. 

Whoops, whoops, whoops!

I forgot to post yesterday. And I don't have any interesting photos to share either. I could tell you what I was doing though.

I was planning a Passover meal. A Christianised and abbreviated version for Rubies, the women's group at Zac's on Thursday.

It's quite fascinating, the history and the explanation of all the symbolic acts, and the fact that it was the last supper that Jesus ate before he was arrested and crucified. 

So I'm out today to buy the various components. As Passover began yesterday evening with the first Passover seder (meal) and runs until 18th April I shouldn't have any problems finding ingredients in the shops. Although I'm not sure how large the Jewish population is in Swansea. Wait and I'll try and find out.

Okay, so in the 2011 census less than 2,000 people in the whole of Wales said they were Jewish although some are reluctant to 'tick the box' for a variety of reasons. That's a significant decline from earlier in the twentieth century when Cardiff, Newport and Swansea all had thriving Jewish communities. Today Swansea's is decreasing and ageing.

I shall leave you waiting with bated breath!

Sunday, April 09, 2017

He had a row of forty medals hanging on his chest

My grandfather served in the army during the first world war. He was wounded - a bullet went straight through  his lungs - but that's about as much as I know of his service history. But while sorting out Uncle's possessions we found three of my grandfather's medals.

Two of them we presume are service medals while the other is a bit of a mystery.

It appears my grandfather was a sergeant in the army, in the Welsh regiment, presumably among those who saw action in the battle for Mametz wood at the beginning of the battle of the Somme. Husband has tried to find out more - my grandfather's number is engraved on the edge of the medals - about what action he saw and the extent of his injuries - but has drawn a blank so far.

When Husband came across this final medal and showed it to me we puzzled over it. It was awarded to John Williams for three years' attendance (ending in 1921) and good conduct at an elementary school in Liverpool. Both my grandfather and Uncle had that name.
I said, 'It can't be my grandfather's. He was in his twenties then and I never heard about him being in Liverpool. But it can't be Uncle's either as he wasn't born then.'

The only thing we can think of (that being the royal 'we' as Husband came up with the idea) is that after the army ex-servicemen were offered the chance of an education. I don't think Husband has managed to do any more research into that yet but it seems a possible explanation. Unless there's another unknown-to-me John Williams, a black sheep of the family maybe, who's lurking around out there somewhere. No, on second thoughts, scrap that idea: all the black sheep were happily welcomed into the family fold.

So many questions that will never be answered now.

One thing we do know. When enough men enlisted from a village or town they would march en masse to the train station while those being left behind would stand along the road and clap and cheer. My grandfather got to do this twice. 
The first time he and his group marched to the station only to find the train wasn't running and they had to go home and do it again the following day.

I'm having a day off today

I know it may look as if every day's a day off for me but I do do stuff sometimes. (How on earth did 'for me' end up typed as ro em?) So today i decided I'd take a break. You know, pretend it's Sunday and a day of rest.

(Marina Market photo)
So this morning I begged a lift with Younger Son, Nuora and GrandSon4 to the farmers' market in the marina. Farmers however were noticeable by their absence. This particular market seems to attract bakers and craftspeople. And Michael Sheen! And we missed him.

Then after lunch I had a lovely walk in Parc le Breos with Elin and George. Then I came home, sat down and watched the final episode of Call the Midwife. 

By which time it was time to prepare the veg for dinner. Which meant going into the kitchen. Which was the big mistake. As, 'well, I might as well do the dishes, clean the fish tank, and clean the sink,too.' So much for a day off

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Look mum, no feet!

Bishopston valley, an ancient native woodland, is at its best at this time of year with the wild garlic, wood anemones, bluebells, primroses, and violets all coming into bloom.

George liked it too.

And we loved paddling in the sea at Pwll Du.
Well some of us did. GrandSon4 wasn't entirely impressed with his first experience of sand and sea. And please note: both feet have left the ground!

Friday, April 07, 2017

Wild Goose

On Tuesday The Sweet Sorrows aka Sammy and Kylie Horner played at Zac's. One of the songs they sang was called Wild Goose.

Most Christians will be used to the representation of the Holy Spirit as a dove. Indeed it was a dove that descended upon Jesus when he was baptised. But the Celtic church opted for another bird: the wild goose.

The thing about wild geese is that, like the Holy Spirit, they're uncontrollable. No-one can tell them what to do. And they can be noisy, challenging and even scary. 

God doesn't always appear as we might expect him to.

P.S. If I could work out how to include an MP3 track I'd put it on here.


It's what keeps romance alive. After nearly 39 years of marriage Husband and I still like to do things together.

Things like bowel screening.

Teacher knows best

Today GrandDaughter1 (7) and GrandSon2 (5) told me that Jesus didn't come back to life. 'He was only a ghost.'
'No, he did come back to life,' I said.
'No, he didn't. Miss said so and Miss knows!'

Daughter told them they could read the story in the bible for themselves to find out who's telling the truth but I am spitting slightly.

If you don't want to teach about Jesus and Easter in school then fine, don't. But don't teach your own version of the bible.

Thursday, April 06, 2017


Driving along today I exclaimed, 'Oh look! the number on that car is XMD. Do you think that stands for kisses of mass destruction? You know, you love someone so much you want to kiss them to death!'

Husband said, 'You have a very weird imagination.'

I don't think I have. I mean, what else would you think if you saw those letters on a number-plate?

The woman who didn't like me

Once a number of years ago I made a brief appearance on national breakfast television. (Yes, I sat on the couch and shared a make-up girl with Matthew Pinsett and Moira Stewart.) Afterwards this woman's only comment was that I had looked tired. (Admittedly Husband said I sounded like a simpleton - that's probably not politically correct - someone a lot less articulate than he believes me to be but he's allowed to say that because I know he loves me.)

Then when I graduated with a Master's degree the only thing she said was, 'What good is it? Will it benefit your career?' My answer was, 'Not a lot and no.' I should have added, 'But that's not why I did it.'

I'm good at thinking of clever retorts days/months/years later. Okay, it wasn't that clever a retort in this instance but I could have defended myself instead of crumbling.

So what do you think? Do you think she liked me?

I could have been a 17th century nun

Another find: a small plaque entitled 17th Century Nun's Prayer.
My first thought was: that's never a prayer from the 17th century; it's much too modern. But then I realised that it's only the words and style that have changed over the centuries; the sentiments and attitudes described are probably just as applicable to women in every century. And men come to that.

I can relate to some of her words and I can certainly think of at least one person who would benefit from being kept from 'the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.' And who could do with learning 'the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.'

And who would probably think the same about me.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

An apology for misleading you

First a correction.

Husband thinks the white bush in the previous post is blackthorn. At the time I had a discussion with Nuora about it saying that Husband had explained the difference between the two several times but I could still never remember. But Husband thinks it's more likely to blackthorn as it's a little early for hawthorn aka may tree - because it comes out in May presumably. But the weather has been strange over the last few years so they could be confused plants.

A blackthorn bush also has a darker stem and longer thorns but unless you see them side by side it's difficult to tell. I think.

Anyway, I have seen the error of my ways - and will consult Husband in future before making rash comments. 

So what else was I going to post about? Oh yes, ladybirds. 

Over recent weeks we've had ladybirds on our bedroom windows. Inside our bedroom windows. And they usually come in twos or even threes. The questions are:
a) how do they get in?
b) why do they come in?
c) what do they eat while there?

a) maybe the air vent?
b) because they're cold/confused?
c) nothing that I can tell.

I just searched through my photos but can't find the one I took of the ladybirds. 'Twas ever thus.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Maybe a bit of a boring post

It turned out to be a lovely day after a bad start.

Went to visit my cousin, Carol, and we had a lovely long natter about the family. Carol's actually my mum's first cousin so I guess that makes her my second cousin maybe? We were reminiscing about her dad, Uncle Bun (really Hobart so I don't know where Bun came from), and his love of parties, drinking and singing. We are both grateful for the happy extended family that we are part of. Uncle Bun was a very good artist and Uncle had owned a number of paintings by him so I returned them to Carol.

Then this afternoon I went for a lovely walk with Nuora and GrandSon4 over Mumbles Hill and around the cliffs. On the way back we tried to find a geocache - YS and Nuora have taken to geocaching recently - but failed. George enjoyed the paddle in the sea though. He'd better make the most of it: after April, he'll be banned from many beaches again until October.
Gorse and hawthorn side by side on the cliff top.
I know you don't really want to hear about my fairly boring days and I do have a long list of more interesting topics to cover - when I have time to give them proper attention. Topics including: my grandfather's medals and other things I didn't know about him; ladybirds and why; and the woman who didn't like me.

But for now it's almost time to go to Zac's. The Sweet Sorrows are appearing tonight so that should be good. And, incidentally my latest article is now out in The Bay magazine. You can read it here if you feel so inclined.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Congar and the Holy Office

Amongst Uncle's possessions was this little card.
Such good words from Yves Congar. Of course I had no idea who he was so thank goodness for Google.

It turns out that Father Yves Congar (1904-1995) was a French Dominican friar and a catholic priest who, apart from saying many wise things, is mostly renowned for allegedly peeing on the wall of the Holy Office. The Holy Office today deals with matters of doctrine in its aim to protect faith and morals; it was founded in 1542 to defend the church from heresy, a charge almost brought against Congar by his legalistic adversary in the Holy Office. 

Scattering Uncle

Scattered Uncle today. Considering it was only half of him there was a lot and it took a while - while my feet were in the freezing cold sea. Husband reminded me that I have often boasted that when I was a mere youth I would aim to go in the sea as early as possible in the year - the first sunny day in March or April. As I remember it would be a very quick dip that would literally take one's breath away. I must have been truly insane. And a lot hardier than I am now!

But back to Uncle. Again Husband reminded me that some of the ashes would have been coffin. I would like to think that the cremation workers remove the body from the coffin before it's burned and return it to the undertakers (or whoever provides the coffin) for recycling. I would have no problem with that but I suppose some people might. Such a waste of trees. When I go I will be happy with a cardboard box. (Children of mine, please note!)

It was a lovely sunny day, the tide was in and the wind was light so I only had to paddle into the water a short way, which is just as well as it was stony-bottomed and I could easily have ended up in the water myself. (Husband had the camera ready just in case.)
George watches as I make my way into the water.

On the way back I spotted a gate I'd not noticed before. It turned out to be the gate of the Jubilee Gardens.
Apparently the garden is a community project undertaken by Mumbles Community Council and the residents of Llanfair House, a local home providing supported care and accommodation for people with mental health issues.