Thursday, June 22, 2017

What to do if your Fitbit report depresses you

Fitbit showing a good day's exercise
My weekly Fitbit report has made depressing reading for the last two weeks. This week all numbers - steps, distance, stairs, calories used - were down on the week before, which in turn were down on the week before that. I would blame the heat for my lack of exercise but most of our sunny days weren't even included in my Fitbit week.

The first half of my week is usually busy so on Thursdays, after Rubies (women's bible study at Zac's) I like to come home, lie on the bed and read. But not this week. Today I decided to walk to Mumbles. To Verdi's to be precise with the added attraction of calling in to see GrandSon4 on the way.

We - George was with me - set off and got as far as the beach. 'Oh, it's a long way,' I said. 'Or rather it'll be a long way back.'

George suggested we could see how far we got. Perhaps we would only get as far as Ripples ice cream parlour. 'Their ice cream isn't as nice as Verdi's,' I said. George shrugged.

So off we went. 11,656 steps later we were back. 

We got as far as GrandSon4 (who lives almost opposite Verdi's) but I didn't have an ice cream. Playing with a little boy took my mind off it.
You may just be able to see the steps down to the sea in this photo. That's where I learned to swim as a child. The bay is tidal and twice a day the sea laps at the foot of the wall, give or take a foot or two. As a child I'd come down here with my mum on those sunny summer evenings when the tide was high and have a wonderful time. And sometimes it would be a family outing.
In those days you were supposed to be responsible for your own health and safety. So clambering along the rock-studded top of the wall was just good fun and not a hazard from which you had to be protected by railings.

Also we didn't realise at the time but the water in Swansea Bay wasn't entirely clean. A century of industry spewing its by-products into the river Tawe and thus into the bay plus poor sewage treatment led to the bay being, well, toxic is too strong a word but signs eventually went up banning the collection of cockles from the sands because of the health dangers posed by eating them.

But, hey, I'm still alive and perfectly normal!

the one about the children's song about a scarecrow

A few days ago Nuora asked me if I knew a children's song about a scarecrow. They'd sung it in toddler group and she didn't know it. I scratched my head for a few moments and then began to sing, 'I'm a dingle dangle scarecrow with a flippy floppy hat, I can shake my arms like this, I can shake my legs like that.'

Since then I can't get the song out of my head. Although it is alternating with 'I'm a little teapot short and stout,' complete with actions.

Because I would hate you to miss out on this treat here are the proper versions for your delectation.

How Facebook uses Mr Briggs and Mr Myers to sell you stuff

Just did one of those Briggs Myers tests. Which makes it sound as if I know who Briggs Myers is. Are? Probably two people? Two people who didn't realise that one day their names would be bandied about by unknowing people the world over who've become familiar with them simply through Facebook. Maybe in the future people will look back on Facebook and say, 'Oh yes, that was the thing that made Briggs Myers famous.'

Anyway one of those character tests that I'm sure you've seen and possibly done yourself.

I came out as Mediator (INFP-T) with 75% introverted, 74% intuitive. Husband was reading my scores over my shoulder and said, 'Yes, you rely on your intuition. Trouble is it's usually wrong.'

Really I don't know how we've managed to stay married as long as we have.

Simple explanation of the Briggs Myers types
Briggs Myers types in simple language
Back to my scores. I can't remember the rest. I think it was 71% feeling then something else then 73% turbulent. 'That's not right,' Husband said. You're not turbulent,' but I reading the small print it meant I spent 71% of my time feeling insecure and unworthy.

So, yes, pretty accurate. And I rather like the simple explanation of the INFP type given on this chart. Makes me feel like a hero.

Husband also remarked, 'You do realise that these tests just provide Facebook and marketeers with more information about you, with which to better direct their posts and advertising?'
'They'll be pretty confused by my answers then.'

P.S. Do my title and first paragraph pass the SEO test?
P.P.S. And I found out how to add alt text to the image. Still not entirely sure what it does but I'm trying. Very trying some might say.
P.P.P.S. I shall expect to see a huge leap in my visiting figures ...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Mango cake is SEO-ready

Flicking through Facebook as I am wont I noticed a link - it might have been an advert actually - to a post entitled '17 things to do before and after every blog post'. I clicked on it and began to read.

First point (precis-ed): write an effective title that is persuasive and includes keywords. Yes, reasonable and I always struggle with titles. I continued.

Don't have huge paragraphs but divide text into smaller sections with headings. Yes, I'm for that. I know I can't be bothered to read someone's blog if it's in huge chunks. I haven't tried including headings though. That's a possibility.

Add a question at the end to encourage feedback. I've tried that with no success.

And after that it began talking about deep linking, alt text, SEO-ready, periscopes and the like. And I was lost.

Note to self: must make more effort if wish to 'grow' my readership.

And all this happened while I was waiting for my mango and coconut cake to cook. My first attempt after having it in a local tea shop. It's still warm but of course I had to have just a little taste. Yum yum yum.

Sorry it's blurry. I wasn't wearing my glasses.

Down with the kids

Fyi, which I'm reliably informed means For your information, I've recently added posts to both my long and fat blogs.

And now I'm really struggling. I want to erase fyi because it's text-talk! I am doing deep breathing until the urge passes because it shows I'm down with the kids.

I know what I'll do. I'll cross it out so it's there but not there. Which then means I'm starting a sentence without a capital letter. Oh the dilemmas faced by grammar pedants.

Speaking of being down with the kids I was fist-bumped yesterday. Yeah. By a real - I was going to say something but I fear it may be rude or politically incorrect so I'll say - cool guy.

Now I've had to insert a capital letter.

But I still can't remember the other thing about which I was going to write.

P.S. Whoever I've told about being fist-bumped has looked at me blankly. But that is what it's called; I just checked. Admittedly it seems that it's normally done less by cool people and more by nerds.

Dithering Dora

It's been so hot for the last few days. Apparently if today continues in the same vein it will be officially a heatwave - 5 days with temperatures in the 30s, although I think that's probably in London and the south east. I don't remember it being as warm as this for several uninterrupted days for ages.

It means we get to use our pool! It's been used more in the last four days than it has for the last two summers.
GrandDaughter1 is like me when I was her age: doesn't feel the cold and will stay in for ages, although in my case it was in the sea. I'd be blue and shivering and still insisting to my mum that, 'the water's lovely and I'm not cold and I don't want to come out yet.' 

GrandDaughter1's swimming has improved hugely while GrandSon2 and GrandDaughter2 resolutely refuse to go in.

GrandSon4, on the other hand, at ten months loves water in all shapes but as his parents are scuba divers it's probably in the blood. Nuora, who's Italian, has amazed herself by swimming in our pool: she never thought it would be warm enough in Wales to swim. 

They say that in hot weather you don't feel like eating so much, but I've managed to excel in my weight gain. Hey ho.

Two things I would have blogged about if it hadn't been too hot to write: dithering and ... what was the other thing? It'll come back to me. I expect.

According to the radio the average person will spend three years of his life dithering. Of course to create an average you have extremes on each side. I am definitely on the extreme ditherer side. (I can imagine your gasp of surprise as you read this.) The time I can spend choosing or deciding to do, well, anything is quite ridiculous.

Husband or some other wise person says, 'If it's not important, which most choices aren't, then just pick one and don't worry.' But it's not that easy. Or maybe it is. Life would be a lot simpler if I didn't have to make decisions, or if I didn't make such a fuss about making it.

Right, so I'll stop dithering. No, I mean I'll try to stop dithering quite so much. 

Now what am I going to do today?

Friday, June 16, 2017

De-cluttering we shall go ... again

Continuing de-cluttering with a sort out of the filing cabinet. Which meant going through - and discarding many - sheets of paper written in my scrawling hand, the output from numerous writing courses.

Some of the writing I've found I've cringed over; some of it I like; some of it I'm not even sure that I wrote. I know for a fact that Daughter wrote some of them. She has always been better than me.

One of the pieces I wrote I discovered was still on my computer so I've added it to my bits that are too long blog.

I also found my collection of writings from my Masters course along with the marking tutors' comments. I remembered how much one of the assessments made me want to spit! (She didn't like me.) One of her comments was valid though: I need to let go. In my writing she meant. That's still valid I suspect.

Also in the cabinet I found some drawings from when I went through a phase of drawing stuff. Copying not drawing. Well, of course, it was drawing but not original or from life.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Is it ever right to shop-lift?

I think I spotted a shoplifter the other day.

I was 99% convinced but I didn't say anything. If I'd seen him outside afterwards I think I would have said something to him - but I'm not sure what exactly. Probably would have been more use if I'd bought him something to eat.

Should I have pointed him out to a member of staff? 

The trouble is that I know so many people who have shoplifted in their time simply to survive. And the way society is going there could be more and more struggling. Which doesn't make shoplifting right but understandable.

Heroes the world over

Back in 2002 I wrote a blog post about a piece of art in Zac's. This is the painting by Yidinji:
and here's the link to my original post that will tell you the story behind it. (Basically about the rescue of white settlers by two aborigine men.)

Recently the heroic efforts of the two men were finally acknowledged with a statue.

The unveiling of "The Great Rescue of 1852" Sculpture celebrating the heroic efforts of Yarri and Jacky Jacky, Wiradjuri heroes of the 1852 flood. Photo courtesy of NSW Aboriginal Land Council. Sculptor Darien Pullen.

World's best brownie

Yay! I haven't lost the knack. And these are particularly good even by world's best brownie standard.

Slightly crisp on the outside and slightly sticky in the middle. Perfect!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

People watching in the sunshine

GrandDaughter2 fell asleep in the pushchair after singing this morning so I plonked myself on a bench in the shade and settled down to do some people-watching. Or more particularly middle-aged women-watching. Of course I would have watched young good-looking men had there been any but the passers-by on the promenade at Mumbles were, by and large, middle-aged or older, or young mums.

Amongst the middle-aged women I saw a few colourful attempts, several nearly-Graces but only one authentic Frankie. The majority were Women by M&S. Not that there's anything wrong with M&S clothes; they're just ubiquitous.

When I got bored I started counting how many middle-aged men had excess belly. At least 50% had serious bellies even when the rest of the body was normal. I think that's where men put on weight unlike women whose weight settles on their hips, tums and bums I believe. 

And then GrandDaughter2 woke up.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Shouldn't have gone in the kitchen today

First of all it was the chocolate brownies. 
I took them out of the oven and stared in horror: they didn't look like any brownies I had ever made.

I went outside to join Husband sitting in the sun. I lay back and two minutes later sat up and slapped my forehead. 'I forgot to put the chocolate and butter in!'
'Where is it then?' Husband asked.
'In the microwave.'

Then it was the slow roast belly pork.
I've tried a few recipes for belly pork but not one has ended as badly as this. The meat - those bits that could be dug out - tasted okay but still. Back to the drawing board I think.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Were there ever such devoted sisters?

This is the only photo I have of my half-sister.
She's the one you can't see behind the woman in the middle in the black and white dress!

P.S. We've never met.

Maybe next year

Following our recent trip to Lanzarote travel companies have marked us down as potential customers. It's one thing to have suggestions pop up on Facebook offering bargain breaks in the Canaries, quite another to have mail to the door offering private jet world tours.

For just £55,000 per person you could enjoy a private jet (almost private, just you and 51 others) tour of almost about anywhere you can think of and some you didn't. Of course that includes an on-tour physician and an executive chef. That's the starting price by the way. You might prefer to opt for the £110,000 world tour ...

Maybe not this year. 

And if I were to go on holiday by private jet I would expect it to be private i.e. just me and Husband, or at a push the children as well. Which obviously would mean grandchildren too. So, fourteen of us, that's almost a jetful.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Pretty in pink?

Encouraged by Daughter and Nuora I have begun my re-imaging, my attempt to bring colour into my wardrobe - and my life. Goodbye, M&S (not that there's anything wrong with M&S clothes except they're not really me) apart from basics and essentials that they do so well. Hello ... well, anybody else. So here we are.

I'd seen the pinky-red top in a shop window in Mumbles when I was with Nuora who said it was definitely me. I went back yesterday and tried it on. First glance in the mirror, before it was hardly over my head, and I thought, 'Oh no!' But I gave myself a good telling off, looked more closely, and bought it. Apart from anything else it hides a multitude of sins such as the muffin top that was glaringly obvious when I took off my t-shirt to try the new clothes on.

I put it on this morning so I could get Husband to take this photo for me. I asked him, 'What do you think?'
He said, 'It's very ... pink.' He wouldn't commit to any more than that.

So what do you think?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Would you believe 'Anonymous'?

So I bump into a young man I know from Zac's. I haven't seen him for a while and he looks much better than he did last time - I guess he is taking his medication properly. He introduces me to his fiancee, a bespectacled respectable-looking young woman whose father is a vicar.

I am thinking she seems to be good for him as he is much calmer and happier. Then they start talking. And I realise it is all an illusion.

They talk about isis and hackers and 'Anonymous' on the internet and their belief in conspiracy and failure of the state is enough to enable them to stare at me blankly when I suggest that not everything on the internet is true and should be checked several times over. (Especially I would say if it comes from anyone calling themselves 'Anonymous'.)

The power of the internet can work for good or bad: smears against Jeremy Corbyn looked as if they could prove to be the most influential factor but the calls on social media for young people to register and vote were also highly effective.

Certainly in the latter days of the campaign I was disbelieving of most of what was coming out but sadly many people will believe anything. (Incidentally I am probably the most gullible person I know but I am learning.)

Thursday, June 08, 2017

General Election 2017

Polling day is here and I feel sad. Sad for the future of our NHS, our police forces, our schools and the most vulnerable in our society.

Unless something amazing happens and the election doesn't go the way forecast i.e. to the Conservatives.

I pray for wisdom for voters and for the eventual winners I pray for compassion and a sense of justice. I pray that love overcomes.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Clothes you shouldn't wear if you're over 50

A link appeared on the side bar in facebook pointing me towards the article in the title of this post. I thought, 'Oh, I'd better look at that later.'

Later I thought, 'Why should I? Who's to tell me what I should or shouldn't wear? I can wear what I like. I may not look brilliant but if I'm comfy and like it why should I not wear something?'

Do you watch Grace and Frankie? It's on Netflix, the third series now I think, about two very different women who find out their husbands, who work together, have been having an affair. With each other that is.
I aspire to be Grace (Jane Fonda) but I'm more comfortable as Frankie (Lily Tomlin) But I don't really live up to her hippy image. I need more colour! I think my clothes are boring.

Watch out world!

Monday, June 05, 2017

The unbearable longing for denim

When I was in 3 North in Glanmor Grammar School Pauline Greatrex came in one day wearing a denim bomber jacket she'd bought in an Oxfam shop. I was so envious. I have wanted a denim jacket ever since. I'm not sure why I've never bought one.

On Saturday I tried one on in Sainsburys. The shoulders stuck out a bit but it reminded of my yearning. I will have one!

P.S. I'm not sure how she got away with wearing a denim jacket to Glanmor: they were very strict about uniform. We had to wear our berets, at least while we were in sight of the school, and we had regular skirt length measurements.

I nearly forgot ...

One last Lanzarote post. The one about the man with the bandaged eyes.

In the heart of Playa Blanca on the sea front is a statue of an anonymous man. 
It's dedicated to all the men and women of the Canaries, ancestors of today's people, who, despite illiteracy in many cases, worked so hard to improve the well-being and lot of their people.

How lovely to see Everyman celebrated.

Things I am very good at

Sitting in front of the computer playing games and thinking of things I should be doing.

Um ...

Curves are good ... if you want a baby

A new book claims that 'curvy bums and boobs ... ensure the future of humankind. They are proof that a woman was well-nourished while growing up and carries good child-feeding genes ... it makes evolutionary sense for new couples to plump up as this provides both of them with a fatty fallback for when they begin the arduous task of reproducing the species.'

The book by David Bainbridge, Curvology, asks what it means to be a woman having to balance balance the 'ancient conflicting demands of food, shape and success in a modern, unnatural world'.

So my curves helped me to breed (successfully - three children) but what can be my excuse now for the little extra curvature on my hips? I need to find a reason, I mean, write a book on the subject.

And they all lived happily ever after?

In the library on Saturday I noticed that they had La La Land on dvd to hire (£2.75 for 2 nights or, in this case as they're closed on Mondays, 3 nights). I've wanted to see it for ages so I went mad and rented it.

'Do you want to watch it?' I asked Husband.
'Yes,' he said. 'I enjoyed Mamma Mia.'

So last night we settled down to watch. 

Half an hour into it Husband sighed deeply.
'Are you bored?' I asked.
'Do you want me to stop watching? I can finish it tomorrow.'
'No, no, carry on.'

Ten minutes later another huge sigh.
'Really I can watch the rest of it tomorrow.'
'No,' he said, getting up. 'I'll go and play on my computer.'

So I was able to watch the rest in peace. You can't enjoy something when you know you're making someone else suffer.

And I grinned almost all the way through it. Until it got to the end when I nearly threw my shoe at the television. I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't seen it but, really, if this was meant as a tribute to the old musicals the writers obviously didn't do their research very well.

What a lovely cream sofa!

Some years ago Husband and I said, 'The children have left home; now we can buy a new sofa.'
And I said, 'Oh look! Let's get that lovely cream one.'

The world I inhabit (in my head) is the world of lifestyle magazines where cream sofas always look wonderful - and clean - and children don't drop raspberries on them and dogs don't rub their mud-laden hair against them.

I'm thinking of dying the covers. Black probably.

Even more years ago I remember a young woman who lived with her parents telling me how pleased her parents would be when they got home after their holiday. 'While they've been away I've cleaned all the skirting boards in the house!'
'Wow!' I said, thinking, 'You're supposed to clean skirting boards?' Ours only get cleaned when we redecorate.

I wonder what else I'm supposed to be doing that I don't.

Don't answer that. I'm happy not knowing.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Election jiggery pokery

I was going to say 'calumny' but then I found out it didn't mean what I thought it meant i.e. general naughtiness, but instead means false accusation or slander or defamation.

Anyway. First of all it's the BBC accused of bias; now I find that even my polling station isn't immune: it has a definite tendency to lean to the right. This is obviously a deliberate attempt to affect the subconscious of the voters. Sending subliminal messages to our brains. 

Well, it won't work on me!

P.S. I know it's an optical illusion but allow me the opportunity to use the word 'calumny'.

Walking in the Med

A lovely walk yesterday through Clyne woods and into Clyne Gardens.

The smell from the orange blossom, I think, to the right was absolutely heavenly. I could have been walking in the south of France.

When I was about 13 my mother planted an orange blossom tree in the garden so 'you can carry some blossom on your wedding day.' She died long before I was married but I made sure some of the orange blossom from the garden was included in my bouquet.

Today the smell was less pleasant or would have been had I gone close enough to sniff the valerian, or as we used to know it, the one that smells of cat pee.
That was on Mumbles Hill. I said, 'Look George, loads of rabbit poo. Go find a bunny!'
He gave me his 'Seriously? In this heat,' look. But we both know he has no idea how to hunt rabbits. Or even what a rabbit is.

Thursday, June 01, 2017


My latest article for The Bay magazine is now available online here.

Along with this depiction of me:
In my article I suggest that what we portray on the surface isn't necessarily what we're like underneath. In other words, what you see isn't always what is.