Sunday, July 30, 2017

Burglar Bill, Rosie and the Avocado Baby

When my children were in Parkland junior school I ran the bookshop there. We must have had an event for which I made this banner.
I don't recall having a book bus there but I am rather impressed with my artwork!


Fungus the Bogeyman

Burglar Bill

Mr Magnolia


Avocado Baby

Ice cream for lunch

Tempting as it may sound, I opted not to go for dog ice cream settling for a Mr Whippy 99 from the pier cafe instead. 

A baby gannet was sitting outside the new lifeboat-house on the pier. I assume it was lost/injured/confused as it just sat there. Somebody called the RSPCA and we were pleased to see the inspector complete with net and large box heading to the rescue.
The RNLI is an amazing organisation funded only by donations from the public. The men - apart from the cox - are all volunteers and put their own lives in danger going to the rescue of ships and swimmers lost at sea. Mumbles has had three lifeboat disasters in its history, in 1883 (four dead), 1903 (six dead), and 1947 (whole crew of eight dead).

But on a lighter note they've a fun machine in the lifeboat station allowing people to 'be' lifeboatmen for a moment. And in complete safety and warmth.

Back when I was hideous

The de-cluttering continues. With some surprises.
Here I am, on the left, in my DVLC working days with my friend, Sue. Three interesting things about this:
a) I haven't seen or been in touch with Sue since about 1979;
b) I made that dress myself - with my own two hands I pinned, cut, and sewed, yes, sewed, and it was probably the only thing I ever made;
c) I can't believe I looked so good.

Most of my life I spent looking at myself and thinking how fat and unattractive I was. It's only in later years that I've gained in self-esteem and been reasonably happy with my appearance. Now I look back at me in bikinis and think, 'Wow! You were all right, you know.'

So much time wasted feeling like rubbish and I'm sure I wasn't alone in that then or now. If only we could tell our younger selves to stop worrying, to relax, to just be ourselves, that we're okay. Then maybe there'd be less depression and fewer eating disorders amongst young people.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

It was a dead mouse

I just realised I didn't tell you the source of the smell. We found we had a dead-some-time mouse in the trap.

We've been aware that we've had mice in the attic for a while; they've been nibbling all sorts. Including the tube of mouse killer.  
Husband has tried humane traps, poison and latterly old-fashioned mouse traps but had no success until now. I just hope the odour of death deters them.

My grammatical error

I hear you. I know what you're saying. You're saying, 'Liz? Make a grammatical error? Impossible. She is such a grammar pedant.' And I know, I know. I am flaying myself as I write.

grammar naziThe latest edition of The Bay magazine is now out and with it my most recent article on why you should never listen to what your head says at 2 o'clock in the morning.

And horror of horrors I've realised I made a grammatical error in my article. Excuse me now, I need to take a pill and lie down in a darkened room.

I smell death

'I smell death.'

Coming down from the attic I grumbled to Husband, 'We need to sort out up there: I smell death.'

On Friday, as it was raining, instead of a day out Husband and I spent the time together clearing out the attic. Or rather beginning the process of clearing out the attic. And we have a very strange result: the attic looks very much the same as it did before we started but the rest of the house is now covered in piles. A pile for throwing away, a pile for charity shops, a pile that needs a good home, a pile that is possible museum quality (yes, it's that old), and several piles that have to be sorted into other smaller piles based on some criterion or other.

I'm still trying to find a home for my wedding dress. There are a few places that use old wedding dresses to make special funeral robes for tiny babies but they all say they're not currently accepting.

Of the thirty or so jigsaws I am reluctantly getting rid of the local dementia group is taking five. Only twenty-five to go.
jigsaws need a good home
I also came across:
my old physics A-level notes;
an early article of mine in the 1968 school magazine;
and my grammar school report book.
Could do better is the story of my life really.

I went to Glanmor Grammar School when given the choice after passing my 11+. It was the school my mother attended thirty years earlier.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

You're not stupid; you're Einstein

I apologised to Younger Son for not getting gluten-free bread for the beach barbecue. 'I'm so stupid,' I said.
Both Sons instantly said, 'You're not stupid!'
'You mustn't say that ... you're forgetful not stupid.'
'And,' Younger Son added, 'they say forgetfulness is a sign of intelligence.'
Elder Son looked at him doubtfully but didn't say anything.

I love my children.

P.S. Younger Son directed me to this link as proof. According to new research forgetting is a key part of learning. "It’s important that the brain forgets irrelevant details and instead focuses on the stuff that's going to help make decisions in the real world."

It puts me in the same grouping as Einstein.

P.P.S. But I don't know why this post is highlighted in white. But Einstein probably wouldn't know either.

My Fitbit isn't broken and I didn't fall out of a tree

My FitBit isn't broken. It's just that I can't read what it says. And I can only charge it if I hold it between my fingers for two hours. So I can't. Apart from that it's fine.

And I didn't fall out of a tree. I just misjudged the distance to the floor. My shoulder still hurts two months later but Husband says that's normal.
older woman climbing a tree

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How long does it take to choose a scrapbook?

That depends. I decided to make a scrapbook for GrandSons1 and 3 who've been to visit so they can look back on their holiday. And add to it with other photos and drawings or writing.

a) traditional paper, 32 pages, £1.99;
b) traditional paper, 96 pages, price unknown;
c) thicker paper, 32 pages, £3.99.

a) is the thicker paper double the quality?
b)  will they ever manage to fill - before they get bored - 96 pages?
c) can I be bothered to go to the counter and ask the price of the big one?

I bought the £1.99 one.

And will recount the Gower Chilli Festival Chilli Cook-out competition that Elder Son entered for the second year. Last year he came ninth; this year he was third! Only behind the 'professional' amateurs who compete all over the country. And he has qualified now for the UK competition. 
Gower Chilli Festival cook-out 2017
Husband was, as last year, tent-putter-upper and general dogsbody and the team name was Pork-Chop Express. No, I didn't recognise the significance either but apparently it's from Big Trouble in Little China, a 1986 film starring Kurt Russell. It was a slightly misleading team name though as Elder Son's chilli was made with short rib beef.

The scrapbook will also feature images from the afternoon at the beach where Younger Son tested out his brand-new fire pit and cooked us hot dogs for dinner.
Brothers relaxing.
And there'll be photos of them being very brave and going in our pool even though the temperature had dropped to a chilly 22 degrees. And following the clues to find the buried treasure!

It's a good job they knew enough about football to know that Gareth Bale plays it without knowing what club he plays for as it turns out that Granny doesn't know either. One of the clues was stuck on a Barcelona FC football and Gareth Bale plays for Real Madrid. They could have been looking for a long time.

Toby, our new grandpup, helped to dig up the treasure.

And this was my best attempt. Trying to get them both to stay still at vaguely the same time while facing in roughly the same direction for long enough for my automatic-focusing camera to focus was hard.
I only managed this because food was involved.

P.S. If anyone has lost a BFC football we have it. It appeared in our garden and no-one has claimed it.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

I will be a national hero

One of my very first blog posts from 0ctober, 2005. Sadly I never did start that campaign.

The trouble with Americans is: they can't spell. I suspect this is the root of all their irritating little habits, like eating too much and waging war in foreign lands. It gives them a deep sense of inferiority.

I shall start a campaign to bring good spelling to the US of A. It will change the path of world history and I will be declared a hero and have a day named after me. They will call it ... oh, perhaps they'll call it Spelling Day, and it will be on my birthday. Or maybe, as no doubt it will be a long process, on my deathday. 

There will be a national holiday and everyone will go to ice cream parlours and eat prettily-coloured cones with their neighbours.

Until then I must remember that the spellchecker is American and thus cannot spell.

The interesting thing about this topic is that I tried to post it once and it disappeared into the ether. It is probably residing in the CIA's database even now and I will be rounded up whenever there is a threat to American security. I have seen 24; I know what their computers can do in the blink of an eye. The question is: will I be allowed to post it this time?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Those were the days - cleaning day part 4

wooden floorWhen we first moved to this house some 29 years ago I loved the wooden floors in the hall and dining-room so much I would get down on my hands and knees and polish them regularly. (Well, a few times.) Today they're lucky if they get a brush over them. 

It's not that I love them any the less it's just that I've taken Shirley Conran's advice - life's too short to stuff a mushroom - to a new level.

This house was built in about 1952 for a doctor and his family; we bought it from them. Because of his profession they were able to have more wood - it was still restricted by rationing - than most people but only enough for the two areas. The rooms are also higher than in other houses of the same period again thanks to more generous rations allowed for those working in the field of medicine.

It may sound crazy but he did have his surgery in his home so it does make sense.

So we're only the second family to live in this house in the 64 years it's been built. We like it. I'll always remember a woman who called doing a survey. She commented that as she was walking up the steps she felt, 'This is a happy house.' It is.

People in town - cleaning day part 3

The trouble with cleaning is that, inevitably, at some point you have to stop actual cleaning in order to 'sort out stuff'. So it was while I was sorting out stuff that I came across a bundle of photos. I'd taken them in town one day many moons ago, I think, with the intention of using the characters as spurs for stories. Going through them today I could only find two that seemed even halfway interesting.
people in town

people in town
I particularly like the second photo of the miserable or maybe tired woman in front of the children's roundabout. If I had time/enthusiasm I could write a story about that. Pretend I'm still a writer as I was in 2001 when I got paid real money for it.
a cop for christ

The dish cloth episode - cleaning day part 2

Dish cloth
Husband called me, 'Where's the dish-cloth?'
'I don't know.'
'Are you washing them?'

tea towel versus dish cloth
Tea towel 

I gave up trying to clean the bathroom and went down to the kitchen.
'There it is,' I said, pointing to the sink where Husband had put the dish-cloth in a bowl of soapy water.
'No, not that! Those things,' Husband pointed to the towel rail where we keep the tea-towels.
'Tea-towels you mean?'
Husband paused only momentarily before replying, 'No. Dish cloths. They're cloths that we use to dry dishes. Dish cloths.'

Considering spatial awareness - cleaning day part 1

spatial awareness
I mean, why would you want to work this out?
Cleaning day today. Have I mentioned that I hate cleaning? So today will be a day of many blog and Facebook posts. (I need little rests.) With a bit of spatial awareness thrown in for the sake of those who find cleaning incredibly boring. Like me.

* * * * * * * 
Husband looked at the quilt and at the suitcase. 'It's not going to fit in there,' he said.
'Yes it is,' I said.
He laughed.
'I took a double quilt out of it so another double must fit into it.'

What I wasn't taking into account was the fact that the quilt I'd removed from the suitcase is about three times thinner than the one we're trying to put in.

We gave up.

I should know better than to argue with Husband about such things; he has much better spatial awareness.

Apparently it's a man thing. Whoops, that's probably sexist. But that's the way it is in our house. I suppose I am quite behind the times in feminist thinking in that I do most of the cleaning, shopping and cooking, and all of the washing while Husband does gardening, decorating, and fixing things. But that's the way we both like it and it works for us. 

And I should add that today he's cleaning the kitchen!

A quick google confirmed that research has shown that men do tend to do better at spatial awareness tests than women, however, there was a suggestion that education can change that. A bit late for me I think. I shall continue to call Husband and say things like, 'Will I get everything in this saucepan in that jug?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

I thought I was going to need a man

There was a little bush just where I didn't want a little bush. I had mentioned it to Husband and suggested he remove it but advancement was slow. As in not happening. So I set to and attacked it myself.
Digging up a bush
Having stuck my fork in and worked my way around it several times without any obvious progress I began to think that I might need a man for the job. However I was forgetting I have WonderWoman capabilities.
I don't have a photo of me sitting on my bottom when it finally gave and I fell backwards. (That's George's back end you can just see: he likes to watch and encourage.)

I said to Husband, 'We could have a little arch and grow roses over it!' (I've been inspired by my visits to gardens recently.)
'Nah, it would spoil the view.'
'We'll get some of those nice big daisies then.'
'No, they're too big.'

I would argue some more but Husband is the grower in our family. I am the clearer/destroyer. But for the moment it can stay empty. Elder Son and family are down this coming weekend and I'm planning a treasure hunt with real buried treasure!

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Today before lunch and bible study in Zac's we did some gardening in the house across the road. It's been empty for years and gets very over-grown - and many of our friends use it as a rubbish bin for their cans and bottles so it seems appropriate that we should do something to clear up.
The workers.
The cuttings and rubbish.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I had a panic attack

panic attack
Probably not what would be medically defined as a panic attack but it was by my standards.

I went cold and faint, my tummy dropped to my feet and my brain filled with storm clouds. The worst symptoms eased off gradually but the storm raged all day. 

What was worse is that it's the first one I've had for ages, years even. My pills keep my anxiety under control most of the time so I'd almost forgotten what it was like. Even now writing about it - and it happened two days ago - I begin to feel fretful. I can't go back there. I won't go back there.

P.S. Having googled panic attack I see that my attack was fairly typical, which is sort of a relief: it makes me feel less of a fraud.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Warrior princess Gwenllian and me

family tree, Rhodri Mawr, Princess Gwenllian
I mentioned that I have some illustrious ancestors. Husband spent a long time working on my family history and stumbled across a link to a tree created by an academic in Welsh history. From this link he was able to draw up my tree to show the link between me and numerous famous people including Welsh princes and princesses.

As I say, the original appeared to be a fairly well-researched and academic investigation and is probably quite reliable back until the twelfth century. Following William the Conqueror's invasion more birth/death records were kept, certainly of the nobility, and lines can be traced through time. Before that family history is more about possibility and guesswork than fact so my links to Joseph of Arimathea and indeed Julius Caesar are slightly more suspect. 

One wall of our spare bedroom is covered with one branch of my tree consisting of a few hundred people; in the whole tree there are thousands.

The arrows pointing to the yellow boxes at the top left indicate the presence of Rhodri Mawr or Rhodri the Great. Rhodri gained the epithet Great  both because his kingdom stretched from the north, Anglesey, to the south, Gower, and because he was a fierce warrior.

Leap forward a few centuries and you find Gruffudd ap Rhys, prince of Deheubarth, who was married to Gwenllian, daughter of the king of Gwynedd.

At the time the Normans, who had built Kidwelly castle as a defence against the Welsh, were in possession of it and Gruffudd set off for North Wales to plead for help from his father-in-law to defeat the them. While he was away Norman reinforcements landed and marched to the castle. 

Gwenllian seized the opportunity to prevent the extra troops arriving and gathered a small army to go and do battle, a battle in which she was defeated and her son killed. She was immediately ordered to be beheaded. Although she was unsuccessful it is her spirit and bravery that have ensured her a place in the annals of Welsh history. And I am ashamed to admit I knew nothing of her until our visit to Kidwelly castle on Friday
Later ancestors actually lived in the castle but it all gets a bit confusing so I'll just sit back and relish a warrior Welsh princess as my 22nd great grandmother.

Friday, July 14, 2017

There be dragons!

But first, last week's outing to Aberglasney.

The house had many good old days when it was owned by numerous rich people but by the twentieth century it was becoming too costly to maintain and first parts of the grounds were sold off and then eventually the house and its gardens were left to rot.

But in the 1990s a trust was set up and thanks to a rich benefactor the house and gardens were bought and are now run as a charitable trust. The gardens were first to be restored. Work is still being done on them and on the house, very little of the interior of which has been restored as yet.

It's been proven that the cloister garden seen in the photo above existed in Tudor times.
Sunken garden

Upper walled garden (the lower walled garden is given over to fruits and vegetables)

The yew hedge/tunnel dating from the eighteenth century
Refreshment report
No oldies' outing is complete without tea and cake in this case, welshcakes. Sadly disappointing. they were served warm but had been heated in a microwave so were vaguely soggy and sorry for themselves. They were served with a pat of butter, which is unusual, but I used it to try and improve the experience. It didn't.

But a very lovely setting for the cafe overlooking the pond.
So that was last week. 

There be dragons
This week it was off west again but this time to Kidwelly castle. Now I didn't even know that Kidwelly had a castle but it turned out to be a large and well preserved structure with loads of windy steps, rooms, cellars and towers to explore.

What I had forgotten but Husband reminded me was that this was at one time the home of my ancestors. (I must do a blog post about my illustrious past.)

So it was only fitting that I should sit on the ancestral throne (or possibly a carnival prop).

'You're being very brave,' Husband commented as I made my way up the third storey of winding narrow staircase. I don't do heights well. Or bends. Or dark closed-in spaces.

'I'm getting old,' I said. 'I have to do these things. Even if it is on my hands and knees.'

And there were dragons!

The mum is called Dwynwen and her babies are Dylan and Cariad. Apparently following the arrival of their offspring mum and dad had a falling out so Dewi, the dad, has stayed behind in their old home. He's not the only one who's had his nose put out of joint. Cedric, the resident Kidwelly dragon, has had to be locked away in a dungeon while the babies are here and and as you wander around the castle you can hear him roaring that he doesn't like it one little bit.

Leaving Kidwelly in search of our second tea break of the day we visited Burry Port. There's not a lot there.

But I did have a most delicious scone with jam and clotted cream in the Harbour Tea Room.
Not that I'm obsessed you understand but when we passed some road signs on the way Husband remarked on the sign pointing to Pembrey air field and I picked out the one pointing to Pembrey tea-room.

Actually Husband shouldn't have been surprised to see Pembrey air field. The last time we passed through we discovered that Amelia Earhart had landed in Burry Port in 1928 becoming the first woman to fly the Atlantic (although that time not as pilot). They'd meant to land the plane in Ireland but had missed in dense fog. 

Other little things
On the road to Burry Port we passed two warning signs telling us to be careful 'Otters crossing.'

If you were going to open an Indian restaurant in Burry Port what would you call it?
The Curry Port.