Monday, April 16, 2018

Birkenstocks and Russian hackers

Just noticed that my visitor stats over the weekend reached an all-time low. Makes no sense to me how it works. Visitors from Russia but also the Ukraine. And the middle east.

With stats like that I must be a target for whatsitcalled, the Russian state cyber operations. So I should have more visitors if they're doing their job properly. They must be struggling to break my code. Stands to reason my posts must be in code: nobody could be this boring/weird really.

* * * * * * * * 

We go on holiday on Wednesday. Husband has just checked in online and he tells me we're not sitting together on the plane: he's in row 31 and I'm in row 12. I hope the man across the aside from me is amenable to me grabbing his hand as we take off/land.

Talking about going on holiday I wish I'd remembered before today that I intended to buy new sandals before going on holiday again.
Birkenstocks well-worn
Daughter-in-law gave me these - I think they didn't fit someone - probably about four years ago and since then I've lived in them, indoors in the winter, and in and out in the summer. They've taken me to Italy, Malaysia, England, Vietnam, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, and Tenerife. They've been on beaches, up volcanoes, in cities and they've been blissfully comfortable. But I really should have got some new ones ...

I'd never tried Birkenstocks before but I'm hooked and refuse to buy any others so new sandals will have to wait until we get back from our holiday. 

As long as I remember to buy them before our 'honeymoon'.

To tip or not to tip

One never knows whether one should tip a tradesman.

Or in this case a delivery man.

Husband had taken George out for a walk so I was on my own when the man arrived to deliver six internal doors. As he carried them in I panicked over whether I should tip him. 

One part of me said, 'It's his job.'
'Yes, but he's being very careful  not to damage anything.'
'Well so he should.'
'Yes, but he hasn't got anyone with him to help him.'
'That's a problem for him and his employers.'
'Yes, but he's got to climb up our steps.'
'Again, that's his job.'
'But it's quite warm and he's sweating.'
'He can take his coat off.'
'Yes, but he's ... quite large. I don't want him to have a heart attack.'
'That's not your problem: it's his job.'
'But I would hate to hear on the news that a Wickes delivery man had had a heart attack and died and I hadn't even given him a tip.'

So I did. After a further dilemma over how much. And whether I could get away with pretending to be the cleaner - I was dressed for it - and therefore not responsible for tips. 'That's the missus' job, guv.'

Co-co-coconut

I was going to write about ... something, I can't remember what but then I read a post on Tammy's blog about coconut and decided I'd do a short post too.

Tammy was extolling the virtue of coconut oil as a face cream. As a teenager I used coconut oil as a sun tan lotion. Or maybe more accurately as a sun burn lotion. You could buy it in solid form in pots in the chemist. I'd buy a pot and take it to the beach where I had to wait for it to melt before I could apply it. We didn't know about the sun and skin cancer in those days. But it was good for a tan.

I only recently - well, comparatively recently as in the last few years - discovered that I liked to eat coconut. I'd always refused to try a Bounty bar or cakes with jam and coconut on the top. Today I love coconut cake and use it in all sorts of things. 

yellow gorse flower
On holiday in Vietnam Husband and I were 'conned' into buying a fresh coconut drink each. You know what it's like. The seller says, 'Here, try carrying this yoke. You want a photo, don't you? Let me take a photo of you. Now you really want a cool drink, don't you?' What can you say? And he was very pleasant and the drink was refreshing. If not a trifle expensive.

But best of all is the scent of coconut. And even though we don't live on a tropical island it's still possible to be out walking on a warm sunny day and suddenly get a whiff of coconut. Follow it to its source and you'll find our very traditional wild shrub, gorse, its yellow flowers perfumed with the scent of coconut. Or I suppose more accurately the smell of gorse which happens to be the same as that of coconut.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Husband's just like the CIA

I couldn't find my phone. I'd looked in all the obvious places - and less obvious - with no success. 'Surely I can't have lost my phone in the very week that I've finally learned my number?'

Fortunately Husband has the technology. A bit like the CIA or FBI he can trace me via my phone. Or that's the theory. As I rarely carry it it's not as effective a trace as one in my shoe.

We'd already tried phoning it to determine its location. 'But this will make it ring even if it's on silent,' he assured me. And it did.

'So it was on silent? That explains why I never hear it ringing,' I said. I paused and then added, 'But I don't know how to put it on silent.'

Turned out my phone was on the cookery book shelf in the kitchen. Of course.

Things I think about at 5 am

Why is the plural of dice die?

Oh. Consulting Mr Chambers I find it's not. If anything it's the other way around historically speaking. These days both die and dice can refer to a single numbered cube. Hmmm. 

Dice sounds more plural it's true. But at 5 am logic is sadly missing from my thought process. Although I was logical enough to guess that its origin is Latin. But Mr Chambers doesn't mention that so perhaps it's not.

Of course if you're referring to dice as a game then it's singular.

Got that? Clear as mud I can hear you saying.

Prejudiced? Moi?

In bible study in Zac's on Tuesday I read the piece of fake news a few posts back. I introduced it saying that the authorities had done a good job of turning the crowds against Jesus; imagine what even greater success they could have had if they'd had the 'benefit' of social media and newspapers like the Daily Mail (right-wing rag).

One of our regulars said, 'The Daily Mail is an excellent newspaper. It always prints the truth.'
I started to laugh. And then realised he was deadly serious. 

On reflection it may not have been a good idea to read the fake news - I dithered about it for some time beforehand - as it may have confused some of the listeners and the ones I would really like to consider the implications, such as DM reader, aren't going to because their prejudices are just as well set as mine.

Ah, well, we've got all sorts in Zac's. All we can do is focus on the message of love of Jesus and hope it gets in. 

P.S. I thought about posting a photo of a DM cover but the headlines are so hideous I didn't want to give them any extra publicity.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Three Things About Elsie

three things about elsie
"(Losing your mind is ...) such a silly turn of phrase. It implies it's somehow your fault. It suggests you were being careless, or became distracted along the way and mislaid it somewhere, like a set of house keys, or a Jack Russell terrier. Or a husband, perhaps. Although I suppose losing your mind can prove quite helpful sometimes, because it does hint there is a possibility, however slim, that you may find it again."
From Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Wonderful novel about dementia, I suppose, but so much more than that with a heroine whose side you are on all the way. Unexpected endings - in the plural because there's more than one I feel. ****

Little things

GrandSon4 demonstrating that it's never too early to learn that plastic waste is bad. 

* * * * * * * *
GrandDaughter1 rescues worms in danger of being trodden on and puts them somewhere safer.

Very pleased that learning to care is part of my grandchildren's education.

The Big Man and the Little Train

What do you do with children on a grey day? 

Take the bus to Mumbles, eat pizza in the castle field, find a knife (ancient dagger?) at the back of the castle, have ice cream in Joe's, take the train back to Blackpill waving like crazy things at passers-by, play in the park, collect plastic and shells from the beach, watch Boss Baby on television. 



Granddad takes them home while Granny gets ready for weigh-in and exercise class though it's the last thing in the world she feels like doing. Gets home to pizza cooked by Granddad and stays awake until it's time for bed.

What do you do with children on a sunny day?

Take them to see Man Engine awakening.

The largest mechanical puppet ever made in Britain. Made in Cornwall and touring historic industrial sites. The Vivian family owned smelting works in Swansea valley and copper was brought across the sea from Cornwall. South Wales had the coal and the industrialists  realised it was more economical to bring copper here than take coal there.

The other requirement for smelting copper was ammonia. A woman would walk the streets of Swansea collecting urine to sell to the smelting works. I didn't know that!

Monday, April 09, 2018

Why won't a safety pin do?

I have been wearing shorts held together by a safety pin for years but apparently that's not good enough for Husband. So I, the woman who hates sewing, sewed his button on. Round of applause please.
Yes, I know it's white cotton but that's the only cotton I have. He's lucky I had a needle as I gave everything away in one of my recent splurges of the 'Am I likely to use this?' kind.

I know there will be voices saying, 'Tell him to do it himself,' but that would put us on the edge of anarchy where there are no rules about who does what and I rather like the status quo, sewing being the obvious exception. 

In other news, we have a wonderful display of hellebores this year in spite of the lacking of pruning, judicious or otherwise. I never entertained the idea of having them in the garden until I saw them on the blog of a keen gardening friend, Rose. Isn't it wonderful how we can think of people we've never met as friends thanks to blogs? And we don't necessarily have the same interests of views.



And finally dinner last night, slow roast belly of pork.


Saturday, April 07, 2018

Things I think about in the shower

You know that snakes slough off their old skins? How do you pronunce slough?

Is it slou like the town or thou? Or sluff like rough?

But then when I began to cogitate I realised there were even more possibilities.
Is it slow like though? Or slew like through?

It's not wonder I get out of the shower and can't remember if I've washed.

How I learned to love my phone

For Christmas 2005 Husband gave me a Beetle. Betty Beetle. She was very beautiful and it was love at first sight.
Betty the white Beetle
Amazingly this seems to be the only photo I have of her. Note the number plate. It wasn't long before I began to think she was having a laf on me.

One month later on February 1st, 2006, she broke down on me. That was the first of many break-downs. I was soon on first name terms with the rescue men. Looking back over my blog I am amazed to read how often she did challenge my patience. (Search for Betty and all the relevant posts come up.) But I still loved her.

Anyway this is a long by-the-way introduction to my story about how I learned to love my phone.

One Christmas some time after the Betty present Husband bought me a mobile phone. 
'Oh,' I said, 'thank you but I don't really want a phone.'
'No, but you need it if you're going to keep breaking down.'

So that was about twelve years ago. I still rarely remember to take my phone with me when I go out - I would if I knew where it was - no, I wouldn't actually. I work on the principle that no-one phones me at home so why would they phone me when I'm out? Husband works on the principle that I could fall over a cliff when walking George and what would I do then? (Send George for help Lassie-style is my answer.) And until this week I didn't know my number.

That usually doesn't matter as I give people our landline but the day before yesterday I thought: come on, you're a grown-up, you can learn this. I mentioned it on Facebook and one friend, Debs, suggested putting it to music, which I did. And now I know it. At least I've retained it for two days.

The problem, that I share with Debs - she won't mind me saying this - is that I can't sing. My vocal ability is somewhere below that of a bull in a bad temper. So I pity the person who asks for my number.

P.S. The post title is slightly misleading: I tolerate my phone. When I remember to charge it. Or take it with me.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Leaky brain problems

I go through more tissues than a woman with a cold. And I don't have a cold. Or an allergy. At least not an obvious one.

I can't go anywhere without ensuring I have a tissue up or in every sleeve and pocket. It's ridiculous: I am destroying a rain forest by myself.

In one episode of Grey's Anatomy a patient who complained of a runny nose was diagnosed with a leaky brain. I'm just putting it out there so when I die mysteriously and the forensic pathologist comes out of the autopsy looking puzzled and saying, 'Her brain was leaking,' I'll be able to say, 'I told you so.' From the grave you'll hear me.

P.S. Looking for an image to accompany this post I came across a page of vintage advertisements that would definitely be non-pc today. Some I suspect had been doctored via Photoshop but some fairly horrific ones seemed genuine.

How do you solve a problem like Alexa?

Alexa
Alexa is driving me crazy: she will not stop when I tell her to.

I have tried asking politely, I've tried shouting, I've tried variations on 'Stop', I've even tried telling her to shut her face. She ignores it all.

At least it's not just me. She ignores Younger Son and Husband too. Today Husband had to unplug her at the socket to make her stop. At one point she even had the nerve to suggest we contact the Frequently Asked Questions Forum but when Husband asked her to connect us, she refused.


To buy or not to buy

Bought five books for £2 in Mumbles Methodist Church book sale today.
As a reader that pleases me - and I have my holiday reading planned now  - but as a writer I wonder if I should buy secondhand books.

It's a dilemma.

Building bonds

Lovely afternoon with GrandDaughter1. Went to Next (including Paperchase and Costa) where I treated her to two dresses, a gratitude diary, and hot chocolate and millionaire's shortbread. 

We discussed - or rather she told me all about - the plot of the new Peter Rabbit film, our worst dreams, and our favourite numbers and letters amongst other things. She said at the end of Peter Rabbit she couldn't decide if her tears were of happiness or sadness. 

I told her that I'd been really cross with Granddad when I woke up this morning because he booked us into an apartment in Holland and when we got there the kitchen was full of porridgey dishes, there were some strange mice and a cat covered in fleas. She said that quite often things that we think about during the day come up in our dreams but she took my word for it that, as far as I could remember, I hadn't been thinking about flea-ridden cats or porridge the day before.

Incidentally things went from bad to worse as far as Husband was concerned this morning. Not content with upsetting me in my dream he continued as follows.

I said, 'I thought we could go out to eat tonight.'
He said, 'Your diet's gone to pot recently. Where do you want to go?'
I stared at him. 'I don't want to go any more.'

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Spinning a cheering crowd into a jeering mob

With all the controversy over possible interference from Russia in western elections and general news reporting the power of the media has never come under so much scrutiny. It's scary. I've written before about friends who will repost what turns out to be fake news without first checking it and I'm sad to say that I believe very little I hear these days. A big change from the old gullible me. (Who's still there in many cases although I think that's possibly a good thing.)

So with Easter just gone I got to thinking about that story and it occurred to me that the bad guys must have had a pretty good spin doctor on their side not to mention an effective media presence in order to turn the cheering crowds into a jeering mob. So, in preparing to lead next week's bible study in Zac's, I wrote this.

Jesus: son of God or charlatan?
In Jerusalem for the Passover feast this year you may encounter a man his followers are claiming to be the next messiah, son of God, saviour. Before you meet him you need to know some things that he wouldn’t want you to know. But we believe it’s important you know all the facts before making your decision.

Did you know that two years ago he was solely responsible for the destruction of a herd of 2,000 pigs? The owner of the herd said, ‘My business was completely destroyed. I’d spent a lifetime and a small fortune building up that herd and the loss left me bankrupt.’
An honest hard-working business man and his family ended up on the streets because of this man some people claim to be son of God. 
Would God condone such action? I don’t think so.

And what about his so-called friends, the people he mixes with?

Did you know that he frequently eats with tax-collectors? Yes, the same ones who work hand-in-glove with the Romans to rob you and me of our hard-earned cash.  And this coincidentally is the man who encourages ordinary working-class people to make sure they pay their taxes. For whose benefit we have to ask.

And he dines with the rich. We’ve been shown exclusive photos of him with a prostitute wrapped all over him, massaging him with oil. And when one of our own spiritual leaders challenged him about it he shrugged him off.
In fact when one of his former friends objected to wasteful behaviour Jesus again shrugged it off saying, ‘The poor will always be there.’ Yes, this is what the man who claims to care about the poor really thinks.

And he has no scruples about breaking the ten commandments. The very laws his ‘father’ gave us he breaks as if they’re nothing, of no importance. Does that sound like the sort of thing a holy man would do?

And he has no scruples either about being kept by women. He doesn’t go out to work to earn a living. Instead he treats the homes of his followers as his own and expects to be fed everywhere he goes – along with a dozen or more of his hangers-on.

Now you might have heard rumours about him raising a man from the dead but has any evidence been shown? Did a doctor provide a death certificate to prove the man in the tomb was really dead? If he has we haven’t been shown it. Magicians pull stunts like that every day. When you’ve got a gullible audience it’s easy to fool people.

But the fact that you’re reading this proves you’re not amongst those fools easily taken in. You know your own mind. You can make your own decision.

So remember if you come across him this weekend don’t believe everything his followers will try and tell you.

Fifteen minutes of rain

'Is it going to rain?' I asked Husband before we went for a walk. He is the meteorologist in our house. At least he pays attention to the weather forecast.
'According to the BBC there is a 25% chance of rain.'
I glanced out of the window. 'Oh, that's fine. I don't need a coat.'

'Of course,' Husband said when we had walked a little way, 'that means that it could rain for 15 minutes in the course of an hour. Or an hour in 4 hours.'

Fortunately when it started to rain we were on a wooded path so I could run from tree to tree. Unfortunately the trees don't yet have any leaves.

Hey, it didn't rain for long. Not even fifteen minutes.



Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Making banana cake

After a long discussion this morning with Vivien about exactly why I hate anything flavoured with banana (even though I love bananas) I came home and made a banana cake. And the smell as it's been cooking has been heavenly.

Why, you may ask, are you making something you don't like. It's for Zac's and because I don't like it I won't be tempted to eat it. Last time I made it for Zac's it went down very well. So well that I was tempted to taste just a smidgin or a very small slice, whichever is larger, and it was palatable. Not too bananay.

And we had some over-ripe bananas.

Either Bouchard or RSI is my expert opinion

Have I mentioned my knobbly knuckle?

I think I did. Well, last week, with my expert medical training (watching Grey's Anatomy and House) I diagnosed it as a Bouchard's Node (as opposed to a Heberden node which is on the higher joint). This week I'm not so sure.

Yesterday I was on the computer very little and today my knuckle is far less knobbly. So now I'm opting for RSI. Repetitive Strain Injury caused by mouse manipulation. (It's my mouse finger.)

We medical experts have to be open to changing our diagnoses. 

Husband is a whatsapping genius

Being driven to distraction by puta.

I used to have Whatsapp until it whatsapp-ed off. My numerous attempts to get it working again have ended in failure.

I used to have Skype - indeed, I thought I still had it until I tried to use it to interview a friend of my victim, no, wait, subject last week and it failed to materialise. Numerous attempts to get it working again etc

Husband entered the fray. (Actually he came in the room to drink his tea so I pounced on his expertise. So to speak.)
'It says I need Whatsapp on my phone first.'
'Go to Playstore then.'
I look blankly at him.
'In your Apps.'
I stare at the computer.
'On your phone.'
'Oh right, yes, that would make sense.'

Time passes. 'Okay, it says it needs my phone number. Which phone number is that?'
'The phone you're using.' Husband sighs.
'Ah, yes, again that would make sense.'

A little more time passes during which Husband takes the mouse off me and takes control.

Husband is a genius. Not only has he restored Whatsapp to my puta he's also installed Mightytext allowing me to send text messages from my puta via my phone. 

No, I don't understand it either.



When only a frill will do

Sonata just reminded me of a Victoria Wood anecdote. The wonderful Ms Wood realised she had passed a certain milestone age when the catalogues that came through her letterbox changed from sexy lingerie to easy-to-open tupperware and stair lifts. One particular item drew her attention: a wheelie-bin cover in beech effect. You'll find the story on her marvellous Victoria at the Albert live show.

So I was thinking that perhaps I need little covers for my food waste recycling bins. Perhaps a little cosy with either a cabbage or a chicken on top. That would help me identify which one was which, wouldn't it?

All I need now is someone handy with a crochet hook.

P.S. I've just goggled images for food waste bins and found them sadly unimaginative. 
P.P.S. Anyone reading my blog for the first time might imagine that I am, in fact, the prototype for Hyacinth Bucket ... (I'm not.)
P.P.P.S. Maybe something like this.
What do you think?

Ice cream for breakfast

Off to Verdi's this morning to meet old school friend, Vivien, who forced me to have ice cream. Okay, perhaps she just suggested it and I leapt at the opportunity to try the new salted caramel and shortbread crumble sundae.

Verdict: okay but not very salty caramel. But is it ever?

The morning itself passed most amiably catching up, sharing little moans, bemused by veganism and dreaming of writing and French cottages with chickens but possibly not a pig.

The fake widow and the greedy baby

With two thirds of the family with us family dinner yesterday was chaos. Ten people squashed around the dining table on a variety of chairs. Ham for most of us, feta and spinach pie for some of us, fish fingers and pasta for the smaller amongst us. Boast alert ... I got everything cooked and on the table - and still warm - at roughly the same time. Is that a first, children of mine?

Cwtchy chaos. I love it. It's what we Welsh mams do best: feeding our babies. 'Have you had enough? are you sure? Go, on there's plenty left. Have a bit more.'

This propensity to force feed our infants seems to have made its way into the local bird population. I've recently watched a mummy robin feeding its almost-the-same-size baby on a branch outside the kitchen window. As soon as mummy has gone off in search of titbits Baby Robin hops onto our fat-ball feeder and helps himself, making sure he's back on the branch and tweeting hungrily before mummy gets back.
Meanwhile my food prep was harshly interrupted by the appearance of a spider in my bag of potatoes. 'Waaaah!'
My scream must have been loud as Husband came hurrying out. 'Have you cut yourself?'
'Spider,' I said, pointing at the potatoes.
'Oh,' he shrugged and returned to whatever he was doing leaving me muttering under my breath, 'I sort of hoped you'd get rid of it for me.'

I herded it under a jam jar and waited for Younger Son to arrive to do the duty. 'If you've caught it under a jam jar why didn't you just get rid of it yourself,' he asked.
'Because it came out of the bag I thought it might be some rare exotic poisonous beast.'
'In a bag of Welsh potatoes?'

He examined it and decided it might be a pretend widow. Fake widow? Mock widow? Some sort of imitation so I felt justified. 
Even if their sting is no worse than a bee sting. Which incidentally hurt a lot.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Is it him or me?

We have two small green food waste recycling boxes in the kitchen. We have two larger green food waste recycling boxes outside the back door. 

Indoors, one is for teabags, coffee grinds, and fruit and veg peelings that Husband can add to the compost heap; the other is for cooked foods and bones. Ditto the outdoors bins. Except I didn't know that.

The other day Husband stopped me at the back door. He lifted the lid of one of the identical bins. 'What's that in there?' he said.
'Um, food waste?'
'It's in the wrong bin.'
'What?'
'It's in the wrong bin. Those are peelings. They should be in the compost bin.'
'I didn't know there was an outside compost bin.'
'Why did you think we've got two bins here then?'
'Happenstance?'

He says he told me. Just like he says he told me about the right and wrong places to store computer files.

One of us is either getting forgetful or doolally. I'm not taking bets on either or whom.

An easy yoke

I recently read a blog post that upset me. The writer had determined to focus on his faults, to be aware of them in order to be a better person. 'I should do this,' he wrote.

I would like to ban the word 'should'. Maybe that's a bit extreme; there are times when it is appropriate. But, I believe, not when we 're talking about living a Christian life.

Jesus tells us that his yoke is easy and his burden light. If that's true then 'should' and 'must' don't play a part. What I believe is that Jesus walks alongside us and helps us. He says, 'We can do this, you and me.'

He doesn't say, 'You're such a bad person. You've done that thing again. I despair of you. You must stop doing that. You should try harder.'

Yes, we need to be aware of our faults but to see them as Jesus does through a veil of love. He knows how weak we are. For goodness sake he made us with all the potential flaws, our selfishness, our egos. He knew that Peter would deny him three times but he still loved him and used him mightily.

I think all Jesus wants from us is to be aware of our failings and want to change. He can do the rest.

Arguing with me

I frequently find myself arguing with me. Able to see both sides and not being able to take a clear view. Some people seem to find no problem and have an answer for everything but my answers always send me back on the cycle. I do hope I am never again called to be on a jury: I am so indecisive. The last person who spoke would sway my decision too much. Unless it were the right decision. But it could be the wrong decision.

Anyway.

Should a woman dress in a fitting manner for the company she will keep? 

My first answer is no. She should dress exactly as she wants to dress.

My second answer is yes. She should be responsible in how she dresses.

But if a judge in a rape case said that he would be thoroughly and rightly condemned: rape is never the victim's fault.

And in most situations I would agree. But if a woman goes into a place where there are vulnerable men, men with problems, mental health issues, socially unaware and possibly naive men, then surely it is also her responsibility to dress in a way that will not give them the wrong idea?

Also of concern is the question of why a woman dresses in figure-hugging cleavage-revealing clothes. The obvious answer is because it makes her feel good and she thinks she looks good. And then we get into the question of why the way that we dress can affect how we feel about ourselves and if our confidence depends on our appearance.

People don't like to admit it but we do care about appearances. We may say the most qualified person gets the job but research has shown that better-looking people get better jobs. And no matter how we try not to be affected we are still allowing the media to influence us. So we're under pressure to look - what society says is - good. 

In spite of all the jolly little sayings people post on facebook about alternative values many of us get what confidence we have from the way we look, from fitting in. But as a christian I know that the bible tells us that a woman's real beauty doesn't depend on outward appearances but what's in the heart. So I feel guilty as well.

So do you see what's happened here? I started with one point and ended up a not quite a million miles away but on a merry little carousel arguing against and for myself. It is no wonder I am confused. It would be so nice to see things in black and white.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

My deaf enemy

'And the last enemy is deaf.'

I did that suppressing a giggle thing but it was in my head now and the more I thought about it and its connotations - fancy picking on a deaf man - the harder it was not to laugh. I glanced around. Nobody else was giggling; nobody else seemed to have noticed. I took a deep breath and tried hard to concentrate on what the preacher was saying.

I blame it on the early start to the day. Up at 5.20 a.m. to get to Zac's to begin cooking bacon and sausages. (It was the annual joint churches Easter sunrise service on the beach followed by breakfast at Zac's.) I'm not sure how many turned up at the beach but there were fewer people than normal who came to eat after. Then it was home for an hour before going to the prison for their service. It was cold in prison too. That probably didn't help either. 

But estuary English is an unfortunate accent for a preacher to have. Especially if asked to speak at a funeral or on Easter Sunday when Christ has risen from death.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Three months two bedrooms

We're moving back into our bedroom tonight! Yay! At last!

You know, if I were silly-rich I would employ someone to put up curtains for me. When I do it they never look as perfect - or anywhere near it - as they do in magazines. As it is, well, they're up; that's about the best I can say.

There are still a few finishing touches to add but this very afternoon I've ordered a headboard for our bed. When we bought our bed, hmm, a number of years ago I meant to get one but never seemed to get around to it.

Guest bedroom

Our bedroom
I bought the quilt cover for our bed yesterday. I walked into the shop and could feel the very slight first mumblings of a panic attack starting so I took some deep breaths and determined to make a choice as quickly as I could. Hence the perhaps slightly brighter than I would usually choose option. But I think it's nice.


Good Friday restoration

I am so grateful to Linden Church for the strong foundations they laid in me. And for all they continue to be and do.

When I stopped attending Linden regularly a few years ago I said it was because I wanted to concentrate on Zac's. That was true but not the entire reason. Most Sundays I was finding myself looking for an excuse not to go to church. Also there was someone, an important player in the church, with whom I struggled. I was not in a healthy place.

Yesterday, on Good Friday, I went along to Linden for the communion service. It was a good quiet time and I felt myself for the first time restored, emotionally and physically. I don't think I'd realised how hurt I'd been by the experience in the months before I made the decision to stop going.

I've been back on other occasions and been welcomed but this time just felt different. In my head I never stopped being part of Linden - it was never a case of 'I'm going to a different church on Sundays' - but now I really believe it.

It doesn't mean I'll be going there every week: I still go into prison regularly on Sunday mornings and we're often away or have family visiting. But it won't be such a big thing for me in future when I do drop in.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday

Today I am thankful for the cross.
The payment for all the wrong things I have done and will do. I thank Jesus.

"And wonder how he could love me,
A sinner, condemned unclean."

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Super-fishal

Yesterday I was grateful for the opportunity - weekly at least - to spend time with grandchildren building a bond of love and safety and fun and belief. They are so precious and I love them all so much. I just wish I could show you photos of them.

Today I'm grateful for the chance to do some work on my ghost-writing. It's very difficult to know what to call it. It's not a biography because it's in the first person but it's not my autobiography either. So I think I'll just call it, as I did there, ghost-writing.

I need to skype the subject soon to clarify some points plus I need more stories from him so in the meantime I've submitted it to two Christian publishers: SPCK and Lion. Let's see what happens.

I'm also thankful that the curtains I ordered have finally come in meaning when Elder Son comes to visit next week we won't have to drape blankets across the windows.

In other news Fish is still alive. I was fairly sure he was definitely on his way out last week but he has rallied again, is swimming the right way up and keen for food. Maybe he is super-fishal.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

When fiction mixes with fact

I mentioned a few posts ago that my cousin, Jimmy, whose funeral we attended last week, was following in the footsteps of his ancestor, Thomas Chegwidden, who was also a teacher who played rugby for Swansea. When I wrote that on my Facebook page one of my friends commented that he sounded like a character out of Poldark and he should have a daughter named Alice. 

Well, he was Cornish and his sister was called Alice. But Husband unearthed much more of interest just a little further back up the tree.

Chegwidden was one of the derivatives of the Chenowyth - spelling in parish registers wasn't a particularly strong point - family name and, in fact, my 5th great-grandmother was Elizabeth Chenowyth.

Now if you're a fan of Poldark that name will ring a bell. Here she is, Elizabeth Chenowyth. Can you see the family likeness?
No? Well, maybe here in the family matriarch.
Yes, that's more like it!

Plastic free thirty three

It is Younger Son's birthday today. (Happy Birthday!) His present to himself is to name the coming year Plastic-free Thirty-three. Yes, he aims to live a plastic-free life as far as possible. 

With plastic in one form or another ubiquitous in everyday life it's going to be hard to be completely free - no, wait, I remember he said this year is a sort of introductory year in which he will be working towards Thirty-four Plastic No More. It's a wonderful aim; we will all have seen the damage done to wildlife and the environment. And I salute him. And maybe, with more and more places banning single-usage plastic items, the world is gradually waking up to the problem.

I am thinking about the story of all the hundreds of
starfish washed up on a beach and the little boy who asked his granddad why he's putting them back in the sea one by one when he can't do them all and it won't make a difference. And the grandfather replies that for one starfish it will make a difference.
Plastic found on a short stretch of beach

I am too lazy to be committed to plastic-free but even if I could just think a bit more and, for example, say no to packaging it'll make a bit of a difference. An even bigger difference if we all did it.

Monday, March 26, 2018

All's right with the world

Today I am grateful for a clean bathroom. I would be more grateful if there were a bathroom fairy of course.

I've had it on my to-do list for a length of time so long I would be embarrassed to tell you. But life kept getting in the way. 
'Would you like to come ...?' 
'Yes please.' 
'You don't know where yet.' 
'That's okay, anything's better than cleaning.'

But tonight I can sleep happy in the knowledge that my toilet is sweet smelling, the sink is sparkling, God's in his heaven and all's right with the world. (Except for the obvious things like Brexit and Trump and trafficking and ...)

Shock! Horror! The badness of cawl!

Lamb cawl
'Cawl is the most un-ecofriendly dish in the world,' Husband announced.
'What?! Rubbish!'
'It's on the BBC website so it must be true.'
'How can that be? What about ...' and I listed a whole host of other meals.
'Don't tell me; tell the BBC,' Husband protested. 'It's on their website.'

So the actual headline  was "Lamb cawl named British dish with 'highest carbon footprint'". According to a report from the WWF "a bowl of lamb cawl produced the same amount of carbon as boiling a kettle 258 times,' thus making it the worst offender ... of not every other meal in the world, as Husband had claimed, but of four iconic British dishes. It was compared to chicken tikka masala, a ploughman's lunch and fish and chips. (Yes, I wondered why the traditional British roast wasn't on this list too.)

The WWF says these dishes are all candidates to disappear or change as a result of climate change. But, "If each of us takes a small action, together we can combat climate change and future-proof our best-loved dishes."

Let's do it for cawl!


Changing times

Going to bed on Saturday night I said to Husband, 'I am being picked up tomorrow at 9.00 am so I need to set the alarm for about an hour before that. But the clocks go forward tonight. And I never changed the clock last time they went backwards so do i set the alarm for 7 o'clock or 9 o'clock?'
'8 o'clock.'
'Are you sure?'
'Yes.'

I woke up before the alarm anyway.

I rather liked the clock an hour fast. Because I knew it wasn't as late as it said it was it made me think I had all the time in the world.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Folly!

As an early celebration of Younger Son's birthday he, Nuora and GrandSon4 went to Folly Farm today. And they took Granny along too!

Folly Farm was opened in, I think, 1986 by Farmer Glyn. I'm sure we went there in the very early days when it was just a few farm animals and some arcade games. Today it has an excellent reputation as an educational breeding zoo and very fun place. It's been done out really well, the animal enclosures are large and the animals look well looked after.

There's a large indoor play area and an indoor old-fashioned fairground as well as numerous outside play areas that could quite easily keep children occupied all day even without the attraction of the farm animals and wild beasts. The food in the restaurant was pretty basic which seemed a bit of a let-down when so much thought has gone into everything else.

But on to the fun stuff.


Bottom up!



The endangered black rhino

Wonderful weather and a great day out. Much for which to be thankful. And most of all seeing the delight on GrandSon4's face. He was taken to a zoo in Italy last year but now a bit older he really appreciated seeing the animals for real, both the farm and wild. He doesn't watch television so he's not even seen lions or giraffes on that. Of course the absolute best bit for him was the chance to ride on a tractor train and have a go on a digger - his biggest passion in life.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Being part of something bigger

It was my cousin's funeral today. Jimmy was nearly eighty-one when he died and, though he lived in Taunton, he was a Mumbles boy at heart and wanted to have his funeral and be buried here.

Jimmy was actually my second cousin; he and my mum were first cousins but, as I've probably explained before, the age gap between my grandmother and her youngest sibling was so large that the generations get mixed up a lot.

My great-grandmother, she with the eight surviving children, lived with us when I was little. Or maybe I should say we lived with her as it was her home originally. So family gatherings happened in our home at regular intervals. 

I suppose as a shy child I wasn't very impressed with this - mainly because I'd be sent around to kiss everyone - who had usually had a drink or two - goodnight but then, after my great-gran died, and the frequency of these gatherings slowed and finally stopped altogether, I realised how important they'd been.

Over the years I've almost lost touch with many of my cousins but Facebook has been a wonderful bringer-togetherer and we've been able to share news and commiserate or celebrate with each other, albeit virtually.

So today it was great to see, even under the sad circumstances, cousins gathering together to remember a lovely man. There seems to be a new family spirit. What was on the point of being lost is being restored. Maybe as we get older we recall the 'good old days' or maybe, as the number of the older generation gets fewer, we just need to feel part of something bigger.

So today I'm thankful for extended families.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Taking a sabbatical

There were lots of things I was thankful for yesterday:
the opportunity to take grandchildren swimming - and see Alun Wyn Jones (Wales rugby captain);
losing one pound in weight (in spite of the curry);
being fit enough to exercise.

I'm sure there were other things but they escape my memory at the moment.

Today I'm grateful for the opportunity Sean gave me three years ago to lead a women's bible study group. I have enjoyed much about it especially the necessity to do thorough bible research in preparation. In recent months though it's become a burden rather than a pleasure so today I led my last study (on joy) for the foreseeable future as I take a sabbatical.

Which will allow me to spend time writing. I am working on a project - a ghost-written autobiography - about which I am excited so I'm very happy.

Now all I have to do is write it!

Today I'm also grateful to Younger Son who came and cooked yummy chicken and vegetable curries for us for dinner.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Having old woman arms

Driving to Mumbles this morning I was in awe - as I frequently am - at the beauty of the bay. I am so thankful for the beauty of this place.

* * * * * * * *
Lovely curry last night with Janet and Mike at Mumtaz. A classy place with very nice food, a bit different from your average curry house. They even had a Health Conscious section. I had my starter - chicken tikka salad - from there but not my main course. It was all very nice.

I had decided to wear my pale pink jumper and I was just getting it out of the wardrobe when I stopped. 'Pale pink? Curry? Hmm, maybe not.' Instead I wore a tunic that wouldn't be ruined should I drop a smidgin of curry on it. (I didn't.)
The hair has gone today. With my cousin's funeral on Friday I made a spur of the moment appointment at the hairdresser's this afternoon. It doesn't look too bad in this picture but that's because you can't see all the grey roots.

* * * * * * * *
When I put on weight it goes straight to my hips; when I lose weight it comes off my arms leaving me with 'old woman' limbs. They weren't fat to begin with. And you can bet that if I tried to put on a bit to fill out my arms it would go straight to my hips again. Oh, life can be cruel. Cue the sad dramatic music.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Friends like these

This evening we're going out for a curry with old friends. We've been planning this for years. I mean that several times we've arranged it and then something has cropped up and made it impossible but tonight might be the night. One hour before we leave and it's still on so here's hoping. 
Here are Mike and Janet at Younger Son's wedding in Italy in 2012. They've been very good friends to us over the years, Janet especially. I haven't always appreciated her - mainly when I was working for her because I'm not good with bosses - but she, well, they are a special couple who have helped many people.

So I'm very grateful for their friendship.