Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Love is in the air

For the February issue of The Bay magazine I've written about love. For my talk in prison on Sunday I'm focusing on love. Can you see a theme developing? Well, it is St Valentine's Day soon.

You can read my article online here if you would like to.

The husband of the editor of the magazine is the illustrator and he has come up with a great image this month to tie in with my article.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Quick updates

Fish is still looking poorly but at least is managing to stay the right way up.

The tree fellers have not yet returned to shred our cut-down tree. And are not answering phone calls.

Apart from that, my back started aching at 10.15 this morning. I can't think of any reason why. And I have completed the first draft of my talk for prison on Sunday morning. Now all I have to do is prepare the bible study for Rubies, Zac's women's group, on Thursday.

And make a cup of tea for hard-painting-Husband.

I am on fire! I have finished the study - more or less - too. And I've taken GrandSon4 out for a walk and made him cry. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

I have such an understanding husband

'Husband dear,' I said.
'You know you've painted the bedroom the colour I chose?'
'Um, I don't like it.'
'Par for the course.'

Husband is used to repainting my bad choices. Not that I think they're bad when I make them; they just look different on the wall. That's my excuse.

Here is our bedroom as it was.
And here it is now in the colour I don't like.
Watch this space for how it finally turns out.

So this morning we've been to B&Q for paint (Husband) and Sainsburys for food (me). On our return, after putting away the food, Husband said, 'Do you want a cup of tea?'
'I've already made it,' I said.
'Oh good.' 
Husband poured it. 'It's a bit weak,' he said. I'd forgotten to put in any tea.

He's now made a pot of tea. With a teabag this time.

I have such an understanding husband.

I've never been to Symonds Yat ...

but I have been to Snotengham.

One day of Spring was quickly followed by a day of torrential rain during which we were travelling to the Midlands, to Nottingham, to see Uncle's grave.

It's nearly a year now since he died and we'd had the headstone altered so it seemed a good time to go and check it out and leave some flowers. (We also had to fit the weekend away in so it didn't clash with Six Nations rugby, which begins next Saturday.)

Uncle's friend, Jane, lives in Nottingham so we'd arranged to take her out for a meal in the evening and she took us to Gino's, an old haunt of Uncle's. The proprietor, Fred, remembered Uncle well. 'He was a great character,' he said.

He was indeed.

On the journey we pass Symonds Yat and, as the weather was pleasant when we left Ruddington, the little village we were staying in, I suggested that we call in there on the way home as we were in no particular hurry.

When I was a child my mother worked for South Wales Transport so was always first to get the latest timetable of summer coach trips. My gran and one or more of her sisters would fall eagerly on the brochure and peruse it before deciding which coach trips they'd enjoy that year. Would it be to Tenby? Or to Hereford? Or to my favourite, the exotically-named Symonds Yat?

I never went with them, you understand. My tendency to be sick on coaches made me a less than ideal travelling companion so I never ever found out what was at Symonds Yat that made it a highly desirable destination. But there had to be boats, right? Something called Yat must have boats. A marina perhaps or a seaside resort.

When at some much later point I first travelled to the Midlands and passed a sign for Symonds Yat - in the middle of the countryside! - I was stupefied.

Of course by the time we reached Symonds Yat yesterday the weather had changed and as we didn't have appropriate clothing for a nature ramble in the rain we came straight home instead. So I still haven't discovered the delights of the place.

One day, one day ...

P.S. Apparently it was named after a Mr Symonds and yat means gate or passageway.
P.P.S. In the eleventh century Domesday book Nottingham is called Snotengham, meaning the settlement of Snot's people.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Spring is in the air

The sun was shining, the birds were tweeting and it really felt like Spring in the air. And I was out without a coat for the first time for ages.

The first crocus was in bloom in our garden but the camellias in Clyne are out before ours. But they are in full sunshine while ours are in full shade.
Clyne's camellia

Our crocus
It sounded as though there was a bit of a fracas going on in Clyne Gardens. I was so busy peering through the bushes to try and see what was happening I walked into a post. But that stopped me falling in the river so, on balance, it was a good thing.

Coming back from my walk this afternoon I had my mouth in shape for the last remaining scone. (Husband and Daughter had eaten the others at lunchtime but I had declined.) I arrived home to see the rather worrying sight of the cake box empty and washed.
'Where's the last scone?' I asked Husband.
'Hm,' he said. 'Someone must have broken in while I was taking rubbish to the tip, and eaten it.'

I had to eat Maltesers instead.

Because we're worth it

Yesterday, 25th January, was St. Dwynwen's Day. In latter years it's been promoted, undoubtedly as a marketing idea, as being the Welsh equivalent of St. Valentine's Day. I've written about 5th century Dwynwen and her unhappy love affair before; you'll find the story here if you're interested.

because you're worth it
To celebrate I decided that in our women's bible study in Zac's, instead of a traditional study, we'd have a pamper day, a 'love yourself' day. (Also because I was leading Zac's on Tuesday I didn't have time to prepare a proper study ...)

With fizzy grape juice and chocolates to begin, face masks, and feet washing and lotioning to follow, and jam and clotted cream scones to end, I think it was a fairly successful and relaxing day, enjoyed by the - only - three of us there.

I am still pulling out hair stuck together with mud.

Scones need to be fresh so I was up at 7 o'clock to make these. 
Sometimes we forget that God loves us and thinks we're worth his son dying. It's good to be reminded in a practical way 'Because we're worth it'. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

How many people can you send to sleep?

My leading of bible study went alright last night: only one person went to sleep. Or possibly two.

Labour party
However I discovered that one of the long-time regulars thinks I'm a Conservative. I have told him to wash his mouth out.

I also discovered that banana cake is quite nice. Last time I ate anything vaguely banana-flavoured I was struck down straight afterwards by vertigo meaning I was very sick. And all I could taste was banana. So although I love bananas to eat as they are I hate anything - even ice cream - that is banana-flavoured. 

So yesterday, as it was the day before weigh-in - and I'm really hoping to have reached my target this week - and as we had two very ripe bananas in the kitchen I decided to make banana cake as I knew I wouldn't eat it. But then of course I had to taste it. And found it wasn't a very strong flavour and quite nice.

And that is what I shall blame if I haven't reached target.

P.S. We had a newcomer to bible study last night and afterwards I asked him if he'd enjoyed it.
He shrugged. 'It was all right.'
'Will you come again next week?'
'Don't know. Probably not.'

Yes, I led it really well.

P.P.S. Worried about the impression I give if I'm thought of as a Conservative.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Always read the label

And next time think about whether to do as it says.

When I was emptying my wardrobe yesterday I came across the white trouser suit I first - and last -wore for Daughter's wedding in 2003.  

With damp stains on the legs it was fit for nothing. I couldn't wear it as it was nor could I give it to a charity shop.

So I decided to wash it. Which is when I noticed it was Dry Clean Only.

But who pays any attention to those labels?

It turns out I should have.

Not only has it shrunk but the marks are still there, looking worse if anything. 

And the moral of this story is: don't keep things for 'best'; if you have something lovely to wear then wear it. And read labels before washing.

Hazelnut and honeycomb since you ask

Have spent a large part of yesterday and today preparing for leading bible study in Zac's tomorrow night. I'm hoping to cover three short bits (Luke 20:41 - 21:4) that sort of fit together. It will all depend on how much people talk and discuss stuff.

The first section was fascinating actually but confused me so I'm afraid I might confuse my listeners. I know what I want and I'm trying to say but I'm not sure if that will be clear when I say it out loud. (While slightly nervous and talking too fast and generally getting flustered.)

Ah well, they'll like the other bits as they make a dig at religious leaders and the rich. But I really need to help people move on from past experiences not dig them up again. (Note to self: be ready to cut anyone off - politely - who looks set in for a long 'this happened to me' thing.)

We did get out this morning though. Husband and I took George and GrandSon4 for a walk. GrandSon4, Peter Rabbit and I looked for bunnies while George got dirty.

On the way back the tide had gone out leaving this boat beached.
Then we met Nuora at Verdi's where I felt obliged to have ice cream having walked past earlier and tutted that all the old people in there were drinking coffee and eating cake instead of ice cream. I don't want to be that sort of old person. Even if I am on a diet. (Not that I have anything against tea and cake per se but when at Verdi's it has to be ice cream.)

Hazelnut and honeycomb, since you ask. With two dollops of cream but no chocolate flake. I am on a diet you know.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

I am worried about the goldfish

He doesn't look well at all.

And I fear it's my fault.

He's not even my goldfish, strictly speaking. He came to live with us when Younger Son and Nuora went travelling (I think - whenever it was it was a long time ago). He and his brother became part of our family and somehow I ended up as the one who looked after them. 

I say 'looked after' but they don't ask for much: a feed once a day and being cleaned out now and again. Probably a goldfish expert would say it's much more than that but they seemed to flourish on neglect. Well, initially they both did and then one died. 

The remaining one has continued to live ... and live and live. In spite of a growth on its back. It first appeared a few years ago but as it didn't bother him we ignored it. Over the years it's grown bigger and bigger and grosser and grosser, but it still hasn't caused him any obvious problems. He's certainly not off his food.

But yesterday I decided it was time to give the tank a proper clean, mainly because GrandSon4 had been overly-generous with the fish food. And since then Goldfish has not been himself. 

He's doing a lot of floating upside-down. Younger Son suggests he has problems with his flotation tank: his growth is nearly as big as he is. But why would that suddenly develop? And is it just coincidence that it happened when I cleaned the tank?

But the real reason I think it's my fault is that, before Christmas, I said to Husband, 'I wouldn't mind if he died. In fact I'd be quite relieved.' (I was suffering with the stress of pre-Christmas pressure at the time and cleaning his tank was just another thing I could have done without.)

I'm not really a goldfish person. But I am a guilt-ridden one.

I shall keep you updated.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

So these tree fellers came to the door

So, on Thursday, Husband called me and asked me to get some money on my way home. Nothing unusual there. What is unusual is that Husband paid men to cut down a tree.

Husband has lumberjack leanings. Any tree in the garden that has needed pruning or something more drastic he's done it. He loves swinging from trees with a chainsaw in his hand. Or giving me a bit of rope and saying, 'pull on this.'

Actually we did get men in once to cut down an awkwardly placed tree. They broke our garden furniture and generally made a dreadful mess.

Our garden has lots of trees and bushes so any passing self-proclaimed tree feller tends to come and knock on our door. The usual answer is 'no, thank you, I have a man who does that,' so I was amazed when Husband informed that since I'd left the house two hours earlier men had come to the door and he'd employed them.

'They seemed to know what they were talking about,' he said. They agreed a price to prune the large cherry tree in the front garden, 'But when they got up there they found it was rotten and branches were liable to fall off at any minute so it needed to be severely chopped back.' So a new price was negotiated.

I got home to find a decimated tree and a large pile of branches. 'I'm coming back on Sunday evening to shred those,' one of the tree fellers told me.

Husband has paid them in full.

I'm taking bets on whether we'll ever see them again.

(Photo shows tree - in front of another one - at the top left and huge pile of branches, front right.)

The finest comedy in recent memory?

Toni Erdmann
You may remember that Husband gave me some dvds for Christmas. One of them was a German comedy called Toni Erdmann and we watched it this week.

It was ... unusual. I'm not sure how much of a sense of humour Germans have; they're generally not regarded as great gigglers I think. And that maybe is why I didn't find the film 'outrageous'ly funny as it says on the box.

It's about a woman who's a consultant for an oil company in Bucharest. She is very focused on work and her father who is a shambling sort of person with a tendency to play practical jokes worries about her when he goes to visit. In his attempts to help her lighten up and to re-establish his relationship with her he pretends to be someone else i.e. not her father, when they are in company. 

And that's it really. You don't really feel at the end that he has achieved much - although their relationship is improved. There is a completely random and weird sex scene and I was going to say there didn't seem to be much point in having it but I suppose it emphasises her lack of interest in anything except work. Also I say it's weird but bear in mind I have very limited knowledge of what is really weird.

It was moderately enjoyable but don't expect to laugh much. 'Finest comedy in recent memory'? I don't think so.

One of those days

A dog tooted at me yesterday.

I was walking past when he tooted the horn. Unusual, I thought.

Anyway I have lots to do although not necessarily today. But it does mean I should get dressed rather than sit here procrastinating.

But I'm finding it really hard to shift myself.

P.S. I blame the damp grey weather. And the fact that I have lots to do.
P.P.S. I will try to come up with a more interesting post later.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Because it's what mothers do

At about 11.45 yesterday morning my phone rang. 

I was in Zac's leading bible study so I ignored it. About twenty minutes later when we'd finished I checked my phone to find I had a missed call from Husband. 'Why is he calling me when  he knows I'm in bible study,' I wondered. My first thought was 'Oh no, perhaps something has happened to one of the children.'

The phone was nearly dead so I couldn't call him straight back so I planned to plug it in in the car and ring him from there but I was still clearing in the kitchen at Zac's when one of the women came in and said, 'There's someone here to see you, Liz.'

My heart leapt to my mouth. 'It's Husband. He's here to take me to hospital to see my injured (dying?) child!'

It turned out to be a woman who wanted to put up some posters.

I phoned Husband from the car. 'What is it?' I asked. 'Why did you phone me?'
'I wanted to check if you'd had the message.'
'What message?' (Heart, be still, be brave.)
'That I've got men in cutting the tree and I want you to get some money to pay them.'

I wonder if you ever stop worrying about your children.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

I just want a pert bottom

Exercise class last night was fairly brutal. Why I thought it would be a good idea to choose a stronger tension band is beyond me. (Sorry, I mean resistance loop bands. I just googled to find a photo and discovered a tension band was something completely different.)
exercise using a resistance band
The exercise we did was a bit like this except we began with the band tense i.e. like he is in the top image. You might be able to look nonchalant, as he is, at that point - but not when you start stretching it out even further. 

Trust me.

Teacher says I'm 'ace-ing it' though. Which is nice to hear even if she is making allowance for my advanced age. I am more than twice as old as the others in the class, nearly thrice possibly! But I try and I probably get points for trying.

It's a Legs, Bums and Tums class and apparently all the young women want bottoms like that Kardashian woman. I don't want a big sticky-out bottom; I would be happy if my bottom just stopped its downwards progress towards my knees.

Spot the deliberate mistake

GrandSon4 loves diggers. Adores diggers. Is crazy about diggers. And machinery generally. At the Botanic Gardens last week while his mummy and I were oohing and aahing over the plants GrandSon4 was attracted by the hosepipe, the socket adaptor, and the man with the blower.

So when I saw this in a charity shop in Egham ...
I had to buy it.

Of course it didn't work but that will be easily resolved with new batteries, I told myself.

Well, it was and it wasn't. The lights flashed and it made lots of noise but it didn't move or raise the digger bit. So Husband took it apart.

I wish I'd taken a photo of it in pieces. I honestly thought there was no way it would go back together. But once again I'd underestimated Husband's brilliance.

The digger bit still doesn't work. 'The cog is broken,' Husband explained. 'I tried sticking it and I hunted through all the Lego to find a piece that might fit it.' (You have to admit he's dedicated: we have an awful lot of Lego.) But it does go forwards and backwards now. 

In reverse.

A different perspective

My mother had one brother so I had one uncle and aunt. But growing up I called loads of people auntie or uncle because they were either friends of my mum's or more usually my great-aunt/uncle. My grandmother was the oldest of eight so generational lines were blurry.

The cousin I visited this week is really my second cousin (I think - my mother's first cousin) and she's in her late eighties, while I have one second cousin who is younger than me. Yes, it's confusing. 

I was thinking about another cousin in particular last night after reading a post on Jimmy's blog about different perspectives and how people remember things differently.

I have one cousin who is six months older than me in age but a school year ahead and a lifetime older in sophistication. As we were growing up she was chatty and confident while I was shy. She was the pretty and funny one while I was the clever one. (In reality I wasn't that clever but I did better at school than she did.) And I would have given anything to be her instead of me.

We were both only children but her parents owned a shop while my mum was a single parent. She had all the latest clothes, which as she was also taller than me, were passed down to me in due course.

A few years ago we met again for the first time in decades  and she confided that she'd always felt that I was the favourite one. I don't think I expressed my amazement at that statement at the time because she still talked a lot and I didn't get a chance. But I know she was the favourite.

I must have been about twelve when we were at a family celebration in a local club. My cousin, with me tagging along in her wake, walked up to the bar where one of our uncles stood. He saw her and introduced her to the man he was talking to as, 'my favourite niece.' 

Then he spotted me standing just behind. 'Ah,' he said, 'and this is my other favourite niece.' It was a good recovery but it was too late.

It wasn't just that incident although that is the most obvious; it was a sense of being different, a little set apart, not really one of the family. There was nothing in particular that anyone did that made me feel that so maybe it was all down to a child's imagination and a different perspective.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I resolved to be dynamic today

I wandered into the bed and carpet shop, took a quick look around then approached a salesman. 'I'd like to buy a bedhead and carpet, please.'
'A headboard you mean?'

I pointed out the ones I wanted and the salesman said, 'That was a quick decision; have you looked around before?'
'No. But I have been in Dunelm all morning and I have no thinking/decision-making capacity left.'

So far so good. Then he checked stock of the carpet. 'Oh dear,' he said. 'I'm afraid that won't be available for three weeks.'
'Okay,' I said, 'what about that one (a slightly different colour)?'
'That's the same,' he said. 'You see they've been on sale at half price since Boxing Day so it's all sold out.'
'Show me some other cheap ones then, please.'

It was the same problem with each carpet I chose: apparently I have the same good taste as the rest of the carpet-buying nation.

Finally he found me some. It was in stock and cheaper. 'I'll have it,' I said. 'After all it's only going on the floor. Nobody notices carpet.' Which perhaps wasn't the most tactful thing to say to a carpet salesman whose whole waking life and possibly dreaming life too revolves around carpets. But he was just pleased he had such an easy customer. 

It was a lot simpler buying carpet than it was buying curtains and bedding for the spare bedroom. I'd tried to memorise the colours but faced by a huge array of shades and patterns my mind went missing. If you recall the room is very pale yellow and pale green. So I bought purple curtains. What can I say? I was desperate by that point. I'd already walked one and half thousand steps back and for around the bedding and curtain aisles, muttering to myself, and wondering what exactly Oxford pillowcases were.

But I've done it. I've bought everything (almost) I need to finish the room plus I visited my cousin June, who is now being called Olive, and I did my Sainsburys shopping. All in all a good day's work.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Winston, Clementine, Franny and Zooey

the letters of Winston and Clementine
A few times recently I've been in the car and caught snatches on the radio of the letters of Winston Churchill and his beloved wife, Clementine. They are so romantic! 

At one stage they have just got engaged and are in the same house (Blenheim Palace) but write letters to each other during the day - and have servants do the running in between of course. 

If you can find it on the BBC website and you have the opportunity it would be well worth listening to, just to get a different perspective on the man that I only vaguely remember, and that's mostly because of his funeral.

I think I might see if they have it in the library. I also want to check if the library has something called Franny and Something (I think) by JD Salinger. 

On a gloomy grey day

Lying in bed this morning Husband and I were talking about our holiday two years ago in S.E. Asia. Outside the bedroom window the trees were being blown around by the wind and the rain was pelting down so memories of a warmer time were rather pleasant.

Our holiday began in the Perhentian Islands where Younger Son and Nuora had set up an environmental project. Tiny islands with no cars or roads to speak of, but sand, sea and sun.

Perhentian Islands
From there it was on to Vietnam, firstly Ho Chi Minh City then Hoi An and cooking with Mo - wonderful experience - and more sun, sea and sand.

Hue was next before Hanoi and then a cruise on a junk around Ha Long Bay where there was plenty of sea and sun but a bit less sand.

Sometimes you just need to remember there is another world outside this currently damp and grey one.

The most excitement a woman can have

I realise I forgot to tell you the most exciting news of the weekend: I shopped in Waitrose!

Let me explain for those unfamiliar with the name: it's a food store but a posh food store. A level up from M&S perhaps but definitely down from Harrods. Swansea is too poor an area to be considered for a Waitrose so when they opened one in Egham near Elder Son's home I couldn't wait to visit it.

Turns out it's just food but a bit more expensive. That's probably an over-simplification. They undoubtedly stock items not normally found in our local Sainsburys but I was with GrandDaughter1 at the time so slightly distracted and not able to appreciate their Harissa Chicken, Cauliflower and Chickpea Meatballs or their vegan Sweet Potato and Chipotle Sandwich. But I did manage to pick up a copy of their free Waitrose Weekend newspaper - in which I found those delights I missed.

It's a newspaper with the emphasis on food especially that sold by - yes, you've guessed it - Waitrose but it does have interesting articles and snippets. One feature suggests 12 New Things to Try in 2018, one for each month of the year. The idea for August was the one that intrigued me.

Try open-water swimming
Try an open-water swim.

Now I've heard a lot about wild swimming over recent years and I've been intrigued and slightly puzzled by it but it seems that open-water swimming is simply swimming in the sea, lake or river. Which is what most of us grew up doing.

Now however the article advises that you consult your doctor to find out if open-water swimming would be safe for you. Because it's cold. Colder than a swimming pool. (They obviously haven't swum in our pool.)

As I've said before, I grew up swimming in Swansea Bay before it was declared polluted and they forbade us to eat cockles gathered in the bay. (I did that too.) And Husband who lived in the Midlands spent his youth swimming in murky rivers. And we've both survived. Whether it affected us only you can judge ...

Into the dome ...

It's 1.18 pm and I still haven't done anything. Not quite true: I have showered - finally - and I'm dressed. I've also begun writing the story of The Frog, the Boy and the Princess. For posterity you know.

I'm taking a day off. Not often I do that and it's a bit of a shock to the system. I'm having to try really hard to do nothing. (That's a lie for a start.) So we'll walk soon but before that I'll blog a bit more.

About twenty miles to the west of Swansea you'll find the National Botanic Garden of Wales and during the month of January they're offering free weekday entry. As it normally costs about £10 that's a bargain we couldn't ignore so on Friday Nuora, GrandSon4 and I set off on a cold frosty morning.

National Botanic Gardens Wales
The futuristic dome houses microclimates from around the world - and is a pleasant change when it's chilly outside.
Not a lot of colour in the gardens but lots of friendly robins. 

The buffalo statue stands on an area turned over to plants of the American prairies and similar Welsh terrains.

As GrandSon4 fell asleep in his buggy we were able to enjoy a quiet walk around the park reaching parts I hadn't seen before.

One of my favourite bits of the gardens is the part given over to 10 ancient tree stumps from Ghana. The Ghost Forest was the idea of artist Angela Palmer who was horrified to that rainforests were disappearing so rapidly. The idea is that the tree stumps are 'ambassadors' for rainforests. (Ghana was chosen because it now sustainably manages its forests.)
I am amazed to discover I don't have any better photos of the tree stumps. It really would help if I named my photos not relied on my memory.

But what became of the horse?

A weekend in Surrey for GrandSon3's birthday party. We took two of our Swansea grandchildren with us so the weekend was less about relaxation and more about hyper-activity and over-excitement.

The grands loved: 
seeing their cousins;
Uncle Rob's pizza;
that they could jump from bed to bed in our hotel room;
the reading light over the bed;
hotel breakfast where they could help themselves;
honey on croissant (GrandSon2) and yogurt from a bowl of ice (GrandDaughter1);
watching aeroplanes come in to Heathrow;
the story of The Frog, the Boy and the Princess.

'Wouldn't you like to play on your tablet?' I asked.
'No! We want a story!'
'We could listen to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.'
'No, we want you to tell us a story!'

I have not missed my vocation as a story-teller. Only grandchildren are forgiving enough to understand when Granny gets the names mixed up and Bert the postman turns into Bert the milkman in the course of the adventure. Or that she forgets the horse.

Elder Son made a very dashing Mr Todd though.
He also made an excellent Peter Rabbit cake.
Peter Rabbit birthday cake

And Daughter-in-law organised a great party with loads of Peter Rabbit themed games and activities. Much fun was had by all.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Remember my boots?

Finally feeling slim enough and post-op-tenderness-free to wear my leggings to show off my sparkly Doc Martens to their best.
It's okay but I still can't help feeling that I'm walking around naked. And pulling down on my jumper.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

How many kiwi spoons does a woman need?

The de-cluttering continues apace. I've started on my kitchen drawers. I've managed to throw away a lot of 'stuff' but some questions have to be asked. Such as how many kiwi spoons can a woman use in her lifetime? 
kiwi and grapefruit spoons

They were - probably still are - giving away a spoon with each pack of four golden kiwi. In answer to the question I initially decided one but then thought, 'what if I serve kiwi to guests at dinner? I'll keep four. But a) I have never yet served kiwis to guests; and b) would I give guests a plastic spoon? No. So I've thrown away six and I'm keeping one.

The thought only now occurs to me that I might serve plastic spoons if we were barbecuing and eating outside. No, no, no, I cannot keep things on the off chance that I will have guests, kiwis and a barbecue all on the same day.

Another question to be asked: how likely am I to use grapefruit spoons given I can't recall using them since I've been married? Okay they can go to the charity shop in the hope there will be a Hyacinth Bucket somewhere out there who wishes to impress. (Mrs Bucket is a character from a sitcom Keeping Up Appearances.)

Then there is this assortment. 
Not likely to be used but pretty so I shall keep them. Don't tut at me. I am doing my best to be ruthless.

It's just dilemma on dilemma

We've started decorating the spare bedroom. (Royal 'we' in that I choose the colours and Husband does the work.)

It's quite a dark room with a window at the side of the house and last time I decided to go with that and used a rust sort of colour on two of the walls and yellow on the other two. This time I'm opting for light and space - as it says on the tin.

'You realise this is almost twice as expensive as other emulsions,' Husband said when we went shopping.
'Yes, but it's got twice as many little bright things in it to make the room seem light.'
'You've bought the hype you mean?'
'No, it must be true or they couldn't say it.'

I chose Morning Light and Nordic Spa and planned on doing one wall in the greeny colour and three in the yellowy. Except ...
Husband came downstairs after applying one coat of Morning Light. 'That is very expensive white emulsion you chose,' he said. 
'It's not white,' I said. Then I went upstairs to check it out. 'Oh. It is quite white, isn't it?'
Dulux Light and Space paint
Later I raised the subject again. 'It needs another coat so perhaps we should buy a darker colour?'
'Which means,' Husband pointed out, 'that we bought incredibly expensive undercoat.'

But look: it doesn't look white here, does it?

Monday, January 08, 2018

Saying the wrong thing

Walking on the beach I meet a man who lives across the bay. He's come around to take his wife to hospital.
'She's there for an hour and a half each day for radiotherapy,' he says, 'so I walk the dog on the beach.'
'Oh, that's ideal,' I say.
(Pause as what I've said sinks in.)
'No, wait, I didn't mean it's ideal that she's having radiotherapy ...'

plastic on the beachAnyway before that we'd been discussing plastic. Remembering the FaceBook post that is doing the rounds - pick up three pieces of plastic each time you visit the beach - I was duly collecting it. Although it's impossible to stop at three when you start noticing it. Thank goodness for poo bags - even though they're plastic.

The gentleman said they had much more on the beach across the bay but they didn't have such large shells or seaweed. I expect it's all to do with tides, currents and winds. I should know really being an oceanographer ...

Perhaps unsurprisingly after such a cold day yesterday there was a large patch of broken-up ice on the beach. It has to be very cold for the sea to freeze.

What to do, that's the question?

Oh, the dilemma. So many things to do. I either need, want, or have, to do. (Now I am distracted thinking about commas: how many should be in that sentence - or fragment possibly unless I take away the full stop after the previous 'to do'.)

And as I am sitting here I am adding things as I think of them. I now have eleven things on my list. Admittedly most of them are quick and just need the initial effort to begin.

There, are you impressed? I have done three things from my list in the last ten minutes! Ooh, I need a cup of tea now.

Evening update
I have crossed nine things off my list! But added another six. That still means I'm winning I think.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

A little mild capital punishment would do us all good

This morning, in prison, I was searched for the first time I can remember in years and years. A recent inspection and report revealed numerous flaws in different aspects of the system at Swansea but as there frequently seem to be staff and general financial cutbacks it's no surprise.

Swansea is a Victorian prison designed to accommodate 268 men but usually holds between 400 and 600, with many of the inmates locked up for 22 hours a day. It was also criticised for its care of vulnerable offenders: since 2014 four have committed suicide during their first week in prison.

Almost as bad as the report are some of the comments on the online news report many people saying basically the prisoners get what they deserve with one commenter writing that he supported 'mild capital punishment for drugs, theft and white collar crime.' Hm, I'm not sure how mild capital punishment could be ...

A frying pan by any other name

cast iron skillet
Part of my Christmas/birthday present from Elder Son and Daughter-in-law was this cast iron skillet. ES has one and swears by it and he knew I needed a new frying pan. Husband used it the other day to cook steak but last night I got to try it out for myself - and it was perfect.

I cooked pork tenderloin on a bed of apples and onions and served it with mashed potato, carrots, sprouts, and garlicky courgettes and mushrooms. Very yummy.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Is she really mine?

For Christmas I bought Daughter some online sewing pattern making classes. She's just messaged me to say they're excellent and she'd like more for her birthday. 

I wonder if she is a changeling. Did I come home from hospital with the wrong baby? No child of mine can enjoy sewing surely?

That said people say she looks like me - and she is bossy like her father - so maybe she is ours.

I have discovered I have very few photos of my children, at lest not without their children as well. So this is the best one I can find.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Gotta get me some negative ions

Deciding to walk UP the hill to the top cliff path was not one of my better decisions I realised when, only two steps in, I thought I might cry with the pain. Yes, I'm still suffering after Legs, Bums and Tums.

But by the time we reached the beach at the other end I was beginning to think that maybe I was limbered up and stretched out and getting over the ache ... but I was wrong. 

A few negative ions from the crashing waves always revive me though. Just don't ask me to pick anything off the floor for a while.
sea sun and cloud

* * * * * * * * * 
Meanwhile is there anything that can surpass the moment when, after thinking you'd given them all to the grandchildren, you find a chocolate hidden at the back of the tree? (Okay, probably lots of things surpass it but it's pretty good anyway.)

And I suppose I should throw these away.
Long ago discarded these 30-odd year-old sacks were nestled away in the decorations suitcase. And I'll say it before Younger Son does: more care and effort went into the first than the last! But I had three children by then; life was busy.