Tuesday, October 16, 2018

That's nearly an armful!

Just been for a blood test. Feel rather like Tony Hancock. (For those unfamiliar Hancock was a famous British comic in the 60s who did a famous sketch about giving blood.) Feels like they've taken half an armful.

On the plus side I didn't faint, which is always a relief. Hospitals aren't good places to faint in: the staff get all panicky and don't like it at all.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

A bit of coffitivity

At first glance coffitivity sounds like a word Trump made up and, to be fair, it probably is a made-up word. It's also the name of a website and the product they're selling.

According to research carried out by the University of Chicago, "A moderate level of ambient noise is conducive to creative cognition." Meaning a bit of background chatter stimulates your thought process.

So the website provides a library of downloads you can choose from including morning murmur, lunchtime lounge and university undertones. You can choose to pay for chatter from Paris, Brazil or Texas. 

I've listened to the first three and I have to say it's hard to tell the difference between academic discussion, early morning mutterings and lazy lunchtime chats. I've had it playing while writing this post and it hasn't distracted me though whether it has fuelled my fervour is less easy to judge.

Sloe pickings

sloes on the bush
There are very few sloes left on the bushes on Mumbles Hill. It seems that most local people, unlike Daughter and Husband, didn't read the article that said you should wait until after the first frost to gather sloes. Like the grapes they use in Canada for their famous ice wine I assume.

After the severe weather warnings accompanying storm Callum - which didn't actually amount to much for us - a sunny afternoon seemed like a good excuse for a walk and an ice cream.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Dumpling disaster all over again

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of cooking something and thinking, 'This is going to be a disaster'?

steak and kidney pie delia
This is what it should look like.
I should have known better than even  thinking about making a steak and kidney pie tonight after yesterday's dumpling disaster*. But no, I strode in to it as if I were Delia Smith herself. To make matters worse I decided to follow the recipe on the Cookeen - 'for the best possible pastry' - fat packet.

I don't make pastry very often but when I do I usually follow my gran's recipe for shortcrust using twice as much flour as fat, the fat being half and half lard and butter. My gran made wonderful pastry. She showed me how to make it. I make poor pastry. It's edible - usually - but not up to my cake standards.

I have a 'thing' now about making pastry. A fear of failing. A certainty of flopping. And I always have cold hands, which are good for pastry.

Anyway the recipe on the packet recommended using a third fat to two thirds flour. It's in the oven now. It's not looking good.

It doesn't help that I have no whatsitcalled - spatial something or other. I can't look at something and work out what size dish I will need. So I have ended up with not enough filling and over-stretched pastry.

It always sounds so good in my head. A bit like my singing.

I bet you're glad you're not coming for dinner tonight.

* My dumplings were so hard they could have been used as cannon balls.


Not a total disaster. Tasted okay as long as you like anaemic slightly crunchy/chewy/soft pastry. (You didn't know pastry could be all three at once? You haven't tasted my pastry.)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Pick up three

Being able to walk George on the beach again means becoming re-aware of plastic pollution. I know you can't tell from this photo but that's because it's below the tide line. Last year a campaign started - actually it was probably before that but it gained fame on social media last year - to encourage beach visitors to pick up three pieces of plastic each time.

But it's impossible to stop at three. Once you start you just can't stop. A bit like Pringles.

In a very short time from a very small stretch of beach
I collected this much:
And that doesn't include the very many plastic bottles that littered the beach. And I could have gone on and on.

On the plus side I did find a headless Lego man who isn't going in the plastic recycling bin.

No, I don't want to help the homeless!

Caught the bus into town today and then checked with Information what time it left for return journeys. If I wanted to avoid being caught in the rain I needed to catch the 37 bus home and they only run every two hours.  The man behind the desk told me and then added, 'But there's also the 43 at 1.30.'

I made a mental note - okay, I actually wrote it on a piece of paper - and returned at about 1.20 to find the right stop. Slightly alarming to discover that the 43 went to Morriston Hospital, which is completely the other direction. Thankfully it turned out that it goes all around the houses. Literally.

Browsing in town before meeting someone I thought I'd look at clothes. My enthusiasm lasted all of five minutes. Everything is so drab!  Spent the rest of the time avoiding people. 'No, I don't want to help a starving child/find a cure for cancer/help the homeless/find out what Jesus did for me.' I just want to wander around quietly without being guilt-tripped every three minutes.

I am well and truly afflicted with the British disease of politeness.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Saving bunnies

I have spent a large part of the day chasing monsters who were trying to steal our picnic and then rescuing baby rabbits from said monsters. 

It involved a lot of running across the beach and it was fine until I found myself carefully carrying an invisible rainbow-coloured mother rabbit to the cafe, finding her a seat and sharing my ice cream with her.

I love it when my grandchildren display such vivid imaginations.

Mumbles pier beach
I chose the pier beach because when it's windy everywhere else it's always sheltered there. Except today. And the last time we had a picnic there.

The spiders are turning

We have a spider who lives under the television. Most nights he runs out to check we're there. I've tried banging my slipper on the floor to tell him to run the other direction i.e. away from me, but he ignores me.

Last night I was chased across the landing by a spider.

A terrible thing has happened: they have worked out that we're more afraid of them than they are of us. 

Come to think of it, I haven't seen lounge spider for a while. However I did see this:
a poor drowned spider in George's water bowl. (George managed to drink all the water while avoiding the spider. Harvey used to be the same with peas in his dinner.) Maybe lounge spider's foolhardiness took him too far.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Goddesses all

Debra's comment on my last post reminded me of this card I have on my wall. Bought for me many years ago by wonderful Husband.

Roses grow on you - or scratch you

'I'm running an ad campaign on Amazon,' I told Husband. 'But I'm restricting how much I spend on it.'
'How much are you spending?'
'Ten pounds.'
Husband laughed. 'It'll take you ten years to earn that.'

You see dear readers, this is what I have to put up with. 

Having set up the campaign remarkably quickly I went out into the fresh air to do some gardening, the sort of gardening I am good at: the destructive sort.

Husband does the planting and nurturing and I, well, I destroy. The roses put up a fight though and I wasn't even pruning them. I had to fight my way through them in order to cut down the perennials but the roses took it personally. 

I love roses. Here's a little reminder of the wonderful summer we had.

Celebratory walkies

Took a celebratory walk with Daughter this morning as George's eye is better and Holly's lung and heart scans showed no serious problems.
A beautiful morning for it too. While George has been receiving treatment for his eye the vet suggested cutting back on his arthritis medication so he's been walking more slowly than ever. I'll never be able to cross a busy road with him again. Although he's always taken his time crossing roads disregarding completely my urging to 'hurry up, George, there's a car coming.' In George's view all traffic should stop for him. 

Came home to left-overs for lunch. Some left-overs work better than others. Runner beans that weren't particularly nice first time round didn't improve with keeping. And now this afternoon I'm going to work on the marketing of my book, The Dog-walking Club, now available from the kindle store.

If you decide to buy and read it I would be most awfully grateful if you pointed out to me any typos, spelling, duplication or grammar errors that need to be corrected before I work on the paperback version. Thanking you in advance.

Monday, October 08, 2018

First mention of Christmas

I think I must be the touch of death for blogs. It seems whenever I start to follow someone they cease to write or if they continue it's very infrequent. Most frustrating. For me at least. The bloggers have probably got better things to do with their time.

On the good news front I'm pleased to report that George has finally been discharged by the vet. His eye ulcer has healed at last. That scratching with a needle last week must have done the trick and kick-started the body into healing itself. George will be pleased to stop the drops but sad, I'm sure, to miss out on all the extra treats that accompanied them.

Meanwhile Daughter's dog, Holly, is having chest and heart scans today as she gets a bit breathless. At thirteen the way she runs around I'm not surprised she gets breathless; George gives up way before she does.

Oh, and the photo I ordered from our kayaking trip in the Ardeche Gorge in France in July has arrived.
kayaking in the Ardeche
To look at that you'd think I was enjoying myself, wouldn't you?

Incidentally the editor of Bay gave me the go ahead to plug my books as shamelessly as I wanted. I'll have to remember that when I'm submitting for the December issue - books make ideal Christmas presents, don't you know?

Rather like Doctor Who all is revealed

So within hours my second novel, the imaginatively named The Dog-walking Club, will be available to buy as an ebook from Amazon for the bargain price of $2.99. I bet you're counting down the minutes.

And now I can reveal the cover.
the dog walking club
Speaking of Doctor Who I did enjoy yesterday's episode, the first with a female doctor. I think she will hold her ground and be very successful. One thing I especially enjoyed about the episode was the fact that I understood what was happening. It had all got very up itself over later years, the writers being too clever by half. Or thinking they were clever. Unless you were a nerd and could remember, for example, what happened in the fifth episode of the second season when Christopher Ecclestone was the doctor you didn't stand a chance.

I've written more about the process of self-publishing over on my not another wannabe writer blog if you're interested.

This time next year

A fun afternoon paddling in streams and making cookies with some grandchildren yesterday. The day before it was library story time with the other local grandchild. I am so happy to have them close by. Although I might not have said that when GrandDaughter1 giggled and slopped her hands around the blob of supposed-to-be cookie dough, covering everything in flour and bits of flying-around-cookie. And GrandDaughter2 kept asking, 'Can I lick this?' and both of them kept eating the chocolate chips. Cooking with children is such fun.

What else? I suddenly remembered my copy for the next issue of Bay magazine was due shortly. (Do you like the way I drop in that technical term 'copy'? I'm a professional, me.) I decided I'd do some shameless plugging for my novels. (Have you noticed that plugging is almost always shameless?) I'm waiting to see if it will be rejected on the grounds it's too shameless.

But I impressed myself with unexpected wisdom. When my first novel, This Time Next Year came out Uncle bought twenty-five copies to send to various women in his life. Uncle has since died. I was going to make some jokey reference to the down-turn in sales of my books in the final sentence of my article but decided it could come across as heartless if taken out of context. See? Unexpectedly wise.