Friday, June 30, 2006


I think a heatwave is on the way.

Starting the day thinking of 5 more things to be thankful for is great.

  1. Hair straighteners
  2. The courage to speak out and ask questions
  3. Microwaves
  4. No hose pipe ban
  5. Anne

Andrew and Ann are coming tomorrow. That will be lovely. I must go and water the garden before it gets too hot.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I meant to say

That after last night's blog re the whirlwind, it seemed appropriate to list the 150 things I am thankful for. It helped to focus my mind on the good, rather than the problematic, and meant that today started well.

150 reasons to be thankful

I read a blog this morning which listed 150 reasons to be thankful. Everyone has at least 150, so here we go with mine, in no particular order of importance.

  1. My children
  2. Sunshine
  3. The scent of roses
  4. My hands
  5. Friendship
  6. Music
  7. Laughter
  8. Hugs
  9. The babes
  10. Mountains
  11. Engelberg
  12. My sister and brother in law
  13. My parents
  14. Family
  15. The ability to read
  16. Eyesight
  17. Coffee
  18. Cheesecake
  19. Mobile phones
  20. Email and the internet
  21. Housegroup
  22. Aeroplanes
  23. Sewing machines
  24. Gardens
  25. Having enough
  26. Being warm
  27. Being able to breathe easily
  28. Cars, especially ones that go
  29. Dancing
  30. Knowing I can call people at 3 in the morning
  31. CSI
  32. Trusting
  33. Hearing
  34. Water coming out of the tap
  35. Bookshops
  36. Podington
  37. The sea
  38. Rock pools
  39. Children having fun
  40. Walking in the early morning at Hardwater Crossing
  41. Saints rugby
  42. Wimbeldon
  43. Roger Federer
  44. Memories
  45. Guavas
  46. Appletiser
  47. Summer BBQs
  48. Spring flowers
  49. Peter and Glynis
  50. Linds
  51. Jackie and Simon
  52. Louise and James
  53. Jean
  54. Ros and Martyn
  55. Nicky and Bob
  56. Andrew and Annette
  57. Jackie
  58. Liz and Jon
  59. Jane
  60. Cheryl and Robin
  61. Cathy
  62. Highlights
  63. Quilts
  64. Creativity
  65. Dreams
  66. Evening sun
  67. Spring Harvest
  68. Rick Warren
  69. Walking on the beach
  70. Walking in the forests on the alps
  71. Switzerland
  72. The Bible
  73. Shared Lunches
  74. Sunday Supp
  75. Earls Barton
  76. Having a home
  77. Lynda and Des
  78. Pammi
  79. The NHS
  80. Christmas decorations
  81. Pasta
  82. Butternut soup
  83. Scones at Jean
  84. Singing
  85. Hope
  86. Wine
  87. Hot baths
  88. Messenger
  89. UCT
  90. Listening to the birds in the early hours
  91. Shoes
  92. Scrollsaws
  93. Bookclub
  94. Old photos
  95. Childhood memories
  96. Blogs
  97. Surprises
  98. Parties
  99. Faith
  100. Anita
  101. Bill Cosby
  102. Trees
  103. Guitars
  104. Walking in the snow
  105. Heart shaped pebbles
  106. Being made welcome
  107. Loving, and being loved
  108. Unexpected messages or calls
  109. Digital cameras
  110. Open fires
  111. Port
  112. Misty Bobby Bailey and Naxos
  113. Doctors
  114. Rustenburg
  115. Calamari at the Waterfront
  116. Wanting to learn new things
  117. Being a Jura crone
  118. Encouragement
  119. Tessa
  120. Being able to help
  121. Believing
  122. Lindt chocolate
  123. Autumn leaves
  124. Opportunites
  125. Road maps
  126. Painting parties
  127. Geoff
  128. Electricity
  129. Lift clubs
  130. Waitrose
  131. Coffee shops
  132. Honesty
  133. Being able to see my children grow into great adults
  134. Late night chats with my sister
  135. The smell of baking
  136. Freedom
  137. Debating
  138. My mind
  139. Eurovision at the Elvins
  140. Lessons learned
  141. Lazy mornings
  142. Beyond Paradise perfume
  143. The little red train
  144. Eating out at the Boden
  145. Margaret and Derek
  146. Knowing God loves me
  147. Reading glasses
  148. Friends dropping in unexpectedly
  149. Having time
  150. Getting answers to messages

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


That is what my life is like at the moment. A whirlwind. The one thing you do not have in a whirlwind is control. I am a control freak. Well, I am attempting not to be one, but am finding it extremely difficult. Sigh.

Here I am in the middle of my own personal whirlwind, and I am not doing what I should be doing. Or what I need to do, or want to do, or must do, or could do or feel like doing. Whirlwinds create chaos. I am in the middle of chaos. My mind is like the debris after a whirlwind, and I am still trying to salvage some bits of control. And what do I want to do??? Sleep. Oh great. That really helps. I have new tablets for the head. They are still in the box. The head is still on the shoulders.
Roger is another whirlwind. He dispatched Tim Henman today in an awesome display of near perfect tennis. I do like the jacket. Classy. There is a difference when you ARE the whirlwind. Tim must feel as though he was caught up in one too. I empathise.

I am off to sleep again. Maybe the winds will have subsided by morning and I will be able to function again. I will be back.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Rain stopped play

Well, it had to happen, didn't it???? Wimbeldon starts today and so far the weather forecasters do not expect much, if any, play today. I am less than impressed. No rain for weeks and then tennis starts and it comes like a magnet, drawn to London. Sigh.

I want sunny skies for the tennis! We saw the new uniforms for officials this morning. Hmmmmm. I am not sure about this. I wish they were more casual and relaxed about dress at Wimbeldon.

Glynis and I have been a good few times, and have had a great time there. I love the atmosphere, and all the tennis, and even though the last time we went, yes, it was on the ONLY day it rained that year, we still managed to have a good time. We did see a women's semi final in the end. I managed to get tickets in the ballot last year, but didn't try this year. The new covered court will be wonderful when it is finally built. I never did understand why Crt No 1 didn't have one.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Visitor from the other side of the world

It was lovely to see Robert again, here in the village for a brief visit before he goes to celebrate his father's birthday. We have not seen him since he and the family moved to New Zealand 4 and a half years ago. We saw all the photos, and he caught up with all the news and it was great to relax in Harvey and Isobel's garden in the sun together. No-one seems to have changed much except for the additional grey hair! The children are, of course, another story. He had 3 new Elvins to meet!

Today was another World Cup crisis day for England. They won. Nicky had a football free house this afternoon, so Jean and i joined her and Kate for tea in the garden, and strawberries. I can definitely report that summer seems to have arrived. But then Wimbeldon starts tomorrow and we all know what that means. More strawberries, of course. Pimms. And all those legs!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Lovely evening

Today has been hot and this evening just wonderful, sitting in Tessa's stunning garden and enjoying the peace and beauty and amazing scent of all the roses. Matthew had an exeat weekend, and so we had a bbq. Tessa has worked incredibly hard on the garden, and I have to say it is possibly the most beautiful I have ever seen. And the views over the contryside are lovely. Diana's loopy cows were there too!

Good news is that Glynis is home from hospital and looking much better. However, I took Peter to A and E this afternoon with a very swollen foot, painful to walk on. He was told to rest and take painkillers and see his doctor on Monday, so that was a waste of time, but we did see a microcosm of society waiting there. Continuing the theme of breaking bodies, Tessa's foot is still swollen, Geoff was not feeling wonderful this morning and my back is still sore. Sigh. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Health Warning

I have spent my whole life bouncing about in a fit and healthy state. In fact, my entire family has been remarkably fit and healthy, for which I am truely thankful. I have breezed through life believing that disprin can cure all, and if that didn't work then quite obviously major medical intervention was the alternative. I never believed my kids were sick until the school sent them home. Whenever they announced they were ailing, I checked to see if there was a test on that day. I have been a seriously tough mother! Ros and I spent many an hour discussing the fact that the older generation seemed obsessed with tablets, and doctor's appointments, and smugly declared that we, of course would not be like that when we were in our 70s and 80s. We were young, strong and invincible. 21Century superwomen. Of course. The arthritic hands were acceptable. That came from over use of course. But we were tough.

Oh Lord, have those assumptions ever come back to haunt me!! This is a warning to all of you who are young, fit and healthy. The day you turn 50 everything falls apart. Bits break. Things stop working. Your mind still thinks you are 29 but your body goes on strike. You start creaking, even if you go to gym. I look like a crone when I get out of a chair. A bulge appears where your waist used to be. This is particularly noticeable when you do up the seat belt in the car. Standing up and walking in jeans is perfect. Sitting is not an option. That bulge works its way north and you cease breathing. And the non bulging bits start drooping just to get in on the act.
If you are female, your 50th birthday is blessed by an invitation to have a mammogram. Such a kind and thoughtful present. I went, and was recalled for further tests, which mean you plan your funeral in 10 seconds after opening the letter. I was fine, I hasten to add, but I did enquire whether anyone had ever exploded during the process.

For someone who had never darkened the door of the doctor's surgery, becoming someone who suggested bringing a sleeping bag after about 16 visits in one week in a flash of an eye was and is hard to accept. I feel I should have a special chair reserved there for my personal use. From never having a prescription for medicine, to the pharmacist suggesting I take out a pre-pay plan because I needed a shopping bag for all the pills, is too big a shock. Everything takes longer to fix. I nearly had a panic attack last week when I discovered while at a party, that I had left my painkillers at home. I have become that older generation I referred to. Conversations start and end with how are you today? How is the head/ foot/ neck/back/stomach / stress etc etc. I cannot tell you how depressing it is. And it is self-perpetuating. You get more stressed just thinking about it all, therefore the blood pressure soars towards the stratosphere.........and off you go on the cycle again. Groan. And I will not discuss what happens to your short term memory either right now. That is worthy of a blog post of its own.

And it is not just me! Everyone sems to suddenly have developed high blood pressure / diabetes/wheat intolerance / bowel problems / kidney stones / gallstones / protein levels unlevel or heart problems. And the "you need to cut down your stress levels" generalisation drives me up the wall. I am 52. Of course I am stressed. I am alive. This is absolutely not an option. You go to the doctor for a check up, and then you are called back for blood tests, urine tests, monitoring, more blood tests and so it goes. I think it is a plot really. A conspiracy. I am quite happy not knowing if anything is wrong. When I grind to a total halt I will do something. Right now I just don't want to know.

So remember............ do NOT not go past 49. You will stay there and then nothing will break. I wonder if Boots still sells those little pill things which have days on so I don't forget what to take when.......

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Talents and possessions

I have been doing a lot of thinking recently, and in the course of many chats to friends, have discovered that we all have similar ideas. This is possibly why we are friends in the first place, of course! I have been thinking about community, and how we are all interlinked, and how we need to pool our talents, and possessions too, to a certain extent. Like, for instance, how many times do we use lawn mowers? Once a week at the most, (except in my case, as I have NO lawn), and why don't we club together, buy one and share? How many of us have ladders? How often to we use them? You see where I am going here. The more I thought about it, the more I realised we are already doing it in so many ways. Simon has a tyre pump thingy which automatically blows up your tyres. I can and do borrow it when I need to. I have a ceiling paint roller, which goes all over the place. It could write volumes on what it has witnessed! I have a gazebo from the wedding, which likewise anyone can use. Then I remembered how, years ago, 4 of us bought boxes of cheap wine glasses at Ikea and how we always use them combined for parties. I bought 72 place settings of cheap cutlery for my 50th party, and 10 serving dishes. They too can be and have been used over and over again. So without realising it, we seem to have started out on the combining possessions idea. Just think how much further it could go. I do remember when a few of us were doing renovations or extensions, and how we laughingly contemplated buying our own scaffolding. It would have been cheaper than all the hiring we paid for.

And talents. As in sharing and using what we can each do. We all have so many more unique talents than we realise. I pondered, many years ago, having a list of talents in this village, and how they could be bartered, for example, an old lady loves knitting, I don't knit, but I could do her garden. Or simply to have somewhere local to go to give my business. There again, in chats, we realised how much we are already sharing some of our talents. When redecorating is needed, a group of us go and do it. We have such fun at the same time, and it is much nicer painting someone else's home! We put up coving, repair vacuum cleaners. Change tyres. Give away jams, scones etc we bake. We make quilts or blankets. We feed cats and dogs, and move sheds. We give each other seedlings. We give professional advice. We act as counsellors for each other. We help landscape gardens. We do the teas at funerals. We help each other move. We help in schools. We train sports teams. We do the decorations for big celebrations. We water gardens. We alter clothes, and we babysit. We grow things to share.

But how much more could we do?? The sky is the limit. I happen to have an exceptionally great group of friends, and we all seem to be of like mind here. We really could make an immense difference if we consciously expanded our use of what we have been blessed with into the community.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Hello Matt

So here we are with your version of then and nearly now! You were helping the girls to play chess in the "then" one. I don't seems to remember any of you knowing what to do at the time, but it kept you all happy! I wonder where your sword was?? The "now" part is nearly 3 years ago taken just after you jumped off the top of an alp with a parachute on. Crazy...... but impressive too! I thought I would share another of your moments of glory. I think your parents aged a few decades at the time.

This could be a new feature of my blog, the then and now part. Hmmmmm..... who shall I do next.........

Yet more hospitals........

You would think I had seen enough of the hospitals around here to last a very long time. I was back there this morning.

Glynis has had another recurrence of her stomach problems, and I took her to the doctor this morning. I have NEVER seen anyone looking quite as ill as she did, and when we got to the surgery, she was too out of it to even get out of the car. Eventually, with help from one of the surgery administrators, we managed to get into a room, and the doctor took a brief look and said that she needed to go into hospital straight away. We managed to collect some things and went in to Northampton General. She went to the same emergency admissions ward Geoff was sent to once they knew he had to stay in, so it was easy to find. Hopefully now she will have all the necessary treatment, whatever it takes, to make her well. At least she is there, and doesn't have to wait for appointments any more. Peter came back from a conference in Leicester, and we kept her company for a while, until it was certain they were admitting her. She is having more tests tomorrow, and looked much better by the time I left. I think the drip is helping a lot, and she needs to sleep and get back some strength. She did mention that she wanted a magic pill to fix everything at once. There is always the possibility of major medical breakthroughs! And Peter has promised to sort broadband at home before she gets back!!!! This could be the impetus she needs to recover asap. Not to mention Wimbeldon starting next week too. I don't like the people I love being ill. As I left, she said.... at least you have something to write on your blog today, so here I am. She wants a copy, and she will get one! Get well soon, Glynis!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Hello Diana

ok ok ok...... never say your mother doesn't listen. Then and now , the Diana version.
The one of you when you were about 3 is memorable because you hated wearing dresses. And then the one on the bottom is because this is more "you"....... ! Just think of all the photos I could have posted. The ballerina ones spring to mind, of both you and Kate. Maybe tomorrow. I love you loads anyway!

Hello there, Katherine

............ you are right and I have indeed known you since you were a newborn, and your parents since before the beginning of time. I feel this is worthy of note so here are then and now pictures. I decided to add the one of you and Diana swimming with the care bears too. Just for fun! Oh those were the days...... you were SO cute! You did like chocolate........

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Please note............ there are now real plants on a very small part of the allotment! Geoff and David constructed the trellis for the beans this afternoon, and the plants are in. The rotivator only skimmed the surface of the major part of the allotment. The ground is too hard, so it will need a pickaxe to dislodge the soil for it to work. Oh well, at least the beans are in!!!!

Celebrating adulthood!

Yesterday was a long hot day, and judging by the cars and people clutching bright plastic things won on the stalls, the Carnival was a success. The babes went as Jack and Jill, and as a little swiss girl, and they are the perfect age for carnivals. I managed not to go. There is a whole new generation out there which is enjoying it all!

The wanderers have returned, and all the kids away at uni are returning slowly to the village for the summer. It is good to catch up with all their antics and achievements, and Matt got a 2.1!!!!! This is definite cause for celebration. He starts work as a building surveyor soon. Ollie is now a doctor, and about to start work in Huddersfield. Charlotte starts teaching in Sept, as does Matt, who has just moved into his new house. So many reasons to celebrate. Dan is waiting for his results in engineering, and is off to Malawi (I think) next week to work for a few weeks. Kelly is now a director of the company she works for, and is buying a house. Tom is busy with his architecture degree. I had a great evening with Ros and Martyn and Kelly and Lance recently, and I just wish we all lived closer. Angus has a new job, and Beth gets married in September. Tom starts work as a deputy head in September, and he, Adele and Freddie are moving into their new house in the summer. Alex is selling rugs, and planning to have his own business one day soon. Ellie and Megan are still busy with their degrees in Leeds and London, and are absolutely loving uni and everything that goes with it. Kate is doing her PhD in York, and Holly works in Northampton. Jenny has just announced her engagement, and is in the middle of her quest to be a psychologist. Richard is loving uni and has a lovely girlfriend. Julia and David are the only 2 of the assorted children still at school, and they only have a year to go now. Thank heavens. Andrew and Ann are happy in London, and Diana is in New Zealand.

Liz and I are the only 2 mothers in law at the moment, and will soon be joined by Julia and Nicky. Liz and Julia are the only 2 grannies. I remember all the children above as small kids. As in really small. Toddlers, some of them. Now they are flying in all directions, and it is absolutely wonderful to see. Our combined brood range in age from 29-17, and are all so different, and so unique. So many talents and so many abilities. Lots of dreams and enthusiasm.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Carnival day

When you say the word "carnival", Rio springs to mind. Or Notting hill. Our village is not quite in the same league. Today is carnival day, and once upon a time, my kids used to love dressing up and going on floats, (see picture from about 10 years ago!) and playing on the Rec afterwards, winning half dead goldfish, eating way too much sugar, and having great fun. They have grown up now, and the carnival seems to have lost some appeal. Floats are out because of Health and Safety rules and regulations.

The more I think about H and S the more angry I get. All risk is being legislated out of life. Trees cut down because a child might climb one and fall out. Playground equipment changed so it would hardly challenge a 2 year old, because a child might get hurt. How will the next generation of children ever learn to calculate risk? And without being able to calculate risk, how can they survive in the real world?

In Engelberg, there is a rafting pool. The river has been dammed up and a lake built. In it there are little islands, with A-frame structures with platforms on to climb. Along the bank, there are big square rafts made from wood, with long poles to punt out to the islands, or around them. Not a life guard in sight, and no life jackets and the water is not 6 inches deep. I cannot tell you how much laughter and fun you can have. We have taken all out friends there, and to date only one of the adults has fallen in, to much amusement. We have all sat and watched our kids having fun, and commented on how this would never be allowed in England in a million years. I think in Europe, parents are credited with more responsibility, and consequently, less is likely to happen. Or maybe it is just that in Europe, parents choose to have fun with their children, so are there to watch out for them, while letting them stretch their boundaries.

Anyway........ the sun is shining, it is Annette's birthday today, and the wanderers are returning from Spain, and I must get on with tidying and sorting the house. I will be back.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The boys

I have spent the last week looking after Peter and Glynis's home, and their boys. Meet Humph and Dougal. The only way I got them to pose for the photo was to wave some dog treats in the air. It worked! They are great company, and full of energy. And in a heroic manner, I even cleared the garden last night of deposits. I am a saint, of course.

The house is a World Cup free zone at the moment. While I am there. I have control of the remote, and tennis rules. I love summer, and the evenings when it is so light for so long. Sitting in the garden, listening to the birds, and the water trickling in the neighbour's pond, and reading. Now if I could just pour a nice glass of cold rose, life would be perfect!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Is it just a few days since I complained about the lack of sun????? I take it back. Since Saturday, it has been unbearably hot. Humid type of hot. The kind where you need a towel tied to your waist to mop the brow every 10 seconds in a wholly unattractive fashion. Make up is redundant. You put it on, and wipe it off immediately. Fans are more precious than gold. Prostrating one's self on the kitchen floor tiles is also a considered option, but I would need a block and tackle to get up again. You get the picture.

The allotment ground has turned to concrete. Mention is now being made of a plough before rotivating. I have visions of oxen here, that seems a trifle excessive, but I know nothing. Roses are blooming everywhere, and dying a day later in the heat. I know I come from Africa, but the heat there is higher in temperature, but bearable because in Cape Town there is little humidity. Wind. I want a cool breeze!

Sigh. I do seem to complain about the weather a lot. It must be in the air in England. I am off to find an ice cream.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


did I mention that when I broke a metatarsal and joint in my foot last year, it took a month to even get an x-ray, never mind any treatment??? And it is still stiff and sore. I was sent home the day it happened from A and E barefoot, as I was when I went in 4 hours earlier, with instructions to take painkillers and it would heal. They "don't do anything about bones in toes" anyway. Not unless you are an England striker, and on a pay packet each week that is more than I could dream of in a lifetime.

You may have gathered that I am less than enchanted with life at the moment. You would be right.


You will know that this is not my absolute favourite. I am lacking the football gene. It is bad enough that the country is now football crazy, but when I got up at 3 this morning to take friends to the airport to fly to Spain, the LAST thing I expected to hear on the radio was a discussion re the Ivory Coast's chances in the World cup with contributions from Ohio and Singapore. Give me strength. No mention of tomorrow's Grand Prix or the tennis in Paris. They were worrying about the 27 degree heat in Frankfurt today and the humidity. What did I say about playing in winter????
At 8.30 yesterday there was a discussion re the science of penalty taking. I say just have penalties and forget the game. It would all be over in a day. The entire world cup. The men in this family think i should be deported.
Yesterday was all about Wayne Rooney. I personally think that he is just a distraction and won't play but all the speculation is keeping the pressure off the rest of the players. Then there was the in depth analysis of England's chances, and how big a problem Sven is. Some seemed to think he was the only problem the team has or that he is the only barrier between England and the world cup. I have taken to playing my CDs at top volume in the car to drown out the football. It is hot, so even in a traffic jam, all you hear is other people's radios with yet more speculation, never mind the inane world cup songs. Groan. How long did they say it was going to take till it is over??????????????????? I wonder what would happen if I draped the house in the Swiss flag............. or the German one.......... or maybe both!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Book Club

Tonight is book club and it is at my place. I have been cleaning the house (well, it was a total tip) and arranging things, and putting out the books. Here are some stats...... We started meeting in November 1992, and there were just 4 of us to start with. Numbers rose to 12 by May 1993, and that is the ideal number. We have read, or have had the opportunity to read, 1125 books. They are all listed in "The Book", and we will soon have to start a new one. The list of the books we have and the list of who has borrowed what are about to meet in the middle.

We have been through phases. Many of them. The Chinese phase, the hostage phase. The snow phase. The Irish phase. We agree at times, disagree at others. We have covered most genres, and all have our favourites. Whoever is hosting the monthly meeting buys new books to put in, and once everyone has had the chance to read them, we take them out and keep the ones we bought. To start with, we all brought 5 of our favourite books and gave a brief explanation of why we loved them, and then we were off and flying. I cannot recommend having a bookclub more highly. It is a gathering of friends for a purpose, and, as I have mentioned before, we choose not to all read the same book. We have done now and then, and sometimes we keep our opinions of a particular book to ourselves until we have all read it and then discuss it.

Sometimes we all manage to be there, and there are months when that is just not possible, but we do try. Everyone has a say, and our opinions are as diverse as we are, which adds to the fun. And we all get to read books we would never have dreamt of buying for ourselves. If you haven't got a book club, why don't you start one? There are no real rules. Just make them up as you go! Try it!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Allotment....

I did tell you the earth would have to quake to get the weeds out of the allotment, didn't I???

David and I went down to inspect the progress. The rain has made the ground very heavy, so using the fork to work over the soil is not an option at the moment. We stayed to weed for half an hour, in the drizzle, and it is actually easy as the roots are shallow and the ground not baked hard. You can see the size of the plot. HUGE! And those sheds at the end are part of it. Geoff is still waiting to see if the previous owner is removing them, before he moves Peter's down.

You can see where he has managed to turn the soil, and there are piles of weeds all over the place. We added a considerable number of piles as well. Meanwhile, the veg have been started in the garden here in pots, ready to go in when the soil is ready.

You can also see the allotment next to Geoff's one. In pristine condition. Sigh. Maybe by next year. I want rocket. And runner beans. And spinach. And potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes, butternut............ my list is long!

I thought BEFORE photos were a good idea.................. now we wait with bated breath for the AFTER ones!