Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wild weather and more answers

First came the wind. Unbelievably strong gusts. Then came the torrential rain. And the unexpected by-product of this is that I have the day off. Small matter of bits of roof blowing about at work. And we are bracing ourselves for gales this afternoon, and I do not want to know how bad they will be if what we are currently having is just "wind". And possibly 4 inches of snow. It is all go here. Weather wild.

So I think I will answer the few outstanding questions you have asked me. Here goes......

Linda asks:

I am a HUGE fan of Rosamunde Pilcher. I have fallen in love with Cornwall as a consequence. Have you been there? Is it as lovely as it sounds?

Geoff was born in Cornwall, and spent most of his life in Plymouth, which is right on the border to Cornwall. When I met him, I spent a month in Plymouth, and after we were married, we spent a year there, and naturally, many many wonderful hours exploring Cornwall. It is absolutely beautiful. The South West is all lovely. The tiny Cornish villages, the beaches, the history, the walks..... it is even better than you can imagine. I love Polperro. My daughter spent a couple of summers at a summer mission in Cornwall on the beaches too, and it is the best, or maybe the only great surfing place to go too, so the young tend to flock down there in the summer.
Quite a few of the villages now ban cars in the summers, and you park in a carpark outside, and walk down to them. The roads through the villages can be incredibly narrow, and I do remember having to do 3 point turns just to get around some corners! They were built in a time before cars, and should stay untouched, so the walk is never a problem, and they do have shuttles for those unable to walk. The major roads in Cornwall are small. So anticipate long delays in the height of the season. Otherwise known as any hot day.
If you ever visit, make sure you go to the Eden Project. Giant biospheres filled with the most amazing vegetation. And the Lost Gardens of Heligan near Mevagissey. You will love it all!

Isabelle asks:

Will you tell me the story behind something you have displayed in your sitting room? and what's your earliest memory?

This is a hand carved wooden horse, which we got in Oberammergau in Germany in 1966, when we spent a few months travelling around Europe. I was 12 at the time. I absolutely love it. I also have a few small angels from then too, and another tiny horse. I remember so clearly standing looking in the shop windows and marvelling at the beauty of everything. I want to go back, and I hope they are still making things the same way. I love wood, and would love to learn how to carve things myself. Wherever I have lived, this little horse has come too.

I have quite a few wooden animals around the lounge, actually. I have a pair of guinea fowl, a pair of owls, some ducks..... Some are more "naive" than others, and they come from all over the place. One of the "ducks" is a hen from the States. I say duck, Mum says hen (she bought it so she is right, but it LOOKS like a duck!) The guinea fowl were a present from Glynis and Peter when they left Cape Town to live here in the UK, so they, and the owls are from SA, and so are the hippos which are in the lounge too. Small ones. Not lifesize! They all have different memories attached to them.

I could have shown you the most beautiful portrait of Mum , painted when she was 18, but I think I will save that for a later post. Or the gecko I bought in NZ. Or the WW1 shell cases made into vases by my great uncle. Lots of things.... but that little horse is so beautiful!

My earliest memory....... When I was born, my father was one of the construction engineers at a huge dam being built outside Cape Town, and we lived there until I was 2. I have a memory deep down inside me, of him holding me up to see the water over the side of the dam wall. I could not have been more than 2. But I remember being held, and looking over what must have been the highest thing I had ever been on at that time!

I have lots of memories of being about 4 onwards. Memories of my grandmother. Mudpies. Bee-stings. Floods in our road. Easter eggs. Sparkly Cinderella shoes for Christmas. The mouse in the birthday cake. Riding a tricycle around the kitchen table until the fridge fell on top of Mum. Gingerbeer blowing up. Neighbouring children. Old cars. Nursery school with my little brown case. Lots of memories! It is just yesterday that I am a bit iffy about.

And speaking of yesterday.... I actually forgot I was teaching a class, and only remembered half way through the lesson. It will be a long time before I live that one down. Thank heavens for wonderful teaching assistants! Maybe I need to do some advanced brain training.....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

How to sleep through a weekend....

For someone who usually zaps through life at speed, I have slowed to a virtual standstill. It is now exceedingly irritating. If I tell you that I have not had the energy to hold a book to read, you will appreciate how unimpressed I am. My stunning achievements for the weekend are:
  1. I bought food.
  2. I washed the car. This involved holding a running hosepipe while using a cloth to wipe the car down. Then I towel dried it. As I had not washed it in about 2 years, I had reached the stage where I couldn't see a thing with the lights on. It had to be done. Then I had a nap. A long one.
  3. I did 2 loads of laundry. Pushing buttons is easy.
  4. I washed my hair this afternoon. And dried and straightened it. And had another long nap.
  5. I watched the entire Season 2 of Bones.
  6. I learned how to operate the DVD thingy. It has been resident in this house for about 8 years. I am SO on top of newfangled electronic things.
  7. I napped.

And while I slept, I dreamt of all the things I should have been doing. Wanted to do. Needed to do. Sigh. This is ridiculous. Looking at the list, there seems to be a lot of water involved. There is probably a deep psychological reason for this. And if I could stop yawning right now, I would be able to think of something interesting to say. Maybe I should go and make some strong coffee and see if that helps. Hang on a sec......

I have coffee.

What I actually need is rocket fuel. Back to school tomorrow, and little darlings to educate. It is just 3 weeks now until the half term holidays, and we will be off to Switzerland. Now that is definitely something to look forward to!

Friday, January 25, 2008

I love Friday afternoons.....

I went back to school today. I actually took the day off yesterday and slept for most of it. I never take sick days. Never. And I felt so bad about taking the time off, that I went back today and should have stayed home. I was a fool. Half the staff are sick. I barely crawled through the 5 lessons, and shot out the door when the bell rang. I actually dozed off during break. I am certifiable. And my son has just walked in and said I am lifting both ways to youth club tonight. No early night then.

I did not intend moaning when I logged on, so I will stop immediately, and say what I DID intend saying......

To those of you who still have questions you may like to ask, go ahead. I love questions. It was fun answering specific things! Or trying to.

The weekend is here, and my social calendar is blank. YES!!!! I can flop. I can read. I can blog. I can sleep. I do actually have to go and get some food. A minor detail. The second thing my son said as he walked in was....."And do we have any food?" No. That is the short answer. Oops. Mother of the week indeed.

Right. I need coffee and a snooze. I will be back.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

More answers

Vee at A Haven for Vee asks:

How long have you been teaching and why did you choose a teaching career? What would you do if you could do anything else in all the world instead?

Those of you who have been here for more than a year will know the answer to this one! A year, Vee. I have spent my entire life saying quite categorically that I will NEVER teach. And then things worked out rather differently. I really do believe that when God hears the words "never" and "no way", He grins and thinks....We'll see about that! I had to work after Geoff died, and somehow ended up teaching. And here I am. Would I choose it. No. Never. Teaching in the UK in 2008 is a very difficult thing. The kids are different. Knowledge of "rights" is all very well, but unfortunately the required "responsibility" which should go with "rights" seems to be missing. The major plus for me at the moment is that I get to have the holidays with David. I wanted to be around for the last year or so he was home.
So I didn't choose it. It chose me.
What would I do if I could choose anything else? When I was a child, and up until I went to university, I wanted to be a doctor. But that didn't happen because I believed a teacher back then who said I would never get into medicine, so I didn't try. (I would results were good enough! I should have believed in myself.) Now? A writer maybe. Textile artist. Quilter. Carpenter. Something creative. More than anything, I would love to rewind the clock a little and really appreciate the time I had as a stay at home Mum to be able to do all of those things, as well as being able to focus on my family and friends, and be available when needed. I would love to be doing that right now.

Susie from Susie's Space asks:

If you could choose any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?

Hands down, Switzerland. I fell in love with Switzerland in 1966 when I was 12, and over the years, that love has just grown. It is the place where I feel such peace. The village where my sister lives is the best of both worlds. It is close to Luzern, so all the modern amenities are just there, but the village is up in the Alps, and I just love walking in the mountains and listening to the silence. The beauty is indescribable. It is where my family is now too. It is where I went to rest after Geoff died. It is where I go every chance I can get. My kids just love being there too, and it is very close to everything in Europe.

Ask me this question in a few years, and there may be a different answer. I don't know where my children will all settle. If they were all in New Zealand...well, who knows.

Needled Mom asks:

If you had a day with nothing to do, what would you like to do?

Wake up in my own time, not to an alarm clock for a start! Go out for a breakfast with some friends and catch up on their lives over coffee and croissants. Come home and work on the quilts I have waiting lined up in my head. Curl up on the couch with a good book, or do some more quilting. Take a couple of hours to read blogs, without guilt! Spend time with my son talking about his day, dreams, plans. Have supper together and then maybe watch some TV. Soak in a hot bath with a book.

Nothing fancy. Home, family, creativity, friends. Or a variation of the above in any order!

Kelli at Living in Grace asks:

If I were to come visit you, what would be the 5 things I couldn't leave without experiencing with you :)

Right, she says, dusting off her hands......You are coming to visit, Kelli, and you have not been to England for a while. I know you know about canal boats, so we would go for a short trip down the Grand Union Canal close by to where I live, just so you can remember your youth! Can we just say at this point that the coffee shop visits, couch sitting hours, lots of chat and laughter go with all of these ideas?????? Of course. I would show you the village where I live, so that you can imagine me at home, and see pictures of the places I talk about, and I would take you for a walk around one of the lovely country parks close by.
Then we would have to have time in London to go on the London Eye, preferrably in the evening, and especially near Christmas when the city is lit with trees and special lights. It is so beautiful. London is 45 mins away by train. There is so much in Britain that I could show you, but if we were to stay close to home it would be:
  1. Having a raclette supper with my friends
  2. Walking around the lakes
  3. Exploring the church which is over 1000 years old, and the village where I live
  4. Drifiting down the Grand Union Canal
  5. Curling up on the couches and chatting for hours with coffee and homemade biscuits on hand!

This was a difficult one to answer, because the UK is small, and even Scotland, which I love, is only 5 and a half hours away. So many places to take you to. But maybe just staying around locally would be perfect too. When i visit my friends, I don't necessarily want to see the local sites as much as I want to see their lives. You know?? Where they go for coffee. Where they shop. Where they live out their daily lives. For me, that is the best part! But then, if you come all the way here, you may just want to see other stuff too!

Susan from aA Penless Writer asks:

If you could do anything you wanted in the future what would it be?

Ahhhhhh..... dreams. That is what this is all about. What would I do? I would live in a wooden chalet up in the Alps. It would really be an open studio type of place for all the creative things I love to do, with comfy couches and a fireplace, and windows looking out over that beautiful valley. I would love people to visit as often as they liked. I would read all those books lined up waiting for me to get round to picking them up. I would write. And I would travel to see the people and places out there waiting for me to find them. And also spend time visiting all those people around the world who matter to me... both family and friends. I may even fall in love again one day. Who knows.

Ironically, this is one of the hardest questions for me. Not because it is complicated in any way, but because for the past year and a half, I have only looked at today. One day at a time. One hour. One month. The dreams are alive, though. You will also note that there is no mention of working in this answer. This is dreamland, people. Money appears when you click your fingers! That is why dreams are so good. I like dreams. A lot.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The start of the answers.......!

I am not going to answer in order, I confess! Nor am I going to group things. Some questions I was sort of expecting, you see, and some came as surprises. Interesting ones! So I am starting randomly in the middle, but I promise to answer all the questions in the next day or so.

Morning Glory from Seeds from my Garden asks :
If you were coming to the United States for a visit, what three things would you most like to see? (besides ME)

Absolutely, MG. You are up there at the top of the list! I think I have two types of trips in mind, for when I finally get to set foot on a part of the USA which is categorically NOT the transit lounge in LA, about which I have spoken before with varying degrees of disdain. One trip would be a dream, to visit my blogging friends, and hop about the country, pausing to curl up on your couches, or sit in your kitchens, drink coffee and chat in person. Just such fun. See the places you love, and walk along the tracks you have described so beautifully. See the lakes, the mountains, the desert, and the trees. Just look at the map in my sidebar, and you can see what a challenge it would be to see everyone!
And then there is the trip I would love to take, which I have dreamt of for many years. I would love to explore the North East in the Fall (Autumn), and see the trees change colour, like in all the photos I have pored over , visit small towns, and explore the shoreline too. Crafty type of shops, the old historical parts. That has to count as one. Then I want to see the Grand Canyon. I think that speaks for itself. And next, I want to see Alaska. Now I know Alaska is part of the US of course, but in a way, I see it as a separate place. It has been high up on my list for so long! I would love to go to Yosemite and see the redwood trees. Colorado. Oregon. North Carolina. But you said 3, and I have given you 4 or more! This could go on forever!

Jo and JD from Bits and Pieces asks:
Have you ever regretted your move to England and how long did it take for it to feel like home to you?

The big answer to this is No. I have never regretted moving to the UK. Of course, it was incredibly hard to leave my family and friends, and I miss the mountain and the beauty of Cape Town, and always will I suppose. But it had been planned for a very long time, and I always knew we would be returning to England, so in a way, I was always half here. Geoff was British, and we lived in England for a year before we moved back to Cape Town. I was expecting Andrew and wanted to be close to my mother. So we decided to go back for 4 years. Yes. Well. After 14 years, Geoff came home one day and said "Remember those 4 years?" and I knew exactly what he was talking about so I started packing. In actual fact, we would have moved a couple of years earlier, but David made a surprise appearance! So when we moved, it was with a 13 year old, a 9 year old and a 15 month old. Actually, I moved. Geoff had come earlier, and bought a house, and he was in the Far East with his ship when we actually moved.
The practicalities of moving are one thing. The powerful reasons are totally different. South Africa was a beautiful, torn country, and I wanted a future for my children. I wanted them to have choices. Opportunities. I wanted them to be safe. So, no matter how difficult it might have been, that is a very powerful motivationg factor. My ancestral roots are British, so it was coming in a full circle, I suppose. We moved to this village, and were engulfed with friendship and welcome. I hated this house for a good few years, but now it is home. For now. I think it took a couple of years for me to feel as though England was home, while visiting SA. It is a good feeling when you are in a place you love, but want to "go home!"
There is a lot I could say about this. Maybe one day.

Barbara from Ramblings from an English Garden asks:

If you did not have the hair colour that you have what would be your first choice.If you could choose your name what would it be.If you won 100 thousand pounds on thelottery what would you do with it.

My hair was red. Auburn. I was a throwback! Dad was fair and so is Marge, and Mum is a brunette. At times it was the bane of my life, but now it has sort of faded a bit. Well, it is actually streaked with grey. Or stress highlights! I like it now. I have it highlighted with more blonde shades, and as my hairdresser says, it is not red any more. It is mousy! What would I have? Probably blonde. Or a fair colour.
If I could choose a name? Mine suits me just fine, I think. Maybe Anna. That was a name I considered when I started writing.
£100 000? Sounds like a fortune to me! Pay any bills outstanding. Help my children. Go on that trip to the States, and then back to New Zealand, of course. I don't need things. Being free to do something special would be nice.

Okay, that's it for tonight. I will be back with more answers tomorrow.


Kelli needs our help. Go here and read her post. She needs that kidney, and we need to get the word out about it to as many people as possible. So spread the word, people, and pray for a kidney. It must have taken enormous courage to write her post, bless her sweet heart.

I tried to post the button, but so help me, blogger has tied itself in knots and won't do it, and I do not understand all the error stuffywhatsits!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Cough, splutter, gasp, cough, cough, cough, sneeze, gasp, groan.......

I have crawled through the day at school and am now as sick as a parrot. I have been asleep on that couch since I managed to flop onto it. I even slept through the new CSI episode and I actually don't care. My head is trying to detach itself from my shoulders and I am off to bed in a sec.

I just stopped in to say that I am delighted so many of you have asked me questions, and as soon as the world stops heaving from left to right in an out of body way, I will be answering them. My mother even phoned to ask which one I was doing first. She is as intrigued with them as I am.

And just so you are thoroughly amused......

I took David to go and have our passport photos taken yesterday. His was stunning. Me?? Oh. My. Sainted. Aunt. I looked at it and thought, oh I can't be bothered. It will do. And then my friends looked at it and had a hard time keeping a straight face. And then, I took it to work. Well, when the friends there had stopped laughing and wiped the tears away, they said that I looked 298 years old. And as though I had had a stroke. All that was missing was the dribble. Hmmmm. I said "So I am guessing here that you guys think I need to go and get another one then???" They all sat there and nodded before they fell about again.

So I did. Me. All sick and weak and feeble. It was worse. The man at the post office laughed. And said they may call to verify it is really me. I looked at him as though he had 3 heads, and said " Please tell me WHY anyone would try to send this photo if they were trying to assume anyone's identity??" He agreed that I could have a point.

I have a future on Crime Watch it seems. And who is the IDIOT who decided that we could no longer smile in our passport photos????? Twisted stern faces. I look devastating. And every passport official in the world is going to think I am evil.

Enough. I can hear my head. My pillow is calling.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I am playing along too - Question and Answer Time!

Okay, I am joining in......

Question and Answer time seems to be sweeping through the blogging world. Well, our little corner of it, anyway. So come on people, ask me some questions, if you have any! I qualify that, of course, by saying that I will be happy to answer most questions, but there are some places I won't go, and that applies to all of us, I think.

I love getting to know my friends and this seems like a fun way to do just that. And it is a wonderful way to beat the dreaded blogger block too! So ask away, and I will do my best to answer.

I am all partied out. Isn't it amazing how you have no events lined up for ages, and then it all happens on the same weekend? I lack stamina. I am out of practice. But I have had fun this weekend, and am tired, of course, but it is a good kind of tired.

I did contemplate having a photo taken of the finery. And me. But by the time I got home, the hair had gone from sleek and classy to wild and frazzled. Heat does that to you. And I looked somewhat less than fetching, as the makeup had melted. My friend Jean managed to walk around the room turning off the radiators, once we all began collective hot flushes. Men included!

Ah well...maybe next time!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Social butterfly

That's me. Just picture me dancing lightly on my toes across the top of the page, a la tinkerbell type of butterfly thingy..... I am so descriptive, aren't I???? Then stick on the wideangled lenses and start up the music for Nellie the elephant. Far more accurate.

Thank heavens for the inventor of elastic. The type that we have in waistbands. Of classy evening gear. And floaty things that hide a multitude of sins. Right now, even the energetic stretches and leaps are all too little too late. I am paying for snoozing on that couch, people.

But social?? Oh yes. I am being very sociable! A movie with a friend on Thursday evening...P.S. I love you.... which I loved, by the way. That man has the most beautiful eyes. A 50th birthday party last night, which was great fun, and yet another 50th birthday extravaganza tonight. With glam gear. My life is a whirl this weekend.

I was woken by a friend at the crack of dawn. I got a text message to say "Roger is on!" Now that looks harmless, doesn't it?? I understood the Roger thing as Federer in Melbourne, but, with no glasses and half asleep, I read it as "out." Of course. As one does. Quite understandable. Exclamation marks look like "t"s.

So there was a bit of weeping, wailing and gnashing of the teeth before I tried to reply, and put on my glasses. And now I am the subject of much teasing about being as blind as a bat and incapable of reading simple words. I just love my friends. And then I raced downstairs to watch and in the course of the next 3 hours or so, aged rapidly. It was altogether too close, and I am perfecting the art of watching tennis from behind doors. Or couches.

Then I went to fetch the weary travellers from the station. Glynis and Peter arrived back from SA this morning, and it is great to have them home. This afternoon? I had good intentions, but I confess, I fell asleep on that couch again.

So now I am off to drape myself in finery and go to the ball. Cinderella has nothing on me.

Except a minute waist and curves in the right places.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tomorrow is Thursday

And Thursday is the day before Friday and Friday is the start of the weekend. You can tell that my mind is full of fascinating, challenging thoughts.

I was invigilating for an exam yesterday, and I suddenly felt as though I was going to pass out. Weird. Anyway, I came home after work, feeling as weak as one of Isabelle's kittens, and as white as a sheet, curled up on the couch, and the next thing I knew it was 8pm. And I could not even face a cup of coffee. For me, that was dire. However, I am fine now. Heaven knows what was wrong, but I seem to have recovered.

This week has been a bit of a slump for me. I suppose that was inevitable after Diana left, but it is not a comfortable place to be.

Work??? Hmmmm.

One of the (many) things I tried to teach my own kids, was to choose a career which made them want to get up in the morning and go to work. Something that filled them with a desire to want to do it, and to do it well. You know what I mean? So here I am. Doing something I really do not want to be doing. Just do as I say and not as I do, kids!

And apart from work, I have nothing of great moment to chat about. This has to class as the world's most boring post.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

An Alpine wedding

The summer of 2003 was the hottest on record here in the UK. I think it must have been the hottest one all over Europe, and in the little Alpine village where my sister lives, it was just the same. Andrew and Ann had decided to get married in Switzerland, as they both spend a lot of time there, and love it, just as we all do. Perfect. A wedding in Switzerland.

They didn't want a huge wedding, just people who matter to them, and so the invitations went out, and we all made arrangements to rent houses or apartments in the village. We arranged to arrive in time for Swiss National Day on the 1st August, as there is a carnival to celebrate the day, and my friends and I set off in convoy on the road trip across France, through Germany and down to Switzerland.

You need to know at this point, that I had bought a new VW polo the year before, and it had turned out to be the car from hell. You name it, and it had happened to it, and after many many months of becoming intimately acquainted with every person working for the VW centre, I had a meeting with the manager, and asked if he would be prepared to drive his elderly mother across Europe in my particular car, and I told him that if it died on the way, I would be phoning him at home to inform him that he had to arrange our rescue. He arrived the following day at my door, with an offer of a VW Sharan for as long as I was away, free. Thankyouverymuch.

So we set off, packed to the gunnels, stopping in France to buy the wine, of course, which was stacked under the kids' feet, and trundled, or rather, cruised across France. Kelly, Ros and Martyn's daughter was chief navigator as we entered Strasbourg, and managed to direct me through industrial districts, and somehow, down a track in the middle of the Rhine. I stopped and in a highly controlled and measured tone, informed all in the car that they had 5 minutes to find me a MOTORWAY before I imploded. Their map-reading skills improved, with much mirth, and we reached the Swiss border. Can any one please tell me why there are NO signs to Switzerland in Germany????? One would think that an arrow pointing towards the border is not an unreasonable request.

Hmmm. Where was I?? Switzerland. We whizzed up the mountain to Marge's place, and disgorged all the contents of the car, including many gazebos, wedding gear, table cloths, bits and pieces, and a massive dolls house which I had got for my sister as a present. Just as well the polo was a catastrophe, as we would never have got everything in it. The other families joining us arrived by car, air and train the following day, and we all settled into our little places, and used Marge's lovely home and garden as the gathering point every day to decide what we were doing and when.
In the week before the wedding, we went on wonderful walks with Peter, my brother-in-law, and learnt to take his time estimations with a pinch of salt. Just around the corner usually meant about 5 miles. Diana led the young ones on adventures through the Alps, with picnics and much singing and laughter.

They walked the tickle path - you take off your shoes and socks and go through water, bark, rock, sand and other sundry "feeling" bits around a lake......

Rafting was great fun.......
Trotti bikes whizzing down the mountain....

Ringlis - Inflated rubber rings whizzing down the snow track at the top of the mountain....

Cow carving lessons - they all signed up to carve wooden cows.......

And amidst the laughter and fun - Ginny, Ann's Mum, had made and carefully transported the cake across Europe - we started preparations for the wedding.
Marge had been collecting things in their colour scheme of field flowers, and so had I, and I did all the floral arrangements. The kids spent the evenings on the patio threading glass beads onto wire for the decorations, and mowing the lawn and tidying the garden. My brother-in-law is a master chef, so he was doing all the food preparation, and he asked Ros and Martyn to join him in his kitchen at the Monastery, to help prepare. As they both love cooking, this was an opportunity they leapt at. Cooking with a professional chef is an honour! Marge had worked her fingers to the bone, and had even made co-ordinating cushions for each seat, not to mention the guest towel piles and all the rest. She was amazing. Mum was making her family puddings, and the rest of us.......
Well, let me just say that when absolutely every guest at a wedding is actively involved with making the day special, it adds a wonderful dimension to a wedding. The girls were out collecting flowers and greenery, and the ladies were making up net parcels of Swiss chocolates for individual places. Men and boys put up the gazebos and tables the day before, and, as the guests in Anita's hotel went out for the day, we had a line of people from the hotel to Marge's home, passing the balcony chairs along for the reception. Hilarious. They replaced them the day after the wedding, I hasten to add. The wedding day dawned, absolutely stunningly beautiful. And hotter than you could believe. (Just like the day I got married all those years ago. We also had a reception in the garden of my parent's home.) The tables were set out with the decorations. Flowers everywhere. Refrigerator truck arrived to store the food in the heat. Cake in place. Bride and groom ready. And off we all went to the Gemeindehaus for the civil ceremony. The short service was lovely, and then the photos were taken in the Monastery Gardens, before Ann and Andrew and their bridal party got into the horse drawn carriage for the trip up the mountain to the chapel at the End of the World, for the blessing.

My friend Louise did the service, and she and the girls had printed all the orders of service together, after shopping for the right paper etc in Luzern, and Ann's godmother was playing the little piano keyboard we had put in the chapel. Ginny had decorated the chapel, and Ann's aunt had done the bride's hair. Hikers had stopped by to join us for the service. Unfortunately, Ann's godmother had not realised that the keys were smaller than usual, and burst into the wedding march and hit all the wrong keys. I have never seen a wedding party move so swiftly down the aisle! Thankfully, she plowed on, and got familiar with the keyboard, and it was fine by the time of the first hymn! And no-one fell about laughing. It didn't matter at all, and it was all simply part of a uniquely special day.

When Marge and Peter had got married years ago, there had not been time to arrange a blessing, so unbeknownst to them, we had arranged for Louise to bless their marriage too, and amidst many tears of joy, she did just that. So personal and so perfect.

As Andrew and Ann came out of the Chapel, Peter had arranged for a swiss cow, dressed in garlands, to be there. This is a Swiss village tradition, I think, and it was beautiful. So, after another trip down through the village for people to see them, they arrived back at the house for the reception. The circus had arrived in the village, and was set up across the field from the house, so we had live circus music for the reception, and it was wonderful. It was unbelievably hot, and most people changed into as little as possible, and the 3 girls had a bucket of iced water under the table for their feet!

After a wonderful evening of sharing such a joyful time with our friends and family, Andrew and Ann walked to the hotel for the night, and in the morning, everyone gathered at the hotel to join them for breakfast and to wave them off on their honelymoon in the Italian part of Switzerland. On the little red train.

And then we went back to clear the mess, take the chairs back to the hotel, and flop in the shade.

Perfect. Simple. Beautiful. And this is a very long post. I could have gone on, but let me just add that there were paragliding jumps off Alps, trips to Luzern, walks in Alps, and so many more things to remember. It made us realise just how simple weddings could be, and how they do not need to break the bank, and how important everyone was to the perfection of the day. Every single person there contributed in some way.

Special. Very special.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Daughter has landed.

The globetrotter arrived back home in New Zealand this morning, after 36 hours of travelling, and says that prayer worked far better than the medication she was told to try. Thank you all for helping in that department. It means the world to know my friends are joining me when I ask them to.

I had a dreadful day yesterday, waiting for a text from HK, but she had run out of credit, and there I was at school trying not to ponder the full range of evil options and potential solutions, like hopping on a plane. You know. Mum stuff. Thank heavens she sent Andrew an email, and he let me know she was doing ok. Alive.

I do tend to have an over-active imagination. It comes with the territory when you become a mother.

And some of the little dears I was dealing with yesterday were unspeakable. I left at the earliest opportunity and so help me, if anyone had asked why I was going early, they would have had my laptop deposited in their arms, and my verbal resignation on the spot. It is hard to remain optimistic and positive at times, when one has black marker pen lines drawn over one's clothes (for fun) as one walks about helping kids do their work, is sworn at, is told by a 13 year old that he hates you, and when one seems to spend the greater part of the day attempting to control kids who like to think they are in charge of the classrooms.

And let's face it, yesterday was never going to be an easy day for me anyway. I keep trying to remember that each one of the little dears is actually someone's cherished child. Sometimes it takes more effort than I am capable of mustering.


The weekend is here, and the sun is shining, and my son has no school shoes. He proudly showed me his last pair, complete with HOLES in the bottom. Large holes. I did ask how this had escaped his notice before now, and he said....well, it was wet today. Sigh. So guess where we will be this afternoon??? Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I have always said I raised my kids to fly. I meant it then. Now??? Right now, I want to chop off their wings and make them stay at home. With me. Close by.
This afternoon, I watched my daughter walk away to catch the first of 4 planes which will take her back to her home in New Zealand. That would be the place on the opposite side of the world. Down there in the bottom corner. Then I drove home from London through torrential rain, which seemed to mirror the tears of my soul.

For the next 30 hours, I will be flying with her all the way there in my mind. I have been curled up in a ball on the couch, and I should be working, and all I want to do is cry. I have no idea when I will see her again.

I hate goodbyes. There have been so many over the years, and the older I get, the harder it becomes.

So please pray that she gets there safely, and that she does not get the altitude sickness which makes flying long distances a nightmare for her. And to all her friends in New Zealand...... she is on her way home. I know I have said this before. You are the lucky ones.

Over and out. I am going back to my couch.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Monday mumblings

I was right. The little dears I teach were not thrilled to be back at school. Nor was I, come to that. So. It is back to normal again. Work, toppling in the door and collapsing in a chair with a cup of coffee, then back to cooking, sorting the house, and preparing lessons. Not to mention reminding son No 2 about imminent exams and the need for study. Lots of it.

The country is apparently in the grip of a norovirus epidemic. The "winter vomitting virus". Such a descriptive name. Hospital wards are being closed because of it, and we are informed that if we get it, do NOT go to the doctor. Do NOT go to hospital. Stay at home and do NOT emerge until 48 hours AFTER all symptoms have gone. Now, I can't wait to see how long it is before the schools have epidemics too. Today, day one of the new term, one teacher was sent home because she became ill. Hmmmm. Just perfect. I know you are all thrilled to have so much delightful information right here on the page to read.

Diana arrives back from Switzerland tomorrow night. Just a few days left now before she flies off back to NZ and her life there. The time has flown by. I think she has had a wonderful time, and she has spent time with all the family, which is wonderful for both her and them/us. I just wish NZ was a little closer. No. A lot closer.

My couch and I have been bonding. I have spent many lazy hours curled up on it reading, and dozing too, if the truth be told. The house looks so different without the Christmas decorations. It always makes me a little sad when they are packed away, and it takes time to get used to the clean bare look. Most of the weekend was spent indoors, because the weather has been revolting. Damp and cold, and wet. Definitely time for couches, and cosy blankets and coffee.

Right. I have lessons to conjure up. I will be back!

Friday, January 04, 2008

The holidays are nearly over!

I have been up since 3 something am. The intrepid travellers were dropped at the airport before 5am, and should be almost there as I speak. In Switzerland. My favourite place in the world. I am here, in the foggy gloom, freezing. I should be crunching through the snow on an Alp. Freezing is not so bad when you are standing on an Alp. At least you have beautiful scenery to look at, and ........

Hmmm. I will shut up now.

In a fit of total madness, I decided to go and do some essential food shopping on the way home. At 5.45am. In the dark. Before dawn. Well, the fact that I needed petrol rather urgently made it a sensible thing to do, if I did not want to be seen pushing my car along the motorway. Our supermarket is one of those 24hr places, but so help me, they do not run to checkout ladies at that time of day. You have to do the self service checkout. I nearly abandoned the basket at the till when the stupid computer voice kept repeatedly issuing ridiculous instructions loudly like "place the item on the belt" when it had already zapped past and travelled down the belt very happily, thankyouverymuch. The supervisor did a lot of very loud sighing. And then trying to find the right things to push and scan, and where on earth were my glasses anyway, and all the rest..... I am getting old, people. I want a real live person to scan my stuff. You know. So all I have to do is pack the bags and wave my card around in a helpful fashion. I do not want to do the whole thing. I have never had any unfulfilled longing for a cash register from childhood. Bring back humans, I say!

I cannot believe the school holidays are almost over, and that I will be returning to work on Monday. Our decorations are still up, and will be taken down on Sunday, the 12th day of Christmas. And I must say, it is lovely to drive around and still see the lights on all over the village. Especially as the days are short and darkness falls at the ridiculous time of 3pm. Anything which dispels the dark is good!

The biscuit tins are almost empty now, and none of us want to see another one for the forseeable future. As long as they are around, we will eat them. This is not good. The biscuits are, of course, but the hips are another story. And there are unopened boxes of chocolates lurking about too. I am doomed. Will power? Forget. However, I do have a party to go to next weekend, so I will have to consider drastic action, if I do not want to appear in expandable clothing, looking like the Goodyear blimp. But, oh, what a wonderful time this has been.

Diana goes back to NZ next week, and it will be really difficult to say goodbye, as it always is. She lights up the room when she is about. I know I am her Mum, but everyone else says the same thing. She does. So this Christmas was a little unplanned. Well, I had things sort of planned, and then the lists went out the window when she arrived, and we have just had the best time as a family. Who could possibly ask for anything more? And now she is about to be yodelling her way around the small alpine village where my sister lives.

Did I ever mention that my son and daughter-in-law chose to get married there in 2003? We (family and friends) all decamped for the wedding, and it was spectacular. Diana led the merry band of young people up and down mountains, singing "climb every mountain" etc, trotti biking, rafting, cow carving and generally having daily adventures, and no-one will ever forget that holiday. I must do a post about that. Remind me.

Anyway. I am a little weary, so I am about to go and have a snooze. Or maybe some coffee. And a biscuit. Or maybe I will investigate the chocolate box.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008 begins - with a bang and a reminder

The circle of life goes on.

Yesterday, I heard that Glynis's mother is coming peacefully to the end of her life, and as I write, Glynis and Peter are preparing to fly to South Africa. And then this morning, I had an email from a dear friend in Zimbabwe to tell me that her husband had died earlier in the year. I didn't know. If ever there was a very good nudge about what I wrote yesterday, this was it. Time. I was so wrapped up in my own life and battles that I did not take the time to check in on a friend.

Gill is an amazing woman. We were at university together back in the dark ages, and she and Peter have stayed on in Harare, through the worst period of its history. Peter was a vicar, and Gill is the head of a large school in the capital. Their 4 children are scattered around the world. Her elderly parents moved in with them in the past year. Living in Zimbabwe makes any challenges we are facing pale into total insignificance, so your prayers for her safety, strength and the example of her faith to only grow would be really appreciated. And while you are about it, please add Zimbabwe to your prayer lists. It is a living nightmare. The place the world forgot.

These photos were taken from the television at midnight. In the Casa del la Rocking Chair, we go for exciting times, and the fireworks from London were spectacular! Especially from the comfort of the couch, snuggled under a blanket, while the 700 000 people watching IRL were being rained on. Cold. Wet.

So here we are, in a new year. It is like having a brand new book with crisp clean pages, and our pens held ready, about to write the story of our days. Stroke that empty page, and pause for a moment and think about the possibilities ahead to document.... it is time for dreams to be pondered and hopes to be considered.

Having a heart open to what challenges life will offer does not mean sitting safely under the blanket on the couch all day every day, even though there are times I can think of nothing more perfect. Like now.

2007 is gone. Over. Done with. It had many highs and then a good few lows too. Lots of lessons and lots of changes. Challenges. Times to flounder and times to roll with laughter. Sometimes I failed. And sometimes I did well. I made loads of mistakes. I let fear win too many times. My biggest failing is that I try to do it all myself, and won't share the load. This is crazy stuff. I am not god. I should have let others help when they offered. The grace and serenity I long for showed up now and then, and then I blew it over and over again. I. Me. No-one else. I was born on a Thursday. Thursday's child, the old rhyme says, has far to go. (I have just yelled at my Mother for having me on a Thursday. Friday would have been better. My sister was born on a Sunday. Bonny, blythe, good and gay.... you get the picture. Snarl. Mum laughed at me, and said I was born on Ascension Day, so should be happy about that. That is beside the point. Humpf.)

Where was I???? Far to go. Hmmm. Oh yes. I seem to take the long circuitous route everywhere. I get there in the end, but it is the slooooooooow road. (This does not apply to my directional skills or speed on the roads, however. I am very good at that!) As I am, by nature, impatient, this is a torturous process. There is a lesson in progress here. I know, I know. (As I am writing this, the New Year Concert from Vienna is on...glorious music filling the house.)

I digress. I am easily distracted today.

I like taking detours. I like the interesting byways and then I get frustrated because the final destination gets further and further away. Like with the Inquest, for example. I became absolutely fascinated by the workings of the heart, so I delved deeper and deeper and now have this impressive kalaedoscopic knowledge of stuff which is of absolutely no use to me whatsoever, and is unlikely to ever pop up in normal conversation. And it made the research take far longer than necessary. You see? Not always bad stuff, just unnecessary. Interesting though. I am like a magpie, except I collect bits of information.

So where does that leave my glance back at 2007? Full of new experiences. A realisation that I am not as young as I once was. Wiser. Full of new roles. A simpler life. After letting me dawdle through life at my own pace, He has upped the ante, and I am having to rumble into a faster gear, and get moving. He has plans for me, and is tired of waiting. Am I up to the challenge? Only He knows. I will have to do the best I can.

As I take a flying leap into 2008, I am so glad to have you all alongside me. We have stories to write about the lives we live. So get out that clean page and let's get going!