Tuesday, January 31, 2012


The first month of 2012 is over - well just about over. A few hours to go. And it is really cold. FREEZING in fact and due to get much colder in the next couple of days. Switzerland is due to get much much colder too. Siberian blasts on the way.

The month has flown by, but then there have been walks in the mountains, much snow and ice, fun with family and Jean in the Alps, Swiss bargains on the sales, flights home, trains and planes and..... you know the song. Home. Christmas down and packed away, presents finally opened, new hair cut, back to normal, aquarobics and aquazumba, washing, tidying, dusting, vacuuming, skyping with my kids, coffee with friends, supermarkets, and my lovely warm and soft bed.

Playing with my granddaughter, dollies, pushchairs and wiggles. I am a "good reacher" (I could reach things high up!!) and a "good girl" (when I did what she wanted me to do) and I wore a fairy costume to a "party" (around my neck). This month I have been a mum, daughter, sister, moregranny, friend, patient, customer, pupil, client.......

Crocheting ripples here and ripples in the Alps, baking, dreaming, reading (I am still on that Luci Swindoll book), snoozing in front of the TV, catching up with friends, making posies, taking photos. I have kept up the line a day project, and the Project 366 - a photo a day. Even if I sometimes remember at 11pm and resort to taking a photo of the weather forecast on the computer. It is still a photo. Eating 3 meals a day and cutting out snacks....there has to be some good news on the weight front but I have not checked yet. Does the fact that the jeans now slide off without me undoing the buttons count??? I hope so.

And the "joy"........ I am trying, but I know I need to do much more focusing on just what it means to look for joy - find joy. Laugh more. Mind you, I have to say that exhaustion and barristers etc do not make a particularly joyous combination. Not yet, anyway. But you never know......

I wanted to make a mosaic of photos, but I have forgotten how to do one. Maybe tomorrow. If I remember how.

January has been a busy month. Busy is good. Therefore, January has been good.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Through the mists of time........

When I was looking through my daughter-in-law's photos on Flickr just before I came home, I saw this photo, and sort of thought...hmmm. Ann will probably delete this one. The back of my head and some blurry things in the background.

And then I looked at it again. Enlarged it. And it was a bittersweet moment, in a sense. There in the distance, are 2 container cranes. My life, our lives, revolved around container ships, and the cranes which adorned every dock the ships tied up at for 30 odd years. And looking at this completely unposed and random photo, it seemed to me that I was looking back through the mists of time at a part of my life which has gone forever.

Ann has managed to capture a moment only I would think was significant. So significant.

I remember the sea air. The winds. The movement of the ships we spent so many months on over the years. The little ones running up and down the corridors. The older ones hanging over the railings to watch the tugs and the pilot climb down the rope ladder to his boat. The gangway with its open metal treads and the cargo netting underneath it. The cabin. The pool. The sight of land approaching on the horizon, especially Table Mountain appearing at dawn as we headed into Table Bay - which must be one of the most stunning sights known to man. I used to make a point of getting up so early to go up onto the bridge to wait for it....I never ever tired of that beautiful scene. How could I? It was magical.......

And it was all encapsulated here in this photo, in a microsecond. All 30 years of it.

Isn't it strange how these things happen? I look at the photo now and I wonder what I was thinking at that exact moment. What I was seeing. Who could ever have imagined that I would one day stand on the other side of the river to where we docked, watching the cranes work in the distance? I never knew my son would be living so close to Tilbury. I couldn't have imagined showing a little granddaughter where her Grandpa's ships sailed. Told them how the huge container ships were spun around before docking so that the bow pointed out towards the river. How steam did NOT give way to sail in rivers, how they could only dock at high tides. How the cranes worked 24 hours. The sound of the cranes, the lorries, the lights, the noise of the hold hatches being put back in place.

How many women have waited on these banks of the river through the centuries for the watermen, sailors, fishermen, men who made the merchant navy, or the navy their lives? How many never came back?

I am a part of a long history, you see. Just one woman on the banks of the great river. I have sailed on it.

So many memories. My life is so different now.

My children got to see their father do the work he absolutely loved doing, was born to do. They saw him there, on that water. And so many times, they waited with me on the opposite shore, for the big white ship to appear majestically through the mists, bringing their Daddy home. The mists just like this mist. Under the cranes.

Ann captured a really special moment, without realising what she had done. My daughter-in-law and her camera are a wonderful team.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I am back again.....

Hello, everyone.......

I have been away for a few days down south. In London. Or close by, at least. I had an appointment, you see, to meet with the barrister, lawyer, and assorted medical experts to discuss how we proceed. Mega important stuff, which had me resembling a gibbering wreck by Thursday, when we left. In a stoke of excellent timing, Jean was planning to go and visit her mother and brother in Kent, so she dropped me at Andrew and Ann's home, and I stayed there, just hopping on the local train into the city for the meeting. But more of that later. Had I caught the train for a day in the city from here, I may well have needed a mortgage, given that peak time train travel in the UK is apparently the most expensive in the world.

The great part was being able to finally drop off all the Christmas presents for Missy and her Mum and Dad and Granny and Granddad. At the end of Jan. I am so good at managing timing well. Sigh. But Missy was more than thrilled and that is what counted. I can't tell you how much I love that little girl. She NEVER stops talking, and has an amazing vocabulary. I gave her some Peppa Pig musical instruments as part of her present. And when she unwrapped the parcel, she said ....Oooh, INSTRUMENTS!! She is not 3 yet. I also popped in a kiddie recipe book and explained that it was a book with lots of yummy things in which she could bake (she LOVES baking) with her Mum. Oooh, a RECIPE book!! Yes. Her vocab is great.

And just look at that gorgeous hair.

 Bags. She adores bags of all description. She is definitely a girlie girl!

So, on Friday, I set off for London, and the barristers' chambers. In a part of the city I have never been to before, but I got there. The underground is a wonderful thing. Beautiful building. Beautiful chambers. Beautiful gardens. I made every effort to appear classy and elegant, but arrived looking rather like a scarecrow in the wind. Just as well I got there early - I managed to find the Ladies' Room to do some running repairs before the rest arrived, thank the Good Lord. And 3 and a half hours of non-stop talk/discussion/opinion etc etc etc, with me doing a great deal of listening, but also voicing thoughts throughout later, it was over. On one cold cup of coffee. I was a wreck after those 3 and a half hours. And by that time, I had my leg resting on a vacant chair and all pretence of elegance was out of the window.
 But the barrister and experts think the case is rock solid so far. And there is talk of a class action suit in the offing. The experts are acting for other parties too. So I staggered out of the door with my stick and headed for the nearest coffee shop and sat down with the largest black coffee I have ever consumed. And sugar.
 And then I thought about trying to see a friend for more coffee, but in all honesty, I was close to the limits of the endurance capabilities, so I headed back to London Bridge. But then, I thought, here I am in London and I have seen nothing. So I walked onto the bridge to take photos of the river, and I am really glad I did. It was beautiful. The Tower of London looked stunning.
 And so did Tower Bridge.

And then I found my way back to Andrew's station, and fortunately, he was only a few trains behind me, so Ann was there to collect us. And it was back home to forget all about everything and just enjoy watching Missy play.......
 She is so beautiful. And as bright as a button. And quite dictatorial. But mega-cute. I love her to bits. And she "lubs Moreglanny". We have a slight "r" problem. But that is just fine.

On Saturday, my son had to work, so Ann, Missy and I headed for Costco, which is always fun, and then off on an "adventure". We went down the river to Gravesend, and walked along the water. They hadn't been there before, so there were loads of excellent photo opportunities, and I was explaining the tides, the pilot boats, tugs and BIG ships to them. I am so familiar with these waters, but that is all for another post. Maybe tomorrow.
 The seagulls posed beautifully.
 And the new dolly, Heidi (she came from Switzerland) had an outing too.
 These ships have featured heavily in my life..........
So much to see, which was new and exciting. And perishingly cold too. Thank heavens for warm layers!

So, today, we went to church (with Heidi dolly and push chair too) and then I came home with Jean.

And here I am.

I need a nap. And I have declared tomorrow a couch day. But I have loads of memories to cherish, and many photos, and soon it will be her birthday and I will see her again.

I love being a Moreglanny.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

In defence of little old ladies.......

Lisa-Jo, the Gypsy Mama, posted a link to an article about little old ladies on Facebook this morning. (The article raised many valid and wonderful points re parenting, but I am going to focus on the little old lady bit here.) I read it, and so help me, I know I say exactly the same thing at times. Many times. I say a lot more, of course. Different things too. So that makes me one of THOSE little old ladies.

However, I want to explain to you young ones just why we say these things which drive you all crackers.

I have walked in your shoes, girls, and I have been at a check out with a screaming toddler and a sulky child, and one haring off into the distance. Too many times to count. I have wanted to tear my hair out. More times than I care to remember. I am lucky I have any hair at all, even though it is going has gone grey under the highlights.  I have had a child throw a full blown temper tantrum on the floor of a shop. Heck, all 3 did at one time or another. Or twenty. I have crawled under my car in a parking garage to haul out a child who was screaming blue murder because he was NOT going to get into the push chair. I have survived food fights. Good grief, I once squished the food into my child's hair. Was I a perfect mother? Oh no. Did I have moments of pure desperation, truly believing I would not survive without some sleep - ANY sleep ? Of course I did.

Every single one of those times when you reach the end of you tether, it is very likely that I have been through too. And to top it all, my husband was a career merchant navy officer and away from home 9 months of each year. I had 3 children in 12 years. You work it out. Life was not always peachy and saccharine sweet. It was like survival at times.

I KNOW what you feel. I KNOW what you are thinking. I KNOW how tough it is and most of all, I KNOW how close to tears you may well be.

I have been there too.

The tears - bucket loads of them over the years.

But loads fo fun and laughter and giggles and smiles too.

But I will still say to you, enjoy every moment. And mean it too. Savour the moments. The good the bad and the appalling too. Just appreciate them. Because, if you asked any of those little old ladies, who have clear and vivid memories of the reality of being a parent to little ones (and technicolour ones of parenting teens) - time does not erase the disasters - they would say that they would have those days back in a heartbeat. They flew by way too fast.

There is something that my friends and I talk about often - how we wish that we could, at times, turn back the clocks and have all our babes back in the nest, small enough to need us, and depend on us. The monstrous times and all. Here. Under my roof. Back home. In place.


Real life means that just cannot and should not happen, of course. We know that.

I am writing this in an empty house which echoes with memories. My husband is dead. My 3 children are grown and have flown the nest, and are all busy building lives for themselves - just as they should be. Right now they are in 3 different countries. I am a Granny to a little girl who lives a few hours away.

I remember those days. They were crammed with the craziness of life at top speed. Messy houses and paint in hair. Loud voices and louder music. Rugby balls and tennis racquets. Cricket bats and ballet shoes. Homework lost, and baby climbing the burglar bars. Wet bathing costumes and school uniforms. Hectic schedules and toast for supper because I forgot to defrost the meal. Toys everywhere, and lego underfoot (and inside the vacuum cleaner). Does this sound familiar?

What about sitting at a hospital bed waiting for your child to wake up after an op? Racing to A&E with half severed thumbs? Does this sound like I am remembering only a time of my life seen through rose tinted specs? Trying to balance budgets, racing around picking up, dropping off.......

No. I remember the reality, which was never perfect, not always in control, but which, from the perspective of my dotage (HAH) was a magical period. I loved it. I loved it then, I love it now. I love being a Mum. I wish, in a way, that they didn't have to grow and go, but that is what I raised them to do as I have said many times before.

It seems to be overnight that they suddenly become adults, you see - and that temper-tantrum-throwing toddler is suddenly walking down the aisle, and you get a panicky feeling which grabs you by the throat and you wonder, did I love enough, did I teach enough, oh, I need more time to watch, nurture.... But they are gone and soaring up there, and all you can do is stand back and learn to celebrate their separate, wonderful lives. And remember.

Time flies by. My mother used to say the same thing - enjoy every moment, because time flies and they grow up. I felt like you do when I say it to you now. I wanted to slap someone. Yeah right. Walk in my shoes for a day and you won't say that. Yes, sweeties, I would. We would. Because one day, YOU will be saying exactly the same thing.

Parenthood is not for wimps. Motherhood is not all bliss. It hurts like hell at times. You make mistakes. You mess up badly. You can't always cope.

Newsflash. Neither could your mother.

And she thinks back to those days with a little wry smile now and then too. Just like me.

Oh, and just for the record, I have pushed a total stranger's toddler throwing a monstrous tantrum around the shop behind his mother while she cried buckets and tried to do her shopping. I just told her I had been there, and asked how I could help. I have encouraged Mums in checkout lines with trembling lips. I have helped corral children on the run. I am not one of those little old ladies who look down their nose and tut tut re misbehaving kids. I am an expert in distracting kids. I taught for a while, for heaven's sake. You learn some tricks along the way.

I know. And so I say, with no apology whatsoever.......

Enjoy every fleeting moment, girls. Etch those memories on your hearts. Deep. Savour them.

Time flies by.

With love
Linds (and I am not really THAT old. I am 57)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Little posies......

I wandered around the shops this morning, after doing the bill paying etc etc etc. I wanted to see what was out, if the garden things were arriving, what Spring stuff was available. I hadn't been near the town since I got back, and no, there is not much out. When I was at Marge's place, I saw some beautiful Spring posies which I coveted, of course, but did not buy, because I am ultra frugal. I did point them out to my sister and told her to get them if the sales produced a 70% off bargain. But anyway, I wanted them. 

So I started looking for tiny artificial flowers. There are very few. I knew I had some at home, and this is what I ended up with. I spent the princely some of 2x59p. The rest I had. 

 I did have to go to a couple of shops, and I really wanted some miniature tulips or crocuses or daffodils like the Swiss shop had. Oh, I LOVE that shop........

Anyway, after getting a little roll of tape from our florist, I came home and started playing. And this is what I ended up with. I had to use the flash and the pics are not stellar, but I think you can get the idea. They do not look very like the Swiss ones. I will need to keep playing, but they are a start.

On the Swiss display, they had a serviette, with a crocheted raffia band wound around it, and a little posy tucked into the band. I LOVED it. So, while I was there, I got some raffia and crocheted some long strings, using a #10 hook.
 And the only serviette I could find was pale pink. I wanted white. They are hiding somewhere. But don't they look sweet? I will keep trying to replicate the others, if I can find some tiny flowers somewhere. I like them. They will do for now, and in the Spring, they will look lovely on the table should I decide to have a dinner party. The idea is that they are also pretty when popped into a little vase. I could have sworn I had a plethora of tiny vases, which are also mysteriously in hiding today.

Mind you, I think I have decided that my kind of entertaining is of the BBQ variety. And the other thing I used to do but have not done here, is brunches. That I can do too. It is complicated trying to entertain formally when you have to do it all. The greeting, talking, cooking, drinks etc your self. I end up being in the kitchen while the guest have a lovely time in the lounge. Not quite what I intended. So the casual, everyone hanging about in the kitchen thing is more my style now.

I could also do raclettes. I would, if mine worked. I seem to remember Geoff declaring its demise as the guests were arriving, and we had to borrow one for the meal. That was a long time ago. I need to check these things.

Right. The leftovers are nearly gone. I am off to heat the last of them and grin at my posies........

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cuddling a baby and catching up......

The hellebores are out. The maroon ones and the white ones. And they make me think that Spring can't be too far away, but then, it is January, after all, and we have another month of Winter to get through first. But seeing the flowers makes me smile a great deal. 

My friend Jackie decided that everyone seems to be living rollercoaster lives - too busy and too few hours in the day, so she invited some of us for tea and chat to catch up. The HUGE bonus was that her daughter was there too, with her very new baby, so we all got to cuddle a tiny bundle. He screamed, mind you, when I had a turn, but he was very tired, and once his mother had got him to sleep, he was passed around the room quite happily. It was hilarious, because we all kept checking to see if he was breathing, because he seems to prefer sleeping with his face buried in one's chest. 

He is just 7 weeks old. It is just so amazing when you hold a tiny baby - the memories flood back and time seems to stand still. Was it really so long ago that my own babies were so tiny?

Yes. It was.

Little fingers. Little socks. Floppy head. Muslin squares draped over the shoulder which always fail to cover the spot the baby will spew milk on to, of course. But, oh, so cute.

A lovely gentle afternoon. 5 of us had, at one time or another, all belonged to our bookclub, and the 2 who still do told us that, in November this year, it will be 20 years old. I was flabbergasted. Was it so long ago I decided we needed one? So they are thinking of having a celebratory meal at the end of the year, and we will all gather together for that.

This post seems to be about time flying and me being amazed. I have no idea why I continue to be amazed. I should be used to it by now. Young ones, everything your mother tells/told you about time flying is true. Take heed, and enjoy this moment to the full.

It has been a lovely, unusual weekend. And now, as I have already eaten leftovers for supper, it is time to head for the couch for a nap to do some crocheting. Jackie had her woodburner going, and so help me, I could so easily have dropped off sitting on her gorgeous squishy couch in front of it, watching the flames.

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Cakes and comments........

(For local friends, peanut butter Kitkats are back in the shops! - And they are delicious and to be avoided at all costs, of course.)

Hello. It has been a wet and grey day here. I did a little catching up this morning, by popping in to see my friends (the ones with the twins, who are now nearly 9 years old. How did that happen??)  That was good. I wandered around the chemist/gift shop for a while, and just generally did the Saturday morning in the village sort of thing. Some fresh vegetables, eggs so I could bake, and then I stopped at Margaret's house (the garden fairy) to drop off some flowers. Her husband went for a cardiac stress test yesterday and ended up having an emergency angiogram and a stent put in to open up a blocked artery. He is one very lucky man indeed. 

Cold wet weather is baking weather, isn't it. So I baked one of those blueberry muffin type cakes, and they always work fantastically, and look wonderful. I have made them with every kind of berry and they just never fail, and are always delicious. The link to the post where I linked to the recipe is here. That is the MOST ridiculous sentence I have ever written. But I am sure you will all work out what I mean if you want to make the cake. You really need to make the cake. Now.


It is now Sunday, not Saturday. I wrote all the above yesterday and then Nicky arrived and the conversation was rattling along, and photos were gazed at, and food was consumed and there was laughter involved and then it was midnight and I went to bed. 

So I never got round to posting anything at all. 

This morning, I had an email from a friend saying that she was having a problem posting a comment here. That she got a weird message and I know that other bloggers have had readers saying that they were getting blank pages and all kinds of hassles, so it is not just me. Can you PLEASE email me at lal50 at btinternet.com if you also have a problem? I think the solution is to switch back to the old blogger interface, but I am not 100% sure. I suspect that those with the new interface (me) have no problems with blogs also using the new interface, because I have not had any problems leaving comments so far. If ever there was a kiss of death, that would be it. We will see. 

I will switch back tonight if that is the solution. 

Right. Consider this yesterday's post. I will be back later.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pre-planning would help.....

I need coffee. Unfortunately, the coffee is at the other end of the kitchen, and I have just spent half the morning cleaning the floor and it is wet, and I will not walk on it. AND because it is cold, it is taking forEVER to dry. When you cannot kneel to scrub, it makes life a little complicated and takes so much longer, but EUREKA!!! It is clean. Tick the box. Everyone will be required to wear socks to walk on it from now on. No shoes.

Now, if I had just remembered to fill the coffee mug before backing out of the room with the mop in hand.

Oh well.

It is a grey and revolting day. Cold. So the crockpot is on. Small pieces of chicken breast, loads of vegetables and some mushroom soup. Chicken a la Linds. It will be wonderful at supper time. * see below.....The washing machine and dryer are also on as well. It is "Let's do all the towels and all the linen and everything else you can lay your hands on" day. My house will soon resemble a Chinese laundry, but the heating will help to dry the loads. The heating on means I will be snug and cosy too. So I am quite happy here. I have no intention of leaving the premises until I have to later on.

I love these days. I have so many things on the "to do/make" list and so many books to read. So many UFOs. So much just sitting there waiting for me to declare a home day and start being creative. Right now, I am whizzing through the red ripple at a rate of knots. I want to get it finished, and then, given the fact that I ventured back on to Pinterest for an hour or so yesterday, I remembered the folders of things I want to try out there too. There are not enough hours in the day!

My friend, Nicky, who went to NZ to visit her daughter over Christmas, and happened to spend Christmas day with MY daughter, and time exploring Wellington, is coming round tomorrow evening, armed with her photos. We will discuss the club she says we all belong to MOCA (Mothers of Children Abroad) and our daughters. And NZ. As Mums do. Out of my local friends, we have children living in NZ, Canada, Australia and Turkey. And I know of other local kids now living and working in Austria, USA, Ireland. This is from a village. Not a city. My 2 new aqua friends have children in America and Australia too. And so many more will be on their way soon. The prospects here are not great. I heard talk yesterday of 2016 before the economy started looking good. That is too long and too far ahead for the young ones who need to start building their lives now. Before they start families.

It was interesting at the hairdresser  - I heard one lady talking of how her family's application for emigration was going, and more talk of Australia from another young family. These are people who have decided to DO something about it now, and not wait. It has been a very long time since I have heard so many people talking of leaving. And the irony is that the drive now is not for impossible dreams, but for work. That simple. That essential. An ability to earn.

Are any of you doing Ann's Joy Dare this year? I am, but not on line, in my diary. It is such a wonderful idea, and adds so many new dimensions to my own list, which has been going for years and numbers well into the thousands. My gratitude journal is starting to look worn, and I love that. It should look well used and a little battered!

I have been thinking about how much I write. I write here, of course, and in recent weeks, I have started writing a great deal more with pen and paper. Do you remember those things? Pens? Paper? It felt really strange at first, and I realised just how dependent I had become on a keyboard. But what if the power goes?

So, at the start of the year, with my line a day venture, and the gratitude journal in hand, and a notebook in my bag to do the listography lists I saw Crystal do every week, I am making a start on a few things which my grandchildren will be able to pick up and look at one day. In my handwriting. Don't you just love finding recipes or letters written by your parents or grandparents? Didn't they write so beautifully? We have my great-grandmother's letters somewhere, and she wrote so elegantly. (I seem to have the word elegant on the mind at the moment.) My grandchildren may have a little trouble deciphering my scrawl, but they will see the words.

Good grief, I do ramble on. Cheese on toast calls. And that coffee. Happy Friday to you all!

*Edited to add: At 3pm, I suddenly registered the total lack of warm and cosy cooking smells from the crockpot, people, and I HAD FORGOTTEN TO SWITCH ON THE PLUG. How dimwitted can anyone get, I ask? I have been sitting in the same room at the computer and STILL did not register. It is turbo cooking as I speak. I may be eating at midnight. Screech. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Oh the things we put ourselves through......

Well, today did not get off to a stellar start. Apart from the fact that I am now quite capable of surviving the aquazumba class, of course. Back to normal on that front at last. That was good. Great. But then I went to get the headlight sorted, and that was just fine, although I appeared to have lost the cap for the headlight inside the car - you know, the bit which keeps water out of it. I would think that was quite essential, actually. Anyway, I drove home, and then walked all the way to the dual carriageway / motorway type of road to see where it had fallen off. I remember hearing something, you see, but didn't see anything in the road behind me rolling about as I went to the shop which fixed the light.

It was a fair way to walk, and JUST as I got to the far distance and was about to turn round after a fruitless search, the heavens opened and the rain fell in biblical proportions. On me. I had no coat. The sun was shining when I set off.

I was drenched, and cold and totally unimpressed with life, let me tell you.

So I trudged home, and in the post were 2 wedding invitations/save the date thingys. One in France in September, and one in Auckland in Feb. Wonderful celebrations are ahead for 2012.

Then, with great timing, I remembered that I had a long-standing appointment to have my hair cut, and a few highlights put in to counteract the rapidly multiplying stress highlights (aka grey). I cannot describe what a mess it looked like after being soaked in the rain and drying in frizz curls. The word fortuitous springs to mind. It is over a year since I have done anything to the hair, and it was looking very tired. Like its owner. In fact, it looked worse than the woman on "10 years younger" on TV last night, and she was just 50. Groan.

So, in the interests of being real here at RCR, here you see what a picture of stunning-ness one looks like with foils in the hair. Please note the one sticking straight up in the air. A special touch, I feel. Two minutes prior to the photo, I had the whole lot dangling over my eyes, and I was beginning to hyperventialte.

Thank the Good Lord for giant red clips, is all I can say.
Such elegance needs to be recorded for posterity. I just had the top of the head done because the whole head requires mortgaging one's home.
However, it looks great, even with just a few in. I sat there in those foils and worked on the ripple (the red one) while I chatted to a fellow client also having a "get rid of the grey" day, who sings in the same choir that I sing in (and our choir will be singing together with Becky's husband's choir when it visits in May this year).

It is amazing what a new hairdo will do for the mood, and the sense of self-confidence. I will need all of that when I go to a meeting next week with the barrister and assorted other legal people and medical experts in London. I refuse to look like the country bumpkin I may just have become. I can do classy and elegant. I will do it. I can remember how.

At least the hair will be ok. I can work on the rest. I have a week.

So, on this grey and dismal day, there have been rays of sunshine too. Anything is possible. I need to remember that.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Home again, home again.....

From THIS..........

 To THIS is a bit of culture shock. A shock to the senses too. Re-entry to my ordinary world is a little tough, you see.
 We got home, and I discovered that the battery had decided to expire while I was away. The car battery. So Peter and I used the industrial strength jump leads and got it going, and I whizzed up and down the motorway for half an hour to charge it. It goes, thank heavens. However, remember that headlight I was so proud I managed to change just before we left? Dead. Stupid thing. I took it out this afternoon and tried reconnecting it again, but no, it does not work, so guess where I am heading at the crack of dawn????

Just charming.

But I have been back to aquazumba and aquarobics and although my body has turned to jelly and I now ache all over, I am feeling very sanctimonious. Saintly. I have also started the £1 in the pot for every 30 minutes of exercise idea, to amass a fortune which I will spend on ME. Well, that is the theory, anyway.

I had to take down Christmas in this house. Including the tree. That was after I opened all my presents which were still here waiting for me. I didn't take any with me. That was fun! Taking down the tree was a little odd though......so much later than usual. The house is still red and brown and cosy looking, but it was different, somehow.

And then, today, just look what arrived in the post!
Some super thin, very warm gloves - sent (I think) by my sweet friend Kelli, to keep my fingers from falling off. I was SO excited, and it was a wonderful surprise, and I am very, very grateful!

There are always linings to the clouds, aren't there? Hidden delights waiting around the corners. This, then is the mark of an eternal optimist. The delight in the knowledge that the bad times make the good times even better. Contrasts. I am reading a wonderful book by Luci Swindoll called Doing life Differently, and she talks often about how the awful things which happen serve to enhance the good times. She talks a great deal of sense, and I heartily recommend the book. In fact, while checking the title of the book, I saw another one I really think I should read - Simple Secrets to a Happy Life. Not out yet, but it will be in March. (I love the wish list idea at Amazon!)

So, here we are. Winter is proving to be very mild in these parts, but I miss the snow, the biting cold and the sun and blue skies. And the mountains. And my family. And........

There is more aquazumba tomorrow. There is the trip to sort out the headlight. And there will, no doubt at all, be other adventures to enjoy. Tomorrow.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sun and freezing temps.......

 I think you may all be geting a little sick of snowy photos. Never fear, people, there are not that many more to go! We were invited to tea at a friend's home today, and because we didn't have a clue where she lived, we ventured out on a plod of discovery this morning. It took some doing, but we found it, I am happy to relate.

And then we took Jean up another side of the valley to get a different view of the village. David and I did the walk a few days ago, but that was during snow showers, and today was a spectacularly glorious day  once again, and SO different.

On the way to the hill, I noticed the sun glinting on the icicles hanging from an old barn. Aren't they stunning? And isn't it wonderful how ordinary things can make on stop in one's tracks at times? The fact that it was -12C and my fingers were blue was immaterial. It took AGES  for them (and the rest of me) to thaw.
 The village from a different angle and looking very Swiss and chocolate box-y.
And this paraglider seemed to need skis on his feet which is not something I have seen regularly. Not seen at all actually.
So there you are. Beauty. I am extremely glad that I am not driving down the mountain right now because the queues are mammoth. It will take the thousands who were up here in the mountains hours to get down, but I am sure they will all think it worth it. You could not have asked for a more perfect Swiss winter day.

And on the wish list goes a pair of ultra thin thermal gloves. I have furry fingerless ones, and they work on mild day. I have knitted ones and they do not work at all. I have snow ones and they work on cold days, except for the pain in the neck pulling on and off every time I want to take a photo. My fingers are tired of being blue. Purple. Ice cold. So I am going to be searching the sales for the dream pair, if they exist.

Our visit to our friend this afternoon was just lovely. So were the Swiss cakes she had acquired. (Forget the diet for now!) It would have been rude to decline the invitation to partake. I partook with relish, you will be happy to hear. And I just loved visiting another Swiss home. Apartments are huge here. Rooms are big. Spacious. Even apartments have fire places, to my delight, and I also tried out their fancy massage chair. Heated. I contemplated taking up residence in the chair for the forseeable future, actually, especially when I could see the mountains from every window near me as I reclined in splendid luxury. I should just have asked for a blanket and I would have been as happy as Larry.

So, right now, it is time for supper, and I am going to investigate the contents of the fridge in the hope that there is a lettuce leaf available for consumption.

I will be back.

PS. Thank you so much to the lovely people who heard my request and commented yesterday. I was so delighted to see some new names, and learn a little about you. You all know a great deal about me already! HOWEVER......... (not that I want to moan or whine here at all) 122 of you visited and 9 commented. Sigh.

I love you all, really, faceless or not. Thank you for coming to visit!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ski racers, snow angels and snoozes.....

Hello there. Before I start chattering,  I believe it is National International De-lurking Day. (I just made it International.) So, it would be really lovely if everyone popping in today would say hi in the comment section. You are very welcome to say a lot more than "hi" of course!  If you do not have a blog, choose the anonymous option and then leave your comment. I love to hear from you all - and making new friends is such fun!!

I am watching the downhill from Wengen (on TV) as I write. Isn't it amazing how, after watching 5 or so lunatics skiers hurtle down those steep slopes, one becomes an expert? We are sitting here saying - oh no, he is way too slow on that bend, off the pace, too late into the jump, skis to far apart, too wide, ski line to loose....... experts, I tell you. Can any of us stand up, never mind move on skis? Why, no. Of course not. We are armchair experts, and my snow expertise is limited to making snow angels. Or snow men. Or snowballs.

But the flags are waving and the crowds cheering and cowbells are clanging because so far, a Swiss is in the lead. The skies are blue, and the sun is shining on the snow, and if you get ski racing on your TV, have a look and see. Beautiful.

Speaking of snow angels, I persuaded David and Jean to make snow angels a few days ago. They took some persuading, thinking I had lost my mind, but, after I flopped down and made one, they conceded that it could be fun, and made angels too. The getting up again required a bit of ingenuity and one large son. It is good to do childish things now and then and abandon one's self to the fun. And it is also good for one's children to see their mother making a total fool of herself. Did I mention that the son had control of the camera????

I rest my case. Fun is good.

The snow is deep but firmly packed, so you have to climb up a snow slope into the garden and walking on top of it, you are able to look over the 6ft fence with ease, and lean on the top of the swingset, which is half buried. David had great fun breaking off the huge stalactites hanging from the balcony. And we keep saying how much fun Missy would have in the snow. She would absolutely love it all.

The snow on the hill has slipped down, and left a chicken on the mountain. Can you see it? Well, I think it actually looks like a kiwi. But then I can't remember how long their legs are. Anyway, I am rather fond of my chicken/kiwi outside the window. Maybe it is a "sign". Diana/NZ/me/dreams/etc/etc.

 Some of the paths are closed, and they make it quite clear why. However, it amazes me that there are ski tracks on the hill behind the gates. Oh well. Four languages should cover it. They know the risks.

I have been sitting in the sun for an hour or so and I tell you, the eyes keep closing. Nap time. Maybe I should walk outside into the frigid air. It will wake me up. Puzzle #3 is underway. All of them have been  1000 pieces.  Jean is an absolute whizz. Turn your back for a short while and she is half finished!

 I try to walk for at least an hour a day, and it has been absolutely perishing out there. We stopped for coffee and to thaw at Marge's work and the instant I swallowed the first sip, I could feel it inside as it radiated heat through my body. Divine. Just as well, because my hands were SO cold that even the marble counter top felt warm in comparison.

But the sleepiness now comes from being in a warm and comfortable chair, with a warm and not so comfortable laptop on my lap. It is Marge's and all the keys are different, but it is amazing how fast you can adapt.

So, either I will doze off now, or wake up in the bracing air if I can summon the energy to go downstairs. The living areas of the house are all on the first floor here, which makes perfect sense - hot air rising and so on. I know my house is lovely in the bedrooms and cold in the lounge. That makes NO sense. Maybe I should change it all around.... Or maybe not. But either way, it is time to post this before it joins the dozens of half written and unfinished drafts. Sigh. I am full of great intentions. OH..... just so you know, the Project 366 is going well, and so is the line a day. 2 of the goals. And the exercise. 3. The weight....this is Switzerland. Land of cheese and chocolate and brother-in-law = master chef, so WHAT DO YOU THINK??? Groan. Just as well there are 11 and a half months left in the year and that home has none of the above. And that home is where I will be very, very soon.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

There is more, you know.........

It is beautiful, isn't it? Those of you who have been around a while will know just how much I love this place, and how I have loved it since I was a child. Some things do not change - they just get better. The beauty feeds the soul. My soul. Thank God I have seen this. I know this place. 

One of the ladies who works with my sister suggested that we get on the Number 4 bus and ride to the end of the route up the opposite side of the mountain, to get a totally different view of the valley. The bus is free during the season, so this morning, we hopped on it and zoomed up the very steep road. It couldn't go to the end of the line because the sun wasn't out yet, and the roads needed the sun to thaw the ice a bit more before buses attempt the climb. Not before 11am. The road is narrow and there is a steep drop down the side, and if you meet another car, one of you has to back down and let the other pass. The bus tends to win the showdown. 

We got off at the hotel, and walked a little way up the road the bus couldn't drive up, and discovered homes we never knew existed. Tucked away. Stunning homes. But we could not see the village because of mountains of snow, so we inched our way down the road again, avoiding the ice, and then wandered along the road, which winds its way around the mountain. Isn't it funny how we always want to see around the next corner??? I just want to keep going! I am curious, you see. 

 I had never been up this side of the valley before, but I will go up there again, because the road needs to be explored. Oh, it was so beautiful. We time the outings in the morning to be out and about when the sun reaches the valley. I have learnt the old mountisn maxim of getting up and out as early as possible when the weather is good, because things change so fast in the mountains. I took over 100 photos in the space of an hour or 2. You are just seeing a couple!

 I cannot tell you how much these photos do not do the reality justice. You can have no real idea of how lovely it is, you see. Or how high up we were, or what the 360 degree view was like. Words fail me at times, and no camera could possible capture it adequately. You need to come and find out for yourselves. I promise you will not be disappointed.

 So we waited for the little bus to chug up the hill, and on we hopped. We decided to take the bus to the Talstation, where Marge works, have coffee, and then wander around the lake, only, as we arrived, the fog rolled up the valley. So we had the coffee or hot chocolate, and hot dogs for lunch and then wandered home along the river.
 This is one of the amazing snow machines. It drove across the river, pushing enough snow ahead of it to make a bridge. Believe me, the back end was even more impressive! (I just KNEW you would all be totally fascinated by machinery!)
An unexpected bonus on our freezing walk back (the temperature plummets in the fog) was the almost surreal beauty of the trees in the greyness. We couldn't believe how beautiful it was. Mystical. Ethereal.
 And then - and THEN we noticed the sun starting to creep through the mist and it seemed as if the mountain ridge was on fire. The trees were silhouetted against the sun and it was spectacular. If we had caught the bus home, we would have missed it all. It was one of those perfect moments.
And the perfect moments are what make the ordinary extra-ordinary. The delight energises me, and the picture in front of me etches itself in my memory forever. 

I will remember the beauty of today. The cold. The cat which followed David down the hill. The silence,  the echo of voices in the snow. The hair-raising drive up and down the mountain. Discovering a new place to explore. The suddenness of the fog rolling in. Fire-sun. Tiramasu. Another Christmas puzzle. Chicken in a basket. Personal statements for masters applications. Icy snow crunching under the snow boots. Laughter and delight. The joy.

I can't forget this, can I?

PS: Did I tell you about how much I love the freezing temperatures? Did I tell you that I love being out in the cold? You see, for  few short hours, if I am out, the cold numbs my leg totally, and I cannot feel the pain. Oh, the joy. I cannot tell you how wonderful it feels to have numb legs. And hands and other bits too. I can live with it all. Layers are good. Thawing is a whole other story, which I will not discuss. but it is worth every single second, believe me! And tomorrow I will do it all again.......