Thursday, May 31, 2012

The demise of the phone.......

I dropped my mobile phone onto tiles on its head and it is now having a series of brain malfunctions. It is dead, in actual fact. Well, the Internet works, had I a mind to want to use it, but the phone part and the text messages? Kaput. So, after 2 days of negotiating phone provider and insurance and phone shop advisers to find out what the problem is, sitting in all day for calls which, predictably, never came, making enraged calls to provider blah blah blah, I have finally sorted the paperwork.

In time for  the very long Queen's Jubilee weekend.

I am truly astonished about how dependent I have become on having that phone in my pocket. After cartwheeling out of the front door and crash landing on the drive behind my car a few months ago, and realising that my phone had been next to me on my desk at the time when I went to take rubbish to the bin, I have made a point of keeping it in a pocket. It is useless on the desk when one is lying on the drive wondering how long it will be till someone walks by. So, I am a little spooked by its inability to make and receive calls. It will take at least 5 working days once it has been delivered to the insurance company, before I get it back either fixed, or a new replacement. That means about 2 weeks time. I just want it to work now. This minute.

So, last night, after I was told that all the data on it would be wiped, I started making a list of all my contacts. It took forEVER.  And I even managed to transfer the photos to my computer - go me! All 863 of them. It was time. I still want to delete all the personal stuff/apps, like Facebook, Twitter, email accounts, etc etc etc. Perfect entertainment for the day.

I realise that this must be mindblowingly boring, so we will move swiftly on and I will continue to gnash my teeth loudly in private.

The Jubilee weekend.

Jean and I managed to hang the Patriotic Bunting outside today. I am not sure the neighbours get the PB part. Stripes, diamond, spots the lot, but red, white and blue. I gave all the matching organised ones away. Union Jacks are appearing all over the place. Most seem to be upside down. I was driving along yesterday, minding my own business, when a lady came onto the talk programme on the radio, and declared that all the upside down flags are driving her crackers. So I started noticing them, and now it has become an obsession. Upside down means distress. So, if you are in the UK, the fat white bit must be at the top of the left side. I admit freely that I did not know it was essential to know this, but then I didn't grow up here, and it does sort of look the same.

So far, I think about 75% have been upside down. Maybe they are all in distress. It is possible, given our appalling economic woes.

And I also have a white vase in the window with 4 small flags in it. So there are my Jubilee decorations. You will have to wait for photos, because I have moved my cable from the computer while obsessing about phone calls which never came. It is safe somewhere. Probably in the same place as my sandals. All of them. Every pair of sandals I own has disappeared somewhere. I have turned this house upside down and they are nowhere and I refuse to buy any more.

I digress.

I just looked at the British Monarchy's Facebook page and there is the MOST beautiful photo of the Queen laughing, and I looked at her eyes and they looked familiar. Hers are as wrinkled as mine when I smile. She is 86. I am 58. Spot the problem.

Events are planned up and down the land - the main events can be found here and here the one I am really looking forward to is the Thames River Pageant on Monday. That should be fantastic. Our village festival starts on Saturday and lasts for 2 weeks, with exhibitions, concerts and a whole host of things on the go here, including, of course the carnival. So I have just checked the 5 day weather forecast and VEE YOU DID IT AGAIN! Friday 19C, Saturday 18C, Sunday 11C (with rain), Monday 12C (with rain). Oh joy.

But I suppose it could change.

Right. Time for crocheting a few more flowers for my tree. I need to think about the summer change, how and when, although I may wait if the temps are going to plummet.

I am off to search for a carrier pigeon. Or my sandals. Or chocolate......... Oops....I should have checked things. The Thames river pageant is on Sunday at about 2pm. TV coverage starts at around 1pm I think but check!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I have been having fun.......

I have been a little busy, so haven't had time to pop on here and say hello - sorry!

I have a valid excuse. I think.

It was my birthday on Sunday and that was jam-packed with "stuff". Good stuff. The twins turned 9 and so, as tradition dictates, I presented myself on their doorstep at dawn. Well, 8.30. On Sunday. On my birthday. Their birthday. So, after the first cup of coffee slid down my throat, and I woke up properly, we had a pancake breakfast outside on the patio. In the sun.

It was a beautiful hot sunny day, and breakfast with the babes and their parents was just lovely. I had already spoken to most of my family by then, and when I got home, I skyped with my daughter, opened the cards I had kept in a pile and spoke to my friends who called from New Zealand and Scotland.
And then Peter and Glynis came to collect me and we all went to lunch at the most gorgeous pub in a nearby village. There were SO many people there - you have to book for a meal and believe me, it was good. And I am quite happy writing the delicious warm chocolate brownie with ice cream off as a Birthday Cake. Perfect excuse. I took my camera, and so help me, forgot to photograph the food. I just have pics of the empty plates. Oops.
All I can say is that it was delicious......
This is a very clever marketing idea for the Jubilee - £19.52 for 2 courses for 2 people - 1952 is the year the Queen came to the throne!
 And then home for a lazy afternoon here in my garden with the stream of visitors who popped in. It was a really lovely day.

The rainbow bunting went up because I couldn't work out what I was keeping it for, and the sun made me happy, and so do the bright colours. By the time the flowers all bloom, my garden will require sunglasses to be worn at all times, because the colours should be just as bright as the bunting.
 But right now we seem to be in a purple phase - the aquilegia, the alium (i - there are 2), the million bells, the bluebells, the start of the lobelia - shades of purple. It is pretty.

 So that was Sunday.

 On Monday I had a quiet day, and did a lot of pottering in the garden and watering the allotment in the morning, and then went out to lunch with my friend Liz. It was good to catch up over another delicious lunch at another garden centre, which we love.

It was another stunning day, so in the evening, Glynis, Peter and Jean came round for a BBQ. I have decided that that is the way to entertain, because all I need to do is cook the meat when the guests are here, it is all very relaxed and no-one expects me to wear shoes, and so what if the make up has melted and the hair has gone wild. Everything else - the salads etc can be prepared before they arrive, and that I can cope with, without a problem.
We had a combined effort and strung up the other rainbow bunting. I told you my garden would be bright!

This post seems to be all about how much I have eaten. Oh well. True!!

So that is what has occupied me for the past few days. I have been having fun. Today was a hard aquazumba day, and some sorting and organising, and then I started on the curtains for Missy's Cedar Cottage. And here I am.

I love having doors open and wandering in and out barefoot, you know. It is the South African in me. People here don't go barefoot. I prefer no shoes. My feet are FREE!! Sigh. I have not got a touch of the sun, I assure you. I just love being home and in my garden.

Right. It is now 10.30pm and time for me to go and sew buttons on the flowers I have crocheted for the all season tree. The summer change is just a week away. June, and the house changes again. The country, by the way, has decorated itself. Everywhere you go, it is red, white and blue, and flags are flying, shops decorated, houses, streets...... the nation is going to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee in style.


Time to put up the Patriotic Bunting in the front, I think............................

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Summer is here.....

 It is hot. Very hot. Yes, this is England. And we are melting. Half the young people I see around have sunburned shoulders, and clothing seems to be shrinking to a bare minimum. THAT kind of hot. And, because of water restrictions, paddling pools may not be filled or water slides set up etc etc etc. So the kitchen floor (tile) is a good option, if only it was a little softer. Bare feet rule.
 The garden is growing almost visibly. The beans sprang out of the soil and are over 4 inches high in just one day.{And now my space bar is misbehaving.} And the hanging baskets and the pots are filling out. Petunias are starting to bloom, and colour is creeping back into the garden at last. Rosebuds will open soon, and their perfume will fill the air. The padded summer cushions are on the loungers outside under the open sun umbrella, and it is almost too bright. Maybe I will put the bunting up tomorrow. I think I said that yesterday. It needs to go up when I can summon the energy.
The first rose to bloom was this little tea rose. It beat all the other big roses, quietly and hidden behind leaves, until I saw it and shifted the branches away. Well done, little rose.

This year - all the years, in fact, are going by so quickly. Everything my mother ever said about time flying is true, you know. And it flies faster as you get older. I was one of those teenagers who sighed dramatically and rolled the eyes and said "Yeah, right, Ma". I knew all the answers and my mother knew none back then. Of course. And now, I hear myself saying the same words I remember my Mum uttering - don't wish your life away, age is all in the mind and so on.

I look in the mirror and I wonder if what I see is real, or my imagination. Are those wrinkles? I stopped counting the grey hairs many years ago - they don't bother me at all. We see ourselves so differently to the way others see us, don't we? We sound different to the way we think we sound. Will my children remember the laughter and the smiles? Or will they remember the frowns? Will they remember the love? The fun? Or the difficult bits? There are always difficult bits in every life. Golden lives do not exist outside fairy tales, and actually, fairy tales were very gruesome, now I come to think about it. They taught good lessons. Ergo, golden lives do not exist. At all.

I think it depends on character, in a way. The positives remember the good. The negatives will remember the bad. I am a positive one, and I remember the good. I also remember the things which hurt, but not as a burden, as another lesson I learned along the way. Many many lessons. It is all about the pruning and the shaping of the character.

The kids don't see the wrinkles. Or at least I don't think they do. They see "Mum" "Mother darling", "Mommy", "MDS", "Mother". I go by many names. Moreglanny. Actually, it is more "MOREglanny" at the moment. I gather Missy's favourite colour is pink and her favourite number is 6. Well, that is what she told me emphatically yesterday.

Back to aging.....

It doesn't bother me. I am more than half way through my life, and there has been a lot packed into it so far. I wish sometimes that I could say that I have weathered the storms, and come out of those tempestuous seas and that now there is calm water ahead. It doesn't work quite like that. It would be nice though, wouldn't it?

Ah, musing. Time flies. Can we just slow it down a little? Please?

Friday, May 25, 2012

From a sunny spot in Middle England........

The sun continues to shine, the garden continues to grow and I continue to wilt.

However, the joys of not having to use the central heating in May far outweigh the inconvenience of having one's clothing adhere to one's body. We seem to go from one extreme to the other at speed here. And even after all that rain, people, the water restrictions remain. I know this because I checked. Here I am living in a First World Country, and as I was carrying a bucket of bathwater to the water butt this afternoon, while doing a dying swan impression, I suddenly started laughing at the thought that people all over the world - make that WOMEN all over the world - spend their entire day carrying water, and here I was doing the same.

 And I used to feel sorry for them.

I loathe these pigeons. They are always on my roof. 
Hah. Maybe in 50 years time, people will still be spending most of their days carrying water from A to B. A sobering thought.
The garden is growing.....
And then I watched some news from Greece. The human side of the modern day Greek Tragedy playing out right now. Families who can't afford power. Food. Medicine. Anything. And pharmacies have closed, gone out of business, or are on strike because the government has not paid them for the medicines they have dispensed for months. One emergency dispensary which was initially set up to help immigrants, now dispenses to mostly Greek people, and they have no inhalers. No insulin. A lot of empty shelves. It can only get worse. Hospitals now charge a 5 Euro fee when you arrive at the door. Many do not even have that. And this could spread through Europe - Spanish banks are not terribly healthy. Spain. Portugal. Italy. Ireland. Wobbly, the lot of them.

And we are officially in a double dip recession here. Oh joy of joys. Our deficit may be coming down, but growth is stagnating. (I seem to have become an economic analyst today.) We pay high taxes here. The top rate is 50% for people earning over £150,000  and 40% if you earn between £37,401 and £150,000. If you earn less than £34,400, you pay 20%. All rates apply after you deduct your personal allowance, and the normal allowance is £8,105. Add to that National Insurance (which funds state pensions, the NHS, unemployment benefit, and sickness and disability allowances) of roughly 12% and VAT of 20%  on all goods except food and books and children's clothing AND at least 70p of every £ of petrol costs being tax and heading straight to the treasury, you will see that we are being a little squeezed.

Like a boa constrictor.
The view of the blue skies from my chair under my apple tree....
Carrying water to the water butt instead of a) wasting it or b) having to pay for every litre used, seems a reasonable occupation. Water carrier. Hmmm. I may put that as my occupation on the next form I have to fill in. As I was lugging watering cans round the allotment to water my precious squash, courgettes and beans today, I suddenly thought a yoke would be useful. The shoulders could take the strain.

Are we heading backwards or forwards??????

The world is in a bit of a mess.
A little visitor at the allotment as I planted things. He liked the dug up soil, because worms were visible.
 Planting the vegetables on the allotment is what I did yesterday in the late afternoon. I sat happily on the carpet pieces Peter brought round for use on the allotment (which has better carpeting now than my house) and yanked out the weeds before I planted the butternut etc and I cannot tell you how hard the soil is, even though it had  been rotivated and rained on. And then I had to manufacture a rabbit-bird-slug proof system to make sure the plants lasted more than 24 hours. There was much muttering as I stuffed netting around everything and then tried to work out a way to stand up. While I dripped. I even had to resort to using the shirt I was wearing to mop the brow. Thank heaven for garden sheds. And the bench outside it.

I am thinking of making raised beds for next year down there. At the allotment. Maybe one a year. Then hopefully, we will eliminate the need to get down to ground level. And the soil will not be like concrete. Hmmm. I need to do some measuring. I could have the carpet between the raised beds. Brilliant, Linds.
A final note....... those of you who are around my age will remember floral leggings. They were high fashion back in the early 90s. I have several less than memorable photos of my legs clad in floral leggings, and on my trip to find a new bathing costume, LOOK AT WHAT I SAW!!!!!! Floral leggings are back. Just beware, young ones. The photos will come back to haunt you in 20 years. You have been warned.

And no, Diana, I did not buy any. I could send you some, though, if you want them??? I was around your age when I wore mine....................:-)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

And the rest of the weekend - the wedding........

I can't believe I am saying this, but it is too hot and humid to be outside today. Glynis and I went to aquazumba at the crack of dawn, and I thought I would get on rearranging the garden but I am dripping already in a highly undesirable fashion. Heat I can take. Humidity? No. 

So where was I?

The wedding. Right. So I rushed indoors and up the stairs to get changed. Thank heavens I had followed suggestions and had everything, down to the earrings ready to leap into. I sent a text to Ros to ask her to keep me a seat, and took off for the church. I had to park at Glynis's house, because this was a large wedding, and there were no parking spaces anywhere near. 

It was a lovely wedding. 

As I belted through the church door, I did see the bunting over the entrance, and it looked lovely. In fact, I gather it only came down yesterday. It was still up on Sunday and, as there was another wedding after Kat and Will's, they will have had it up too. It is nice it got a good airing!

Confetti time (rose petals) at the entrance. Under the bunting. See? It looked great. Such a relief.
But nothing compared to the relief I felt when I got to the reception and asked to go and see the marquee (and the bunting) before the guests went in there after aperitifs. It looked beautiful. The marquee looked stunning, and the tables were just lovely.
After the delicious wedding breakfast , everyone moved to the lounge/bar while the marquee was set up for the evening session, and more guests arrived, and there was a great deal of chatter and laughter there too - and a lot of recapping of the concert the night before, and then everyone moved back into the marquee for the dancing and the BBQ buffet. I tell you, the organisation was excellent, and the bride was so beautiful and so happy - as was the groom.
Half the tables were taken away, so the dance floor could be expanded, and just the simplest of decorations remained. See? The groom's Mum did the flowers with the help of her friends, and the table arrangements in the jugs were a triumph. I need to get some cream enamel jugs. Beautiful. And the bunting in the background looked lovely.

I can't tell you how happy I was to see it work well. It didn't matter how many people (who put it up) said it was good, I needed to see myself. Perfectionist. I know. It is a trial being me at times.

I didn't get to stay for the dancing. The first dance of the bride and groom was to a recording and I was lulled into a false sense of security. I completely forgot what loud music would do, so there I sat at a table with 10 of my friends, happily enjoying myself, and the band leader announced that the party was about to start. One drum roll and I levitated and shot out of there so fast doing my roadrunner impression with the stick. Wooden floor. Vibrations. Sound.  I tried the lounges, but the old stone walls of this Hall (stunning place - a little stately home) and high ceilings meant that the music followed me everywhere, so I ended up in the middle of the courtyard on the pebbles in the freezing cold. I thought I would get near the BBQ to warm up, but the caterers were all very busy there, and the music was still loud enough to be uncomfortable. Nicky came to find me and said they would all take turns coming out to be with me, risking hypothermia, but in the end, I sent them a message and left to come home.

I was very tired anyway, and I had been at the best part of the wedding celebration, and to be frank, I was asleep on the couch 15mins after crawling through the door. At 9pm. The staying power has left the premises.

It was a lovely,lovely wedding, and the bride's Mum was there, minus the leg brace at last, looking beautiful in her dove grey/blue outfit. I am so glad she (Sue) was well enough to be with her daughter, and really, she looked amazing, given that she had been so ill so recently. She showed incredible strength and determination, and was very sensible about resting too. Unlike other people who shall remain nameless.

So the weekend was just one celebration after another. On Sunday, I didn't surface until near noon, and Ros and Martyn dropped their son, Tom, here in the late afternoon, before heading for their flight back to Scotland. Tom spent the night before catching the train to Glasgow on Monday morning. Jean and I dropped him at the station, and then headed into town to get another bathing costume as mine was showing signs of imminent disintegration, which would not have been in the least bit amusing. And after that, we popped into a garden centre for coffee before coming home. Via a few other shops for essentials like chocolate at Lidl. Their dark chocolate is superb.

And since then, apart from going to aqua, I have been relaxing. Yes. Me. Linds. Relaxing. I have been sitting out in the garden till after 8 at night, just visualising what it will look like in a month's time, and thinking. This week has been declared a rest week. Ye Olde Leg has gone on strike. But, the patriotic ripple is finished at last - it is far too hot to crochet blankets in this weather, so I started on some little flowers for the summer decorations on the all year/4 season tree in my kitchen. Bright little flowers. Quick. Simple. Fun. And they keep me sitting down on the couch.

The relaxing time spent in the garden has led to my thoughts veering off in increasingly interesting directions, and I always forget to take pen and paper out with me to jot them down. Memo to Linds: Remember pen and paper. I keep thinking that I should write about this that or the next thing, and then I sit here and have forgotten the lot.

The temps seem set to stay in the mid 20s for the next 5 days, which is great. Hopefully the weather will be good for NEXT weekend, because that is Jubilee Weekend and Monday and Tuesday are holidays. The nation will be out having fun!

I am now off to inspect the water butts. And to find a bucket. We still have water restrictions here, but I am exempt. Irtonic really, because I neevr use the hosepipe anyway!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The weekend - the American choir.......

Good morning from a summery, hot Middle England! Yes, this is Linds here, reporting in, and I am finally awake and have sort of gathered my wits after a mega weekend. I have been trying to upload a bit of video, but Blogger keeps saying it is sorry, but there was an error. 


Oh what a wonderful weekend it was. The arrival of the coach carrying the Americans, and, more importantly, Becky, was late, so there was much pacing around the perimeter of the church with others looking for any sign of a slightly lost coach before it slowly inched up the road. There I was waving wildly, and Becky too, was waving. We just could not believe this was happening, you know. What started with 2 middle aged women writing blogs, and tentatively leaving comments 6 years ago has become a real friendship over the years. And then, over lunch last year with friends here in my little world, the idea of combining our community choir with their university choir was talked about. 

And we didn't let it drop. Our musical director, Jon was up for it, and so he and Barry got to know each other through emails back and forth and phone calls too, when Jon and Liz visited the States for Christmas.

And it all culminated in the arrival of that coach, bearing 43 of them. 

So you can see why Becky and I were just a little bit excited. 

I wanted to sing, but that was difficult, so I did the arranging of hosts for the choir with the man who does all the admin stuff for EBM, and by Friday afternoon, we had ironed out all the kinks and last minute hitches, and then they arrived. Becky and I flew to each other and among all the hugs, just could not believe they were really here. All of them. We didn't have a great deal of time before the performance at 7, so they were all taken to the church for a technical rehearsal, and then we dispatched them to their waiting hosts and hostesses  and off they went. 

And I brought Barry and Becky home with me, and we sat in my kitchen at the table, having tea and cake and chatted non-stop until it was time to change and head out to the church. The concert was a complete sell-out, and they were turning people away at the door. I had reserved a pew for us at the front, and also managed to work out a way to stand, half concealed behind a pillar on a kneeler to minimise the vibration. Nothing would have moved me, let me tell you. And I had the camera. 

The first item up was everyone, including the audience, singing "All people that on earth do dwell" you remember the second line??? "Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice". Yes. We did that. All of us. All people. From all places. Together. Singing. 

And then Musical Roots, a local folk band sang a couple of songs, before our choir, all 100+ of them moved forward and sang too.

Right across the front of the church, and also up the chancel as well. Many, many singers.
And then it was time for the Crusader Choir from North West Nazarene University, led by Barry - Becky's lovely husband. Well. I wish you could have been there to hear them. They were unbelievable. SO talented. SO amazing. And the sound was just glorious. The audience would not stop applauding after each number. AND they also sang an African song from South Africa, which reduced the South Africans in the audience to tears. Tshotsholoza. (Shosholoza)  Oh, wow. Superlatives? Use the lot. THAT good.
They also did their Monkees song after the local choir sang a Beatles medley. And the William Tell Overture? I will never know how they managed that one. The encore was even faster.
And then the massed choirs - all 140 odd of them - moved around the church. The front, the one side, 4 deep, the chancel......singers everywhere, and the young organist, who was just 18 doing a fabulous job on the organ....Jon on the high stand with baton raised....... and then the first perfect note of Zadok the was like a wall of sound rolling over everyone. Becky and I just looked at each other and did not know whether to laugh or cry. And even the coach driver joined in for Zadok. It turned out that he had sung it before, so Barry found him a waistcoat and shirt and there he was too, singing his heart out. (He was a head teacher who took early retirement!)
THIS happened because of us. Us. Two middle aged women reached out across the world, and 6 years down the track...THIS. Anything is possible. And the standing ovation at the end of the concert.....oh, how I wish you had all been there too. No-one wanted it to end.
But end it had to, and the church had to be stripped of all tech equipment, because the daughter of a friend of mine was getting married the next morning. So we all walked down through the church grounds to the hall for a fish and chip supper. The noise was wonderful. So much chatter. So much laughter. Everyone was on a high. And the getting to know each process was well under way.

My friends were all hosts - Jean, Peter and Glynis included, so eventually everyone made their way home for yet more chatter and bed. Well, some went to bed. Becky and I sat up till 1am chatting. Here she is, curled up on my couch. As she said, she had dreamt of curling up just there! And I could not have been more delighted.
Early the next morning, after breakfast (and more talking) we made our way down to the village centre, where the coach was waiting for them, and slowly, from all directions, the students and their hosts appeared (via the little sweet shop) to pack their luggage away and climb aboard and head off to London..
In the middle of all of this, a runaway car belonging to a shop owner, rolled down the hill and landed up in the shop where I have my nails done, so there were police cars racing about with sirens blaring. We like to provide a little excitement here. No-one was hurt, thankfully. A miracle.
And then we had to wave goodbye. It was just perfect. I only wish they could have stayed longer. We could have packed the church over and over again. They will simply have to come back. Next year would be good.

I didn't have time to think much, though, because as soon as they left, I had to get home to change for the wedding at 12. In the same church. I hurtled (my sort of hurtling) through the door at 11.15, shedding clothes as I went.......

But that is for tomorrow. Weddings. Bunting........

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My son is getting older......

So here we are. As ready as I will be for the American visitors tomorrow. I am so excited that they are coming! The choir is combining with our village choir tomorrow night in the church, and the concert will be amazing. I heard a bit of the rehearsal last night at the meeting for the hosts, and they sound great. I can't sing. I may have to vacate the premises if the vibrations get too bad, but I am hoping I can make it through the whole thing. I heard Jon, the musical director telling the organist to pull out the stops, so thought that would be an appropriate time to go home.

My friends are stars, as I have told you many times. Glynis came round yesterday and sorted the shower while I did the rest, and after doing the shopping today, and with a cinnamon cake in the oven as I speak, I have ticked all the boxes on the list. Time to relax and just enjoy my visitors for the very short time they will be here.

Helpfully, it has not rained for the past 2 days, so Jean's neighbour has managed to replace the roof on the shed at the allotment for me too. This has been particularly good, as the roof had an enormous hole in it so we were gathering water merrily in places we did not intend it to be. He is also putting up a gutter and pipe to a big barrel so we can collect rainwater in the right kind of place. I was down there after aquazumba today, and I was less than thrilled to see a zillion weeds in the carefully prepared beds awaiting all the stuff in my greenhouses. I put down some carpet strips to define the beds, and then sat down and started yanking the weeds out. I loathe weeding.

I hope I will be able to plant out the seedlings soon. The butternut and gem squash and the courgettes of many colours. Zucchini to you in the States. And the leeks and more French beans. The peas I planted, just like the ones I planted at home and the ones Jean planted are singularly unimpressive. I may have to try planting more, or starting them at least. I think it just hasn't been warm enough. The broad beans and spinach and lettuce are doing well at home. Now if I could just get out of winter clothes and into something less bulky, life would be great. I may even paint my toenails.

I can't believe how wildly my mind is producing words here. Completely unrelated. Hmmm. Toenails? Weeds? Showers?

More to the point........

Yesterday, my son celebrated his birthday. My oldest child is 35, and I am having a little trouble believing that it is 35 years since that little guy with gorgeous red hair and big blue eyes was born. Born to a novice Mum, who had to learn everything double quick, because his Daddy happened to be in Norway at the time. And what did I know about little boys? I only had one sister.  Norway. I want to visit Norway. It is on the list.

Anyway, back to my son. He survived my faltering attempts to get things right, and I look at him now, a father himself, and yet I still see the little boy with dead straight hair racing into pre-primary school barefoot,  the 8 year old on his BMX bike, the 11 year old in his full wetsuit and boogie board racing into the waves. The 13 year old with his skateboard which he customised himself, the judo, the tennis, the hockey, the rugby, the Guns and Roses (give me strength), the teenager with LOUD music blaring, the young man learning how to drive, going off to university, meeting the girl who was to become his wife......

I see it all when I look at him, you know, and so much more too. It - his whole life - is imprinted on my soul, just like it is for all my children. And he is now learning that he will be doing the same with his little daughter too - carving memories that will remain with him all his life. The special memories. I cherish every one of them. And you know, what really makes me grin is that I can remember far more about each of them than they can. There is always another story to tell of their childhood. Hah. Being a Mum has some perks.

 Please note the palace he put together for Missy, who decided to move in long before it was completed. And what did he want for his birthday present from his wife? An early gift of a new drill so he could assemble the palace as soon as he managed to squeeze it into the car at Costco and get it home for the princess.

He is definitely flavour of the month  in his daughter's eyes. His Mum thinks he is very special too.

I love you, Andrew. And I am very proud of you. Your Dad would have been very proud too. I know you had a happy birthday yesterday, and I am sure that there are many adventures, and a whole heap of joy ahead for you as you stride into the future.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It has been quite busy around here.....................

I can't believe it is 5pm already. I have no idea where the day has gone, and I do not have much to show for it either. Do you have days like that? Please tell me you do. I am on a quest to get this house tidy for my visitors on Friday. So far I have managed to vacuum the sewing room carpet. That filled the Dyson, so I had to empty it, then got side-tracked by a phone call and now it is 5pm. Gee, Linds. You are on a roll. One room vacuumed. I will have to supply dark glasses to my guests at this rate. At night.

Ah well....... the state of the house is not what is important. The welcome should do it, and they are oh so welcome. I am SO excited that they are coming!!

All that up there above I wrote yesterday. And guess what? It is after 5pm on Tuesday, and here I am.

 Today has been an active kind of day. I had to be up and dressed at the crack of dawn, because I needed to make an "on the day" appointment with the GP so it could have been at 8am. I was ready. In the event, it was mid-morning, so I started getting the cleaning stuff out. And Jean arrived to help. What a star she is. You know how you start one thing and then see something else? We have discussed this before. Well, Jean started on the bathroom, and I came down the stairs to get something vital - the coffee - that was what it was - and on the way up saw the state of the banisters, and the bathroom kind of got left to Jean. The MEGA star. I did the banister.

Meanwhile, Jean had noticed that my car had a flat tyre. Oh, joy of joys. I had £ signs flashing through the brain at this point, but she reminded me that I had breakdown cover with home start, so I called them and, bless his cotton socks, the AA man arrived within 45 minutes, and sorted the tyre. Jean had, by this time taken me to the doctor and brought me back and carried on with the bathroom. A saint, I tell you. You may get the general idea that the bathroom took a long time. It did. Not because I live in a squalor, but I can't walk along the edge of the bath anymore and clean the tiles up to the ceilings. Jean can. She is also older than me. It is not a good feeling.

Once the car was done, and the bathroom and the banister and the front door - I kept moving on to the next thing - we hopped in the car and went to Aquazumba for light amusement. By the time we came out, we were exhausted.


Onward and upward, as they say. We got into my car and headed off in the sleet/hail/howling gale/rain to the town nearby. We needed lunch, so popped into the supermarket and had a delicious lunch and did a little food shopping before heading off to get the tyre fixed or get a new one. Jean knows a wonderful old fashioned tyre specialist in the area, and he had it all sorted within the shortest of times, and it did not require a second mortgage after all.

And home again. More rain.hail/sleet/howling gales.

My poor, poor plants. The seedlings are being put through a marathon test here. If they survive, it may be a miracle. I have nowhere to put them under cover. Oh well. We will see what happens. But right now, the day's activities have caught up with me and I need to get supper on the go and collapse for the evening.

Pride goes for a loop, you know.

All the things I have needed help with today? I could do them all in a flash once. When I got my first car, a Mini, Arabella, my Dad taught me to change the tyres, dry the spark plugs, change a fan belt and top up the water and oil. And until today, I have never needed to call out someone to help me.

Pride? Trashed.

And asking for help to do things around the house - clean etc? I have never done that before. I had to, because I can't do it any more.

Pride? In the dust.

My friends don't see it like that. They are delighted to help and if I have not asked, they have offered. Glynis arrives tomorrow morning for phase 2. But I see it. And it does hurt, because I once did these things with ease. All the things which have gone. Wet grey days make things worse, of course, and I need to focus on the new things I CAN do, like the crocheting, the seedlings out there braving the storms....oh no, what if they all die??

Taking a deep breath.... I will plant more.

What did Annie sing about? The sun will come out.....tomorrow..........

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A second Mothers' Day for me......

Hello from a slightly sunny, slightly breezy, slightly cloudy Middle England. I have been sitting under my apple tree. Well, "sitting" is a word I am using loosely. I have been sitting, in between  getting up to move something, plant something, water something, weed something, rearrange something...... 
You get the picture. 
 What I should have been doing is resting. I went to church this morning, and I am not exaggerating when I say that it takes the energy of 2+ full days to survive an hour and a half. The music. The music is wonderful, and the singing is glorious. And me? Well. It is hard, people. But I love my church so I went. My choice. 
After the rains, the sun has made everything in my garden grow over night. I have net over most small plants to keep the birds and the squirrels out of the pots, and I keep having to raise it higher. No colour in the garden yet, but just you wait. I know what is growing there in the beds! 

I love this time of year. It is such a joy when I see another plant push its way through the earth. I know where the lilies are, and when they start coming through, the surprise part is how many more emerge each year. It must look totally weird - me staring at the soil wondering if I see a small speck of green. Ah well. I have fun. 
Speaking of fun, I hauled out the rainbow bunting and the Dremel and and the cup hooks and the little step ladder and managed to string it all up together. It looks so cheerful flapping in the wind. I took it down once I was happy that the cup hooks were in the right place. My measurements were off, so I will extend it around the drainpipe when it goes up for the summer. 

I think the neighbours must be scratching their heads wondering what has possessed me. They don't know (yet) that there is more, which can go across the patio to the tree if I feel moved to brighten up the neighbourhood. Not to mention the Patriotic Bunting as well. Hah!
Here you are - blue skies, and the lilac in bloom. Beautiful. I have also seen a few rosebuds on the rosebushes, so I have evidence that summer is not far away. 

It is Mothers'Day all around the globe except here today, and I have the added delight of having TWO Mothers' Day celebrations. It helps to have children scattered about the place! Diana sent me a beautiful card and some chocolate, which is a real delight, because the wheels nearly came off last night when my chocolate hunt through the house proved to be futile. I ate a biscuit (cookie) instead. 

Right now, there is still sun shining, so I am off to "sit" under the apple tree again with my coffee. Happy Mothers' Day to all of you, wherever you may be!!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pottering about is really good......

This is "Grubby Finger Nails" reporting in here. The rain has stopped - Hallelujah- and I have spent most of the day pottering about in the garden planting things, hence the grubby nails. I cannot plant or work with seedlings in gloves. I have tried. We have had a howling gale all day, so the hair took off for unknown parts and consequently, I look like the bride of Frankenstein, but I was in the garden. I was not wet. YES!!!!!

Do you remember the nest I found on my ladder down the side of the house? Well, I saw the bird flying back and forth, and went to see how the nest was growing. She now has a neighbour. I have a double-story bird condominium in my garden. See? The photo below - 2 nests. Ignore the ancient paddle ski, please. And the green stuff on it. It is just there. And it provides a windbreak for the birds in the nest, so I provide all amenities at my place.

 Now look a little closer............. Mama Bird is in residence, and totally unfazed by the camera. I have a suspicion that my ladder may need cleaning when the babies have hatched and departed.
 Jean decided to go to our nearest Ikea yesterday, so I hopped in the car and went with her. An adventure. The fields are so green after our non-stop rain and the rape-seed is all in flower, so the countryside is bright yellow and green. I tried to take photos from the moving car, but they are a little blurry.
 And here is Jean at the wheel. We drive on the other side of the road here. I am not hanging out of a window to take the photo.
 As usual, we went to the restaurant to have something to eat and more to the point, some coffee before we wandered around the place. It has been changed and things have moved, but it was great. I had no intention of buying anything, and of course I found a few little things. Like a new seat for the throne room. As I am about to have American guests, I decided that a toilet seat which swivelled around and made you fall off was not quite what they would be used to, so I got a new one. I can do toilet seats. I have replaced them more times than I care to remember.

And on to Costco because I wanted peanut butter and prawns. (And to have a good look at Missy's little cedar cottage which her Daddy constructed for her last weekend - it is too cute for words!) Such an eclectic shopping basket. And it was just so much fun to be out with a friend again.

When we got home, I tried to remove the old seat. But nothing would make it budge, so I called for help, and Simon, Jackie's husband popped round to sort it out. My fingers are just not strong enough. Sigh. That wasn't in the manual either - the fact that fingers would lose their power as one passed 50. Approached 60. Groan. I am just exceedingly thankful that I have friends who help me when I cant do something. And I didn't have to get out the hacksaw.
Simon. Fixing the new seat in place. I can cross that off the list at last.

 I can still do things. I unearthed another Ikea purchase from a few months back - this rail, and out came my Dremel, and I had it up in place really quickly this evening. I kept knocking the pot of pegs over, and then  I remembered the rail, measured it, and voila - there is room to hang my peg pot and also a basket for my gardening gloves and secateurs. Right at the door to the garden. Perfect.
Now if I could pluck up the courage to drill the holes into my tiles above my stove and hang up the other rail where I want it to go, it would be even more perfect. Tiles. Me. Drill. Hmmm. I know I need to use masking tape on the tiles and then drill through them, but i have visions of them cracking or of me hitting a wire. Excuses. I know. Maybe tomorrow.

I think the sun may shine here tomorrow. Wonderful. More grubby nails. I can't wait..............

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

How many posts can start with the word "Rain"? Again? And again.......

You know what I am going to say, don't you?? Yes. The rain. It never stops. The heating is back on again. In MAY.  And my seedlings are climbing out of their pots and I need to get them in the ground or in the planters and baskets because their roots are dangling. Dangling roots are not good.
For a few very brief moments, I considered shoving a golfing umbrella down the back of my jumper and beetling out into the grey wetness and lining up the baskets..... And then sanity returned. So here I am. When will the rain stop??? And then I read Vee's blog, and she talks of rain and more rain, and so help me, her rain becomes my rain a few days later and I am doomed. Or my seedlings are doomed.

I may yet resort to the golfing umbrella. Not that I play golf, of course. I just like big umbrellas which keep all of me dry. I like water. Just not on my clothes when I am in them.

You may have noticed that I am straying from the point frequently today.
 The patriotic ripple is growing bigger each evening, providing I manage to stay awake, that is.  When I finally get everything sorted in the house so I can fall asleep on the couch if necessary, and not have Stuff To Do when I wake up, I retreat to my couch. This is why I only get to the couch late, and then promptly fall asleep, if you see what I mean. If I sit down on it during the day, I will be out for the count, so I try to avoid it till all is done. I am getting quite fond of the patriotic ripple, however. It is growing on me. I would not normally be making one in red white and blue.
My lilac bush is trying very hard to flower completely, but the rain seems to be a problem for it too. 
So. Jean is back, thank the Good Lord. I have already spoken to her countless times about all the little vital necessities we need to talk about, and also popped in for coffee and to make sure she really was here. She is. And oh, has she got many tales to tell. I did mention the guest post again, so maybe it will sink in, once she has really caught up with herself. I think she is still on Kathmandu time at the moment.

I suppose you could say that the day has been frustrating in a sense, but only because of the weather and the growing need I feel to be outside. It would be altogether wonderful if I could pack away the winter garb and unearth something a little summery for a change. Or maybe I should focus my clothing efforts on a more extensive winter wardrobe next year. Mind you, having said that, I am going through bathing costumes at a rate of knots. The last time I invested in new bathing attire, I followed all advice and it has never seen the inside of a washing machine or tumble dryer, but has been gently hand washed and rinsed and hung out to dry. Hah. It is still disintegrating. Chlorine in the pool is good at hastening the demise of all costumes, it seems. I don't remember that happening 20 years ago.

Perhaps I need to sit down and compose a list of more erudite blog posts. We are scraping the barrel here at RCR at the moment.