Saturday, July 28, 2012

And so it begins......

I don't know about you out there, but I cannot cope with staying up till after 2am two nights in a week. Just call me your friendly zombie today. 

Oh, London, you outdid yourself at the opening ceremony. It was spectacular. Quirky. Humorous. Fun. Relaxed. And oh, so very British. 
Go, Team GB!!! 

You know, we British (and yes I am totally British by descent as well as by a piece of paper) are experts at poking fun at ourselves, as well as being very inclusive, and that was why the ceremony worked. Rowan Atkinson had me rolling about with laughter. The tissue.... 

Unlike the normal opening ceremonies, there were no stars really. (They could have left Sir Paul out to pasture somewhere far away. In fact, I may make the suggestion that all aged rock stars should retire gracefully and let the younger outstanding ones take the stage. Robby Williams would have been superb.)  
Just one huge party of ordinary people, including real doctors and nurses acting out the incredible history of Great Britain for an audience who may not be aware of the richness and depth of all those centuries on this small island. I live in the middle of all that history - the church in this village has a tower which is well over 1000 years old. Every town and village lost countless men during the wars fought around the globe. You should be here for the Remembrance Day service. Each year they read out the names of the fallen, and when you think of the size of the place, the names go on and on and on and on, and so many with the same name. Brothers, sons, fathers, cousins. All wiped out. 

So much more could have been added to the story last night. This is London welcoming the world with joy and celebration, saying this is who we are and where we come from, and you are all very welcome here. Good grief, it would have been really simple to get in the marching bands and soldiers and all the pomp and ceremony bits, but you saw all that in the Jubilee celebrations. This is a big year here in Britain. 

Did you know the internet was invented by a British man? There he was. "This is for everyone."
And the tribute by Jacques Rogge was well deserved. Modern sport owes a great deal to Britain, which was the first to include sport in education, and it is the British fair play ideal from way back when which was used to formulate the modern Olympics. I did not know any of this - fascinating. 
It was all about ordinary volunteers taking part and effectively being the stars of the night, and this was made even more real with the decision to pass the baton(s) to the coming generation to light the flame. Old to the new. And who needs stars anyway. Everyone mattered. Real construction workers who had built the Olympic Park lined the tunnel as Sir Steve ran in with the flame. 
The people carrying the country names wore dresses imprinted with faces of everyone who volunteered to work for the Olympics. Ordinary people. Like you and me. And those drummers kept up the beat for hours. I loved the fact that all shapes, sizes, colours, able and disabled, all ages - they all had a part to play. This is who we are here, you see. 
And that flame was absolutely superb. I had no idea what those horn thingies were - the ones being carried in as each country entered the stadium. Then they all fitted onto that immense flower which lifted its head as the flames spread. Symbolising all of us, all over the globe, coming together. 
Oh yes. You see, I have read a great many things written in the past 24 hours and some surprise me, and some amuse me. And some have me totally perplexed. Just as well I believe in the freedom of speech.

And so the games begin, and those smiles on everyone's faces last night - the pride of the athletes and the excitement and the joy - they are what matter. 

It was better than good. 

PS All the images are photos I took of the TV during the BBC broadcast last night.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Let the Games Begin!!!!!!

£9billion and 7 years of planning, building etc, and here we are. Today is the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics in London 2012. And it will be a triumph, I am sure. The torch made its way down the Thames this morning on the royal barge, Gloriana, rowed by oarsmen from many generations, and all that remains is for it to reach the stadium tonight and for the cauldron to be lit. Countless thousands have watched its procession through the highways and byways of the country (8000 miles) in all kinds of weather, and hopefully the sun will be shining this evening as the spectacle unfolds. It is still summer. The sun should be up late. Like most of the children of this land. And the billions watching around the world.

Welcome to Great Britain!

Welcome to London!

There is such excitement, especially for Team GB. And the whole thing is just making people smile. London is awash with visitors, and it is magical.

This morning, at 8.12am, bells rang throughout the land. Door bells, church bells, bicycle bells, phones, hand bells, school bells - even Big Ben, which last rang at an unusual time back in 1952 when the King died. I was outside as were many of my neighbours, joining in with any kind of bell we could find for 3 minutes. It made us laugh, and the laughter will, I hope, keep on throughout the next few weeks. The joy. The delight. The fun. The excitement. The celebration. The atmosphere is wonderful right now. I must go and pop my vase of flags in the window again. Hang on......

 Today is for celebration.  It is hot here in the village. More of the dripping kind of hot, and I am doing as little as possible after a fraught week of activity. The weather just made it harder to do the basics, but I will not complain about hot weather, after the months of dire wet stuff. Thank heavens for the pool at gym and the cool water to immerse myself in at times. Just wonderful.

On to other snippets......

I have found a mirror for the nook area, and I am going to find someone to put it up for me as soon as possible, because I can do anything to a brick wall, but those partition walls with plasterboard? Hah. I am clueless when I look at the fancy rawlplugs which I do not understand. Someone must just come and find the main beam thingy and screw in a hook for me. I think I know where it is but I need to be sure. I can just see the entire wall being ruined by a rash of holes in the wrong places. I do know my limits!
The garden is growing. Only one sunflower emerged from the pot this year and I did plant more seeds, but they have not done a thing. Those flowers above are remnants of last year's garden. I didn't have a clue what they were but they looked like flowers not weeds when I assessed the greenery in spring, so they stayed in the pot, and now they are blooming en masse and looking great. 

Now, a more mundane thing.

If I EVER mention that I am going to wash my sofa covers, stop me immediately and ask me if I have invested in a decent iron. I took one sofa's covers off and washed them and hung them on the airers to dry outside. It was like wrestling an anaconda to get them straight and pegged pleats sorted. And I did indeed iron them while damp. The iron I have is a disaster. I have had a series of really good irons which all bit the dust, and when the last one died, I spied the cheap (£5) one I got Diana for her student days and thought, okay, I will use that for now.

That was SEVEN YEARS AGO and it refuses to die. Which is excellent of course (says the frugal me) but a disaster if you try to iron anything heavier than a thin cotton. You can tell I don't do a great deal of ironing, can't you......

The sofa covers are heavy cotton, and I tried everything. I pressed harder. It was hot. I sprayed them. I tried ironing them wet. And at this point, because it was drippingly hot weather, I had a wet tea towel died around my head like a bandanna to stop the dripping. There was another one round my neck. You have NO IDEA, people. I looked like something the cat dragged in. And so did my ironed covers.

I only intended doing one of the couches, but when I saw the difference in colour, I had to do the other one too, and the footstool. It took 2 days. And nights. And they are in place. Creased, but clean. I am timing how long it takes for the creases to drop out, assuming they ever do, of course. So please make sure I have a good enough iron before I haul any more to the washing machine. Remind me. Yell, if you have to.


Life could be a great deal less complicated, I am sure.
This was taken last night - as the sun set. I just loved the golden sky. And now, on we go - the Opening Ceremony is just a few hours away and I think most of you will be watching too.

Let The Games Begin!!!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Did I mention that it was hot here? In England??

Midnight is approaching rapidly here, and if I tell you that I sat down at this computer for the first time today a short while ago, would you believe me? Me? Away from all Internet means all day? Yep. I even forgot my phone in my bag until a short while ago and then had to scroll through 25 emails and assorted messages and it is too late to answer any of them. But there is always tomorrow. 

I had things to do. And spent a great deal of time outside. Under the apple tree. 

Just look at that blue sky above my 10ft tall roses. Stunningly blue, and a real scorcher today. Incredibly hot and humid too, and if sweating buckets is a way to lose weight, I should be approaching Twiggy size any moment now. 

Maybe not. Yet. If only.

I was out of here early to have coffee in Nicky's garden to celebrate the sunshine. And to just enjoy her rooms in the garden. I love garden rooms, don't you? You know what I mean - special different areas in a garden. Like mine. Distinct sitting areas. I LOVE them. And Nicky's garden is probably the nearest to mine in size and style, and so it was lovely to sit, relax and chat with a friend a while. 

And then zap off to aquazumba. Oh, the water was cold and wonderful. To start with. 45 minutes later it was like a steam bath and we were red in the face and the sweating did not stop after that. A hot shower, and as I sat down in front of the mirror to do the hair and make-up, I looked at the red face, the sweat still trickling and thought, why on earth am I bothering? And left with hair dripping. The drips cooled me down a little, as did the free bottle of power drink I was handed as I reached the stairs. How nice. Ice cold. Perfect. 

I had to go and get petrol, and dripped my way through the supermarket at the same time, and then came home, still dripping. You do not want to know what happens to my hair when I just leave it, it is hot, and I forget to do anything to it all day. Oh heavens. You have NO idea. This sounds quite revolting, doesn't it. Well, it was hot. I was boiling. So was everyone else in England.  

So I decided that the mission for the day was to finish the breakfast nook. And clear away every tool I possess, which had found its way to the kitchen. Let me just say that I needed 4 arms and hands. Have you any idea how difficult it is to attach a 6 ft shelf onto a wall while balancing a spirit level on top of it by yourself? Hmmm. It took me 5 hours, which included frequent (every 10 minutes) stops to splash cold water on my face, mop up, sit under the apple tree, ponder the next move and get it done.

I had to cut grooves for the bench supports to fit against the shelf, which has an edging. That was simple, until I discovered the wall wasn't straight, but I sorted that. So the grooves were cut. The shelf attached to the supporting 2x2 piece of wood underneath it, which then had to screwed into the wall. It also had to be EXACTLY level with the top of the seat back. You try doing that by yourself. There was much muttering as the spirit level crashed to the ground and the shelf tilted at strategic moments. And many more visits to the apple tree (which provides some shade).

My lovely painted wall had some interesting pencil lines waving across it. Then I shoved the seat in place and triple checked and thought *** it, I am attaching it. So I did the first drilling bit into the wall, popped/hammered in the rawlplug and it was 2 mm out of place. Back to the seat under the apple tree. Another litre of water. More mopping. Back to the other drill to make a new hole in the support, a new hole in the wall and we were good to go. 

I cannot tell you how many times that shelf was on and off that wall before I was finally satisfied. All screws were finally drilled into the wall and it is level and in the right place. 

Enforced pacing, people. 10 minutes at a time was all I could manage. 

But it is done. So I packed away all the tools, and now have to either find somewhere to store the wood I have from the old study or take the lot to the tip. The second option is appealing more by the second. Now I need to go on a mission to the top of the deck and unearth the cushions I have for the seats. Maybe tomorrow. But I am seriously impressed with myself and SO glad the daily painting is over and it is done. And I like it, in all its whiteness. I need to get the mirror I want for the wall and sort out the photos and a lampshade and I feel a sudden trip to Ikea coming on in the very near future, like tomorrow. Maybe they have air conditioning. I could go and sit under a fan for a while. 

And now I want to show you the most ridiculous strange lily in the universe. Lilies have these dangling pods when they are waiting to bloom. They are usually greenish - looking like they are about to burst open. But I have a lily in the top part of my garden and it was getting more yellow by the day, not opening, and I thought the pod was dead. I looked at it in the morning and sighed dramatically, because a few things are dying in my garden and I have NO idea why.
 See? Poor lily. 

Or so I thought. I turned my back on it, and so help me, minutes after I had bemoaned its fate, it did this.....

It shot open and the petals curved right back on themselves. I mean - have you ever seen anything so weird? It looks like a loose lily. As in a loose woman baring all to the world. There it is, completely undressed if you know what I mean. It is hysterical. 

 Pop, pop, pop. Three of them so far, and the rest will no doubt follow suit. It doesn't look anything like a proper lily. But it amuses me. There is blooming, and then there is blooming. This is not the normal way. 

What? You want to see the breakfast nook which will probably be used for everything except breakfast, I suspect??

Okay, here we go.............
 It is very white, but you wait until I do the decorating or "dressing" of the room. And find a lampshade. Etc etc etc. I do have table cloths too, but I am keeping the table bare for a few days to make sure it is totally dry. 
 The cushions will make such a difference, but LOOK AT THAT SHELF WHERE THE EMPTY PHOTO FRAME IS!!!!!!  Click on it to enlarge it. 

{{And she bows, as the applause thunders through the internettywaves.}}  
It has been a hot day, and glory be, I even managed to fit the vacuum cleaner in the newly organised tool cupboard. As I dripped. The dripping only stopped a short while ago. So I am now off to wallow in the bath and read my book. Well, maybe a chapter.......

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Another beautiful day.....

Today has been gloriously sunny and hot, but not humid. Perfect weather, in other words. 
 So, after aqua(robics) this morning, I was out in the garden, and when my friend, Jenny popped round for a visit, we sat out there under the apple tree. Also perfect.

This is summer.

Jean and I went down to the allotment in the late afternoon to do some essential weeding - by then, my allotment is shaded, and even then it was sweat dripping from the brow kind of work. Weeds. I hate weeds. And weeding.
 And then we came home here and I did a BBQ of marinated pork steaks and a few sausages. I managed to cremate the sausages, which is NOT normal for me. I love BBQing and I don't usually cremate things. Oh well. I am out of practice. But there may be more BBQs this week. The lettuce and spinach in the garden are reaching the table daily now. The tomatoes and beans and peas are starting to form on the bushes, and the potatoes are wonderful. I have rhubarb and I have the first broadbeans ready to cook tomorrow.

There may well be a bean glut this year. Not to mention the tomato glut which is a certainty. 23 bushes/trees make that a certainty.
If the sun keeps shining, I may just be popping in here for short visits - I just have to be outside as much as possible. It is such a delight. Even if I do get eaten by something which causes really alarming swelling. My arm is not looking great, but the chemist suggests an anti-histamine tablet, so I am trying that. Just add it to the bottom of the very long list of meds I manage. 

Tomorrow, I am having tea with a friend who has just sent us all a text saying that we need to celebrate the sunshine! Oh yes, we do. So she is having an open house in the morning. I will have to leave for the aquazumba class, but that is fine. 

Sigh. It is already tomorrow. I need to head for bed. I hope the sun is shining on all of you as well. (Or that rain is falling, if that is what you are praying for, of course.)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A strange bright ball is in the sky.......


Don't pass out at the thought, people. The doors are open and the washing is drying as I speak and another load is nearly ready to go out too.  It is the small things which delight. What bliss to have open windows and doors. Forget the weeding which is at a critical point, and the fact that I will have to water later ....shock horror - a watering can with water in it?? In England? In summer? Who would have thought.......
I was up early this morning to sort the washing, and then do a coat of paint on the table top, and then zapped off to Jean's to bake all the cakes for coffee after church tomorrow. It is our turn for coffee duty. These turns seem to come round rather quickly. Anyway, we got all the cupcakes made and iced and Jean did her cheesy straws and some almond cakes as well and we were patting ourselves on the back for great organisational skills when I realised that the washing was still sitting in the machine. Wet. And not outside drying. Oh well. It will be hotter tomorrow, so there is no need to panic. 

The allotment needs some serious attention too, so after church we are thinking of going down there to try and rediscover the vegetables. From under the weeds. At least the ground will not be too dry to yank them out. Memo to self: remember to collect empty soil bags to drop at a friend for goat manure. 
 Since I started this post, I have had a cup of coffee and done some weeding outside. Buttercups are the bane of my life at the moment. They seem to spread overnight. I also managed to remove a flying bug which landed in my hair and gave me the screaming heebiejeebies. And now I can feel a whole colony of (imaginary) buglets crawling in my hair. Isn't the imagination a powerful thing? {{Shudder}}

The news yesterday of the cinema shooting in Colorado took over our news channels completely. So appalling, and so seemingly pointless. The mind has to wonder why? Why? What possesses people to suddenly do something like this? And my heart aches for those who lost loved ones. Such wanton destruction of lives, families, dreams. Guns....I loathe them. The sooner they are removed from the hands of the general populace globally, the better. 

Growing up in a country where people carried guns was enough to scare the living daylights out of me. My father was once walking down the main street in central Cape Town at lunch time, and someone yelled "Stop Thief!!" at a bag snatcher. Dad said every single person around drew their gun and it was absolutely terrifying - the potential for disaster. "Shoot now and ask later" kind of mentality. I cannot begin to tell you how I hate it. Life is precious. And how on earth can someone order 6,000 rounds of ammunition??? Warning bells? Potential catastrophe? Why would anyone legitimately need 6,000 rounds of ammunition? I do not care if it is a historical right. It is a 2012 wrong. Just ask the families of the people who died yesterday. And countless others. 

Well, that may have put the cat among the pigeons, but this is my place and my thoughts and feelings and those who know me in real life will be quite unsurprised that I have voiced An Opinion. I am not known for my silence when opinions need voicing. 
And now I am off to skype with my granddaughter. I hope your weekend is warm and sunny too!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Why one should remember one's keys and other assorted bits.....

So we are back to the ordinary stuff today - the painting and the chaos and the rain and the full wash baskets, and the story of the keys.
But first let me just say a few things I should have said in yesterday's post. I understand, people. I know that there are some relationships which are just different, can't work, broken, destructive, damaging and downright appalling. Some mothers who never actually understood what being a mother was all about. Some daughters who never had a chance to treasure their mothers. And some daughters who, despite the love of their mother, just walked away. And I feel such sorrow that I can't fix things for those of you in the middle of them, hurting so badly, or just wishing things could have been different. I want to morph into a Mum to love you all. Broken hearts I can't fix.

Just know that I see you all. I understand and I love you for telling me about the pain.

When I wrote the post, I was talking about how I felt, how I reacted to one post. I should have acknowledged that there were some relationships which could never work. So I apologise for that.

I really need that magic wand at times.....................

So here I am in my painting clothes again. I got up early and seriously hoped that it was warm enough to wear the Tshirt and trousers which I have managed to get paint all over. Sigh. I back into things. Brush against things. Lean on things. Wet paint things. So now I have the official garb and it is COLD. The high for today is 13C. Ridiculous. I must go and get out of them now that I have managed the 2nd coat of paint on the upside down nook. And the step stool I have had for 3 years and never got around to painting. It is also pristine white. Well, with a hand print on the leg but we won't go into that.
The house is a tip. There are pieces of wood everywhere. And then, to top it all, I saw an idea on Pinterest and had to try it. Spray paint old tins. I have old tins. So I dutifully cleaned and lightly sanded the Quality Street tin, and sprayed it. Once. Twice. Three times. 

It is in the bin.
At least I had the red spray paint here already.

Epic fail.

But I tried. I wish it had worked.

Then I got out the piece of wood I had for the little shelf behind the corner bench and the trim to give it an edge. I knew there was a reason why I hadn't glued it together yet, but couldn't think what it was, so I glued it together and clamped it anyway. And at the VERY moment that it reached the setting point to resist explosion, I remembered that I needed to cut the trim to go around the 2 back uprights on the bench. So now I have to cut it glued. And chisel the edge off. Screech.
But I gave it the first coat of paint anyway. So that is balanced across 2 chairs in the kitchen as well.  My kitchen looks like a workshop. And the floors....... groan. Anyway, as you can see, I have not been lolling about eating bonbons. It is too cold to loll about. And there are no bonbons or anything closely approximating a bonbon in the house. But there is hope on the horizon, because they keep telling us that the wretched jet stream is starting to move north and away from us and that summer will follow swiftly behind it. I have yet to see any evidence of this. Hope is a wonderful thing. I tell you, the day I put my sunshade out in the garden, with its cover on, anticipating sun, it started raining and has not stopped. Since March.

Yesterday, Jean and I went to aquazumba at dawn. They are getting really fussy now - we have a roll call because people book and never arrive, the waiting list grows and there is no time to contact waiting list people 5 mins before the class. We are good. We book and go. So, because Jean was off on a Holiday Club for Older People thing run by our church - like a play scheme for grown ups where you get to try out different things - painting, knitting, table tennis - a whole host of things - she dropped me home and roared off down the road. She was teaching the knitting bit. And would be there all day.

Back to the roaring down the road. Normally we chat a while and she waits until I get into the house, or comes in for coffee, but yesterday she left at speed. And my house/car /kingdom keys were still in her car. I waved my stick in the air, but she didn't see me. It was raining. I called her mobile but she didn't answer. 3 times. (It turns out it was on silent for the day). And then sat on the doorstep wondering what to do. I knew Peter was at work, and Glynis can't drive yet, but I called her anyway and as luck had it, he was working from home so came to my rescue and left me his key. So I could get into the house at least and lock the door. I had a hair appointment in the afternoon and thankfully, the rain held off, and I walked there and home again, but so help me, if I ever win the lotto, I will buy 28 benches and position them all over the village on the paths I use if I have to walk there. There is nowhere to rest.

And now I sound like my mother, because she is right, the paths slope and that makes walking extremely awkward. I keep veering into people's hedges, and look slightly intoxicated, no doubt.

But it added a little colour and excitement to the grey wet and miserable day.

 AND can you believe, for the very first time in my life, I bought some hair spray. Me. My mother and sister have used it forever. Me? Never. But I have, after 58 years, been alerted to its essential-ness (I just made that up but it sounds exactly as I wanted it to sound).

I am A New Woman.

Well, I would be, if I got out of the painting clothes, put on ordinary clothes, make-up, had a cup of coffee and some lunch and actually sorted out my hair.

 Just don't tell me all of you have been using it all your lives please.........

Thursday, July 19, 2012

In defence of mothers,or things mothers wish their grown children knew about them......

8 simple rules. 


I read a post a few nights ago about rules for mothers visiting their adult daughters and it got me into a total rage, let me tell you. Then despair. Then fury. Then sadness. Then annoyance. Then amusement. Then anger. Then sympathy. Then sorrow. Then......


It got me thinking a great deal.

Is thinking good? Perhaps. But maybe I just didn't need to read it when I did, because even though there were certainly some valid points in it,  I heard it as a mother, and also as a daughter, and the whole thing nearly caused me to explode all over the place, which would not have been pretty at all . I wondered for a moment if I even wanted to carry on writing here and reading blogs, and it is rare that that thought has even crossed my mind. Maybe I need to start giving talks on the subject at all conferences attended by young do-it-all women. I just want to yell STOP! Think. Listen.

Anyway, out of that cauldron of fire came this. And I have worked on it for many hours. Days. Thinking. Deleting. Adding. Deleting. And waiting. Waiting to see if I care enough to post it. You see, it wasn't so much all of the content, but the feeling it all evoked in me on behalf of mothers and mothers-in-law everywhere.

The world does not revolve around any of us. Not me or all the other Mums out there. And neither does it revolve around our children, grown or not.

8 Simple Rules.......

So I could come up with my own rules  too, if I cared to do so. How about  - "8 Simple Rules for Adult Children When "Hosting" Their Mothers " or "8 Simple Rules for Adult Children When Visiting Their Mothers". Or a variation of the above. Or 12. But there is a certain arrogance attached to rule making, and arrogance could be seen to be the prerogative of the young. Come to think of it, my father used to bemoan the arrogance of youth when I was a teenager........

So this post is, I suppose, written with younger women in mind. And in no way , shape or form am I referring to my own amazing kids as I write. Little angels, all of them. Of course. It is just my gut reaction to what I read. So A, A, D and D, bear that in mind if you are reading, please. Let there be no misunderstanding here.

I am not going to dwell on the content much or the comments or likes or shares on Facebook because that just stirs up the rage again, and we do not want to go there, so I will be chanting "Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm" as I write and trying to go to a calm, peaceful place inside my head so I can be all sweetness and light with the words and not the irate mother or mother-in-law I want to be at this very precise exact moment. Said through gritted teeth while hammering at the keys with excessive force. The Ommmmmmmm is not working too well, it seems.

Oh get on with it, girl, this is the longest preamble in history......


I have been a mother for 35+ years. Add in the 9 months of pregnancy (which counts in my book) and we will be reaching nearly 36 years. In other words, I have a little experience in the realms of being a parent to adult children. They still talk to me. I have also been a mother-in-law for the past 9 years. And my daughter-in-law still talks to me. Go me.

The first thing I want to say is that motherhood lasts a lifetime. Not 18 years. There is no "stop" button. Nor is there any rule anywhere which says that a woman has outlived her purpose once her children reach adulthood. Anyone thinking that the love, the worry, the concern, the fascination, the interest, switches off as the child departs for college/uni/a new job/marriage etc etc is deluding themselves. Expecting your mother to not show any interest in your frantically busy and complicated lives is unrealistic. She invested 18+ years in you before you left home, and no doubt nurtured your dreams and talents to get you to the place where you are today. Remember that. Just because you are grown up does not mean you no longer need a mother in your life. Or that she should stop wanting to be a Mum. And heaven knows, she may well have exciting things of her own to do, but that doesn't stop the "being a mother" bit at all. Look at your little ones now. Today. This minute. Go on. LOOK at them. Can you begin to imagine not having them front and centre of your life in a few years time? Can you foresee a time when they may not want you around? Or that you may not want to be around them? See? The way you feel for your child is the way your mother feels about you. Still. After all the years. I rest my case. 

The second thing I want to say is that mothers are human too. They also get to make mistakes. They can be fallible. Just because they are your mothers does not mean that you have to expect perfection from them all the time, because, HELLO, there is no such thing as perfection. Pedestals are uncomfortable and mothers never asked to be perched on one. Comfortable armchairs in a coffee shop are a much better idea. Mothers tend to blossom in these places. Find a way to deal with any niggles. Talk. Listen. And say you are sorry, if it is necessary. I am hoping your mother will do the same, because she TAUGHT you to say sorry, didn't she?? Apologies from all ages are sometimes difficult. Cake makes it easier. 

The third thing I want to say is this - you will never have a more staunch ally, friend or someone who accepts you with all your lunatic ideas quirkiness than your mother. So remember this. No points to score, just total love. When the chips are down, mothers will move heaven and earth to support, help, rescue and babysit your house while waiting for the new washing machine to be delivered, having driven halfway across the country to do so. And I will discuss babies in a minute. The tiger in the mother never goes away.

The fourth thing I want to say is that you don't have to like everything they may so or do. They taught you that you will always be loved, even though the things that you say or do may not always be liked. Hopefully, they managed to raise intelligent, articulate, independent adults with opinions of their own. Individuals. If they wanted to raise clones of themselves, I have no doubt that, with the superior powers mothers are endowed with, they could have done that. Had they chosen to. Think Dolly, the Sheep. Clearly 99.9% prefer not to do this. How incredibly boring the world would be if we all replicated each generation. Differences add interest and colour to life. Oh and this - they still don't have to like everything you say and do.

The fifth thing I want to mention here is this - RESPECT. What I am hearing and reading seems to be lacking in this totally. No matter what, you respect your mother. Treat her with respect. Show concern for HER life and HER dreams and HER interests. SEE her. She too is a woman with all the added experience of surviving raising you. Those times may well have been torrid at best and rollercoaster-like to the extreme. You have a way to go before you get to sew on all the badges. It takes a lifetime to earn them. Your mother knows this.

The sixth thing I want to talk about is this - family. Family is a group of people all linked by blood or love. Practice your own deep breathing if you have to, but your family "goes" with you, wherever you may go. And one day, when you are old and greying like me, you will realise just how important they have always been, how unimportant all the other stuff was, and you will know just why I am writing this. Friends come and go, you know. Your family stays right there at the centre of your lives. Forever. If not, then YOU are the loser more than you realise. And what happened to asking her to help with the dusting or washing up or coffee making? She would be delighted and believe me, in 99% of cases would never be judgemental about it at all. Being useful is something human beings enjoy.  Being useful is being needed. And this could be a win/win way to settle any hackles you may feel rising. I have a policy around here of pointing to the cleaning stuff should anyone see fit to remark on my less than stellar housekeeping talents.

The seventh things is that your mother is probably a Granny. And being a Granny is one of the most wonderful things on earth, because, Hallelujah, you can give them back and go home when you have run out of breath and/or energy. And you can also love and cuddle and spoil and indulge. Remember your Granny? How much did you love the time you spent with her??? Who has the time and endless patience other than Grannies? And who picks up the baton and races to the rescue if babysitting is necessary??? Grannies do. So what if they spoil your little darlings. They are quite entitled to do so. It is in the Granny charter. And so what if they relate all your misdeeds to your little darlings - it is called sweet revenge. And who better to have with you at every.single.recital, ballet display, exhibition, rugby match etc etc etc than a grandparent who has eyes only for the extraordinary superpowers talents of your offspring??? Cherish the Granny who is also your Mom, girls. She will also be the one who knows just what to do in emergencies, because yes, she did finally manage to potty train you, against all odds and after countless nights of thinking she was a failure at this mothering lark. She no doubt sat in A&E with you, catching the dripping blood and/or tears once upon a time. She also probably knows the Heimlich manoeuvre. This is very useful.

The eighth thing is this - "hosting"????? WHAT??? You "host" your mother??? What in the name of all that is holy are you talking about? You host total strangers. Not your mother. Appointments??? You make appointments with your mother to visit?? What?? In my world, the sentence "Mum came round to tea" is more like it. Or "Mum popped in". Host? See # 6 and #7 above. Mother. Family. Granny. Words fail me. I know many women who would give their eye teeth to have their Mum pop in just once more so they could talk to them or have a hug. They can't because their mothers are no longer around. I have one friend, who, when she was diagnosed with cancer, came flying in my door to see MY mother, because she needed a Mum to hold her while she wept. My mother is available to be shared at any time.

Do I speak from any experience? Why, yes. How wonderful you thought to ask me that. I am both a mother and a daughter. Just right there in the middle. I have vast experience. My mother has lived with me or my sister since 1997. That would be 15 years this November. Good grief. During that time, we have lost not only my father, but my husband as well. And at the time she arrived, my children were 20, 16 and 8. And all 3 of them - 4 including my lovely daughter-in-law - can be found sprawled on her bed or on the couch chatting to her at any time. They all love their Granny. Missy loves her Gateganny. My sister and I would not change a single thing. Of course there are times when we all need to be in our own space, tempers get frayed and there may be some yelling involved, but we work around it, and while there is breath left in us, our mother will be looked after and loved. Respected and at the very centre of this family. She is 86 now and absolutely amazing. Extended families can be a huge blessing. Isolation - not so much.

By the very virtue of the fact that she is your mother, she will be a great deal older than you and time passes very swiftly, you know. I won't be here forever. Neither will my mother. And neither will yours. Just remember that, because regrets at the end of life are horrible things. 

So here is the final part of what I want to say........ ask yourself what YOU do when you go and visit your mother. Is it a joy? Is it a "duty" visit? Do you sigh and think about all the "you" things which you would rather be doing? The size of your in-box, the chores, the shopping, the gym, the lawn which needs mowing, another more appealing invitation? Or do you go because you want to spend time with her? Is it only when it is convenient to YOU? Do you only visit her as a family unit, or do you visit alone at times, or arrange outings for just the 2 of you? Do you visit because you want to visit her? Or is it because you wonder if she misses you? Do you miss her at all? And what do you do when you walk in the door? Do you criticise her piles of stuff? Do you wonder if she ever dusts? Do you shake your head at her decor? Do you listen to what she is saying? Do you see her as a person who has spent your lifetime loving you? Do you know anything about who she is? Her dreams? Do you show respect for her decisions or choices? Her food and the way she cooks? Do you stop and think how long she may have been preparing for your visit? The excitement and delight it may have given her? Do you think to ask if there are chores you could help her with? Does she feel able to ask you for any help she may need? Does she know how much you love her?

Just think a little.

Life is never going to be perfect. Friends will let you down. Mums? Not if they can help it.

Oh - and one last thing before I implode and actually do what I nearly did last night in the midst of all the rage and sadness and amusement etc etc, and stop reading  or writing at all - there is a good chance that your mother may blog, tweet, be active on Facebook and quite at home with social media. She may have highlights, go to the gym, wear jeans and drive zooty cars while listening to loud music. She may even be fun to be with. Forget the little old lady image. That is over and done with. This is 2012. She could be planning adventures. She may go sky-diving, or on a trek through the Amazon. She may have friends of all ages all over the world. Who knows, she may even see the Internet and this weird and quirky blogging world as a vital and life enhancing part of her day. Her life.

She may also know a great deal more about life than you could even begin to realise. Mothers can be very interesting people.

And God knows, she will have plenty to say on every subject under the sun.

Just ask my kids..............

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The ordinary......

Something has been on my mind for a while now. I read an article somewhere about the subject, and it won't get out of my head. And the days go by and I smile, because yes, you see, I know - KNOW that there is beauty in ordinariness. The ordinary. If you look around you, and if your eyes are looking in the right manner.

That doesn't make sense to you? Hang on a sec and I will try to explain.

I am an ordinary woman. Nothing extra-ordinary about me, and for a long time, I felt inadequate. Maybe even a failure. I looked at my life through the eyes of a stranger and asked myself - what has she done with her life? What has she achieved? And I looked again at my children and wondered if I had done enough, pushed enough,. loved enough, and then I stopped. No particular eureka moment, but I just stopped doing all these things. Who said that you had to be a star to be happy? Leading an ordinary, unremarkable life? And just who is sitting in judgement of my life (apart from me and God, that is) and do their opinions really matter? And I mulled over the ordinariness. Not drabness. Not misery. Not greyness. Not badness. Just the ordinariness.

I was born, I grew up, I made choices, decisions, and I fell in love, got married, had 3 children and devoted my life to raising them and making a home.

No corner office, no international/national accolades. Nothing out of the ordinary.

And you know, I was happy. Am happy.

And if you look around you, we are surrounded by the ordinary men and women who are living out their lives next door. And it is good.

But I was born into the Baby Boomer generation, where we were led to believe that we could have everything, be everything, do anything and higher, brighter, better, .....we would all soar, be trailblazers and stars.

We raised our children to be even better. We celebrated the awards, the achievements. We applauded the stars, and then watched as they measured their lives by the standards we had dreamt of. Impossible standards. Ask any woman who once believed if she could be the best wife, the best lawyer/doctor/whatever, the best daughter, the best friend, and the best mother -  if it was possible.

No. It wasn't possible. It could never be possible because to dream of perfection in this world  is to follow an impossible dream, with failure in your own eyes, by those impossible standards, the only possible result.

Everyone makes choices which are best for them. Or tries to.

And we all make mistakes.

But you can't mess with lives which are not your own. Our children have a right to grow up celebrated for who they are. Even if they are ordinary, average, wonderful kids.

I have long wondered at the wisdom of making entry to medical school the preserve of the straight A student, who finds exams easy to pass. And I have long held the opinion that these brilliant students would all make amazing specialists, consultants, seekers of new horizons. They were born to be stars in their fields.

However, I do not want one of them looking after me.

No. I want the kind of doctor who has a primary interest in people. Perhaps not a genius, but well trained, worked hard, and is content to be a GP and watch over his or her flock, getting to know and love them. (And despair too.) The ordinary doctor. But there is no place for B grade students - who are still a great deal brighter than most of the general populace, in medical schools any more, and that is an international tragedy.

People are not commodities, or numbers, and I cannot forget the fact that when I asked how Geoff was doing in the local hospital one day just before he died, and the charge nurse/pilot/captain of the Spaceship Heart Ward looked blank and turned from her computers/control panel to her staff/crew and asked - who is Geoff? And one replied - oh, he is the AVR in Bed 1.

No. He was a man with a wife and children, family and friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

We need the ordinary, you see. And raising our children to believe that ordinary =  failure is a horrible, horrible mistake.

There is beauty in the mother walking her children to school. There is beauty in the long queues in the supermarket....people buying food to prepare for their families. There is beauty in the man walking his dog across a field. There is beauty in the children swinging on the swings. There is beauty on the commuter train carrying countless people to their ordinary jobs. There is beauty watching the man digging up his potatoes on his allotment. There is beauty in pruning your roses. There is beauty in the act of decorating your home. There is beauty in the sigh, as you look at the red shoes and decide that saving the money to pay for something for your son is better. There is beauty in old hands lifting the wool to the crochet hook to make blankets for the homeless. There is beauty in the dirt under my nails. There is beauty as you bake a cake. There is beauty in the words spilling over pages. There is beauty in the planning of weekly menus. There is beauty in reading stories to little ones curled up on your lap. There is beauty in the ring of the phone. There is beauty in scraped knees and faint bruises after an afternoon of adventure in the garden. There is beauty in watching a flower slowly open over days...weeks. There is beauty in taking time to sit and really look around you.

So much beauty. So much of the ordinary world we live in which is truly extra-ordinary.

Our parents were raised to be good people. To do their best, get a steady job and obey the 10 commandments, and to be kind and upright citizens. And they did. They were exactly that. And happy too. In general, they were glad of good jobs, and security after living through a World War, which tended to focus everyone's attention on what was really important in life. People. Family. Home.

I think we lost this somewhere along the way.

They wanted to give their children everything, after years of austerity and rationing. And then their children, me, well, we sort of got caught up in the accelerated times of change of the 60's and 70's and whoops, here I am in 2012, and if I had any words of advice to my 20 year old self, I would say take care of the important, and do not believe in the impossible dreams of having it all and being a star.

Because if you do, you will never be satisfied with the ordinary, and 99.9% of the world's population is just that. Ordinary. .

And you will miss the secret of living a wonderful life. A good life.

Our parents were not so wrong after all.

You see, one of the most beautiful moments of my life was holding my own newborn children. Well, 3 of the most beautiful moments. And in that moment, this ordinary woman, did the extra-ordinary and changed from a woman into a mother, and with that tag came a box stuffed all the 40,348,723,562,820 other hats I would wear over the years. Happily. Willingly. Without a thought. Just as millions of mothers do every single day.

I am not saying that we should not teach our children to do their best, try to win, do better than they thought they could. Of course not. And who knows, there may another Usain Bolt out there with a dream of running faster than anyone in the world. My own father was in the chase to be the first man to break the 4 minute mile. He was a superstar athlete, but he wasn't Roger Bannister.

 No. What I am saying is to certainly help our budding stars to chase their dream but, and this is a HUGE BUT, remember that for every one Usain Bolt, there are billions of other kids who could not possibly reach those heights. Children destined to be ordinary GOOD people, living ordinary BEAUTIFUL lives. They are not failures. They could be and do anything. The nurse washing an elderly patient is not a failure as she gently towels him or her dry. Mother Teresa was not a failure, and she saw beauty in the dirt poor ordinary. That teacher you still remember 50 years after sitting in her class? She was ordinary, but she managed to inspire a room full of young minds. She was beautiful too, only no-one realised that at the time.

We don't need fancy titles or the latest gadget. We don't need corner offices and fame and fortune. We don't need stuff to have a wonderful, beautiful life, do we. Neither do our children. We can live ordinary, unremarkable, beautiful lives and know great and lasting happiness.

Soon the time will be upon us when we think of the annual Christmas letter to all and sundry. Well. I stopped them years ago. I rather think that the one announcing the fact that Geoff had died was a good way to cease and desist. I have always grinned as they start rolling in, and wondered what lay behind all the stellar achievements listed. Crazy stuff. And in no way a reflection of a year of real living. So, if I ever write another one, it will be one of ordinariness to the recipient, but to me, it would be a reflection of a beautiful passage of time.

Good grief. I do carry on endlessly, don't I. Be thankful that I am ending this now, because I could go on for a great deal longer, and I am also in a slight "rage" about something I read yesterday which needs some thought.

Just remember that there is such beauty in the ordinary every day lives we lead - and be thankful for that beauty - it breeds happiness and contentment in our hearts.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

So I went back to Bath again......

A few little notes before I start chatting.....

  • The river past our gym is possibly going to flood tonight or tomorrow and people living close to it have been put on red alert and told to pack vital essentials in case of flood. (This village is on a hill so we are not affected)
  • I went to aquarobics and there was a stand in teacher. The less I say the better, except that I had to ask her to change the music or I would have had to vacate the pool
  • Bath was wet
  • I have hair standing on end
  • Participants in the Olympics may need snorkels and flippers (I can just see the 100m final under water)
  • I seem to have lost the ability to sleep

Hello. I was rather tired last night when we got home. Jean was my chauffeur for the day and thankfully the traffic was reasonable even though the weather was not. Never in the history of this country has so much rain fallen for so long. We passed 40 days and nights ages ago. 

The physio and OT I saw yesterday have given me more exercises and training things to learn to incorporate in my days. I did point out that it probably meant that I would have to batten down the hatches and not emerge from the house except for the aqua sessions for the rest of my days. But I will find a way to try and build it all in to my life. Not easy. There is stuff to be done. A life to lead. But if it works, then think how much better it would be. So I have to give it a go. 

 As you can see, some of the shops in Bath are in a British mode - what with the Jubilee and the Olympics, it is only natural. However, Lakeland has seen fit to stop selling their British flag cup cake thingies and I was rather unimpressed. I wanted some of the little flag things to pop onto the top of the cupcakes should I decide to be patriotic and bake some. The Olympics start soon - what were they thinking????

And what is more, I tried on some gorgeous red shoes and then didn't buy them. I think I really needed red shoes. It has been a while since I owned any. I do have a red bag, and they go with denim, and I SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT THEM!! They were on the sale. There was also a beautiful pair of olive green shoes. I didn't buy those either. Sigh.
Anyway. As you can see, I have this very day, started on the painting of the nook thing. I have given the parts I can reach a base coat and right now, it looks hideous. Absolutely revolting. And I have to wait 16-24 hours before the next coat goes on. I am sure it will look wonderful when it has had 99 coats.

I may not be around by then.

And no, I didn't unscrew the black bolts holding vital bits together and then replace them after painting. So what if they were a fancy black. I just wanted it done and my hair was falling in my eyes and I had paint on all 10 fingers and my brow was somewhat beaded and I have decided that I like the idea of decorating but not the actual doing.
 So I went and dug up/emptied the pots containing my potatoes. They are delicious. I know this because I ate some last night and made a big potato salad which will last a week. I have lettuce ready to pick in the garden too. And finally every single one of my flowers is now planted. The marigolds had to be prised apart because their roots were all intertwined, but they are now in the potato pots. They look a little sad because it must be like separating Siamese twins. The separation causes stress. Well, marigolds, you live or you die, because with the diabolical weather, I have come to the conclusion that only the strongest will survive in my garden this year.

As one of my friends at aqua said this morning, we were advised to plant gardens which would withstand drought. So we did. Only the drought resistant plants like to be dry not permanently drenched.

Well, there is always next year.

We may have snow, of course.
The lilies are opening. These ones are in a few places in the garden and they are all taller than me. Seriously. They are immense. The only thing taller, apart from the apple tree, is the sunflower. Oh, and the hollyhocks, only they were knocked down by the rain/wind and are now tied up and looking pathetic. But today we had some sun, and I have remembered to feed the plants, so hopefully, they will grow and flower. 

Or something. 

I could do with a rest. However, I have paint on my trousers which have now been deemed painting gear. So has the T-shirt I am wearing. And right now I am sitting on my desk chair on a couple of sheets of newspaper and relaxing on the couch would involve going upstairs and changing. Maybe not. Maybe I will go and have another look round my garden before the torrential rains come back. Etching memories of what it looks like before more is destroyed. 


I can hear the Bath people as I write - Slow down. Pace yourself. Be kind to yourself. Rest as much as possible. Stop moving. Let things go. Listen to relaxation tapes. Sit on that gym ball. De-sensitise. Learn to manage the (newer) pain too. Breathe. De-stress your life. Buy excellent ear plugs (I had forgotten that one).  Be selective about what you do. Ask for help. Stop trying to fix the world.  Baby steps. Do the exercises as often as possible. 2-4 times a day. Then there are the core exercises. Do those too. Creams. Touch. Drop the shoulders. 


They don't know when the flare will subside. They say it will. But it can come back. Anytime. It may spread more. It may never come back. 

Maybe this newspaper will stick to my rear end when I stand up. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

And the sun was spotted in the sky......

The weekend is drawing to a close and I have no idea where it went. Time runs away. Actually, it would be way more accurate to say that time is meaningless, really. It seems to me that time is flying by, but, you see, it takes me way longer than it ever used to to do things, so I see/judge time from a rather warped perspective. I remember it as it was, and things as they were, and me as I was, and then I sort of judge time, me, the lot from that angle, and not from the more realistic Linds/July 2012 version.

It takes me more than double the time to do anything at all compared to the old Linds, and then, of course, we have to factor in the squelching of the pride and the asking for help bit. That adds more time, because I battle with my own ego. Getting round to asking for the help finally happens and that is just as well or I would REALLY be complaining about the speed time seems to be racing by at. (The grammar police would hate that sentence. I am not all that keen on it myself.)

So where was I before I started meandering off down some time warp worm hole......

 The weekend is nearly over.

It is a trip to Bath and more appointments on the list for tomorrow and then, hopefully, time off for good behaviour and no more visits for a while. Tomorrow I get to see the OT and the physio, and they will run through new exercises for me to do, in the hope that I can sort of control the results of the flare and so help me, learn how to avoid another one, because, people, it is still roaring into life on a daily basis. I was in a car earlier, and a loud motorbike roared past, and I nearly levitated from my seat. Add loud motorbikes to the list. Vibrations. Sound. I need to learn how to rein this in. Soon.
Today, believe it or not, the sun shone. Not brightly, but sun nonetheless. Amazing. A miracle. And today is St Swithan's Day, I heard on the news, and, whatever the weather is today, it will be for the next 40 days. Now that would indeed be a miracle, because according to the BBC's weather page, 6 of the next 9 days here will involve precipitation, and where the water will go is anyone's guess, because we are sodden. I have just been out to water the garden, and nothing needs watering except 2 hanging baskets planted with fast growing tomatoes. Not once this summer have I needed to use a hosepipe. If we could just take our weather and the States' and mix them together and divide in half, we would all be blissful and chirpy, wouldn't we now.
The lilies are flowering in turn. I have no memory of planting these ones, but they are pretty so they stay.
Flowers are rotting and that is revolting. The compost bins are full because I keep hacking away at the rotten ones. In the hope that they will resurrect themselves and bloom once again. I actually think that the roots are rotting in the water. So much water. The dahlias are taller than me though. And are starting to flower.

Ah well, it is not that long ago that we had no water here, so I should not wail. But wearing warm layers is becoming exceedingly irritating in the middle of July.

On a cheerful note, while Glynis and I were wandering around the lake on Friday, we ventured into an Anglian Water shop. They appear to own the lake. Anyway, there were some lovely bits and pieces for sale, in addition to the maps and information pamphlets we were after, and look what I found. I just LOVE the brightness and they go beautifully in my kitchen right now with the summer rainbow colours everywhere. (That just means that ANY colour works in the kitchen for summer.) Bright. Beautiful. Cheery. I thought, initially, that they were very pricey, but it appears that my eyes need re-testing, and that I need new glasses. They were very cheap. So they now live with me. I am going to use the large one for flowers. They did have a teapot and some other pieces, but I resisted the urge, and stayed within the budget. Aren't they gorgeous?? I should go and pick some pretty flowers and pop them in there. Once the corner bench and table are painted, I think they will look great on the table. Maybe by the end of the week. I live in hope.

Peter popped in yesterday briefly, followed by more friends who lend a hand around here, and we started talking about putting aside a weekend to make a mega effort to get all the decorating done. That would mean the sorting of the sewing room could happen sooner than I thought. Aren't friends great? Doing things together for each other makes the boring stuff fun, and there would always be coffee and scones around. I have white paint, you see, and willing friends, and the whole place can be painted white. It will be bright and that is good. I cannot remember when last it was painted, but it was a long time before Geoff died, and it really looks sad at the moment. So now I am dreaming about a newly decorated house.

Get a grip, Linds. First things first. Finish that nook area. This week.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, wherever you are - I will be back after the trip down to Bath tomorrow. The camera is charging as I speak.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A few days away.......

Hello. I am not buried under debris here or books or paint. I went away for 2 days and you will be delighted to know, I did almost nothing. Glynis and I reclined on couches and chatted. If the rain had stopped for a while, I am sure we would have done more pottering about the lake, but the rain.....

We will not talk about the weather. It makes me want to screech. 

Glynis and Peter have a time-share cottage (A-frame/log cabin) about an hour from here, and because Peter had work to do, they asked if I would mind staying with Glynis for the last 2 days and nights. So I "reluctantly" abandoned the paintbrush, and headed north. I say reluctantly, because if I had stayed in this house one second longer, the mess would have made me start painting and sorting again, and the OCD-ness would have gotten totally out of hand. Heaven knows I needed to stop. And Heaven provided a break. 
I LOVED this tunnel - it is an orchard. All different fruit trees trained to grow in an arch. I want one. I would need a larger garden though. All the fruit within reach. Sigh. 
So I threw some vital essentials into a couple of bags, and, after returning home 4 times because I had forgotten things, I picked Glynis up and off we went. The rain stayed away for the afternoon - this was Thursday, so we decided to go and see Barnsdale Gardens, which were established by Geoff Hamilton of Gardener's World fame. What a gorgeous place, with 39 little gardens to see and wander through. Just wonderful. There was tea (I drank more tea, believe it or not) and cake involved too. 

Glynis under the gunnera leaves. They are huge! You could easily pop  a child on top of one. HUGE. 
This duck came to observe us on the patio before the rain started again, back at the cottage.....
The view of Rutland Water from the cabin/cottage/large dwelling place....
Yesterday was supposed to be clear in the morning. It was not. But, nothing daunted, we set off around Rutland Water in the pouring rain. 
We are intrepid. We made an odd pair - me hobbling with the stick and Glynis still not healed properly from her op, but doing well. Rain was not going to stop us. 
I did tell you it was raining, didn't I?? I was wet. 
Normanton church in the water. I haven't read all the story about this yet. I will. Glynis said the water is never usually this high around it. 
We stopped at all the waterside parking areas, and walked in the rain to see the church in the water at Normanton, and slopped through mud to see a forest, and then went back to the cottage (which, may I add, is larger than either of our homes) and flopped on the couches for the rest of the day. Well, apart from the trip up to the bar restaurant for a light supper. Then there was more flopping, and finally a lovely bath in a HUGE (avocado) bath. Perfect. Not the avocado, the bath. 
Note the muddy puddles. The forest reminded me of Switzerland. Only they never have muddy puddles.
All along the path, there were these signs - all saying different things, like, how many squirrels can you find?
In Hambleton, the cottages were just SO English and gorgeous!
Glynis was taking photos out of the window - the rain, you see.....

So there you are, you can see where I have been and what I have been doing. Getting wet. Lusting after gardens and plants. I have to get a Mock Orange. I wonder where I could put one - space is at a premium at the moment. 

I am home. Amidst the chaos once again. Home and chaos seem synonymous at the moment. I will not start painting until I have a good few days to get it done. It will need a few coats and one can only keep gloss rollers in cling-wrap for so long. It needs a couple of free days to do it, and that is not until the middle of next week, perhaps. Sigh. Oh well. I can sit here in my organised new study and ignore the rest and practice deep breathing, of course. Maybe the rain will stay away for the rest of the afternoon. I do believe there is a faint shadow falling on the keyboard...could it be the sun??????