Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Where is the restart button............

If I say that this week so far has included medical issues, a funeral, bill paying, wild weather, failure to remember to switch on crockpots, cancelling aquazumba and a dash to town to acquire thermal vests, you will come to the very apt conclusion that it could be better.

You would be right.

It is only Tuesday, for heaven's sake. Can we start over?

And the vests are not for me.

Although I did see some very nice bright blue ones. Once I win the lotto, I may invest in one. 

I am very weary today. I am also hungry. It is 1pm and I have not eaten a thing. I forgot. I do not want to know that the head of Barclays Bank is in line for a million £ bonus. Am I the only one who really does not understand how the banks can destroy our economies, and we have to pay the price, and they somehow keep rolling in wealth? They lost me somewhere along the line. (Mother has just informed me of that little nugget of info. She loves watching the news.)

Oy, I sound like a grumpy old woman. Maybe I should go and unearth a ball of wool and make another a blanket. The word for the year here is JOY, remember.


Joy is discovering that your cousin is granny to two little ones, born to two of her daughters around the same time. 
Joy is hot coffee and cheese on toast for lunch.
Joy is getting no new bills in the post.
Joy is having a pile of books waiting to be read. 
Joy is smelling the crockpot doing its thing, seeing that I actually switched it on today.
Joy is knowing that Jean is going to drop by with a fresh loaf of bread later.
Joy is warmth, and a soft bed, and words..............

David spent yesterday at a simulated plane crash in absolutely wild weather, being a real life CSI complete with white suits and masks. Looking for bodies and evidence. He had a ball, and got absolutely drenched. All of a sudden, his studies are taking on the real life aspect, and it is so exciting to hear him talk about it all. Bodies, flames, mud, quadrants, notes.

This is the baby boy who was sliding down the stairs on his stomach just a few weeks ago. Or so it seems. Now there he is climbing through plane wreckages, with real police and firemen watching. His feet are so enormous that they didn't have any blue booties to cover his shoes. Well, they will have to order some for next time. How did time fly past so fast?

Joy is watching your son following his dreams.......

Sunday, January 27, 2013

No more snow.......


Hello. I have not vanished. I just seem to have developed narcolepsy. And I sit here, gaze off into the distance thinking and then next minute, I am asleep on the keyboard. Anyone would think I never slept. Twice this afternoon, I have fallen asleep. Thank heavens Sunday dinner is cottage pie from last night, complete with vegetables. I am not required to use the brain much. 


We were supposed to get masses of snow on Friday night, but it didn't materialise. Instead, we woke yesterday to stunning blue skies and sun. It was fantastic. So I made my way down the middle of the road with the camera, and the photos you are looking at now are the result. The sun was so bright. And everyone was talking to each other out there in the street. But oh, the ice had become lethal. Everywhere. 

Anyway, last night heavy rain came, and the thaw happened. By this morning, there was not a scrap of snow to be seen anywhere. It just disappeared. I took one look at the garden and nearly lost heart, because, you see, the weeds seem to love the snow and ice, and have been growing and spreading under the cover of the snow and it all needs hours of work. Oh well. It can go on the list. In never-ending list. 

So when we went to church this morning, we were not sure if the river we cross in the valley would be in flood. It is running very high at the moment - just under the bridge. Inches from the road. And the fields are all under water too. In fact the nation is water-logged. I have tulips and daffodils all shooting up in the garden too. Among the weeds. 


And now for something completely different.....

This article appeared on the front page of one of the Sunday newspapers today. Patients should be cared for by their families when in hospital. Now this is all very well if one doesn't have to go and work, because the government insists that the retirement age has to rise to 66. For now. It will be higher very soon. So how on earth will families be able to do this? 

The irony is that this fits in so clearly with the subject I have been writing reams about recently. I have yet to start posting what I am writing, but the subject, people is CARING. What it means, how we have moved away from community, what effect it has on families, how we re-create those strings that bind us, where mothering goes in the 21st Century, how caring is becoming something we pay for, How we manage working and caring, and so it goes on. So many strands to think about. 

You know, when I got married, someone, and I have NO idea who it could have been, gave us the book Hidden Art, by Edith Schaeffer. I remember opening it and thinking how old fashioned and out of date it was and tossing it to the side. And then one day, when Andrew was little, I opened it, and read it. And it all made sense to me. But I had to have moved on to the stage where my primary role was very definitely caring for my child to be able to appreciate it. It is still there on the bookshelf, right behind me. Have you read it?

And then, last night, I finished reading Andi Ashworth's book, Real Love for Real Life: the Art and Work of Caring. It has taken me a while, and I have no idea who recommended this book, or where I saw it - if it was one of you please wave so I can remember! And that also complicated the thinking. You know when your mind is getting new information all the time and you are trying to process it a eliminate as much of the emotion as possible? Yeah. That. Peter, Glynis's husband popped round on Friday and we somehow got onto the subject of caring, and he had some immensely valid points to sway my thinking as well, so it is all a big jumble and believe me, it will all emerge one day soon. Because I have a bee in my bonnet, as they say. I just want to talk about it. 

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So, think of my brain as a jumble of wool, and I am looking for the end so I can make a neat ball. And in the meantime, look at the little girl zooming along on her scooter today. I grabbed this photo from my daughter-in-law because, of course, they are there and I am here. And now we are about to watch Dancing on Ice.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

An afternoon at the movies.......

Today, we decided to make our annual trip to the movies. (This is the royal "we" speaking!) Yes, you read that right. I seem to average one movie a year. The Artist last year, and The King's Speech the year before. It is sad, isn't it. I need to gear up the going to movies idea somewhat, I know. It was a spur of the moment decision. A reward for all 3 of us  being present and correct at aquazumba this morning, and for surviving the class. Mum was the exception. She does not do aquazumba, although she would probably be better at it than I am.

Anyway, we all wanted to see Les Miserables, so Mum, Jean, Glynis and I set off over hill and dale to a nearby town to see it. You can tell how out of practice we all are, because we didn't know that the doors only open 10 minutes before the show, so we had to hang around outside for a while in the snow/ice. Yes, it is still here. And if I said there were 20 people in the theatre, it would be an exaggeration. Interestingly, the movie theatre we went to is just around the corner from Boughton House, where part of Les Mis was filmed. Here is a report about that. I didn't know.

I have seen the stage show in London, and it was one of the best productions I have ever seen. I loved it. I cried. I still rate it up there at the top of the list of shows I have seen. So I was a little wary of what to expect in the movie, and I have read some mixed reviews, but Oh. My. Word. It is sensational. The music, the acting, the tears, the beauty. And by the end, just as I thought I was doing OK, the tears were flowing like a river.

Every one of us left, drained, and overwhelmed, and if a movie can do that to me, it has to be outstanding. So, if you haven't seen it yet, go now. If you don't know the story, it may help to read a synopsis first, and it won't spoil the experience at all.

I also saw the trailer for Lincoln. It looks good. That opens this weekend, I think. You see, I make a list of movies I think of seeing, and then I tend to wait to buy the DVD, because it is a hassle to organise an outing, and I haven't thought much about going alone. Mind you, there is no reason at all why I couldn't go alone, of course. Memo to self: You are all grown up. So go.

The fields between there and here are still completely white. There is supposed to be a thaw this weekend, so with some luck, the ice will vacate the premises. It is treacherous out. Thank heavens for sticks with the rubber casing removed, to have stability in the snow and ice. A bonus is that walking at night is easy - the white snow makes visibility great. Jenny and I were making our way across the Rec tonight after house group and we had absolutely no problem seeing where we were going, which is unusual. In an effort to save money, the council has switched off every second street light. That may be a perfectly reasonable idea in summer but in the depths of winter it is insanity. So the snow has a useful spin off!

Right, people - I need to sleep. Go and book tickets to see Les Mis if you haven't yet. You won't be sorry.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wherein I make some candles........

I have avoided the editing today. Cabin fever struck and I had to get out of the house, so we went to town, and the snow started falling again as we got back home. Coffee out does wonders for the mood, believe me. Coffee and a fruit scone does even more wonders.

Anyway, once we got home, I decided to make some candles. I have been keeping all the wax left in my wonderful scented candle cups, scraping it into a big plant pot. I found an old cooking pot which had passed its sell by date, and today was the day.


Into it went all the old wax, on a very low heat, to melt together.

And in the old candle holders, I popped a wick, which I held straight by clamping it with a clothes peg. We are all hi-tech around here. I found these on sale in Switzerland ages ago, and it is just as well I tidied the craft/sewing room, because they were exactly where I last left them. A miracle. 



High tech pegs.They do the job well. 


 And once the wax was all melted, I poured it into the candle cups and they are setting as I speak



 Well, actually, I also spilled a lot on the paper I had placed for that VERY eventuality! Things do not always go exactly according to plan.


And now I am grinning and patting myself on the back. I have no idea how long they will take to set, but job done. I hate throwing things away. The wonderful scented candles I love having in the house stop burning long before the wax is gone, and it seemed such a shame to throw any out. By the way, I didn't know that the wax shrank or contracted quite a bit when it set. Interesting. 


LOOK!!! My new candle! It is still setting, but I am so pleased with them all. I will peel off the spillage bits when they are completely set tomorrow, but I love them. And the house still smells wonderful. 

Aquazumba in the morning come rain, hail or snow. I need to work off the bread and butter pudding, which was superb. Using the panettone was a stroke of genius from Jean. It was fabulous. Mother and I ate the lot. Groan. But. I will be doubly energetic in the pool in the morning. 

I promise. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

At home days........

I have spent the better part of the day writing here. Unfortunately, the writing ran away with itself, and unless you want to sit and read for hours, losing the will to live in the process, it needs - no, is going through - a serious surgical procedure. I do believe it is called editing.


Oy, when the words start cascading, it is like a rupture in the dam wall, isn't it.

The mega literary endeavour began after I decided to cancel my place in the aquazumba class this morning. That happened after I spent ages trying to scrape my car. And my hands took forever thawing. Bright red is their new look. And the scraping of the car happened after the freezing fog descended and has not departed all day, so I have stayed in.

So you see, it was all the fog's fault.

It seems I have a great deal to say. My friends and family may pick themselves up off the floor right now and stop howling with laughter.

On the domestic front, we are having bread and butter pudding for dessert. No, we never have desserts. Yes, we are having one, because I have made it. That would be because I have a panettone here, and no-one likes it, so I offered it to Jean, who suggested the bread and butter pudding, which I have never made before. My mother has forgotten if she has ever made it, but I seem to remember something vague from my childhood - or maybe that was one of the grandmothers. Anyway, it will be popped in the oven and we will see what happens. And the oven will warm the kitchen.

It is bitterly cold here, and the snow has not disappeared at all. Not with temps way below 0C. Ice is the name of the game, and I am sick of ice already. I even found some ancient Ice Melt (salt) and tossed it around near the doors. Ah well. Nothing more to add until the edit is over, my friends. Stay warm.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Yet more snow..........


Hello there. I had plenty of good intentions of writing something interesting, but that was before I fell asleep in the rocking chair. 


I was waiting for the pictures to load, and they took forever, hence the snooze. Mum had an appointment at the doctor's this afternoon to check her medication, and after inching our way out of the road here, which has never seen any form of snow and ice treatment EVER, we stopped on the hill to watch the kids tobogganing. Apparently over the weekend, you could hardly see the snow, there were so many people. Most schools are closed today, so the children had a great Snow Day. The farmer lets everyone use his hill whenever it snows. Nice man. 



So we stopped at Jean's because I happened to know she was making fresh scones. Coffee or tea and jam scones? Yes please. Her icicles were rather impressive. 


While we were there, I popped over to the Rec (recreation ground) to take some different snow pictures. You can see the church tower here, and the Mound - down to what must have been a moat or something. This is the steep tobogganing run around here, and that green grass is pure ice so the speeds were very fast for the daredevils.



The church looks very different in the snow. The tower is over 1000 years old, but I have told you that before, I am sure. 
The church is on the Square, on the high hill part, and there is the Square with its treacherous iced car park, through that entrance. 


So you get to see a different part of the "patch" today because I am about to fall asleep again. Maybe tomorrow I will be more lively. One lives in hope!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Winter. Snow. Cold.........

One can safely say that Winter has arrived in these parts. The snow has been falling since dawn, and shows no sign of stopping yet. Smallish flakes, but trillions of them. And it is covering everything. So, in the spirit of bloggers all over the place, my stick, camera and I ventured out. I wanted to take some interesting photos, but to be quite frank, I nearly froze to death so Mill Lane again was as good as it got. I had umpteen layers on and gloves and hat and all the rest, but I was walking into the wind therefore the snow, and it chilled the bones, I tell you. 

It also made me into the close relative of the abominable snowman. I was covered in the white stuff. And just as I was thinking I had lost the plot, the cold crept down to my leg, and it started going numb. I tend to think of that only in Switzerland. It doesn't usually happen here, because I don't usually go walking in snow here. Numbness means that for as long as I stay out, the pain is deadened, and that is a very good reason to stay out in the snow a long time. 

However, in the interest of keeping my fingers attached to my body, I didn't stay out very long. And now I am trying to ignore the thawing process. There is always, ALWAYS a price to be paid, people.


So down Mill Lane I went. I just went to beyond those trees on the right. Not down to the bottom. I would never have got up the hill again! Walking on snow in snowboots is a doddle for me. I feel secure and stable when my feet sink into snow. Ice is not good, but snow is perfect.


It was so kind of the young girl to wear a bright anorak! There were many people out walking - some as families and some with dogs, and some too, with sleds. This is what the snow does - it gets families out together, and all the young ones seem to put aside their technological gizmos and whatsits, and head out into the snow, with sleds, to have snowball fights, to take photos, to build snowmen. Fun, fun, fun!


I don't think the horses were having much fun though. They were huddled next to the fence, close together, most with their rear ends towards the snow - the prevailing wind. One didn't seem to get the concept, and looked at me instead. Poor cold things.


And here is another poor cold thing. Please note the snow. 

I need more coffee. 

PS: Mum and I are conducting an experiment to see whether tealight candles all over the place keep us warm enough. I have cupboards of candles. The flames give off heat. Therefore, there must be a perfect number to have burning to provide adequate heat, and in the mean time, the house looks very cosy and pretty with all the candles!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Snowy countryside.......


I live near the edge of the village, so this morning, my camera, stick and I went along the road to take a few photos of the countryside. The white countryside. The annual snowy Mill Lane photos.


The horses seemed quite happy out there in the field - they spent most of the time I was watching them grouped around the hay bales!


The snow deadens the sound, and there were not many cars around early. Right now, however, most of the village appears to be congregating on the hill on the other side of the village for tobogganing. My kids used to love that. It would have been even better had the sun been shining, but there is no sign of it, and more snow is expected. At least this will be a weekend outdoors for all the children!



By some standards, like my sister's, this will be a minute amount of snow. For us, though, it is so exciting. I love walking on snow. Not ice. Snow. Crunchy snow. I have given Jean one of my sticks to use when she is out. She walked over to visit late this morning, and stayed for lunch. It was a carbo-loading kind of meal - open toasted cheese and pear cake to follow. But it was all hot and it is that kind of day and we needed to warm our innards. Of course. I will now eat a clementine to balance it out,. Don't forget the pear in the cake.

I think I want to go and start something. No idea what. Something. I may pick up the crochet hook, if there is any wool left in the stash. Did I mention that Granny is finishing a beautiful blanket every week? We are taking them to the shelter for the homeless nearby, and they are so very grateful for them all. They are stunning. But I need to grab some wool before her blankets eat it all up.

Keep warm, everyone, and have a lovely weekend!

Friday, January 18, 2013

It is going to be a white weekend......


It is snowing. This is England, so you will no doubt be hearing a lot about snow because the country grinds to a halt, much to the amusement of our neighbours on the other side of the Channel. We usually run out of grit and salt, very few people have winter tyres on cars, there are nowhere near enough snowploughs, the trains stop because it is the wrong kind of snow and school and universities shut immediately, for fear of little darlings falling and denting themselves (therefore triggering legal whatsits and all the rest. Health and Safety.) Oh, and if farmers offer to help clear roads, they are turned down. Health and Safety again. Insurance.


So, like all sensible people, I have been at home most of the day. The crockpot is bubbling away, and I have just baked this Pear Brunch Cake thanks to my friend Kelli, who sent me the link. She clearly thinks my hips can continue to expand. She is sadly mistaken.  It is such an easy recipe and it smells divine - it is just out of the oven so I have yet to taste it, of course. Restraint and all that.


I keep looking at the snow which keeps falling. You can tell I live in the UK can't you?? I am waiting for it to stop so I can go and take some photos. I am also amusing myself as I say that, because in Switzerland, I wouldn't DREAM of waiting for the snow to stop - I would be out there in it. Hmmm. I may have to put on the layers and venture out with the stick and camera.


Anyway, seriously, though, the absence of any salt or grit on our roads, no 4-wheel drive and no winter tyres  makes driving in snow and on ice treacherous, especially around hills. I just watched my neighbour attempt to reverse into his drive and there is no traction at all, so he is parked right across the pavement (sidewalk) (aren't you glad I translate here at RCR???) although you can't distinguish between the road and the pavement when they are under loads of snow.


Please be impressed at the lengths I go to to take a photo or two. And please note the pink fluffy socks. They are now wet. My snowboots have a gaping hole in the bottom. I do believe they need to be tossed out, but, when they are dry, they are so warm. And comfortable. 

I ate the slice of cake - delicious. I think it will be even more delicious with some hot custard poured over it. Hot custard would also help to thaw the feet. 

The snow continues to fall.............

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I am back......

And I am ready for a long rest/sleep/zonked out time. I cannot tell you how cold it has been today. It was -5C this morning, so the classy outfit got ditched, and my snowboots and thick fleece coat were worn instead. Too bad. I needed to stay upright on the ice and also warm enough to be able to function.

It was a close call, believe me. London was freezing. Icy. My rear end may never thaw, after sitting in a cold station waiting for my train for an hour and a half.

I was too tired to walk about, and had already had 2 lengthy coffee stops. There is a limit to how long one can sit in a coffee shop with a black coffee. I reached that limit twice this afternoon.

The meeting went well, and it ended sooner than I expected it to, so I had a few hours to explore London. Well. Sort of. After a visit to Covent Garden, where I listened to a string ensemble playing most beautifully, and managing to completely ruin some performing street artist's joke - he raced up to me where I was plodding along on the other side of the road to where he was performing for a crowd, grabbed my stick, and under his breath, said - please play along - it is just a joke, and I said "ABSOLUTELY NOT" without ANY humour at all, and plodded on. Sorry, performer man, but no-one grabs my stick away from me, especially when I am weary.

I told you I was a Grumpy Old Woman at times.

Sigh. I was simply not in the mood.

And then, to get warm, I happened to pop into the enormous Apple Store in Covent Garden. And I played with the iPad mini, and fell in love with it. What a fabulous little thing. And I left, an unbecoming shade of green, with another thing on the dream list. So I took the tube back to St Pancras, and wandered around the shops there in between coffee stops and sitting in the freezing cold. Seriously, people, I just wanted to get home and flop. So I am doing just that. I have also cancelled aqua for tomorrow. And I am still wearing my coat and snowboots.

 I may thaw before morning.

Off to London...(only this was supposed to post yesterday. Oh well.)

The nails are done. They don't look too bad. The papers and file are in a pile, and I have booked the train ticket. I could have gone to Switzerland and back for the price I had to pay, and even then, I will be the last to arrive, probably late. We move slowly and that will have to do. There had better be black coffee on tap. I will need it. 

The meeting at the barrister's chambers. The experts, barrister, lawyers and me. They all "work" for me. I must remember that. 

The snow is going and the sun is shining, and Jean and I have been to aquazumba today. And because the sun is shining, the dust is visible all over the house, and I had to get the duster out because it is dire. I tell you, there is more dust in the UK than in Africa. I know this because I have lived in both places. I could not believe the amount of dust here when we first arrived. You can dust, vacuum, polish and relax, and watch the dust covering everything in sight all over again. I could understand this if it just happened in Winter with the hot air heating  blowing things about, but in summer too? There is no dust bowl here? Someone said it was because over 61 million people live on this small island, but I prefer not to think of that thankyouverymuch. Dried skin of the multitudes. Shudder. 

Anyway. I am off to London. I like London. I REALLY like St Pancras station, which is now an entire shopping centre on its own. Some people actually go to London and simply stay in the station for the day. I can see the point, because it is hard to find your way about it at times, what with it also beign the Eurostar station. I mean really.....there are multiple tube lines at St Pancras. The question I wanted answered was "which end of the station is the quickest route to the Piccadilly Line?" Simple question. Hah. Google spewed out a great deal I waded through before giving up. I will be late. Tough. I know which line to catch and I know how to get from Holborn to the chambers. Yes, they are really called "Chambers". With a capital C. In the legal heartland. 

I even have a sandwich and bottle of water, just in case I wilt like a flower. 

Wish me luck, people, and if you are the praying kind, feel free to utter many many prayers too. I will be back. 

Monday, January 14, 2013


It is 4pm on a cold Monday afternoon, and it feels like Friday. I am ready for a weekend. Preferably somewhere exotic and beautiful. And warm.


I have been writing every day, and then I sort of get distracted, delete it all, walk away to think, forget, pace, cook, pace, rinse and repeat. My daughter has just landed safely in Switzerland. Well, the plane has, and I am assuming the daughter is now whizzing through the airport en route to the trains. Or maybe she is sitting somewhere having something warm to drink, because she is going to probably have some time to kill before she gets to Engelberg. Where it is snowing.

I wouldn't mind being there too.


So today has been a snow day here as well. We woke to snow, and, more importantly, discovered that the roads to the airport were gridlocked in places, so we opted for the train instead, and Mum and I dropped Diana at the station with her bags, and tootled off to Podington Garden Centre, in the snow, to have a coffee. We were out, you see, and it made sense. And when I parked - the only car in the huge area for customers, I realised that my wallet was at home.  So, after checking that mother was armed with real money,. we wandered in and ordered freshly baked scones (they were still in the oven and smelled divine) and coffee. It was wonderful.

The snow started again, with a vengeance, as we were leaving, and didn't stop until 3 this afternoon, and now it is melting away. There may be ice to contend with later, but I am not going anywhere, so that is fine.


Now. Let me remind you that the registration for the inRL conference opened today. You can register from anywhere in the world, and it is FREE!!!. Just go HERE and sign up! It should be wonderful.


I have been taking photos of melting snow. Did I mention that? I am waiting for my fingers to thaw here. I left the gloves off to take the photos. I tend to drop things when I can't feel them properly.


Anyway. I am all over the place today, and Diana is on the train. So now I am going to cook some dinner and do nothign for the rest of the day. Nothing. I need to get the head under control and the mind in place. The clouds are back, and the snow may be returning. I love the snow. Did I say that? Probably.  

Stay warm, people, and I hope your snow boots don't develop a gaping hole in them like mine did. I think I need to hunt for the rubber cement which I know is hiding somewhere in this house. I tried superglue but that didn't work. I will Make A Plan. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Soapbox time........

There is nothing like hearing a 30 something male news reporter saying that he tweets all the time, but is not yet 40, and most people  who use social media this way are his age or younger etc etc, to get the ire and indignation up and working. A good start to any morning, never mind a cold and frosty winter one here in Middle England. I fired off a tweet to him saying something along the lines of excuse me I am 58 and use all forms of social media and I am perfectly normal and that he needed to catch up. I am delighted to say that he did reply and acknowledge that he did, indeed, need to catch up. 10/10 and a gold star, Stephen, for replying.

Picture Linds dusting off the hands here.

I am not good with stereotyping.

Somehow, I don't see me ever being a normal old lady. Mind you, no-one my sort of age matches any old stereotype. When last were the typical 50 somethings really looked at? No more twin set and pearls and permed hair and skirts and dresses only. Bring on the jeans and highlights and SOCIAL MEDIA and scroll saws. I will concede that the home, the crochet hooks the (unbelievably complex) sewing machines we use, the crafts and the gardens may be the same (yet also different). Isn't 50 supposed to be the new 30??

And they should have left the old tin opener as it was, and not tried improving it. The new ones are atrocious and do not open a thing.

Oh, if only the bones didn't creak so much! The mind may be young, but this body doesn't seem to have read the guide book properly.

I could go on about where are the jobs for the young qualified men and women, like David, when the old ones are told they have to work on forever. There is no natural replacement going on any more. I do object, however, to the young world leaders prescribing my life. They need to see what it is like to be 58 and coping with all the ***** that comes and see how easy it is.

Social media, on the other hand, is a doddle. I suppose that is because we stepped in at the start, and have been carried along with it as the years have gone by. And we keep learning and keep trying and so the mind stays young.

My mother has brown hair. She has never coloured it in her life. I had red/auburn hair. I have needed highlights to disguise the white since I was in my 40s. That is not fair. Those genes went AWOL.

Oh yes - get this all you foreign people...... a day or two after our parliament voted to restrict increases in any benefits to 1% - that means for the disabled and the poorly paid as well as the ones out of work, they announced that they, THEMSELVES, needed AT LEAST a 32% pay rise. Their £65,000 basic salary is not enough. WHAT?????????

I foresee a revolution.

I have never seen £65,000 in my life. Or £35,000 come to think of it. Or £25,000 Or........

COME TO TEA, MR CAMERON and I will tell you a few home truths. I may even bake a cake. Oh yes, and bring Mr Clegg with you because I have MORE than enough to tell him too. In fact, bring the whole cabinet and I will deliver a state of the nation address which will shake you all in your boots.

Just remember to wear a warm jumper, coat and scarf, because heating is very expensive and my house is cold. But I do have enough recession heaters for you all.

Do you think they will reply?

I think not. And now that I have got all hot and bothered, I can take off the scarf and gloves and relax in my rocking chair.

Carrot cake. I think I will make them a carrot cake. (Sorry, Tigger!)

Friday, January 11, 2013


A blogging friend Carmen wrote a post today about "Who am I anyway" and ended it by saying that she thought that every reader would find at least something they had in common with her. Well, I grinned, because I am quite sure she is right. There was a great deal we had in common. (And I loathe beer too!)

We are all totally unique, quirky, interesting people. We wouldn't be spilling our guts here for the entire world to read if we were not, now would we??

So who am I?

I love open toasted cheese sandwiches, and I love peanut butter M&Ms. I don't like fish served with its head on. And I REALLY don't like snails. The edible sort. Or the ones in the garden. Or slugs. Or snakes. I love jam, but not marmalade. I love reading in the bath, but tend to drown my books, and I love fires. Just sitting gazing into them and letting my thoughts wander. I don't like jazz or chamber music, but I love just about every other kind of music, especially musicals. I used to play the piano and the guitar. Les Mis is my favourite stage show, but then I haven't seen that many recent ones. I love Switzerland, and walking in the mountains. I don't like very hot places. The Costa Brava holds no appeal. I have no desire to tour the Far East, but I would love to visit the States, Canada, Australia and NZ. And Norway, Sweden, Finland, Austria again.

I love floaty dresses, but don't look too good in them. I love trousers and gilets, and layers to keep me warm. I love gym, aquazumba, aquarobics, pilates, and core exercises. I don't really mind that I look frightful in a bathing costume. I get to dance in the water. I don't like football. I love watching tennis, rugby and cricket, and I loved the Olympics. I don't like endless repeats on TV but I do love the recent shows - Call the Midwife, and Downton Abbey.

I love living in England in this village. I don't like huge cities much. I love the sea - the shore, just sitting and thinking as I watch the waves, but I don't like pebble beaches.(I seem to love a great many sitting and gazing things, don't I?)I love changing my home around for the 4 seasons. I love Christmas, and Easter, and my church and the people there. I love singing, but I don't love the vibration and the bass sounds which make singing impossible. I love earplugs, and I don't love pain. I love Autumn and Spring - summer is ok, but not my favourite, apart from the garden, of course. I love doing BBQs and sitting in my garden in the evenings.

I love being creative, and making things for my home and for the people who pop in and out. I love piles of interesting books, and I loathe being where I can't see any. There have to be books waiting to be read.  I don't like weeds. I love growing things. I love roses and freesias and tulips and daffodils. I love baking, and I love trying new things. I love my family - old and young, and I love my friends.

I am strong and confident when I need to be a warrior, but I am nothing like that when I need to just be a woman. I am good with words - spoken and written, and I am fine talking in public. I can talk about anything, except me. I am open yet closed. I hate bad manners and I am not above reminding people to say thank you when holding open a door. I can be intimidating, I am told. I am not sure this is very good, but it is useful when in warrior mode. I talk too much yet reveal too little. I like having my hair done - I would go every week if I won the lotto. I don't like cleaning - it is hard when you can't kneel. I like a clean and shinign house, including windows. I need a cleaner. Hmmmm. I love having my nails done. I am useless at working out a proper beauty routine. I can't see the word beauty and me together somehow.

I love driving and loathe being a passenger. I am always thinking of adventures I want to have. I am positive - a glass half full kind of person and I get irritated by negative people. I love a glass of good wine, but rarely have one, because I am always the driver. I love dreaming and don't like the fact that I am not a patient sort of woman. I am defiant, and determined and will not give up and I hate the whole "victim" mode I see so often. I go to bed very late, and never sleep very well, but I don't like getting up in the morning.

I love bright colours - the older I get the better they seem to suit me. I don't need fancy jewels - I have had them in my day and they are unnecessary now. I love computers and technology and smart phones, and all I need in a car is that it goes and is safe and reliable. I couldn't care less how old it may be. I love huge TVs because then I can read the writing on them. I love being older, in fact. It is freeing. I love the enormous pile of memories locked away in my mind. I love having been to places, seen different things and experienced so much in my life. I love the sense of anticipation. I love taking photos. Not so keen on being in them.

I love playing with wood. I love playing with paint and sand paper. I love the whole creative surge in me. I have mentioned this already but it is who I am, I think. I make things. I don't drink milk. I don't like tea. I drink black coffee. I don't like milky drinks at all. I love bread and real butter. I don't like margarine. I love seafood. I love food. I keep coming back to food here. So what - I LOVE food! I love fresh fruit and vegetables I have grown. Butternuts and gem squash and french beans are my favourite.

I love family traditions. I love ballet. Tchaikovsky. Classical music. The Messiah. Opera. I don't like appliances which cease working. I love being at home, yet I love going out. A paradox.

In fact that is what we all are. A mixture of funny and serious, competent and not. Boring and interesting.


I love people. I love them popping in here. I get a little fraught when entertaining, but I have always loved doing so. Now it is not so easy. In fact really hard. I miss that. I am frugal. believe me, I know every way possible to be frugal. I am inventive. I don't worry any more. I have trained myself to look for the positive. I like blue and yellow and red and pink and purple and green and orange. I also like brown and black and I love the white walls in my home, and long hot baths where I wallow and unwind. I love the feather topper on my mattress, and soft down duvets, and Egyptian cotton sheets and hand stitched quilts. I love side lights - I LOATHE bright centre lights with a passion!

I love life.

I could go on for ages, and may well do again some day, but this is enough for now, I think. Who am I? Complex, as I said. A mix of all of it. 58 years is a long time to gather bits of me.


Ever changing. Me.

So what do we have in common so far?????????

Thursday's chat which I forgot to post......

Thursdays are busy days around here. That means they are also long days. Or that is what I think, anyway. My aquazumba class starts at 9.15, so I have to get up early to get ready and gather my wits, and early starts and Linds don't go together very well. It takes a while to get moving, you see, and then it is usually slug like. And today I was collecting the girls, so I had to be up really early.

Anyway, now that we have established that I did in fact arise early today, on to the gym. We had a couple of new dances to try out in the water. One seemed very slow and simple, but ye gods, by the time it ended, we were wallowing in that water on legs which closely resembled overcooked noodles. I have a funny feeling we will all be hobbling about like geriatrics in the morning.

And so on home, where I was relaxing while regaling my mother and daughter with stories from the pool when the Royal Mail truck arrived on the doorstep and my daughter deposited a very large parcel on my lap. Hah. That was the huge folder from the lawyers in preparation for our meeting on Wednesday with lawyers, barristers, experts etc etc. I am trying to ignore the fact that Wednesday will roll around all too soon. And I need to be back in warrior mode by then. I also need to take a packed lunch or something with me, because the file is big and thick, and the last time, the meeting started at 11, and so help me, did not break until approaching 5pm.  By then, with just 2 cups of coffee and a dry biscuit inside me, I was ready to start gnawing on the table leg in the very impressive conference room.

I may even take it wrapped in a red check cloth and unfold the whole thing.

They will think I am a country bumpkin

They would be right.

I am beyond the worries of status and appearance which London seems to require. Home-made scones, anyone??? I suspect they would all be salivating.

Back to today. Diana departed for London for a few days, and after dropping her at the station, Mum and I went into town to pay some bills. And later, I went around to Glynis's house for a head massage - my real treat of the week. I can't tell you how amazing it is to completely relax. For me to completely relax takes some doing, and Glynis is very good at this. Thank God. Heaven sent. I nearly went to sleep.

In a while,. I am off to housegroup. That will be lovely. One of the girls who comes popped in this afternoon, for the first time, and perched on the chair in my kitchen and watched as I chopped the veg for a stirfry,. while eating my Christmas cake and drinking coffee. In this house, you get to perch, but popping in is definitely encouraged. I love having unexpected visitors! Right. I had better go and brush my hair.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Sunshine in Middle England......

Rodent news from the Casa de la Rocking Chair is that my neighbours also saw a rat in their garden and a call to the rat man will be made soon. So maybe I need more rat poison. Something has eaten all of the stuff I put down. Charming. And on a beautiful sunny day here in Middle England too. I do not want to think about emptying the shed and organising everything in it. I do know it has to be done and that 90% will be tossed out, but it all seems a little daunting. Undesirable. And I may find a live mouse. Or a dead rat. Or something I do not wish to make acquaintance with at all.

I want to think of pretty flowers and warm sunshine and happy thoughts.

Not about rodents.


Now that is more like it. 

My sister has asked for Spring bunting in yellow and green, and the stash could provide the necessary to make the bunting, and so I have zapped up a few metres, and now we have ground to a halt because I have no idea how long it needs to be. I happened to give her some a couple of years ago which was the perfect length, but that was pure luck. I now need to know the exact length. Pure luck would not be able to get it right again. So we have to wait until she gets home from work. I did try asking my brother-in-law, but really, men just do not understand this sort of thing. They don't actually get the need for bunting either. And his English/my Germlish are not up to the technical details, so we will wait. 

I was lucky enough to get some M&Ms of the peanut butter variety for Christmas. You have NO IDEA how excited this made me!!!! I have a bag here, hidden in my study, because I am not sharing. I am rationing them. How come we get M&Ms here, but never the peanut butter ones unless you want to pay an arm and a leg from a specialist importer?? The nation is being deprived. Thank heavens I have travelling friends, is all I can say. 

Ah, my friends - I was reading some blogs in my reader last night, and they sort of followed a theme. How to improve, market, promote, identify target readers, use different engines and up ones stats and you know what? Most of them have only been blogging for a couple of years. I am more thankful than ever that I started blogging when it was the relationships we built with each other that counted. The connections made, and lives shared. Some, along the way, have developed into mega blogs, because of the outstanding talent of the bloggers. Well deserved recognition. But the sadder side is that there is no longer any personal communication between the blogger and reader - like me. It is just not possible time-wise. I miss that. And I find myself reading, but seldom commenting as I used to once upon a time. I miss that. I miss them, actually. The people I used to feel I was talking with - not to or at. 

I LOVE the big bloggers. I love what they write, but you see, it now feels like it does when I pick up a newspaper or a book. Mind you, half the books I am picking up are books written by those very people, and I LOVE reading them. And remembering the days when.......

It has nothing to do with envy, because I look at their schedules and wonder how they manage to fit it all in. My admiration is enormous. It all sort of fits with the things mulling around in my head, though, and there is a definite sadness for the loss of the innocence and openness there was just 5 or 6 or 7 years ago. 

It is as if a box of Lego was placed on the floor for children to build and play with, happily using their imagination, and suddenly, these grown engineers sat down between the children, grabbed the Lego and built elaborate, complicated buildings which held no appeal for the children and stripped the fun away from their toy at the same time. 

When I started blogging, I discovered a great many women my sort of age out there, and we have become friends. The sad thing is that many of them no longer blog. Making sure their templates were appealing, making sure they used the proper links/stats/widgets/privacy controls is enough to kill off the fun for anyone. Just stick around when I need to change my template. I mean, for goodness sake - keeping a template of telephone boxes over Christmas on the grounds it was red is an indication of one very technically frustrated blogger. It never mattered much before. 

But what do I know. I am just barrelling along merrily here and am ignoring all the big blogging "Must Do/Have" details. Hah. Linds can do what she likes right here. It is much more fun. I have turned away advertisers for the same reason - I want this to be me, and my place. I like knowing the people who visit, even though I have no idea who most of you are. I have a good imagination! 

Longing for the old days is something older people do. BUT OH MY WORD the old days can't be just 6 years ago. Can they? I suppose in terms of the Internet, then yes, 6 years ago is equivalent to the Dark Ages. Give me strength. I am an Internet Dinosaur. (I have a sudden vision of what an Internet Dinosaur looks like. I nearly choked on the coffee. )

Enough of dinosaur pondering. That wasn't what I came to chat about. I came to chat about rodents and sunshine and bunting. Maybe I need a nap, being a dinosaur and all.............

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Planning adventures......

I got back in the pool this morning for aquazumba. That was a combination of good and not so good, because I now feel 110, but it was lovely at the same time, and seeing all the smiles of the other girls was great too.

I may never move again.

Glynis and I tried to book for next week's pilates class - we can only book 7 days in advance - and there are already 15 on the waiting list. I will have to go on line and do it at midnight. You would think that the gym would realise this and add more classes, but they don't. And this has been going on for as long as I have been going. Crazy. But I will get into one. One day.

There are a couple of posts I am mulling over at the moment. Lots to think about. From the advantage of my age, I seem to see things more objectively. Add experience to that, and I know those who are my sort of age will know what I am talking about - there seem to be some things that the rulers of the world, who are all young, could consider with some urgency.

But isn't it also true that we never listened much to what those older than us said through those years? Didn't we always know better?

Yes. I did. Still do, now and then! So brace yourselves, there may be some debate producing words flowing here soon.

In the meantime, I will tell you that it is still grey and still cold, but nowhere near as cold as this time last year. I gather this may be changing soon. There has been no snow yet. I just looked at next week's forecast and we are down to -4C then. All the spring bulbs are peeping out of the soil in the garden, though. And we are approaching mid winter now.

I think I told you all that Jean gave me a card with vouchers for an adventure each month of 2013 for Christmas (including coffee or lunch!) and I get to choose. I am now trying to come up with the Adventure for January. I can't tell you how much fun I am having thinking of things we can do. I love adventures. Doing things I haven't done, or seeing places I know nothing about. Adventures. I have lived here approaching 23 years and there are so many places close by that I have never explored properly. I think that is true of most of us, though!

I still remember going up Table Mountain in the cable car in Cape Town for the first time when I was a student. The mountain was always there, so there was never any rush. Tourists did that sort of thing. It is the same thing here. I have friends who lived in an outlying suburb of London, and I once said how wonderful it must be to have the whole city right there, and they said that they never went into the city itself - their lives were centred more locally.  Around here where I live, 70 miles north of London, people go to London often to see shows or the exhibitions, or shops, or museums, but if you live there, maybe it is not something you worry about too much. The buildings are there. They are not going anywhere.

Just like me in Cape Town.

I think I am going to get out a map and shut my eyes and pin a place to visit.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Christmas is packed away......


And so Christmas is all packed away for another year, and somehow, the emptiness seems greater this year. Packing away the symbols of the celebration of His birth. Tree down. Decorations down. Walls, shelves, piano, doors, all stripped of their bright and beautiful adornments. Do you feel a sadness at this time? Does your home seem bare and empty too? You know, I can't even remember what goes where, and I don't know if I want to replicate what was before. It isn't now. So maybe I want it all to change. Maybe I need some weeks of thinking about it. Or even maybe I could start the decorating. Maybe.

But then, maybe not. I run away with myself at times, and the very last thing I need to be doing right now is unleashing the decorating fiends. It won't stop at one room. I just know. And before I know it I will be living in chaos once again. 2013 is not going to start in chaos.

The attic is now so full that it is impossible to get into it without first removing 34970590237 boxes. The little snag here is that all the Easter/Spring decorations are BEHIND the Christmas boxes. But I have nearly 2 months to contemplate the emptying and rejigging of the attic. And the lining up of the seasons in order. I am so full of good intentions, but seriously, yesterday all that mattered was that the whole lot was out of my kitchen.


And now the house is like a blank page - bare, and I am looking at my new diary, full of blank pages and I am wondering what 2013 has in store. And so help me, the head seems to be full of blank pages right now as well and all I can think of are the boring "to do" things. Exact dates and times and deadlines and barristers and ....you see? I just scribbled with black ink all over the list, because they are not vital in this second. Not today. And I have bread rolls heating through in the oven and eggs waiting to be mashed, and there is joy in that aroma of baking bread.

One day, I will get all my words of the years written into little bars like dog-tags of gold or silver and I will wear them all around my neck on a chain., I will never lose sight of what they are, will I? I think I am also going to put the word in the car somewhere, so I am always reminded, and in the kitchen too. It must be everywhere, because I want to live it out, get into the habit, and carry the meaning with me all the rest of my days.

And the memory being what it is, it needs as much help as I can muster!

I have booked for my aqua classes this week - I am finally easing myself into gear and trying to get a routine established. Not that easy, I can tell you. 


My daughter did the cooking yesterday, and introduced Granny to enchiladas. Granny (and Mum) loved them!


Absolutely delicious. There are definite bonuses in having one's daughter in residence!

And now it could be time for a little snooze perhaps. I am tired. I may have done a bit much. Maybe about 3000% too much. Ah, I have a book. I have some wool. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Saturday, January 05, 2013

A winter afternoon.........

Hello there, everyone! Jean and I are on coffee duty at church tomorrow morning, so this afternoon was one of the Baking Days which precede coffee duty. I have to say that some of the ladies who cater are amazing bakers, and the cakes.....OH MY SAINTED AUNT!! They go straight to the hips without stopping anywhere along the way. I am ashamed to say I show no restraint when confronted with a carrot cake cupcake topped with cream cheese icing. It is just as well our turns only roll round every few months, is all I can say. 

Where was I...

Oh yes. We baked our cupcakes, and iced them at Jean's house, where there is an oven which actually cooks at the temps selected. A marvel. And there is the added appeal of the warmth, thanks to a wonderful wood burning stove. One of the best ideas ever invented. I need one. It tops the list, even dislodging a tumble drier. 


There was much laughter as we baked, and we have done this so many times that we know how to get things done with the minimum of fuss. Jean made her cheese straws, which are a great favourite....



And I made some rice crispy cakes. Melted chocolate and rice crispies. The end. 


They could not possibly be any simpler and the kids love them. 


I do believe that no-one will starve tomorrow, if you also add in the Christmas cakes, mince pies, stollen, shortbread and chocolates which we fully intend taking too. It is a wonderful way to get Temptation out of our homes asap after Christmas. 

And now we come to the star of the show - the wood burner. Mum sat in the study which opens off the kitchen, in front of the wonderful wood burner, and carried on sewing up her latest blanket for the homeless, and she was beautifully warm and toasty. You can tell by the fact that Jean was not wearing any thick cardigan, that we too, were beautifully warm in the kitchen. Those fires really do warm the whole place. Wonderful. 

I want one. 


There really is nothing better than a beautiful fire to relax and warm you at the same time. One of my great delights is to find a fire, and simply sit in front of it, with just candles or Christmas tree lights, and watch the flickering flames and let my mind wander. One of the best things to do on a cold winter evening. 

Now all I am missing is the real fire, but I do have my DVD. There is that. It will do for now, and I have a wonderfully well developed imagination! 

I was looking at a couple of Jean's new sewing projects, and I started thinking about all the things I have made in my day, and honestly, some of them amaze me now. I looked at some rucksacks/backpacks I made one year, complete with all the buckles, and toggles, and eyelets, and strapping and pockets and I turned them over in my hands and honestly, I could hardly believe I made it. Notebooks. Photo frames. Pictures. Bears. Clothes. So many things over the years. Sewing baskets. There have been some interesting projects, believe me. I have every reason to believe that there will be other interesting projects in the future, but seriously, have you ever looked at something which you made once, and shaken your head a little in amazement that you actually had the skill once to do it? 

I am not talking about blowing trumpets here. I am just wondering if anyone else goes through these funny phases? I forget these things, you know. And then I unearth something and just grin. That was then and this is now and right now we are in the "Simple" phase. Simple=easy=I-don't-have-to-think-too-much=uncluttered=clean=perfect. 

That will be just fine for now. 

And now, it is not many hours before you all get to watch the new season of Downton Abbey. It is good. And after that, no doubt you will be seeing the Christmas Special as well, which the entire nation sat down to watch here on Christmas night. I am not going to say anything to spoil it for you ! 

We, on the other hand, have nothing of great interest to watch at all right now. Sigh. There was a time when all the good shows aired all autumn and winter, when the greatest number of people are at home, indoors, with the TV on. Those days are gone, though. Repeats are the order of the day, unless you have Sky. But there are always DVDs to watch, now that I have mastered the art of working the 12 year old DVD player. Some kinds of technology suit me, and other kinds....hmmm. 

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!