Tuesday, August 18, 2015

For The Love...................


As most of you will know, I was lucky enough to be chosen to be one of the #500  - the launch team from around the globe, for Jen Hatmaker's new book. And in the process of doing just that, we, the #496 (women) and the #bandoffour (men) have become living proof of what community can do to people. The support, the laughter, the generosity, the love - just overwhelming. What an enormous blessing it has been. So much fun too.

But today is not about us. The 500 will continue to grow as a community and so help me, if I could, I would be going to the launch party in Texas at Jen's house in September. Unfortunately, Texas has failed to move closer to the middle of England, so I can't be there.


So, people, without further ado, let me introduce you to For The Love - you are going to just love this book. In fact, you are going to read it over and over and you will probably suggest everyone reads it. And possibly use it in a book club as well. 

It is that good. 

You know, I adore Pinterest. I am totally inspired by all the ideas and the things and the crazy complicated stuff like dolphin shaped sandwiches. How to up-cycle, down cycle, create, decorate, dress, do make up, braid hair - have you TRIED braiding your own hair? Huh? How to holiday, throw parties, decorate the Christmas tree. How to ......................

Well, just about everything. 

Weddings. Christenings. Thanksgiving. Guy Fawkes. 

Flawless perfection. 

I am so full of good intentions. 

And add to this divine source of inspiration, the targets we are beset with in every phase of our lives. Work, play, sport, weight, health, schooling, subjects, IT, you name it. We seem to have endless government targets and standards which are so out of touch with reality as to be useless. Targets or levels which never seem to take into account individuality and personal talents. Or the fact that it is perfectly okay to be doing some things well, just well, not outstandingly.

You see, what Jen is doing in this book is providing us with an understanding that it is absolutely fine to kick some things right off our beam.

Things that actually have no worth in a true and honest world. It is not possible to have perfection in life. Our kids are fallible, just as we are. Human. Stuff goes wrong. Grace comes from understanding truth, that our best is good enough, and that He who judges us is beyond reproach and is not looking at attainment targets. He is in the business of Kingdom building. Community building. 

This then is worthwhile work, isn't it?


Believe me, you will laugh till you cry - you will cry real ugly tears, and you will wish you had read all the words long ago. 

You have permission to rest in the knowledge that you are seen, you are loved and that loving is the best way we can influence the world and its future generations. 

It is the stuff of which communities are built. Like the #500. 

You. Have. No. Idea. 

The hashtags which have emerged have had us rolling around the world. The community is real. Meet ups happen globally. Mug swaps. T-shirts, Armbands, Bookclubs. Writing circles. Healthy eating. And so many more. From 500 people who have banded together. It works. It is entirely possible that a baby will be born into the launch team today. Community is what makes us civilised, after all. And anything we can do to grow or improve our world is just so good. 

The book launches today in the US. Here, however, it does not launch until the end of September, the 24th,  for some TOTALLY UNKNOWN AND INCONVENIENT REASON. I couldn't even leave an Amazon review on the book. I could on the Kindle, but not on the book. 

I will be giving away two copies of the book to my readers, and am happy to open the giveaway now - just leave a comment and I will add you to the list, on the understanding that we will have to wait if you happen to be anywhere which is not the States. The giveaway will stay open until the end of the week. Sunday 23 August. 

If you can't wait, it is selling for a really good price on the Kindle, so off you go......

If this is the first time you have heard of Jen Hatmaker, I cannot recommend her more highly. A blogger, pastor, speaker, author, mother and inspiration to so many. Read The Worst End of School Year Mom Ever and you will see what I mean. Her books, Interrupted and Seven, are superb. And now we have For The Love. 


(PS: I cannot claim to have made the gorgeous graphics thingamies - nor can I tell you exactly who made what, but I do know that the gymnast one is made by the uber talented Jenny Garwood! They were all made for us to use as we chose - so many! 
I will also say that I was sent a pre-publication copy of the book and a pdf as well as part of the #ForTheLove book launch team. )

Friday, August 07, 2015

Snippets, and banishing CoCo.........


The sun is making an as yet feeble attempt to shine today, but I live in hope. Apparently summer is on its way back after going AWOL for a long while, and this weekend could be bright. Warm. 

How lovely that would be. 

This is England, however, and the weather does what it feels like doing, with scant regard for things like SUMMER. 


The beans are so late this year - the courgettes are not. My glut continues, but, at the farm stall this morning, I heard that for many people, this has been a disastrous year for courgettes. (Zucchini). Black fly. Thankfully, I have not had that, and there is a lot of courgette rice already frozen and piles waiting to spiralise too. I absolutely love spiralising vegetables and stir frying them in a little coconut oil! Do any of you spiralise? 


And my garden grows on. 

The days here are slower at the moment, but things always need to be sorted, and we have now ordered Mum new glasses - after 2.5hrs of testing at the opticians. I cannot fault the level of care they displayed. We were, however, expiring by the time we had paid and been given a collection appointment. Coffee was almost needed intravenously. And, while waiting for Mum, I found it necessary to invest in a little new make up too. 

As in, I had run out of blusher, and so help me, I do not do glitter and the lack of creme cheaper blushers was a disaster. Older skin is better with creme blush instead of powder, apparently, and heaven knows we do not need to look any older than we already do. So I ventured into new territory, aka the Clinique department. I have used other brands - especially Lancome, Estee Lauder and Christian Dior for most of my adult life, (Mary Quant was the VERY FIRST make up range I tried. Does anyone remember Mary Quant?) until I got older and then Oil of Olay and its 7 magical effects to delay aging and Max Factor took over. My best. Nothing wrong with them either, but they do powdery glittery blusher, and so help me I will not buy that. Sparkles in one's 60s? Hmmm. 

The crunch came after aqua yesterday. When one is hot and sweaty after exercise and a shower - yes, one is - and one attempts to brush on the cheap powdery blush we resorted to, and then one looks in the car mirror and discovers that one closely resembles CoCo the clown, urgent steps are necessary. 

So, we now have very classy creme blusher. 

And highlighter.

And brow pencil. 

I never was very good at waiting. Patience and I are not close friends. 

The slight hitch with the application of the brow pen revolves around the fact that I need to be wearing my specs to see what I am doing. This rather impedes my progress because my eye brows are behind the glasses. 

Much practice may be necessary. Natalie made it all look so simple in the shop. 


Growing older is not for wimps. 

I do realise that this is not a mentally stimulating post. However, these things are important. One cannot look like CoCo the clown. CoCo Chanel, yes. Clown, no. 

We can think about brain fodder next time. 


Or maybe we can just be outrageous instead. 

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The mountains suit me well........

It has been a very busy time here over the past week - especially the weekend. Last Sunday, all 4 of the younger generation members of my family, as in 3 kids and one daughter-in-law, were all in different countries. I have an adventurous family, it seems. Germany, England, Switzerland and New Zealand. 

So there was a fair amount of zapping all over the place, which means that I am still recovering. 

Anyway - more of the "now" later - let me just finish this lot of Swiss photos before I forget! 

The rain was very good for Marge's garden, and by the second week, the sun was shining and everything grew over night, and bloomed. And her garden is spectacular. 


There is a new cable way being built up the mountain, and one of the huge carparks is where all the bits and pieces are laid out, rather like a giant Meccano set, and the huge helicopters fly up and down the mountain, carrying all the pieces and slotting them together. Incredibly clever, and very efficient too. Fascinating to watch. 

I was outside one day when I heard the helicopter, turned around and just grabbed my phone and snapped a couple of shots. I couldn't see what I was doing because the sun was bright and the eyes are not good, but I captured this.....


The helicopter bringing down one of the old Rotair cable cars from the top of the Alp. This is the home of the world's first rotating cablecars, you see, and they have brand new ones up and running now. 

I was so thrilled that the photo worked, and when you realise that those cable cars hold around 65 people, you will understand that it is not small! 

I popped in to the Benedictine Abbey one day, because my friend Kelli in Oregon wanted to see inside - it is a beautiful place. Huge. Ask me what yodelling nuns sound like inside...... There was a time was found out! 


Very peaceful and quiet on this day though. 


You will all know this view by now. I can't stop taking photos of it. Marge's balcony.  I mean....what can I say? 


The balcony was a nursery this time. In one of her geranium pots hanging on the wall, was a nest, and it had about 5 eggs in it. The chickadees sat on that nest faithfully, and then one day, the feeding started, and the eggs hatched over about 4 days, and we sat inside and took photos of the parents.....

Nature is marvellous, isn't it? 


Another one of my favourite places is the little waterfall. In the forest. It is all flat and easy to get around, and so I had to go, on a hot, hot day. 

I just love it. It is tucked away, and I can always hear the water long before I get there. So then I slipped off my shoes and stuck my feet in the icy mountain water, straight from the glacier up above. And I sat on my rock and just breathed the alpine air, and marvelled that such beauty was there for everyone to share. 

At the same time, there was a school adventure outing in the forest, but bless their cotton socks, they gave me space and kept away while I sat there. 


You know, my sister commented on the fact that, by the time I left, I wasn't falling asleep in the chair all the time. And people said I looked 10 years younger than when I arrived. I actually think I did too. 


Maybe this is why. 



(I got the info re the capacity of the Rotair from the Table Mountain Cape Town wikipedia entry, because I couldn't find the details for Titlis. I assume they are about the same! My sister, by the way, was sent to Cape Town when the cable car opened there, to assist with the launch, and became the living link between the two cablecars!)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

And then I took a flight....

To the Alps. 

I didn't actually tell anyone there that I was arriving, so I had a "quiet", "relaxed" trip across Europe , which included flight delays, via car, train, bus, wheelchair, plane, wheelchair, train, train and then arrived, rang the doorbell and listened to the surprised laughter, before I reminded my sister that actually entering the house would be good. 

Surprises are fun. 


Marge's garden was just bursting into life and the lupins were stunning. So many! And so many shades. I need to diversify. Or move to Switzerland and sit in my sister's garden instead. 
That might work. 


The first few days were damp. Actually, they were sodden. However, my sticks, camera and I took off to "play" along old familiar and very dear paths, and the wildflowers were everywhere. I am intrepid and water will not stop me....!

The Swiss know how to manage paths. They also know how many seats to put everywhere, and now I see that they have made all the paths I walked on wheelchair friendly too. In fact, remind me to tell you how wheelchairs work in the mountains. Just amazing. 


The grey skies can also bring with them wonderful opportunities to capture different kinds of views of the same thing. De Hanen looked great in grey and white. 


The rivers were full, and the sound of rushing water was ever present. And it was all so incredibly green. 


Up in "my" forest, I still moan about my missing bench. I cannot believe they removed it. What were they thinking ??  I am in mourning. I stood on the spot. Actually, I need to have one of those camping chairs on my back. I could go and plant it in the gap and sit there. Hmmm. Good plan. My sister will think I have lost my mind. 

One of those benches on the Klostermatt. I sat on every one, I think. I also carried a freezer blanket waterproof thing with me, so it never mattered if the seat was wet. I was dry. And an umbrella. I am so prepared.....


Sometimes, you just cannot quite record the green as it really is - vibrant and bright. I need to work out how to do that, without having to attempt filters. So peaceful. So quiet. And yet there were people around. 

You know, I just love the fact that I can do all these things alone, without much falling, or being isolated, with places to sit, places to get to without being dependant on others. It is all so freeing, and you don't need cars all the time. Mind you, time is one thing I have there - no crazy timetable to stick to, of course. The free bus through the village is great too. 

And so are local friends. we went to the Wasserfal for tea one afternoon with our friend, Anita - lovely to do something different. And there was plenty of water flowing that day. In fact every day I was there. 


That little tree growing on the rock in front of the water always makes me grin. Surviving in the most unexpected places. 

I was there for 2 weeks, and the sun did shine after the first week - and I also spent time relaxing with my spiraliser  - I introduced my family to courgette (zucchini)  spaghetti and they are all huge fans now - doing 1000 piece puzzles, being out in the garden, being a little creative and even managing to finish off WsIP which have been languishing there for years. More about that later. 

I will show you All. 

You have no idea how many photos there are waiting...............

Sunday, July 26, 2015

North of the Border, Part 2.........

The sun shone quite frequently while I was on the east side of Scotland. It rained even more frequently, but we will concentrate on the sun. And, to be quite honest, I really couldn't care about the weather, because Cheryl and I are always quite happy to be ensconced in front of the fire with stuff to read, puzzles to do, scrabble to play and laughter and endless conversation to keep us busy. And the food......


Outside the front door.....


this is the view of Loch Leven......


And up the road, when I took myself off on a stroll, there were some very nosey friendly cows. Especially this one in the middle. I christened her Daisy, and she led the charge of cows along the fence as I walked, and they stood there for ages as I walked down the lane. It was hilarious - passing motorists also roared with laughter. 

Ah, life in the country. 

I could live there.


If you look behind, me, you will see them all still bunched at the fence at the top of the road, watching me walk away. I kept thinking I would hear the thunderous sound  of cows barrelling down the road any moment. So funny. 

They liked me. 


Fields ploughed, scattered and presumably growing. They looked like corduroy. 


Sheep on the hillside....


And this is how we spent the quiet days - bliss. I just love spending time here. 


We all went for a drive to Falkland and St Andrews, then on around the peninsula on one beautiful day. 


It was lovely to see the sea and walk on a beach, and even the seagulls posed for me....


St Andrews was getting ready for the Open , and stands were being erected on the golf course. 

Such a lovely place. My children rode donkeys here on the beach in 1986! 


So many photos I could have posted. But it gives you an idea of why I love it so much. 


Wonderful friends. So much shared history. And a beautiful place to relax and rest.

Friday, July 24, 2015



So I went to Scotland. It has been way too long since I was last there, and I have friends on both sides of the country who were happy to have me to stay, so off I went. The trip up was the day after the general election, so the entire time travelling, listening to analysis and debate, was enough to make one contemplate emigration. To a desert island. Population One. Me. 


I stayed with friends just south of Glasgow (my grandmother was born and raised in Glasgow) and on the Saturday, they took me on a ferry trip across the water to Bute. I had never been there before, so that was very exciting. The fact that ferries tend to vibrate enthusiastically was unexpected, but we found a spot as far toward the bow as we could go, which was the least problematic. And if you keep moving, it helps. The trip wasn't long, and the scenery was so beautiful, so we rose above the disadvantages. 


I mean - just look at how gorgeous it is......



We drove along the coast to an estate - a beautiful stately home in stunning gardens. My friends went on a tour of the house, while I wandered a little outside and then sat in the sun. it was just lovely. I did take loads of photos, of course.


There was a regatta on at the time - plenty of yachts! 


I stayed on the west side of Scotland for a few days and I was introduced to the joys of The Whole Food store - I have never been in one before, and it was amazing! There are apparently a few scattered around the UK. I must search for one nearby to me as well. That may be London, though. We will see. It was great. So, with a trip to Ikea tossed in as well, and time spent in the village where my friends stay. It was just lovely. The weather was not great - but Scotland is beautiful in the rain too. 

So I set off to cross over to the other side of the country. I had a choice - going via Stirling, which I love - it has the most amazing castle ever or via The Kelpies. I wanted to see them too. I chose Stirling Castle. If you find your self in the UK and want to see a castle, bypass every single one and head for Stirling. Especially if you have children (of any age at all). Believe me, this one is the very best. There is nowhere you can't go. Roped off sections just do not seem to exist, and you can go into turrets, into cellars, everywhere. Even at the advanced age of 61, it excites me!


If, as I do, you love history, it is so easy to visualise how things once were.



Robert The Bruce




It was a trifle damp, but that was fine. I watched a costumed re-enactment in one of the halls, and then spent a huge amount of time, in the exhibition centre, where the time line came to life, together with the forensic examination of bones discovered, and how, using the kind of technology David is trained to use, they could even come up with real faces for the people. It blows your mind, people. 


I am glad I chose the castle. 

There will be time for the Kelpies soon. 

And so I set off eastwards to my friends - Cheryl and Robin. Cheryl and I met when we were 5 or 6 on a rock at Clifton Beach, Cape Town,  at a birthday party. We went through half our schooling and all our university days together, she was a bridesmaid of mine, and we have remained friends for a lifetime. Our friendship is one of those amazing kinds - nothing alters it. It just expands. But more of that next time.....

Did I mention that I love Scotland? My name has strong Scottish connections as well. 
One of my favourite places. 

Even when it rains......

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hello, world, I am back......


Once you have stopped rubbing your eyes, and have picked yourselves up off the floor, and adjusted your specs, yes, it is me. Hello! (Waving from my study in Middle England). I have not been abducted by aliens, nor have I wandered off on an epic plod around the world (yet), but life has been a bit complicated. Time, as my mother always says, flies so much faster when you are older. Heaven knows I am older.

 However, here I am, and I have stories of Scotland and Switzerland to relate. And of village life. And of dreams, family, conversations, plans and who knows what else.

I confess that I have not been visiting much at all. Stuff happens, challenges arise, and day to day events expand to absorb each 24 hour period until you gather your wits and make a stand and screech to a halt.

So, how are you all? I think about you so often and seriously miss being here and a part of this world. Even if no-one reads, it is still being a part of a world we all helped to create a decade ago or so. Can you believe how long ago that was? I know. It staggers me too.

On the medical front, my GP left, locums were hard to deal with and we have now got new doctors - no lady docs, unfortunately, and life is a little challenging, trying to get anyone to actually manage CRPS. They say they know. Hmmm. No they don't. This complicates things. In fact, I am way past complications. Simplicity would be lovely.

Anyway, Diana is now well settled in her little house in New Zealand, and is busy at work, and has been doing a fair amount of travel as well. Her photos are simply stunning, and hopefully I will be there early next year to visit her. Missy is 6, has just finished her second year at school, and is a total delight. Tall, and so much fun! My sons and daughter-in-law are all well and happy, and working hard.


Creatively, I have started finishing off WsIP (works in progress) and finally finished David's memory quilt, which I started the year after Geoff died. That, my friends, was 9 years ago a couple of weeks ago. Nine. It boggles the mind. 

So, as you can see, it took a while. 

I managed Andrew's one straight away, but the others..... groan. We will get there. I also finished a couple of blankets, and have made shawls and the latest was a mouse costume for holiday club at church. Oh, there were also some quilts for friends, and for the summer decor around here, because, as you will remember, I like things to change. Out with the bright summer colours this year and we are all cream, mocha and pale blue. It looks lovely and peaceful and cool.

So many things to tell you. To catch up. my brain is shooting all over the place.

You know, this is hard. I write and delete. Write and delete. It is as if I don't know what I am doing here. I think it is going to take some time.


For the first year in a very long time, I decided to not spend all my spring preparing my garden, because this year, I wanted to be free to go away, to do things, and not to feel tied to it and the watering and tending, and it has been so difficult to actually let go and enjoy it! I came back from Switzerland in June, and the flowers were not the usual riot of colours together, rather one plant, one colour per basket, and it all looked so wrong. I had not grown flowers from seed at all. I can't remember when last I had a quiet spring, and it goes so much against the grain, let me tell you. The garden is growing, and looks fine, but it is not me. You know? I also scaled down the number of vegetables both here and at the allotment. Hmmm. The jury remains out on this new plan.

However, I acknowledge that the garden had become and obsession. And I do so want to move around - go to different places. Visit friends. Explore the new, and also the old.

So I went to Scotland - first to the west and then to the east and I had a wonderful time. But that is for tomorrow.........