Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The sun still shines and we chat about blessings.......


Good morning all!

Do you need to know that I am allergic to the washing machine? Maybe not. The spin cycle has become mega unpleasant. It is the small stuff, people, the small stuff. 

On to other stuff now. I did not edit the above photo. 
The skies are that blue today, and the sun is out, although not tropical. This September has been very warm. The leaves, though, are starting to turn, and as it is now officially Autumn, this should not surprise one. It is all a plot, you see. I have this super efficient heating system now and it is too warm for it to burst into life. The plus side is the fiscal reward, though! 

There is a great deal to sort in the garden. So much to cut down or back and yet so much is still in flower, albeit a little ragged. Do I pull out the colour? Hmmm. The dahlias, though, are in full bloom, and we have no shortage of flowers around here. I look at them and think, right, which colours are missing? I must make a list for the sales next year, and then I forget where the list is and the next year we have the same conversation with ourselves. 

We really do not need any more plants in the beds. They are officially full, and I have another 6 small lavender plants which will need replanting one day as well. I love having plants with a beautiful scent around me. 

The attempt to maximise the use of space in the house continues. The problem is the size of the rooms. They are so small ( a very common British problem), that just put in a bed and a chest of drawers and the room is full. I was reading a thread on sewing machines on Facebook last night, and the talk turned to the size of the sewing room. Well, the original post was about a new custom built sewing table 6ft by 8ft. And I grinned, because there is a small bedroom in this house that size and all three of my children have used it at one stage or another, as they have grown up. And loved it too. And then someone commented that she was envious because she had to squash her stuff into a sewing room measuring 12ft by 14ft. 

There is not a bedroom in this house that size. 

In fact, that would class as a humongous room here by most people. 

It is all relative, isn't it - this may be small, but it has been our home for over 24 years. HOME. People come here. The welcome is always warm. Small is not bad. 

 AND the new carpets and bathroom are the first in all those years too. We make the best of whatever there is, it is ours, and so help me, my gratitude is truly unending. 

It really is. Small is just fine. 
(Caveat: I do dream of more storage space though! There is nothing wrong with dreams.)

And now onto another thought regarding gratitude. Thankfulness. 

There is a trend at the moment for people to say "I am so blessed". "We are very blessed." "We are thankful for our many blessings." Maybe not a trend, but it somehow seems to be so much more present right now in a secular sense. I am delighted that many blessings have poured out onto everyone. However, there is a correlation, and that is that, should those things NOT be happening in your life in a secular sense, then you must not be as good as / not be as favoured / have done something wrong. Or that is how it can be, and is perceived at times. 

I am very blessed. 

"I am very blessed" sounds as though Someone has blessed me, and I happily receive those blessings, of course, and my life is indeed filled with multiple blessings, of a different kind. But would it not be better to say "I am very thankful" when referring to secular things? 

"We have been blessed with a beautiful home."

"I have been blessed with a wonderful husband."

"We have been blessed with amazing jobs."


I go one step further. 

"I am blessed with good health." 

Right. So what does that do to people with health challenges? 


""We have been blessed with 3 children"

Think about it. 

We are, or should be very thankful for these things. 

Very, very thankful. 

There are so many other examples, believe me. Thinking through them is just so important. We are thankful. We are filled with thanks for... We are so grateful. 

I do not take the innumerable blessings in my life for granted. The good, the bad - one day they will all be understood as blessings, I am sure. It is just that my heart aches when words aren't thought through clearly. My life is full of blessings. I have indeed been very blessed. Not with or by dishwashers, although I am very fond of mine. But by so much more, which happens to include my home, the people in it, community I live in, family, friends, church, love....the list is endless. 

Anyway. Just a little something to think about. 

Aquazumba, here I come. I am so thankful for aquazum...........

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Kingdom is still United......

Well, the Kingdom is still united. And the world is still on its axis. But 45% of the people of Scotland voted to sever ties. Just 400 000 difference between the votes. That is nothing.

However, the greatest success of the referendum was the way the electorate was engaged. More than ever before in British Electoral history, the people were active, had an opinion, and got up and voted. In some areas, the turnout was over 90% and the Universal Suffrage records of 1918 have been broken.

This marks a weather change in British politics. Or rather, I hope it does. Apathy is deadly. One cannot expect change if the electorate is apathetic, and the Scots were anything but. The Westminster crowd were horribly shaken, as well they should have been.  Martin Lewis, a well known financial commentator, remarked this morning that the federation cannot be far away. And he suggested that  The United States of the Kingdom could be coming. Instead of The United Kingdom.


I just hope the tremors which ran through the country continue and that DevoMax happens soon, that The Vow is honoured and that they apply all of these fancy things to the rest of the country too. As in Us.

Otherwise I will have to migrate North.

I happened to be awake at 3AM (please note) when the results started rolling in, and I was lying there in bed quite happily until 5am watching it all, when the peace was shattered by our fire alarm going off in emergency mode outside my bedroom door. I hurtled out of bed to look for the fire, because we all know that fire alarms and evacuation plans start with "run around the house looking for flames". Epic fail on all the fire drill practices. David never emerged from his room (he said he could hear that we were alive) while Diana searched the downstairs for flames too, after leaving the deck at tremendous speed.

We couldn't find any flames, so went back to bed.

And not 10 minutes ago, Diana suggested we check what the 3 long beeps repeating meant, so I googled it and it said Real Alarm.


Fortunately, not 2 doors down the road, we have a fireman in residence. This is very useful. I popped out and asked him what the problem could be, as the fire brigade had fitted the alarms here last year, and he brought a replacement round and fitted it for us. He did sort of roll the eyes when I mentioned that no-one had attempted to vacate the building. Oh well. He lives close enough for me to screech for out the window.

So, apart from momentous political shenanigans and screeching alarms, what else do I have to report from Middle England......... Diana has finished painting the kitchen. This has been a herculean task, as the roof is high and there are rafters etc. She has done a wonderful job and once all the furniture is repositioned and the contents of the house are reassessed and rearranged (please note all the "re"s), we should be entering a slightly quieter time. That would be for about a week or so before she has her op next month and crutches become the mode of transport here again. There is also the oven I need to sort. I will. Soon. And the tiles. The step. The......

I love my carpets. 

I cannot tell you how warm and big and lovely the room looks now.


For the first time in my life, we are removing shoes at the door. I cannot believe I said that. It is not a South African thing at all. In fact, it would be regarded as very bad manners to remove shoes. And very bad hosting to expect it. But I have joined the ranks. It may just be for a short while, but still.....


Carpets are just things. I know. But I can see the beautiful and enjoy it too. 

Happy weekend to you all!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The question over Scotland................

Today's post is political because momentous things happen when a country gets to vote whether or not to leave the Kingdom. I will not be at all offended if you skip on to the next blog! Linds

Today is the day that the future of the United Kingdom hangs in balance. It is really quite surreal, because the TV has been full of the referendum talk for weeks and today, there is silence, because legally, they cannot be seen to influence in either direction. This noble idea may have been around forever, but it is the first time I have noticed it. 

So, the news is about everything except what is happening north of the border. Until 9 pm tonight, and then, throughout the night and into tomorrow and possibly forever, the talk will be about how Scotland voted. And the consequences for both Scotland and for the whole of the UK. Not so much United, should they vote to leave. 

Someone suggested that we would have to become rUK - Rest of UK. 

Right now, I think it could go either way. And, should Scotland vote to leave, everything changes. Should they vote to stay, the government will have to make good on all those carrots waved to induce co-operation. 

You see, it is not as straightforward as it may seem. Our politicians tend to think the UK consists of everything within the M25, aka London, and that the rest of the country is populated by village people who are not very bright. Simple. Lazy. Workshy. 

I am quite unashamedly stating what I see as fact today. 

Not one politician even considered for a second that the Yes vote may just win. Supreme complacency. The No vote didn't even have a real face or agenda until recent weeks. However, things changed last week when the polls suddenly had the Yes vote in the lead and in an instant, all panic stations were fully manned. But, by the very politicians who caused the "distance from London = forgotten badlands" idea in the first place, so I suspect that didn't go down too well. 

Should the No vote win, the political future of the top politicians will be on very shaky ground. Only there is no-one looming in the shadows ready to take over, apart from Boris, of course. Boris is the Mayor of London. No politician would want to dissolution of the Kingdom to be on his watch. Nor would I want to  be Mr Cameron at the next audience with the Queen, should that happen. 

And if the Yes vote wins, I just wonder how the government is going to keep the rest of the UK intact. Wales. Northern Ireland. Cornwall. Even Yorkshire, could be next. 

A win by the No vote means making good on all those hasty promises. That is going to be difficult. 

Interesting times. 

The other epic challenge will be how to reconcile the Scottish people after today, because no matter which side wins, and passions are very very high today, when the country is split 50/50, it will not be simple to restore balance. 

And could it ever be the same? 

Tomorrow will bring the answers. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Much hammering.....

Today is the day. The new carpets are begin fitted as I speak. Well, the nail stuff is being done. But we are nearly there! And it is so exciting, I can't begin to tell you.


And it is raining. For the first time in weeks, it decides to rain today. Just when I have two sofas' worth of covers to wash and dry and new carpets which may just GET WET. AND I have to switch on the heating so that the carpets can be soft or whatever that means. So I upped the numbers on the thermostat with great authority. Anyone would think I knew what I was doing. Hah. Well, the radiators are warming up. I may be cooking soon, so I must have done something right.

The new radiator was replaced last Thursday. And this morning, I realised that I hadn't painted the skirting board in the window area. Groan, so I gave that one coat of very quick drying paint.


Diana has been in London for a few days and she got back yesterday, so she and David did most of the moving of stuff. Did I mention that the piano had to be dismantled? That happened yesterday too. I did most of the unscrewing of it - it was like a jigsaw puzzle. The hardest part was undoing the first screw. I really struggled to do that, because that piano is full of memories.


  My great-grandparents gave it to my grandparents nearly 100 years ago as a wedding gift. My mother played on it all her growing up years. I played on it. Diana and David played on it. And Ann has been the only one playing it in recent years, even though it has been out of tune. She still made it sound beautiful, because she is a really accomplished pianist. My neighbours used to ask me to make sure all doors and windows were open when she played so that they could sit back and enjoy the music too.


A rosewood piano. But I can't justify the expense of keeping it, because it needed repairs and we need the space. I tried to give it away. And no-one wanted it. It is not easy to dispose of either. That would be because of the iron body. It weighs a ton, even stripped of anything that can be removed. Once I had unscrewed the first screw, the rest was not a problem. And I have a few videos and photos too.


Anyway, it is now sitting outside behind the bins, waiting for either the rag and bone man or the skip I may have to hire. Soon. 

I am being distracted by the transformation of my house. 
This carpet laying is a very interesting procedure. 

I didn't know there were rules about stapling down underlay to stairs and Health and Safety Rules for laying carpets. Fascinating. It is very different to the way the last ones were laid. And the best bit is that the colour is just PERFECT. Just as well. 

Diana has just made bacon rolls for us all. I need to go and look at my new carpet. There will be photos later. And please remind me that I want to chat about blessing, forgiveness, autumn, gratitude, freezers, Ikea and politics. 

Among other things, of course.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

IRL fun, bovine antics, bathrooms and....what was it..... Oh yes, the potential dissolution of the United Kingdom. Imminent.

Good grief. Time flies.

The suit saga was solved, and David duly attended the wedding clad in the beautiful new garb and a great time was had by all.  Diana returned home from her travels and then trundled off immediately to Falmouth to deliver a young friend back to uni. She and David both got home at about the same time last Sunday. The plumber has departed for Turkey to attend a wedding, and Jean departs soon for the very same reason. Her son is getting married!

I tell you, life is fast paced around here.

And I started hacking back the jungle garden. 

I have a sneaking suspicion that the collection of the garden waste is soon going to stop. I get caught out every year. Believe me, the garden is most certainly a jungle.

The bathroom is 99% finished - we are awaiting the new side bath panel and the windowsill, but I just love it. It is AMAZING. And, ironically, it seems twice the size, even though the bath is wider, longer, deeper etc, etc.


I have not done the finishing touches or the "putting out of the stuff", or the "using the cupboard" thing yet. I will wait until the plumber has finished. But I love it. That bath is worth the wait. Definitely. 


Diana is proud of the giant Mongolian sun flower she has grown. And the others. The plant IS STILL GROWING. 


You really need to see how pretty the English countryside is around here. Cows grazing..... Mind you, we have had some evil cows around these parts recently. Not the ones in the photo. Forget the gently grazing in the field thing. They have charged and trampled some people in the next village. Hospitalisation was required. And the cows needed moving. We have public rights of way here, so the public has a right to walk across fields demarcated as Public Rights of Way. Dogs need to be on leads, but one does not expect close encounters of the bovine kind. 

Years ago, Diana and the little son of a friend were walking across a field when the cows started massing their numbers and approaching at speed. She managed to hurl herself and her charge over the hedge to safety, but was totally traumatised. 

Swiss cows are well behaved. I don't recall being wary of Swiss cows. Mind you, at least they wear bells, so if they gathered speed, they could well deafen themselves. 

But at least we would be warned. 


I digress.


I have really pretty dahlias this year. 

And giant ones. 


It rained a while back so this one keeled over and face-planted itself into the adjacent jungle, so I had to pick it. 

And then, in the midst of this crazy upside down house time, my blogging friend from way back when, Mary, arrived in the UK with her friend, Alison, and Alison's son and partner, for a Northern Hemisphere Adventure, which included visiting ME. 

Of course. 

So, yesterday, I waved a duster around the place for roughly 10 seconds, vacuumed up the very present dust, unrolled a rug from the standing selection of rugs leaning against a bench in my porch, patted a cushion or two and zapped off to meet the train. 

It really seemed as if I had known them both for decades, you know. Within seconds. 

The beautify of the blogging world is the way you actually get to interact with special people, and forge unique friendships across oceans, deserts, jungles and mountains. And the sense of humour, the valiant spirit, the attitude to life which linked all those dots years ago, proved spot on. As it has with all my really special IRL encounters. Barry and Becky from the top left of the USA will attest to that very special bond. They enrich my life, as have others too over the years. 

And now we have an Australian link as well. 

The day flew by as we did the In Depth Tour of Linds's Life. This tour included Tesco, took us past old schools, friends' homes, into the village sweet shop, the beauty salon, hairdresser, chemist........

You have no idea. It also included lunch at my favourite place, the local church, driving into the village all three ways and a visit to the allotment, all accompanied by Peppa Pig (Granny has to do the Peppa Tours the World thing for the small granddaughter, after all. It is only natural.)


Please note Peppa on Mary's lap. 

This was taken moments after Diana checked the time of the train and when we had to depart for the station etc. We needed photos. 

I just wish they could have stayed longer. We may well have managed to include the local beauty spots, like the Grand Union Canal, a stately home or two and assorted other worthy places. At least they saw the tower which is over 1000 years old.

So yesterday was a wonderful day. And I dozed off very quickly in my chair in the evening. 

On a totally different note, I am at home today, awaiting the delivery of the new tall radiator. The Heating Plumber called to tell me it was being delivered today. And that he would be here this week to install it. On that basis, I have called the carpet company and they will be here on Monday morning at dawn, to lay the carpets. Eureka. Hallelujah. 

It would, of course, have been perfect had the carpets been on the floor and not in a distant warehouse when my guests arrived, but I think they got the minimalist look. As in nothing in the room bar the couches, a stool or two and the tv and kist. 

The pictures were on the wall, though. There was that. 

The country is now gripped by the potential dissolution of the Union. This is a MAJOR issue, people. Did you realise that next week, the people of Scotland are voting a yes/no vote for or against independence? That would mean the United Kingdom would cease to exist. The Union Jack would have to be stripped of the Saltire. And we would no longer be one nation. The ramifications are huge on every front. And right now, the Yes vote is winning. Oy. We will know next week. 

It is unthinkable.