Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Of feet and doormats


This morning, I had a bewildering experience in a hardware shop. Picture the scene. Man in front of me completing his transaction; me behind him queueing with a new doormat (life in the fast lane, eh?).

Man: I'll finish and let this gentleman (me) buy his mat.
Me (hurt): I'm a woman!
Man (apologetically): I was looking at your feet.

These are my feet, above, as exhibited this morning. Do they look like male feet? Please tell me they don't. The woman behind the counter was literally crying with laughter. I was just...crying.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Brooklyn Beckham...

...has published  a book of photographs: What I See. It is flying high in the Amazon listings, although I gather the photos are rather poor.

Two things:

1. Of course, as a struggling writer*, I envy his success, and the fact that a name undoubtedly gets you places. But -

2. Do people really have to be quite so nasty (read the reviews)? The photos may be bad, but if Penguin, no less, were prepared to publish it, he'd have been a fool to say no. Would you have turned down a deal from, Penguin? I certainly wouldn't. And his name must be a handicap as well as a help, for how will he ever know whether something he has done is good or bad, when the name of Beckham will inevitably open doors wherever he goes? He's only eighteen. I genuinely hope that he's not hurt by those reviews, but that his parents have prepared him for this sort of unkindness.

*Please read my books! Just saying...

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Not-so-tiny triplets

Sixteen years ago, my daughter had triplets. It was a mad time of feeding, dressing, nappy-changing etc, and I tried to do my bit. Now, quite suddenly, they have grown up. I can hardly believe it.  Here they are on their way to the school prom.

Where have those tiny babies gone?

Monday, 3 July 2017

Thoughts on watches

This is a very expensive watch - just under £7000, and that's in the sale. Personally, I think it's bit vulgar, but each to his/her (in this case) own.

I've been thinking about watches. I've lost count of the number of watches I've given to children, husbands, grandchildren, and am constantly bewildered by the variety of prices among watches which often look basically identical. You can buy a perfectly good watch for about £20 (I have a plastic one for riding - £10, and lovely bright red). When buying presents, I probably spend more than I need to as I don't like feeling mean, but I never spend a huge amount.

And watch advertisements....think about it. Who really needs a watch that's accurate too within  a tenth of a second in a million years? How long exactly are people expecting to live? And how many watch-owners are going to dive to hundreds of feet under water, which seems to be what a lot of watches are made for? When all you really need is one that won't die in the shower?

And then there's the infuriating advert "you never really own this watch....just hold it in trust for the next generation". What? Imagine the conversation:

"Son, here's my watch. I've been keeping it in trust for you."
"What, that old thing? Nah. Thanks all the same .I think I'll give it a miss."

But for those lucky few who will live, largely underwater,  for a million years, and have grateful offspring (who are presumably equally blessed in the longevity stakes), watches such as these could be just the answer.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

A nice new recipe

Every so often I am inspired to create an amazing new dish, like my  Thrice baked lemon meringue pie. This happened again yesterday.

Specially mixed Mediterranean vegetables:
1. Toss sliced peppers, courgettes, red onions and cherry tomatoes in herbs, seasoning and olive oil.
2. Roast in a hot oven for about forty minutes.
3. Carefully remove the tin with the cooked vegetables.
4. Upend the tin onto the floor. Ensure all the vegetable have fallen out. There should be a big oily pool of grease with the veg scattered about in it.
5. Using a large fish slice, scoop all the veg back into the tin. By this time, they will be well mixed.
6. Serve.

Cook's note: this doesn't work so well if the floor is carpeted. It also helps if the floor is clean (ish).


Monday, 26 June 2017

Warning - this post could cause offence

This made me laugh, I'm afraid. Aren't children just the sweetest? Hmm....

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Adrian would have known



When you flew in through the window
You were very cross
And buzzy.
I helped you to leave
But you weren't grateful at all.
I googled hornet,
Just in case.
But you are bombus lapidarius,
And a queen, at that.
Do you sting?
I suspect that you do.
This is one for Adrian, I thought.
(I also thought,
Is this a poem?
Probably not.
But I've read
Worse
Verse.)

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

A rant to X

I can't really say this to her; it would be infantile. I need to be very grown-up when I confront her. So I shall rant here. Feel free to ignore a very angry post.

"X - what right did you think you had to walk into my horse's box and cut, yes CUT, his mane? You don't work at the yard; nobody asked you to do this. But you took it upon  your interfering self to mutilate MY horse. The mane looks TERRIBLE. It looks as though a child has been at it with a pair of blunt scissors. You know full well that a mane should never, ever, be cut. It should be pulled*. You have always considered yourself to be something of an expert, so you should know this. Blue has (had) a lovely mane. It didn't need anything done to it. I am furious (I rarely get very angry, but this time I am).

"I didn't know what to do with all this anger, so I'm spilling it out onto my blog, which I'm quite sure you've  never even heard of, never mind read. When I see you, I shall try very hard to be civilised, but you will sulk, which is what you always do if anyone annoys you. But I don't do the sulking thing because it's childish. I shall be the bigger person (I actually am the bigger person, being several inches taller than you). I shall try to control myself as best I can. And hope very much that you can find some explanation for your extraordinary behaviour. (What I would really like to do is go into your horse's box and cut his mane OFF. But I shan't. Sadly.)"

I shall probably see X tomorrow. I'll let you know how adult/ sensible I manage to be....

*Anyone in the know will know that a horse's mane is never cut; the hair is pulled out in such a way as to leave a natural looking line. This does not hurt the horse!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Of blackbirds

We have a pair of blackbirds nesting in our courtyard. We are trying to be very quiet, as the last pair a couple of years ago deserted, because, I suppose, we were making too much noise. I've been watching them flying to and fro,with beakfuls of insects, and it set me thinking. Do they plan, or is it all instinct? Do two blackbirds get together and decide to build a nest, or do they decide to put a twig in a hedge, then another, then another etc until lo! a nest is formed?

And the eggs. Do they know there's a baby in each egg, or does that, too, happen in instinctive stage by instinctive stage? Are they surprised when each egg hatches? Pleased? Proud? And do they feed these babies instinctively, or do they have feelings for them?

I'm not looking for answers here, because I feel we humans have to have an answer for everything (eg 'a bird sings because its marking its territory.' Why can't a bird be singing just because it's a lovely day and it feels like it?), and I'm sure we're often wrong.

But I'm glad we have the blackbirds sharing our tiny courtyard. It feels like a privilege. And I shall go on watching them and keeping very, very quiet.....

Monday, 12 June 2017

Bee orchids


At this time of year, when I'm riding, I like to visit the wild orchids which grow in abundance on the Pewsey downs. Today, three of us went in search of bee orchids, which only seem to grow in one area. These fascinating plants have always intrigued me, but it's years since I saw any, before we discovered a small scattering of them last year.

That's all. (The horses were not permitted to eat them.)



Thursday, 8 June 2017

Thoughts of my grandmother

As I struggle with things computer-related, my thoughts sometimes turn to my grandmother (above with my cousin on her knee). For I finally understand how she felt about phone boxes.

If we tried to coax Granny into a phone box, she would back away as though it were full of ravaging beasts. Press Button A? Button B? She couldn't. She just couldn't. I know now that that familiar mist so well known to me was descending before her eyes, and she knew that she couldn't deal with anything so complicated.

Brought up in a house full of servants, where people wrote letters, real letters, that arrived the same day, and in a world of horses and carts, she lived through two world wars ( she spent the second one hiding under the piano).She successfully mastered the wireless and the telephone, and would watch other people's televisions. Phone boxes were a step too far.

She spent her later years, widowed and  alone, sleeping in a bed which has two items under it: a chamber pot and a truncheon. How she proposed to reach, never mind wield, a truncheon in the event of an intruder I have no idea. I'm not sure how she even managed the chamber pot (Granny was not small, living on bread and cheese and sweet milky coffee). Now I shall never know.

But I finally understand about the phone box. I just wish I had understood at the time.

(I may have posted about this before, but no matter...)

Friday, 19 May 2017

Start your Christmas shopping now!

For I have found the perfect present for the person who has everything: a subscription to the Flat Earth Society. At only $12, it comes with an inscribed medallion (flat, of course) and a certificate. And the recipient it almost certain not to be a member already, so s/he will undoubtedly be surprised. Delight will, of course, be optional.

Not at all. You're most welcome.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Opinions, please!

I'd love any comments/opinions on my new Website if you have a moment, please. (Currently recuperating from another gravity-assisted horse adventure, so thought I'd revisit my neglected blog....)

Friday, 28 April 2017

One reason why I write to a death row prisoner

Texas death row inmates spend an average of more than 14 years awaiting execution in solitary confinement, posited by UT-Austin researchers as akin to torture, an assessment shared by several human rights organizations.
The study comes amid a backdrop of prolific capital punishment in Texas, a state that executes more prisoners than any other state - by far. This year alone, 4 people have been put to death through the use of the drug Pentobarbital for various crimes: Christopher Wilkins, 48, executed Jan. 11; Terry Darnell Edwards, 43, executed Jan. 26; Rolando Ruiz, 44, put to death on March 7; and James Bigby, 61, executed March 14 (Source: Death Penalty Information Center).

The 4 prisoners put to death this year all had been awaiting execution for years, and in once case decades. Wilkins had the shortest wait at 8 years, while Bigby sat on death row for 25 years, according to data collected by the Death Penalty Information Center.

The prisoner with the longest time on death row is Raymond Riles, who has been sitting on death row for more than 41 years. Due to mental illness, he was previously considered ineligible to be executed, but prison officials said he could become eligible given continual testing of his mental state. In 1985, Riles attempted suicide by setting his prison cell on fire.

I have nothing to add to this damming report, except to say, again, that the prisoners in Texas are kept in solitary confinement ALL the time. "My" prisoner is currently in despair.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Memory lane in the loft


 My son J and memory lane were made for each other. Home for the night, he decided to explore the loft (he's told me not to go up there  as there's no ladder). Here he is (or here are his feet). He's reading an old uni newspaper. That's about all I saw of him yesterday (his feet; not the newspaper). He went through his stuff, but sadly left most of it behind. He has a lovely new house, and clutter wouldn't look good. He also has a wife, who probably doesn't want it any more than we do.

That's all.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Pinky and Washing Instrutions share a good read


As you can see, they can't put it down. Basic Theology for Fallen Women in paperback. They couldn't decide who should have it first, so they're having to share it. Pinky likes the story, apart from the sexy bits (sex is a sore point with Pinky, because he can't...well, you know. Sour grapes and all that). Washing Instructions, who is a bit woolly-headed (well,  look at him), likes the nice shiny cover and the new cover illustration.

There's a new Kindle edition, too. Only £2.41. Just the price of a pint of beer, and that's without the pork scratchings. And it lasts much longer...

Monday, 3 April 2017

The art of collecting clutter

The market for books on uncluttering your home is already flooded. I had one once, and a close friend has just sent me another. There's an article about a Japanese de-clutterer in today's Times (it's apparently the in thing in Japan). But I'm beginning to wonder whether it's really such a bad thing, hoarding clutter. I have a love-hate relationship with mine, and lack the determination to reduce it, because it's easier to love (keep) clutter than to hate (get rid of it).

A random (ie the nearest) drawer yields - among other things - the following:
An old mobile ( no drawer should be without one of these),
String (ditto).
A rather grubby half used candle.
A packet of ibuprofen; probably out of date and only two tablets left.
A very ancient first aid kit in a tin, inherited I think from my in-laws, and practically empty.
(And these are the tip of the iceberg.)

I looked at these things, and then put them back. Why? Because I have a certain fondness for their familiar randomness, and because I can't be bothered to sort them out and put them all in the Right Place (largely, the bin).

How do you feel about clutter? (I'd particularly like to hear from people who are attached to theirs, as that will make me feel better.)

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Introducing Pinky and Washing Instructions


Meet Pinky and Washing Instructions. They were the first Christmas presents my youngest son ever had (he was ten days old), and they languish here, sometimes cuddled by grandchildren but mostly ignored. I thought they deserved a post to cheer them up (Washing Instructions is particularly grumpy. You only have to look at his face).

Pinky is so-called because that's what's on his label. The same goes for Washing Instructions. The names stuck, as is the way with names. I think Washing Instructions did have a bath once, a long time ago. He's probably due another. So is Pinky.

That's all really.  It's not that I haven't got enough to do; it's just that I don't feel like doing it.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Soggy bottoms, and other stories

A friend and I were discussing culinary disasters, and she thought a book of them would be a good idea. I'm not so sure about the book, but  thought the above would be quite a good title.

If you've nothing better to do, or the writing has ground to a halt, do post a culinary disaster of your own as a comment. I'd love to know I'm not alone.

As for mine, I'll spare you the stuffed breast of lamb, which still makes me shudder after all these years, and the thrice baked lemon meringue pie, but here is the fresh fruit jelly (which may have had a mention in the past, but no matter. At least it serves as a warning).

It looked so beautiful in the photo, the fresh fruits shinning like jewels in their flawless casing of fruit juice jelly. Easy, I thought. What could possibly go wrong? Well, I started off well enough, but I should have remembered that when giving a dinner party, never, ever make something that has to be Turned Out. Thus, when it came to that moment, I upended my jelly very carefully onto a serving place, where it sat uncertainly, quivering slightly (I was quivering too, by this stage). Then slowly slowly, quiveringly, it sank to its knees and keeled over in an unsightly pile of....well, jelly. I had to scoop its remains into a serving dish. Not the same at all.

Now, over to you.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

How long are you going to live?

There's a delightful new test doing the rounds which you can try to get the answer. This is what you do:

Cross your legs, while standing.
Sit down on the floor without touching anything at all, legs still crossed.
Rise again, without touching anything (including the floor).

That's it.  Deduct a point out of ten every time you wobble or reach out to touch anything. Apparently 0-3 points and you're in trouble. You can find this on YouTube, and see an athletic young man smilingly sinking, then rising again like Venus from the foam. I suspect he's been practising.

Gentle readers, I tried this. I wobbled, I touched everything in sight, and ended up more or less like an upturned beetle, limbs waving helplessly. According to this test, I'm already dead. I suspect that all over the country, there are other poor souls similarly placed, floundering helplessly on a thousand bedroom floors before trotting off to put their affairs in order.

Do try it and let me know how you get on. 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

An anniversary

Twenty-five years ago today, my husband died. We have marked it by sending flowers to his grave (sadly, too far for us to travel), and by thinking about him.

One of the many hard things about losing a partner is that there is only one of you left to hold all those memories that were once shared. Here, just for him, are just a few of the things I remember:

The way you wooed me with a heart-shaped Valentine arrangement of fresh snowdrops, sent through the post.
How soon afterwards we spent Easter in the Yorkshire Dales, and you wrote me a poem afterwards.
How we married just five months to the day after our first date, which shocked my poor grandmother.
Our 2000 mile honeymoon round Europe in your leaky MG.
The hours we spent gazing in sheer astonishment at our first baby, because we simply couldn't believe we had produced this perfect, home-made human being.
The way you put up with my moods.
That catastrophic elderflower wine (what was that dark cloud that formed in the middle of the jar? In the end, we had to mix it with lemonade to make it drinkable).
The way I put up with your insatiable need to create things, from an observatory (which took months and even nights to complete) to a completely new school (which took years, and which is now flourishing).
Your passion for teashops and curries (not necessarily together).
And perhaps most of all, your utter kindness and generosity.

Thank you. For everything.

Friday, 20 January 2017

La la la la la...

😡Are we the only people on the planet to think this awful film is just a load of tosh? We sat through it last nigh, dreaming of our fish and chips (we only have fish and chips after the cinema - house rule) and of paint drying. Hardly any dialogue, ditto storyline, a lot of half-hearted dancing - please tell me we're not alone.(This post is mainly because I want to try out my new computer, which terrifies me.)

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Don't say it with flowers...

....say it with words. This came to me the other day, as I approach the 25th anniversary of my husband's death;  the realisation that "saying it with flowers" can be a cop out. Flowers are lovely, but they can also be used as an alternative to words people don't know how to say (I've done it myself).

When my husband died, we were inundated with flowers, and they were beautiful. But I can't remember who sent them. What I do remember is the brave people who came to our house, not knowing what state we were in (terrible), and listened, and hugged us and wept with us.

I remember in particular one couple I didn't really know well, and didn't especially count as friends. But they came straight away, and I remember how courageous and thoughtful I thought they were. Because it does take courage to confront someone else's tragedy; it is hard to know what to say. But say it anyway. That's what I've learnt. Say it with words.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Some useful information about bears


I found this just now while clearing out my old computer prior to getting a new one. I may have posted it before, but I think it bears (ha!) repeating. You might thank me one day.

Monday, 2 January 2017

My theory of the last chocolate biscuit

John and I were discussing the nature of selfishness ( as you do), and I realised something. The selfish person isn't the one who takes the last chocolate biscuit*, because no one takes the last chocolate biscuit. No. The really selfish person is the one who takes the last but one chocolate biscuit in the knowledge that since nobody will be bold enough to take the very last chocolate biscuit, this is, in effect, the last one. Thus the wily selfish person has done a selfish thing, but leaves without a stain on his character (but with a delicious chocolate biscuit), because what he's done is fine, isn't it? Meanwhile, the last chocolate biscuit remains in splendid isolation on its crummy plate, safe in the knowledge that no one will be greedy enough to eat it (at least, in public).

Well, that's my theory, anyway. Happy new year!

*This also applies to the last smoked salmon sandwich.