Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year’s Eve.
Aside.

I sent my wishes early for my friends down under and finally to you all everywhere: may blogship fellowship prosper throughout 2009.
The end is nigh - bookwise – three more chapters today and – hopefully the last three tomorrow. Had a little hiccup when I found a chapter in the middle of a chapter – don’t know how that happened but sorted now. I dread to think how many trees I’ve squandered.

Our TV died today – bought in 1991, a Sony and now we are on my mother’s – also a Sony. I suppose it would be a good time to buy, but they are so complicated now and I haven’t really time to research them. Looking forward to being back to normal. Too tired to stay up with Jools(Holland). Night night. Sleep tight. Hope the bugs don’t bite.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday.
Aside


Really cracking on now. Did three chapters today – 2/3 of the way through. If I can keep it up I should have the MS completed by the end of the week. It really has paid off giving it top priority, although I miss dropping in on my blogging friends and look forward to getting back to normal before I’m forgotten.


We booked a week in May at the cottage we liked so much in October. The first time we have repeated ourselves but we couldn’t fault it. New Year’s Eve tomorrow, so all my best wishes to you all for health and happiness and peace of mind. Never mind the crunch – we’ll be fine!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday
Aside.


Two more chapters today - 6 and 7. It strikes me that the story seems to have settled into three stages but I see nothing to be gained from arranging the chapters into Parts 1, 2 and 3 and it would muck up my page numbering. I’m not used to doing such enormous print outs.

Two treats today to lighten the load: ‘Ballet Shoes’ which I missed last year – a delight for little girls of all ages – everyone gets a happy ending, and Joanne Lumley witnessing the aurora borealis in the Arctic Circle. She’s a batty lady and an outrageous flirt but when she actually found what she was looking for it was incredibly moving.

My shoulder is getting better. The last time I saw the physio we discussed having an injection which my son was keen for me to try – having caught me at a bad time. B said there would not be a problem if I wanted one – it would deal with the pain but would do nothing towards strengthening the muscles so I decided to persevere with reassuring results.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday after Christmas.
Aside


I wish the wind would change - it's in the east - the worst for this house and the heating is on all day. Finished chapters 4 and 5 - that's 100 pages done - a third of the book. My routine is now: read a chapter, edit, read it again, correct any errors, print and read again. After the final read through today I found 'Marian' had become 'Mary' but it only involved 1 page. Then I mentioned the song 'I could have danced all night.' before it was written - again just 1 page to be altered. As they rudely say in the north 'You need eyes in your a---e.'

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturday – not a post.

Aside.

Today I finally revised Chapters 2 and 3 and printed them out. The laser printer works well. Having read and re-read the MS fifty million times I have to concentrate like mad and can’t have any extraneous sound. I’m reading Sebastion Faulks’s ‘Devil May Care’- writing as Ian Fleming, and discover he has written 294 pages – like me - but he has 20 chapters and I have a mere 16.

During a break I watched ‘Emma ‘ on TV. Much better than the film I thought. And seeing Mr Knightley’s treatment of Emma took me back to the early days when I behaved less than well and earned MTL’s hauteur or disapproval. Hmmmm!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Writing notebook - Christmas 2008

No posts or visits until the job’s done. This is just to ensure I don’t slack off.


1. Boxing day:
a new beginning from a key point in the story. Printed out first chapter with alternate beginnings. Did further editing on first chapter, chose the briefer more pungent beginning and adapted MS.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hugs to friends far and wide and especially if you can't get home for Christmas. I'll be back in 2009 - bright eyed and bushy tailed- along with the flying pigs:)

Monday, December 22, 2008

See- saw week-end

Aside

It’s been an up and down week-end. First we had a lovely surprise with a Christmas hamper from Fortnum and Masons sent by our family in Australia – still spoiling us from the other side of the world. Then every time I tried to do anything, like visit a blog I couldn’t – even my own. I was getting an XUL Runner saying a so and so Platform Version was not compatible with min something and max something. Complete gibberish!


I had down loaded an Apple update earlier which on reflection was a bit daft as my computer is an E machine. My # 2 son who admits to knowing nothing about blogging, very sweetly visited a forum and suggested I tried re- installing Firefox. I did and it worked. I hope this may be helpful to the tiny percentage of bloggers who are as dim as me.

The only comforting thing was I could e- mail and use Word so I did wonder if it was the Muse’s way of saying ‘Get on with the book!’ I will, I will as soon as I shut for Christmas.


Ending on a very happy note – we heard this evening that we have a new great- grandchild – Philippa Rosemary – 8lbs - and mother and baba are fine.

There’s still a gremlin in the works – I tried to get on line at 6am and only just managed it after re- booting. Heigh ho!

A LOVELY SURPRISE
A
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lost Commenter
Aside

I got a long, highly knowledgeable comment today on haiku and to my discomfiture it has disappeared with all that useful info. Recently Blogger has started to send my comments to Dashboard instead of my In -Box which would be fine except that they no longer say which post it applies to, so one publishes it and then has to try to find it, to answer, if it isn't for the most recent post. Unfortunately I can't remember who sent it except it was a man. Such a nuisance!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our Festive Meal

Aside

The Carew Arms is a genuine, simple country inn with excellent food and a great atmosphere. No frills no fuss - hooray for us. All the pictures on the walls are cows. No -one you know


I think thepale green walls are a nod to the noughties.

Father Christmas could double as Humpty Dumpty at Easter.

You could tell it was Christmas.
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Roasted butternut squash soup with a hint of chilli - this was sooo good.

Duck and pork pate with red onion marmalade and toast. Serious stuff.

Good vegetables

Turkey,bacon wrapped chipolata, chestnut and hazelnut stuffing and fresh cranberry sauce. All that delight and no sweat.
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Lemon tart - I changed my mind. I'm a woman - that's what we do.

Christmas pud -already attacked

Chocolate snowballs - truffles dusted with icing sugar. I begged MTL to leave a couple for 'manners' but he ate them!
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hey Vicar – leave our kids alone.

(Apologies to Pink Floyd)

Aside

A vicar has banned the Christmas Carol ‘Oh little town of Bethlehem’ because it does not represent the modern- day reality of the troubled city.


Another vicar has rewritten ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ so it reflects modern Britain so instead of ‘Two turtle doves, and a partridge in pear tree.’ He has written:
‘Two addicts shaking and a poor homeless refugee.


A school choir was forced to pull out of a winter festival because its carols were ‘too religious’ for the event.


Teachers are not discussing Father Christmas in the class-room because of fears they could offend pupils from other faiths, according to a report.


I don’t remember any lasting damage to me, reciting the creed, even though I was a Unitarian in a Church of England school; and the Catholics were excused prayers.

Who are these people who insist on changing the fabric of British life to the detriment of our children?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Rare Sight
Aside



Last night at our favourite table by the fish tank we were enjoying our duck (not Peking – the fish’s eyes are quite enough) my own eyes kept wandering to a table by the door. There were seven young men – quite ordinary in appearance – they could have been a lifeboat crew, dressed in uncoordinated jeans and sweaters. As the evening wore on we were having fun and eating and drinking and my interest in the young men grew. They also were eating and drinking but they were talking quietly amongst themselves. In other words their behaviour was impeccable- no yobbishness. no noise or raucous laughter and there were seven of them. The magnificent seven my son dubbed them.
After a glass or two of wine – I determined to have a word on my way out, but – to the family’s relief, they left before us.


You can’t have too many good, tried and trusted recipes at this time of year so – although I may have mentioned this one before – it bears repeating.

Roast chicken with lemon, garlic and thyme.

Chicken 1.5 kg
2 lemons quartered
2 heads of garlic, broken into unpeeled cloves
A bunch of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper


Rinse chicken well, removing any giblets. Pat dry with kitchen paper and place in non stick roasting tin. (Mine stick so I added a little olive oil).
Push the lemons, garlic and thyme in to the chest side of the chicken. Not as easy as it sounds, but persevere. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the chicken and rub it in with your fingers. Roast for 1 hour 25 minutes.

My French Grandson say even his Maman can’t do chicken like Grandma. It is really moist and tasty and because the garlic cloves are not peeled they just impart a subtle flavour. We had it for lunch today.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Faffing
Aside


I have been looking for a silver or bronze top to wear with a black skirt which has delicate silver and bronze embroidery. The local posh frock shop had a silver top which looked like a circus so I tried the up- market second- hand shop and found a great bronze silk shirt in new condition which fits perfectly. I shall just swish it gently in liquid soap for delicates, and wear it to dinner on Saturday. Result!

Don’t you find anticipation is half the fun? I’m anticipating our Festive meal on the 17th. Decisions have to be made:

Festive Menu

First Courses



Scottish smoked salmon and caper terrine with a lemon drizzle and whole meal toast
Roasted butternut squash soup with just a hint of chilli
Pan-fried chicken livers with smoked bacon lardoons and a balsamic dressing
Duck and pork pate with red onion marmalade and toast

Main Courses

Traditional roast Somerset turkey with chipolatas, chestnut and hazelnut stuffing and fresh cranberry sauce
Daube of local venison slow cooked in red wine and juniper berries, finished with bitter chocolate
Sage- crusted Somerset lamb with a red currant jus
Bouillabaisse with red mullet, mussels and scallops
Festive vegetable, apricot and Stilton strudel

All served with fresh seasonal winter vegetables

Desserts & Cheese

Christmas pudding with brandy sauce
Chestnut Meringue mess
Chocolate and orange roulade
Poaches pears in mulled wine with a ginger and cranberry coulis
Somerset cheese platter with apple chutney and oaten biscuits
(Somerset Brie, Black Tower and Exmoor Blue)


To Finish

Coffee, tea or infusions with chocolate snowballs

Those are the choices – not the whole menu:)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday Wittering
Aside


You have to laugh – my old nursing pal Vanessa rang up last night; she wanted to make sure I was still here before she sent her card. I wouldn’t mind but she’s older than I am. God forbid that a card should be wasted 


The young physio said he was pleased with the slow but steady progress – that‘s the way it should go apparently and I’m happy to take his word for it. I see him again in ten days time and I am amazed at such excellent treatment. I have been neglecting various chores in the house and garden and it will be good to get things ship shape again. # 2 son and missus are coming for the week-end which will be lovely and an early Christmas treat. We had an enormous parcel from Australia yesterday but MTL
says I mustn’t open it till Christmas Day.


Apparently one can now have free calls very evening and also at the week-end provided one promised to stay with BT for a year- no problem for us as we had no intention of leaving. Last night another old friend phoned in answer to my Christmas card and we chatted for almost an hour. It was pleasant and very helpful as she has been a published writer for years.


I have always tried not to bend the ear of professional friends but she clearly wanted to talk about my book and discussed lots of options, but more importantly urged me to get on and finish it and find the right publisher. She wasn’t overly enthusiastic about getting an agent – she has had about four over the years but lots of publishers won’t look at anything that doesn’t come from an agent.


She also voiced something I have been considering – that of starting at a key place and going back to the beginning. Early chapters in an autobiog aren’t usually the most engaging and they are the ones the agent asks to read.
My intention is to do nothing but the book over the Christmas holiday so I’ll be quiet but still here.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Take it easy on yourself.
Aside



Except for one year when we both had ‘flu this will be our first Christmas with just the two of us and we have the luxury of doing exactly as we please – which will be as little as possible. Most people have children and others to consider but the title above is my message to you. Do you remember Scott Walker’s great record of the sixties? I actually downloaded it and all hell was let loose – side bar disappeared and the page and text stretched and diminished, so I deleted pronto. Shall I sing it to you?


This is a very good year – with the credit crunch and all, to do a bit of cutting down and making life less stressful and more restful for everybody. Every religion has its special festivals and Christmas is when Christians celebrate the birth of Christ by remembering friends and family and others less fortunate; it doesn’t have to be an ordeal.


Shirley Conran –Superwoman - now in her seventies, wrote decades ago ’ Life’s too short to stuff a mushroom.’ and gave heart to all of us trying to ‘do it all.’ and look immaculate at the same time. Now she tells Becky Pugh in the Daily Telegraph:

‘Christmas is the perfect time to save a tree; hovering up all those needles is a step too far’ Her tips are:

‘Plan a budget and stick to it.
Feel free to do away with the labour intensive traditional Christmas meal with all the trimmings and opt for a simple family favourite instead.
Only give gifts to children under 12 and those dearest to you.
Save energy – yours. Don’t travel for miles just at the time when travelling is most nightmarish.
Throw away expensive mail order catalogues as soon as they arrive.
If you insist on sending cards make them yourself.’


Well we have already booked a delicious Festive menu at The Crocombe Arms – one of our favourite inns, for the week of Christmas and plan to have a simple, but delicious steak with thyme and butter on the day. The cards I feel duty bound to send as they are a way of keeping in touch, but even that can be a minefield and now only a tenth of what I send depict the Nativity- the rest are the ever popular robin. Life was much simpler before Political Correctness reared its ugly head.


I had a twinge of conscience and wondered if I was depriving MTL of lots of Christmas cheer but he said;
‘Let’s make life as simple as possible.’ I’ll drink to that!

Friday, December 05, 2008


Front cover by Charlotte Murphy
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Cover by Trevor Leighton
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Two Smart Girls.
Aside
‘Fern – my story’ by Fern Britton.

‘Dear Fatty’ by Dawn French


I have just read these two books in tandem; partly to see how other people tackled their auto biography – yes I realise they are famous and I am not – but also because I fancied some human interest reading after a long difficult book. They are both very much in the public eye – Fern as a presenter on ‘This Morning’ on ITV and Dawn as a comic actress; they are successful and very popular.


They have quite a lot in common: in their early fifties and not too worried about any weight issues; Dawn describes herself as ‘ almost entirely spherical’ and has always used her shape to great comic effect in ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ and the hilarious sketches she has done with her partner Jennifer Saunders. Jennifer is the ‘Dear Fatty’ in the title.


Fern has always been curvaceous and after giving birth to four children has found it increasingly difficult to get back in shape: she recently was pilloried by some of the press for having a gastric band fitted although it had been done as a surgical procedure on medical advice, to protect her general health. They both have strong links with Cornwall and trained at The Central School for Speech and Drama They both have been through the rigours of IVF.


Fern was trapped with three children in an unhappy marriage and suffered severe bouts of depression and Dawn had to cope with the loss of her much loved father who committed suicide when she was a teenager. Fern’s father was Tony Britton the actor who left the family home and who she didn’t get to know until she was about fourteen.


One would have thought they could be good friends but Fern interviewed Lenny Henry- the actor / comedian who is Dawn’s husband, and asked him about his stay in the Priory which he felt was inappropriate; Dawn fiercely loyal, has said – according to Fern - that she will never appear on ‘This Morning’ whilst Fern is there.


Both books are illustrated with many photos and I found both to be interesting and illuminating. Fern tells her story in the conventional way with occasional up - dates in italics and Dawn writes a series of letters to her loved ones – and she has many – but especially to her father to bring him up to speed with her life as it is now. She and Lenny have a teen- age daughter Billy.


I found both women to be good company, funny with admirable grit and determination and the good thing is they have both come through trials and tribulation and – with their families ( Fern is now married to Phil Vickery the chef) are as happy as one can expect to be in today’s world. I commend them.


In contrast I am in the middle of a spiffing book – a first novel – a psychological thriller, which I don’t want to end: ‘Out of a Clear Sky’ by Sally Hinchcliffe.
More later.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Picasa

aside

I store my photos with Picasa and yesterday had a message they had some new addition which I hadn't time to think about, but they've done it anyway. Suddenly on my background there was a slide show of photos I have taken over the last two years and it was simply beautiful. I have been sitting mesmerised by a trip down memory lane- so much more moving that just looking at them in the Picasa file.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Idle chatter
Aside


I’m so glad I went – at last - to see the doctor. I hadn’t met him before but he was friendly, humorous and gentle as he tested the movement in my arm and shoulder and then spent quite a time getting a history. He prescribed an anti – inflammatory drug and something to prevent indigestion from the drug, which he assured me was better than Rennies. I was also to go to the hospital to make an appointment for physiotherapy.


We assumed I would be at the end of a long waiting list but I actually had my first session today. I gulped when I saw the young strong man who was assigned to me – I never imagined it would be a man. They do get everywhere these days don’t they? Needless to say he was a poppet; warned me it might hurt whilst he investigated the movement and explained most carefully what he was doing and what was happening. He showed me a model of a shoulder with bones and ligaments and it seems I have an impingement syndrome and maybe a bit of bursitis. There is a little squishy bit under the acronium bone which I probably twisted in June and because of the bone above there is no way for the swelling to go.


However both he and the doctor were encouraging and said it wasn’t anything nasty and with the drugs and special exercises it should heal well. I had my first good all night sleep last night. The most difficult part was answering questions about how much pain, on a scale of 1 to 10. I feel a wimp when I think of people who are really ill and suffer, but it is true that a continual nagging ache with occasional burning is debilitating and stops you firing on all cylinders. As you know I have been making mistakes all over the place lately. As Zed said ‘Have you something on your mind Pat?’


I posted all my abroad Christmas cards after a lengthy queueing: 81p each for Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and the States and a mere 51p for France. I’m out of touch but it does seem expensive – at least they were all charity cards.
I’d love to stay and chat but I’m meeting the three gels for lunch at the Italian.
Fortunately the weather has bucked up. Byee!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Wise words

Aside


‘I think people would be alive today if there was a death penalty’ Nancy Reagan


‘There is no such thing as fun for the whole family.’ Jerry Seinfeld.


‘I don’t think I’ll get married again. I’ll just find a woman I don’t like and give her a house.’ Lewis Grizzard.


‘Erotica is using a feather, pornography is using the whole chicken’ Isabel Allende.


‘An intellectual is someone who has discovered something more interesting than sex.’ Aldous Huxley.



‘I’ve been married so long I’m on my third bottle of Tabasco.’ Susan Vass.


‘When a thing has been said, and said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.’ Anatole France.



‘A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch.’ James Beard.


‘If your parents never had children, chances are you won’t either.’ Dick Cavett.



‘Did you ever walk in a room and forget why you walked in? I think that’s how dogs spend their lives.’ Sue Murphy.


Quotes from ‘Advanced Banter’ by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson

Friday, November 28, 2008

TODAY'S POST IS HALF WAY DOWN THE PAGE:
LAST OF THE MOHICANS
UNDER YOU TUBE.
DON'T ASK!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Amy's favourite.

Cripes!
aside


Suddenly my precious awards have disappeared and I haven't a clue how to get them back. If you were generous enough to give me one please don't think I have removed them - it's just happened and I'm very sad:(

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The last of the Mohicans

Aside

Fifty two years ago this little sweetie came into my life. Happy Birthday # 1 son.



Can you keep a secret? Many of us have kept our own secrets but can you keep someone else's secret? When I first came here in 1985 a woman I had just met told me her secret and said nobody else in the area knew so I knew I should keep sthuum. As the years went on and I made close friends I realised how amazed they would be if I told them but I didn't. Then recently we were all together and she told them - quite casually - and you could hear their jaws hit the floor. I couldn't resist reminding her that I had kept her secret for 23 years. Whilst she was at it she admitted her age - rather older than we had been led to believe. And why not?
What about you?


'We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.'
Robert Frost 1875-1963
I do not know why my link has not worked and why the script is like this below- none of my design dammit!

Name that tune

Aside

Yesterday =>Granny P (see side bar) was feeling nostalgic about a tune she once heard; she called it ‘Bist Di Bei Mir.’ I thought I remembered it as something called ‘By Me Miss du Shane.’ To make sure I googled Granny P’s title on You tube. When I heard it I realised it was not the same. Always happy to give google a challenge I put in my misheard lyric and found there was a site for ‘ Misheard Lyrics.’

These are also called Mondegreens which occur when people misunderstand the lyrics in a song- not to be mistaken for intentional rephrasing of lyrics which is called parody. My misheard lyric was actually ‘ Bel Mir Bist Du Schon’ so you can see why (I trust) I confused it with ‘ Bist Di Bei Mir.

Two more misheard lyrics of the same song:

Buy me a beer, Miss Duchene.

I really miss you, Shane
Please let me explain.

Finally I heard the Andrews Sisters sing it on You tube.

Google’s great IMO.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My new bedfellow

Aside

MTL was only saying the other day how reliable and efficient is the firm who sends our health supplemnts from Guernsey, and look what they sent as a gift.

Hi there, my name is Snowy,
And I'm a true winter ted!
I'll be cuddly and warm when it's blowy,
But ferocious when guarding your bed.



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Monday, November 24, 2008

Foiled again!

Aside

Just when I’ve got may face on, the phone rings and my appointment is cancelled yet again and is now with another strange doctor in a week’s time. The doctor with the unpronounceable name is ill again. Ah well – I’ve had the problem since June – I don’t suppose another week will matter.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Anniversary lunch

Aside

We had booked lunch at Andrew's on the Weir and by the times we got to Porlock Weir rain had banished the sun.


The restaurant with rooms.

The bear is carved by a local man who used to be an Exmoor ranger.
There were some interesting murals.
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We had drinks here whilst choosing what to eat. The house had every possible shade of brown and lots of lovely wood -very
comfortable and relaxed. A November Sunday is quiet - we've had many an anniversary dinner and been the only people there. It was nice to have lunch for a change ; we drank modestly and saved the champers for tonight. I am writing this Sunday night as I have to take my shoulder to the doc's early tomorrow.

We skipped starters and both chose panache of fish with spinach - a lovely sauce and lots of vegetables. There was good nutty bread and for dessert we had chocolate mousse with orange and Grand Marnier (me) and a special creme brulee (MTL) and I can't remember why
it was special.
We were going to share but both became engrossed in eating what was before us.
Coffee and truffles followed. I found the truffles too sweet but they all disappeared


Porlock Weir; even on a glowery day one of the most lovely places in England
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Friday, November 21, 2008

A Surreal Experience
Aside


Working on my book , which I do most days, I find myself transported to the past; as a child during WW1, as a school girl meeting MTL for the first time, then again at 18, and at 19 when I fell hopelessly in love with him. Then I remember the despair when he dumped me, (only now can I say those dreaded words) and the moment when I stood before the poison cupboard, the keys in my hand wondering how many pheno- barbs it would take. I remember getting a grip and the images of my mother and grandmother in my head telling me no man should be allowed to destroy me.


I remember how I tried hard never to think of him as I grew up and married, bur he would sneak into my dreams. Such a lot of water ran under the bridge – I had a good life and never in my wildest dreams ever thought I would see him again; and for thirty years I didn’t.


It’s a surreal experience when I hear someone call ‘ Would you like a coffee darling?’ and remember this same man is downstairs and is still my true love and our marriage will be 29 years old on Sunday.


Our verandah will command a view of meadows green,
The sort of view that seems to want to be seen.
And when the kids grow up and leave us,
We'll sit and look at that same old view,
Just we two, Darby and Joan who used to be Jack and Jill,
The folks who like to be called
What they have always been called
"The folks who live on the hill."
Jerome Kern

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shoulder to the wheel.

Aside

Isn’t it always the way? I soon as I had the doc’s appointment my shoulder ache started to subside and I even mowed the lawn yesterday, although I discovered MTL had asked MR, who’s painting the house to relieve me, if I faltered. However later in the day I had a phone call to say Dr ‘Unspellable’ was unavailable – did I really want to see her? As I rarely visit the surgery I only know one doctor so said I would be happy to see any doctor. Now I have an appointment to see Dr ‘Unspellable’ on Monday.


The Egg heads had a question on Haiku – how many syllables in the second line – which they got wrong. Of course we know it’s seven. Don’t say this blog isn’t educational. Sometimes.

When we were in M& S the other day I noticed they were doing a ‘meal for two’ comprising of starter, main, dessert and a bottle of wine for £10 and they were going like hot cakes. I wish I had tried one but had too much to carry. Their on- line Christmas food looks very tempting but I think you have to order it and then pick it up. Two of our favourite eating places are doing excellent menus in December and I’m tempted to sample one or two and then have a simple steak with thyme and butter on the day. Up until the last few years when our lovely DIL did Christmas, I had been cooking Christmas dinner since 1951 and have no great longing to do another.


So John Sargent is making a graceful exit from Strictly Come Dancing and some people are still sniping at him. I think he was put in an impossible position and did the right thing. Some of the snipers are the ones who grumbled most in the first place.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Posh Ladies

Aside

Ever since I spotted these two girls , in an antique shop in Sidmouth in the early seventies I knew I had to have them and they have been with me- through thick and thin - ever since. The top one is Lady Augusta Cadogan - drawn by John Hayter - engraved by H Robinson. On the back of the frame is a poem ( for the first leaves of her album). She herself seems to have been a painter.

The second one is Vicountess Adare - a member of the Irish aristocracy and a philanthropist. She is also drawn by John Hayter but the engravers are W and F Holl and also has a poem on the back of the frame. They are both beautifully framed but too large for my scanner and reflections made a photograph diffficult. I hope you like them.




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Monday, November 17, 2008

A few Gripes of Wrath
Aside

Was it Whitney Houston who first substituted ‘chew’ for you?

‘And I ay- I- ay I will always love chew!’

Whitney, Beyonce, and Maria Carey- all three have great voices and all sing about ‘chew’.
And our weather girls and boys tell us every day that the weather is ‘BAReezy’ and ‘BALustery’. And who could ever forget Robert Kiljoy Silk talking about ‘the nooze.’ I see he is now on ‘I’m a Celebrity – get me out of here.’ Who knows maybe a miracle will happen and I will grow to admire him?

My only excuse for being gripeish is a restless night. It’s no good burying my head in the sand and blaming it on the wrong bra; I have to admit that since June I have had a painful shoulder and it isn’t getting better. It makes me cramd (an old Lancashire word meaning vexed or like a bear with sore gluteals). I was talking to a doctor friend yesterday – we were at school together - and he said this was one complaint one could do something about so I promised I would go and see our doctor. Incidentally he told me another of our ‘old boys’ Sir Paul Stephenson has been tipped to replace Sir Ian Blair as Police Commissioner – that’s worth a yay or two.

A ray of sunshine in the gloom: my grandson T, who had the band ‘Anything to do with Super Heroes’, now at university, has won the Chancellor School prize for English. Proud of you hon!

It’s always fun to learn a new skill and thanks to Shane and Zinnia (both on my sidebar if I don’t manage the html) I have learnt how to do haiku. I was reluctant at first but Shane insisted it was to be November’s theme and thanks to Zinnia’s teaching skills I’m getting to be a dab hand. Here are her beautifully simple guidelines.

Pat, like this:
First line: five syllables
Second line: seven syllables
Third line: five syllables
No need to rhyme.


I finally came up with:

Why cannot I just
Develop a thicker skin
So that I don’t hurt.


Zinnia said if it was up to her she’d give me Comment of the Year Award. Isn’t that nice?

Go over to Shane and have some fun - if I can do it, it anyone can - you probably know how to anyway.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A bombshell!
Aside


It was meant to be a pleasant get together of us four friends, after one had had an angioplasty which will help her poorly leg and her mobility; just coffee and a few simple treats which MTL had bought specially. J had brought some twenties flapper clothes which she was handing over to a museum. I tried to put them on my model to photograph them but they were too tiny so we had to – rather unsuccessfully - pin them against the model.

We looked at photos of our family – now happily settled in Australia, with a new puppy for J and a horse for F, and remembered this would be the first Christmas for years MTL and I haven’t spent with them. Then M said she had something to tell us which we wouldn’t like: she and her husband had decided that the garden was too much for them and they had decided to sell up and move to another county to be within reach of two of their children. M was the glue which had bonded the four of us together, twenty odd years ago and has been a rock to us all.

By this time M was in bits and had difficulty in speaking whilst we just stared at her in disbelief. It sounds a perfectly reasonable thing to do but we had talked about this many times and all agreed we would stay put if at all possible, for many reasons; but then we never know what fate has in store and how that affects our ability to cope in our surroundings.

The way things, are nothing is going to happen quickly but meanwhile our local Italian has a special lunch time deal so, there a then, I booked a lunch date for the four of us whilst we are all still together.

‘They are not long – the days of wine and roses.’

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Moonlight

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As a pale phantom with a lamp
Ascends some ruined haunted stair,
So glides the moon along the damp
Mysterious chambers of the air.

Now hidden in cloud, and now revealed,
As if this phantom, full of pain,
Were by the crumbling walls concealed,
And at the windows seen again.

Until at last, serene and proud
In all the splendour of her light,
She walks the terraces of cloud,
Supreme as Empress of the Night.

I look, but recognize no more
Objects familiar to my view;
The very pathway to my door
Is an enchanted avenue.

All things are changed. One mass of shade,
The elm-trees drop their curtains down;
By palace, park, and colonnade
I walk as in a foreign town.

The very ground beneath my feet
Is clothed with a diviner air;
White marble paves the silent street
And glimmers in the empty square.

Illusion! Underneath there lies
The common life of everyday;
Only the spirit glorifies
With its own tints the sober grey.

In vain we look, in vain uplift
Our eyes to heaven, if we are blind;
We see but what we have the gift
Of seeing; what we bring we find.

View from the balcony at 5.15pm last night
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A New Day - 7am this morning

Now if I can just get the sun and the window cleaners on the same day.
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Monday, November 10, 2008

Joan Bakewell - Oldies champion, now ages 75
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Monday Mumbles
Aside


Goodo! At last we ‘over 60’s’ have a champion. She’s bright, intelligent, articulate, a northerner (Stockport) and used to be known as the thinking man’s crumpet when she used to host ‘Late night line up’ a few decades ago. She’s had a play written about her by Harold Pinter, who had a well documented affair with her and now she’s been invited by the government to look out for we oldies, with no strings. She’ll do nicely thank you.


Yesterday I was really looking forward to a programme by Jo Brand about Vera Brittain, who I mentioned in yesterday’s post, and it just didn’t happen and I neither saw nor heard a reason why. Buck up B.B.C!


One last word about WW1 then I’ll shut up for another year: Harry Patch a Somerset lad was an 18 year old apprentice plumber when he joined the army; He fought at Passchendale in Belgium, was wounded and saw his three best friends killed. He never spoke about his experiences until he was 100 and swore he would never return to the battle field. Now aged 110 he changed his mind and wanted to pay homage to the German soldiers. He met up with a German survivor of the battle and with companions who could translate, had a moving chat about the futility of war and how they bore no grudges. With difficulty they both leaned over the table and clasped each other’s hands in a long moving handshake. Harry said:

‘Too many died. War isn’t worth one life.’

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Best laid plans.

Aside

Usually I watch the Remembrance ceremony at Whitehall, on TV, but this year I yearned to be in the fresh air with the sea and the sky and the wind; but not the torrential rain that rudely shoved the sun out of the equation. So I contemplated in my office; much less emotional and just as valid. Really Tuesday is the day, when at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month the Armistice was declared – 90 years ago. Tragically many men, on both sides were killed after that time, as the news didn’t get through to the front.



Shirley Williams was saying on the Andrew Marr show that the horrifying statistics of WW1 were more or less shoved under the carpet and when her mother, Vera Brittain (Testament of Youth) returned from three years nursing at the front to her university, she was told she had wasted three years. So it makes sense to me that it is now remembered in all its ghastliness - not glory.



Dan Snow, the presenter and historian and son of Peter Snow, came across letters sent by his great grandfather to his wife in WW1. He decided to follow in his relative’s footsteps which took him to the Somme. His great grandfather was Sir Thomas D’Olyly Snow and - Dan was shocked to discover - was a general who sent thousands of men to their deaths. Whilst standing in the chateau where his grandfather stayed during the combat, he asked a fellow historian if he blamed General Snow. The historian replied that he did and also a member of his own family had been killed in the battle. To make things worse Dan’s great grandfather tried to pass the blame for the carnage onto the men themselves.

Dan told The Observer


That is the darkest day in British military history, arguably British history, and my great-grandpa was one of the key guys in the planning and execution of that attack,'


(1893-1918) Wilfred Owen “Doomed Youth"

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
--Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them from prayers or bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,-
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of silent minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.


‘Lest we forget’ all the men and women who lost their lives in the wars.


Dan Snow - historian, journalist and presenter.
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Friday, November 07, 2008

A Trip to Taunton

Aside

I was staring in a shop window - mesmerised – decided it wasn’t relevant to my shopping list and, reaching out for my husband’s hand I looked in to the eyes of a startled, large, grey haired woman. MTL had wandered off. Why do men do that?


It was quite a long walk from the car park to Marks and Spencers so we decided to have a coffee once there. The French had had a good shop there and extolled the virtues of the cafe which we had never noticed – hidden as it is. They did say it was very popular and we may have to queue. It was, so we continued shopping and bought a classic grey cardigan for the birthday boy and some attractive blue slippers. That was all I was allowed to buy for him, in the clothes line although he did find three knives he couldn’t live without. I refused to buy them for him – not that I’m superstitious – I just don’t believe in taking chances. He bought them himself so all was well.


This all took much longer than it sounds what with the wandering off and the male reluctance to try anything on. BTW M&S it behoves you to have a seat where you are selling footwear. It was lunch time so we tried the caff again and spotted two ladies about to leave their table. They confirmed this and said the waitress would clear their crocks and I stood politely by to allow them to vacate and the waitress to clear the table. Just as I was about to sit down, a woman appeared from nowhere and plonked herself down.


I told her politely that this was our table and we had been waiting for the waitress to clear it. She said she HAD to sit down and we knew how she felt, so I asked her if she would mind sitting at the next table which had a vacant seat. No she said she needed this table as her friend was coming. The waitress and I stared at each other and I think both realised that it would take a big ruckus to move the woman. If she had had the courtesy to ask it would have been different but I told myself maybe she was ill.


So we carried on with our shopping and left the delights of the café for another day. I wonder what you would have done? The good thing was I managed to get every thing on my very varied list and wasn’t tempted to buy any fripperies but I did treat myself to a red handbag to joosh up my muted winter wardrobe. On the way back we had lunch at the Inn at Crowcombe which was better than any crowded café.

.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wednesday Waffle.
Aside

We have autumn sunshine today and I hope it lasts till tomorrow and we can go to Taunton to buy MTL' a late birthday present - probably a smart cardie - if I can find one.

At last I've found a perfume I love - Cherie from Miss Dior. As you can see on one of the photos it has a cute top with a bow on and to prove I am not doing ads now, it it VERY difficult to remove and I daren't press it back on again in case I can't get it off - so I can't travel with it.
Lovely!

I've got a new 'followers' gadget on my side-bar and rumour has it that if you click the follower's bit you can become one but as I set it up alone I can't guarantee it.

Another quote from 'Advanced Banter':-

If it were not for quotations, conversation between gentlemen woould consist of an endless successsion of 'what-hos'.

Clouding over now I see. That didn't last long.



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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My true love has my heart by Sir Phillip Sydney

My true-love hath my heart and I have his,
By just exchange one for the other given;
I hold his dear and mine he cannot miss;
There never was a better bargain driven.
My true-love hath my heart and I have his,

His heart in me keeps him and me in one;
My heart in him his thoughts and senses guides;
He loves my heart for once it was his own,
I cherish his because in me it bides.
My true-love hath my heart and I have his,

Happy birthday MTL!

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Matthew and his battered back pack

The George Cross
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