Friday, June 27, 2014

Awa' again.

I'm going south to visit Hertfordshire family.  Look forward to seeing them and Buster the elderly Staffie; visiting my grand-daughter at Uni and seeing her new flat, visiting the odd hostelry and being schooled by my DIL on how to use my neglected tablet.  Can't go a week without emails.

Also having talks which should help me to decide if I want to pursue getting my book published.  After eight years it  would be sad to jettison it but editing 103,000 words will be time consuming and time is getting on.

Sorry I have been more absent of late.  Will try to do better.  xoxoxoxox to all.

Bergen and Grieg

Balmoral actually sailed under this bridge
 The studio in the grounds of Grieg's home.  Note grass roofs.

 The house itself
 No wonder he was inspired looking at this every day

At the bottom of a hazardous rocky path was the grave of Grieg and his wife.  Pleased I could make it.  Quite a few youngish women were worried about their knees. 

 Then we were treated to a wonderful recital
A quick glimpse of Bergen
Do click on photos please.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Sunday in June and a botanical question.

 A new carnation

 An old reliable
 New Dawn - a favourite
 This is so generous and spills everywhere

 Yesterday's outing to the Driftwood cafĂ©
 Peter and Veronica - newlyweds, Chris and James
Don't be fooled by the empty table.  This was a pause after the cream teas and before the ice creams
 Here is your starter for ten.  What is this plant.  The flower is a sort of soft thistle like shape but its outstanding feature is its smell -faintly medicinal- eucalyptus - ish?
Names please.
alas my peony - gorgeous - enormous and pale pink has chosen not to make it.  It was in the file.

Monday, June 16, 2014

I thought I’d lost you

No sooner was the bathroom done – and I haven’t got the curtains back up yet – today was earmarked for replacing my office carpet with a hard floor. Much more hygienic – especially as it doubles as a dressing room and my make up has a habit of spilling over the floor.  Then I remembered the computer and its myriad of wires.  Perhaps if we just pulled the plugs out – gently moved it to one side, and sort of worked round it?

We don’t use our front doors in these parts but I thought it might be rather nice for the men if I unlocked it and they could carry the stuff straight up the stairs instead of coming in through the garage, kitchen and hall – with all the bends and doors  involved.

The front door is a stable door with ordinary locks, chain and two dead locks – one on the top half and one on the bottom and because the inner door hadn’t been opened since – who knows when, there were lots of little shells all over.  The top half opened readily after unlocking but the bottom half wasn’t shifting.  I tried a magic potion Sheila told me about which is first rate at unscrewing stubborn locks.  No joy!

So I greeted the men with the offer of tea, coffee and butterfly buns and the news that I had two problems.  After I told them the first they said they would just use the top half – no worries – and they’d be along after a smoke.  Meanwhile Sheila turned up as she is wont to do at 9am on a Monday.  She came to look at the door, thumped it and Hey Presto!

By now the men had asked for two teas and one coffee (they had a gorgeous young apprentice in the back of the van and were eager to know the second problem so I silently showed them the computer and all the junk attached.  You know I’m beginning to see why people have lap tops.   Sadly all three - although most presentable were self confessed computer phobes but we thought if we were very careful all should be well.

Sheila did ask if I would like her to take the coffee up the stairs – I’m too polite to utter Eliza Doolittle’s exclamation, but the thought did cross my mind.
When I got there the room was completely bare, I was a little taken aback but decided to trust in them, make myself scarce and do some gardening.

It took four hours with very heavy hammering which had me quaking under the kitchen ceiling.  They put things back – as best they could - but this week is going to be very busy getting back to square one.  They were very pleased when they plugged the plugs in and lights came on but after they left it was a while before I discovered which switch had silenced the computer.

Good job done!

See pics below

I thought I'd lost you.

I'm not a cat person but this cat has adopted me.

 The myriad of wires.
The Front door.

Monday, June 09, 2014

A Sea Change.

A Sea Change

I was a bit trepidatious when my driver, Mark left me at the Queen Elizabeth Dock at Southampton - but almost immediately my luggage was whisked away and I found a helpful young lady who took a photo, scanned my credit card and presented me with a magic identity card - the same size as a credit card - with details of Ship, Cabin Number, Life boat Number and Assembly station; on showing it when boarding or disembarking it flashed up one’s photograph.

The truly wonderful part was that I had no need of cash from then on.  One could check on how much one was spending by looking it up on the cabin TV.  I had taken an all inclusive drinks package which made life even easier.  I can’t remember how I found my way to my cabin but I had determined not to use the lifts if I could help it and apart from when I was with someone who had health issues I kept to it and didn’t gain any weight.  The food was great and they make it so easy to eat healthily.

Reunited with my luggage I was delighted to find loads of hanging space, drawers and all one could ask to spend a comfortable holiday.  Ideally one would have been able to open the large picture window but I do realise this wouldn’t work when there was more than a popple on the water.

There was lots of info about which restaurant and at what time I would be dining.  First lesson: one dines the first night as you are – no need to change.
Taking a deep breath and telling myself I’d be fine I went to find the restaurant.

Sometimes on the Balmoral it’s like being in a Greek tragedy; everywhere there are ladies – of all ages - wringing their hands in what looks like an endless grief.  The men – on the other hand - seem to be slapping their hands together in joyful anticipation of a slap up meal.  You can hardly walk ten yards without one’s hands being gently sprayed by the lovely Phillipino crew and thank goodness – it works and one doesn’t have to rely on the hygiene of fellow passengers.

Noro virus free I was shown to a table where a gentleman was already sitting.  I knew he was a gentleman because he rose as I approached.  This was Dylan – he was Welsh and for the rest of the cruise we were dinner companions.  Dylan had asked to be on a large table but when I turned up decided to make the best of it.  Fortunately we had a similar sense of humour.

Each day one get details of the day’s events delivered to one’s cabin and what with the excursions one had already booked there is no time to be bored.  I had booked just four excursions – not knowing how my energy levels would stand up.  In fact I felt fit as a flea and realised how lucky I was.

It was very pleasant to do one’s own thing during the day – including the odd catch- up - nap, meet Dylan for an aperitif, dine ( there are few things more pleasant than dining in evening sunshine whilst our beautiful ‘cheep’  the Balmoral, glides through the Fjords) watch a show in the theatre and finish the evening with a quiz.  We teamed up with two charming ladies from Cornwall but sadly we never won the prize although Angela was almost an egg head.

Each lunchtime we would get a message from our Finnish Captain Robert Bamberg:

‘Ladies and Yentlemen… ‘Just hearing his voice brought a smile to one’s face and he always ended ‘ and from the bridge Ladies and Yentlemen – all      is     well.’

In fact we had a small incident before we even left the port.  There was a very strong wind and we couldn’t get off.  This went on for some time and resulted in a small dent in the Balmoral’s – and also as he admitted - a small dent in the Captain’s pride.  I was so busy unpacking I missed the excitement.

We had a very extensive life boat drill the next day which reassured one.

This was my first cruise and throughout I felt completely safe and – with the help of all the crew – of all nationalities – really well cared for.  It won’t be my last.

Talking of sea change:

Full fathom five thy father lies:
Of his bones are coral made:
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

The Tempest

By William Shakespeare.

I think I must have had a sea change to have booked the cruise in the first place

After the first year of bereavement I found that things didn’t get any easier – on the contrary - and I found this was a feeling shared by others.

 Dylan – a widower says ‘Life can be quite lonely Pat so grab every opportunity that comes your way.’

 After spending my birthday and Easter alone I finally concluded that I could continue as I was – reliant on others to make my life tolerable or I could take charge of my life and live it to the fullest and scrub the attitude: Well it won’t be for much longer.

 Alastair gave me a big clue when he insisted on renewing the passports though we knew we could no longer travel abroad together because of his health issues.

I’ve been cursed with the Protestant work ethic and it did occur to me that the family would think I was being selfish but all seem genuinely happy that I am taking charge of my life.
So next Christmas – DV – I shall be cruising in the Canaries – even dropping in on Africa.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

June 1st in the garden

This is a David Austen rose I've had for years - gorgeous fragrance

Lots of greenery

Some colour

I love it when I get mixed seedlings on the path

The smell of jasmine goes right up the drain pipe

So exciting my onion plant has had a baby!

Ideally this should be rambling with New Dawn rose

Another view of the onion family

Naughty New Dawn.  You moved when I took the photo.

 I missed the best of the irises whilst cruising.
 Three successful Salvia cuttings
 A rescue plant

Click and see how delicate this is.
The photos are not yet hassle free.  For example all the editing and framing I did has disappeared in  spite of me 'saving it'.  Heigh Ho!