Friday, November 28, 2008


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Amy's favourite.


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


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


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


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!


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


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

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.


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


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

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!

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


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

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.


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


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.

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.

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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A hero of our times


Whenever you hear veterans talking about their experiences – and it’s often with reluctance - a common thread runs through their reminiscences: the bond of comradeship. One feels they would be prepared to lay down their lives for their pals, their mates. Recently one did and happily survived.

Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher a Royal Marine from Solihull whilst serving with 40 Commando in Afghanistan, was on a night time reconnaissance mission when he stepped on a trip wire. Thinking he was going to be killed he made a spit second decision to twist his body and throw himself on the grenade hoping his back pack would shield his comrades. Miraculously he escaped with a nose bleed and a headache. He saved his friends from, at the very least, serious injury.

Aged 24 Matthew has been awarded the highest award for bravery given, in the absence of the enemy: the George Cross at an investiture at Buckingham Palace.

He said: “It is a great honour. I don’t really think about what I did. I don’t tend to dwell on it. There are a lot of other people in Afghanistan who have done similarly courageous acts who haven’t been recognised. When you are in the heat of a gun battle there are always people doing heroic things and they don’t always get picked out for it. They are just doing their job.”

He said in July this year: "I felt a bit guilty for setting the device off. I thought that the best course of action for everyone including myself was to lie right next to the grenade, point my body armour towards it with my day sack and take the brunt of the explosion and see what happens from there."
As Matthew says he’s not the only one ‘just doing their job.’