Saturday, 3 October 2015

Message From 'An Oil Tycoon'

We have been rushed off our feet since I got back from holiday.  From the mouth of one who normally pees off hardened cynical colleagues with her Rebecca of Sunnybrook approach comes these words.  We are truly stuffed in the NHS and I can't see how the situation will improve.  There!  I have lost all my va va voom and am struggling to find ways of getting it back.

This arrived on my phone by email in the middle of a working day.  Not sure why I was picked out to be the recipient although of course I AM gorgeous and irresistible!!!!  I have to thank Mr Richwater. For in the midst of all the chaos and despair caused by funding crises he gave me and my colleagues a bloody good laugh!

Friday, 2 October 2015

A Handy Guide To Bison

Here's something that I meant to share from when Louis and I were in the USA last month. How time flies! This useful chart was shown to us by a ranger in Yellowstone during one of their very informative evening talks.    We learnt about the super volcanoes. Cue tug on sleeve and small voice saying, 'Mum, I'm scared, really scared!  A whispered discussion about the teeny statistical likelihood of eruption happening whilst we were in the park ensued.  I'm really not the type of parent that takes their kid to places where there is a high risk of death.

Then there was the one about the geysers.  Louis came with inquisitive  new friends that he'd met in the campground.  'What  happens if you put an ice cube down a geyser?'  The ranger patiently answered that it was unlawful to put anything down them but an ice cube was unlikely to make any difference. The same hand went up in the air thirty seconds later. 'What would happen if you put 100,000 ice cubes down a accident?!'  The erupting super volcano was again touched upon (there was a bit of overlap in the talks).  Again a  small boy with a very vivid imagination needed answers.  'If you put two thermo-nuclear warheads either side of the super volcano to reduce the impact of the blast, would this be helpful?'  The poor ranger looked exasperated.  'Look!' he said 'If this thing blows we'd be in enough trouble without the addition of thermo-nuclear devices!'

Back to the bison.  We encountered one at very close quarters as we turned a bend on our final drive in Yellowstone, out of the park.  He was walking resolutely towards our car.  My plan was to slowly veer to the other side of the road and get by.  Then another tourist came in the opposite direction and blocked my escape route by stopping to take photos!  With about ten feet to go the bison changed direction and we snuck past.  He could have been in a petulant, skeptical or happy mood.  Who knows? There was no doubting our emotion though.  We were scared!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

A Lender and A Borrower

It seems a long time since I last wrote a post about Lend With Care so I best put that right.  It's one of my favourite ways of helping out.  Many of us in the developed world take credit for granted.  Banks lend to us at the drop of a hat so that we can buy our houses or make other important purchases.  I'm helping to provide loans to people in the Third World  where money isn't so readily available on tick.  There have been fifteen entrepreneurs so far who I've helped to fund projects that make life better for them and, apparently 254 of their family members.  Wow!  That's quite a big impact.

What strikes me is that people often ask for such pitifully small amounts.  My latest loan was to Shazia, a mother of four,  who was asking for just £178.38 to expand her husband's business in Pakistan.  He has no identity card so couldn't apply on his own behalf.  There's got to be some hidden struggles behind that story.  I topped up my account to become one of her lenders.

And that's what I do every few months. Fifteen or twenty pounds goes in the pot.  Not much in the scheme of things for someone that counts themselves very privileged but small sums seemingly  make a hell of a difference elsewhere.  What I'd like to do is lend to a scheme that helps my fellow countrymen as well.  A quick Internet search didn't come up with anything.  If anyone knows of something similar for UK residents let me know!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Just a Cold?

For the first time in over a year I took a day off sick yesterday.  Let's see what today brings.  I have a cold.  It sounds so weedy when you give in to what is seen as a minor ailment that'll be over in a few days. Even if this is not a serious I feel pretty ill! No wonder men have the reputation of bigging it up to full blown 'flu.  They may have a point.

My cold  is the type where each sneeze is a tissue buster.  If I lie down I get congested and have a fit of coughing.  An upright pose and it's like the Niagara Falls have been redirected through my nose. The trips down to the kitchen to top up those fluids that I'm meant to imbibe liberally seem like a major expedition.  I'd like to stock up on Lemsip but a drive to Sainsbury's seems a step too far.

 I feel a bit needy but Mum lives a long way away.  There's nothing for it but to intersperse sleep with offerings from the BBC i-player.  I can't focus to study so back episodes of 'Cradle to Grave' have hit the spot.  The creators have got that whole seventies vibe just right.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

A Curry Free Zone!

I'm choosing some new bits and pieces for our new home, for instance, new lighting and beds and the IKEA stash to kit out Louis' room.   The visits to Asda at Paignton to pick up George homeware from the friendly Click and Collect staff have become a regular routine. There's some brilliant designs at rather reasonable prices.  Just what I like!  I'll get round to showing some of my finds off when I've done a bit of decorating.

Here's the favourite thing I've bought by far, unfortunately not at a bargain supermarket price.   Rugs were needed downstairs as it's too echoey living in a house with a bare wooden floor.  It's the poshest rag rug that I've ever come across and was designed by Sarah Campbell for Habitat's 50th anniversary.  There's even a video about it!  It retailed for £450 originally but mine was an Ebay purchase that was just a shade below £280, twenty pounds under what I'd budgeted.  I was really excited when it arrived yesterday.  It's something that I plan to treasure for years.

Here's a shot of it in situ under my retro Ercol dining suite.  They look like they were made to go together.  Sadly, it might not stay there for very long.  I'm rather nervous that something like a curry spillage might ruin my heirloom piece so its going to be moved into the living room when a floor covering that's more robust takes my fancy.  In the meantime I'll just have to go easy on the super staining turmeric!

Monday, 28 September 2015

Bristol Botanics

Now I'm no Alan Titchmarsh but I do love a gorgeous garden if it's been created by someone else. One of the plus points of that hunt in the summer for that effing sheep was that I discovered previously undiscovered parts of Bristol.  There was a Shaun outside the Botanic Garden and I vowed to return to have a shuffty.  Yesterday Red Mel and I did just that.  Now I know Rudbeckia comes under the common or garden variety but I find it such a happy plant.

This is a little more unusual. You don't see a big copper ball by a pond everyday!

I gave this tree a big hug...and a bit of a snog as I loved the colour of its snowy white bark.  Red Mel was a bit embarrassed but I'd already checked that no-one else was around to see me. I'm not completely unselfconscious.

It's mighty impressive how someone can create a Jurassic forest that looks like it goes on forever in such a tiny space.  It's like a T-Rex could come out of the undergrowth at any second.

Oops there's one!

Here's your botany lesson of the day.  This is the fruit of Billardiera Longiflore.  Isn't it pretty? And yes,it is edible  and takes like apple although it's apparently a bit seedy.  No I wasn't tempted to try it. I learnt from childhood that you don't go around eating strange plants.  I  seem to remember we did eat laburnum seeds at one time though.

One of the glass house had these big Amazonian Lilies with leaves the size of enormous pizzas.

And here's another type of lily with a gorgeous solitary flower.

It was a lovely visit to a quiet oasis in a big city.  And do you know what?  I was inspired to see if those previously ungreen fingers can get something to grow.  I think I'll plant some herbs and pretty veg in my own tiny space if I have a moment next year.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Notes From A Runaway

I'm exhausted and home is not a relaxing place to be yet. There's so much to do and when I'm there I'm fidgety, always chipping, chipping, chipping away to get things straight. So I've made my escape for a weekend to see Red Mel in her new flat.  She's only been in here just over a month and yes, she too has unpacked boxes. But they're not mine so I'm not tempted to rush around emptying them.  Her place is going to be great. It has a huge balcony overlooking the river - a wonderful place for watching the world go by with drinks and nibbles. We played an extremely politically incorrect and childish game of giving the 'nice young men' that passed the thumbs up or down and giggled extensively.  Being silly is just what I need at moment. If the bloke in the bright blue T-shirt is reading this, I only saw your back view  as you entered the Crescent but I love you!

It's great  to be in Bristol and not have to scurry around looking for that 'Effing Sheep' as Shaun became after I'd seen about seventy weirdly painted versions of him.  We took in chi-chi boutiques where the price tags were massive, looking for inspiration for our new homes and went in masses of charity shops.  Didn't I say that I wouldn't be buying any clothes this year?  Ha! I lied.  My newly purchased pink dress and long grey White Stuff cardigan are all the more lovely for being illicit.  Louis has benefitted from my little foray as well. There were some great finds for his Christmas stocking that I've decided will be entirely charity shop sourced this year.

This was our lunchstop, the Mockingbird in Clifton that serves food with a southern US twist.  My last visit was before it opened and I was dying to see how it had turned out.  I'll come clean and say that it's owned by Red Mel's son, Oliver so this little review might be seen as biased but please take my word for it.  This place is superb.  If it wasn't I'd have stayed schtum and not told you I'd been there.  It has everything, beautiful surroundings, friendly staff, cool music and, needless to say great coffee and food.  The smashed avocado and goats cheese on sourdough was inspirational, something I'll try to emulate at home.   I might have a go at recreating the basil lemonade and peanut butter and jelly cookies too!