Thursday, 31 May 2012

Soup Anyone?

Today  I'm presenting  a veritable minestrone of unrelated bits and pieces.  None of these are enough to make a post on their own but. put together, I've cooked up a big metaphorical soup with a varied mishmash of ingredients.  Hope it tastes all right to you!
  • Good looks transcend the ages as this picture of a picture of Tudor lads that I took at Saltram House attests.  Or it are from the Stuart era?  Am I exposing my woeful lack of historical knowledge here?
  • If things are coming out the dishwasher grubbier than they go in, pop a bowl of that wonder stuff,  white vinegar, in the bottom of it and run a cycle.  You'll be left with a sparkling clean appliance and a kitchen that smells like fish and chips.
  • That neckline! The vintage style print! If I were a profligate sprendthrift I might buy this dress from Anthropologie. What a lovely shop.  No wonder American bloggers rave so much about it.  But I'm not make of money so I'll need to call upon the services of Mama Lovelygrey.  Please Mummy, make one for me!
  • I heard a Viz top tip on the radio yesterday that made me laugh out loud.   'Disguise the fact that you have taken anabolic steroids by running more slowly'.
  • Cosmic order number two has been delivered.  Mr Metrosexual's grill pan disappeared after he held a party.  Get this he accused ME of stealing it.  One plea to the universe and it's turned up again!
  • An enormous red rabbit has appeared near the House of Marbles.  I'll take a picture of it next time I pass to show you.  I have no idea what it means - if anything at all.
  • My heart sings when I look at my Statcounter map and find that I have had visitors from every continent aside from Antarctica.  It will skip more than a couple of beats when I get a penguin follower.
  • When I was in Cardiff a song by Emily and the Woods was playing on a big screen in the city centre.  I'm now a fan and have got very excited that they're playing at Chagstock.
  • Someone the other day told me that housemartins don't have legs.  That is utter tripe.
  • And finally......I have decided that from now on, I will only to write about what I have done rather than tell you all about half assed, incomplete and yes, even imaginary projects....for the moment at least!
  • Wednesday, 30 May 2012

    Avian Delinquency

    Morning all! Maybe you lot in the cities are just waking up to the hum of traffic through your open bedroom windows. Perhaps you yearn for the peace and quiet of the countryside.  Forget it though!  The blooming dawn chorus that rouses me just after four at the moment is a blooming cacophony.  There's tweeting house sparrows, cawing rooks and crows and some other avian species, yet unidentified that makes a harsh rasping noise. It's making me wonder.    Is there a such a thing as an ASBO for birds?

    Tuesday, 29 May 2012

    Pink Pork?

    Right today I'm going to be uncharacteristically serious.   Recently on 'The Great British Menu'  I sat up and took notice when one of the chefs stated that it was okay to eat your pork a bit pink these days.  That went right against everything I'd learnt in O-Level biology in the dim distant past.  I remember getting the heebie jeebies about tapeworms transmitted from eating raw or undercooked piggy that embedding their head into the intestine and  causing diarrhoea,vomiting, abdominal pain and malnutrition whilst their body segments fell off and could be found in your poo.  Surely modern rearing and food handling techniques have rid us of this nasty parasite.  And  could it get any worse?  The simple answers to these questions are no and yes respectively.

    We've been stunned to hear that a  friend of ours, a barbecue fanatic,  has recently been hospitalised after an motor accident when he hit the central reservation due to having a massive seizure.  You've guessed it - the cause was Taenia Solium, the pork tapeworm, or its larvae to be precise.  They've caused cysts in his brain and thankfully he didn't die in the crash.  However treatment sounds like it's going to be a long drawn out procedure involving unpleasant drugs and possibly surgery.

    So all you foodies out there take heed.  It's not clever to undercook pork even if it does seem that the potential is there to improve a dish's flavour.  Remember this type of  innovation is just plain dumb.   As for those considering tapeworm eggs in pill form as a dieting aid,  well perhaps there's little damage that can be done to a brain that's already beyond stupid.

    Monday, 28 May 2012

    Not a Sausage!

    Mmm cured meat!  A type called lonzo that they make on Corsica out of pork fillet and herbs is one of the reasons that I'm no longer a vegetarian.  But today's post is not about food but another thing that's close to my heart - money!

    Payday came and went and I had a little spending spree. After moving into my new pad I've been doing a bit more of that than usual.   There's bigger things to buy that are making a house a home and now after three months there is music! The Creative Bluetooth Speaker that arrived yesterday is a joy and courtesy of Spotify,  I spent a delightful evening yesterday in the company of Ian Dury, Jarvis Cocker and the like, without having a myriad of CDs cluttering up the place.

    So what else is making me to part with my cash?  Well there's a new passport, tickets for next month's  Chagstock festival and some legs for my futon bed.  I'm too old to be scrabbling around in the middle of the night trying to heave myself up to go for a wee.  Then there's the small things.  My store cupboard is not quite up to scratch yet and I discovered that I had no baking powder or bicarb just at the moment when the fancy took me to make scones.  And where was a sink plunger when I needed one because my Jacuzzi bath resolutely stayed full of water?

    But for four days in a row last week I didn't spend anything at all.  De nada or as the title puts it - Not a Sausage.  There was fuel in my tank, food in my fridge and things to do that didn't involve shopping. It's making me wonder if I can make those Buy Nothing Days, a weekly rather than an annual event?

    Sunday, 27 May 2012

    Are We Sitting Comfreyly?

    Russian Comfrey by en:Sannse
    Working in the alternative, bohemian haven of Totnes for eight years must be having  some effect.  I've bought a poncho,  I lease an car that might be more worthy  of its eco-friendly once I've given Ford a right royal rocket up the bottom later this week when it has its first service and then there's the cosmic ordering.  Blow me down!  If my first request hasn't been delivered!  It turned out that Mr Lovelygrey managed to melt one of his soda stream bottles and consequently had a spare lid!  I'm thinking bigger now and am just about to place an order for a piece of Bernard Moss pottery that I once saw on a home visit.  Let's home the cosmic being overlooks the obvious fact that I'm breaking one of the Ten Commandments here!

    Anyway my  transition towards hippydom is further flourishing because I'm now rubbing strange herbal remedies on myself.  I've been given a small tub of comfrey ointment made from the leaves of this plant and petroleum jelly which I'm applying to a poorly shoulder. It seems that living life lugging things around as if I am a packhorse has damaged my rotator cuff, that ring of muscles at the the top of my arm.  It gives temporary relief, and who knows? It may be working at a deeper level.  For apparently this plant is seen by some, including the person who gave me the homemade present, as a first aid kit in its own right.  'Allegedly' (and I'm using this word to avoid being sued) it can heal bronchial problems, broken bones, sprains, arthritis, gastric and varicose ulcers, severe burns, acne and other skin conditions.  It's alternative name 'knitbone' alludes to it's fracture treating powers and of course, any good olde-worlde concoction wouldn't be worth its salt unless it was of some benefit in relieving 'women's problems'. 

    If I've whetted your appetite to find out more about this cousin of the herb borage, Wiki is as good a place as anywhere to start.  And if you fancy having a go at making that ointment - head out towards  a local river or ditch for a foraging trip.  Then follow this link  to find out just what you need to do with all those hairy leaves that you've picked!

    Saturday, 26 May 2012

    Alkaline + Fat =............

    ....Soap + Water!  Just one of the few things that I remember from a past where chemistry had a place.   I love soap and hunt down gorgeous examples to luxurify my  daily ablutions.  I've even had a go at making it myself a few years back.  The reaction process in its creation is satisfyingly dramatic and is best done outside, a lesson learnt after initially filling the kitchen with noxious fumes.   And the end result was great and generally well received by my friends and family.  There was cinnamon and orange,  a heady smelling clove version and honey and oatmeal containing not insubstantial amounts of the Scot's favourite breakfast cereal.   My brother didn't like that one so much.  He complained about a relaxing bathtime spoilt by the onerous task of picking porridge out of his pubes!

    Anyway.....take a look at the oriental vases above.   I'm sure you'll be amazed to discover that they're not ceramics but yep, soap.  Red Mel and I spotted them on our recent trip to Plymouth in Saltram House where they're on display as part of the Sinopticon exhibition , exploring contemporary chinoserie that is currently scattered around many venues in the city.  It includes a couple of pieces by Grayson Perry which, as you'll see if you follow the link to the website, are far raunchier than they appear at first glance.  Oh my!  Let's turn back quickly to the subject in hand.

    Rarely has a piece of art provoked so much discussion between us.  How were this substantial pots made?  Were they moulded or coiled like clay?  And how was the intricate patterning achieved. I've tried to contact the artist MeeYoung Shin via Facebook to ask but alas!  She's either shy or sensitive. So, I'll just have to keep guessing.  If you want to join in my musings the exhibition runs until 7 July.

    Friday, 25 May 2012

    Trail Blazing in Deepest Darkest Norfolk

    Oh yay! Oh yay! Listen up for today I'm going to give my brother Paul Bernard Harris  and his friend Louise Tiplady  some FREE advertising!  I'm also suggesting a lovely day out for those of you who are close enough to mosey  on down to Norfolk during any of the weekends between 26 May and 10 June.

    For it's the time of the year when artists open their studios and you can have a right royal nose around.  So Paul's moved the sofa and telly out of his lounge - et voila!  Now it's an art gallery displaying his own and Louise's work as part of the Norfolk Open Studios event.  There's art trails all over the county including the one in Castle Acre where Paul lives and works.  This dinky map shows where to find him and all the other artists and craftspeople strutting their stuff in this lovely historic village which is worth exploring in its own right.

    Wednesday, 23 May 2012

    Jumelee Avec....

    This is what greets me on my way into the office these days.  I've been meaning to stop and take my own photo but once in a queue of crawling traffic at rush hour I don't really fancy it.  So I've nicked this one from the 'This 'n' That' blog and in return I'll give them a mention.  Get on over their readers!

    Now twinning towns,cities and villages seems like a great idea for generating international bonhommie.  My own village is partnered with the rather wonderfully named Brasparts  in Brittany, a name which evokes mental pictures of boob coverings and metal monkeys with their bits frozen off in equal measure. During our travels to France last October, Louis and I detoured there on our way back to the ferry and I had high hopes for our visit.  I'd imagined that our cheeks would be sore from being snogged three times by each inhabitant, that we'd be wined and dined by local dignitaries and receive invites to return there for free holidays in years to come.  The  reality?  Not a saucisson!  Not even a blooming sign on entering the town acknowledging our own parish.  I drove through what looked like an otherwise perfectly acceptable Breton town in disgust!

    So  has the passion universally gone out of the twinning process?  It seems a shames as such wonderful links could be established with individuals and groups in those joined communities.  If a Braspartian out there chances on this post and feels inclined to reinstate the twinning sign, let me know.  There'll be a lovely cream tea waiting for you when you visit my lovely South Devon village.

    Tuesday, 22 May 2012

    Any Volunteers?

    Has Louis spent all his savings on snacks?  In his dreams!  It's school disco time and I've been assigned the job of buying all the goodies that will ensure that when parents come to collect their little darlings, they will instead be handed back hyperactive sugar crazed monsters.  Still, it's all in a good cause.  There's an I.T. suite that needs a serious upgrade.  I have it on good authority that it takes millions and millions of years for the near redundant PCs to power up!

    So, I thought my informant would like to be involved in choosing all those sweets and crisps.  Like Mama Lovelygrey before me, I'm getting stuck into giving time to the school and the Scout group, in spite of being a full-time working mum.  I'm hoping that getting my son involved in helping out early on in his life will set an inter-generational example.  Showing him that he can have fun mucking in hopefully will set the wheels in motion for a lifetime ahead where giving time voluntarily plays a part.

    Monday, 21 May 2012

    The Cosmos and The Soda Stream

    I have chosen today's picture with extreme care so that it exudes symbolism.  The rocket, of course, alludes to the shape of the gas canister for a Soda Stream.  And all that other gubbins?  Well that's the cosmos - innit!

    It's perfectly understandable if you feel that I've lost you.  After all, the overactive brain taking shelter under my skull bone periodically  leaves me confused  myself.  So, before you become entirely befuddled,  let me explain.

    My efforts to furnish and equip my new home whilst achieving a balance between cost and quality have been, in the main, extremely satisfactory.   Aside, that is, the dog of a gas cooker with a badly mended oven door and two working rings that was supposed to be a state of the art combi oven.  But hey, we live and learn.  In the main, rummaging around Ebay, charity shops, car boot sales and my first ever jumble sale has resulted in furniture and decorative finds that I'll treasure for the rest of my life.  I've sourced a plethora of high end appliances and equipment secondhand at a fraction of their retail price. It's making me wonder why people go to normal shops in the first place when you can buy a dirty great cast iron wok with a lid for three pounds and a retro blender for just a quid.

    I may have come unstuck with my latest purchase though - a Soda Stream bought for the seemingly reasonable price of eighteen pounds including postage.  This compares well to its cheapest new equivalent which retails at about fifty pounds.  Make no bones about it, this isn't the cheapest way of acquiring fizzy water to add pzazz to my homemade cordials.  However those reusable bottles that come with the machine mean that I'm not going to   be sending whole swathes of plastic bottle to landfill. For the sake of planet earth, the dolphins, fluffy bunnies etc.  I'm happy to stomach the extra costs.

    It seems though that my money saving has been confounded. Apparently Soda Stream's manufacturers got irked by the cost of making and shipping the old steel gas canisters so they've replaced them with new larger lightweight ones made out of aluminium.  Is there an adaptor that allows me to use the new cylinders in my old style gadget?  Is there heck!  My  machine will soon be  rendered redundant as refills will no longer be unavailable when current supplies run out.  Of course the company think that they've got me by the short and curlies and are rubbing their hands at the thought of me submitting and buying a new machine.  But ha!  I have a different  solution.

    I'm calling on a higher power and cosmic ordering  those redundant gas bottles! It's an idea that I got from my mate Naomi who told me that her fella had placed a request for a specific bit of plastic to mend his motorcycle cover.  Hey presto!  Three days later a piece of the stuff he needed was blown  by the wind and was wedged in a hedge in the garden.  Near the bike no less!  Now, the website explaining how this process works advises that the first request should be small.  Even asking for an everlasting supply of redundant gas canisters rather than a porsche seems a little too optimistic for this sceptic  So, to build up confidence I'm going really titchy and have settled for finding a replacement lid for one of the drink bottles that has already gone walkabouts before my first batch of Bottlegreen knock off has even been produced.  I'll let you know how I get on.  And in the future......who knows what I'll work up to asking for if my order is fulfilled?

    Sunday, 20 May 2012

    Stripping and Glamming Up

    Have I been abducted by those little green men yet again?  Nah!  My feet have been firmly planted on the Devonian part of Planet Earth,  It's just that I'm still just busy playing catch up after a myriad of major life events and not getting  stressed out  by overburdening myself with delusional obligations - like blogging everyday.  After all, I'm supposed to be writing for fun.    But I passed a milestone this weekend that has caused me to believe that the 'new normal life' may just be back in sight.  And I'm so excited by this thought I had to perform the technological age's equivalent of putting pen to paper  So brace yourselves and prepare for the amazing news that I feel compelled to tap out on my computer....For  the first time in months I've actually finished a craft project!
    On second thoughts I may only be halfway through for I have two of these seats to strip of yellowing varnish and re-cover in something a little more funky than grubby boucle plaid..  But it's a start and I'm really impressed with my makeover that has transformed this chair over to the chicer side of shabby.  What's more the revamp  has cost less than two whole English quid in materials and which takes into account the price of sandpaper and staples as well as this lovely retro floral fabric.

    Like many of you out there I get immense pleasure from the whole process involved with making stuff  from choosing materials, beavering away and finally seeing the end product.  Creativity plays an important part in making me tick properly.  Let's hope it can again be a regular part of my everyday life within a short time again.

    Thursday, 10 May 2012

    Wookie Wake Up

    Do you like my  hunky new  hairy boyfriend?  Actually I ditched him very quickly after this photo was taken.  Alas, we were unsuited  as he made me look short and fat.  Come to think of it I am a little on the podgy side.  A year of major events have taken their toll.  Thoughtless eating, too little exercise and a little too many calorific tipples and voila!  A rotund Lovelygrey and a wardrobe full of clothes, 90% of which are unwearable.

    Life now feels like less of a rollercoaster so it's definitely time to take stock.  With a knee operation in sight and the need for intensive physiotherapy afterwards a return to fitness is all the more important.  So look out for my healthful endeavours over the next few months, laced with a few inevitable trip ups!

    Wednesday, 9 May 2012

    When There's Time to Stop and Stare

    A quick one tonight from my boudoir where finally, after a long PTA committee meeting where I ever so nearly lost the will to live, I'm ensconced under the duvet with my last cuppa of the day.  Bliss!

    Anyway my mind has veered back to the weekend.  The slower pace meant that I could take in more of what was going on around me and from the motorhome window, I had time to observe the behaviour of this perky chap who came begging for food.   It reminded me that there's so much to discover about the world around us - if we just stay still and watch for a while.

    Rather than gobbling down chunks of the noggin of my homemade bread (Lovelygrey family slang for the end of a loaf) this carrion crow gathered as much as possible in his beak, looked around to see that no other birds were watched and buried the bread under clumps of grass or stones.  He came back several times, and on each occasion used a different hiding place.   A little bit of research just now suggests that, unlike Lovelygrey,  the crow family have excellent memories and can easily find stuff  that they have stashed away earlier.  Maybe it might be worth training one as a pet to help me find my keys that mysteriously go missing each morning just as I'm about to leave the house!

    Tuesday, 8 May 2012

    Orzotto: Pearls among Swine

    Last night's supper was orzotto,  a dish akin to a risotto which uses pearl barley, a favourite grain of mine reminiscent of childhood stews.   The recipe was followed faithfully from the BBC's website after I saw the 'Two Greedy Italians' cook it.   I was salivating excessively as it materialised on the show set in Calabria.  Total costs for the four main ingredients for this gastronomic delight?  Half a pack of reduced price Red Tractor Assured pork mince from the Coop -about 60p, half bags of pearl barley and spinach 25p and 75p respectively and about a third of the contents of a parsley pot 33p.  The rest of the ingredients, a splash of olive oil, half a glass of white wine, a stock cube and seasoning and the total came to £2.50 at the most for enough to feed a family of four.  The super frugal among you will easily have spotted that there's further savings that could be shaved off - say  by economising using home grown  or market bought veg or indeed leaving out the wine.  By the way, the observant will notice that there's an extra glass of the hard stuff in the photo.  This is because I currently advocate the 'Keith Floyd' quick slurp method to combat the boredom when a recipe calls for continuous stirring for half an hour.  But watch this space.  Changes to my drinking habits may be afoot!

    Perhaps it's the smug middle class mummy within me but I'm still amazed that there are now a myriad of people in the UK who say that they can't afford to feed their families.  Cooking from scratch, even with meat, that is widely believed to be an expensive ingredient, can be so, so cheap.

    Monday, 7 May 2012

    Dyslexic Dichotomy

    Here's a photo that makes this avid bookworm's heart sing with gusto.  La, la, la dee la laaa!  Supposedly people with dyslexia don't relish reading do they?  But how absolutely wrong can your assumptions  be.   Here's Louis pictured this evening, burying himself in  my latest Dandy find from the secondhand bookstall at Saltram House,  I took about forty photos of him engrossed in one of his beloved classic cartoon annuals. And he was so completely absorbed he didn't even notice my clicking camera and pull his usual self conscious grimaces.

    Okay, an advanced understanding of  Desperate Dan and cow pie isn't necessarily going to equip a kid with  knowledge that will help them  to change the world in monumental fashion.   But maybe the enthusiasm he shows when I bring home a new comic book  will kickstart his own personal exploration of what can be found between other hard covers and paperbacks.  And who knows what exciting adventures that he might embark on as a consequence of being inspired by the writing of others?

    Sunday, 6 May 2012


    Since my visit to  RAMM earlier this year I've been meaning  to visit Plymouth City Museum.  For this is the usual home of the gobsmackingly amazing 'Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach' by Stanhope Forbes that was being exhibited in Exeter as part of a special exhibition.  I reckoned that there must be other gems in the collection at this great seafaring city. Yesterday, I finally got around to visiting and I wasn't at all disappointed.

    One of the galleries has an exhibition titled  'Women in Art'.  It's not on permanent show but you don't have to head down to the South West in double quick time to see it as it's on until March 2013.  It got me thinking in a semi-deep way.  Blimey!  How many  female artists could I name aside from those Young British Artists who, in this celebrity obsessed culture, have achieved superstar status?  Well, there's Barbara Hepworth, of course and the moustachioed  Freda Kahlo.   Oh! and Georgia O' Keefe.  Thereafter things get a bit hazy.  I'm aware of the existence of Vanessa Bell,   Dora Carrington and Gwen John but I couldn't identify any of their works.  There's more chance of me naming one of the Pokemon characters.  By the way, the spiky yellow one is called Pikachu.
    Of course I've forgotten Beryl Cook and how fitting it is that this exhibition is in the city where she spent a portion of her life painting its residents.  Today they are still evocative of what a good night out  in Plymouth actually involves.    But you'll have to follow the link to see some of her work.   For today I'm showcasing art from ladies whose names have been lost to us.  How many more there must be have been  through the ages who wielded a brush through chauvinistic times but went unrecognised
    Seeing that women used to be chattels of their husbands could it be that their work was passed off as being painted by the old man.  Congratulation Mrs da Vinci.  Your portrayal of that enigmatic smiling bird really is a corker!

    Here's one where I thought that I'd recognised the artist and my emergence as an art buff was truly complete.    Serves me right for being big headed.  This is, in fact,  by Therese Lessore (1884-1945) and has similar no nonsense subject matter to work commissioned in World War II from  Pegaret Anthony that I've showcased previously.

    Hearty congratulations must go to the curators who've put this fantastic show together.  And thanks of course to those talented womenfolk who worked in eras, not so far in the dim distant past, when they were unlikely to achieve the recogntion of their male counterparts.  Not only Therese but Margo Maeckelberghe  (Fishing Boat, St Ives), Alethea Garstin  (Town Band) and Dorothy CP Ward  (An Aerial View of Plymouth of Environs).

    Saturday, 5 May 2012

    Ooh Betty!

    My drive to Riverside Campsite yesterday was uneventful apart from getting lost twice within a few hundred metres of my final destination.  But no matter. This gave me valuable reversing practice.  However, after Red Mel and I arrived at the park, our evening became like an episode of 'Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em' minus the beret or a cat to do a woopsie in it.

    Our attempt to hook up to mains electricity was fairly incident free with only minor hiccups involved with connecting.  But then we wanted gas and water and then the fun really started.

    After pouring a beer and chopping an onion and bacon as the base for baked bean soup, my delicious but frugal camping staple, I lit the stove only to find the hiss of gas was absent. Frustration levels increased after I'd disconnected the cylinder and found that even though it still contained propane it was not releasing the goods.  So a bread and cheese supper followed....supplemented by a bit more beer, of course.

    Time to wash the plates. Now the drama really started.  Even though the pump chuntered away merrily no water came out of the tap.  It was then I realised that the tank was empty.  So, more reversing practice to reach the service point and then back onto the pitch.  Turning on the boiler to heat up water resulted in an incessant thumping sound from the pump and an external inspection highlighted the fact that there was a torrent pouring out of an orifice in the van's undercarriage and steam was emanating from goodness knows where.  Oops!

    So a bit more beer was needed for hydration and its warming properties.  And then voila!  The hob miraculously sprung to life,  But still no water or gas.  With all the messing about over a two hour period I hadn't managed to fill the chemical toilet.   And frankly I couldn't be arsed. So I admitted defeat and sloped off to bed.  But not before heading off to the amen ties block.  On the way back from my ablutions I slipped in mud and set back the healing of a poorly anterior cruciate ligament by a few months.

    So a new day, a new dawn and a clear head. Miraculously everything fell into place. It's amazing what sleeping on problems can do.  And I've realised that making a right royal hash of something really reinforces learning.  Maybe my next trip away will be event free?

    Thursday, 3 May 2012

    A Big Fat Self Congratulatory Back Pat!

    Confirmation that Louis has a Specific Learning Difference has got me wondering.  Do I fall under this umbrella too?  Certainly the thoughts occurred to other people as well.  My klutz-like tendencies are legendary.   Thank goodness I gave up the idea that I had during my teenage years of becoming a dentist!  And then there's those other difficulties I have with paying attention, finishing things, pressured thought.  It's all making sense although I don't think I'll be seeking a formal diagnosis

    When I achieve anything that involves motor skills I'm especially chuffed.  And today I am ecstatic.  For  I plucked up the courage and, for the first time, I drove that great big piece of hunking  metal that is my beloved motorhome.  AND I didn't crash it. So, here's a shot of a happy me on my Porta Potty that was taken a couple of years ago to celebrate.

    Today's journey was just a practice run for the weekend when I'll be  hurtling down the A38 and spending the weekend in Plymouth.   Over and out for now but prepare for reports of my adventures over the next couple of days.

    Wednesday, 2 May 2012

    Saving Starfish

    The glacial landscape that was the wallpaper on my laptop is no more. Behold! A motivational image that  will inspire me to eschew that well worn phrase 'What's the Point?'

    Others glean their thrils from the media in conventional ways -a thriller, motor racing or a piece of stirring music perhaps.  Funny  soul that I am, I became truly exhilarated after listening to the Radio 4 appeal this Sunday.   Before you start to think that I have well and truly gone off my rocker and their no chance of return this time let me explain.

    Starfish Greathearts  is a charity that aims to bring hope and opportunities to children in Africa orphaned by AIDs.  'Whoah, that's too big a task to tackle!' some might think.  'There must be millions of them'.  Well the organisation takes its inspiration from a story called 'The Star Thrower'.  The version given most weight on Wiki is the original, which looks like a beautiful meandering piece of prose by a chap called Loren Eiseley that I'm just going to have to get my hands on.  The version told on the radio was rather more simplistic and went something like this.

    A man was walking along a vast beach covered in starfish when he came across a little girl throwing the stranded creatures back into the sea. 'I don't know why you're bothering' he said.  'There's so many that you're not going to make a difference.  The girl picked up another starfish and tossed it into the waves.  'Well,' she said 'It's made a big difference to that one!'.

    I like to think that my readers are a bright bunch.  So the penny must have dropped and you'll see why I got  excited by this fable, that brings such a powerful message of hope. Of course, its inspired  me to dip into my Charities Aid Foundation pot and make a donation to Starfish Greathearts.  But it has much wider implications at a philosophical level for my work and personal life.

    It reminds me, in a cash strapped NHS, that the  little I can do personally does actually make a difference.   I can't help the entire elderly population of South West Devon suffering from dementia and other debilitating mental illness but I can continue chip away, helping them one by one.  And my volunteering and giving seems rather like a drop in the ocean in the scheme of things but......

    I'm on a mission now to share this story with others and who knows?  If someone else listens two metaphorical starfish might be saved.

    Tuesday, 1 May 2012


    Yoo-hoo!  I'm back.  What a strange place those aliens took me to after they zapped me up just as I was about to put my recycling bin out for the dustmen.  They did weird experiments on me, fed me just a couple of pills a day and removed my belly button so that I wouldn't feel to out of place living amongst them. Thank goodness that they didn't go as far as diminishing my stature and turning me green.  Of course that's because they're from an advanced culture where equality, diversity and individualism is heartily embraced!

    Okay,  I'm lying.  I wasn't abducted after all. It's just that with all the events and changes that the last few months have brought I got a bit overwhelmed.   Well rather a lot overwhelmed actually.   There's a new way of life that I've planned  but I was way off working towards it because of having too much extraneous  stuff to sort out on top of my everyday run of the mill chores.

    So I decided that, in order to crack on, I had to forego some of the things that I normally do and get myself straight. With lots of effort and no telly, reading or blogging for a while.  It's been worthwhile as  I've made significant inroads into dealing with all the problems that, inevitably, major life events bring.  Boy! I've had a lot of those over the last twelve months.  Slowly, slowly a new normality is returning.  I've got a tidy house, I'm adjusting to living on a new budget and I'm adjusting to the challenges that my new job role has brought.  I'm looking forward to one day, not too far, in the dim distant future where nothing comes out of the blue and everything just ticks along nicely.

    And so to bed.  There's far too much navel gazing going on - especially from someone who's been left umbilicus-less from their recent travels!