Saturday, 30 November 2013

Dodgy Haircut Update

Remember the accident that I had with the clippers the other day?  Well do you know that it's turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  I was thinking that I needed a bit of change and was thinking that I might grow my hair a wee bit longer but now I'm not so sure.  The cropped top has grown on me.  What do you think?

Friday, 29 November 2013

Ban the Kitchen Clutter

Yes, I have a soup maker  but it's looks quite different from this piece of kit.  Mine's called a saucepan and, like this machine which its manufacturers claim can be used as a blender too. my humble pan is multi-functional and doubles us as, amongst other things, a popcorn maker as well.  How genius is that!  It doesn't have a chunky/smooth function though.  When I want to blitz my soup I use a compact stick blender.  That  also has a myriad of uses especially as it has a jolly useful dinky chopping attachment and bowl.

Sometimes, like in this case, I'm beggared if I can see what some spangly new kitchen gadgetry adds to the cookery equation. Every one of those specialist devices takes up more and more space.  Now, if you are hankering after a specialist piece of equipment I'm not saying that you shouldn't go ahead and buy it.  Just think carefully about how much use you're going to get out of it.   And as the silly season for present buying is upon us, just be careful to about inflicting those novel culinary solutions on others.  The likelihood is, that after a couple of uses, they'll end up languishing in the back of a cupboard, with the popcorn maker that you bought for them last year!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Finally, Finally....

...I've finished Mr Anonymous from Guyana's safari pictures.  My lovely colleagues are all so enamoured that they've each taken one of the seventeen prints home.  Mr AfG is a little hacked off. He though that I'd be producing an original work of art just for him and didn't realise that there would be large numbers of copies.

Two tone printing has been a  bit of a challenge, one that I'll advance further down the line. I think that it's time for a rest from complicated and new technical processes.  The next two prints are going to be made just for pleasure.  They'll  have simple maritime themes and be printed in just one colour.

The other thing I need to perfect is learning how not to get ink on pretty much every surface of the house. Daubing myself so that I look like an afficionado of body paint needs to be avoided too next time around!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Reward: A Vat of Tea!

Finally, after a long time mucking around to no avail, my dieting endeavours are paying dividends.   Favourite pieces of clothing are returning to the wardrobe as they fit again.  The 5:2 intermittent fasting plan is working even though exercise has become pretty much out of the question.  My knee is so unstable now that it sometimes feels as if its about to give way within the hefty knee brace that I don permanently.  I am Robowoman!

 A tentative  attempt to resume cycling on the exercise bike was aborted as five pedal rotations on the exercise bike caused neuropathic pain.  Perhaps a swim might be more successful?  Here's a handy hint for you guys out there.  Don't break your cruciate ligament if you can help it.

My pecker,  even though I didn't think I had one, is firmly up in spite of setbacks.  Now I've reached a milestone weight I can treat myself to a funky Moomin print to adorn my dining room walls. So that means that there's another reward to aim for. Seeing as I'm losing pounds at a rate of knots this incentive scheme could be a little expensive so I'm going to plump for something modestly priced.  I'll think I'll hop on over to the T&G Green website and  replace my cracked great big  15oz Cornishware tea mug.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Lasered Liner

This inspirational 3-D papercut model by Helen Snell that I spied at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen shows how inexpensive materials can be transformed, becoming precious and truly wonderful.  The equipment to produce this is expensive but surely someone who's nifty with a knife  could knock one of these up in a few minutes.  Simples!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Google Doodle Doo Two!

A wee while back, when I was scratching around for things to write about whilst poorly,  I came up with the idea of  featuring  Google Doodles.  The special headers prissied up the search engine's home page only occasionally then but now they come thick and fast.  It's rare to see an unadorned logo these days.Saturday's Dr Who's 50th Anniversary edition  reminded me that there's been plenty that have caught my eye over the last couple of years.  I reckon  that an update to my original post is due.

How about this lovely Art-Deco themed one celebrating another anniversary, on this occasion the 100th year of the Tour de France.  Oh la la!

I'm sure that the layout of the London Underground might have changed a bit since I last used it.  This one marks another anniversary, this one was the 150th of the Tube.

Is Schrodinger's cat alive, dead or a combination of the two?   It's certainly a thought experiment that merits a Google Doodle.

And for those less highbrow let's celebrate the first day of summer with these charming bobbing dudes and a rolling wave.

This one doesn't work like it did on the 132th anniversary of Gideon Sundback's birthday.     On that day I was able to unzip the giant zipper, invented by the birthday boy, to reveal by search results.

And talking of interaction, Louis and I could have  picked any of the Olympic doodles which featured  suitably competitive games.  Here's the 100m hurdles.

This one's a little gem and possibly my favourite.  It celebrates the work of Saul Bass on what would have been his 93rd birthday and is a funky depiction of his film credits with a brilliant Dave Brubeck soundtrack to boot.

Here's another interactive one .  What could be better than a bit of code breaking to celebrate Alan Turin's centenary.

Certainly this Moby Dick inspired one provides inspiration for a bit of printing.

And whilst I'm not particularly a royalist I did wish Kate and William all the best on their wedding day and found the intricate celebratory Google Doodle charming.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The Magic Rubber

Today I reckon that if I get a spare minute or three today between kid stuff, printing, ironing, draining the motorhome's tank before it freezes and making my car a little more presentable, I'll try this technique that I shamelessly plucked from Facebook. Usually guided meditation don't float my boat.  I have real trouble with visualisation but this one looks like its simple enough to be a goer.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Not a Turd...

Photo: J P Lon
....but a date!  Just as nasty though as far as I'm concerned.  Horrible gritty little beggars.   Dates that is and not turds.   I'll grant that the latter come in all shapes and sizes but I don't poke them around to discover their constituent texture.

Anyway, this post has nothing to do with vile dried fruit or indeed, bodily functions. It's to announce that I've given into my lovely colleagues,  who are more worried than I am that I'll spend the rest of my life alone, and joined a dating site.  Let's see what comes of it. After all how difficult can it be to go and have a coffee with complete strangers.  That's part and parcel of what I do as my day job.

As I'll already have worked out that I might have a cat in hell's chance of being attracted to the blokes that I meet it doesn't sound like a pursuit that's going to be terribly unpleasant.  Of course that maxim about judging a book by its cover might ring true but at the least the less successful experiences might yield some funny stories.  They certainly have for friends who've gone down this route.

I have to say that on first impressions it's a lot easier than weighing up who fancied each other at the school disco or in those murky nightclubs of my student days.  It seems nearly as childish though and has reduced me to fits of giggles.   I carefully composed an engimatic profile, uploaded a photo and then with wanton abandon, I've gone through the site and  'liked' eleven men.  What a floozy! Five hours later and already,  two with rather ridiculous pseudonyms have  'liked' me back.  Two others have rejected the preliminary advances of a wacky grey haired woman with a penchant for power tools, probably a good thing as my social calendar would get a bit too busy if they were all keen!  I'll keep you all updated on progress... if of course there ever is any.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Get Rid of the Glare

Apparently, and it must be true as it says so in the Daily Mail,  almost 3,000 accidents annually are caused by windscreen glare.  I reckon that, in my drives around the B roads of the South Hams this week, I've only just avoided having about half of this number!  It's been a nightmare with one particularly frightening moment when I had to stop dead because I couldn't see anything at all.

It's left me wondering whether this could be an age thing.  That low bright sunshine on windscreens in late autumn didn't seem to be half as troublesome when I was younger.  Or perhaps I didn't head off in the same direction early morning in those days.

Anyway, to stop others among you feeling the same terror, I've found this article to share that gives rather handy tips on how to deal with this.  It looks like my mucky pup windscreen may a big part of this problem.  So, I'll be getting on the case this weekend and cleaning it thoroughly inside and out and making sure that I keep cleaning supplies in the car to keep it spick and span.  Then perhaps I might be able to enjoy my drives through the beautiful autumnal Devon countryside just a little bit more.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Six Months On

I came across this video on Guardian Online whilst having my first cuppa of the morning and thought that eighteen people describing their own experiences of anti-depressant might be useful to somebody, somewhere out there.  My own take on this?  Well, citalopram, one of this class of drug, was intermittently part and parcel of a toolkit to manage depression that involved a bit of CBT, adopting oh so powerful mindfulness techniques and changing aspects of my life that needed  a good old overhaul. It surprises me that I've been off it for over six months now.

Perhaps I continued with the medication for longer than I needed to.  Certainly I was avoiding the regular reviews scheduled by my GP practice because I was afraid that the medication would be stopped.   I feared relapse and quite rightly too.  Struggling with mental illness is horrible and robs you of great big bits of your life.  I was also a bit concerned about withdrawal effects and this, in spite of a gradual withdrawal of the drug, did turn out to be a little on the annoying side.  All that head zapping  only finally went away completely after two or three months.

Now I'm left standing on my own two feet without pharmacological support.  Happily, I can say that I'm certainly not depressed.  Life is very much worth living and in the main I'm joyful, busy, and appreciate all that is going on in the world around me.  What I hadn't realised though was that the drug  suppressed my emotion quite widely.  Now, things happen that instil feelings of anxiety.  I took the kids to Go Ape  for what was my second visit.  Whereas before, with a good dose of citalopram hurtling through my system, I launched myself with gay abandon off a platform and into a big spider's web of a cargo net, this time abject fear  took over.  I wimped out and took an easier route down in spite of the 'cowdy custard' type cries from my fellow monkeys.   At other times, like when my knee last gave way, I cry my little heart out.  That just didn't happen when I was taking the pills.

Rather than seeing these emotional piques as symptoms, I see them as part and parcel of everyday life and a sign that I have returned to nornmality.  And in a way I'm thankful that I've got them back.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Lovelygrey Guide to Weigh-Ins

It's a 500 calorie day in my 5:2 fasting regime:( They're so difficult for a girl who loves her food.  And tomorrow there will be the  weigh in to see if my abstinence on Monday and Wednesday has made any difference this week.  Before I get on the scales serious preparation is needed.  Here's what I do to shave off those tinsey wincey parts of ounces that could add up to a stonking great pound or two:

  • Of course it goes without saying that I get butt naked. Cloth is heavy stuff.  Even a G-string would be significant.  Not that I wear those at my time in life.  Comfy apple catchers are more my bag!
  • The weigh-in takes place at the start of the day, the time when experience tells me that I'm likely to be lightest because I haven't  yet put anything in my tummy.
  • I take off any jewellery and glasses.
  • Surely that plaster on my finger needs to be whipped off too.
  • If hair needs a trim I'll do that beforehand ....
  • ...and I'll cut my nails!  Those on this model here look a tad too long.
  • Do you think that epilating my legs could make a difference as well?  How about plucking eyebrows?
  • Naturally there's a visit to powder my nose beforehand.  Of course that's a euphemism as real make up would add weight.
Finally, finally I find the place on the floor where the scales seem to be the kindest, breathe out fully and step on.  Will all my preparation make a pound or two's difference?

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Happy Sputnik Muzak

Be quick and listen to this fascinating Radio 4 programme because it's only available for another four days.  It's the story of how Tim Key, a poet and comedian, went off to Russia to find out more about the composer Vhacheslav Mescherin and his orchestra which included a theremin.  Wow!  He'd come across this music, which is so evocative of the '60s (think Vision On, Pink Panther) after being given a CD by a friend and was instantly hooked.   The tunes formed the soundtrack for the USSR in that era and were even blasted into space with the first cosmonauts.  I was pretty taken by their happy, futuristic, jangliness.  Sadly they're not available on my beloved Spotify and it looks like the albums Easy USSR Vols. 1&2 are as rare as rocking horse droppings on.  But some kind soul has made them available on YouTube so if you like tinkly space age music that would make a Martian smile, enjoy!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Where does it Come From

My blog is eclectic but hats off to Jack Douglas, the author of the book in the middle of this lot.  I salute him for his ability to mix and match subject matter way more inventively than I can!

Oddly enough there's seven days in this week and I have an idea for just one post.  That's pretty typical.  When I first started 'lovely grey day' I had about fifteen subjects to write about, a proper 'back of an envelope job', although mine might have been written on an old greetings card.  I'm telling you all this because I want to encourage anyone out there who's considering their own little blogging adventure but doesn't think that they'll have anything to say.   Now from that small seed of inspiration I've written over a thousand posts, a figure which I find hard to believe myself.   Here's where my ideas come from.

  • Things that you see and hear when going about your ordinary business.  It's surprising how much more observant that you become when you're looking for something to write about.  See this earlier quote from Zadie Smith' that inspires me to keep going.
  • Out of the ordinary events and special occasions.
  • Times when life doesn't go quite according to plan!
  • What other people do;  family, friends and complete strangers.  Kids are a particularly rich source of material.
  • What you see and hear on multimedia sources, the TV, Radio and the Internet.  
  • Sharing things made by yourself and others.
  • Stuff conjured up in the old noggin:  odd thoughts, lists, reflections, grumbles .......
So let me use the words of Mrs Doyle from Father Ted to encourage you to take the leap.

'Go on, go on, go on, go on, GO ON!'

PS Books, I forgot books!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Suicide isn't Painless

In the absence of Louis as he's with his dad this weekend,  I've taken the opportunity to turn Lovelygrey Cottage into a great big drying rack. There's the washing on the clothes horse downstairs as I'm of the opinion that tumble driers are non ecological devil spawn.  And upstairs I finally have twenty satisfactory prints from the animal linocut that I made over well over three months ago.   Let's hope I don't slip and tread on them.

Producing good results has been a long old process. Now though it seems that the period of swearing and much expensive paper wastage is over as I've discovered that Caligo Safe Wash Inks and Hosho Paper from Japan are a good match for each other.

So why have I felt the need to make so many copies all in one go?  Well soon I'll cut into my original piece of lino again to make the plate for the second colour I'm going to add.  The fact that there's no going back has given this reduction technique its suicide printing nickname.   Lining everything up so the print is perfect is going to be a tough challenge.  Painless it ain't!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Who the Blooming Heck is Isabel Marant?

Do you ever like much of what you see in fashion features in the newspaper?  To me most of it looks weird or grannyish and overpriced to boot.    Who pays five hundred odd quid for a blouse, I ask you.  But last week's columns sported photos of clothes by Isabel Marant for H&M and voila! (for Miss Marant is French) there were things that I actually wanted to wear at reasonable prices.  A gorgeous jacquard weave skirt, a lovely patterned linen top and beautiful knitwear including this wonderful loop knit cardie.  I didn't go much on the patterned trousers, too been there, seen that and done it in the '80s for me.

Now I've kept to most of my 2013 rules pretty well but the one about clothes buying went tits up yonks ago.  I have really trouble resisting but hey ho, we all need a vice or two.  Anyway I thought I'd saunter over to the H&M website at a leisurely pace and pick myself up a cosy woolly to take the winter chill away.  But blow me down!  I must have been living in the sticks too long, out of touch with normal life for Isabel Marant is blooming  mega famous. Her collection for the high street chain was bought up in a flash, there were queues outside stores and the shops's website crashed.  Now 'Sold Out' items are reappearing on Ebay for silly money.

So now what to do to get the look?  I could hang around the H&M website hoping that someone returns a cardie in my size.  Or I could learn to knit to knock up my own creation.  Does anyone know how to loop stitch?

Friday, 15 November 2013


Looking at the picture you might think that I'm going to talk about cooking today.  But you'd be wrong, Ha!  For I'm merely using a picture of chillis as a metaphor for heat.  Never let it be said that my writing is not deep and meaningful!

Predictably my direct debit for fuel charges went up last month.  EDF told me they were going to do it before they told me the new monthly charge and I was more than a bit anxious.  You see I reckoned that the combined payment for gas and electricity for £50 monthly that they calculated last year was woefully inadequate so I was expecting a bit of a hike. Imagine my delight when I found that it only went up to £57.  That's not half bad given the fact that I thought I'd had the heating on loads last year. The winter seemed to go and on didn't it?  It means that I must be doing something right.

As well as the cosy blankets, keeping the thermostat down and acclimatising myself to cope with lower temperatures  I've come up with another handy hint to save on heating bills, especially if your routine is a bit erratic.  Don't for goodness sake use the timer to put the heat on automatically.  They'll be times when the house is lovely and toasty but there's no-one to enjoy it.  That's no use to anyone and a waste of money.  Instead only turn it on when you're at home.  They'll be a short spell when you first get in when it's a bit chilly but that's a small price in return for reduced heating costs.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Note to Self

You  really must not feel guilty if, like last night, you have a break from trying to pack every waking hour with productive activity.  Sometimes  it is jolly good for you to get home, slob about in front of the telly watching non edifying rubbish like 'Four in a Bed' and 'Come Dine with Me'.  Then might I suggest, a lovely long bath and an early night?    You do not need to fret about all the creative endeavours that you left untouched.  They will wait for another day when you are less knackered.

Lots of love

Lovelygrey xxx

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Premier Inn It Ain't!

Odds on,  my readers have similar interests to my own and there a few of you out there who lurve George Clark's Amazing Spaces on Channel 4 just as much as Louis and I do.  So you might have caught the episode where gorgeous George and his equally luscious friend William visited the Treehotel in Sweden.  It's home to six different rooms suspended in the trees, a few of which where featured on the programme. There's another rather wonderful one, called the Blue Cone, that is perplexingly painted red.  Perhaps the person who named it was having one of those days where their brain wasn't working properly and they couldn't remember the English names for colours.  Or maybe there's some other deep and meaningful reason that's lost on me.

Not surprisingly Lou and I now want to ditch the motorhome just the once, and yep, you've guessed it for the photo is a bit of a giveaway, stay in the spaceship after dining at the game buffet that includes salmon, reindeer and Norrland bear.  Hmmm, not sure that I would want to eat Teddy but that might just be me being picky.  It seems though that our wish is not going to come true at any time in the future for B&B a night in a UFO comes in at a hefty 4400 krone, over £400 in British money!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

One for the 'Leaky' Women

Did you know that advertisers target women with beauty products on a Monday as it's the day that they are likely to feel most iffy about themselves? This was just one of the facts that I learned from Radio 4's Woman's Hour yesterday. All that manipulation means that there's another good reason not to wear make up. Go bare if you dare!

Anyway one of the contributors to yesterday's discussion about advertising mentioned this very funny 'Mitchell & Webb' clip parodying the difference between how men and women are targeted. So, because I am  kindly when I'm not sticking pins into my voodoo doll I hunted it down for you on YouTube. I think you'll like it!

Monday, 11 November 2013

The Death of Gadgetry

Other children of the sixties may remember this.  It's a Texas TI-30 scientific calculator and I became the proud owner of one just in time to take my GCE Maths back along at the end of the 1970s.  It had a funky red LED display and I worked out a way of powering it up and down by pressing a combination of buttons that didn't even go near the ON/OFF switch.

A calculator, albeit an updated one, was eventually joined by a whole lot of electronic gadgetry that used to vie for space in my bag - a music player, camera, PDA, Louis' game consoles and a phone that was just a phone, period!  I'm just in awe of the fact that all these devices now fit into the palm sized rectangle that is my smartphone.  And there's more.  It's a radio, video player and recorder, stopwatch,  torch, GPS system and a rather superior replacement for the Encyclopedia Britannica and a whole library of other reference books which, of course, could not be lugged around willy-nilly.  In researching this post, there's other things I've come across that I want to add, an offline dictionary/thesaurus called Terminology,  a budgeting tool called Mint and I'm saving the best until last.  For a paltry fee that is about 10% of what my TI-30 cost in really money, not adjusted for inflation, you can download Starwalk, an app that tells you the names of the stars that you can see if you point it at the night sky.  How cool is that?

So, why am I telling you all this? Well Christmas is coming and the shopkeepers are getting fat.  That silly season approaches when lots of us are scratching our heads over present buying.  This article from the Guardian reminds us that because sheer diversity of what can be fitted on a smartphone, that the purchase of many of the extraneous and indeed expensive gadgets out there is now a total waste of money.  Go forth and buy chocolatey gifts instead!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Solid as a Rock - Except I'm Not!

All told it's been a bit of a disastrous week what with the car prang and the bad hair day incident.  There's more and this one feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth from the body that I live in even though I've been treating it especially well lately.

All of a sudden though, BANG! Down I went.   Whilst I was just standing stock still my dodgy knee gave way without warning.  How wrong I was to think that it was getting more stable because I've increased the muscle bulk around it and decreased the weight that I was putting through it.  So, now I'm back in an acute stage of my injury where around the joint is yet again, painful and swollen.  Past experience tells me that nothing for it but to rest up as far as possible. It's not a fitting time for physical activity so bang goes that exercise regime for a few weeks again.  The setback could potentially have implications for my mental health but I'm going to try and be both philosophical and practical to keep the low mood at bay.

Last year I thought that I'd managed to avoid having surgery  and an extended period of rehab to replace my cruciate ligament.  Giving that any activity that's not carried out seated or lying down seems to poses a threat of falling at any time unless I'm armed with my leg brace and crutch, it now seems sensible for me and the surgeon to reconsider that decision.    It'll mean a few plans, like living in the motorhome, will have to be put on hold but I'm hoping the sacrifice will pay off with a return to fitness that'll last well into the future.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Thoughts at the Dark End of the Spectrum

For the sake of my own wellbeing as much as others I try and practice loving kindness towards my fellow men for the majority of the time.  Some people though deserve a bit of nastiness.  Like the bloke with cropped dark hair and sunglasses who earlier in the week, who drove his silver Audi (Reg WH 54 something, something, something)  into the back of my car at a roundabout on the outskirts of Plymouth and smashed my rear light.  He then cheerfully veered off without stopping.  I'm sure that without his full number plate details I haven't got a hope in hell of tracing him and getting him to cough up for the damage he caused.

As revenge, I've created an online Voodoo doll of my hit and run driver and have tortured it a little bit.  In reality I'd be mortified if the bloke was actually feeling pain as a consequence of what I did to his jubblies with those pliers, although I wouldn't mind if he has a short-term but punitive dull ache in his nether regions. I'm pretty sure he's tickety  boo in spite of it.  A bit of virtual retribution though has made me giggle and helped assuage some of the anger associated with the incident!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Gok-esque Slimming Squid

'Easily made from store cupboard ingredients' or some variant of this phrase is something that you might find in a cookbook.  Sod's law dictates that when you come to make the recipe yourself none of those grocery staples
can be found in your own kitchen.

In his lovely book Gok Cooks Chinese , that Wan lad has a recipe in his book  for chilli and salt squid. Blow me down but the usual stock of fresh chillis and spring onions that would normally be in my fridge were missing when I came to make this on one of my 5:2 fasting days when fishy delights are my low calorie treat at the end of the day .  Perhaps The Borrowers cook themselves oriental feasts while I'm out?

Anyway I put together my own version of this easy-peasy dish.  Take 200g of squid tubes, that come in at an amazingly paltry 100 calories, cut them in half lengthwise and score them with little zig zag patterns all over their triangular bodies.  Heat a tiny bit of groundnut oil in a pan, fry up a couple of cloves of chopped garlic, some fresh chopped ginger and some dried chilli flakes.  Oh! There's a good pinch of salt in there too.  After all it's one of the things mentioned in the recipe name.   At this stage Gok takes this stuff out of the wok but I didn't bother. I just tossed  in the squid and then cook for a couple of minutes.  Gok says it's supposed to be charred but mine didn't reach this stage.  Maybe it was because I was taking shortcuts!  Serve with a genius salad of cucumber, prepared by shaving it with a potato peeler.  The yummy dressing is just a couple of glugs of rice vinegar and a pinch of sugar, a useful addition indeed to other meals.

Thursday, 7 November 2013


With hindsight a great big hair shearing disaster has probably been waiting in the wings for some time.  It's almost  inevitable with home haircutting and I'm rather philosophical about it.  Back a  few years  over enthusiastic shaving around the fringe area resulted in half an eyebrow.  For weeks afterwards, I had to presume the role of an extra crew member off the set of the Star Trek enterprise.  Most of the time though the results are perfectly okay and by my DIY approach I save a small fortune each year in trips to a salon.

This second 'bad hair day' catastrophe was a little more severe.  It struck again around the hairline  that frames my face.  In trying to tidy up the really annoying tufty areas of  that grow at the side of my forehead  I somehow managed to create a  wide airstrip-like bald patch which reached above and beyond my left ear. Attempts to tidy up around the edges resulted in a style combination of Grayson Perry's Claire and a rude girl. Not a look that's going to catch on any time soon. There was nothing to be done but to lop the whole lot off and don a all over grade 2, a style  that I hasn't graced the Lovelygrey nogginsince my student days in Exeter. Then the lovely Mr Fred, a gentlemanly barber was in charge of my coiffure.

So what role should I play with my velvety pelt which I have to admit feels lush even if it's not so visually pleasing?  I've decided to  take on the part of a Buddhist nun.  In case you're wondering 'Never mind, it'll grow back' is my mantra!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Toothpaste and Oats

Have you ever felt really, really let down by advertisers?  I did as a child after I'd pestered my mother to buy  Ready Brek and I didn't glow.

And after using Colgate toothpaste why didn't I have the promised ring of confidence?

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

In the Frostie Danger Zone

Last year I mused on a brainwave that I'd had and  suggested that we can train our bodies to adapt to living at a lower temperature.  It may not be one to try at home if you are poorly or elderly but for the averagely fit and healthy among us it's got to one to add to the tool box of energy saving tips.

As the winter approached in 2012, I optimistically equipped the house with blankets and bought extra woolly pullies.  Then the thermostat was set at a rather balmy, or barmy depending on your viewpoint,  17 degrees.  I have to say that, even for a menopausal middle aged woman, who sees hot flushes as a fuel saving tactic, it was a bit cold  when not snuggled up under those insulating layers.  Louis moaned a bit too much  as well.  So the ambient temperature at Lovelygrey Cottage snuck up to an acceptable 18.5 degrees.

Seeing that this temperature was pretty comfortable I'm a bit bemused at government guidance that recommends heating living rooms to a totally tropical twenty one degrees.  Are they in league with those big bad power companies who are trying to fleece us?  Or is it just that advice is being doled out by a whole bunch of Walter Softies who haven't hardened themselves up so they're comfortable at a temperature which is way,way above what would melt Frostie?

Monday, 4 November 2013

Rubbing in the Rigging

Believe it or not this was the first piece of silver that I ever took a hacksaw to, a few years back now. It was one of the pieces that I made on a beginner's silversmithing course at the Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery whose courses which are held in a workshop on a farm in the middle of nowhere, come highly recommended.   I'd always seen it as an unfinished piece, a bit rough and ready and wanted to try and disguise its primitive look (aka dodgy sawing) before I viewed it a complete.  So for ages now, I've been periodically been sticking it on things, bits of swirly Fimo, a piece of sea glass, driftwood in an attempt to tart it up.

There's been a temporary lull in lino cutting activity due to lack of success in getting my latest block to translate successfully to print from work.  A different ink has partially solved the problem and now I'm waiting for a delivery of Japanese paper that, fingers crossed,  may well solve the problem completely.  As  I'm on a bit of a mission to thwart my apparently Arian trait of not finishing what I started,  I revisited my little boat again.  And with new eyes I decided that I liked it without any embellishment.  All it needed was a few more cuts, a bit of a hammer and a good polish.

So here it is.  I'll never get all of those scratches out and achieve the mirror-like finish that aspire to.  Then again this picture was taken before further rubbing with graded polishing papers.  Its now smoother than before and the marks that are left are hardly visible to the naked eye.  If I took another photo though some critical bugger would still be able to spot a few flaws!

 I'll keep going a little more this week with my therapeutic polishing activity.  Then I'll gift it, as I've been promising for years, to Salty Dog to remind her of the sea whilst she's off on her winter job at a ski resort  It can then be be regarded  as a completed piece.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Even More Macho

Photo: BBC
It's Movember ,that time of the year when lots of fellas sprout facial hair to raise funds and awareness of what can go wrong in the region near their dangly bits.  I'm pleased to see that the Cerne Abbas giant has got in on the act.  Don't you think that the addition of a moustache has made the doyen of fertility symbols even more manly than he was before?

Saturday, 2 November 2013

A Kickstart Whilst It's Nice and Quiet

I'm using the time that Louis is away on holiday with his dad to kickstart good health giving habits. The exercise bike is being used twice daily for bursts where I burn 75 calories each time.  I read Leonard Cohen's biography  whilst I'm pedalling away to stave off the boredom.  Leonard doesn't seem to have led a very good example in his earlier life.  My reading hasn't yet got past the time when he seems to have been taking an awful lot of illicit drugs.

Later on in his life though I know that Leonard found that meditation to be rather beneficial.  Hell, he even took himself off to a monastery years so that he could focus on his practice.  I'm well aware of how mindfulness can be helpful in my own life but good habits, where I sat observing my own breathing on a near daily basis, lapsed some time ago.  So, this week I'm trying to restore sitting practice back into my busy routine.

Once I'm up and running I can sit in silence for around forty minutes without much difficulty.  At the moment though I'm just meditating for ten minutes, guided by Mark Williams from the Oxford Mindfulness Centre.  For anyone else who may want to join me in starting to discover the benefits that mindfulness practice can bring  I can't recommended his guided meditations highly enough. This collection is freely available on Spotify.

Friday, 1 November 2013

A £50,000 Incentive!

My novel continues to evolve slowly in unstructured dribs and drabs.  What I really need is a great big kick up the bottom to make some real progress. And I think that I've had one, from my lovely brother Paul Bernard Harris!

He's alerted me to Richard and Judy's Writing Competition.  If I can get my finger out and submit the first 10,000-12,000 words of a story before 1 January I will be in with a chance of winning a £50,000 publishing deal.  It's tough but do-able. And even in the unlikely(!) event that I don't win it will force me to approach my writing practice with a little bit of discipline.