Monday, 30 November 2015

This Week......

......I am back at work and will try to retain some of that chilled calm that I've rediscovered whilst on a week's annual leave. It occurred to me that, for a long time, I've not been restoring those old inner batteries.  It's lead to rather worrying levels of stress mounting up.  So I'm digging in my heels and going to make sure I do restorative stuff.  This is what I've planned.

  • I will bake bread and cake, make soup and cook a recipe that I've never tried before.
  • I'll visit a library and treat myself to a pile of books to peruse.
  • I will not work any more than the hours that I'm contracted  and will take lunch breaks.
  • I will take up the 'boring' needlepoint that, four years after purchase, never got finished.  Easy crafting and when it's done it will look good in my house.
  • I will watch the remaining episodes of 'The Detectorists'.  It's funny. Funny is good!
  • I will thrash Louis at Jack Straws.  Okay that's not a given as he's mighty skilled with that hookey thing but I'll give it a bloody good go.
The picture by the way is from good old Wiki.  It depicts the deities that represent the days of the week.  Perhaps they can help me in my quest for a peaceful existence over the next seven days.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Less Of A Tosser

Those recent Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall programmes about waste got me thinking about how I might lessen my impact on the environment even further.  I reckon that I'm in the 'could do better' brigade rather than 'the downright naughty' club.  On the plus side I haven't bought a carrier bag since the charge for them came in October, all my clothes get recycled to the charity shop and a fair proportion of the stuff that I buy is secondhand.  On the minus side that black bin with stuff that goes to landfill every fortnight has been full since I've moved into the house.  I put it down to the detritus from decorating.   And to my shame, food does go off on my watch.  Even though this is an occasional occurrence it seems inexcusable in a world where so many are hungry.

So there's room for improvement and I'm trying harder.  It's the usual stuff that you'll all know about - buying less food, using up what I've got and been canny with the freezer.  On the black bin front I reflect on what's going in there and whether it does have a use for someone, somewhere.  When it eventually stops raining there's a little hoard of stuff to go outside with a 'Free to A Good Home' sign. Mr Metrosexual did that with a wardrobe and it was snaffled within minutes!

And Lauren Singer can inspire me further.  The non recyclable trash that this amazing woman has generated over the last two years comfortably fits into a jam jar - and she can screw the lid on!   Her website 'Trash is For Tossers! has plenty of inspiration.  Maybe someday soon there will be nothing but recycling for the bin men to collect on rubbish day.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Treasure Trove from Travels

My journey from Norfolk back to Devon has been broken in two as that East-West trek across Britain is rather onerous. So I've ended up in the Midlands at  the home of my friends, M, Paul and Josh, a thirteen year old whose propensity to chat equals that of my own son. Yesterday over a supper of meatballs and tarte tatin, he told me all about how he'd set up his server using YouTube, the history of the bishops of Lichfield and gave me book recommendations for Louis - all seemingly without drawing breath!

Onwards to Plymouth today.  Salty Dog is having a girlie get together and it seems silly to make the detour home first.  Let's head on back in the morning.  Leif, my little green Citigo is such a dinky workhouse.  For a tiny car, I can pack rather a lot in him.  There's my luggage, my Ikea buys from earlier in the week - a folding stool, storage box, shelved cutlery tray and a few other bits and bobs.  Then there's these treasures liberated from the house of my brother and his fiance. The granny blanket is a gift to augment my collection of crocheted beauties and that mirror with its gnarly old wood is a ten pounds charity shop find. It'll grace a particularly thin wall.

The chair is now mine too.  My future sister-in-law brings old furniture back to life and I fell in love with this piece that she had for sale.  It's going into my bedroom to inject some much needed colour.  The chi-chi frenchness goes well with the stuff that's already in there so I'm dead chuffed.

Sometimes it seems that both the Union Jack and St George's flag of England have  been claimed by a band of people who give pride in nationhood a bad name.  I like to reclaim for the rest of us who love their country and its culture and heritage  but don't want to spread hatred.  Whilst I see myself as a world and European citizen, it feels right to identify with being British and English too!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Imagining the Future

What will life be like in the future? And how will technology advance in the next ten, twenty, one hundred years?  I think that I'd like to do away with the tangly mess that plugs, sockets and leads make quite soon.  Of course, I'd also be happy with that old chestnut, a personal flying machine.  Wouldn't anyone?

My pondering gives me a chance to show you some charming cartoons of how 19th and early 20th century French artists believed we would be living today.   First up, does anyone fancy a little ride in a spaceship to Mars?  Climbing down that ladder in a long dress onto the red planet would be mighty difficult but at least a big pointy umbrella might come in useful for poking an annoying alien playing his cymbals too loudly.

It seems that  I'm not the first person to dream of taking to the skies under my own steam without those interminable waits at airports. It looks like our ancestors thought it would be a nifty idea as well.  I found flying firefighters and people playing aerial tennis.  I was particularly tickled by this image of the policeman  from 'Allo 'Allo complete with wings and a teeny tiny truncheon.apprehending a lady. She looks pretty innocent to me but could it be that she's has more than 100ml of liquid secretly stashed away in her hand luggage?

I think this Whale Bus has to be my favourite idea.  Genius!  I wonder why it's never come to fruition. Maybe marine mammals aren't compliant enough.  They've all got together and refused point blank to play ball.  Or perhaps they're too flighty to stick to a scheduled route. Instead of cruising backwards and forwards between  Plymouth and Roscoff  you'd never know where you might end up if they spotted a shoal of tasty krill heading in different direction.

And here's another idea that never caught on.  I'm not sure why not. Radium central heating! Now there's a heat source that would give you and your mates a lasting glow!

For more great examples of retro futurism, head on over to this page at Wikimedia Commons.  There's plenty to inspire all you wannabe Wallaces out there.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

You Brute!

Photo: Evelyn Simak
For the first time since my teenage years I visited Norwich yesterday. I had remembered very little  except that there was a big market square with canvas clad stalls.  Now their coverings are somewhat more substantial.  Less picturesque maybe but I reckon the stallholders are a bit more cosy.

It's a city with the wow factor. Full of amazing buildings, a kind of sampler of architectural styles over the centuries that would make an American tourist swoon.  And then there's this place, Sovereign House.  It used to be home of Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

To visit those charity shops that I'm rather fond of we parked in this car park that's overlooked by this 1960s 'atrocity'.  'The arse end' of Norwich as my future sister-in-law called it.   The building is in a right old state, part boarded up and part smashed windows.  Apparently it's due for demolition but I'm told by a friend who's in the know that its high asbestos content makes that job problematic.

There's no questioning this building's ugliness.  Yet it took my breath away.  It's vast and it has some real quirks.  That big bulge on the top that looks like a control towere and a weird glass cylinder at the back holding a spiral staircase.

The Twentieth Century Society think that this building is an important piece of Brutalist architecture. And this got me thinking.  Understandably many see it as a  monstrosity but don't these 'carbuncles' of the sixties and seventies contribute to the narrative of this country?  They tell tales of a time in our history.   It might be a shame if they all succumbed to the wrecking ball.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


For the first time in ages   I'm doing very little:  eating, drinking, reading, talking, a little mooch around the square and then an afternoon kip. There's nothing really substantial to report.

It was good to come away. My head is clear of its usual babble.  There is nothing that I HAVE to do this week.  I think I may have discovered the best use of a holiday.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Poirot's Place

Photo: Evelyn Simak
Just in the nick of time before I collapsed in a big fat heat, a week’s leave has come around.  Phew!   It may have been sensible to use the time to decorate but I’m not one for staying at home when it’s holiday time.  A healthy thread of wanderlust steeps through my soul.  It's too strong to be ignored.  So yesterday I drove and drove and drove, the first time ever that I’ve filled a car’s petrol tank twice in a day.  Three hundred and seventy miles later which included a slight detour to Bristol IKEA,  I  arrived at my brother’s new Norfolk home.

Wow!  It’s a historic house with beams in the gorgeous Reepham. I didn't have time to take photographs last night. The light was fading. So I've nicked this one from Wikipedia and also found out that a Poirot episode was filmed here, hence today's title.  No doubt I'll discover more on my wanderings around the area in the next few days.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Fifty to Find

Image: The Daily Mail

My regular readers might know that I love a bit of puzzling. Daily little teasers to keep the brain ticking over. Given that I'm clumsy with dodgy sight, it's best that I'm not competitive at all in the sporting arena. In the cerebral zone it's different.  I like to trash the nuts off an opponent...if they've got any that is!  

On Saturday night I helped out at the Scout annual quiz night. Lou and I used hard sell tactics to improve on last year's raffle ticket sales.   It's got to be done.  After all there's tents to replace that got blown away in a storm at summer camp. Even though I wasn't in a team I had a go at some of the questions myself when I wasn't folding tickets or washing up.  The 'Name that Chocolate Flavour'  with various tasting samples had to be the best round.  Yum! This clever picture quiz came a close second.   Hidden in the scene are fifty film titles.  I got about forty. Not bad considering that I was multi-tasking.  I thought I'd share it as some of you might like to have a go during a coffee break.  The answers are here.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Optimistic Art

Image: Nicky Stevenson Gallery
When nothing else is planned a pretty satisfactory little routine has been established for the alternate Saturdays when Louis stays here. We get up late-ish, have a leisurely breakfast of bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon and then wander down the rickety steps to Brixham town centre. It's no more than ten minutes away.

You can get pretty much everything you need here.   Yesterday the  kitchenware shop came up trumps and I'm now the proud owner of a sugar thermometer that will increase our fudge repertoire. There are proper greengrocers, butchers and bakeries,  a couple of fascinating hardware joints and a reasonably priced electrical store with helpful staff.  Local  independent shops selling the everyday items that are on my shopping list.   After an exuberant flurry of spending the other week  I found I'd   bitten off way more than I could chew.  I failed in my attempt to lug an oil filled radiator and two bulging string bags all the way back up the hill.  They has to be abandoned halfway up with Louis on guard whilst I headed off home to fetch the car!

Image: Nicky Stevenson Gallery
Because this is a tourist haunt the town has more than its fair share of shops that sell pretty things. We like those too.  They inspire us even though we can't afford to buy at the moment.  One day........

Yesterday we discovered the colourful world  of the Nicky Stevenson Gallery, a friendly and welcoming place, and both immediately fell in love with this artist's work.  I love the vibrancy of the colours she uses and the fact that the pictures seem so textural. They look like intricately embroidered applique on silky fabric.   I almost wanted to stroke them!  Lou likes the fact that they are cartoon-y. High praise indeed from a twelve year old boy.

Image: Nicky Stevenson Gallery
I've now visited Nicky's website and  can relate to some of the stories that inspire her art.  I think the one behind 'Flamingos Wait Patiently For Lunch' might be my favourite.  Nicky believes that we have a moral duty to 'remain optimistic'.  What a life affirming thought!

I'd love to be able to show you my favourite painting that Nicky revealed from under a protective pile of paper.  It's too 'hot off the press' and doesn't feature on her website yet.    Her latest work is an intricate picture of our new home town and Louis was delighted that she hadn't forgotten to include his favourite harbourside sweetie shop. This painstakingly detailed piece took eighty hours to produce and will be available to buy in the gallery. Bah! I don't think that my budget stretches to the original.  There's the exterior of the house to paint, a bathroom to refit and a shed to erect.  The limited edition prints are much more affordable and Christmas often brings a little windfall.  Maybe I can buy one of those.  It'll be just the job to grace the walls of our Brixham pad.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Subconscious Sabotage

I bit the bullet and went for a different job the other day.  It's a managerial one that steered me away from the clinical work that I love.  However,  after eleven years sitting at the same desk, drowning in paperwork, of a metaphorical variety in these technological days, it's definitely time to blow some cobwebs away.   I wasn't sure that I wanted the post or the very different responsibilities to those I've got now but prepared my piece and gave it a shot.  And what do you know?  My normal chatty demeanour deserted me, I was  a visible bag of nerves and I fluffed it.  It was if my subversive inner self undermined the whole process.  'You don't want that!!!!!!'  it screamed.   It has done this before. I went for a psychological therapies post which would have found me shut in a room in a GP surgery with depressed or anxious people all day rather than driving around the beautiful South Hams.  Again I've come away relieved.

So what now?  As a sensible rational person that mixes a bit of hocus pocus with a healthy dose of scepticism I turned to my 'evidenced based' angel cards as the very doubting Mr Metrosexual calls them.   I was expecting, maybe even hoping, for  a random reading that I could dismiss out of hand.  I got this.

Friday, 20 November 2015

..... For A Very Important Date!

This post was crying out for a white rabbit to illustrate it but then I came across this.  It's from a rather interesting article on the mistakes that people make when choosing a life partner.  I think that I was drawn to it because it nicely sums up my emotional state within relationships.

But this isn't  about that search for 'the one' who can climb  that metaphorical staircase with me. There's  no time for that. I'm far too busy  doing loads of free work for the NHS to stop it sinking.  I do actually give a damn you see. Sometimes it feels that I'm trying to bale out the hull  of health's mothership with a thimble. The effect has taken its toll.   Exhaustion has set in.

What I'm really writing about today is how I've banished  obsessive time keeping.  The idea for it occurred to me the other day when I had to go on a joint visit with a colleague who will remain nameless.  They refused a lift in my nippy little green number preferring to drive themself.  That journey to Kingsbridge from Totnes takes half an hour.  I know  because I've regularly followed that route for eleven years.  They left a full twenty minutes ahead of me....just in case.  'Just in case of what?!' I asked.  There was some lame ideas, the rain, tractors, blah, blah, blah! I've given up building in this wriggle time. Until of course I'm catching a plane, train or being operated upon.  Most of the time it works out.  But occasionally things go tits up and I'm a bit late. No matter.   I reckon I've saved hours!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

What's Troubling Sidney Kidney

Photo: EK Kempf
Do you remember when I went to Wimbledon earlier this year and e-Laura roped  me into cooking what seemed like ten million vol au vents?  Oh okay I'm exaggerating but stories do tend to grow more elaborate with time.

The next day loads of us trooped down to a nearby hotel for breakfast.   During the meal, just as I was tucking into a nice fat sausage,  e-Laura's mum whipped her husband's recently removed kidney stones out of her handbag. Respect!  I might be known for grossing out softies with too much medical information but this surpasses anything that I've ever done or said.  I laughed my socks off.

I was reminded of the incident when I came across this, an image of a kidney stone taken by electron micrography.  Those delicate looking crystalline shards are really rather beautiful.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

A Big Fat Zero

Louis asked me yesterday how many people I'd cured of dementia.  I'm afraid that the answer was this.  That's the problem of working with those with a degenerative disease. I like to think that, because of me, some of them got better.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A Wake Up Call

I didn't write about the bombing in Paris just after it happened at the weekend.  Words failed me and I'm still rather at a loss to speak.  I hold  that country so dear.  When  I drive off the Roscoff ferry, as I do rather often, it feels like a homecoming.  Maybe France will be my land one day.  We'll see. Who knows what is around the corner for any of us.  Will we suffer? Will we thrive?

Here's a  little song that I've loved since a French teacher introduced it in class once.  It talks of a city, rising to greet another day  The translation is here.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Roll On 'Nice' DIY

'I'm going upstairs to do some stripping'.  I told Lou the other day.  He looked rather alarmed until it dawned on him that I meant removing wallpaper rather than clothes. Phew!  Naked parent alert averted!  The current DIY project is painting the landing which will be my crafting space.  It's a pivotal job in finally creating some semblance of order in the house.  Once it's done I'll put up shelves and be able to transform my second bedroom from junk room extraordinaire to calm inviting guest room.  Hopefully it'll be ready for December when Mama and Papa Lovelygrey are planning to stay.

The jobs that I'm prioritising around the house are mundane but necessary.  Yet I'm looking forward to having the time for more frivolous and beautifying projects.  Like mosaic hearths for example as the downstairs ones are missing tiles.  I also want to go to classes to make stained glass windows for the side of the house and a funky metalwork gate for my garden.

And yesterday I came across this.  It's been added to my crafting 'To Do' list.  I would love to build a little communal  library outside my front door like this one for my neighbourhood.   Now that's what I really call a home improvement.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Rude with Chocolate

Late blogging today after going to bed at 3am last night.  Yikes!   Salty Dog had a  TV adverts themed party at her house.  Milk Tray, Tango and 118 118 were all represented.  Me?  I was boring and didn't dress up.  Something about having enough on my plate already without thinking about costume making.  Bah humbug!

One of the things that we did was watch some of those old ads on Youtube.  Here's one.  Because I have a mucky mind I find it very funny.  I can't quite believe it's the real thing and not a parody.

Saturday, 14 November 2015


I am educating a student at the moment.  He is twenty four and lovely.  Bright, kind and considerate and very quick to learn   If Louis grows up like that I will be well pleased.  Barbie Nurse  is especially taken by him.  She wants to bring him home, feed him roast dinners and adopt him as her son. It's a bit greedy as she has two already.

So I have company on my drives around Devon.  There's lots to chat about as, in spite of the generation gap, we have shared interests. Walking, skiing, real ale... oh and occupational therapy of course!   The other day we were talking about social media and confessed that we both didn't really get Twitter even though, in my case,  blog posts automatically feed there.  However my student shared a tip.  He'd used it to make complaints to companies when he hadn't got a response by email.  The replies, he said, were super speedy if you did this.  I thought I'd try it out.

When I visited Red Mel last month the train was late enough for me to be entitled to compensation.  I copied my ticket and set it to CrossCountry trains on 2 October.  In spite of a reminder, I hadn't heard a dicky bird.  Could then a dicky bird help me?  I composed a suitably succinct tweet.

lovelygrey   @lovelygreyday
Nov 13
@crosscountryuk compensation request even later than their train was! 2 October and still waiting even though I've sent a reminder email.

Within a few hours I'd got a positive reply with apologies and saying that my claim had been actioned Yay, it works!  I won't be using this as my first line of defence as it seems unfair to go public initially.  But this will be a last resort in the future when I haven't had a timely email response. There's another company who've just been given a last chance to deal with something confidentially. If I haven't heard anything in a couple of days I'll be tweeting again!

Friday, 13 November 2015


Today this mighty eucalyptus, that would be positively lovely in an Australasian forest but really isn't suitable for a tiny Brixham garden, will be felled.   Any passing koalas are welcome to come round and have a last nibble at the leaves. This fast growing beastie reaches a bit beyond my roof. It will be replaced by something that has less potential to damage the foundations of my house and those around me.    A  Torbay Palm perhaps?  It turns out that's an Aussie native too!

Once it is felled, my garden will have a different feel.  I didn't appreciate that it was south facing until I worked it out the other day.  When the sun shines its rays will be felt daylong but at the moment the shade from the foliage makes it a very dark spot indeed.  I also think that the atmosphere in my dingy bedroom.will also be different.  Lightness and airiness is what I'm hoping for afterwards.  Let's see.

I've come up with a rather happy arrangement to get rid of all that  wood.  The tree surgeons would have taken it away if I wanted but  my friend, the Prof, has bagsied it for her log burner.  In return I'm swapping it for  a  a rather beautiful chair that's just the job for my sunroom but doesn't look right in her  new Georgian home.   Rather a satisfactory arrangement don't you think? .  Of course I'll show that off when it's in situ!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Boomerang Umbrella

I've lost my beloved umbrella  twice  since I bought it a few years ago.  Luckily,  its exuberant floweriness that  brightens up a rain shower makes identification easy.  That would not be than  the case if it were of the boring old black variety.

 The first time I left it in a clinic room at one of the hospitals where I work. Six months later I found it in their lost property box.  It even had a note attached to it with an elastic band saying that the finder had recognised it as mine.   Nobody had thought of reuniting me with it so there it sat until I mislaid my keys as well and I was on the hunt for them.

Sugar Plumb brought it to the baseball game  on Sunday.  She'd had a party at her house a couple of weeks ago and since then she'd been carrying it around trying to trace its owner.  'Yes it's mine!' I exclaimed when I saw it.  I'd been wondering where it was.  Sugar Plumb expressed surprise.  'You're the last person in the world that I'd imagine would own an umbrella like that. It's way too girlie for you.'  Ha!  Just because my hair is on the boyish side and I never wear make up doesn't mean that I never conform to feminine stereotypes.  Sometimes I can do pretty big time!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Bitter Sweet

I came across this video that documents a body of work by American photographer, Blake Little. It's rare that artwork stirs up such a mixed bag of emotions.  Whilst I find the imagery stunning and  the use of subjects of wide-ranging body shapes and ages extraordinarily touching this is countered by revulsion. I am a person who likes to feel squeaky clean.  The lengths I will go to whilst wilderness hiking to maintain personal hygiene with wet wipes are legendary!  So the idea of being that sticky grosses me out.

And then there is my dis-ease about the fact that 4,500lbs of honey went into the making of this body of work.  I can't help thinking about whether the effort of all those poor bees was worthwhile.  Of course there is also  the issue of this unorthodox use of food in a world where so many are starving. I'll say no more.  Some of the comments which accompany the YouTube posting are priceless!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Oh Fudge!

Those frou-frou fudge shops with their dozens of varieties seem to have sprung up everywhere these days.  At least they have in Devon. Their gorgeous goodies are really expensive though. 'Can we have some?' asked Louis the other day as he dribbled all over the window of a Dartmouth confectioner.  Oh okay I exaggerate.  He's not one of Pavlov's mutts.   'Yes' I replied. 'But you're going to make your own.  So we headed up the hill to Sainsbury's on the edge of the town to stock up on ingredients which were:

Butter - I've got lovely stuff at home with sea salt crystals in it.  Be blowed if that was going to be used for kiddie cooking rather than savoured on toast.  We bought the cheapest in the store, Sainsbury's salted a snip at 85p

Sugar - Enough to induce diabetes.  Both soft brown and icing varieties.  Don't even think that you've got plenty at home.  We didn't get much over from either packet.

Peanut Butter - From the Sainsbury's basic range.  It was 65p a pot.  Crunchy of course.  I can't fathom out why anyone would choose the smooth stuff.

We had vanilla essence and milk at home.  The total cost was probably less than a teeny bow adorned box would cost at one of those fancy places.

The recipe was easy-peasy, a doddle for a child to make,  and can be found here.   I was surprised it didn't call for a sugar thermometer and had been perfectly prepared to be buying one as a long term investment.   It needed longer in the fridge than the hour stipulated though.  I'd give it overnight if I were you.  Once the top of the fudge  was set I tipped the slab out and turned it to give both sides a protective air-dried crust.

Here's the result made with about 2lb sugar.  This is after we'd given rather a lot away and there was still masses left yesterday morning.  The pile has gone down a bit now.  No wonder.  It's delicious!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Go Raiders!

I am a little horse!  No let's spell that right for I do not have a swishy tail and four hooves.  I am hoarse from cheering for the Plymouth Raiders. For the first time in years I went to a basketball game, Lou's first ever. It'll be an experience that we'll be repeating sometime soon.

Bless Sugar Plumb for organising us all.  She bought a stack of family tickets costing a bargain £8 each. Not bad for Premier League sport. It puts those football clubs that charge more than an arm and a leg for admission to shame.  That meant a big gaggle of kids and adults populated Rows HH and JJ of Plymouth Pavilions  Sensibly Lou sat as far away as possible from me. I reckon he knew that I could get a bit excitable and that's pretty embarrassing for a boy approaching teenage years.  It was probably for the best.  Along with one of the other mums, I whooped like a good 'un and danced in my seat along with the cheerleaders.  Oh dear!

Here's the kids with Foxy, the team mascot and the gang's unanimously voted favourite player Josh Wilcher.  That guy is nifty.

This was family entertainment at its best. Heck  I don't even like spectator sport! It was nail biting stuff. After a decent first half the Raiders lost it a bit.  If I were their coach I would have been saying 'Don't try so many of those shots from so far back!'  But what do I know?  In the end with seconds to spare and the opponents, Glasgow Rocks, leading 74-72, Corletto the Raider's player coach popped one of the long ones  in the hoop for three points.  Our team won for the first time this season.  It must have been because us lot were there to cheer them on!

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Books and Boats

Lou and I headed over to Dartmouth yesterday on the ferry.  I thought I'd share with him my favourite end to a working day.  After I posted about my marineering route back home when I'm working in the Kingsbridge/Salcombe area a friend told me that the Lower Ferry across the Dart is cheaper and prettier than its bigger brother up river.  I use that one all the time now and have a multi-trip card which saves oodles of cash.

We found a lovely little bookshop, The Dartmouth Bookseller, in Fosse Street that has recently opened.  Lou snapped up a signed copy of the latest Wimpy Kid,
Old School.  Now I rarely buy new books preferring the library or charity shop offerings.  However my friend, 'The Prof', had kindly given me a book token to spend at the airport before we flew out to North America.  Bah! Neither branch of Waterstones at Gatwick take this method of payment.   I'm glad now they didn't as I'm pleased that I was able to give  business to a small independent store. I chose this even though, with my current status of new home spendiness,  I see irony in that title!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Hanging Around

Do you remember when your Nana displayed plates on the wall  and they were trussed up in a wire holder that wrecked the china?  Well I've decided that  I'd like  to hang my collection of ceramics without ruining them rather than keeping them on my pallet table.  I'm planning to repurpose that with the help of some foam and material as a humungous wheelie footstool.  

Back to the plates!  I bought an assorted packet of disc hangers. There's various sizes depending on what you want to hang.  The big ones can hold quite a weight.  You just dab on a bit of water, leave for about five or ten minutes to let the glue go sticky and  then apply them to whatever needs to go up on the wall. If you ever want to remove them again, apparently  they can  be just soaked off.   Once the hangers are in position there's an overnight wait to make sure the glue has dried.

Here's what I've done on the wall near my telly.   I'm a stickler for brilliant white paintwork but then I like to liven up my living space by adding lots of colourful accessories and furnishings.   I've certainly stuck to my own rules here.  There's a real hotchpotch of memories and plenty of space to hang other charity shop finds as these are discovered.    Who knows?  I might do a similar thing on other walls in the house.  There's certainly some other walls that could do with some jollying up!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

Quilling is a craft form that I will probably never have a go at. I know my limitations where it comes to fiddliness.   I'm 100% sure that I'd end up with squishy paper and a gluey mess after I'd turned the air blue enough to fill several swear boxes to the brim. And I'll be honest.  It's never really been an expressive medium that's grabbed me by the throat and caused me to go WOW!  That was until I came across the work of American artist  Lisa Nilsson just the other day.

As someone who has to dabble with a smattering of knowledge about neuro-science as part of their working life I'm particularly taken by this section through the brain. It's much nicer than the scrappy poster that we've currently got up in the team office.  I hardly give that a second glance.   If this incredible piece of art were there instead I think I'd have trouble getting anything done.  I'd be too busy marvelling at its intricacy.

It's made up of a myriad of tiny rolls of Japanese mulberry paper, all painstakingly put together to form an anatomically accurate whole.  I love the way that the colours mirror the textbook drawings and the way that the pieces are presented.  If you'd like to find out more there's a rather thought provoking  TED Talk that features more of Lisa Nilsson's work.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Hippie Stuff

For the first time in nearly five years I attended a yoga class yesterday.    It was lovely.  I must remember next week to wear something tighter though.  A large proportion of my time seemed to be spent staring down my own top whilst my head hung upside down!

On the hippy, dippy self-improvement front I also listened to a webinar the other day by a bloke called Joe Vitale.  I think that his ultimate aim was to sell me an online course.  He didn't succeed but he did whet my appetite to find out more about Ho'oponopono for free.  This is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness that is quite tricky to spell!  The original target was family members but some teachers  have extended the concept to include all humanity.   Now I might have got this completely wrong but a kind of shared karma is proposed that is created by all.   As such we have responsibility for the actions of others and consequently can obtain forgiveness for their wrongs as well as our own.  This focus away from individualism and towards a collective identity fits with ideas from Eastern cultures but is difficult for us Westerners to grasp.

I wondered if this could explain why  shockingly bad things happen to people who really don't deserve it and some 'baddies' seem to get away scot free.   'What bollocks!' I reckon some of you might be saying and of course you're perfectly entitled to think that.   I found it helpful though.  Until a better idea comes up, I'll add in into the eclectic and ever evolving mix that forms my personal philosophy on life.  So now this  Ho'oponopono  prayer has been added to my  meditation repetoire.   I use it to seek forgiveness for myself and any naughty people who don't feel the need to ask for it themselves.  I'm hoping that by using it I may be improving the lot of us all!

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Back to the '70s

My son is back from a half term in Crete.  We've had a lovely couple of evenings of chillin' that's included playing nightly Jack Straws.  I re-discovered our set amongst the clutter in the pit of doom that will be my spare room one day.   Unfortunately I've been thrashed soundly although I suspect that there was a little cheating.  I'm sure I saw that spanner move!

Lou also shared his latest find, a Stealer's Wheel oldie.  He sometimes surprises me with a musical gem.  With this as the soundtrack and the retro gaming it was almost as if we departed the hi-tech 21st century and returned to my own brand of 1970's chiildhood.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Accidental Butter Bean and Anchovy Salad

I'll 'fess up and say that I sort of pinched this from somewhere else.  I seem to recall seeing a butter bean/anchovy/tomato combo online. But be blowed if I know where.  Of course  I'd give the creator credit if I could remember where I saw it first. This tasty little mixture will do for three lunches this week and save me buying pappy supermarket sandwiches.

Anyway here's the 'recipe'

  • Open a can of tinned tomatoes whilst making Masoor Dal and realise that you've opened a tin of butter beans instead.  Where's that mindfulness stuff when you need it?  Store in fridge for couple of days.
  • Realise that you've got to use up butter beans before they grow legs so drain and shove in a bright pink bowl. 
  • Add a tin of chopped anchovies and halved cherry tomatoes.  There!  That's the original recipe as far as I remember it.
  • Have another butchers in the fridge. There's bound to be some leftovers in there.  Cut up a slice of grilled halloumi, halve a few olives and add that in as well.
  • Herbs!  There's masses growing on my window sill.  It's like a jungle.  Okay I'm exaggerating. It's just a mini one that might be suited to some Lego animals perhaps.  I buy those pots from the supermarket and shove them all together in a dish of water.  They keep for an age and bring the garden inside!  A good bunch of chopped parsley is a nice addition here.
  • Finally squeeze in the juice from a very wrinkly lemon that had been lying low in the veg compartment, a good glug of olive oil and salt and pepper.  I gave it a good mix with my hands.
  • Eat!  It was scrummy.

Monday, 2 November 2015

The Other Way

It has been a perfectly productive weekend and a rather enjoyable one as well. Salty Dog stayed over on Friday and we headed off into town for supper at Simply Fish, my favourite haunt.  This is fish and chips at its finest, beautifully cooked and something a little different if you fancy.  I had gurnard in crispy batter. It was scrummy.

On Saturday morning I got into manly mode and upped tools.  There was a rotting back door in my garden. It's been there since I had it replaced with a boring old u-PVC one. The bloke forgot to take it away and my tenants hid it behind their shed.  I attacked it with a saw as it was too big to fit in a Citigo.  Then Salty Dog helped me to take it, along with a load of other rubbish, to the dump.  A job well done!  I was going to crack on with the decorating in the afternoon after she'd left but Mr Metrosexual and Ruff Stu persuaded me that I needed to go to the pub instead.  We sat on the harbour in the sunshine.

Sunday saw me painting the landing outside Louis' room, cleaning carpets  and building flatpacks.   I also fitted in a two hour walk.  The mist lent an air of peace to my excursion.  Now normally I head out in the direction of town.  This time though I trooped off east and got as far as Elberry Cove, allegedly a favourite haunt of Agatha Christie.    That ruined building is some 18th century aristocrat's bathing house.  It's bigger than my entire home!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Love on the List

My search for the ultimate 'To Do' list ended when I discovered Google Keep.  I can access simple Post-It note type memos from my phone, tablet or laptop and archive ones that I don't need too often.  Just the most important are displayed.

There's two that are there permanently, my task and shopping lists as I access them every day. Here's the shopping one.  It might seem a little odd to mix up the grocery shop with things for the house and home but in an age where our supermarkets sell an eclectic mix of stuff,  it works for me. I'll be popping out for that last item on the list some time today.  Louis arrives back home tomorrow and if there's no chocolate in the house he'll kill me!!

You'll see an unusual list item between 'desk lamp' and 'alarm clock'.  It was added by my son and I've kept it on because it makes me smile.  Now I know that Mr Metrosexual and Ruff Stu met in the freezer section of  Tesco.  They started their life together with what is now one of their customary little squabbles, the first about ice cream. I haven't found the 'boyfriend' section in any supermarket yet though. If only it was that easy!