Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Sugar and Spice or Snips and Snails?

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I have no recollection of why I googled the word when  I talked about being a tomboy in my recent plane post. I'm really glad I did though because I came across this little girl on Wikipedia.  Isn't this painting by John George Brown  from the Victorian era marvellous? She's looks so curious about her world.  I think I like her because she reminds me of myself at the same age.   Maybe though,  I tended to be a bit grubbier.  And my hair was way more tangly than that even though I'd given it a good brush in the morning  I still ended up looking like a crazed version of Medusa soon afterwards.   Mama Lovelygrey said that you could stand me still and even if I hadn't touched anything I'd be filthy in five minutes.

More often though, there would be none of that passive demureness. I'd be all dressed up in something really girlie and be as pleased as punch with how I looked.  But then I'd get a bit bored with all that standing around looking pretty so I'd sneak off  to climb something or play with some dirt. Collecting buckets of woodlice was a bit of a favourite occupation.  It occurred to me again when I was under the motorhome trying to track down a leak all tarted up in a lacy blue number that nothing much has changed!

Monday, 29 June 2015

Mind Going Mental

Oh heck!  Since I made the decision to move into the house at the end of the month,the brain has gotten, as my American friends say, a bit more chocker block than it was anyway. And it was fairly full before what with work projects, studying, holiday planning and all sorts of other bits and piece that befit a single full-time working mum with a larger than average demeanour of busyness anyway.   Here's a sample of the extra stream of stuff that's coursing through those neural networks.

Need a new fridge A++ or A++++. Will A+ do?......  Need a bed...... big one for big room......put one with storage underneath in Lou's room so he can stow away stuff, keep room neater and hence earn his pocket money.....How am I going to get those flatpacked shelves back together again? I'm truly useless at that sort of stuff.........Do I really need a landline? Fixed phones are so passe....Must be frugal not just thrifty for a time...this moving lark is expensive!.......Will there really be more cleaning?..friend who lived in van encouraged me to think in terms of high intensity and low intensity space....in reality I clean the motorhome a lot...a little and often....Can I justify expense of keeping  Klaus the Knaus  in storage near A38 for glorified second home type bolthole?....Where would I keep him otherwise?.... would make living room ever so dark if he was parked outside house.....Do I need to pay for yet another lot of postal redirection now that I've changed my last address?......How's Lou going to get to school?...bus? I take him on way to work? time travel? Ha!  not invented yet......Will I miss living  in Klaus? yessssss! but everything must change.  That must be true for Paul Young sung it...Will be nice to have some stuff back...breadmaker, Magimix, pictures,tumble polisher.....jewellery needs a clean....Sofa bed or proper bed in spare room?................Aaaaargh it goes on and on and on.  Must make extra concerted effort in next month to practice mindfulness properly.  If I don't something could well explode!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Fruity Polos!

Here's a timely tip seeing that Wimbledon is about to start tomorrow.  That's if it doesn't rain of course.  Here's  my yummy breakfast from the other day.  The not so observant among you will note that my strawberries have a tunnel in the middle.  They were not, I hasten to add, maggot infested. Instead they got their hole in the middle but I was inspired by a nifty trick that I found in a Lifehack video. You'll have to follow the link here to see it.  Be buggered if I can work out how to embed it.

In the mini-movie the bloke uses a straw to push the middle out of the fruit. Then he chops leaves from the little cylindrical pieces of strawberry that are a by-product of the process.  However I found a way to omit this step. I used the end of a spoon to do the pushing and the flesh just squished to the side within the fruit.    I assume that's where it went anyway if it wasn't magicked away.  Voila - no waste!   And seconds saved.  Now what would you do with those precious little bits of extra time!

Addendum:  Salty Dog tells me that she has taken on board my tip and she is using chopsticks.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Real News

I've wanted to be a writer since I was dead little.  Blogging  daily, or as pretty much damn it, means that I'm living the dream.  Most of the time I quickly rack my mind trying to think of a topic for a post.  I haven't got all day you know. There's  a proper day job that pays real money! That's why you get some odd stuff sometimes.   A memory might spark inspiration. You sometimes get a treatise on how I'm feeling or I'll share something inspirational I've seen or heard.

But today I've got some proper news to share.  Remember a while back I told you that I'd decided to live in the motorhome until the autumn?  Well, yesterday everything changed.  My letting agent rang to say the tenants had given a month's notice.  'Better move in!' I said without hesitation.  To find someone else to rent my house would mean extending my adventure in small space living way beyond my planned end date.  I'm thinking of my kid when I say that the time has come for it to end.

So my adventure will stop more abruptly than I'd planned.  But then again I'd factored in some wiggle room for fate.   On one hand, because I love this way of living so much,  my heart with its traveller ancestry feels sadness.   I must put down roots but there's lots of positives too.

Firstly, I was dreading kicking my tenants out. I knew that they were a young family with a baby. The threat of donning the mantle of evil landlady was bearing down on me. Now they've made the decision to move themselves, it's a big relief.  Then there's the fact that many of my friends and family are so happy for me.  I have to say that some found it hard to accept that it was a positive life choice to live in such an unconventional way. They'll be much more comfortable visiting me in a house.  I'm swapping good for good too.  The house is beautiful, in a gorgeous part of the country.  I'm a stone's throw from the sea and that's been a lifelong dream.  And perhaps the downside of my campsite is that it is a little cut off.  I'm not a city girl but love the intimacy of village or small town living. It'll be good to get back to the kind of civilisation that suits.

So for the next month I'll be dreaming and scheming of my new life by the sea.  But I won't be giving this up this life entirely.  My plan is to keep Klaus the Knaus here.  That'll mean that I'll retain a moorland base, an economical second home, near to the South West's major transport links.  Thinking about it I could have the best of both worlds!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Colouring for Adults.... Or Maybe Just the Ladies

I took today's photograph about a month ago in that service station in Somerset that had all the weird stuff for sale.   It seems that there's a bit of a craze  going on for colouring. Okay it's been a big thing in nurseries and primary schools up and down the land since time immemorial.  But now adults are getting in on the act. For me? Well it's not my bag although I suppose needlepoint is along the same lines.  Instead of using pretty pens or pencils I colour in a picture using wool.

Some of the colouring books being marketed with their therapeutic benefit in mind. The Works have a shedload at reduced prices if you're interested.  I would stress that these are not a universe cure-all.  Not everyone is going to enter a state of calm after being given an intricate pattern to fill in.  For some it might even have the opposite effect.

However in my job I'm coming across quite a few people where this activity does  indeed float their boat.  Individuals who've been diagnosed with dementia, anxiety and depression have all told me about the enjoyment that they're getting.   Often they were arty in the first place but have found their skills diminished by temporary or permanent problems, say with planning or concentration.  There may be something about a blank sheet of paper that's too overwhelming.  An intricate design to colour poses a challenge but demands a different kind of thinking. They often talk about how they can lose themselves in the activity.  Us in the know call that flow!

One of my ladies yesterday told me that there were now adult colouring clubs.  She'd read about it in her paper.  I told her I'd write about it just in case there's people out there who think it would be a good idea to set one up.  Be warned about your target audience.  It may be more of a girl thing.  I liked the comment from the husband of one club organiser.  'I couldn't get 23 guys to sit and do that even if I offered free beer!'

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Iddy Biddy Food Storage

I was listening to an episode of the  Kitchen Cabinet between visits the other day, a programme that's rather like Gardener's Question Time for foodies.  At some time during the proceedings they talked about how walk in larders were making a come back.  I presume one of those would be had alongside a fridge as large as a coffin.  My own food storage capacity is way smaller and I thought it was about time that I showed it off.  So let's start with the fridge shall we? It also gives me a chance to talk about the magic milk.

Believe it or not, this is positively capacious compared to those in some motorhomes.  What makes it different from a normal domestic contraption is that its depth is way narrower.  You see that  Louis' Pukka Pie on the top shelf or the  egg box on the third one down?  Well that will give you an idea.   You'll notice that I have a ice box but there's no capacity to batch cook and freeze stuff ahead.  I normally choose between storing a tub of ice cream or a pack of frozen peas.  So why the two bottles of milk when I've got such restricted space?  Well a couple of weeks ago, a neighbour who visits his caravan at weekends knocked on the door with a near full two pinter which he gave me.  I'd just bought the bottle that you can see on right which had a sell by date of 11 June.  Given that I was overwhelmed with white stuff I was fully expecting this to go off.  After all it seems that they normally have some kind of built in alarm system which turns them sour at midday of the sell by date.  But this didn't.  It lasted and lasted, finally curdling on 22 June when there was just a little bit in the bottle.  Never seen anything like it.  Proof that there is something very supernatural about this spot perhaps?



And so onto cupboard space.  There are two of those above the kitchen area, one large and this small one.  Not a lot of room for stocking up on those staples that lots of cookbook writers these days insist on.  I have to be pretty selective in what I choose to have in store.   Aside from my salty caramel sauce stash from Brittany stored in those plastic kilner-type jars on the top shelf, there's not a lot of bulk buying going on.  Because of their volume big loaves of bread are a luxury as well.    Wraps and rolls are more the standard fayre here these days as they take up less space.  And the squished orange box is full of porridge.  Standard cereal cartons are just a bit too tall!

Ah!  that's a bit neater. This is the big cupboard which is used mainly for non perishable and a few herbs and spices.   Oh and a stray butternut squash.  It doesn't live up to its name as its not squishy at all.  Again it demonstrates how tight fridge space it. It wouldn't fit so I needed to find it a temporary home.

So that's about it - except for a bag of carrots under the back seat. There's always fruit in my funky bowl too. I've learnt new quarter mastering skills in my motorhome habitat that I'll take back when I live in a house.  No more will I be buying obscure non perishables which lurk in cupboards for years.  I'll improvise with what I've got. And shopping little and often for the things I need, rather than one big load weekly is something that's ingrained.  Everything's fresher and nicer and leftovers don't disappear into the back of the fridge. If they're not out of sight and mind there's lots of chance that they'll be used up.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Fat Plane: A Manly Post of Memories

Photo: Airborne Engineers Association
One for the boys today!   I see from its website that the Bovington Tank Museum that I visited when I was a nipper has gone from strength to strength. There was an aircraft museum at Southend when I was young. Alas it was closed down in the eighties.My favourite exhibit was the Beverley transport plane, like this one here.  It was huge and tubby, aerodynamically like a bee but could fly and indeed the Southend exhibit made a transatlantic crossing.   The inside was sparse.  It seem like a load of servicemen were strapped in seats around the edges with the cargo in the middle.  No onboard films or drinkies in those days.

Why am I talking about this stuff when I should be purring about kitten heels or doling out make up tips like a good girl?  Despite my penchant for dresses and skirts, perhaps even now there's more than a shred of the tomboy about me.  Interest in a bit of blokey stuff doesn't do any harm.

What I really liked about these places was that, back in my childhood, you could climb all over the exhibits. There was none of that namby-pamby risk assessment shite then as I've suggested before in my 'I survived the '70s' post.  I used to come home from a family day out as happy as Larry, covered in grime from ancient machine parts and black and blue after my adventures in cockpits and gun turrets had turned a little too wild.   I got really excited by the MIG graveyard that they showed once on Top Gear.   My inner child wanted to explore all those old wrecked planes.   By the way Papa Lovelygrey used to work at Southend airport near the museum.  He tells tales of how he repaired and retained aircraft brake systems from a manual that was about as detailed as one for an electric toothbrush.  It seemed that Health and Safety wasn't that hot in the aviation industry back then either.

The aircraft museum closed in the '80s.  So what happened to the behemoth of a plane that I reminisce so fondly about.  I'd hoped that it was wrapped up in cotton wool or better still had groups of kids of today rooting around its interior.  Sadly though it was scrapped. No!  The last plane of its kind remaining is in aircraft museum near Hull. Look after it well please curators

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Random Updates: The Big Seal and Other Stuff

  • Lou has now has a drumkit at his Dad's. They bought it on Ebay for fifty five quid. Apparently it's noisy and I need to think twice about having one when I move into a semi-detached house.  His drumming teacher has taught him to play 'We Will Rock You'.
  • Try as I might my essay did not get finished to draft stage over the weekend.   After being provided with the examples of good work that I asked my course leader for, I  looked on my own effort with despair and  started over again! At least I have some idea of what I'm supposed to achieve now.
  • The latest food that I haven't tried before has been the Turkish yoghurt from Lidl, thick like Greek but sour like English - Yum!  I also had a carton of Innocent coconut water.  Now I don't like sweet drinks as a rule but this had the right balance.  It's supposed to be healthy but the cost is just about enough to bring on a heart attack.
  • More dreaming.  This time about a blooming great seal outside the window of a house the other day.  That, I think you'll find, is auspicious.  The window was broken though.   Where's Carl Jung for a bit of interpretation work when you need him?
  • Klaus the Knaus has sprung a leak.  I think it's been around for a long time as every so often the water pump starts of its own accord. I think I've detected where it is after a little bit of investigative crawling under the van.  Best get a repairman in before his bottom falls out.
  • The Moomin jar was not sold for a humongous profit. I  was too attached to those little fellas to let it go.  Louis has started drinking lemon tea.  It's now used to keep his sugar in.
  • I've been re-reading the Four Agreements. It stuffed full of wisdom that I wanted to be reminded of.  After some of the comments on my post about being alone last week I felt that this is might be helpful  to some out there.   Be warned.  It's deep! Skip to the next bullet point if you fancy passing over the  heavy stuff.
 'If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you.  If that person doesn't walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her.  Walking away may hurt for a while, but your heart will eventually heal.  Then you can choose what you really want.  You will find that you don't need to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to make the right choice'.
  • More campsite washing line thoughts.  I like to hide my underwear in a row between two lots of outer garments.  Is it weird to only let special people see your bras and pants even if you're not wearing them?  Anyway I couldn't bring myself to dry them outside the other day when the usual hanging configuration wasn't possible.  
  • Still working on the background for my hare print mentally.  Sometimes the things that I make take up a lot of head space before I commit.
  • My shares are doing crap at the moment but thankfully are still in profit. How Greece affects everything else I don't know.
  • After this year's Chagstock I might donate my rainbow festival banner to the cause of the American lady with the 'relentlessly gay' garden.
  • I have reserved a copy of the Old Man and the Sea at the library to explore the sparseness of Hemingway's writing for myself.

Monday, 22 June 2015

I Could Kiss You Spiderman!

Louis came home the other day and told me in a defeated little voice to take down all his artwork that I display in the van as it was 'no good'.  I've shown it off before because I love it so. This saddened me tremendously and of course I refused. I tried to point out just what I liked about each piece.  I don't think that he was convinced.

It seems that art being taught with academic rigour as Louis' school had something to do with what happened.  Silly me, I'm a bit airy-fairy.  What I'd like to see from the education system is people coming out with the confidence to express their creativity freely and enjoy doing so throughout their life.  As for thoughts on PE from the girl who was never picked by her classmates for netball, hockey or rounders teams, well shouldn't be about fostering a love of some kind of physical activity to keep us fit and healthy into adulthood?  It doesn't have to be competitive.  But what do I know?

Anyway I wondered what I could do for my Lou to make him a bit happier and increase his confidence.  And I came up with the idea of using  Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

In my blogging nascence I wrote about using this book personally and in therapy. But it hadn't seen the light of day in yonks. I've been a busy bunny doing other things.  So as my copy is in storage, I borrowed a later edition from the library. The initial chapters that get you started have been expanded. They have more upside down pictures to copy than they used to. Like this one.   Inverting the image is just the job to get a brain into the right mind of mind.  'Spiderman to the Rescue'!!!!!!!  I bought us each a fancy new sketchpad and some pukka drawing pencils.  After all, I thought that this was something that we could embark on together.

I have to say that Louis wasn't completely enamoured with the idea at first.  Then again he's not very keen on stuff that he isn't good at immediately.  Don't know where he gets that impatience from.  Anyway it needs working on, maybe for both of us.

Here's my own version of a superhero.  He's not so bad but don't look very closely at those hands or feet.  I got bored with sharpening soft pencils as well which is why he looks a little faded in parts.

And here's the one my Lou did!  One of the problems is that his hypermobile joints mean that it is uncomfortable for him to hold a pencil for too long.  We had two sessions of art with much moaning and groaning and prophesies of hopelessness.  Even so I persisted..

'This is going to be absolute rubbish!' he said as he put the last details of webbing on Spiderman's arm.  Then he turned the drawing over and his face changed.

'Do you know, it's alright Mum, isn't it?'  He looked pleased and you could almost see some little cogwheels going around in his head.  I asked him a couple of questions.  Now if I'd asked him to copy the drawing the right way up he said he'd probably have scored his effort as 3/10.  He gave this one a comparatively whopping 6!

What's really excellent is that the tables have turned.  He's the one that's nagging me to do more.  There's a horse, a chinaman, a Picasso and Einstein still to come.  It sounds like the start of a joke doesn't it?  Then we'll progress further and see if we can both get our drawing brains to work the right way up as well!





Sunday, 21 June 2015

Terrritorial? Moi?

It felt about time that I came up with another blog post along the lines of love, peace and karmic redemption. You know, the usual hippie nonsense that I spout on about.  Except, yesterday the unspeakable happened. From a comment on a previous post I know that at least Attila will understand. When I went over to the shower block yesterday morning someone was in MY cubicle, the one right at the end that I've been using for the last eight months.   I felt like crawling under the door, pulling her out by the hair and giving her a good drubbing.  There!  That's got it right out of my system.









Now where was I?  Ah yes. This will do!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Better Butter

There's yet more evidence  that Louis may not be my own but some kind of weird changeling.  I've mentioned before that he doesn't like MarmiteThat's virtually unthinkable in my book.  Now he's been telling me that he prefers margarine to butter!  What is the world coming to?

My latest stash of butter was bought in France.  It's lovely stuff from Normandy with a smattering of crunchy salt.  I  can't be doing with the unsalted kind even though most gastronomes seem to prefer it. My precious pats will last a while.  After all it's about having a little of what you fancy now and then, rather than stuffing vast quantities of saturated fat down your gob.

Now that the weather is getting warmer I'm not keeping it outside the fridge anymore.  You'll all know why.  It turns to liquid, then re-hardens and goes grainy and funny tasting.  My beurre is too precious for those kind of happenings.

Anyway I came across a genius tip the other day that needs sharing.  This, dear people, is not cheese. It's butter.  Those days of great big clumps of the stuff all over toast or crackers are over.  Just grate it straight from the fridge.  It spreads just fine then.

Friday, 19 June 2015

de Markies and Masters

Photo: Inhabit
Half an essay to go!  I'm hoping to complete it in draft form by Sunday ready to send to my module tutor. No doubt he'll trash it for lack of criticality. And there's the rub with this Masters distance learning.  There's a set of rules and a language that I haven't grasped. All those research papers are gobbledeegook to me.   I can't understand a lot of them let alone analyse them in any depth. That's because I'm not campus based being a archetypal student. It means that I retain some dignity and don't run around with a traffic cone on my head after a few too many cheap beers.  Yet I can't immerse myself in the culture of academia either.  Sometime my inner devil tries to persuade me to write 4,000 words a la style of my blog.  I've resisted so far but it's tempting.

Photo: Inhabit
And at last it's getting warm outside.  Study in my comfy recliner is a no-go as far as productivity  is concerned .  So, I've been opening those motorhome windows to the limits of their stays.  It seems to enhance the quality of light in here that's already beautiful anyway.  And the breeze plays its part in making me feel like I'm in the open air too.

I found the de Markies on StumbleUpon the other day.  Now there's a website that's a nice little distraction when you're supposed to be working if ever there was one. What bowls me over is the fact that the Dutch designers, Bohtlingk Architecture,  have gone one step further than the blokes who designed my far opening windows.  They've totally sussed how to bring the outside in.   What's surprising is that this gorgeous trailer, that might tempt even the most hardened caravan hater, was  designed nearly thirty years ago.   It looks bang up to date to me.


Now if anyone comes to my campsite and spots me with a chainsaw I beg you to take it away from me. Finding me running across to Trago Mills to buy a ton of fabric and wood to make an awning could be a warning sign that something bad it in the offing. For I'm ever so  inspired to do a George Clarke and cut away Klaus' sides and create that drop down look.   It would be a bad move. My ability to wield a tool successfully is highly variable.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

On Grey Time

I am blessed as I receive lots of love and attention from those around me, my family, friends and of course my gorgeous son.   We have chosen each other well. In spite of this, waves of loneliness have been hitting quite hard recently They come and go and will probably pass. These sad feelings are triggered by different things.  The couples who've been happily married for yonks  and who're now riding with the adversity of dementia together bring it on. And then there's the two magpies that inhabit the campsite......I might make a linocut to immortalise them once I've finished the hares.  Sometimes it would be wonderful to get home and find someone making my supper.  Not some random stranger.  That would be a bit weird.   But it would be good to have someone around who shares our own little secrets as well as food.  It feels like I also have so much to give  but I have to keep the goodies in a big sack that's fit to burst.  Why do I tell you all this?  Well, you all need to know that it's okay for a happy sorted person to experience negative emotions some of the time.  In fact I wouldn't be right in the head if it were not so.

At the moment I'm alone but not lonely.  My solitary trip to France  last year was a learning experience. It taught me that sometimes it is good to distance myself  from civilisation.   I've done so this time to finish my latest essay.  Five whole days on my tod.

My isolation is not total I hasten to add.  I'm still making phone calls, answering emails and popping to the shop for milk and snacks.   What if someone turned up and dragged me down the pub for the proverbial pie and pint?  Well I'm a sociable beastie really and it would be rude not to go!

The important thing is that I've made no plans to see anyone.   What it means is that I can set the pace of my life for a few days without having to work to anyone else's agenda.  Doing what I want when I want.   I study, meditate, potter, eat, exercise, sleep .......all at my own pace throughout a 24 hour period.   I can turn time upside down if I like.  There's no-one else to look after but myself.  For someone that craves flexibility it's incredibly restorative.  And I'm so fortunate to be able to do this.  Not everyone has the luxury of breathing space.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Importance of Writing Like Ernest


I've rejected the usual beardie image of Ernest Hemingway for this, a rather more clean cut one from his 1923 passport photograph.  But I'm not going to talk about this famous American author per se. One of the reasons is that I've never chanced upon anything that he wrote.  Isn't it funny? You think that you're a well read person and then Boom!  There's a sudden realisation that there's still untouched libraries full of stuff available.  Wonderful!

Today's post is for my blogging friends to introduce them to the Hemingway app that I've come across.  Anyone writing anything else might also be tempted to have a play.  Like me when I settle down to a five day essay writing stint in a couple of hours time.   Then again I thought academics liked it if you've swallowed a dictionary and used complicated sentence structures.  I may be wrong.

'Hemingway' aims to make your language 'bold and clear' rather like that of the great man that it's named after.  It tells you off by highlighting sentences that are hard to read, use the passive voice or when words can be simpler. It also seems to have an inexplicable hatred of adverbs.  When I've prepared my blog posts using the free version over the last few days, it's given me food for thought.  I've hacked at my writing a bit though doubt if anyone can tell the difference.

This piece of writing is my most Hemingway-esque yet.  Only one sentence might be tricky for you lot to get your noggins around.  It happens to be the first one.  There's just one passive sentence and none of those naughty words that describe doing at all.  I'm careful not to correct everything though. After all don't some of our flaws contribute to wonderful idiosyncrasy?

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Back to The Future: Squeak!

When I came down to live here from the South East thirty years ago, the offerings in the local news surprised me.  Back home there was no distinction between local and national stories.  Each had their murders, acts of violence and theft on a large scale.  Down here the TV and newspapers depicted a gentler life.   There were weathermen who provided forecasts for  village fetes and a  weird rabbit that hopped children's ages.   Relatively minor law infringements were enthusiastically reported.   There was the occasional stolen farm animal, a vehicle perhaps but that was it.  Those stories just wouldn't have passed muster in the news rooms of Essex.   The region's gentleness might be a reason why I stayed here.

It seems that headier events are going on in Devon these days.  Yesterday the Express and Echo reported that a woman had built a time machine in her garage.  Really! If you follow the link you can marvel at her craft.  What I  liked was her use of one of those hand held lettering presses to label the different parts of the machine.  You know the type.  Every home had one in the '70s.  Can someone remind me what it was called?

Anyway I digress so need to get back on track. This lady is seeking a fun companion to head off on her journey to mess up the space-time continuum.  Captain Kirk or Uhura would do.  She doesn't care if it's a man or woman.  And she has proof that her craft works because some mice that she put in there have disappeared!  Obviously they've paving the way ahead for some intrepid Devonians time lords.

Let me make two things clear.  First of all,  I have played no part in the manufacture of this machine. I stick to traditional crafting when I make stuff.  No rules of physics are defied.    And no, I'm not tempted to accept this lady's kind offer of being her companion.  My feet are firmly planted in the present.  I have to say that I'm a little concerned for those time travelling mice.  Come home safely boys!

Monday, 15 June 2015

Priests and Sharks



We've has a rare weekend of chillin'.  That's meant I've been able to catch up with some movie watching. I've wanted to see 'The Overnighters' since I heard a Radio 4 review and finally got around to renting it. It's an award winning documentary about a priest who lets desperate men looking for work in the oilfields of North Dakota use his church to sleep in. Yet, this man is not portrayed as a saint. Pastor Reinke displayed weakness, frailty and lack of judgement. His life story is all the more touching for it. As he tells one deeply disturbed man who shows up at the church 'You and I are a whole lot more alike than we are different. I'm broken, we're broken, just broken.' As the tale unfolds the pertinence of this statement becomes plain.  In spite of his flaws Pastor Reinke's compassion shines through. It's a reminder that none of us can be tarred with just the good or bad brush. The film also serves as a lesson on why guns shouldn't be widely available in society. Give the general public access to a rifle and they tend to wave it around at the slightest provocation. One overwrought woman demonstrates my point quite nicely.

My second weekend film was way more fun. Lou and I went to see a screening of Jaws,  not any old cinematic experience but a dive in movie held at Seale Hayne's swimming pool, a fundraising event to raise money for underwater speakers. Future screenings are planned. Louis wants more of the same, sequels to the original movie.  I fancy 'The Life of Pi'. It would translate well to a watery venue.

Until half time we lounged poolside in deckchairs eating popcorn and a  melty chocolate orange.  We  then swapped places with half the audience and took our turn in the warm water to watch the final hour of the film, the bit where the shark is hunted. Again I seemed to have my Health and Safety hat on.  It must be all those risk assessments that I do at work that's turned me into a worrypot. Surely it's not right to get tanked up on wine just as a Great White is circling the boat? Nor does it seem wise to hand out life jackets at the last minute as it's sinking.

What's clear is that this monster in the foyer would have been much easier to deal with than the original Jaws.  Being papier mache he'd have turned to mush at the first sign of moisture!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

A Perfect Piggy Product?

It's a long time since I've played Bingo but Louis persuaded me that I should join in at the campsite a couple of weeks ago.  Unfortunately our amassed winnings did not include our 2016 pitch fees.  Never mind. We did win a small tin of pate which  the entertainments manager enthused about.

Now it seems that David is not alone in his love of Hénaff pate which has 123K likes on Facebook. The Roscoff branch of  A L'Aise Briezh which sells a Breton inspired clothes and homeware has a whole range of Henaff  goodies. T-shirts, mugs, aprons, shopping bags.....

If the website isn't telling porkie pies, there's no reason to doubt that Henaff is a quality stuff made from prime ingredients.  Unless you don't eat pork what's there not to like?  I opened my tin with relish.

Behold a fine specimen of manhood in a piggy T-shirt!  If he went down on bended knee requiring a passion for  Henaff  in exchange for a marriage proposal, of course I'd lie my little socks off.  But honestly?  It wasn't my bag.   I think I was hoping for something coarser, more garlicky with a spicier punch. I found Henaff just 'nice', a bit too subtle for my liking.  It didn't blow me away and I so wanted it to.

That won't stop me trying other goodies with the same branding when I'm next in France.  After all I'm a sucker for a long established family company who make their products with love.   Let's hope they've got something that makes me want to sport my own Henaff Tee with pride!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Pricey Pod


Does anyone else out there find those advertising banners that appear on websites slightly spooky? I only have to have just the merest hankering for something and whoah!  Up it pops at the top of the page.

I'm slightly flummoxed as to why this,  the Farmer's Cottage Deluxe Pod from John Lewis, has started to appear.  Perhaps there's a psychic ad-man out there who knows that I'm a sucker for a clever small space.  What he doesn't realise it that I'm not as  quite as flush as he thinks.  Lovely as it is, a garden room that costs a cool £18,995 is just a little bit out of my price bracket!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Ownership: My Good Earth

In researching today's post I came across the Apollo 8 astronauts reading from Genesis where they send a message to all of us back home on the good Earth  You can hear it here.  God bless Wikipedia! Of course I've heard it before but each time I listen to it I find it incredibly moving.

That occupational therapy conference last week where I learnt about the incredible therapeutic potential of surfing gave me further food for thought from Mick Collins, a lecturer from the University of East Anglia who combines an occupational perspective with an ecological one.  He has a book, 
The Unselfish Spirit: Human Evolution in a Time of Global Crisiswhich I'd like to get around to reading once I've finished the essay writing nonsense that will dominate my entire life for the next month.  One of the things that he said was that a Maori friend of his claims ownership of where he lives and refers to 'my land'.  Doing this for where I live, my campsite, my village, my county seems to take my responsibility for its stewardship to a different level. So, good morning and good luck and God  bless all of you, all of you  on OUR good Earth!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

A Walk After Homework

I like to get a walk or cycle in every day to blow away the cobwebs of the soul.  Yesterday's stroll out on Dartmoor, up Cox Tor near Tavistock, where I was doing my first visit of the day, certainly did that.  It was blowing a hoolie up there.  Does anyone else think the weather's rather autumnal at the moment? Roll on summer is all I can say!

On Tuesday  Lou and I had planned a little trek on the moor  but it didn't pan out.  It was one of those evenings where homework dominated the proceedings and it was way after eight when it was all done and dusted.  So we decided to do the circuit that's accessed out of the back gate.  We've done it loads of times.  It starts with a beautiful footpath along the river that counts as my back garden.  Then there's a hill climb through fields whilst taking in glorious views of the rolling Devon countryside. Finally we hit the village and cut through the churchyard to the lane that leads back home.

Now I don't count myself as a Christian, My relationship status with God might be described as complicated.  But I love those ancient churches that cross our landscape.  Aside from all the beautiful craftmanship there's that aura of sanctity than many of them exude.  Most are locked these days and I haven't been able to venture inside this local one.  I do love its unusual lychgate which, as Louis is ably demonstrated is huge and swings 360 degrees on a spindle like a big paddle.


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Dreams and the Super Fairy

Last night I dreamt vividly that I was having a baby- rather more easily than the first time around, I have to say.  The smiling boy child popped out in rather less time than the three days that it took Louis to enter into this world.  And after all that he has to be forcibly removed by C-Section! It doesn't take an expert in dream interpretation to work out what this stonkingly obvious metaphor means. I'm just wondering what it is that I'm supposed to be 'giving birth to'.  What grand plan or major life change awaits me?  We'll have to see.

Whilst we're on the subject of sleep a nubby question came into my head the other day. 'Why don't we fall out of bed at night?' Of course the internet is a wonderful resource for knowledge and I could have taken the most plausible answer which seems to be that each time we move at night we wake up momentarily so are conscious.  Babies and children are prone to a nighttime tumble because they haven't learnt from a sensory perspective to effectively interpret the world around them. But who wants to rely on a sensible explanation.  Pah!

Of course I like to think that it's those angels that watch over me that keep me safe. I'm cocooned in their feathery wings as I doze.   Louis came up with a more complicated reason.  Apparently when we're asleep we pop off and inhabit someone else's body and then come back just before we wake up.  What's left in the bed is an inert shell.  Nice one but implausible.  He, himself sometimes thrashes around like a good'un whilst inhabiting the Land of Nod. Scary Secretary came up with my favourite answer.  These Cottingley fairies sadly turned out to be rather clever cardboard cutouts but Scary argues for the existence of  a 'Super Fairy' who keeps pushing us back in bed each night when we're just about to take a tumble.  Now I'm loving that idea.  So much more fun than science!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Hares in Progress

One of the thing that I like about linocutting is that it is a craft where the product is easy to give away.  If a friend likes one of my prints that I've made for another person I run off another copy for them.Simples!

In spite of the dreaded studying which takes up more hours than I'd ideally like, I'm devoting more pleasurable time to producing my latest piece of work based on those three hares that I've admired that often live on the roof of Devon churches.  It's work in progress so those people who've already said they'd like one will have to wait. But it's coming on. I've just carved the first piece of lino that will act as a printing plate.  In doing so I've had to revisit schoolday geometry to get the symmetry right.

I'm pretty pleased with it. Stage 2 will be producing a backdrop for those beasties to skip in.  I'm thinking ivy silhouetted on a light green background that is more Farrow and Ball than B&Q economy range.  The final decision hasn't been made though. And that's another lovely thing about this crafting.  As I may have said before because I'm prone to repeating myself I love the way that the thinking process of producing something has the capacity to fill my head with good stuff that provides respite from some of the heartbreaking things that I see whilst at work.




I thought  I'd share a completed piece of gifted craft today as well.  This is a beautiful pendant from fused glass that was made especially for me by Sugar Plumb for my birthday. Its original bale was of base metal but I've made it even more precious by replacing that with a proper silver one.

Now this is a big and chunky piece, about two inches across. As such it is right up my street.  I don't do delicate on all sorts of different levels.  And I wear rather a lot of blue and silver so the colours are perfect too.  As such I've worn it and worn it!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Random Reflections from Motorhome Living


Good morning from my campsite! I'm taking a cue from a lovely nurse that I used to work with who exudes positivity and often post pictures of stunning views from her home on Facebook. I don't speak in detail much about living in Klaus the Knaus, my motorhome, anymore. It's not that the novelty has worn off. There's still a sense of wonderment that I'm fortunate enough to do this but there doesn't seem much that's new to comment on.  The way that I ascribe meaning to my life by working in a field that makes a difference, cherishing my relationships, fostering creativity and bringing up a child to be happy and responsible goes on much the same as it would if I was living in a house.  However today I thought that I'd share a few of the thoughts that wouldn't have passed through the old noggin if I wasn't living the way I am.
  • Re: using the communal washing line.  I know that they were clean but getting hit in the face by someone else's knickers while pegging out my own washing seemed oh so wrong.
  • I get a kick out of the fact that unless, I tell them, people don't have an inkling that I live, in this unconventional way.  Even though my living accommodation is kooky there's an enormous amount of stability in the lives of me and Louis. I've recently come to an awareness of how important this is.
  • I am very territorial in the shower block.  The end cubicle in the ladies is mine all mine!  A modicum of narkiness comes into play when there's evidence that someone else has been in there and the floor is wet.  Heaven help the first person who's in there when I come to use it!
  • I feel really safe here. That's crucial.  Worrying thoughts went through my head when the groundsheet that I use to cover my recliner went missing.  Sure it's only a trivial item but even so.  It ignited doubts about whether I could trust those who lived around me. Happily the wind was the culprit.  I found that my missing piece of plastic had been blown into a nearby bush. Faith in humanity was thankfully restored.
  • The frosted glass on some static caravans really doesn't pass muster.  I suffered more than a modicum of distress after spotting naked fat man complete with dangly appendages in full view, presumably on the way to his bathroom one morning.  I hope to God that this display of nudity was accidental and not put on intentionally for my viewing pleasure. 
  • It seems that all the rabbits in the world make a daily pilgrimage to our campsite. There's loads of them.  My favourite is the one with the white fur around his nose that sits on the grass at the back of our motorhome each morning.  I watch him as I drink my first cup of tea.
  • There's all sorts living' here and it's impossible to stereotype.  My nearest neighbours are a couple in a caravan saving for the deposit to buy their home.  He was formerly in the French Foreign Legion.  There's older people who have houses but who stay here almost permanently because they prefer a simple life in the country.  And there's a lot of contractors.  The new link road to Torquay is being built and lots of them are working on that. Judging by the amount of Guinness cans in the recycling bin, many of them are Irish.  
And as a final thought:  This isn't a way of life that I'm relishing giving up. I wish it could be permanent.   As my friend Joy acknowledged on holiday it really suits me.  Maybe the Romany blood of my ancestors is still coursing through my veins?  But for the reasons stated in an earlier post that relate to considering the imminent needs of Louis  I will be moving in a conventional home by the end of October. There are concepts in mindfulness theory around change.  Things, even the good stuff, must come to an end.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

A Wave A Day Keeps the Doctor Away




I won't write much today because I've spent so long finding this extraordinarily moving video that I first saw on Friday at an occupational therapy conference that I wanted to share.  It's only about four minutes long. And bah!  I have to get on with essay writing on what looks like it's going to be a beautiful day if I want to get out there at any time.

So briefly.......This was shown to introduce Surf Action, a Cornwall based Community Interest Company who were inspired by the work of Ocean Therapy, an American organisation who use surfing and the healing power of the ocean to treat service men with PTSD and physical injuries.  It's therapeutic at all sorts of different level and a brilliant example of why I'm an occupational therapist, helping people find meaning through what they do.  And by the way  the clip is also being used to promote a Kickstarter initiative to raise money to produce a documentary about the use of surf therapy.  If this clip prompts you to contribute you can do so here.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Who's Your Favourite Drummer?

Ringo?  Phil Collins? John Bonham?  Naaahhh!  If it isn't this little hairy  bloke, who I was astonished to find doesn't feature on Rolling Stones 100 Greatest Drummers List, then I'm sorely disappointed with you!  Follow this link for a sampler of his amazing talent.  I'm personally allowed to have a new favourite because  Louis has started drum lessons.  He's been asking for a while so I knew that this desire to learn wasn't just a flash in the pan. His drumsticks of the Vic Firth variety now have pride of place in his school bag as there's a practice kit at school.  In fact in his eyes they're far more important than other stuff needed for lessons.  I've already found that out. And he seems to have rhythm. That's certainly not something he's got from me.  I'm all over the place when it comes to keeping the beat.

'So can I have a drum kit when we move into the new house Mum?' I baulked.  Even though it's a cool hobby and of course I'm a supportive parent, do I want the sounds of enthusiastic novice thrashing greeting me as I walk through the door on the evenings that he stays with me?  Oh I know a descant recorder is way worse but even so.  I've got a much better idea.  'Of course I'll get you one.' I replied.  'But won't it be great if you can keep it at Dad's house?!'

Friday, 5 June 2015

Just Try It Once!

Here's a cry heard up and down the land as mothers put something new to eat in front of their little darlings!  No matter that the normal reaction after the first mouthful is disgust.  Even so we persevere.

I was looking forward to leftover lamb curry yesterday for lunch but forgetfulness scuppered that plan.  So when hunger struck I strolled on over to Morrison's to see what took my fancy.  Now I was jolly surprised indeed to find these in the chilled fish section.  Despite being brought up by a cockney father and a childhood spent  in Southend-on-Sea where this traditional fare, can still be bought in the area,  I've never tried eels.  Back in the 1970s  there was a fishmonger in the High Street just under the railway bridge in the centre of town. There's a shot of the location from the 1930s below though the actual shop can't be seen. I wonder if it was there then.  I have vivid memories of the trays of the live beasties that used to gaze at us passers-by and open and shut  their mouths in a gummy way.  It was all a bit off putting.   Plus there's the jelly that I knew was a non starter already.  I'm not at all keen  when they overdo that stuff in a pork pie.

Nonetheless I decided to heed the advice that I give to Louis when I'm attempting to extend his palate. When I took the little pot back to the office, less intrepid food fanciers made no bones about expressing their distaste.  Good on my little mate Scary Secretary though. As least she partook of the pearly queen feast with me although I have to say her efforts were halfhearted.  She had a little bite and then gave her piece of eel back. Bless!

So what are they like?  Well I won't be rushing out to get some more anytime soon.  Or probably ever again in my lifetime if I'm honest. Even though the flesh wasn't bad, pleasantly strong tasting like sardine or whitebait, it came as no surprise that the jelly, as Lou would say, 'sgusting!'  The skin was thick and the vertebra in each piece was bothersome. Now those bones are traditionally spat out onto a sawdust floor which might have made the experience a bit more fun.  This seemed beyond behaviour  acceptable in a hospital office though and frankly not very ladylike.  It was a devil to know what to do with them.

So I'll stick with other fishy fayre from now on but it was good to try something new.  I might go off piste gastronomically again soon. You never know.  I might stumble upon something that's really delicious!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

A Common or Garden Mouse?


I've woken up extraordinarily tired this morning less than a week after I came back on holiday to charge my batteries.  This will never do!  Yesterday was one of those quiet paperwork days that turned  manic.  The phone didn't stop ringing and I had a two hour stint out in the middle of it to fetch Louis into the minor injuries unit at the hospital where I work.  Nothing serious.  Just an over cautious first aider at the school who thought his pinkie needed checking out after he'd crushed in a broken chair, as being a boy Lou suffers pain more acutely than women.  I think that he'd convinced him that his suffering was worse than childbirth.  After a bit of waiting out a humongous plaster was replaced by a tiny one.  Bit embarrassing yesterday.  Then  a pleasant night out in Plymouth to end the day in a relaxing way turned farcical in a restaurant where it took three hours to have a curry.    I'm afraid that the poor well meaning owner won't be in business for long.    I drove home exhausted, a bit past my bedtime and crawled under the sheets.  Aaargh!

Anyway the brain is not in gear so I can't get it together to think about a proper subject to write about today.  But can anyone tell me.  If you enlarge the picture on the left you'll see a little rodent scurrying next to the kerb?  We spotted this cutie in Plougerneau last.  Can anyone tell me if he's a plain old boring house mouse or something different? I'm sure that I could figure it out on the Internet myself but forgive me.  I'm feeling a little lazy!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

No Picture, Just a Sad Story

A guy came into the hospital begging for a mental health assessment.  He was homeless, had no family or friends and had fled the last place that he'd lived because he was frightened.  He had nothing but the clothes that he stood up in, a space blanket in one of his pocket, a lighter and a few butt ends that he'd picked off the street. No money, no phone, nothing! Our lovely hospital receptionist didn't know what to do so she called upstairs to our office.  My colleagues and I didn't really need to get involved. After all we're a team for people over 65 and he was a youngster. It would have been easy to wash our hands because he was outside our remit. After all we are very, very busy.  But  what do you do when something like this happens?

Sod the proper procedures!   After spewing out his story he was knackered so I ran off to beg bedding from the ward upstairs so he could have a kip on the therapy bench.  Another person made a big mug of sweet tea.  Someone stayed with him until an ambulance took him to be assessed by the 'right' people.  He responded well to just that teeny bit of kindness. I wondered how much of that there'd been in his life.

We don't know what happened to him and probably never will. Let's hope he received the help that he was asking for.  I've never come across someone so needy and it's left me terribly shaken.  Of course it's also heightened my awareness of how blessed that I am.  So much richer in every way. But how many others are there out there like him, devoid of everything in this supposedly rich country of ours? I shudder to think.  And it got me thinking.  Do I brush the memory under the carpet or do I use this as the wake up call  that's telling me to focus away from myself and give a little more to those who are at most need?

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Scrubs Song II




A few months back I showed a clip from Scrubs that features a Peter Gabriel song that would now feature on my desert island if ever I get stranded there.  It may well happen.  The Breton coast has conjured up visions of a little boat with an outboard from which I'd drop crab pots.   Sometimes my mad dreams and schemes, like the one about living in a motorhome, come to fruition.

Anyway I thought I'd share another Scrubs clip that counts among Louis' favourites.  It's another soppy song but this one makes us giggle.  It also brings to mind a select group of girly friends and a couple of gay guys for whom I might well harbour the same sort of feelings!

Monday, 1 June 2015

A Tale of Two Pillboxes

Taking this shot of Louis cheekily peeking over the wall to get a butchers of this cleverly converted pillbox on the coast at Roscoff reminded me that  I'd  forgotten to tell  the tale of rather strange goings on.  A few weeks ago Ruff Stu, Mr Metrosexual and I went out for one of our usual evenings in Brixham.   Fish and chips in our harbourside haunt and a couple of drinks in a favourite tucked away pub.  During our little soirees they point out blokes that they think I should definitely make a move on and then I get told off for being too fussy as I'm not keen..... It's very Groundhog Day-esque.

Instead of our normal route home where I do an external inspection of my  future home we decided to take the longer scenic walk.  It's a leisurely meander along the coastline with twinkly views across Torbay and a twilight stroll through Battery Gardens ,an interesting place where there's a number of World War II coastal fortifications. Rather unusually we were having a jolly sensible grown up conversation,  about military architecture I believe.  As we came around a corner a super-bright  light emanated from one of the gun emplacements.   Inside the concrete structure a very well endowed lady with punky hair and studded underwear posed for photographs.  These were not your regular holiday snaps but there was a  full blown military fantasy  going on.   My!!!  It was like a scene from a long lost Beryl Cook work.   All grown up talk was curtailed and we giggled and snorted like stupid teenagers the rest of the way home.  The night was cold and  I worried that the poor girl would die her death. Thankfully Louis said that the Roscoff war remains looked way more cosy!