Tuesday, 31 May 2016

To St Jacques' Place

Louis wanted me to show you his brand new baby.  He loves its natty paint job.   Hot on the tails of my own purchase I've  bought my son a new set of wheels, the Rockrider 500 from Decathlon.  For the price it gets pretty good reviews. I wasn't about to splurge out on anything more expensive.  Lou has reached a funny height where the smallest adult bikes, that I thought might suit him, are still too big. We've had to settle on a children's model that may only last a couple of years.  Best put it to good use while we're able then.

 Our old bikes  got a bit knackered when we were living in the motorhome and they lived permanently outside. It did them no good at all.   If I ever go back to a life on the road then cycle storage may be something that I need to think through.

Yesterday we went for an inaugural jaunt together down to the nearby town of Perros Guirec.   It was lovely to be on a bike that didn't clunk and squeak. My old one returned to rickety soon after a service it was so ancient.   Do you know in the five visits that we've made to this area I don't think we've ever explored centre ville properly?  It was something that we put right yesterday.  As Monday seems to be the day that most shops were shut we focused our attention on the beautiful church of St Jacques.  My photo of the outside didn't do it justice but you can see how unusual the architecture is if you follow this link.  Here's my own shot of the war memorial outside.  Always so many men called Louis.  I think my son counted 14 or 16 of his namesakes this time.

What I loved about this place was  the contrast between the beautiful artifacts that it contained and the surprising simplicity of the church's inner structure.  You'd think that it would be all bells and whistle given the majestic exterior.  The stained glass was stunning and from a number of eras.  I particularly loved the modern windows.  They have a watery feel to them which befits the town's seaside location.  Unfortunately I can't sing the praises of the talented individual craftsmen but another website suggests that these were made in 1951 by Hubert de Sainte Marie glassmakers in nearby Quintin.

Here's more of that gorgeous glazing to feast your peepers on!
Photo:  Pierre Andre Leclercq

The light didn't let me do justice to photographing  the complex altarpiece.  Some French bloke has made a much better job of it.  It's like an ornate dolls house where lots of saints live!

And then, if you turn around  and look back to the entrance it's as if you're in a different building.  All the glitz and glamour fades and I was struck by the tranquility and sacredness of the space.  I would have like to have lingered longer but teenagers have itchy feet.  Maybe it's a good spot to come back to.  A destination for one of my lonesome trips maybe? 

Monday, 30 May 2016

Swimming with Swallows

My wrist seems to have a similar look to one of my Mad Walls these days.  It regularly sports the turquoise beaded bangle that I bought for the bargain price of a quid in a Brixham charity shop. There's also a sterling sea themed bracelet that I've had for ages and a leather wraparound thing with an interesting clasp that the gorgeous Sugar Plumb gave me.   Previously she'd left it at my house after staying and I fell in love with it.   Imagine my surprise when it was returned to me on my birthday as among the best of presents.

This week I've added the campsite wristband to the medley.  It gives me much valued access to the pools here.  There's load of them inside and out.   My first visit this year started off with a trip down the biggest water flume that resulted in a nose full of frothy water.  That was Louis' idea.

One of the outside pools is really quiet.  I think it must be because it's a little colder than the others but I'm a hardy beastie.  I had it mostly to myself for about an hour this morning and it was bliss.  I absolutely understand why rich peeps want to create their own place to swim.  If I had a lot of wonga I'd have one myself.  There'd be a dimly lit womb-like haven inside with access to an infinity pool outside with a view to die for.   It would be in daily use.   I can only dream.....

I can swim until I'm bored but didn't do that today.  Instead I spent a lot of time floating on my back paying attention to my breathing and a light blue sky with a hazy sun.   I genuinely think that I entered a different brain state.   Who needs mind altering drugs when you can be surrounded by silence in water?   And then there were the swallows.  These amazing birds are back in Western Europe from their winter time jaunt down to Africa.  They dipped into the water around me.  Was it to drink or catch teeny insects?  I'm not sure.  All I know is that they've played a major part in creating a very special memory indeed.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Supermarket Flower

Don't let that angelic look fool you!  With the dawn of adolescence the lad and I have been having some 'conversations'.  Topics include the annoyance of constant backchat, the pointlessness of excessive screen time and how mightily pissed off I am when chocolate gets smeared all over bedding in a darkened room.   Nothing serious but tedious nonetheless.

After a longish absence of nearly a year, on account of Transatlantic travels,  we arrived back in France yesterday.  Our first stop is pretty much always Pol de Leon, about five miles down the road from the ferry port.  There we visit  E Leclerc, a branch of the French supermarket that seems like a cross between Sainsburys/Waitrose.   After an evening crossing we'll hole up in their car park until the store opens in the morning.     For within there are treats! We've come away with lush patisserie, vanilla infused Breizh cola, wine,  cured meats and cheese, cornichons, fish soup and accoutrements, ghost shaped crisps and dinosaur biscuits that Louis has loved since he was wee and of course bread.  We skipped on the live langoustines that we both love as we'll get these later in the week nearer the campsite.   At the till I was given a floppy flower in cellophane.  'C'est le Fête des mères demain?'  I asked the checkout lady and received confirmation that  yep, 1) my rusty French can still be understood by the natives and 2) it's Mother's Day this weekend over here.    

In its improvised beer glass vase my rose has perked up nicely.  I'm dead chuffed as I'm a bit of a sucker for fleurs.  To any of my readers out there who may be French mummies, have a great day. Our parenting job is tricky at time but it has the potential to bring some of the greatest rewards.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

The Bath

I love a bath though not in that conventional 'long soak' kind of way.  My bathing is quick but indulgent, wasteful even.  They're deep and bubbly but mostly in-out affairs, about fifteen minutes at a stretch. To assuage guilt I sometimes persuade the boy to hop in after me.  After all I don't spend any time dirtying that water.

Bath tubs took on a metaphorical quality when  I was ill recently.  I thought that I was ever so clever thinking of my stress in terms of water overflowing over the sides onto the bathroom floor but it seems I'm not the first to think of being overwhelmed in these terms.   One of my counsellors spoke in the same way.  It's an image that I'm using now with the people that I work with.  A woman that  I saw yesterday was particularly taken by the idea.  Like me she views herself usually as a resilient soul, able to cope with whatever life flings at her. 'When you've got enough on your plate one more drip could be enough for you not to contain everything anymore.' she said with some excitement in her voice.  It was as if a penny was dropping.

Luckily baths have plugholes.  That stress needs to drain away before our capacity for coping reaches a max.  Its build up can be insidious, over months and years or acute.  I had a humdinger of a day yesterday. Many more of those and I'd be in danger of overflow.   Luckily I'm now in France  for a week of reading,  gentle exercise, chilling with friends and more meditation than I 

Friday, 27 May 2016

Without Let or Hindrance

Tomorrow I'm off to France, nurturing the inner Romany who seems to command a stronger place in my genes than my more recent ancestry would suggest.  I think I've referred to my modern day gypsy caravan,  the wonderful Klaus the Knaus as my favourite possession ever.  He's certainly up there.  Before him I might have said that another travel related article,  my Osprey backpack with its removable top that turned into a bum bag  was top of the list. I bought that way back in 1997 when I was hiking the Appalachian Trail.  It's still serviceable today although I bet a bottom dollar or two that there are lighter versions available.  Pack weight was always a massive topic of conversation on that walk.

But having thought about it long and hard my passport has got to squeeze into top spot.  For it accompanies me wherever regardless of the mode of transport that I take to get to near and far flung places off our own shore.  I quite like this poshly phrased request that's just inside the front cover that  asks that I may be allowed to wander around this beautiful little planet of ours in peace!

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Risky Words

Nigh on six years on from the first time I posted my 'Desert Island Discs'.   I really must revise that list. Maybe I'll do that when I've got a little more time on holiday next week.  New favourites have pushed out some of the old.  Reluctantly I think that I'll have to let go of Kylie's perfect pop but I'll retain something that will ensure heady nights of bopping alone on a perfect tropical beach.

It's very likely that my book and luxury will change as well.  In the page turning department The Four Agreements is, of course, a contender. It would remind me how to relate to other people  if ever a rescue ship found me.  I've been re-reading it again.  These words jumped out the other evening.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Hot Water and Air

We're away on our travels next week so I'm a bit bursty with excitement.  What I love about our holidays is their capacity to enrich time across all dimensions.  There's  the planning beforehand,  creating magical memories whilst away and then withdrawing them at a future date for a bit of quality reminiscing.

I've been thinking about  last year's Trans-Atlantic trip a lot lately.  In particular musing on those geyser eruptions  has an extra-special capacity to warm the coolest cockles of my heart.  One day in retirement I may well be flipping burgers for a few months in Yellowstone just to get a proper thermal fix.  So, in thirty years time,  if you see a old granny  at the Old Faithful Geyser Basin excitedly wielding a spatula  as Beehive is about to erupt it'll probably be me!

This video that I've just discovered takes me back to another time during our trip where we visited Chihuly Gardens and Glass in Seattle.  Man-made rather than natural wonders but nonetheless amazing.  I am completely bowled over by these super skillful craftsmen.  Though tempted to create my own glassy forms I think I'll pass.  Clumsy lady, hot molten glass; What could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Beyond The Ikea Flatpack

'How easy is it to build a shed?'  I pondered aloud on Facebook back in November.  Some of my more intrepid gung-ho girlies urged me to give it a go and so I went ahead and bought the most scary flatpack of my life. 'Gulp!' I thought after  I'd finally seen off the delivery lorry  that circled the narrow lanes of Brixham for about an hour and a half.   An inspection of my newly acquired booty had revealed that there were no pre-drilled holes as  in the style of Billy Bookcase.   I reckoned that  I'd bitten off more than I could chew.

About a month ago I plucked up the courage to start building. With the help of a faithful thirteen year old the shed slowly took shape under the cloud of air turned blue because of all that swearing that went on. Surely potty mouthed expletives should be included in the instructions. 'Sh*t!' as a roof panel comes sliding back to earth and of course the obligatory F**k!, f**k, f**k! when  a finger gets hit.  I am bringing the fish wife back to Brixham!   In spite, or maybe because of all that cussing, the basics got done and I was quite pleased with my handiwork. There was a bit of a gap on the roof apex that couldn't quite be closed up but isn't that what roofing felt is for?
There were just the fiddly bits left: a window, yes, the roofing felt and a big bolt to put on the door.  I bought that as an extra.  A robber would have clapped his hands with glee if he'd seen the flimsy one supplied by the shed company.  I was thinking that I might have to aim for a higgledy piggledy look for the overall structure.  You know what I mean.  It's like when someone builds something badly in a cartoon and it comes out all lop sized and covered in plasters.

Thank goodness for my dear friend Corn Pipe.  He took one look at my attempt at glazing, shook his head and assertively took over the end stage of the project. He  even managed the rather clever bodge that was needed for the bolt.    For the price of a couple of beers I thankfully have a half decent shed and whoopee!  My understairs cupboard is neat and tidy now there's a new home for skate and body boarding paraphernalia.  There's no longer a bag of soil to trip over near the washing machine and my bike has been relegated from being a 'feature' in my kitchen.   What a difference that extra 7'x5' of space has made!

Monday, 23 May 2016


When I was about twenty I learned to touch type.  It was my second attempt.   There'd been lessons at school where we tapped away to music with a keyboard covered by a plank of wood.  I didn't get on with that at all. I borrowed a clunky old portable typewriter in a case with a zip.  I think that it was a bit like this one in the picture. I also had a blue book called 'Teach Yourself Touch Typing'.  For night after night I'd tap away at the keys ASDF   ASFD oops!  After about a fortnight  I was sorted.  I was like a demon on that keyboard.  My initial typing speed must have reached something like fifteen words a minute but I was there!

It took a modicum of effort but it's one of the most useful things I've ever done, transferable between careers in finance and healthcare and a bit handy for life outside work as well - like blogging!  I'm amazed  that so many others haven't gone down the same route and equally astounded that this isn't a skill that is universally taught in schools.   So here's a plea.  Free yourself from that onerous two fingered tapping!  Of course today a paperback isn't needed.  There are plenty of online resources.  Here's one that looks like a perfectly acceptable online teaching resource.  

Sunday, 22 May 2016


I remember someone once telling me about their dad  who had recently died.  He visited prisoners and felt that these were people who had ended up in jail because they had lacked love in their lives.  Is this true in every case?  Debatable maybe but this explanation probably applies to many inmates. Certainly it seems to fit with people that I've known personally who have been incarcerated, like the wild neglected little boys in my primary school classes who smelt of wee.

Here's a video that disturbed me greatly.   Sometimes it is good to be propelled out of my comfortable little world and have my eyes open to the horrific reality of the lives of others.   Denying  damaged souls liberty might sometimes be  necessary and appropriate.  But to inflict punishment that causes further psychological harm can't be right.   Surely the validation of being unloved is never helpful. Our collective human psyche must be very damaged indeed if we believe otherwise.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

All Change

Wow! What a difference a few months makes.  For I've woken up this morning exquisitely happy.  I've been back at work for three weeks and have been enjoying my job for the intrinsic pleasure that I get from making a real difference to people's lives.  My friends and family are super lush.  I live in a beautiful house in a vibrant wonderful town.   I feel more well than I've done for some years. And there's a holiday in the offing in a week's time in my van.......I could go on.

I'm  sharing this, not to be a smug smarty pants, but to demonstrate the contrast to my life back in at the beginning of February.  Then  I collapsed in a miserable heap.  It was hard to envisage that life could  ever be good again.  So for anybody out there who's in a bit of a a rut have hope.   Things can change for the better!

Friday, 20 May 2016

The Benefit of Bubbles

Bubble mix is a paltry but very fine investment indeed.   Poundland does a pack of nine for a quid.  Bargain!  I keep a pot  by my bed - as you do. Whenever the mood takes me  I let loose with the wand and a cascade of multi-coloured etheric spheres fall pleasingly.  Some even settle on the duvet and wait around for a while before surface tension finally gives up on them.

This is a beautiful way of relieving stress.  It's so joyous! There's something about the act of blowing and watching  bubbles that provides meditative focus, giving moments of respite from all the detritus that the world sometimes throws us.  And of course it makes that inner little boy or girlie very happy indeed.  

Thursday, 19 May 2016

For Scarlet

My gorgeous friend Scarlet at Beyond the Nook shared the fact the other day that one of her favourite all time songs was 'Edelweiss' from 'The Sound of Music'.  Funnily enough, I'd just listened to this beautifully stark version by 'The Innocence Mission'.  I thought that my old mucker might like this rendition too.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

A Half Hearted Martin Lewis Moment

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!  Here's a picture from the other morning of my poor little Skoda, Leif, who seems to have suffered a full on attack from those effing gulls that live around here.  To an extent I've learnt to put up with their shenanigans but they're still a blooming nuisance.  Sometimes their night-time rumpus on the roof drives Louis from his lofty haunt downstairs to sleep in the spare room instead.

Anyway....a now poop free Leif needed his annual comprehensive policy renewed.  Somehow I'd agreed with last years insurers that this would occur automatically.   I'm not sure how that happened as I always like to shop around.   In the spirit of non complacency I went online to a comparison site and was pleased to see that the same company still offered the best deal.  But hang on a cotton picking minute!  The online price was cheaper than the renewal cost that I'd been palmed off with.  So much for being a loyal customer!  A quick-ish call to the company yielded a no-quibble £21 reduction from their written quote.    I expect that, with a little more time on his hands, that Money Saving Expert bloke might have shaved a little more off the cost.   I didn't achieve particularly huge savings but it's enough to make pretty substantial inroads into the cost of my weekly shop!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

My Son and That Other Child Within

Ah!  Those teenage years have already brought changes that are taking some getting used to.  Lots more privacy is demanded although this doesn't always seem to be reciprocated!  Louis  now sleeps for England at weekends. When we're not doing anything super special I tend to let him lie in. With early rises on schooldays to catch the school bus I figure that with all that growing going on, he might need the extra kip. His appetite has also  increased especially if there's a whole rack of ribs  or a bar of chocolate around to polish off.  And whereas my son in his younger form was virtually tied to my ankle he now spends considerable time pondering his navel with the meerkats in his attic, gaming online with his friends who live twenty miles  away.  This has been the difficult one.  I have to say that I miss his company more than a little bit.

Goodness knows how this parenting stuff is supposed to work!  I've made it up as I've gone along.  That's not to say that I don't think carefully about my approach. My rationale for current times is that if I go with the flow and accept the changes then it's less likely that our relationship will be damaged in his transition to adulthood. I can all but try.

When we do get together we still have fun.  Last night we headed down to the harbour.  There's a new cafe/bar,  Liberty that serves cocktails and they'll do most of their range as a non alcoholic versions. With his penchant for all things posh, Lou loves  a mocktail and was keen to  give one a try.  To keep costs down I had a cider!  We had a brilliant time sitting at the bar, chatting to the lovely staff and watching the other drinks being 'shaken and not stirred'.  And we talked to each other.   We can both do that for England.  If Brixham were full of donkeys they'd all be missing hindlegs.

Anyway these are some of the words that my son shared with me. Wow!  They're attributed to a US country singer called Bryan White.   It fits in nicely with some thinking that I've been doing myself lately.  With the rise in social media I'm concerned that people are scared to portray themselves with anything but an airbrushed image.  Heck, I've even had a couple of people lately question whether I should blog as I do on the grounds that what I write might be viewed by some as unprofessional and therefore affect my career!

Of course we have to behave.  Dignity, respect  and politeness are high up on my list of values.  But I worry that an increasing  preoccupation with self image means that we are becoming too homogenized.    Are people  adopting 'safe' because they are fearful of the consequences of showing their true self?  Are we losing individual difference at the expense of creating pristine corporate images?  I think that this may be the case.  So in the spirit of rebellion I'll keep myself quirky.  And this might even mean that, on occasions, I'll let that inner child pop her head out in public!

Monday, 16 May 2016

For the Love of a Good Motorhome

Here I am, peeping out of the window of Klaus the Knaus yesterday morning. Don't for goodness sake enlarge the photo. It will show that he's desperately in need of a  sudsy wash!  That will be rectified within the next couple of weeks.  There's a man at the storage facility who's agreed to get handy with a bucket and hose.  Klaus will look dapper when we pitch up in France at the end of the month.

'With possessions come responsibility'.  That's a favourite saying of mine.  Sometimes I've felt that the stress of Klaus' ownership might be too much now I've got a proper home to run. After all he's elderly and things go wrong.  It could be expensive.  I'm sure the fridge is only still working because I'm crossing all body parts.  There's also the fact that if we didn't have the van we might be tempted to travel further afield more often. But my weekend away, the first in over six months reiterated the love that I have for my  motorhome and all he represents.    He's staying.  Never has something that I've owned before brought me such joy!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Silvery Lust

Now I've got everything I need for my brick built home I'm not allowed to spend any money for the next, oh I don't know, a hundred or so years.  Mortgage free is my goal for the year 2116!  But if I were flush I would be very tempted by this gorgeous silver creation that I found on Etsy with its brilliant quote from Tolkien. It's new on me as I'm not the Hobbity type.  This would be just the job for a woman with wanderlust who's just fallen deeply back in love with van life!

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Nearly Summer!

My beloved Klaus the Knaus has been sitting in his storage lot since October and  really  been rather melancholic. He had a little problem with ingress, a word meaning water leakage that fills motorhome owners with dread and horror.   The pitch where he stands is flat and the water that pooled on the roof in the torrential rain back in the autumn came in through air  vents in his skylights.  The problem was sorted by parking him on chucks so that he was inclined at an angle that allowed run off.  It was all very stressful.  I reckoned that it was about time I treated him to a change of scenery. So here we are just outside Dartmouth.

It's a little weekend away to road test Klaus before a French trip in a couple of weeks.  All is good. His MOT was passed and all internal systems are working well.  The water caused no more damage than a mouldy cushion.   All that's needed now is a jolly good spring clean inside and out.

I've  brought my girlies,  Salty Dog and Red Mel are along for the trip. They've kindly brought provisions. My fridge is like a moving off-licence!   I've had to scrounge ibuprofen this morning, Wine, cider and a shedload of cashew nuts really  do not make a sensible supper.  We'll  live and learn....or will we?!

We had a beautiful walk into town last night.  Dartmouth is part of my work patch but I don't have time to stop and stare very often.  It's lovely to have the change to linger.
Here's the real reason we're staying just six miles from my Brixham home.  There's bands and singers, lots of them!  And the best thing about the Dart Music Festival is that most of the acts can be seen for free in pubs,  public buildings, busking in the streets and on a big stage in the park by the waterfront.  Here's Tankus the Henge from last night. They were fab. If this is a predictor of the summer to come then 2016 is going to be a very good year indeed. 

Friday, 13 May 2016

The Emperor's New Jug

Photo: The Independent
Let me tell an interesting little story. You'll have to go to the this  BBC  link  to find out more  but here's the gist of it  Back in the '70s an Oregon teenager made a rather pleasing jug, in my opinion at least.  It has an interesting texture and shape and is covered in weird and wacky faces.  I reckon her parents' taste were different to my own and they thought otherwise.  'Bejesus!' they might have said. 'That's hideous.  We're not giving that house room!'  So, instead of being used as a receptacle for summer Pimms, it was relegated to a barn where it accumulated dirt and straw and chicken shit for a few decades. Nice!

Let's get in our Tardis and travel forward to the current time.  Somehow the jug ended up in an auction sale. There  an antiques expert saw it, wet his pants with excitement and paid $300.  He'd mistaken it for a piece of  highly prized art created by some indigenous person who roamed the plains of Oregon hundreds of years ago.  Does Oregon even have plains or are my imaginary musings going completely off kilter?  Heck, I'm feeling a bit too lazy this morning to go and research that on Wikipedia.  Maybe one of my US readers can set me straight.  Anyway once it seems that its real provenance was determined, the value of the jug came crashing down again. Maybe though the story of its recent history meant that just a little bit of that deflated value was retained.   It got me thinking.  Setting the price of anything must be a dead funny science.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Daily Slap

Here's a recent photo taken on the day when I tidied my beach.  The not so observant will notice that I've cropped Louis out.  He is a scruffy little urchin so he's gone. Boom!  But the really beady eyed among you might notice a teeny difference.  I've caved into peer pressure and now  regularly wear a hint of make up.

Every so often my friends have a play with my face, like they did on my Andalusian adventure and they tell me how much prettier I look, that I'm worth it..... blah blah blah.  Going make up free  took on  protest status.  I believed that I was declaring the need for  authenticity in a wider sense through how I portrayed myself to the outside world.  There was also something about being valued for something deeper than self appearance  So what's changed?

Well firstly someone told me that I would look ten years younger if I did something with my eyebrows.  'I'll have some of that!' I thought. After all I'm as vain as the next girlie  I'd been noticing some greying patches so they get covered up now.  But maybe what finally swayed me was a realisation that others were interpreting my slap free stance as being associated with low self esteem. Feck, I don't want that!

So now my daily regime includes a bit of warpaint around the eye area. There's mascara and a hint of lip gloss. No more.  Applying that lot takes long enough and sourcing it is a bit of a pfaff as well. Finding the right shades to go with grey hair is slightly tricky.   And of course it's a given that it has to be cruelty-free but that's more complicated than you'd think that it would ever be.  Some companies don't test on animals in the Western World but it's a legal requirement if they want to trade in China.  It isn't clear cut.  This exercise is also making me consider again the ethics around other stuff that I buy: toiletries, cleaning products, perfume.  That's got to be a good thing.  Perhaps I'll feedback the changes that I make in later posts.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Considering Lilies

Awww, so cute!  Not only does that God bloke find clothes for the lilies in the field it seems that he has a good line in beds for mice.  Have a wonderful day people.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

On The Perils of Vitesse

Ahhhh! That French word for speed is so pretty.  It befits those streamlined '30s racing cars or my dog friend, Lola.  She's the year old sleek black Lab owned by Barbie Nurse.  Watching her chase a ball on the nearby green each morning is a joy to behold.

In common parlance I've recently had a  'nervous breakdown', a consequence of  maintaining  a life that was too bloody fast.   So velocity isn't something that I really should be embracing for myself.  'Slow down!' is the mantra of the moment.  In reality it's easier said than done with a kid, a job, friendships to maintain, all the responsibility that comes from having a home that's larger than my twelve square metre one of a year ago.......but heck, I'm trying.  Honest!

The hospital car park is normally packed and it's hard to get a space.  Staff are supposed to block each other in the two end bays.  Given my propensity for calamity I'm loathe to do that. Even with parking sensors,  I can see that playing sardines with other people's vroom-vrooms is an accident waiting to happen.  Instead I create little spaces for my teeny Skoda in unmarked areas.  It risks a bit of a telling off from Matron but I'm quite proud that harmless naughtiness  is part of my persona.

After a visit the other day the prime staff spot right outside the building was miraculously free. Luvverly jubbly!  The only problem was that I couldn't drive into it immediately. Both left hand side doors of the adjacent car were open and a woman was in the last throes of a struggle to transfer her husband from wheelchair to the front seat.  There! She'd finished.  Now all she had to do was close up and I could nip in and make a start on all that paperwork.

Except she didn't.  I waited a good few minutes more whilst she manhandled a wheelchair into a boot that seemed way too  small.  Finally she managed it,  shut those doors that had blocked my advance, got in and drove away without so much as a thank you in my direction for waiting.  'Honestly, some people!' may have been part of my thinking a while back. It isn't now.

I've featured a Michael McIntyre clip before where the comedian compares and contrasts the experience of getting out of the house for the childless and those with kids. Yep, it's a scene that I still re-enact every schoolday.  It highlights how frustrating life becomes when turns of event conspire to make meals of  things that we are used to doing instantaneously and automatically.  That woman didn't ask for the minutiae of everyday life to become so laboured.  Her real desire for her and the old man would be the ability to hop into a motor without giving it a second thought. By getting cross I would have made a life that looked pretty difficult anyway even more unpleasant.

Perhaps the parking angel wanted me to watch and learn here.  A penny dropped.  All that endless striving for speed isn't only bad for me.  It can also have negative consequences for others, those that are close as well as strangers. It's a lesson that translates into a myriad of situations.

Monday, 9 May 2016

So Bad It's Good

If I showed you everything that I bought in charity shops my blog would become niche and possibly a bit more popular than it is now.  And we don't want that do we?  Let's keep it secret squirrel and select!

But back in, let's say for argument, 2013 I popped out at lunchtime to buy a prawn sandwich at the Coop and came back via the RSPCA shop in Totnes with this.   A fiver jolly well spent.  Mr Metrosexual was scathing.  'What the f****ck!' My psychologist friend, Dr Betty, was rather more diplomatic. 'Isn't it so lovely that we all have such different tastes?' she announced. So what drew me to it?  Well, I think it was the weird baobab trees, its retro feel and the colour palette.  Call me shallow but I thought that it would look good in my bedroom.

It hangs to the left of my bed.  Occasionally I have a good giggle at the bloke who manages to hold, one handed, that fishing rod  that's thicker and longer than his own arms.   None of that 'Old Man and the Sea' struggle here.   Just look at how nonchalantly he's bringing in that huge catch.  What super powers does he have?

Lately there has been no time to stop and stare at my pictures.  They've melded into the background ... and the detritus of life has taken precedence. But now, I've seen this painting with new eyes.  My friend Corn Pipe is mesmerized.  He's stared at it for hours.  More expletives but this time transfixed with jaw-dropped starry eyed wonder, and not abject disgust at the poor artistry.

At first sight Corn Pipe reckoned that this looks like the visual equivalent of muzak ... but, he says, not when you take a closer look. [Struggle for laptop ensues] "What the hell is happening? What was this artist on?" I mean, where's the perspective ... and, indeed, the horizon? And why the brazen mismatch between the land and the reflections in the water. Also, just look at that boat!! What's this dark thingy with the white stuff all around in front of the central hut? And, of course, who could miss, for long at least, that creepy gangly man at the top. I mean, what's he got between his legs? And what's with the axe on that spectral psycho's shoulder?

Some parts of this post may have been hijacked by Corn Pipe. He's rather more prone to flowery language than me.  But his enthusiasm and laughter has been infectious.  What do you think? Inspired genius or a hilariously complex amateur accident?

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Fiddly Craft Series II

A couple of weeks ago I gave you the woman who rendered a perfectly good kitchen useless by sticking half a million beads on every surface. Today I present another example of arty craftiness that, with those famed butter fingers, I couldn 't even attempt to replicate myself.

I've featured the quiller Lisa Nilsson before. Last time she grabbed my attention with intricately rolled anatomical artistry. This time she's amazed me with her papery interpretations of the type of rug that a posh old granny might have in her home.  Pop on over to the artist's own website to see more  examples.  My awe for this woman's patience is heightened by the fact that there is more than one of these fabulous designs.

Saturday, 7 May 2016


Just to balance all those depressing dirges I put on here when  I post about music, here's a crackingly good energy-laden tune that sounds like it's being played in a big metal dustbin.  'Tremendous Dynamite' is one of the tracks on 'Hombre Lobo', an album by the Eels.  It's one that I put on in the car when I'm in danger of falling asleep at the wheel and certainly  has the power to  perk me up. I always thought that these guys sounded beardie.  And what do you know?  It  turns out that indeed they are! 

Friday, 6 May 2016

Instead of Frou-frou

Devoid of much inspiration this morning I turned to StumbleUpon just now to look for some stunning art to blow you away with. After all, my blog is a bit like one of those 'Show and Tell' sessions that they run in junior schools where the girls try to wow the crowd with Barbie in a new outfit and the boys bring in dead animals  Instead this was the first thing that came up.  So relevant to these worrying times it stopped me in my tracks.  Best post a serious message instead then.  In the face of relentless media messages, use your brains fellow earthlings and let kindness rule your hearts. x

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Mathsy Memories

Photo: agr
My own secondary school education in the 1970s and early '80s was light years away from the one that my son is receiving now. The content and way in which lessons are delivered have been transformed. There was also some expectation at my own school that their prodigies would be 'laydees' accomplished in the traditional crafts expected of our sex. Domestic science, in the form of cookery lessons and needlework featured quite heavily.   It made me wonder whether we were there to acquire the skills to pursue an actual career or to lure in a City stockbroker who would provide a home in the commuter belt where we could practise our wifey crafts. These lessons were taught in a way that induced anxiety and always got in a pickle. I think Mama Lovelygrey got pissed off when she sent me to school with perfectly good ingredients and dress fabric and what arrived home each time was a barely disguised abomination.

Anyway peeps of a certain age!  Do you remember these log tables?  I was fifteen before I owned my first calculator.  With a myriad of technology, literally at his fingertips,  Louis  can't comprehend the effort involved in seemingly simple mathermatical tasks.  Finding the square root of, say, 77.5 involved trawling through a book of tiny numbers and maybe a few extra back of the envelope calculations before the answer finally 'popped' out.  I think that we'd all agree that things have changed for the better here.  We're freed up to focus on problems with more meaning rather than the minutiae.  Perhaps our responsibility now is to make sure that we ourselves and our kids are doing this and not frittering away all that extra time!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

A Bit Pooped

Even though I've returned to work my journey back to full health still isn't complete.  I've found to my cost, that if I don't take things gently I'm still knocked  very hard indeed. Thankfully I've bounced back on each occasion but there are definitely lessons to be learnt.  How to adopt a slower pace of life and still achieve everything that I need and want to do seems the biggie. I'm scratching my head about where to move the goalposts so that my life in future is more healthful and self sustaining.  Geez!, as a senior mental health worker I'm supposed to be expert in this.  I realise that  I'm really just a novice when I work on myself.  Perhaps few of us professionals will gain true insight into the range of struggles within the human psyche.

It turns out therapy is enormously hard.  No pat on the back and a 'there, there, it will be all right'.  I know that the anti-depressant route, where emotions are reigned in chemically, would have brought comfort rather more quickly. But perhaps many of us are  too willing to reach for pills and succumb to numbness .  Isn't it better to learn to experience the gamut of emotions that are thrown at us, to acknowledge hurt, pain and fear? Aren't they telling us something?

And so I've found that psychotherapy is hard.  A can of worms has been opened.  I feel ragged after sessions. But I'm hoping that it'll pay dividends.  No pain no gain they say.  Let's see.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Going Out of Bounds and Underground

I can be a nerdy so-and-so and now admit to being a bit fascinated by the 'ghost' stations on London Underground.  These are stops that are still functional but no longer used.  There's about forty of them. It might just have been down to an overactive imagination but I think that I've spotted one or two in the gloom between operational stations on my jaunts around the capital. However as my recollection of how to get pretty much anywhere that I don't visit on a weekly basis  is pretty non-existent, Lord knows which ones these were.  I've been known to get lost even in pretty familiar locations. Hell,  just on Friday I took a jaunt into Torquay, ended up taking a wrong turn in a car park and had to pay £1.40 for the privilege of lifting the barriers to get out.

So I was quite excited to see that the London Transport Museum are organising trips to Down Street and Clapham South,  two of the closed deep level stations.  Geek heaven!  Maybe I could join a band of the type of men that stand recording engine numbers on the ends of railway platforms across the land.  I bet that might be the make up of my fellow travelling band.  The trips are pricey though so I'll think  I'll pass.  To console myself  I'll just stand in the gloom under the railway bridge at the end of my road, close my eye, pretend that I'm on the platform of a  disused station and listening to a rattling ghostly tube passing by.  Mind the gap!  

Monday, 2 May 2016

Tickled By Ted

Begorrah! Can you believe that Father Ted was first screened over twenty years ago?  It hardly seems like yesterday.  Here's a clip from the opening episode where the priests visit what can only be described as The World's Crappiest Fair.  It has me creased up, just as funny as it was in 1995!

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Cheers Cupid!

This may well be the last post of this genre for a while as I've removed myself from those dating sites. Why?   Well it seems, they may have served their purpose. No longer will I be keeping you guys and my immediate circle of friends entertained with tales of blokies whose sexual leanings veer a long way from my own. And thankfully,  I will be keeping my hair.

As alternative reading may I suggest that you pop on over to Cupid's School where you'll find thought provoking blog writing that's far removed from my 'back of a fag packet' over my first cuppa in the morning kind? I've promised that I'll read it  in its entirety but am a little distracted at the moment with real life........Can I mention that the author is unbelievably cute!