Thursday, 30 June 2016

Leftovers on Leftovers

There seems to be something about my kitchen that make the men in my life want to take it over.   Not that I'm complaining.  Bring it on I say!   Think back to all that cupcake cooking by Louis and Mr Metrosexual last week.  Reiki Ray has turned up before, not just with his therapy table, but also with the ingredients for a quorn chilli.  And now Corn Pipe is the latest to shoo me away from my own hot stove.   He knocked up steak, veggies and a variant of dauphinoise potatoes. Thinly sliced spuds were layered in a dish with cream and oodles of garlic. The dish was topped with a smattering of diced bacon and grated mature cheddar.  Very good it was too.  I was particularly pleased to find leftovers of that in the fridge the next day snuggling up to the remains of a batch of my old staple, daily dal.  Both needed using up pronto.

So here's what I came up with yesterday.  I popped a layer of the dal in one of our lunch pots, added a handful of baby plum tomatoes and then topped it with some of those lovely garlicky potatoes.   All it needed was a blast from the microwave at work and hey presto a brand new meal! This all goes to prove that leftovers can be the dog's doo-dahs.  It was divine,  the best lunch I've had for ages!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Sky Rise Baby

Oh 'kin 'ell!  I knew exactly what I was going to blog about this morning and the website that I needed is down.  *"%&£%%^^)*£$!    Let's find something quick to stop those unbecoming fish wife mutterings.

Ah,  this will do.  It's a little treasure that I found and  I copied to my desktop .  I'm sure that little boy has a head for heights to this day!  Of course it hails from days before nameless, faceless Health and Safety officials went absolutely mad and came out with enormous balls of cotton wall with which to wrap us.  I' have fond memories from more precarious times myself.   Maybe, in modern times where new builds seem so skimpy on space, this idea could catch on again - until that is, Social Services find out!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016


I'm all too aware that I haven't blogged about the course by the Sensory Integration Network  that I went on a couple of weeks ago. It's not an oversight on my part.  Most of the time my posts are of 'the quick and dirty' variety, knocked up whilst I sup my first cup of tea.  Hell, on a good day I can even manage to complete two and schedule one ahead for later so I can have a  nifty lie-in on another day. What I learned on my course about sensory integration and older adults was so important that I want to write  in a way that does it justice.  Maybe over a few posts.    It'll take a little time, a resource that seems to be in short supply at the moment. So you'll have to wait.

As a precursor to what I'm want to share please take a few moments to watch this video or read the article contained in this link.  They're both from an old episode of the BBC's 'Horizon'. They make apparent the extent of the suffering that can come around when healthy working aged adults spend just a short time in a sensory deprived environment.  Now I work with elderly people with dementia whose diet of sensory stimulants suffers not just from living in underwhelming environments but as a consequence of the physiological processes of ageing.  A recent piece of  work by Pinto  found that 94% of older adults in a sample suffered at least one sensory deficit.  And that's after adequately corrected sight and hearing loss were ignored for the purpose of this study!

A penny has dropped. Many of the people that I work with must suffer sensory deprivation day in day out at a level which is bewildering at the least but maybe more often and not frightening.  Torturous in fact!  No wonder they behave oddly, lash out and put themselves in situations of danger.  The course was billed as 'life changing learning'.  It certainly was.  I feel that I would be negligent of me not to incorporate the teaching from the day into practice.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Talking About Trump

'I met a really sweet old lady on the bus today' said Louis after he'd got home from school this week.  I mentally considered what age constituted elderly in his eyes.  Fifty five maybe?

'And I decided she needed to know all about Donald Trump'.  Ye gods!  Those alarm bells started ringing.

'You didn't tell her  that he'd said that he'd like to sleep with his daughter did you?'  I asked tentatively.

Louis shook his head vehemently.  'Of course not!'. Then there was a pause....of the pregnant variety.  'Oh, okay, actually I did'.

A swathe of embarrassment came over me.  After all my son's voice isn't exactly on the quiet side. The whole bus must have been in stitches.

I finally mustered up the courage to speak again.  'What did she say?'

The answer was priceless.  'Well' said the 'old' lady.  'I'm so glad you've shared that.  Now that I know,  if I was American  I wouldn't vote for him!'.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Prickly Pressie

'I've bought you a present Mum' said Louis after he'd visited the craft fair last week.  Am I the only parent who feels some trepidation when these words are uttered?  After all kids often have a completely different idea  to adults of what constitutes beautiful and worth giving house room.  Those dolphins last year were a case in point.  I HAD to say something then.

I needn't have worried this time around for this teeny porcelain planter around three inches high, arrived at home via a sports bag.  It then spent about four days in the dark as Lou forgot it was there.   Amazingly its contents survived intact.   It came complete with cactus or is it  aloe vera?  My botanical knowledge of desert dwelling plants is pretty limited.

It's designed by Jack Laverick whose range of geometrically themed lamps and planters have a pleasing simplicity that is nothing like some of the kitsch stuff that has been gifted before. Phew!  I'm pretty chuffed with my little spiky plant and will try to tend it carefully.  Who knows, if it survives it can be potted up into a larger container by the same maker, maybe the hanging conical one.  The prices are pretty reasonable after all. 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Big Stranger Rodeo

There's 48% of us on this small island nation of ours who don't know whether to laugh or cry at the moment.  Hell, let's have a comedic moment to take our minds off things shall we? Thanks Corn Pipe for bringing the ten year old programme Balls of Steel to the attention of me and Louis.  Here's an intensely silly little clip  that brought cross-generational mirth to the Lovelygrey household.  My boy's giggle is a fine thing that never fails to lift my spirits!

Friday, 24 June 2016

Crocs For A Wedding

The excitement is mounting!   At the end of next month I will be the proud owner of a gorgeous sister-in- law.  I've never had one of those before.  With the super special wedding in the offing I've been putting together an outfit that befits the sister of the groom.  It's all the more important now that  I look tip top as I've accepted the invitation to do a reading at the ceremony.  I'm not sure what it is yet but I thought that I could always substitute this sweet little Pam Ayres poem at the last moment if it's too bollocksy and arty!

You'll have to wait for the big day to see what I ensembled.  Needless to say I won't be fading into the background  But I thought I'd let you have a sneak preview of my shoes.  I gave my brother a minor heart attack yesterday by announcing on my Facebook page that 'My Crocs for your wedding have arrived!'  After all my trademark footwear since adolescence has been from the clumpy genre.  I am a bitter disappointment to Mama Lovelygrey who loves her high heels but they truly aren't not a good look on me.   In the absence of a finishing school education I end up walking like a pissed bloke in drag on a stag night.  And that's even before I've had a glass or two of vino.

Fear not little bro' for even though I am your embarrassing big sister I know a style faux-pas when I see one. So  I'm not about to turn up for your big day wearing a pair of the  holey clogs that are the signature look of this footwear brand.  I'm far too vain for that anyway.   No, instead I've gone for the Leigh II Graphic Wedge,  which are in the sale at the moment in Croc's UK online store.  They tick all the required comfort boxes but also look pretty dead funky.

Thursday, 23 June 2016


With my pinko leftie credentials,  it will probably come as no surprise to my regular readers which box I'll be ticking on my voting slip  in today's  EU referendum.  In this part of Devon there's a sea of red posters urging voters to leave, literally! The trawlers down in the harbour are festooned with banners supporting an exit.  The little flier in my front window in favour of the Remain campaign looks very solitary indeed.   For personal and ideological reasons I would very much like our country to stay in Europe.

Yes the Brexit bunch are far more vocal. There was a bunch of them campaigning on the road into town yesterday as I was going home.  I read somewhere that one of the main reasons people gave for not choosing to remain was that they knew no-one else voting that way.  I'm aware that we're socially cohesive beasties but is our population really that sheep-like?  I hope not. Anyway just in case that I can sway a single person by offering my solidarity I'll spell it out.  I'm voting IN!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016


Lou's views on men and food are undoubtedly misogynistic.  He wholeheartedly believes that they make better chefs.  So he wasn't going to trust me with being his helper for his school bake off competition.  Oh no!  The services of Mr Metrosexual  were called on as he professes to know a thing or two about baking. 'My coffee cake is legendary, darling!' he boasted.  So I was relegated to stumping up the money for ingredients and washing up.

The recipe was loosely based on this Sainsbury's one.  However Mr Metrosexual had his  own stored up top for the cake mix and butter icing.  'Stir  this, weigh this, put this in there. Where's a wooden spoon?' Orders were barked at Louis thick and fast.  Finally after all the hustle and bustle Lou came up with these beauties.  Have you ever seen a flock of cupcakes before?  I have to say that they're not just style over substance.  They taste great too!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Better Than Last Time

I have a dream!  Yep there's one that's in a similar vein to Martin Luther King and hopes for universal equality and justice.  But there's also a few that are more personal. Back in my late twenties I ran a couple of half marathons.  Well, okay I might have done a bit of walking over the last three miles each time.  But I'd really like to enter one again.

As an occupational therapist I'm supposed to be good at goal setting. Just right challenges that stretch a person's capacity without breaking them and causing further physical, mental and emotional meltdown.  Is the idea of crossing a finishing line after thirteen miles a step too far?  I'm not sure if I can turn my dream into a goal.  Injury has stymied my running attempting before.  Perhaps I am permanently past it.

On the positive side I've been quietly stepping up the exercise lately with a bit more running and cycling.  So I thought I'd see if the knee that had surgery a couple of years ago would play ball again. So I'm back to NHS Choices Couch to 5K, a nine week running plan where after nine weeks I might be able to run about three miles.

My last attempt was aborted sometime during week two. But there's progress onto week three this time.  I've downloaded week three and will try running the heady continuous distance of three minutes tomorrow.  Wow!  That's triple the duration of a couple of weeks ago.

So what's my goal? With my hope intact have I revised it to a triathlon?  Let's keep it realistic shall we.  One step at a time.  I just aim each time to complete the next run without injury. 

Monday, 20 June 2016


My musical listening habits can be rather OCD in nature - with heavy emphasis on the 'O'.  That Jake Bugg song that I wrote about recently was a case in point.  Once I'd found it I listened to it repeatedly over and over again.   At any given time a few albums become stalwarts and then I get a bit bored.  I want something new to listen to but how do I source it?

Well live music events have been a source of inspiration but conventional music radio isn't really my bad.  I have to listen to so much stuff there that doesn't really float my boat.  I'll turn to Spotify radio though where I can choose a 'station' based on another artist that I like.  It picks tracks with a similar feel.  Those that don't appeal can be skipped over midway through.  Perfect!

I came across this as part of a Billy Bragg themed selection.  Given my proclivity for balladeers I'm not sure why Bob Dylan hasn't featured more in my repertoire over the years.  Maybe (said the girl who loves Leonard Cohen!) I find him a little morose.  This track is brilliant though.  So upbeat and complex.  I haven't figured out what it's about.  May I won't As Dylan said himself  'It means something different every time I sing it'.  

Sunday, 19 June 2016

First Pot

The co-parenting thing has some advantages from the point of view of giving me freedom to do my own thing during the child-free periods.  Of course on the downside it means that I don't share substantial parts of my kid's life.

Here's one of those special moments that I've missed. Louis visited the Contemporary Craft Festival at Bovey Tracey with members of his dad's family.   There's always some hands-on stuff to try there.  On a previous occasion I had an awful job extricating my maths geek son from a weaving loom.  He loved the number patterns that were needed to create the designs. Now Louis was really excited to tell me about his latest crafting endeavours.  'Look at the pictures that Dad's just sent you NOW!' I was told when I telephoned him for our goodnight chat.  Nothing for it but to obey orders. I'm glad I did.  It's lovely to see Louis so involved in what he was doing.  And the picture somehow shocked me.  He's looking so grown up.  Is time flying that fast?

I've tried my damnedest  to create something non wobbly on a potter's wheel many times but now admit defeat.    My wonky eyes and poor dexterity mean it's a skill that I can't master.  I just end up looking like the swamp monster with a pile of massacred clay as an end product!  But here's what my son made on his first attempt.  It's a properly pleasing pot.  The parent proudness zone of my brain is humming away.  We've just got to find somewhere to fire it now.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Blue Circle

Even though I thoroughly recognise their potential for improving my blog statistics you'll never see any salacious revelations here.  I was brought up old fashioned in that respect and have never been a kiss and tell kind of person. So I'm always amazed at what others will divulge about their sex lives especially when they share intimate details with people that they hardly know from Adam.

A friend was once party to such a disclosure from a mere acquaintance. The story teller was going out with a bloke who drove one of those concrete mixing lorries and she'd made the beast with two backs in the drum at the back. Don't you just love that euphemism? Firstly I was struck by the romance of the setting.  Rather nicer than a gauzy four poster bed in a posh hotel don't you think?  Then the health and safety angle occurred to me.  Aside from all the climbing involved can't concrete cause chemical burns to tender parts?  My friend must have asked the same question.  'Oh it was okay.  He'd cleaned it out first'  was the response. So that's alright then!

I drove behind  a concrete mixer on the road to Dartmouth yesterday  Unsurprisingly memories of this little vignette always come flooding back whenever I see one. I don't think I'll ever be able to look at one of those lorries again without giggling.

Friday, 17 June 2016

The Voice of Knowledge

A couple of years back I wrote about the impression made on me by the book,  The Four Agreements.  Since then I've tried to incorporate these into my everyday life. Be impeccable with your word: Don't take anything personally: Don't make assumptions:  Do your best. Easy-peasy on paper but a rather more difficult in everyday life.   But boy, I'm trying. Deeply ingrained habits are a bit of a bugbear when it comes to assimilating new ways of living. However transformation is possible if successive initial failures to adopt the agreements are viewed with self acceptance and love.

Recently I've stepped up efforts to apply these principles that seem to make so much sense, giving guidance about how we might live in harmony with others.    There are plenty of resources to help direct a focus towards working on this. I'm using a meditation video on YouTube  to repeatedly reinforce this philosophy and challenge longstanding beliefs.   I've also read this book, a follow up from the first volume which introduces the agreements. Each page contains so much reason that it's become my preferred Desert Island reading.

The book expands on the original volume and again interweaves stories from Don Miguel Ruiz's own extraordinary life.  I think that what has grabbed me the most is the metaphor that we are all artists creating our own  picture that is an expression of our inner spirit.    Our own perspective is individualistic and does not match that of anyone else. Once we grasp this we can better embrace and understand individual difference and go about painting a masterpiece that is concordant what our inner self needs to nurture itself and grow.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Brum, Brum Art

I said that I'd be writing about my course in Birmingham today but you're going to have to wait for that. I gleaned so much insight and information that I've got to make sense of.  It has important repercussions within my work with people with dementia and I want to 'show and tell' when I'm less addled.

Instead let me talk about a piece of art that I saw at the training venue. The Studio has to be the funkiest place where I've ever been sent to do any learning.  Go and have a little look at their gallery by following the link.   It may be that you city types are now  accustomed to this type of space for conferences, seminar and the like but down in deepest darkest Devon we've got nothing like it.  

A framed article on the wall grabbed my attention.  This bloke called Ian Bell has ditched brushes and instead paints using the tyres of remote controlled cars.  I think that this might be one of his works as it was hung nearby. Now it's not something that I'm going to tell Louis about anytime soon.  Can you imagine the mess?!  It also seems that it's a way of going about things that would make those shareholders in Duracell batteries very happy indeed.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Not Brixham

I have woken up with this outside my window rather than a load of squawking gulls.  The Midlanders among you will know that I'm in the middle of misty, rainy Birmingham.   Is it always like this up here?  Ibiza Queen Vikki and I got here yesterday evening.  We arrived in good time before we circled the city centre for an hour.  It seemed that the combined power of two mobile phone sat navs couldn't defeat diversions hat have been put in place because of roadworks.  Apparently that's nothing.  In those days before advanced technology guided our journeys Vikki spent eight hours circling Brum because of diversions.  She could have flown to Barbados in that time!

We're not just here to giggle, have a little drinkie and eat rather excellent sausage and mash at The Queen's Arm, a lovely friendly pub just a stone's throw from the hotel, a Travelodge but good for what it is   In fact I'd use it again to come back and explore the Jewellery Quarter.  Sadly, there'll be no time for that today Instead I've got my best thinking cap on for we're on a very exciting course.  I'll let you know what we've learnt tomorrow.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Meant to Be Mad

Here's a rather quirky little video  that will send those who advocate the 'stiff upper lip' and  'pull yourself together' approaches to mental health care reeling.  It supports the assertion that my own recent 'episode of madness' which rendered me unfit for work for three months was ultimately a positive experience,  a healthy reaction  to the insanity of the expectations in modern life placed on us by ourselves and others.  What came out of the turmoil were insights that  perhaps could not have been afforded in any other way.  As a consequence  fixed beliefs about myself, others and the world have been overturned.  There is a real sense of transformation that seems self perpetuating.  As such I now view what happened in the earlier part of 2016 as rather a precious gift.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Muppet Meaning

Since my sleep has become a wee bit better I've been dreaming again. What does it all mean?  If you have a little look at Wikipedia it seems that plenty of people have had a go at trying to explain: the ancient Egyptians, Freud, of course Jung and a lady called Faraday who hit on the fact that our dreams might symbolise stuff that's preoccupied us over the last day or two.
One of the thing that I've picked up is that anything vaguely pointy is seen as phallic. Now there must be a lot of very funny-shaped willies out there if that's the case!

There's lots of websites out there that give dream interpretation a go.  I've had a look in the past.  But my search for the meaning of one of my latest nocturnal offering seems to have come up with a blank.  So I'm putting it out there.  Can anyone tell me why I should have dreamt why Animal from the Muppets was enthusiastically cleaning my toilet!?

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Better Up Top

On those rare occasions I'm in rush hour London  I like to avoid the commuter trains and the Tube if I can possibly help it.  However with the distances involved in the Big Smoke this isn't always possible. There was a time a couple of years ago when I was on a train at about 8:30 in the morning after visiting friends in Sevenoaks.   We were stopping at another packed station and there were already unfeasible numbers of people in the carriage playing a game of sardines that rendered me on rather more intimate terms with strangers than I am comfortable with.  'Surely no more folks can get on!' I thought to myself but I was completely wrong.   More bodies squeezed in.   As I was in danger of seizing up I turned my head slightly only to brush my lips against a complete strangers upper arm. Ewww!

To avoid unnecessary and  undesirable up close and personal encounters in the future this map that Transport For London have produced might be helpful.  It shows how many minutes it takes to walk between Underground stations.   What a good idea!  If there's time it's so much nicer to be able to see the sights of the capital  and seek out undiscovered treasures in the process rather than rumbling under them on crowded airless tube trains.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Down The Queens Arms

I wouldn't know where to start if I were to list all the things that I love about Brixham, the town that I moved to just over a year ago.   Well let's give it a go shall we? Because I'm a water babe, the fact that it's by the seaside has to take top spot.   And this is top notch coastal living  with stunning scenery, gorgeous little bays and a fascinating harbour. Then there's the friendliness of the folk that live here, the fact that it hasn't been boutique-ified up to the hilt and is still a proper working town,  the myriad of interesting places to hang out, shop, eat and listen to music, my kid also loves it  and it's safe for him with good bus links to his school......I could go on and on but I won't.

Except I'll mention just one other great big plus.  There's loads of pubs in Brixham, so many in fact that I haven't discovered all the decent boozers yet.  I think that I'd be hard pressed to find one as brilliant as this though.  It's probably why my pub crawling antics are so half hearted.  The brilliant thing is that The Queens Arms, South Devon's CAMRA pub of the year for 2016, it's just a couple of hundred yards stagger away from my home.  It was the icing on the cake as far as choosing my lovely house was concerned.
First off, I'll ward off anyone who's looking for a foodie type of place. Gastro-pub this ain't.  No slow cooked pig's cheeks in foamy nonsense here although you can get a hot pasty and the snack range is excellent. There's a roast on offer on Sundays and a set dish and a pint on a Monday for a fiver.  To be honest I haven't tried those yet writing this post has reminded me to make a note that I really should. Uber-trendy types who demand designer heaven and a smart dress code might want to stay away too.  As the website says that this is a simple back street boozer.  What sets it apart is the really friendly atmosphere that attracts all sorts of clientele and, of course, the beer Now I'm a real ale aficionado and this place, where there's usually six casks to choose from makes me a very happy bunny indeed!  And of course being Devon there's decent cider on offer too.

Mr Metrosexual popped round all stressed yesterday evening because his house has been turned into a building site on account of  work on his extension.  The pretentious bugger calls it an orangery but it looks like a sun room to me.   My day at work hadn't been a picnic in the park either and, as I'm on a course for some of next week, I was still catching up with notes when he arrived at 7:30.  As such I was easily persuaded  to ditch the paperwork and head out  for a healthful supper of pints and pasties.

Here's Mr Metrosexual enjoying his.  It's a horrible picture but he's wholly deserving of bad publicity.  In spite of the excellent range of beverages on offer he gives me the embarrassment each time of ordering a pint of Carlsberg.  The locals are incredulous and quite rightly take the piss. I'm thinking that a visit two nights in a row might be in order.  It's music night on Saturdays and tomorrow's band look the biz. Corn Pipe is visiting. I wonder if he'd like to come and see them with me. With such good beer to boot I don't think that he's going to take much persuading!

Friday, 10 June 2016

The Skirt Police

I've just come across this olde photo of a beach patrolman measuring bathing suit length on a '20s beach. Maybe there's a need for this role, albeit for a female employee in today's education system?

I was stuck in traffic whilst driving back to the office after my appointments yesterday at school turfing out time   Okay I'm a fan of skirts and dresses that end considerably above the knee but there are limits.  Back in the '70s we too used to adapt our uniform to look as alluring as an emerald green/royal blue bri-nylon combo would permit.  Our attempts though were uber- tame compared to the lengths (or maybe I should say lack of  lengths!) that girls appear to go to today  to sex up school uniform.  Bejesus!  Parents and teachers must have a constant battle with  trying to tone down what their adolescent daughters are wearing.   It made me think that parenting a boy might be so much easier!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

My Gargoyle

Given that I feel more well than I have for years I'd like to keep it that way.  One of the things that went AWOL when I was working like a stupid thing before I became poorly were lunch breaks.  My stress head couldn't countenance them.  'There's not enough time for those!!!!' it cried 'Keep your nose to the grindstone until you drop!!!!!'  And so I did.

A regular lunch break for town based workers involves a wander around the shops but I'm trying to avoid doing that too often.  Now that my house needs little more than a lick of paint in  remaining rooms, I'm really trying to curb my spending and aim for debt freedom.   I think that I've said before that  my shopping cull must include those 'irresistible' charity shop purchases.  Oh okay I'll never be a complete goody two shoes in this department but a daily trawl for secondhand treasure  adds up.   So I'm trying to find different things to do with my half hour.  And that often involves sitting someone pleasant taking in the scenery or contemplating life in general.

Yesterday was a scorcher in the South West of England.  I'm not the most avid of sun worshippers after I've browned my legs so their white tightlessness is not so frightening to my fellow men.  So I sought shade.  I found it under a tree in the delightful graveyard of the main church in Totnes.  It's just off Fore street, the main thoroughfare but such a haven of peace and quiet.   I looked up and found this great little fellow was my companion.  I even like his drain pipe.  It was such a perfect spot that I think that I'll be going back with my sarnies again and again.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Carrot, Egg, Coffee Bean

Lou shared with  me this short cleverly produced clip from YouTube. All the drawing looks quite effortless but must have taken some time.   The moral of those story revealed at its very end provided one of those moments where  'easier said than done' came to mind.  At times of extreme stress it's hard to see ways just to snap out of situations and view them from a different perspective.  If it was as easy as all that I wouldn't have a job to go to in a  mental health team!

Maybe after my recent meltdown I'm more aware than I ever have been that we're all susceptible to our carrot and egg moments.  Thankfully my son thinks I'm in a coffee state of mind at the moment!

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Desert Island Delivery

Way back in my blogging nascence of 2010 I shared my Desert Island Discs.  Well if I were still stuck there as Billy No Mates  I think I'd be getting a little pee-ed off with the same eight tracks.  So I'm imagining that the gods are smiling on me, in a half hearted kind of way.  No sign of rescue yet but they've allowed me a new delivery of records in exchange for the old ones.  I'm keeping two, relics from my teens that I still can't bear to part with after all these years.:

 Ryuchi Sakamoto and David Sylvan:  Forbidden Colours:

Robert Palmer:  Johnny and Mary:

That leaves space for six newbies.  I meant to write this post whilst on holiday but that didn't happen because choosing was hard.  Finally I think I've come up with what I'd want to be the new musical soundtrack to island life.

Passenger:  Things that Stop You Dreaming :  Of course this bloke who wasn't on my radar in 2010 has to feature.  I can't imagine life without his music now.  It was hard to choose from so many genius songs but Things That Stop You Dreaming eventually came out on top.  This live version is lovely.

Peter Gabriel: The Book of Love:  It would have to be this version that Lou introduced me to, from an episode of Scrubs, with JD talking at the beginning saying that the future could be whatever he wanted it to be.  A reminder that we make our own story - like the one I'd be scheming up about how to get off that bloody island!

George Ezra:  Blame It On Me:   My love of dancing came to me recently.  I was put off strutting my stuff for many years as  a severe  lack of coordination made learning moves difficult.   This is the girl who was banned from aerobics classes by friends because they couldn't participate for laughing.    But a festival mentality has changed that. I've realised that dancing doesn't have to  be formal but can be inventive, joyful and spontaneous instead.  It's also a good medium to embarrass your kids! Apparently  Salty Dog thinks of me dancing when she hears George so I'm choosing him for my bops on the beach.

Ben Cocks: Curiosity  The song with a message for my own boy.

Dremwell: Troellenn  Because travel is such a big part of my life it has to be musically represented.  The last track was Brittany Ferries advert music.  This is the tune that wakes us so soothingly as the alarm call on their morning ferry into Roscoff.

Leonard Cohen: Anthem  Why this didn't feature on my list first time round I'll never know.  It would be that one track that I'd keep now.   It has to be the 2008 Live in London version for I was there. There are sentiments contained within that guide my life.

My luxury would change too. Do you think that I'd be allowed to have Klaus there with me complete with my recliner and a bike on the back?  I do hope so.

And the book?  Well by now I should have mastered French so could ditch the combined dictionary and grammar.  Maybe I'll need reminding of how to act around people I finally get rescued.  I considered Frankl's  incredible Man's Search for Meaning but finally settled on what I'm reading at the moment.  I'm learning something from each page of this amazing book.  I'll elaborate in a future post when I've finished it.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Do You See The Dachshund?

Arse!  I've woken up with a jolt and remembered that it's a working day. Even though I'm enjoying my job at the moment it's hit hard.  Doesn't that annual leave go all too quickly? So let's pretend for just a minute that I've time travelled back to last week. I'm right there in my beloved Brittany walking along the Pink Granite Coast using my imagination to find those creatures that nature has carved into those rocks.  I've shown you a polar bear in the past. Now is it just me or is there a sausage dog here?!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Inspiration For Future Crafting

Late posting today as Internet access on the ferry was tortuous.  I gave up and read a rather wonderful book instead after a piggy breakfast and a wander around the public decks.  I loved these bracelets in the ship's boutique but balked at the price.  How much!!!!!  Maybe supplies from the chandlery next door and Ebay may be the key to making cheaper homages for myself and as little surprise gifts for friends?

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Posh Bogs

There seem to be two types of holiday, the first voyages of discovery to explore the unknown. Then there's revisiting old haunts, reassuringly familiar places to unwind and relax.  For us, Le Ranolien, the campsite where we've stayed this week falls into the latter category.  I cannot recommend it enough.   High praise indeed from a woman who  normally prefers wilderness sites to all singing, dancing campgrounds We'll be coming back next year. When we arrived the receptionist, who by now recognises us, gave us a resume of the new facilities.  There's a new creperie where I had a great galette based on a doner kebab with lamb, onions, tomatoes and sauce.  A weird fusion of culture but it was yummy so worked.  She also indicated that the toilet block had been refurbished.

Blimey!  She wasn't joking!  Here they are photographed on the way back from last night's karaoke where my rendition of  George Ezra's 'Blame It On Me' was rated on the right side of passable. As you can see  it's really swanky in there, more installation than sanitary facility.  I'm loving those cacti. The only problem was that I was so dazzled by all the artistry I couldn't find the loo the first time around.  As I was desperate for a wee it induced a mild panic attack that made the situation even worse!

Friday, 3 June 2016

Playing with Plants

Today I bring you our first vloggy post ever!  It's a bit ropey but we don't have a high scale production budget, just the Lovelygrey duo as crew and cast and a trusty old smartphone.   Blimey it's a bit of a palaver getting videos to upload over a campsite connection but I've finally done it. In the process I created my first little something in my own corner of Youtube.  The blogger platform didn't seem to want to play ball with me so I went off piste.

Have kids always played with plants?  I reckon so. There's the obvious examples.  Daisy chains, sticks as swords,  checking that your friends likes butter by holding a buttercup under their chin (everyone does), those spinning sycamore things and conkers, the bad boys of the plant world!  Then there's the sticky long stuff and the grass that we affectionately knew of in Essex as flea darts.  An unsuspecting victim in my day could go back to class with several bits of vegetation gleaned from the edges of the school field stuck to homemade '70s jumpers.  I think that my favourite was the bindweed flowers that were squeezed at the bottom and made to pop out of their calyx to the rhyme 'Grandfather, grandfather, pop out of bed!'  There were some of those near the postbox on the way home.

The good news is that, even in the computer age, these good old school play traditions have been passed down.    As I discovered on our Breton walk yesterday, Lou has new ones on me as well. There's a seed head that he shook near my ear to make a rattlesnake noise.  Then  he stripped a grass bare with a little poem about summer, winter and April showers. I  thought that  this weapon-based improvisation was particularly nifty!

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Bréhat: A Little Bit Cleaner Than When We Arrived

Yesterday I achieved the miraculous feat of getting a teenager up early on a non-school day.  We had an early morning cycle and then a 9am boat to catch to the Island of  Bréhat.  The normal route there is by one of the pleasure crafts from Paimpol.  I understand that they provide brief regular hops from mainland Brittany.  Our boat from Perros Guirec is a much less regular service but is a ninety minute jaunt that makes a seafarer's heart sing.  It wouldn't be recommended for lily livered landlovers who turn green at the mere thought of a bit of swell.  Once there we had a six hour stay.

The plan was 'to do' the whole island on hired bicycles.  We'd had to leave ours locked up at the port.  Instead we found enough to keep us occupied within walking distance from the port for the entire time there, elevenses drinks at a cafe by this gorgeous beach, wandering on the sand, lunch at Le Crech Kerio (deservedly the number 1 island restaurant on Tripadvisor) followed by visits to glassworks and the little town.  Our two wheeled circumnavigation will have to wait for another visit
I  may well have found the retirement home of my dreams perched on rocks next to a gorgeous beach. Since my return to motorhome life I've been coming to terms with the fact that a teeny four wheeled home may well suit me far more than traditional bricks and mortar.  This holiday has made me realise how much I miss living in my van.  It's so much less complicated!   This cottage with its glorious views could possibly keep me happy though.  Look at that lovely fish shaped window! Surely there wouldn't be much upkeep involved with a place so tiny?

We arrived back at the ferry port early, no great hardship as it was a lovely place to sit, looking out at a sea dotted with rocky features.  However the little beach was uncharacteristically litter strewn.  Time for some of my trademark litter picking.

I'll admit now that I felt more than a little self conscious cleaning the beach.  I normally perform this task in deserted landscapes.  This time loads of people were watching me from the shore.   Photographing the rubbish which included various plastic including a big bottle on a rope felt like a step too far on this occasion.  This is why, instead, I'm sharing a picture of a poster that I saw several times around the island.  It gives an idea of how long different bits and bobs take to decompose.

I'm trying  to lead by example even though it sometimes seems hard.  I share this  not to look like a goody-goody but do so in the hope that my actions might have further impact.  Maybe just maybe I can inspire one of yesterday's onlookers or a reader to do something similar next time they come across unsightly litter.  I want to reassure that  the act of cleaning up is not as undignified as carelessly discarding stuff in the first place.

As I dumped my spoils in the nearest rubbish bin an elderly man clapped.  Maybe he agreed with these sentiments.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016


Here's a rather lovely thing that's come on holiday with me, an impressive piece of polished labradorite that's nearly as big as my palm.   The idea is that it will clear, balance and  keep my aura in tip top condition.. All good then!    It was a surprise gift from Reiki Ray.  He's been on my case lately.  'You need protection with that job you do. Here, stick this in the sun to charge it up and use it for healing!'   It's been added to other treasures that he's recommended.  This includes an assortment of pendants that get washed under cold water each day  and bits of obsidian that are bluetacked to each bedpost.  They hurt like hell when they fall off and you step on them!

So is all the hocus pocus working?   I really haven't a clue. What I have noticed is that my job doesn't feel like it's sapping me anymore.  And more generally fear is no longer  an emotion that I experience to any degree at all.  Really!  There's a greater acceptance that what will be will be.   If I lost everything I'm pretty certain that I'd be able to get back on a track although it might be a different one.   I'm not sure whether this would be a result of divine assistance or the fact that I've acquired confidence in my own abilities to cope with whatever's thrown at me.  Maybe it's no coincidence that I'm sleeping better than I've done for a couple of years.

Weirdly this new sense of feeling safe is leading me to experiment with  vulnerability .  I hasten to add that I'm not advocating  reckless or stupid behaviour.  What I'm trying to do is give   material goods and time and myself in general at levels that would have been beyond my comfort zone in the past.     This feels so much different to times when I've been overburdened by the demands that are outside my control and felt that I'm being forced to sacrifice what I could little afford to give away. This time it stems from free will. It's so  different and doesn't leave me feeling downtrodden and used.   In the same vein I'll admit when I'm wrong,  expose my weaknesses speak what I believe to be true even if it is unpalatable and  share stuff that wider society expects me to cover up.  There's supposed to be no stigma around mental illness anymore but my own experience has shown that this is not the case.  

For the first time in my life there's a true sense that I'm being looked after by  powers that are higher than myself.  Goodness knows what these are but  surely if my instinct is right and I'm  being watched over then maybe it's safe to stretch those boundaries and dare to be daring.