Friday, 30 September 2016

Look Down

My Slamma  is in the post, in the good hands of the Royal Mail.  Let's have a printing post to celebrate shall we?

I've featured something from the very inspirational Colossal website before.  It makes me want to give up work and just go out there creating stuff.  Alas!  I have mouths to feed and a roof to keep over our head so that's doesn't seem feasible anytime soon.  But I can dream!

Here's a brilliant idea from Berlin artist Raubdruckerin.  It's means 'pirate printer'.  Sometimes I wish I'd learned German as it's a language with such wonderfully descriptive words.  Some of our street furniture, for that is what all those manhole covers, hydrants, and drainage devices are called, are rather beautiful.  Little bits of history that perhaps deserve more of our attention.  Even if I don't get a chance to go out and take prints from them, at least I can be more appreciative and look down.  I'm off for a run in a moment.  I'll see what I can discover on the pavements that I trot around.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

A Fistful

My personal jewellery wearing style tends toward big, brash statement pieces.  No delicate little pendants on chains as fine as spun spider's web for me.  It's a good job that I don't have a penchant for diamonds!

I've now filled all the fingers of my right hand.  I'll talk you through my ring collection digit by digit. Even though my heavy old sunflower thumb ring is my newest acquisition, it's very familiar to me as I made it. It was gifted to my sister but was returned to me after her death.   On my index finger is this year's holiday treat to myself from  Me-Mo-A Boutique de Createurs in the walled part of Comcarneau.  It's a ring by a local jeweller. I've got her card somewhere so I'll have to amend the post with her name once I find it. The ones  on the middle finger are all my own work as are the two narrow rings each side of the big fat band on my index finger.  That used to house a spinning copper band adorned with leaves but probably the result of too much fiddling meant it fell off.  Last but not least are my pinky rings from Seattle, the ones that Louis says he would have bought himself if he hadn't forgotten his wallet! They now frame my engagement ring which sat in a box after my separation. Now I've decided it's too lovely not to wear.  Oh there is a diamond after all. When I got engaged one of the girls in the office looked dismissively at the vintage piece.  'When I get an engagement ring I want it to have a diamond that's so big it's got a name'.  'Mine has' I replied.  'He's called Titch!'.

All that bling might be having an unintended beneficial effect.  I have a little hypothesis that some of my clumsiness may be because my proprioception isn't too hot.  That means that I have trouble knowing where bits of my body are in space.  The extra weight of the rings means that I have feedback about where my hand is. And funnily enough I seem to be less accident prone since I've added that extra silvery weight.  Of course I might be speaking too soon. I'll probably pop downstairs now and knock something precious off a shelf!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

A Crafty Trump

I thought I'd get into the swing of things as regards the US presidential election by posting something topical.   What better than to show off some of the Trump related election memorabilia that's out there.   The  pet wig and tie was so close to being featured.   It's a must have for any discerning dog or cat out there . As was to be expected, even the website selling official merchandise for the Republican campaign offered some rich-ish pickings.  I had not realised that there could be a market for  a baggy Trump Pride T-Shirt.   Any self respecting gay male that I know wouldn't vote for a bloke with hair like that let alone wear a tee that wasn't of the muscle hugging variety.

But, after some deliberation, I finally settled on this.  After all I like to encourage people to get crafty.  So how about making your own Donald?  It seems like the perfect way to while away an evening as those dark nights are drawing in.  Its creators suggest that it  doesn't have to be merely decorative but can be put to use for storing pins.  Now isn't that a wonderful idea?

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

A Long One...But It's Worth It

What's going on Joo?  Why are you sharing a 45 minute video featuring a Christian evangelist? Surely a blog post is meant to provide a quick interlude and not be the Internet equivalent of Cecil B De Mille's Ten Commandments.

I hope one or two of you  watch this in its entirety for it is truly inspiring. Give the first few minutes a go and I reckon that you might want to hang on in there until the end. And then show your teenagers for they are the target audience here.  Goodness knows they need to hear about  resilience, self esteem and showing respect for others to counter the negativity that is often perpetuated by modern day media.

Although Nick Vuijic shares aspects of his personal faith and his beliefs do not entirely match my own  the way he expresses these do not jar.  There is none of that 'repent or burn in the fires of hell' stuff that featured in many of the sermons that were a source of terror in my youth.  Rather his message are full of love.

Nick was born with a body that defies stereotypical norms and as such poses so many practical challenges. I haven't even scratched the surface of considering all the tricky little problems that the physical environment might present.  Yet  he exudes positivity and his life is full of meaning and joy. As an occupational therapist I reckon he should be my profession's poster boy!

PS:  For those who make it right through the video, congratulations.  This little update can be your reward.  Nick is now married with two children.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Where To Leave Leif

Another reasonably successful attempt at being arty-farty with my phone camera I think.  Here's a shot of the cranes outside the M-Shed in Bristol.  Mostly when I visit Red Mel I travel up by train but this time, as Lou came along and we haven't got a Friends and Family Railcard, it was more cost effective to go by car.

It wouldn't have been if we'd have used a conventional car park. Where Red Mel lives, slap bang in the centre of the city, these cost about £20 a day.  Instead I used Just Park for the first time. For the less eye watering sum of £13.50 in total we left my little green Skoda, Leif , in a driveway behind a student house.  It was about a mile away from Red Mel's apartment.  She came and picked us up because my bag was a bit heavy.  A perfectly adequate thrifty solution to those exorbitant charges.  Yah boo sucks NCP!  I'll be doing the same again if I drive to areas where I haven't a cat in hell's chance of finding a convenient free parking space.

All would have gone swimmingly but for the fact that it was the Bristol Half Marathon yesterday. Yes!  The one that I'm planning to do next year.  It closed all the roads around  Mel's house so we couldn't get our lift back to the car.  I had to trudge up a great big hill with our stuff with Louis sporting my pink handbag.  Not a good look for a image conscious teenager.    It was totally necessary to break the journey at Swoon where they make gelato on the premises.  A post race reward spot for me next year.  And then we'll take the train back home!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

A Bit Star Struck!

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to hobnob with the stars of the tiny screen at Bristol's M Shed at an exhibition about children's TV from 1946 to the present time.  I'd have recommended that you all should be hurrying  down to take a peek.  But rats!  It's the last day today.  That's a real pity because it was fascinating.   There will be some people out there who are green with envy because I got to see the original model of Tracy Island made by Anthea Turner on Blue Peter.

And I stood in the presence of the actual Major Clanger!  Not some enthusiastic fan's knitted replica.  He was the real thing. Being a child of the sixties it will come as no surprise that 'The Clangers' has to be my favourite kiddie programme of all time, a perfect visual and auditory treat that was shown just before bedtime when I was wee.  Forty odd years on I still find it aesthetically pleasing.  The episodes are stop-motion masterpieces with timeless charm.

I reckon it's a perfect  excuse to share an episode   Here's the one that they were showing at the exhibition.  It's where an astronaut with a remarkable similarity to Action Man comes to the Clanger's planet to collect rock samples. Enjoy!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

A Boob on the Landscape

We're with Red Mel in Bristol for the weekend but getting here involved a long time sitting in  on the M5.  It wasn't so bad.   I'm at a stage in life where being forced to do nothing is rather a luxury.

Our location was near a geographical feature that I know rather well.   Being stationary afforded me the chance to photograph it.  Over twenty five years ago I was travelling  with a friend in his ancient Mini.  We were heading for London to meet up with others for a trip to Paris.  The Mini only made it to Swindon.  Something to do with torrential rain and dodgy electrics. But that's another story.  As we passed this hill my friend made a detailed comparison of it to an ex-girlfriend.  There's a woman called Joanne out  there who doesn't know that I am intimate with the anatomy of her chest.

Red Mel phoned. 'Where are you?' she asked.  'Near Tit Hill'.  I replied. I haven't a clue what it's proper name is.  But it was okay  She knew just where I meant!

Friday, 23 September 2016

It's a Bloody Miracle

Six months ago, during the depths of my long illness, Little Wren came to lunch.  The dear brought round this orchid to cheer me up.  Half a year on it's still alive.  As you can see, it's not just hanging on to life by the barest of threads but flourishing!  That's a minor miracle as far as I'm concerned.  For green fingered I am not.  I could usually cause a Japanese knotweed or a vast Leylandii hedge to wither away just by a quick glance.

So what's happened here then?  Have I constantly tended this pretty little plant, feeding it special, expensive orchid food
and watering it with smart water?  Have I talked to it fondly or played it the type of music that I think that an orchid would like.  It would have to be classical.  Perhaps a bit of Rachmaninov.

Little Wren seems to have picked on the perfect plant for a non diligent gardener.  All it's needed is a drizzle of water on the rare occasions that I remember and all that bright light in my sun room.  She hit upon a plant that seems to thrive on the neglect that I lovingly can give!

Thursday, 22 September 2016


I've started the day this morning washing the rather funky metal drying rack  in my kitchen.  Sometimes the glamourous nature of my life overwhelms me.  It's a job that always pisses me off. There are little nooks and crannies where gunk sticks and it's so difficult to get out even with a toothbrush.   Why do designers make things with parts that are so difficult to clean properly? I've had quite a few in the past.  Fridges seem particular culprits.

And another thing whilst I'm on the subject of cleaning.   I hate the expression 'It doesn't show the dirt' that's typically applied to items that are covered in disgusting swirly textiles.  If something is filthy I want to know about it and get scrubbing.  Just because the muck is hidden it hasn't gone away.

There!  I've said my piece.  I realise that I've come across as quite a grumpy mare this morning.  Don't worry.  Now I've got my little rant out of my system I'm actually quite a happy bunny!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Woolly Mermaid

It's a rather harmless addiction in the scheme of things but I'm a bit of a tinker when it comes to buying throws, blankies and the like.  They're scattered all around my house in case anyone is overtaken by the urge to snuggle.  Which is quite often.  We're  a soft lot here.

Last year I shared a post about a fab shark sleeping bag that I'd found on the Internet. That would have done for Louis if I had oodles of cash to spare.  Of course I don't.  In my fantasy shopping world I'd also be rather taken by this rather cosy mermaid tail that is made to order by an Etsy shopkeeper.  Again it's just the job for a seaside home.  On second thoughts it could be dangerous.  I'm accident prone enough without sitting in something that binds my legs together!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

A Slamming Surprise

My printmaking came to a halt earlier in the year. Mainly that's because I need a way of drying my work that doesn't involve bits of paper scattered all over the house for a few days at a time.  Disorder does little for my sense of bonhomie.  But  thanks to a brainwave in IKEA I think I've come up with a nifty solution that will maintain the order and tidiness that I crave.  The only problem is that I've left some of the necessary bits and bobs in the motorhome and haven't been out there since our holiday.  I hope to retrieve them shortly so will share this shortly.

The other thing is that printing at home without a press is pretty hard work and not something that I particularly relish. It takes quite a bit of physical effort using the back of a spoon or a barren, a handheld disc for taking an impression from a wood or lino cut, to apply the necessary pressure to get a good print.  And the process always seems much more hit and miss than when there's a proper press to hand,  I lusted after big old conventional ones but really don't have anywhere to put one.

So I was pretty excited when my sister in law, Louise Maclaren. discovered the Slama Handpress.  She was so impressed that she became the UK distributor for this  device that was invented and engineered in the Czech republic. It takes up  very little space and makes the printing process easy as its design means that very little pressure has to be exerted by the user.

I'd been thinking for some time that I needed to stump up the cash for my own but money's been tight. Some to do with house moves and holidays.  That'll do it!  But at the weekend I was told I'm being given one s a gift - an early Christmas present. I'm delighted and more excited than a  big excited thing.  I couldn't even wait until it's arrived to post about it.   So as a thank you to Louise here's a bit of free advance publicity.  After all I think that she deserves a bit of nepotism under the circumstances!

Monday, 19 September 2016

Esther's Tea Towel

When my sister Esther was poorly at the end of her life she went to a hospice.  She'd had significant health problems throughout her teenage years and adult life.  Cancer eventually claimed her but she also suffered serious complex mental health problems and had a late diagnosis of autism.  She had no sooner got to the hospice and then wanted to discharge herself to a home environment where it was unsuitable to end her days.  We had to persuade her to stay put.

So for the first seventy two hours of her ten day stay my family provided round the clock care until she was able to accept the staff looking after her.  I was responsible for the night shifts where she was wakeful and mobile in spite of huge amounts of medication.  As time went on she became more muddled.  'Get me scissors now and a tea towel!' she persistently demanded one night.  She was very cross that I wasn't able to work out what she wanted.

With this memory in mind I decided to get this from a lovely little Breton gift shop near the Eckmuhl lighthouse.  It can be bought online here. Of course it isn't used for drying dishes but festoons one of the walls in my kitchen.  I think of it as Esther's tea towel and hope she likes it.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Increasing Snuggliness

This post will be irrelevant for those of you who can 'sleep for England' or whatever country of abode takes your fancy.  For the rest of you it might be helpful.  I've harped on about insomnia in the past because it seems to be a constant in my life.  At times battling it reaches the obsessional.  So it is with profound surprise that I report that I'm sleeping right through most nights at the moment.  So what's changed?

Well firstly I'm less stressed.  That's got to be playing a role. Maybe exercise, meditation and generally slowing down have helped. But there's a practical step I took that really made a difference.  Over the summer I've been sleeping under just a cover, with the duvet relegated to the storage bed in the spare room.  A week ago I noticed that it was nippier at night so it's been retrieved.  Et la voila!  As soon as I increased the cosyness  quotient I slept through.  Seven whole hours for two nights on the trot.  It's unheard of!  Interruptions since then have been minimal.

Apparently our body temperature drops during sleep and reaches a low two hours before our normal waking time.  Could this have been what was waking me?  As the winter sets in I'll be piling on blankies as the temperature drops further.  It won't be too onerous.  After all being snuggly is such a lovely thing!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

17th September

It would have been my sister's 47th birthday today.  Maybe this date is always going to be a tricky one.   This week my Mum and Dad unveiled a bench that has been placed at Hadleigh Farm in her memory. It's where Esther did voluntary work, helping people with learning difficulties train so that they could take up employment.

On the day of her funeral I shared one of the songs that we played at Esther's grave side.  Here's the other.

Friday, 16 September 2016

The Flag of St Petroc

By virtue of being born in the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital my son is Devonian.  He and many of his friends are avidly proud of their roots in the beautiful county where he has lived all his days.  I like the fact that they have this sense of place and belonging.

I imagined that the Devon flag that festoons Louis' bedroom at his dad's house was carried by knights of old into battle and was flown from ancient castles in these parts.  But  I've only just discovered that it's only as old as Louis. It was created in 2003, the year of his birth, after local Scouts 'needed'  a flag to take to the World Jamboree.  Can memory be a funny thing? I swear that it's always been around.

Thursday, 15 September 2016


It's a good job that I'm quite thick skinned because sometimes it seems that the friends and family in my lives have had frontal lobotomies.  They say some outrageous things.  I popped round one day  to see my friend, Corn Pipe, for a cuppa.  'Ah Beaker!' he said, half muttering to himself.

 'What do you mean?' I asked.

 'Well, sometimes you pull a face that's just like Beaker'

'What? From the Muppets?'

'Yes' he replied.

'Thanks a bunch, mate!'

He tried to reassure me.  'No, don't worry it's really cute!'.

I ran the idea past Louis.  After all I can expect honesty there.  He says it as it is as well..  He shook his head vehemently.  'Nah, you can't possibly look like him'.  I was relieved but then he went on.  'Beaker is like a pencil and you're a bit fat!'.

And there was I thinking that I looked pretty passable,   I decided that my Beaker Face was  a figment of Corn Pipe's imagination.  After all, hasn't he been saying for some time that he needs glasses?  Then one day I was in the bathroom of my motorhome and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.  Yikes!  I was transformed back to Saturday evenings as a child watching TV with my family. There were two grumpy old blokes in a balcony and yep, there he was, the trusty assistant of Dr Honeydew.

So now with practice I can do my Beaker face on demand.  It's not a bad impression although I won't be dying my hair red anytime soon to refine the likeness further.  It makes my work colleagues laugh.  I hope that my self deprecation brings some of you guys a smile as well.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

What a Picture!

It's been over a year since I moved to Brixham.  When I take the short walk down to the harbour, the views out to sea make my little heart sing. I still can't quite believe my luck that I live in such a beautiful place.

I was never a avid photographer. 'And you ain't one now!' I almost can hear some of you scream.  'Have you look back at some of the blurry ill-composed stuff you've posted in the past?'  Fair dues.  I never got accustomed to hauling around an SLR camera and all the related gubbins.  I tried for a while to get the bug but I couldn't remember to take the blooming thing with me.  Even if I did, once I'd got it out of its case and worked out the exposure and focus I'd have missed the moment.  Such a pfaff.  But since mobile phones have had half decent lenses I've become an avid snapper.  They're a breeze to carry and it's so easy to point, shoot  and create a rather pleasing record of life  And in amongst all those wonky images  I'll occasionally produce something that's more than halfway decent.

I'm very taken by this shot from yesterday.   We were  making the most of the last of these summer evenings and had popped out to bagsie one of those rhinos on the other side of town.  I  looked out over the marina and was struck by the quality of light and how it intensified the colours of everything around us.  This picture hasn't been retouched in any way.   Honest!  All rights re: that copyright stuff reserved!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

More From The Man Who Dared To Have A Dream

Here's what may seem an unusual choice of reading matter for I turned my back on conventional Christianity in my twenties. It was a faith that proposed forgiveness but which seemed so relentlessly judgemental. Memories of a shouty man who lambasted girls for wearing trousers remain. Perhaps he eventually got his own way. I don't own a pair of jeans and dresses and skirts, albeit shorter ones than I think Rev. Angry would have liked, are my clothing of choice today.  

In recent years my quest to carve out a spiritual path that's a good individual fit has lead me back to the Bible and other Christian writing.. For even though I don't view that bloke in the white dress as my personal saviour anymore I still hold him in high regard. There is much that he and his followers have proposed that can be popped nicely into the Lovelygrey hotchpotch of multi-faith ideas. It's a mix that induces concern for my soul where some of my born again mates are concerned. But I remain steadfast when they protest. It works for me.

Strength to Love, a collection of sermons preached by Martin Luther King, was on my holiday reading list this year.  I'd read just it before about a month previously and was completed bowled over.  You'd think that a book of sermons might be dull stuff wouldn't you? Far from it.   I can't recommend them highly enough.   These are beautifully written, meticulously considered pieces of writing yet so easy to read.  I'd thought I'd pick out an inspirational quote or two but there are so many that give food for thought that I can't choose. Every time  I've picked up the book there's something new to ponder, blueprints for acting in a way that combines compassion with resolve and intellectual rigour.  It also gives a fascinating insight into the mind of a great man and  tells of the horrific struggles that he endured.  Of course the  views expressed have to be considered in the context of the times in which they were written.  In one of the sermons King proposes that communism is the greatest rival to Christianity.  I wonder if he were around today he might view the greed associated with unfettered capitalism as a much greater threat.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Sock Angst

A few years back I wrote about the twenty four unmatched socks that had accumulated in Louis' underwear drawer.    Nothing much has changed. The borrowers seemed to have moved with us from the edge of Dartmoor to Brixham.  What do they use them for? Sleeping bags for little people or giant sacks to store other filched household items perhaps? Or perhaps they nick them just for devilment and are having a jolly good laugh at my expense.  The little bastards!

Louis thought that it would be a good idea if I bought him 'Day of the Week' socks to help us get organised. No! no! no! and again I say no! It is not! He is away from me for set days of the week so the Thursday and Friday pair were never worn  Even so they've gone AWOL.  On changeover day in terms of co-parenting, the  Wednesday ones ended up at  his father's house never to return.

There is also a certain amount of nagging if he can't find a pair corresponding to any given day of the week.  He becomes obsessional and of course, to compound the problem, the single sock problem has not gone away. Never has clothing been so stressful! 

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Something Fishy

We had a gorgeous day out yesterday at Fishstock, the local seafood and music festival  at Brixham fishing port,  just a quick jaunt down the steep hill from the house.  The little hop, skip and a jump down is a breeze.  It's climbing back up that's the problem.  I did it twice, toured the town's charity shops and went for a run beforehand.  So by four o' clock I was scuppered. Instead of an evening of beer and entertainment I ended up in bed by 8:30 with a nice cup of tea and a book.  I'm so rock and roll. So a planned 'hot date' with a gay male couple didn't happen.  'You're such a cock tease.' one of them texted.  Really!  In my aching state I couldn't have teased anything let alone one of those!

It was good while it lasted.  Lou and I had a lovely time. doing what we do best, chatting, exploring, listening to music and eating and drinking.  We tried octopus sushi for the first time.  It was okay but not as good as Lou's favourite. prawn nigri. The rolls topped with fish eggs were rather wonderful in both their wasabi tinted and plain forms.

For a small donation we clambered onto a trawler and then onto the local lifeboat which was moored alongside.  Getting aboard wasn't for the fainthearted and not easy in sandals.  It was all a bit  too tippy.  Just as we were ready to explore a message came in that someone was lost at sea so our visit was cut short and we headed back to shore.

I talked to people about marine conservation, restoration of a beautiful old boat and cooking and preparing fish.  I was particularly taken by Fishing for Litter, a scheme that encourages fisherman to collect the waste that turns up in their nets at sea.

For a fiver Louis learned how to dress a crab, a dead useful skill as, aside from chocolate, it must be his favourite food.  The best bit was that he was allowed to take it home afterwards and we had crab sandwiches for tea.  Yum!

And while my son was cheffing I  popped to the bar run by the excellent local Bays Brewery stall for a pint of their Golden Ale. I found a much needed chair and sat by the acoustic stage to catch two thirds of Storm UK (their bass player was away). Their CD has been a favourite of mine since I first saw them three years ago. They're from the Kingsbridge area where I work and they write many of their songs themselves.  As well as admiring their musicianship I love their sense of local presence. They've recorded a track called GWR about the railway line to Kingsbridge and it's often playing as I follow its old route down from the moor.

Fishstock is such a wonderful little festival that raises money for the Fisherman's Mission, a very active charity in these parts. Fingers crossed we'll be back next year.  I may even make it through to nightfall!

Saturday, 10 September 2016


Louis is the proud owner of a pair of year old Russian hamsters that needed a home.  They live in his bedroom at his Dad's house and I've made it very clear that they will not be taking holidays in Brixham.   Because of an absence of pet ownership during my entire adult life some people assume that I'm not an animal lover.  Not so! It's just that I don't want the responsibility for any more lives.  I can barely keep on top of looking after myself and the boy!

There's been plenty of cats and dogs that I've been inordinately fond of though.  Baxter, Ruff Stu's bull terrier greets me ecstatically whenever he sees me.  He likes a scratch on his back just at the base of his tail.  Lola, Barbie Nurse's lithe black lab comes running towards me every time she sees me on the green where she plays ball a couple of times a day. One of my favourites was a beautifully characterful neighbour's cat called Mayhem who treated my house in Exeter as his second home. When I was a student occupational therapist and had study days he'd come and curl up on the bed with me  at siesta time.  However we had a big falling out. His last visit to my home was the day I brought Louis home from hospital as a baby.  Mayhem came into the conservatory, looked at the interloper in his carry chair with disgust and walked out never to return.

It's no surprise then that I was totally bowled over my this cutie. My sister had multiple health problems including a condition called Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension,  a neurological condition that causes pressure on the brain that mimics a brain tumour and causes progressive sight loss.  She was registered blind and was on the waiting list to get a guide dog before her death.  At her request part of her estate has been used buy a puppy and support its first year of training.  And so, at the picnic after my sister's funeral my parents were given this picture.  This is Esther, a labrador - retriever cross named after my sister. She is  currently being puppy walked in Essex.    Fingers crossed that she'll earn her stripes!

Friday, 9 September 2016

How Many Hangers Do You Need

There's a statistic that says every person in the world owns something like a 100 Lego bricks. Well I reckon it's going to be the same with coat hangers too.  Every time you buy an item of  new clothing , even a pair of knickers or a bra there's another one. It's not even as if they're the wire type that could be used to fill a whole house with the tinsel covered fire hazards that are Blue Peter Advent Crowns.  Half the petrochemical industry must be involved in making the damned things.

And it's not as if they're supplied with items of clothing that you're ever going to hang up again.  I got three this week when I renewed my supply of strappy black vest tops and they were delivered to a store. You'd need a wardrobe the size of a planet if you were going to hang things like that up.   There were three more with Louis' school trousers that came in the same parcel.  Of course I suspect that they're really supplied to suit the retailer.  It's probably the most space saving way to display garments or has been shown to increase consumer spending by making displays more attractive.  Cynical bugger that I am, I don't feel that they're provided for our convenience.

So what can be done?  Recyclenow wasn't particularly inventive with an answer, the main suggestion being donating them to charity shops or dry cleaners  More innovative ideas call for the more aesthetic pleasing wire or wooden versions .  But surely these folks must reach a stage where they've got enough for their purposes?  Buyng clothes from the secondhand outlets is one answer as they don't usually dole out a hanger with your purchase but reuse them.  And maybe giving them back to the store at the time of purchase is another answer.  It would be good to know that these are then recycled but then I've got a sneaky feeling that they might just go in the bins at the back of the store.  

Thursday, 8 September 2016

A 50p Pick Me Up

On my first day back to work in three and a half weeks I treated myself to a little lunchtime jaunt around Totnes charity shops, in search of 'Something Red'.  It's an item that I put on my Google Keep shopping list the other day.  The boyfriend that Louis added when I talked about this before is no more.  I've decided that he's a thing that can't be shopped for even though Mr Metrosexual met Ruff Stu in the ice cream section of Tesco.

I needed a replacement for a red Murano vase that I smashed whilst flailing my arms around, a hazard of being clumsy. Honestly Lou and I must break a couple of things a week.  It's an expensive old business.  Luckily I wasn't particularly attached to the vase:  it was a £3.50 charity shop find.  If you look at the pictures that I posted back along of my bedrom you can see it on the mantlepiece.

So I was very pleased that I spotted this in the Air Ambulance shop, a bargain at 50p.  It had a very retro feel but I guessed it wasn't particularly old.  I turned to Ebay for advice. I've find it wonderful for object identification.  And what do you know?  I was right.  I must be getting a feel about vintage finds.

Even so, I'm still pretty chuffed with my purchase. My single glass is from a set of six  designed to mark the 250th anniversary of Cinzano,  a drink that I'd assumed had been developed in the '70s.  'No-one drinks that stuff anymore'.  I thought to myself.  Wrong again.  When I showed Scary Secretary my find she said that it was her sister's tipple of choice.  Somebody will be telling me that they drink Campari next.

My little glass was designed by Dutch artist Selwyn Senatori. I've pottered over to his website and discovered  his happy, quirky designs. It's of no great value and I'm not going to make my fortune selling it but 50p was a good price.  It's now above my fireplace in its intended home. I might pot it up with a little cactus or something.  Then when I knock it on the floor there'll be soil to clear up as well.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Like Children

This is clever, very funny and absolutely worth twenty minutes of your time. So go and pop the kettle on, make a cuppa and then sit and enjoy.  Here the writer, Alain de Botton, argues against romanticism and proposes a different blueprint for  modern day love.  One idea, treating  adults as children,  struck a massive chord.  It seemed  to have relevance beyond relationships between couples.

I'm not in the market of infantalising anyone.  So before anyone starts to think that I'm a patronising cow, let me explain.   When a child is stroppy we are willing to seek out reasons why they might  be behaving unreasonably.  Yet we are much less amenable to cutting  adults the same slack. Consequently we expect them to  behave in a restrained grown up way even when they're tired, burdened with worries, feeling a bit peaky etc.  De Botton describes what a wonderful gift is being given when someone is  'generous in the interpretation of the behavior of another person' and in this sense treats them like a fretful child.

Appreciating that the behaviour of adults  might be down to agitation or distress  seems like a wonderfully compassionate way of dealing with them when they're being difficult.  If my own friends and family want to foster a better understanding of my own inner child when I'm  tricky I've got another idea as well.  Please bring some me jelly babies and ice cream. I won't feel that you're being condescending at all and it might put me in a better frame of mind before you need to do all that analysis!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Bees Like It II

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all who left comments after my post yesterday.  Your love and support is very much appreciated and I'm extraordinarily touched.

My sister's formal send off fron this world was sad but incredibly special. So many people there wanted to share about the impact that she'd had on their lives.  Our family friend Louise Tiplady, a letter cutter and very talented artist across a range of media, made this print which was handed out to everyone at the funeral. It was a wonderful surprise.

Monday, 5 September 2016

'The Bees Like It'

Today my sister Esther will be buried in a  wicker coffin  on a woodland site. A place where she can finally be at peace among the plants and the wildlife. There is a picnic afterwards where her friends and family can share food together.   Esther will be wearing the dress and hat that she bought for my brother's wedding.  Sadly she died three days before  at the age of just 46.  I lost and gained a sister within a week. That's not happened to many people I suppose.  One day  I'll  tell Esther's story as it is inspiring and gives much food for thought.  But not now.

My sister requested that there should not be a vicar presiding over the funeral. So my family have put together  a simple ceremony that I think that she would have liked.  I've chosen this to play as I remember her dancing to Queen in the living room of our childhood home.  It's from the album that was released around the time of Freddie Mercury's death, a song from another who was also young when they left this world.

Esther had an intense love of nature and the words of today's title will be inscribed on her memorial.   They meant a lot to her.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Danger Mum's Guide to Fondue

Ah! In my fantasy life someone sees my blog and says 'Now look here Lovelygrey.  Your talent as a cookery writer is wasted on your teeny tiny blog.  Come and write  for us and we'll give you eight weeks holiday, a massive pension and double your NHS salary!'

....It's not going to happen is it?   Has anyone ever tried following one of my randomly cobbled together recipes.  Here's my own version of Chocolate Fondue and Toasted Marshmallow, bastardised from the BBC's Good Food magazine.

1.  Day 1:  Buy ingredients that aren't already in the fridge.  This included a sodding great bar of milk chocolate and not the dark  stuff stipulated by the recipe. Snooty gourmets would
consider  Louis  a bit  of a pleb.  Anything with a cocoa content of more than about forty percent isn't edible as far as he's concerned.  Ignore the instructions about using unsalted butter if you like as well.  The salty stuff is fine.

2.   Plan to make fondue the same evening but in the afternoon the kid and I had a severe attack of the munchies, couldn't be arsed to cook and scoff the lot.  Oops!

3.  Day 2:  Cycle out to buy more chocolate - late in the day, just before fondue making session to avoid repeat of 2 above.

3.   Bah!  Who needs to weigh out ingredients.   Put a big dob of butter, a good splash of milk, a massive dollop of cream and all of the chocolate into trusty '70s fondue pot.  Well actually some of those biddy brown squares didn't end up in the pot.  I aimed to make about half the quantity of the original recipe.   After all there was only two of us. Let's not be greedy. About 100g of the chocolate was saved for eating another day.  Oh okay, I lie.  It disappeared somewhere during the cooking process......

4.   After proving recently that fonduing can indeed pass without major incident we plucked up the courage to repeat this cooking method back inside the motorhome.  Just a tiny dribble of methylated spirits in the burner and we were off!  Easy peasy.  Only  the occasional stir needed.  And voila! A bubbling pot of chocolatey naughtiness.  Phew!  No flames all over table this time!

5.  Just to keep the fire service on their toes allow a thirteen year old to toast marshmallows over the gas ring in a motorhome.  What could possibly go wrong?

Strawberries were a nice addition to the original recipe.

In spite of our attempts to be moderate  there was loads left over.  The remains were popped in the fridge and then warmed up for a repeat performance the next day.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

A Petit List

I thought that I was picking up some naughty tike's litter the other day when I spotted this blowing around on a Breton cycle trail.  Afterwards though I decided that someone out on a shopping trip must have dropped it by accident.  I love that it gave me a tiny insight into the gastronomic  world of another person.  What I found especially fascinating was the precise nature of the goods listed, Valencian oranges, the two types of ham.  I wonder if an English list would go into so much detail.  Let's hope that this was dropped after the trip to the supermarket.

Friday, 2 September 2016

A Little Haven of BST

I'm using a couple more of my photos of Chagall pictures to illustrate today's post.  It's a bit of a mystery why this artist wasn't  on my radar before I chanced upon the exhibition in Landerneau. I'm very much taken by the imagery, the use of colour and how he created works that appear whimisical but have serious themes.

Even though geographically speaking we are in the European Central time zone,  it is a tradition here that the clock in Klaus the Knaus, my motorhome stays an hour behind,  on British Summer Time. or Greenwich Mean Time for trips away in winter months.  We are in a  little 6 x 2 metre time warp! 'Why does this matter?' some of you may be asking.  Well we're lying in on holiday and it stops me feeling quite so guilty about getting up so late.  Nine o' clock seems far more acceptable than ten.   And even those sixty minute adjustments to different time zones take a little bit of getting used to when arriving and leaving in mainland Europe.  Call me a mad old mare as Mr Metrosexual does frequently but it seems to work for me.

Tomorrow though I have to remember that to make a mental adjustment. Our ferry leaves at 8:30 in the morning French time. Although I'd love to linger here longer we can't be missing that.   Once Louis has stirred from his lengthy teenage slumber and the motorhome is all packed  up. We'll meander northwards and should arrive at Roscoff sometime this afternoon. There we'll overnight in motorhome bays of  the ferry port car park and just move over to the ticket booths when the time comes to board the boat.

And so we are nearing the end of another lovely Breton holiday.  Reflecting on a whistle stop tour of the Far East, friends bemoaned the fact that their holiday hadn't relaxed them.  This is not the case here. Time has changed in the sense that our pace has slowed right down.  We haven't had to rush around like we do in 'real life'.  I'm feeling so rested as a consequence.

Thursday, 1 September 2016


Darling people, you do not know the lengths that I've gone to this morning to provide you with a pictorial post.  Honestly Internet access around here is shocking even when you've paid for it. Anyway after considerable angst I've finally found a way of transferring pictures between my phone and laptop.  So behold I bring you pictures from our trip to the Phare d'Eckmuhl, just a wee stone's throw from here.   Well, actually I exaggerate.  You'd have to be bloody good at hurling pebbles but anyway it's not far by bike.   According to Wikipedia it's stands at 65 metres and is the 11th tallest lighthouse.  It's a bit of a curly wurly jaunt up to the top.

We huffed and puffed our way up all 307 steps.  So that we didn't look at all wimpy we pretended that we were stopping at the windows just to look at the views!

I'm quite proud of this shot. Ansel Adams eat your heart out.  Just a little one degree tweak on the editor and I think it's pretty darn lovely.

What comes up must indeed come down.  Louis is a little scared of heights.  He said that the descent is worse.

Another one of the lighthouses on the site houses exhibitions.  I bought a poster like this one. A bargain at two Euros.  Just the souvenir for a seaside home.

And my attempts at Franglais with emphasis on the French is paying dividends.  The lovely lady in the gift shop showed us how to make origami stars and gave us one each.  Here's Louis' and a YouTube link in case you want to have a go yourself!