Monday, 31 October 2016

Happy Halloween: Spooky Randomness

Wooooo!  Sending you the ghouliest of greetings on this spookiest of days.  The boy and I haven't planned to go trick or treating this year.  There's enough sweets and chocolates in the house to easily sink one of those fishing trawlers down in the harbour anyway.  But I thought I'd mark the occasion with some seasonal piccies, starting with our latest Prisma transformation.  I think I'll call it 'Mum and Son....with Bloood!'

This super cool cartoon by Man Martin came up in my blog roll the other day.  I'm particularly taken by the Warhol.  Charming  and very clever!

And here's a  fellow that we spotted in the greengrocer's window in town yesterday.  Super cute and not at all scary.  Lou and I both came to the conclusion that we're both not that taken with an awful lot of horror.  This chap captures the  Halloween spirit nicely without curdling any blood at all.  Have a wonderful day good people!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

I'm A Single Lady (Not!)

I wasn't sure why I've been feeling a bit angsty over the last few weeks. So I turned inward for a bit of navel gazing.  'What is it that I really want?'  I asked of the bit of my body to where my umblical cord was attached.  And lo, the belly button replied!  ' Go and find a bloke.'  it counselled. 'You know all that 'vanting to be alone' stuff is really complete and utter bullshit.'

And so I shared my thoughts with Salty Dog and Mr Metrosexual.  I told them that  definitely, definitely, definitely I wasn't going to go back online.  But what does a busy girl do? Forty eight hours from that last conversation I set up a profile on a dating site and braced myself to disappoint any man who wanted me to rustle up an S&M dungeon in my spare room.

But this time it didn't happen like that.  There's a  different and much less complicated story and boy, do I love a bit of simplicity.  It involves a perfectly lovely man and, on the way,  a tour around a power plant.  I might divulge all another time.  He ticks boxes, some that I didn't even know needed ticking.  Anyway at some point yesterday we decided that we'd both give stopping being single a go.  I suppose I'll have to stop smiling soon or else my face will crack.  'Are you going to blog about me?' he said.  ' I might do.' was my response.  Just have to come up with an alias for him in Blogland now! 

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Boy Bearing Bears

I reckon a few of you might of seen this already.   After all it seems to have been shared squillions of times on YouTube.  But for those who haven't it is so worth a look.  It will warm the cockles of your heart and give you the sense that, yes a lot is still right with the world.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Little Lanes

Devon has the largest road network for any county in the UK. So you'd think we'd all be effortlessly zipping around  between the moors, sea and the pretty towns and villages.  How wrong you'd be!

Some of our roads are tiny. Barely big enough for my compact little Citigo to squeeze through.   I'm used to them now. But I still recall the horror when I was a rookie in my job. I took a trip out to Thurlestone as the proud 'owner' of a brand new lease car, my first ever Skoda.  There was a pile up in a single track lane  and I watched with horror as the school bus took wing mirrors off other vehicles in the bottleneck.

One of my favourite routes through Brixham up to my house takes me through teeny tiny winding streets of some of the severest gradients I've ever encountered.  It feels like  I'm in the 'Italian Job' when I'm nipping through.  My poor American friend, the Second Martha Stewart, looked like she needed smelling salts to revive her after her Sat-Nav took her that way when she visited last Christmas.

Here's a scene from yesterday on my way between Kingsbridge and Ivybridge.  This is a pretty wide lane in the scheme of things but it's a busy route.  Lorries getting themselves into a bit of a situation is common place.   Nothing for it but to sit in the queue and watch the drama unfold!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Back To The Dark Ages

Oh my beloved Leonard!  For a few years I've been telling people that you're quite jolly these days and had shed the gloom that was characteristic of your music in the 1960s and '70s.   Then last week you  released a new album which scuppered my plans to re-brand you as Mr Perky.  It comes highly acclaimed, and quite rightly so.  The lyrics are glorious and then there is that voice that, even in your eighties, oozes seduction and vulnerability.  A critic in the Observer shared a quote.   'No can say naked as nakedly as Leonard Cohen.' Yowzah!

'You Want It Darker' is a sombre offering indeed from a man who announced last week that he 'was ready to die'.    It's rather wonderful though, full of the poetry that sets my heart racing.  I'm sharing 'Treaty', the second song on my album. These words stopped me in my tracks the other day.  They are very representitive of this man's genius.

'I heard the snake was baffled by his sin
He shed his scales to find the snake within
But born again is born without a skin
The poison enters into everything.'

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Pom Bears and Slushies

My sister passed away three months ago tomorrow.  Life for those who are left behind goes on.  But moments of grief still hit me, sometime at times when least expected.

I shed a tear when my lovely friend Ibiza Queen Vikki got out her elevenses yesterday.  At Esther's funeral I found out that Pom Bears were one of her favourite snacks when she was volunteering at Hadleigh Farm, which prepares people with learning difficulties for work.  Mixed in with the earth that was scattered on her coffin were little potato shaped bears.  A friend of hers who worked at the farm came forward and emptied a packet into her grave.

Slushy machines have a similar propensity to make me weep.  At the end of her life Esther's appetite was limited but she loved the coldness of these lurid drinks.  Louis and I sought them out on Southend seafront and brought them back for her.  Her smile when she got a surprise that she liked was always quite lovely.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Trendy Men

Why do magazines and newspapers bother doing fashion features for men?  I've never known any bloke who is vaguely influenced by anything in vogue at all.  I'm somewhat skeptical that the guys that I know would wear the last coat in this Guardian article for instance. Even the gay ones.

If you need a laugh today I'd urge you to follow this link  to a very funny Bored Panda post which showcases men's clothing of the seventies.  I giggled my little socks off when I saw number 5, a man in crocheted pants who seems to have Calvary shaved into his chest hair. For decency's sake I thought I'd share the picture of this chap who's wearing a bit more clothing.  Now I really don't remember my dad wearing anything similar to this when I was growing up!

Monday, 24 October 2016

A Little Hope

We live in a world where a bloke who looks like Dobby out of Harry Potter sends his warships down the English Channel just to give us a bit of a scare.  And there's a shouty man with awful hair who's trying is to get his hand on the big old nuclear button over the pond.  It can seem like our planet is a frightening place to be these days.  Yet I believe the kind, compassionate decent folk will win the day.  After all there's enough of us.  Our shared humanity manifested in billions of acts of kindness will pull through I'm sure.

Here's a story from my working life. The other day I had to help a very lovely lady take her lifelong friend to live in a care home.  Her dementia was of a rare and aggressive type.  Quite quickly she went from being able to live independently to someone for whom home had been a very frightening place where imagined intruders stalked her when she was alone.

'She's not the same woman'  said her friend as I was driving her in the car to collect her friend.  It's a cry that I've heard many times before.  Some choose to walk away at that stage.  It is too painful for them to continue the relationship.  I feel no sense of blame when this happens.  But not this lady.  'Well I'm just going to have to get to know the new person, aren't I?'

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Le Doggy Bag

I've taken today's title as the excuse to hop on over to Pixabay and choose myself a beguiling photograph.  I know that there's a lot of animal lovers who read my blog so I hope that this cutie is a bit of a treat for you guys. If I ever decided to have a dog I think I might choose a spaniel. They're pretty but feisty, like the tomboys of the canine world.

Back to the task in hand!  I've written before about our practice of asking for a doggy bag when we're eating out and there's too much to eat.   After all there's no shame in cutting food waste and saving the cost of a couple of meals in the process. In fact I'm sure Louis now orders food in eateries  with the idea in mind that he'd like some leftovers!

We had a lovely meal in France in the summer in a restaurant that we've eaten in before, La Chaumiere in the  Breton fishing town of Guilvinec.  Now this isn't a fancy tourist joint.  They don't speak English and there's a three course menu du jour seemingly aimed at the town's workers given the clientele. I opted for this and had a monkfish salad with a raspberry vinaigrette,  a beautifully cooked tuna steak and chips and a chocolate mousse all for the princely sum of eleven euros.  There's few places in England that you could get such a culinary bargain.   I wolfed the lot down in situ.  After all we'd been cycling and I'd built up a healthy appetite.    Lou embarrassed my inner food snob by asking for an adult sized portion of chicken nuggets from the kid's menu.  He'd had these on his last visit and they're home made by the chef.  Of course there was too much and he was pleased about that.

'What's the word for doggy bag Mum?' he asked.  A quick Google search yielded the answer, not 'le sac du chien' but yep, exactly the same as the title of today's post.   Apparently some French  chefs feel the term is enough of an affront  without it being turned into a proper French phrase.  They think it infers that their cooking is only fit for dogs.  Silly peeps!  Surely they should think it's a compliment that someone wants to eat their food all over again in the comfort of their own home.  But attitudes are changing.  Since 1 January French restaurants over a certain size have to offer take out containers and with the change in law our cousins over the Channel are coming around to the idea. Viva le doggy bag!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

The Old Soak

The folk down at my local Aldi must think that I'm a right lush. First there was all that gin that I  tipped on a shedload of English and Breton sloes.  Oh wait! I got that in Sainsbury's. Perhaps my reputation is safe after all.    A recent shop included wine for immediate consumption and bottles of the cheapest vodka and whiskey that I could find.

My nephew told me that his mum had made Crab Apple Whiskey.  'I'll  give that a go!' I thought although I doubt it will last as long as the recommended  3-5 year steeping time!. I went in search of a crab apple tree.  I didn't have to look too far.  There's one by the gate of the park down the road.  While I was there I picked a few brambles as I've been thinking of making blackberry vodka for a while.  Christmas with me is going to be fun I can tell you.

'Having a party are we?' asked the young bloke on the till at Aldi.  I replied in the negative and then described my latest culinary endeavours.  He told me that he'd made marrow rum. Now I'd never heard of that one before.  One to add to the repertoire for 2017 maybe?  I can't make any more liqueurs.  It's getting a bit expensive.

As you can see the blackberry jar needs a top up.  I'll get some more fruit this weekend.  I've already bought another bottle of vodka.  They're a mine of information in Aldi.  This time another employee was keen to share his recipe.  It's a breeze.  All I'd need would be another bottle of vodka and a big packet of Werther's Originals!

Friday, 21 October 2016

Bit By Bit

The princely price of two Euros was the price that I paid for this lovely print of the Eckmuhl lighthouse that I visited in August.  What a long time ago that seems!

It seems that I was having a rare spending spree as I also bought this one as well for a few more shekels than the first.  The pictures are now hanging in my hallway and landing with upstairs and downstairs being tied together by a theme.

In spite of my attempts to tart it up these areas in my house are a mess.  Here's a little pocket of shabbiness under the window at the top of the stairs.  Maybe when they were being sensible when the last owners painted over the thick '60s wallpaper.  It's going to be a devil to get off as my first attempts have demonstrated.  I was relieved though that the wall underneath doesn't seem too crumbly and cracked.  I thought that the faux wood panelling could have been covering up a multitude of sins.

As any DIY-er knows these bits of the house seem to take ages to decorate. It seems to me that they're the least rewarding places to transform. After all you're not going to sit out there afterwards  admiring your handiwork for more than the length of time it takes to pull a pair of boots off.  The days of sitting out in a chilly hall with the handset of a rickety landline phone pressed to the ear are long over.

Here's the stair carpet that I inherited on moving in.  It's not really to my taste, too muted.  In an ideal world I'd be changing it for something funkier and brighter but that would be  a bit wasteful as it's perfectly serviceable.  I have noticed that some of the colours in it match those in the pictures  That could draw everything together in my refurbished space.

Normally I'm one for snowy white walls but in a hall with a dado I reckon a bit of colour may be nice on the bottom section.  I've chosen a beige-yellow which will go with the carpet and the pictures.  When I've veered from the virginal in the past I've always liked the hues on offer from Crown rather than the other manufacturers.  They don't stock it at B&Q anymore.  A lady there gave me the nod that the company might not be making their ready mixed stuff for much longer.  So I nipped down to Trago Mills and bought the last two tubs of Egyptian Sand vinyl silk.  It's now sitting precariously on a shelf in the utility room for when I need it.

I've got a lovely parquet floor downstairs.  That should scrub up nicely!   As I don't have big chunks of time to devote to a DIY project at the moment I thought that I might be able to decorate little by little, a panel at a time.  The fact that it's not a space that I spend inordinate amounts of time in works in my favour this time around.  If I start soon I should be finished, oh by at least the end of December 2017!

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Not Rocking

Let's go a bit highbrow today and steer away from my usual preference for indie/folkie/acoustic tunes.  Here's a piece of choral music that has long been a favourite of mine since university days. Those high notes still send shivers down my spine just like the first time that I heard it.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Neat Science

I went to the Science Fair at Lou's school last night. It was fun although apparently UK health and safety rules now forbid that trick where a whole load of people hold hands and get an electric shock from a Van der Graaf Generator.  At my favourite stall, a boy who was almost the direct opposite of Louis, neat and serious, shared his passion for bio-diesel.  He'd knocked some up in the science labs  made out of various culinary oils and sodium hydroxide, a posh name for a chemical that is known in B&Q as drain cleaner.  A tiny bit of it burnt for 3-4 minutes. It made me toy  unrealistically with an idea. Could I could start some sort of secret squirrel processing plant in my shed with the old cooking fat from one of our local fish and chip shops? It would be extreme thrifting to cut the not insubstantial costs of the conventional diesel that Leif guzzles.

Because people get funny these days about you taking pictures of their  kids as well as zapping them with static electricity I didn't take photos.  So in celebration of the event I'm going to direct you to follow this link that leads to the TED-Ed interactive periodic table .  My inner geek loves the periodic table.  It is such a gorgeously clever piece of data organisation and some of the names of elements are lovely, Seaborgium, Tantulum and Ununbium.  TED's version is fascinating.  There are videos for each element often featuring a stereotypically mad scientist type.  Loads to hold my interest whenever I fancy a little fix of science.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Willy For A Day

I've found out that there are two types of women in the world.  Some of us, myself included, would jump at the chance of having a set of male genitalia.  Just for twenty hours mind you.

Mine would certainly be much bigger than the one that this chap here has been blessed with I can tell you.   I'd like to design it myself and make a much better job this time than the one I tried to fashion out of blue plasticine when I was about six. Perhaps it's best that I spare you the details aside to say that it had major constructional flaws and didn't cut the mustard at all.

To my utter surprise there are others of the fairer sex who are horrified when I present this scenario to them.  They have no desire to swap their girlie bits for a dangly appendage of their own creation even on such a temporary basis.  I found this out when I brought up the idea in conversation with some social services colleagues.  It must have been a rare quiet day.   'What would you do with it?' asked one in a bemused fashion.    Of course I've had years to think this through.  'Lots of things.' I replied  'I'd wee out of train windows, see how far I could  stand away from the toilet whilst peeing  and uh....I'd stick it in things.'  Her response to this last idea was priceless.  'So the pie section at Morrisons wouldn't be safe from you then?'

Monday, 17 October 2016

It's Cuddly Avocado Monday!

Photo: Colossal

I had in mind that I would not be urging you all to take another look at the Colossal website quite so soon after my last post.  It seems a bit lazy directing everyone again to the same source of inspiration when there's a whole world wide web of loveliness out there. But then I came across  these cute little  fellows by Ukranian artist Hanna Dovhan on the site and couldn't resist.  In a world that seems so troubled of late isn't it wonderful that there is someone out there celebrating love and mutual harmony in the form of felted food?
Photo: TwistedSifter

I'm loving those cheeky mustachioed fellows rather a lot.  Who couldn't be beguiled by a cuddly mushroom with facial hair?  But for their ability to get up close and personal I think that the egg and avocado are my favourites!

Sunday, 16 October 2016


For no explicable reason I felt lonely yesterday.  It's a somewhat alien sensation because a) more often than not I'm surrounded by  friends and family who love me and b) I'm usually a person who's very happy indeed with their own company.  I'm a strange mixture of social animal and hermit!

It wasn't as if I didn't have any human contact in the day either.   A chatty repair man arrived and fixed my washing machine. A rogue 5p that had knackered the pump was the problem.   I phoned my Mum  and Louis also called to say goodnight. And  I had a bit of banter with Salty Dog on Messenger.  So there you go.  I wasn't  isolated in any sense.    I'm wondering if the feeling arose as I didn't leave the house at all.  It's quite rare for me to stay inside all day.  Anyway I've woken this morning and the feeling has passed.

Many of the people that I see in my working life must experience loneliness near constantly.   No wonder they're depressed.   It's not uncommon for me to come across poor souls who regularly go for days without any meaningful contact with others.  It's why I'll often stay and chat for a bit longer than it really should take just to get an idea of their mental health.   So I wonder if it's a good thing in my line of work to sometimes experience how what the people that I see must be feeling.  An empathy boost from above perhaps?

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Denied My Little Lie In

My washing machine gave up the ghost last week.  I should have seen it coming. A few washes ago there was a loud thumping noise during the cycle which didn't subsequently fix itself.  I suspect that I'd forgotten to retrieve something from Louis' pocket before putting it into the drum for this is one of my bad mother traits.  I shut the door on the cacophony from the utility roon, a grandiose term for a space that is no bigger than my downstair loo.  Silly girl!  Now the bloody thing is not draining.  If I open this trap thing at the bottom of the machine it turns my ground floor into a paddling pool.

In the past I've turned to The Washing Machine Manual , a Haynes one just like various men in my life have used to mend cars.  It's helped me to fix my own appliance previously but this time around I'm scuppered.  Some of the screws are wedged tight and the pump, which I suspect is blocked with pocket detritus, is out of sight.  So I've opted for the repair services from Currys.  It has an all inclusive price of £119, expensive I know but if they can't fix the machine I don't pay anything.  I've been allocated a four hour slot that starts in  ten minutes time, at 7:35am.  Eeek!  That's inordinately early for a Saturday.

Now I like a lie in at the weekend. Who wouldn't in a bed like mine with its plumptious pillows, cosy blankets and fairy lights?  I've opted to illustrate this post with its picture as it's far prettier than the faulty white good downstairs.  Not that I snooze until mid morning.  I'm awake but stay between the sheets until 9-ish, reading, supping tea, pondering deep and insignificant questions about life, the universe and everything.  It's a pleasing contrast to the rushed start of my weekdays.  But today it's not going to happen.  Bah!  Just punishment maybe for burying my head in the sand and ignoring a problem that wasn't going to go away on its own.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Bob Again

I Want You

The guilty undertaker sighs
The lonesome organ grinder cries
The silver saxophones say I should refuse you
The cracked bells and washed-out horns
Blow into my face with scorn
But it's not that way
I wasn't born to lose you
I want you, I want you
I want you so bad
Honey, I want you.

The drunken politician leaps
Upon the street where mothers weep
And the saviors who are fast asleep
They wait for you
And I wait for them to interrupt
Me drinkin' from my broken cup
And ask for me
Open up the gate for you
I want you, I want you
Yes, I want you so bad
Honey, I want you.

Now all my fathers they've gone down
True love they've been without it
But all their daughters put me down
'Cause I don't think about it.

Well, I return to the Queen of Spades
And talk with my chambermaid
She knows that I'm not afraid
To look at her
She is good to me
And there's nothing she doesn't see
She knows where I'd like to be
But it doesn't matter
I want you, I want you
Yes, I want you so bad
Honey, I want you.

Now your dancing child with his Chinese suit
He spoke to me, I took his flute
No, I wasn't very cute to him - Was I ?
But I did though because he lied
Because he took you for a ride
And because time was on his side
And because I ..
I want you, I want you
Yes, I want you so bad
Honey, I want you.

I was super chuffed to hear that Bob Dylan had won the Nobel Prize for literature yesterday.  Here's the lyrics from one of my favourite songs of his.  How can that not be classed as poetry?  It's wonderful that my preference for having verse set to music has been validated.  Maybe young Leonard can be the next recipient? 

 Anyway, here's the song itself, an ideal soundtrack to a film montage made up of clips of loads of random people snogging!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Combination Cookery

Leftovers in my fridge fill my heart with joy.  Often a break from cooking is jolly nice and I'll just heat up the remains of a meal from a day or two before.  But  I'll regularly take cooked food and use it as an ingredient for an entirely new recipe.  Leftover veg will become a filling for a tortilla,mushed in a soup or blitzed to make interesting bubble and squeak.  Meaty treats might enhance my otherwise vegan dal.  You know the kind of thing.  I thought combination cooking was a good name for the practice

Yesterday Reiki Ray came round to zap me with some energy.  We always have a meal before he rearranges my dining room and sets up his therapy table.   What to cook in a hurry?  It had been a tough day at work.

I'd meant to knock up 'Leek and Egg Puffs'  a recipe from an '80s Marks and Spencer vegetarian cookery book so I'd already defrosted a square of puff pastry.    I thought that I'd give the recipe a twist.  The filling according to the instructions comprised of sliced and cooked leeks and potatoes, hard boiled eggs and cheese, all seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper and nutmeg.  Surely the addition of the cooked spring greens, peas and garlicky dauphinoise potatoes wouldn't be harmful?

Here's the result.  No fancy food photography here!  Again I've veered away from the recipe instructions which calls for the filling to be used to make dainty individual servings and opted for a giant messy pasty.  Those Cornish miners of old wouldn't have minded taking this beastie to work with them even though it didn't contain any meat.  It was delicious and a  dirt cheap way supper for two people.  There's plenty over as well for my lunch box for the rest of the week.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

In The Style Of.......

As I've demonstrated before my hometown of Brixham is rather photogenic.   There's so much of interest to snap at.  Today I thought I'd show off some more of my shots. These ones though have a twist.

My mate 'Ken' the husband of Barbie Nurse, introduced me to Prisma, an app that manipulates photos.  It gives them a certain 'je ne sais quoi' that is reminscent of different artists, both famous and up and coming.  I was pretty taken by his family portraits that had been reinvented to look like cover illustrations to Enid Blyton books of the '50s.  But there's a plethora of styles to choose from   Here's the Vigilance, a beautifully restored sailing trawler transformed in the style of a Philippino illustrator called Daril Feril.  

I clapped my hands with glee when I decided to 'do a Mondrian' with a picture of boats in the harbour and Prisma came up with this!  It's so wonderful that I can still conjure up  such childlike delight, in my sixth decade of this earth!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Gratuitous Violence

Louis and I watched this the other night and it made us giggle a lot.  Peeps out there who don't have a whole bunch to do with kids might not realise that in the early 2000s, sanitised versions of this, our favourite  vintage cartoon show, were produced.    There was  none of the violence that lead to the instantaneous eruption of a 'Tom and Jerry bump' on the head as cat, mouse and often Spike the dog,  fought tooth and nail in the most inventive of ways.  Louis made me watch one of the woosy new episodes once when he was a nipper.  He thought it was great.  'This is absolute rubbish!' I declared 'You wait 'til you see the old stuff!'

Of course my son was skeptical.  After us oldies are always harping on about how better it was in their childhood days.  Coincidentally I soon found a DVD of the original show and of course, Louis was hooked. He learned a very valuable lesson.  Love and peace has no place in the world of imaginery cat and mouse capers!

Monday, 10 October 2016

Wee Pin People

Even though I'm not much of a brooch wearer I couldn't resist these little darlings that I found in the pannier market in Brixham on Saturday. They're attached to one of those teeny golden safety pins and are barely an inch high.  But the care and attention that has gone into making them is incredible.   Look at the wee lady's knitted skirt, the blokes knotted scarf and their dear little faces .   Hours and hours of work has gone into making them and yet they were sold for such a knockdown price!

Such thoughtfully crafted little people definitely need loving and cherishing.  I'm going to find somewhere to display them that befits their folksy craftmanship.

PS:  After first publishing this post I had a little brainwave.  My little peeps look great on what Mr Metrosexual call my Dick Emery hat!

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Thanks Laura

As I haven't mentioned it for some time I bet that some of you thought that I'd given up on  the NHS's Couch to 5K.  I'm not surprised if you did.  It's not unknown that I'll start a project and not see it through to fruition. My lovely friend,  Reiki Ray, who combines hocus pocus with being very funny, blames it on me being an Aries.

But again I can say 'Oh ye of little faith!' For today with the help of my perky virtual friend Laura and a whole bunch of cheesy motivational music,  I've completed the plan.    Okay it took a little longer than intended.    Grieving and a holiday scuppered my idea of keeping to the scheduled nine weeks.  It took about four months all told.   And I'm still quite slow.  I can do 5K but only if you take the warm up and warm down into account.  I am a veritable racing snake but of the boa constrictor with a tummy full of antelope type.

Even so,  I'm still proud of my achievement.  To think that I can run for thirty times longer than I did in June.   That's amazing!  It demonstrates what can be achieved by taking things slowly first of all.  A lesson that I might think about applying to other areas of my life maybe?    There's definitely cause to celebrate.  Whoop! Whoop!  I don't want a medal but there might be a lime and chilli ice cream with my name on it down at the harbour later.

The other week I met Mark in the corridor at the hospital where I work.  He's the brilliant physiotherapist who looked after me after my knee op.   He was chuffed to bits that I was running and confirmed that Couch to 5K is a jolly sensible way of getting fit.  And I'm pleased to say that he didn't pooh-pooh my idea of a half marathon in 2017. Instead  he directed me to the My Asics app.  I've popped in my current pace and the date of the next Bristol half marathon.  Et voila!  An expected time of about two and three quarter hours and a plan of how to achieve my goal.  Somewhere down the line my competitive streak has been awakened. I'd really like to better that prediction!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Faux Fairy Doors

Photo:  Facebook
Here's a story that illustrates the weird and wacky goings on that are a feature of the TQ9 postcode that centres on Totnes, the hippy-est of towns. A spate of little homes have appeared in nooks and crannies on trees around Dartington Hall. Rather than being pleased that the  fairies have made their presence known on the estate, the folks up there are cross.  They suspect that this is not the work of the little people, For they are shy and retiring and would never advertise the whereabouts of their homes.  Rather they believe that human hands are at work and naughty ones at that.  For these are people who make holes for door furniture in living tree and use paint that might not be good for them.  My first thought though when I spotted the post on Facebook was that they were rather cute!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Suddenly Autumn

On Wednesday evening I popped around unannounced to see Mr Metrosexual and Ruff Stu after work for a cuppa.  Bless their little cotton socks! My visit turned into supper complete with  a couple of large glasses of wine.  Result! After watching my first episode of this season's 'Bake Off'  I toddled back home.  It's a ten minute walk and I don't do drink driving.

So yesterday morning I was up with the larks and went for a little stroll to retrieve the car.  I was dressed in the Birkenstocks that have been my preferred footwear for the last few months.  My!  Didn't my toes get nippy.  All of a sudden it's got colder and autumn has arrived.

I dug around in the bottom of the wardrobe for the calf length Doc Marten boots that I've had for a couple of years now  They'll serve me for many more seasons.   Like my wedding Crocs they are not stereotypical of their brand,  not a hint of bovver boot about them.   They could do with a good polish though!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

The 'Suicide is Painless' People

I've accumulated a whole bunch of pictures and prints over the summer which need framing.  The days are long gone since great chunks of blu-tack sufficed for displaying my art works.

In my university days a poster of Dali's Sacrament of the Last Supper  hung above my bed.  It occasionally launched itself off the wall and I'd wake up to find Jesus and the Twelve Disciples had engulfed me during the night. In my teenage bedroom it was these guys from M*A*S*H who stared down, and occasionally fell on me.  How I used to love that programme, the BBC2 version without the canned laughter of course.   If I found this poster again I could find a place for it in my home now.  Tarted up behind glass and hung properly this time.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

To Bee A Worker!

The queen bee's life is totally overrated. All she does is lay eggs, lay eggs. She takes one nuptial flight. That one stuns her with enough fertile power to be trapped in the hive forever. The workers, the sexually undeveloped female, have the best life. They have fields of flowers to roll in. Imagine turning over and over inside a rose.”

Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun


Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Thinking Like An Animal

After a year long break I've resumed my Master's study.   I'm doing module where I learn to design a research study.  One of the exercises has involved trawling through academic literature looking for something to investigate further.  An article evaluating the effectiveness of  Temple Grandin's 'hug machine' reeled me in just on reading the title.  Oops!  I went off at a tangent that ended up at this TED talk.   So much for remaining focused on what I was supposed to be doing.  I realised I'd come across this fascinating woman before.  She's pretty difficult to forget!

Monday, 3 October 2016

Devon vs. Brittany

It was over a month ago that I was at Ster Greich, my favourite motorhome stop where I pick sloes. I didn't have any kilner jars in the van and our search around French supermarkets was fruitless. Ha!  Get it?  Fruitless!  So those sloes have been in my freezer since I got home.  It was only yesterday that I got around to buying the gin in which to infuse the little devils until Christmas.

This year didn't yield the heaviest crop ever.  Normally I half fill each jar with fruit before topping each up with the best part of two bottles of the cheapest gin that I can source and 250g of sugar.  This year my jars were only a third full of berries even though I'd foraged my little socks off.  So I persuaded Corn Pipe to come and help me find some more.  The lure of free alcohol, even if it is a few months down the line, did the trick. Men are simple beasties.  We also decided to get some blackberries.  For didn't someone say that you could make an equally tasty drink with those and vodka?  And a crumble for more immediate gratification appealed too.

Corn Pipe's tactic of driving around until we found a likely spot worked.  'Stop the car!' he barked in a Sergeant Majorly tone.  'I see some blackberries!'  And so he had, high up and out of  any sensible person's reach.  That didn't faze him.  He did a little perilous mountaineering on top of a Devon bank. I left him to it, satisfied with miserable pickings at ground level.  After all I'm accident prone enough without going looking for trouble.

We moved on and  were then fortunate enough to find the most enormous sloes I've ever seen. 'Where did you get those?' some of you might be asking.  Really, do you think that I'm ever going to reveal my most lucrative picking site?  NEVER!  So now there's two jars of sloe gin, one Breton and one mainly Devon.  We'll have to do a taste test to compare them when they're ready.  I think I know a volunteer who'll help with that.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Everlasting Navy Blue Knickers

I bought a couple of packets of Dylon machine dyes the other day in blue and black.  No, things in my wardrobe aren't going to change colour.  Every so often I freshen up some of the bits and pieces and bring them a new lease of life by injecting a bit more of their original hue.  It's something that I had to do by stealth when I was married and my task took on a rebellious air.. My ex didn't like the idea of me pouring a whole load of salt into the washing machine.  It's a job that's lost its air of naughtiness now I'm a single mum with my very own domestic appliance to ruin.

 There's a couple of black long sleeved T-shirts that will get the treatment.  Thinking about it they must be some of the clothes in my wardrobe that I've had for the longest time.  I bought them from Asda  for about four quid each when Lou was a baby.  They've got a flattering scoop neck and amazingly have kept their shape.  Good old lycra!

Because my mind is prone to going off on a tangent I started to think about other items of clothing that I've had that stood the test of time.  All women of  a certain age will remember, that in the olden days we did PE in our vest and pants, sometimes freezing our metaphorical nuts off.  There was no fancy designer sports kit in those days.  I tried to find a vintage picture or video on the Internet to illustrate this post but quite reasonably I wasn't successful. Kids running around playing hockey in their underwear just isn't acceptable these days.  You'll have to make do with your imaginations and a bit of tie dye. Those big navy blue knickers that, of course, origniated from Marks and Sparks seemed to grow with me.  I recall still wearing ones marked as being for 3-5 year olds in my teens.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Paper Straws et al

Salty Dog is the girl who persuaded many bars in Antigua to stock paper rather than plastic straws by handing out samples and information leaflets.  Here's the boy in James Dean mode demonstrating that they're a perfectly viable alternative.  So my environmentally active mate was really excited to hear about  France banning plastic crockery and cutlery by 2020,   Can't the counter argument about the ban being encouragement to litter be overcome by a bit of education for the ignoramuses who think that it's perfectly acceptable to strew paper based products all over the landscape on the basis that they'll eventually turn to mush?

I've been thinking about my own  individual environmental footprint again lately.  A man at Fishstock told me that most bio-degradable plastic just breaks down into the type of tiny particle that causes marine life to have a tummy ache and die when they eat it.  I hadn't thought of that before.  Can I reduce my own consumption of plastic by being more careful about my consumer choices?  A move away from over packaged supermarket veg to using the greengrocer and  choosing toiletries that don't come in plastic bottles are the first ideas I've come up with.  Little steps towards a better world.  We can't ignore problems just because they seem too big.  Small improvements do make a difference if enough of us make an effort.  I'll let you know down the line how I'm getting on.