Sunday, 30 April 2017

An Armoire: Not A Wardrobe

Bollocks!   I'm going through one of those periods in life where nothing is straightforward.   The wardrobe pallaver that is going on right now is a case in point.  I bought this beauty from Ebay the other day as I've needed one for the spare room since I moved into the house nearly two years ago.   'So what's it doing in the dining room?'  You may well ask.  The bloody thing doesn't fit up the stairs!

It looked like it was held together with hundreds of screws, like a posh flatpack.  So I took them all out. The wardrobe remained resolutely intact.  A closer inspection revealed some nifty joints and a hell of a lot of very strong glue indeed.  Arse!   All efforts shed my fishwife capacity for swearing were going out of the window.

My boys call themselves my poofter warriors, on call to lend a helping hand and defend me to the last against marauders.  So that's why I called Mr Metrosexual.   'I need a burly poof!' I cried, using the term fondly as a term of endearment.    'I'll pop round' he said.

When he arrived he was cross.  I've been used to being self reliant for years and, ignoring manual handling advice, had tried to take things into my own hands.   Consequently my utility tallboy that had been in the dining room alcove was on the landing halfway up the stairs.  It was a  bit of a squeeze to get past   A lovely old gentleman's wardrobe that normally sits on the outside Louis'  loft room was wedged on the bannisters.  'What the f**k!' he exclaimed.  It was his turn to get sweary.

I'm resigned to the fact that I've bought an armoire.  It's very French to have something that looks like a wardrobe in your kitchen-diner.  And maybe it's not such a bad thing.  The door of the cupboard under the stairs is always open because the coats aren't a good fit.  And there's always shoes in the hall.  They could go in there too.  So I thought that Louis' wardrobe could come down from the attic and go in the spare room and he could have the tallboy to replace it.  He never hangs anything up anyway.

The combined efforts of me and Mr Metrosexual were not sufficient to effect the change around although the wardrobe is back in the attic and the tallboy is now in the spare room.  The job is half done.  I'll show you the transformation once all my furniture is in its intended spaces in the house.  All I need to do to achieve that is find a burlier helper!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Book vs. Kindle

'Okay Joo,' you might be thinking.  'If you're writing a post about books, kindles and the like, then why have you got a picture of a gramophone.  Ah ha!  There's a tenuous link.  Apparently record players have made a comeback among today's young people.  And I read somewhere that the experts don't think that this is a craze. They're here to stay.

So vinyl sales are up even though I'm happy myself to stick to Spotify.  Never in my wildest imagination as a teenager did I think that I could have instant access to all the music I could ever want.  It is a dream come true. But even though I favour hi-tech when it comes to my music, I've never been that way with my reading material.

Although I've downloaded a few books to my phone I've never be a Kindle owner. Give me a good old fashioned paper book any time.  I spend enough time staring at screens as it is.   The only time that I think I'll possibly favour e-books is when Louis leaves home and I resume my wilderness backpacking adventures.   A book was always the luxury item that I carried but only ever one.  It was torture if I'd finished it in the middle of nowhere.  A tablet based library would solve that problem and be lighter.  For the weight that is carried is constantly on the mind of the long distance hiker.

I was super pleased to read in this Guardian article that sales of proper books are on the increase too.  Long may it last for they are tactile beautiful things that smell lush when they are new.  As if to confirm the trend I nearly bumped into a very funky young girl the other day.  She was not looking where she was going.  I wouldn't have given it a second thought if she'd be staring at her phone but no.  She had her nose in a book.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Brock at Bedtime

A dream the other night involved a badger.  It was snuggled up in a bed of leaves peeping out of the entrance of his sett.  Funny because the day before I'd popped into Social Services and they'd been rooting through a book about dream interpretation.  Some of the stuff they'd been reading sounded like it had been made up whilst someone had been guzzling a gin and tonic....or three.

'I bet that book has nothing about badgers.'  I said as I waltzed back in to see my colleagues.   Their office is somewhere that I frequent often as  I often get peckish and they're seldom without chocolate.    I make up the lamest of excuses for visiting.   To my surprise those furry black and white faced critters were featured.  Their nocturnal appearance has something to do with perseverance in the face of hardship.  That figures.     The nest was a good sign.  It means my problems will be solved by determination.  It seems the odds are much better for me than poor Linda who'd dreamed about a rampaging lion!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Tweet Tweet

I'm late blogging today.  My computer decided it was really important to spend two hours updating Windows without a by your leave or with  your leave! In olden times I would have caused me to go into meltdown but I'm more philosophical these days  For being fretful and impatient only causes inner suffering. So I've turned my morning around instead and have already meditated and been out for a chilly run.  Weird weather we're having. It was snowing in Brixham on Monday when I arrived home.

I thought I'd give you an update of the little business, Dementia Consultant, that I'm trying to get going alongside full time NHS employment.   Of course I'd like things to move faster but  only have so many hours in the week.  It seems that I can't move quickly enough with the time I've got.  The need for patience and acceptance seem constant themes in many aspects of my life.  Best go with the flow.

I've got a little document where I jot down everything that I achieve towards building my business empire.  I review it on a week by week basis and it helps me to see how far I've moved forward.  After all a couple of months ago the website didn't exist.  This week I've already chosen an accountant, blogged ahead and declared my business interests to my employer.  That last one is important.  I'm keen for everything to be above board.  That's the boring stuff.  What I got really excited about it was that for the first time one of my blog posts that I put on Twitter got retweeted.  Not just once but fifteen times!

Even though my posts from  Lovely Grey Day go over to Twitter automatically I've never paid it much attention.  But Salty Dog, my social media guru, said that it was important to build a following and so I obeyed.  And I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying it.  I love reading what other people have posted and get quite excited every time I get a new follower.    If you're a
tweeter too, follow me.  Go on, it will make my day!  And just in case you're interested here's the link to that post that was shared multiple times in the tweetosophere.   It's about the importance of the language that we choose to use.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

A Year On

Yesterday I realised it was a year ago to the day that I returned to work after a three month bout of depression and anxiety .  It wasn't all bad.  It taught me extremely valuable lessons, most importantly around how to demonstrate greater compassion towards others. That would have been hard to learn by any other means.  As I'm a paranoid, whinny arse when I'm ill  it's easier to accept and forgive others when they are acting in ways that would not dream of doing if they were well. Sure I see extreme examples of this all the time because I work with people with the most severe mental health problems.  But maybe the penny hadn't dropped when it came to my personal life

I also discovered that I wasn't invincible.  I didn't know that.  Each human being has a limit to what they can bear.  My threshold for stress is set very high but there was still a breaking point. Consequently I'm careful of what  I take on these days and I don't beat myself up when I need to rest.

And it's important for me to do everything possible to stay well, not just for my own sake but for Louis'.   For me being ill affected him enormously.   I could barely look after myself let alone a child as well.  Thank goodness that my co-parenting arrangements meant that I was able to take time out.  It must be almost impossible if you're a single parent coping with mental illness alone. Here's a little video that I've seen a couple of times in recent months, most recently on a safeguarding course last week.   I wish I'd know about it when I was poorly as I think it would have been helpful to share with Lou.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017


Photo:  Ted-Ed
Long gone are the goth inspired days of my late teens and early twenties when I had a wardrobe full of grey and black garb.  I love using colour these days in my house and in what I wear.  It makes for a much cheerier world.

Maybe that's why I was drawn to this work by scientist Tal Danino. You can read about it here on the Ted-Ed Blog.  When he's not doing research  using bacteria to fight cancers he persuades the little critters to go forth, multiply in their petri dishes and make very intriguing art.

Monday, 24 April 2017

A Weepie

In the course of working on getting my fledging business up and running over the weekend I came across this clever little film by Ryan McCarvill .  It's only short so you can all watch it in your coffee break.  But I'll warn you.  You'll need tissues.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Loo Buddha

Louis and I spent a very traditional afternoon down Southend seafront last week.  Firstly we played crazy golf and yessssss! I got a hole in one.   Eat your heart out Tiger Woods.   'What would you like to do now?' I asked as we were returning the clubs.  'How about the amusements?' he replied.  So I treated us both to two quids worth of coins to feed into the tuppenny shover machines.

Somewhere during the forty minute proceedings Louis knocked down a book of tokens to exchange for prizes at the back of the arcade.  He's done this before and his winnings normally amount to something like a penny chew.  But this time he was able to swap  the vouchers for something substantial, some wall art stickers on the theme of Buddha.  How random is that?  He gave them to me.  I've been pondering where to put them.

Yesterday I had a flash of inspiration. The smallest room in the world is now dual purpose.  As well as being my downstairs toilet it is now the tiniest shrine dedicated to contemplation and navel gazing!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Nee Naw and Gratefulness

Just when I thought that work couldn't get any more stupid  it did. After the bank holiday I went on a two day course and then returned to the office.  By 9:38 on Thursday I had taken and received eight phone calls.  A day of mayhem followed.  I returned home at the end of the day with a bit of a stress head on.

Realistically, in an overstretched NHS, I don't see this situation improving. It seems the only thing to do is to change my perspective whilst working on Plan B.   These days I make dammed sure that I do everything possible to keep well: eat regularly and healthily, avoid self medicating with alcohol,  hydrating myself, exercising, meditating, having fun outside work with friends and family.  You know the stuff.  It isn't rocket science.  I'm always looking for more ways of preserving sanity too.

Friday was even more barmy.  I arrived home exhausted but I'd enjoyed my day. But instead of getting embroiled in the mayhem  I decided to highlight  the good bits..  So here they are.

One of the people that I see with a significant depression said that I was like a ray of sunshine and I light up everywhere that I go.  Louis would beg to differ when I go into his bedroom in the morning to wake him but there you go.   A colleague complimented my on my resilience.  I liked that.   I'm managing to stay focused on the trees in the landscape as I drive about.  They are incredibly beautiful symbols of strength, reminding me to stay present in the moment and not to 'dwell on what has passed away and what is yet to be', good advice from my mate Leonard Cohen.

What else?  Someone who has historically run away from mental health workers when they're ill phoned me when they were in trouble.  That meant a lot.  And in the course of my work, rather than because I'd been very naughty, I got my first ever ride in a police car,  a Skoda  big brother  of Leif.   Even though it was a sedate affair, and didn't involve a blue lighted chase around the lanes catching baddies it brought on a feeling of childish excitement!

Friday, 21 April 2017


I'd never heard of  the dearly departed Wayne Dyer until recently but my American readers might be familiar with him.   When I was on leave last week I listened to all six parts of a series of talks that he gave, 'Manifesting Your Destiny and a bonus edition'.  They're on YouTube.  These contain, much food for thought, not  about filling your boots for material gain, but rather about how to reduce inner turmoil. I will be listening to them again because there is too much to take in during one sitting.

The teaching fits nicely alongside that of Eckhart Tolle, another of my online gurus.  This is a little itty-bitty clip from one of the talks.  Again I'm being compelled to observe my inner thoughts.  What I've particularly noticed is a propensity to  make judgements about other people based on the briefest of encounters, like passing them in the street.  It adds to that constant stream of unnecessary inner chit-chat that it would be good to abate.  I'd like to see this habit, that I'm newly aware of, diminish over time now it's been brought to my attention.  I expect something else for me to work on will emerge once this is no longer an issue.

For the last week or so I've been using Wayne Dyer's morning and evening meditations for twenty minutes at the start and end of each day.  Their novelty value has given me the impetus to kickstart  regular formal practice again.   As guided by the audio I recite 'ah' and 'om' sounds.
I've shared what I'm doing with Louis and, not surprisingly, he thinks that it's completely barmy and so it may be.  I'm wondering how it will go down in the motorhome where I can't shut myself away in another room and make weird noises without feeling self-conscious.  We'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it.   Which I think it will.  For I find that I'm left feeling invigorated yet with an incredible sense of peace. I'm sharing them today in the hope that someone else might find them helpful too.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

What's Going On?

Here's one of the boy that I took last week on that cable car across the Thames at Greenwich.  We had a lovely day out in the Big Smoke which also involved sushi in the O2 and  a visit to the Crystal, an exhibition about the future of cities in one of the most sustainable buildings in the world.  In one of the simulations we managed to bankrupt a city three times in the space of seconds by not getting the balance right between resourcing and raising revenue. It almost made me feel sorry for politicians.

That's an aside.  What I really wanted to share today is something that seems to happen quite often around here with a teenager in tow.  I wonder if it's an scene that others will be familiar with.   Picture this.  I'm relaxing peacefully with a big cup of tea somewhere in the house, normally my bedroom as it's my favourite spot. All is well. Suddenly  there'll be lots of crashing from elsewhere,  that may or may not involve the sound of breaking glass or china.  I might catch an expletive or two being uttered.  Peace thoroughly shattered  I cry out.   'What the hell is happening?'  The reply I get back is always the same.


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

He Who Sings, Prays Twice

Ah! Such a great quote from St Augustine that I collected from a display in that blingest of cathedrals in Granada.  I''ve wanted to use it for a while.  It occurred to me today that we hadn't had a music post for a wee while so I thought that I'd roll it out today and accompany it with a song.  But which one?  This will do.  It accompanied me on my run the other day.

I wrote about Sixto Rodriguez a few years ago.  He was the subject of a fascinating documentary 'Searching f'or Sugar Man' which I'll recommend highly.   After releasing a couple of albums in the US in the 1970s fame eluded Rodriguez.  Little did he know that, in South Africa his music had been incredibly popular and influential.  All sorts of rumours abounded about the whereabouts of the singer-songwriter including that he had committed suicide.  In fact he was working as a demolition worker in Detroit.

Today's video is a street session by Rodriguez where he plays my favourite song of his.  I'm also including the link here to the album version from the film soundtrack.  It has a vibe unique to its time!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Toilet Brush Angst

I use Pixabay these days to find images for my blog which are in the public domain and copyright free.  It saves me fretting about whether someone will sue me.   I found this on there.  Goodness knows why someone is taking photos of toilet brushes where there's a whole world of beauty to capture.   I'm glad that they did though because I needed a picture and couldn't bring myself to take one of my own loo cleaning implement.

The problem is that mine is brown and discoloured.  No, it's not what you think.   Bad design really bugs me. What kind of sadistic manufacturer would make something which visitors take one look at and would put you down as a candidate . for 'How Clean is Your House' if it were still running . They must be having a right laugh.  I'm not OCD but neither am I a slattern.   I'm embarrassed but not enough to buy a  replacement every five minutes.  So if you come to my house and spend a penny please be reassured.  My loo brush gets cleaned very frequently.  It's not poo just rust!

Monday, 17 April 2017

Not Stopping At Straws

Salty Dog is at it again.  Not content to rest on her laurels after persuading bars in Antigua to stock paper rather than plastic straws she's turned her attention to the UK.   Now I love teeny activism, small steps by ordinary people that aim to make this world a better place. What my friend is doing is trying to be pro-active in alerting businesses to the fact we cannot go on generating plastic food waste.

Yesterday we did a brilliant afternoon coast path walk between Beesands and Start Point starting with fish and chips from Britannia @ The Beach.  This is a wonderful seafood shack selling freshly caught fish which you can eat in or take away to eat on the beach, as we did.  The food is beautiful, the staff are really lovely and prices are reasonable.  The one problem is that the take out cutlery is plastic.  Salty Dog alerted staff to the unsustainability and bless them. Even though they seemed puzzled that it might  be a problem they offered the loan of a proper knife and fork instead.It would be lovely to see wooden cutlery on offer though next time we visit.  Here's me after we'd started walking modelling an alternative to bottled water!

What made this more poignant was that we were walking in an area that was the scene of an enormous environmental disaster one hundred of years ago.   Dredging for sand and gravel to expand the naval dockyards at Plymouth caused the village of North Hallsands to fall into the sea.  All the warning signs were in place. The beach had been disappearing for years but the villager's protests were in vain.   And still the cliff falls away.  I remember that twenty years ago you could walk through the derelict buildings but now you have to be content with a glimpse of the old settlement from a viewing platform.

Salty Dog has started a Facebook group, Food Plastic Saboteurs, for those interested in reducing the plastic waste associated with buying and eating food.  Please like and share if you want to be involved.  Another thing that she's doing is ditching the plastic wrap from fruit and vegetables at supermarket checkouts.  She did this in Morrisons the other day.   This is a mild inconvenience for the supermarket if one person does this but if many of us take the same action then perhaps the big retailers will start to think about the impact of unnecessary packaging.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Wasp Art

Photo: Colossal
There was a time back along when wasps fell into the same personal category of animals as Komodo Dragons, the 'Why In God's Name Are They Still On This Earth' brigade.  A few experiences of being injected with their painful neurotoxin earned them that accolade.    Then one day a gang of them built a nest in my compost heap.  It was stunning.  No matter that I could not longer recycle my garden waste or kitchen scraps.  I left them to it and occasionally sneaked a peak.  I didn't get stung.

Then one day a neighbour in an adjoining house popped his head over the wall.  'Did you know you had a wasps nest in your compost heap?'  I feigned surprise for in those days I was a little less bothered about lying.  Anyway it was coming up to autumn and my 'lodgers' were getting a little more feisty and frightening his small children.  Sadly I called in the extermination people.

It isn't any wonder that I was very taken by this piece of animal art.  Yes, its from Colossal again.  I'm going to stop apologising for my over reliance on one source of ihnspiration.  A biology student left coloured paper around for wasps to build their home. This is the amazing result. 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Bendier With Bowen

I'd not been sleeping properly again. Yawn!  It gets boring. I'm much more aware of things that might be an indicator that my health is on the downturn these days and the exhaustion that insomnia causes can be a precursor to depression.  We don't want that do we?

Now I'm the first to advocate trying all those handy hints to aid sleep.  You know the ones.  Having the room at the right temperature, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, exercising at the right times.......There are others that ban sleeping in the day time but sod those when complete knackeredness comes in. I'd got to the stage when I was dead on my feet by lunchtime and was resorting to kipping in the car to avoid dangerous driving.  In desperation I turned to my GP who prescribed sleeping tablets to kickstart my sleep routine again. It's worked in the past.

I was so happy with procuring medication that I shared this on Facebook.  After all I'm up for sharing my struggles as well as my successes.  An old friend got in touch and offered me a session of Bowen therapy.   She said that  it might be able to promote those Zzzzzzs without chemical assistance.

So, off I popped after work one day to Tracy's home in Plymouth where she has a really wonderful therapy room tucked in her basement.  Today's picture is the wonderful painting that she has in her waiting area by a Cornwall-based artist Simon Powell.   Tracy is a complementary therapist who combines working for herself with a job as a assistant physiotherapy practitioner in the NHS.   I used to work with her and remember how passionately she talked about the  Bowen technique and the positive effects it had produced for those that she'd worked with.

Maybe I was expecting something similar to a conventional massage but Bowen wasn't like that. Tracy used short bursts of rolling and pinch-like movements and then withdrew to allow the body time to accept the treatment.  She said that she worked on the fascia, internal connective tissue that wraps around muscles and internal organs.

So has it worked?  Well after the treatment I felt floppier, but in a good way.  I particularly noticed this in my wrists. They felt much more relaxed.  As for the sleep I think there has been changes.  I stopped taking the pills just to see.  I still wake at night but don't lie there for hours in a state of meerkat-like alertness but manage to doze off again.  I still like a little siesta after lunch if it's on offer but it's not absolutely essential.

Of course other factors could be at play but I'm convinced enough to have another session soon.  Like many other complementary therapies the evidence base for Bowen isn't that huge but there's enough individual testimonials to suggest that it can be very helpful indeed. I've just found out that Bear Grylls is a big fan!

To contact Tracy follow the link here.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Xs and Ys = Happiness

Mo Gawdat,  a boffin at Google has come up with an algorithm for happiness.  Don't worry.  I'm not going to scare the heebie-jeebies out of those of you who've freaked before when I've shared a little bit of maths.   That's because I haven't read his book yet although I'd like to when I have a moment (Ha!).   Instead I'll share this clip from Channel 4 News where this lovely man explains his theory in plain English and how it was put to the test after the tragic death of this son.  As well as playing about with algebra I reckon this guys done some reading from a similar book list to my own.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Like A Dress Pattern

I found this on the Internet.  It's the 'Vogue Advanced' pattern for the dress I made when I got married many moons ago.  My version was peacock blue, a compromise, because Mama Lovelygrey had refused point blank to let me go down the aisle in 'hussy' red.   I recall that the long sleeved version of the frock that I made had about fifty pattern pieces and I was still making it the night before the wedding!  Some tears were shed although if I say so myself I pulled it off at the last minute and looked lush.  If I ever get hitched again though I don't think I'll be quite as ambitious. Maybe I'd rustle something equally fabulous but more straightforward in design...or I could be tempted to go for effort-free vintage.  It could even be white now I've calmed down a bit.

All that I really had to do to create such a frou-frou frock was follow a set of instructions and be able to use a pretty basic sewing machine.  There are parallels with building the website for my new Dementia Consultant business.  I did it myself.  'How difficult can this be?' I thought.  After all I've designed a blog and cobbled together a fair few presentations in my time.  Basic stuff akin to using my the Singer 99K that I inherited from my nan.   So over a month my site evolved.  I  When I wanted to add something but didn't know how I used good old Google to find the answer.   The site is fairly simple but I wonder who'd guess that it had been made by a web newbie. I'm pretty pleased with the way it's turned out and it now passes muster with my once critical artist brother and social media marketing friend as well.

I've used Wix as a platform for my site rather than the more popular Wordpress. I'd been told that it was more user-friendly for beginners. I have to say that experience of using Blogger and Powerpoint was enough to get me going and the in-house help is excellent. For the majority of conundrums that I've thought  up there's a step by step guide on how they can be solved . With online assistance I've also attached my domain name, set up a company and made an emoticon that appears in the tab displayed above webpages.  I'm now just about to start to use Thinkific that will let me produce online training assistance.  Have I done any of  this before?   No, but again it's all about following instructions.  It's just like attaching a bustle or fitting a mutton sleeve!

And so I'd urge those who lack confidence to be a bit more gung-ho.  Think about the general skills that you've got. With a bit of imagination, assistance from a virtual friend and a sudden rush of audacity you could surprise yourself and turn your hand to something completely different than anything that you've ever done in the past!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Special Gardening

I'm seeing my childhood home with new eyes. It's way different from Devon but beautiful nonetheless.  Although miles away from the TOWIE stereotype, my sister Esther was an Essex girl born and bred. So it's fitting for her to be buried on a hilltop under the county's wonderful immense skies.   I visited her grave yesterday with my parents and Louis. It was the first time that I'd been there since her funeral. Maybe it's understandable that I didn't really take in the surrounding on that day.

 It  was surprising to see that a cemetery so full of life, a woodland site with an abundance of trees and flowers.   And there were delightful baby coots on the pond. My sister would have liked those. In contrast her grave was pretty bare when we arrived.  Just a few bulbs and the cyclamen that sat on top of her coffin in the hearse.  But we'd come on a mission via a nursery. The soil had settled and was ready for planting.

I was shielded from death well into young adulthood and consequently I feared it far more than I should. My decision to help Louis make acquaintance with it in childhood has been a conscious one. He attended the funeral of his grandpa when he was just six and was at my side when we buried his aunt. He sees that this is the natural order of things and it is okay to grieve and celebrate at the same time.  It seemed right that he should be involved again in making Esther's resting place beautiful. Here he is helping Nana.  When we went to collect water we looked at other graves. We were both moved by those of babies who were 'Born Sleeping'.  It made me so aware of how precious a gift it was to have one who came into the world alive and kicking.

And here's the fruits of our labours that were surprisingly joyful. There's still a lot of soil showing at the moment but I reckon in a few months Esther's grave will be a carpet of colour throughout the seasons.  There's bluebells, snowdrops, primroses, daffodils, heathers.......The list goes on and on.  Lou chose a beautiful white agapanthus and my own offering were columbines.  I'm always delighted when I come across them flowering in the woods.

Esther was a gardener.  I hope that she was looking down on us yesterday with a smile.   See you soon Sis.  I'm looking forward to seeing what's in bloom next time we visit.  We hope 'The Bees Like It'.  I'll sign off today with the Khalil Gibran poem that Louis read at the graveside back in September/

Unwrap me from this white linen shroud
And clothe me with leaves of jasmine and lilies;
Take my body from the ivory casket and let it rest
Upon pillows of orange blossoms.
Lament me not, but sing songs of youth and joy;
Shed not tears upon me, but sing of harvest and the winepress;
Utter no sigh of agony,
But draw upon my face with your finger the symbol of Love and Joy.
Disturb not the air's tranquillity with chanting and requiems,
But let your hearts sing with me the song of Eternal Life;
Mourn me not with apparel of black,
But dress in colour and rejoice with me;
Talk not of my departure with sighs in your hearts;
Close your eyes and you will see me with you forevermore.

Place me upon clusters of leaves
And carry me upon your friendly shoulders
And walk slowly to the deserted forest.
Take me not to the crowded burying ground
Lest my slumber be disrupted by the rattling of bones and skulls.
Carry me to the cypress woods
And dig my grave where violets and poppies grow not in the other's shadow;
Let my grave be deep
So that the flood will not carry my bones to the open valley;
Let my grace be wide,
So that the twilight shadows will come and sit by me.

Take from me all earthly raiment
And place me deep in my Mother Earth;
And place me with care upon my mother's breast.
Cover me with soft earth,
And let each handful be mixed with seeds of jasmine, lilies and myrtle;
And when they grow above me,
And thrive on my body's element they will breathe the fragrance of my heart into space;
And reveal even to the sun the secret of my peace;
And sail with the breeze and comfort the wayfarer.

Leave me then, friends - leave me and depart on mute feet,
As the silence walks in the deserted valley;
Leave me to God and disperse yourselves slowly,
As the almond and apple blossoms disperse under the vibration of Nisan's breeze.
Go back to the joy of your dwellings
And you will find there that which Death cannot remove from you and me.
Leave this place, for what you see here is far away in meaning
From the earthly world. Leave me.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Big Girl Bra Buying

Last Friday I went to see a rather wonderful dub band, Mount Nakara in Totnes.   I stayed with a friend,  Skinny Minnie, who was drying her washing.  Her bras were just mere wisps of gorgeous gauziness. Mine in contrast look like dilapidated old hammocks for twin rabbits.  Not those cute little dwarf ones but the gigantic Flemish variety.

It reminded me that I really couldn't put off bra buying any longer.   Some in my drawer have lost underwiring in one cup and can't be worn unless I fancy going for a totally asymmetric look.  Others are the wrong size and one had turned itself into the peephole type, not titillating at this sounds as the hole in question was a big gaping rip under the arm.

I decided to go about the task of replenishing my underwear supply so I measured myself properly the other day.  Bejesus!  There is no way that I'm going to kiss and tell.  Those Flemish bunnies would have room to spread!  What makes the measurement scarier is the fact that I've lost weight since I've started exercising. No wonder there has been some tight squeezing going on.

So yesterday I trotted off down Southend High Street, for I am in Essex at the moment.  I was on a mission to hunt for bargain bras.  The rationale for not buying expensive ones is that I'm still losing weight, and whilst I don't want to lose those curves altogether,  a little bit of a reduction might be a good thing.  I headed straight to Primark but their lingerie stopped short of my size.  Then good old Marks and Spencer but I couldn't bring myself to dole out the cash. I was less than inspired by the designs and the prices were on the hefty side. Rather like myself!

For someone who doesn't really like conventional shopping this was becoming a nightmare.  A plus size shop had some neon coloured lacy numbers which were even bigger than I needed and were frankly scary.  I've decided that my pet hates are:  A) Twin packs of bras where one is lovely and the other is not what I'd wear at all.  Or white.  I've rejected snowy underwear for years on the basis that accidents where they immediately end up in the darks wash are inevitable.  B) Those silly, prissy bows that sit in the cleavage.  What's that about?  C) Overfussiness which seems to make boobs that are already on the large side look gargantuan.

Eventually both Peacocks and Asda came up trumps.  Although my choice was limited, in both of these shops I found modestly priced understated prettiness.  There was even some money spare for matching knickers.   And for the first time in ages I have bras that fit, are comfy and yes, look really lovely with and without clothes.  Maybe if the exercise works and I drop another size or two, replacing them won't be quite so tortuous.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Chin Chin

I'm not the biggest spirit drinker going.  Amber coloured real ales or French wines are my tipples of choice.  But if you're offering, yes, I am rather partial to a gin and tonic, thank you very much.

You might remember that, each year at peak foraging time, I buy enough bottles of the cheapeast gin I can muster to embarrass myself at the supermarket checkout.  Then I stick sloes in it.  A lot of my production is given away.  The rest is often brought out as an end of meal treat. Friends seem to appreciate that.

Hortus though is an entirely different kettle of fish and steeping autumnal fruits could be viewed a sacrilege. Tonic and ice and a slice suffice.  Isn't the bottle beautiful?  It's topped with a lovely wooden cork. The fact that empties could be used for my homemade liqueur collection convinced me to cough up.

What's surprised the snobbiest of my friends is that it's from Lidl.  The natty little label informs me that this is  an artisan gin devised by Kevin Love, a bloke that used to work for Heston Blummenthal and it's stuffed full of botanicals.  I can't comment on that.  My taste is not that refined.  All I know that it is bloody lovely, really smooth. And at £15.99 a pop it's much more affordable than some of those posh gins that I've bought extra special friends for extra special presents in the past.  I've only tasted the ordinary version but it comes in a spiced variety.  There's a sloe gin as well. Might have to try that if I ever run out of my own home grown version!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Ten Minutes In the Big Apple

Photo: David Heald. © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.
If some divine being waves a magic wand and fills the coffers some time before August I'd love to head out to New York for a mini break.  I'd meet up with my lovely friend, the Second Martha Stewart, for a huge injection of artiness. Probably cake would be involved as well.  There's an unusual park, the High Line on an disused elevated freight track that I've been longing  to visit for ages.    And when I saw this picture the wanderlust set in badly.  I'd really like to see this.

It's a temporary installation in a room in the Guggenheim that runs until 2 August, a super peaceful realm that give the idea of infinite space.  I reckon that I  could happily stay in there all day.  Sadly though my visit would be limited.  Only five people can visit at any one time.  To give everyone a turn, timed tickets allowing just ten minutes in the room are necessary.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Mad Pendant

Ladies and Gentleman, In the past I've brought you Mad Wall 1 and Mad Wall 2. I'm thinking that an outside version is long overdue.  There was Mad Wrist as well although over the winter that's calmed down a bit.  It occurred to me the other day that there's now a bit of a Mad Bedpost thing going on now that all those hearts are hung on it.  And today I bring you Mad Pendant. Somehow rather a lot of things seem to have accumulated on the chain around my neck, including a small hag stone that I found on a beach last week.  Through its hole I can view the world from an alternative perspective when I wish. Minimalist I am not.  At every opportunity I seem to have a bit of a collection thing going on!

Friday, 7 April 2017

Dorothy Parker's Budgie

There's a bloke in the Old Testament. called Onan who was allegedly struck down by God because he spilt his 'seed' in vain.  Blimey! There'd hardly be a man left on the planet if that type of punishment were meted out equitably.   I've just found out that Dorothy Parker,  the American writer, named her budgie after him.   It's a shame Dot died when I was just two.  With our shared sense of irreverence I think we may have got on!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

A Bit Tight

I've been working in the Kingsbridge area for nearly fourteen years now.   Wherever I go memories flood back of the people that I've worked with as I pass houses around the town.   Yes, I thought that I was pretty au fait with the place.  But I'd never come across this little lane until the other day.   Perhaps it's because I'm normally confined to my car and wandering around on foot is quite rare. The lovely name gave me a good giggle.

In nearby Exeter, there's Parliament Street, that closes in to just 2ft 1in.  That purports to be the narrowest street in the world (although I've just read that somewhere in Germany actually takes the title).   Although I didn't get out my tape measure, standard handbag fodder for an occupational therapist, this little thoroughfare doesn't look much wider.

The good news was that I could get through with ease.  No squeezing of my belly was involved.  Phew!  All that running must be doing a bit of good then!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Week I Thought I MIght Try Vegan

Once when Louis was a nipper I explained to him what a vegan was.  'No way!' he exclaimed.  The boy loves his meat.  He's just one step away from a sabre toothed tiger in terms of his carnivorous tendencies and has been eating his steak rare for as long as I remember.  But he's in Portugal with his dad until Sunday so I don't have to cater to his particular food preferences at the moment.

'I could try being vegan for the week.'  I thought at 9:30am on Monday as I drove to my first appointment. After all I admire the ethical stance taken by my fellow souls who've gone down this path.  It's probably not for me full-time but I thought it would be interesting to try this type of diet to increase my cruelty free repetoire in the longer term.  Then I remembered the lunch box I'd made myself earlier in the morning.  It has little cubes of the salty vintage cheddar that I'm particularly fond of in it.  Mmmm!  I couldn't waste that.

Supper was a couple of baked potatoes with mashed avocado. Maybe I could start over with those good intentions.  Then I noticed that there was some leftover chorizo that needed using up in the fridge and after that I was on a roll.  I was well and truly down a slippery slope.  The best part of a third of a pat of butter was mashed into the spud and then sprinkled liberally with salt and pepper before I applied the topping.  It really was rather a delicious combo.

Must try harder, Lovelygrey.  Vegan week didn't even get off the ground this time around.  I will give it a go when Louis is away again.  A bit more forward planning might be helpful next time.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

A Little Extra

As of a few days ago I became the proud owner of two blogs.  There's this one where I can be silly, random and talk about hocus pocus and strange things that have tickled me.  The other is an entirely different kettle of fish.

I've been writing about dementia on and off over the years.  Being my area of work it's a subject that's close to my heart.  So I've set up  Dementia Extra where I'll be posting twice weekly.  It's part of my website Dementia Consultant which I've developed to launch a new business to run alongside working in the NHS.  I've needed a new challenge career wise for a while.  Some more pennies to pay of the mortgage and for home improvements would be welcome as well.  Who knows where it will take me.  I've dreamed of self employment for a long time and have finally bitten the bullet.

So for the last month I've been busy, busy setting up a tiny new business on a shoestring.  I've got a fledging set of accounts, read a book about launching a start up, found out about business incorporation, how to make online training packages,,,,the list goes on and on.  Oh, and a man from Fiverr designed me this very reasonably priced logo!  Most time though  has been spent designing my website and getting it up and running.  I'd love it if you'd take a look and let me know what you think, good and bad. My brother and Salty Dog, who has  her own social media marketing company, were frighteningly brutal about my first efforts.  But constructive criticism is good and I'm a big girl. So I've taken everything they've said on board and they're pleased with it now.  I know that some of the social media links don't work yet but I'm onto that and everything should be fully functional by the end of the week.

In such a dire financial climate health and social care have limited resources to offer.  My aim is to plug some of those gaps by providing extra assessments, intervention and support services to people with dementia and those who support them personally and professionally.    Over the next few months my services will be coming 'live' on the Dementia Consultant website.  I'd love to develop these in conjunction with people who are involved in using and providing services. Please contact me  if you have any ideas for how best of what it would be good for me to offer. I'd love to hear from you.

And like and share my new site and blog if you feel inclined on Facebook and Twitter.  I have been a reluctant Tweeter in the past but now I'm getting into a bit of a groove!

Monday, 3 April 2017

We Won!

These are my boys, Ruff Stu and Mr Metrosexual and my 'Other Boys'.  I'll have to get my thinking caps on and think of their Blogland names. We've all decided that it would be a jolly good idea if we made an effort and  entered the pub quiz at the Queens Arms.  My local, after all, is just a hop, skip and a jump down the hill - oh and a winding stagger back up after a couple of pints of the lovely ale that they're famed for.

Image:  BBC
Even though there was a sports round that leaned heavily towards the beautiful game, our combined knowledge of '70s and '80s pop and obscure general knowledge saw us through.  Mr Metrosexual's impressive ability to recall the intricacies of Eurovision was also handy.  Who the dickens are Scooch?  Our score of 38/54 was good enough to beat off the competition and secure the prize of an extra pint each!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Laughing with A Ladybird

Thank you for my lovely birthday greetings. I was very chuffed to receive kind words from so many of you.  I had a wonderful day organised by Salty Dog which included charity shopping where I found some brilliant '60s retro side plates, a coast path walk to Paignton, eating popcorn in the front seats of the top of a double decker bus back home and a meal in Simply Fish my favourite restaurant with 'my boys' and 'my others boys'.

My presents included The Ladybird Book of Mindfulness from my friend M in the Midlands. one of a series of tongue in cheek books that aims to help grown ups cope with the world around them through careful choice of words, frequent repetition and the thoughtful matching of text with pictures.  Just like the Ladybird books from childhood then!  I'm self deprecating enough about myself and my hippy leanings to have  realised that this would be a gift that came my way at some point in time!  Here's some of the pages that raised the biggest laughs.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

With Love

It's my birthday peeps.  What I hope for this 53th year on this good earth is for things to be a little less eventful than in the last twelve months.  You don't know the half of what has happened as Blogland is a very edited glimpse of real life.  Just take my word for it that I'm overdue some peace and normality.

Louis is off to Portugal today with his dad so he won't be spending the day with me.  We swapped gifts on his own birthday.  I went down the 'want, need, wear, read' route with his presents again and phew! the trainers that I bought him were pronounced awesome.  We parents of teenager can get it so wrong!

Louis loves to gift. It's not just on birthdays and at  Christmas that I'm given little surprises.  I thought I'd share a selection of the things that he's bought for me that make my heart melt every time I look at them.    Let's start with my bedpost heart collection. They're all from him.  That 'Love You To The Moon and Back ' quote makes an appearance again.  That Nutbrown Hare has got a lot to answer for.

Randomness including a birthday dolphin.  All Lou buys and makes.

A pig and a plant in a beautifully made pot from a craft fair.

Stones to put on my chakras to please my inner hippy mummy.

I'd been eyeing up this whale scourer holder in a beautiful kitchen shop in Dartmouth for a long time.  As you do. My boy must have noticed.

And from the same place I got a funky oil/vinegar dispenser.  I'd put in a request for that one but didn't know what design I'd get from a choice of three.

Back to Christmas. Here's a string of embossed ceramic birds that he made with his aunty.  They were too pretty to be saved for the Christmas tree.

A littte  stone turtle from Marrakesh and a slate coaster.  I don't know where he gets the idea that I like a tipple or two.

And this is maybe my favourite birthday present.  Wine related as well!  It was made by a blacksmith at Cockington Court and is a glass holder to stick in the ground.  You can only see the top here. Just the thing for when I'm reading a book in my recliner on my French holidays.  I really am a very lucky mum.