Friday, 30 June 2017

Powerful Stuff

Yesterday I came Ben Okri's poem  about Grenfell Tower.  I'd urge you to listen to this testament to social injustice.   It is intensely powerful.  What struck me was the author's voice is seems so gentle but does not lack power.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Surfing For The Trees

Shameless plagiarisim today!  I looked over the shoulder of my friend Aril at Gnat Bottomed Towers in our GCSE blogging exam and have copied her idea for a post.   I'll think I'll be forgiven for she wrote about an idea that I'm dying to  talk about.

There's a search engine called Ecosia.  I'm surprised that I haven't heard about it before as it's been around for seven years.  But then so has my blog and only a select bunch of people have found that!  Instead of spending its advertising revenue on chocolate and mobile phones it uses it to plant trees. There's nearly 10 million extra on the  planet as a consequence and the funding for one more gets raised every two seconds.  On average, every forty five of my searches will buy a tree.

I'm sold and so is my green friend extraordinaire Salty Dog.  I've download the app to my phone and the extension to my computer.   Ecosia is now the homepage on my laptop.  Google, which I still need for my mail, calendar and other stuff, is now a shortcut on my toolbar.   As advertised the search engine is fast and I'm very happy with it.

So  please like, share and download Ecosia you lovely peeps out there.   It really is worth a try.  With my little activism hat on I'd liked to think that Aril and I have got a few more people to get on our virtual boards and surf for the trees!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017


Photo:  Men's Fellowship Network

Something rather wonderful is happening.  For the first time in months, nay years, I am consistently sleeping right through.  I put it down to being generally less anxious.  Maybe this is due to adopting a meticulously regular morning and evening meditation regime.  Sure there are still the usual challenges: work, finances, the extra juggling that comes from being a single mum to a teenager.  But they don't seem to bother me in the wee small hours of the morning like they used to.

I'm even waking late sometimes.  You have to understand that is still pretty early in most people's book.  I'm an early bird and like to be up and about before five.  Today I woke just after 5:30. I'm not going to complain.

As there's less time for blogging then this morning I thought I'd let you ponder on this diagram and I'll allow this quite wonderful Japanese concept speak for itself!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Everything In Its Place: Phew!

I think I've talked before about the symbiotic relationship between my mind and my habitat.  If there's muddle and strife in my head the places that I live and work get messy.  If it's untidy at home, say after a move or whilst redecorating a room, my mental state suffers.  It doesn't even matter if I can close a door on the carnage like the time when it wasn't possible to see the floor in the spare room.  I knew it was in a state and I fretted.  I'm a silly old sausage like that!

So the state of chaos in my craft area couldn't be more than a temporary one.  Over the last week I've grafted.  There's been much sorting, discarding and recycling and here's the result.  Serenity restored.

Gone are three drawer units precariously perched on each other where I housed my tools.  I risked life and limb every time I retrieved a screwdriver. It was like Russian Roulette as to whether it was all going to topple over.    Everything except one  filing box for my paperwork is now housed in the  desk drawers or IKEA unit.  Amazingly three of its twenty five compartments are empty. when it used to be stuffed full with  four plastic boxes on top as well.   My tools, crafting materials and business bits and pieces all now have allocated spaces.  The carpet that had suffered after an ink related accident has been disguised with a rug that I begged from my ex.  It was in our last house in Exeter and I knew he wasn't using it anymore.

The sense of order frees me.  I can put my hand on the things that I need to do a job easily as  I know where everything is.  So I set to being productive as soon as it was all done.  Here's that octopus print again, now nicely framed courtesy of good old IKEA again.   I painted the mount with some left over vinyl matt from Mr Metrosexual.   More scrounging!  I'm so pleased with the finished article which is now hanging on the wall in my kitchen diner.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Just Ignore the Sexist Knob.....

...who's doing the voiceover for this Pathe news clip from the '50s.  He's outrageously chauvinist and of his time.     This doesn't detract though from the amazing talent that these mere housewives exhibit once they'd been given  permission by their husbands to stop cleaning for a while and leave the home. I'm sure that they had to leave class on time to make sure that supper was on the table as soon as the menfolk walked through the door

Many of the designs are right up my street and will be inspiring for future work of my own.    I also like the idea of mounting the lino on board to stop it warping.  Adherence to sensible health and safety precautions seems a little thin on the ground.  I flinched as the woman was cutting the lino towards her hand.   I hope there was a first aid box handy.  Those tools can do some damage when they slip.

Back to that annoying announcer.  I'm quite puzzled by one of his remarks.  How can a cowboy possibly be better than a spaceman for bedtime?

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Pictures of Pictures

I spent most of yesterday indoors sorting out my craft area.  It has come on leaps and bounds.  I'm just trawling through paperwork now.  I came across some old photos which delighted.  So I thought I'd show you some in chronological order.  First up Miss Butcher's class from 1971.  Can you guess which one is me?

University days!  I think that I might be more recognisable here.  The interesting thing is that all three of us on the right of the picture were wearing each other's dresses.  In our hall of residence we had an open house thing going on between wardrobes.

An Appalachian Trail Memory:  Still not quite grey then although a badger streak was becoming evident.  I think we're in Gatlinburg, Tennessee,  The man to my right is 'Buzzard'.  His entire camping kit consisted of stuff that he'd got by collecting tokens from Marlboro' cigarettes!

I didn't finish the trail myself as my then husband cracked a bone in his knee.  But here's the picture that my friend John sent showing him at the North terminus.  One day I'll go back and do it!

I sailed to the Scillies with Salty Dog in 2004.    This was taken on the island of  St Martins.  More salt and pepper then but the grey was coming through!

I shed a little tear when I found this.  It's a laminated shot of Louis taken at nursery on a display where the kids pointed out body parts.  Lou was allocated 'eyes'.  He was such a beautiful toddler.

Not a photo but a concert ticket.  I was really pleased that this turned up.  It's the one that was recorded for the live album where Louis is convinced that you can hear me whooping.

And here's one that made me laugh.  Near naked juggler/acrobats outside the Pump Rooms at Bath!

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Musing on Art

Whenever I hear someone say 'I can't draw, paint or make sculpture.'  I feel like contradicting them.  Everyone has the potential to make art but lots of people have blocks in place so that they are denied this form of self-expression.  Maybe they were told they were no good as a child or make this judgement themselves.  I'm still having an uphill battle to convince my boy that his own art is beautiful.

For a long time my creativity was stifled.  I compared myself to my brother whose extraordinary work won him a place at art college. Thank goodness I overcame my own barriers to creativity.  My jewellery making, printing and mosaic give me intense pleasure and most of the time I'm really pleased with what I've made.

My work is always quite primitive. If I aimed for realism I think I'd experience disappointment.  But I'm  full of admiration though for clever souls who can produce art that replicates reality.  I remember at school there was a painting on the wall from an A-level student who'd completed a study of chemistry equipment.   How could someone produce a picture of glass objects to a standard where it looked like a photograph?  I'm very taken by this rather disturbing 17th century sculpture by Bernini that I came across the other day.  The way that the hand looks as if it is making an indentation into the thigh that it is touching is astounding.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Stepping Out and Up

I have sourced a picture of a crab today firstly because I want to make a print of one.  The other reason is that I'm reminded of a conversation the other day.  Mr Metrosexual and I were out on the green near my house the other day when we met a woman that he used to work with.  'Do you know Julie?' he asked.  'I see her out running.' the lady replied.  'Does she still move like a crab?' inquired my friend.  'Yes a bit.' was the reply.  The cheek!

Anyway I'm stepping up the running efforts as my Bristol half marathon attempt is less than three months away.   Since my 10K run back in March I've cut back a bit on training.  Now I've got to knuckle down in preparation for doubling that distance.  Eek!    So off out in a minute.  I did download some fancy training plans but have decided just to do things in my own way at my own pace.  I'll update you all in about a month and start begging for sponsorship then too.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Breatharianism: Not For Me!

I read an article last week about a couple who are breatharians and claim to live on cosmic nourishment. On one level I like the idea as, if it is true, it smacks of the miraculous.  I'm very happy to state the standpoint that sometimes things don't obey natural laws.  Another part of me is concerned that, in the wrong minds, this could be pretty dangerous stuff.  There are reports that people have starved to death in their attempt to follow this diet.

It's not for me.  I absolutely adore food.  Even though the breatharians in the article point out that all the money that they've saved can go on travel, I'm not persuaded.  One of the reasons that I visit other places is to eat and drink different things!  So today I thought I'd list 10 memorous meals as they came to me, just to remind myself of the pleasure that eating brings to my life.

  • Fried eggs and chips:  As soon as I got home after Louis was born to break the ban on runny yolks that was imposed during pregnancy.
  • A massive assiette de fruits de mer:  Seafood shared by me and Scary Secretary at Roscoff with our kids running backwards and forwards from a playground to steal winkles.
  • A Christmas day picinc:  On top of Yes Tor with my ex-husband in the early days of our marriage when we were sticking two fingers up to festivities.
  • Our feast of crab caught off the shore of Seattle
  • The great big cheese and garlic toasted open sandwiches that they used to serve at the Old Firehouse pub in Exeter and the special saald that they used to do at the Double Locks in the 1980s that was packed with fruit.
  • The weird but delicious bake that my mum used to make which consisted of sausagemeat topped with spaghetti hoops, mashed potatoes and grated cheese.  So good my brother, sister and I would request it as our birthday meal.
  • Strawberries eaten straight from the plants at the pick your own in Tiptree.
  • The best ice cream in the world as judged by Lou and me in Vancouver.
  • My mum's home made pork pies brought back to Devon from my trips back to my childhood home in Essex.
  • The gorgeous little cheesy parcels that are on sale everywhere in Malta.
....and I could go on.  Got to stop because I must get on with my day.  Yes, this has reinforced the idea.  No breatharianism for me!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Stumpy Brushes

Photo: The Independent

These fascinated me.   What stories they could tell.   They are Edward Munch's gnarly old paintbrushes.  It just goes to show that you don't need the finest materials and equipment to create masterpieces - or look after your kit very well.   'The Scream' sold for a record $119 million dollars in 2012.   I'm particularly taken with the third from the left.  It looks like Munch  did not just use it for painting.  Perhaps it ended up so stumpy because he used it for scouring something.  The second from the right hand end looks like the type of brush that might be given away free on the front of a kid's comic.

Adobe have digitally recreated these through clever 3D wizardry..  Photoshop and Sketch users can use them to paint their own version of one of the world's most iconic paintings.  They could be in with a chance of winning a trip to Vegas and five grand for their troubles.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Temporary Chaos

Little things please little minds.  My newly tidied wardrobe is a joy.  No more rummaging around to try and find a piece of clothing, exacerbating the problem in the process.  I've become a bit of an evangelist, showing off my neat knicker drawer at every opportunity.    The tallboy where Louis now keeps his clothes has had a bit of a makeover too.  Even the messy pup who calls me OCD at shows the first signs of conversion.

This is a bit of a confessional photo.  It shows my craft area at the start of the weekend.  It's not usually in such a huge state of disarray.  Funnily enough the tidying process has made it worse than usual.  I've been turning it upside to find boxes to use for storage!   I have to say though it's been becoming increasingly messy over the months as I've tried to find homes for more stuff to be stored. It's the next space in my house to get my own variant of 'The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Treatment'.  If she read this the author Marie Kondo would be tutting.  She does not advocate doing one room at once.  But each to their own.   I've gone off-piste!

I'm hoping to show the cleansed space in about a week.  It will be all zen calm by then.   Work is underway.   The drawer units that housed rush baskets with all my tools in have gone.  You can just see them on the right hand side of the picture.  On the hottest day in June for forty one years I spent my lunch break at the recycling centre getting rid of the wooden frames.   They were stacked precariously and I risked life and limb every time I tried to retrieve a screwdriver.  There's more space now to move, for energy to flow.

And making space seems to be a theme in my life at the moment, in my head, environment and in my day to day routines.  What I'm hoping is for my newly ordered workspace to be someone which inspires creativity rather than dread.   All I need will be as easily on hand as my underwear is now!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Going, Going Gone!

I seem to be spending a lot of time in the pub these days. If it's not the quiz, which incidentally we lost on the tie break this month, it's the meat draw.  There's always something going on.  Over this weekend the Queen's Arms has been having a fundraising weekend for the Golden Vanity Trust to take away disadvantaged kids on a sailing holiday on a Brixham trawler.  The highlight of the weekend is the art auction.  I've been doing my bit by displaying a poster advertising the event in my window.  What's more I framed up one of my octopus prints and donated it to be raffled.

Louis came with me.  I gave him a budget of a tenner to bid with and he came home with a lovely photograph of the harbour which he won for £11.  Another punter around the other side of the bar took pity and stumped up the extra pound.  I'd seen a few pictures that I liked the look of but was outbid on them all.   You have to be strict with yourself at auction and set a price.  You can't get carried away!

My friend Sam the Beard's  painting in the style of a `1930's railway poster was one of the items that stole the show.  People came especially to try and win it and it went for over £100.  My octopus?  Well it raised £24, over the double the cost of the frame so I was happy.  Not bad for a print made out of a polystyrene pizza plate.

It seemed that I was going to come away empty handed but then my fortune changed.  I won this.  An intricate slate sculpture of a fishing harbour.  It's like a mosaic in 3D.  I'm thrilled to bits!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Grenfell Fire: Reflections on Impermanence

My thoughts and prayers are with the residents of Grenfell Tower at the moment.  There are those who lost their lives, have been injured in a life changing way and others who have lost everything.  Disco Queen Vikki told me the other day that her family had suffered a house fire when she was a teenager. One of her twin sisters had left a school bag on a bed where  an electric blanket had been switched on. A couple of chemistry sets that  the girls had got for their birthday also added to the intensity of the flames.  She came home from her job as a junior hairdresser in just the clothes that she was wearing. That happened to be the green overall that was her uniform.   There was no contents insurance on the home so people rallied round and gave them what they needed.

It got me thinking about the transitory nature of all we have and own.   I thought it would be wise to acknowledge this.  Each night before I go to sleep I'm in the habit of expressing gratitude for what the day has brought me, the people I've met, the kindness done to me and what I've been able to do, food, what I've seen and done.......  . I'm now giving thanks that I've been allowed to enjoy my lovely house and all that I own for just one more day.  With this comes acceptance of the idea that things could change in the course of the day and acknowledgement that, at any time, I might have to adapt to a life that's different from the one I have now.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Meat Draw

I can see it now.  Friday night comes and those elegant cosmopolitan types head off to classy cocktail bars and posh restaurants to celebrate the start of the weekend.  Me?  I wander up to the Queen's Arms with 'My Boys' and 'My Other Boys' for the meat draw.  It's a measure of just how glamorous my life can be.

As I've mentioned before my local is on CAMRA's radar and there's always a good ale or two to try. The bar staff let me 'try before I buy' in little sample glasses.   I add a couple of tickets for the raffle to my order. Then I sit down with my beer and share a couple of big bags of crisps.  And we yabber.  Talk is often about the Baltic cruise that the boys are all going on next year.  I'll join them if my business makes me my millions!

And then it's the meat draw.  There's often sausages, bacon and eggs and a huge black pudding which people pose with for Carry On-esque selfies.  Mr Metrosexual and Ruff Stu often seem to haul in something pork based.  I never win.   'If I don't get anything tonight I'll take it as a sign from God that I'm supposed to go vegan.'  I told the boys.  The draw was announced and the first ticket was pulled. The prize went to the man that always wins something.  He must buy a shedload each week.  Then success!  Sam the Beard and Nursey Mike were presented with a beautiful gammon.  It seemed that a meat and dairy-free life was calling.  I bemoaned the fact that I would soon be giving up cheese.

But right near the end of the draw my fortune changed and no dietary adjustments are necessary. Phew! I won a bounty, an odd combination of  chicken and sausages.  It looks like the bird has been disemboweled.  I was going to get a roast out of the freezer as Louis is home and it's his favourite.  It seems I don't have to now.   I'll rustle up a toad in the hole and get some pastry for sausage rolls too   Louis will be happy.  He's very carnivorous.  A meat feast beckons this weekend.

Friday, 16 June 2017

The Best Medicine?

The nature of my job in an older person's mental health team means that I have my regulars.  Some people's illnesses come and go in cycles.   A few have endured bouts of terrible suffering over a course of a lifetime.  The most wonderful thing about yesterday was visiting the most challenging person on my caseload in hospital.   He switches from being one of the gentlest human beings on the planet to becoming a danger to himself and others when poorly.   'I'll know at once how he is by the way he greets me.' I explained to the doctor before the case meeting.   The person walked in and from the smiles we exchanged I knew that he'd entered a period of wellness.   Magic!

I got a phone call from one of the secretaries earlier in the week.  Another person,, who I thought was getting better was having a wobble.  'His wife asked me to send Julie round.' she told me.  I was chuffed.  Maybe this was a sign that my superlative therapy skills honed from years of studying and experience are recognised.  Not so, I realised as the secretary went on to explain why I'd been asked for specifically.   'She said that you always cheer them both up by giving them a really good laugh!'

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Photos at Dusk

A picture post today showcasing my beautiful town.  These are snaps that I took last night.  Salty Dog has stayed over.  Louis is also here too.  It's rare that he's about on a Wednesday but he wanted to use my kitchen been to bake for Alzheimer's Cupcake Day.  Adolescent cooking is not the most organised. The whole of my ground floor is now sticky! We left him to it and went for a walk down to the harbour.

The light was beautiful just before dusk.  Just right for some arty shots.

I am constantly aware of how lucky I am to live here.  On evenings like this one my good fortune seems to shine even brighter.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Leave It Alone!

Woman With Flower  

I wouldn't coax the plant if I were you. 
Such watchful nurturing may do it harm. 
Let the soil rest from so much digging 
And wait until it's dry before you water it. 
The leaf's inclined to find its own direction; 
Give it a chance to seek the sunlight for itself. 
Much growth is stunted by too careful prodding, 
Too eager tenderness. 
The things we love we have to learn to leave alone.

Naomi Long Madgett

I came across this poem the other day.  As an alternative to music in the car I'm frequently listening to inspirational stuff on YouTube.  This came up at one of the end of Wayne Dyer's talks.  It bowled me over.   Isn't the power of words to do that so amazing? 

I think that it's applicable to the situation that's going on in the background as I'm writing this post. Louis lost his debit card and he's on the phone to the bank sorting it out. I could have taken over and done it for him but helicopter parenting isn't really my style.  Just reflecting on these extraordinarily eloquent and wise words again.  I reckon they apply to all sorts of relationships not just the ones between parents and children. 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Foraging Flowers

I veered off the Totnes-Paignton road this evening because I'd spied bounty on the way to work the other day.  A bush covered with accessible elderflowers.  My recent foraging activity has taught me that elder seems to be a companion plant for the stinging nettle and often its flowers are too far out of reach. I picked a carrier bag full tonight with ease.  Consequently my home smells utterly amazing.

I adore foraging and it's up there in my top favourite pursuits.  It's so absorbing and satisfying.   This is the third batch of elderflowers I've picked.  Lou and I have been making cordial from this recipe.  The lady in Sainsbury's pharmacy are now on good terms because that's where I source my citric acid, one of the ingredients.  If you buy that stuff you get asked some awkward questions.  I now know that you can use it to 'cut heroin'.  What that entails I have absolutely no idea!

Here's my mixture that has been steeping all day. I'll strain and bottle it in the morning.  I've written about making elderflower cordial before back in 2010 in my early days of blogging.  I paired it  back then with a link to a recipe for elderflower champagne.  Now there's a recipe that's not for the faint hearted.  It's lovely stuff but I think I only sampled one bottle out of the eight.  The rest exploded!

Monday, 12 June 2017

More About 'That Tidying Book'

My house used to look tidy enough for my son to accuse me of having OCD at times.  It's a reputation that's enhanced by the fact that I insist on having icons in alphabetical order on the screens of my phone and tablet.  Even so you'd find a seething mess if you were to venture into some of the drawers and hidey holes.  Someone told me  way back that in order to get a bloke you had to make  physical space for him.    I might have been able to squish  a pair of his clean  pants in amongst my socks if he'd have stayed over but that's about it.   Perhaps that's the reason that I've had long bouts of being single.

Motorhome life made me better at decluttering but even so in the last couple of months I've taken alarming amounts of stuff to be recycled.  And that was before I read that tidying book by the very fastidious Japanese lady. Marie Kondo beseeches you to follow her system to the letter but I've rebelled.  Even so I hope that she'd be quite proud of me.

Thanks to some fancy folding and paring down of my clothes collection by another big charity shop bag all my clothes and bags, aside from coats and shoes but including my ski gear, now fit into my wardrobe.    My underwear drawer is a revelation!  Mr Metrosexual can attest to that.  I was comfortable showing it off to a gay man but you're not seeing it.   I don't want the whole world to see my neatly ordered smalls. What's more the not insubstantial cupboard above the drawers is completely empty.  I might house the sheets and towels that I currently keep under the bed in the spare room in there - all stored vertically. Anyone who's read the book will know why!

Five big bags of books too have gone in the Heart Foundation recycling bins at Sainsburys. Even though I thought I'd been quite severe in my book culling in the past there were lots I hadn't read, and to be honest, was probably never going to.  So two bookcases worth have been melded into one, all filed under the Rainbow system, a perfectly adequate alternative to the Dewey decimal system unless you want to find something quickly!

Yesterday the food cupboard in the kitchen got the treatment and I'm going to start on my workspace on the landing tomorrow.   It's occurred to me that increasing my sense of spaciousness is a theme running through my life at the moment.  I've cleared my mind, freed up time and now I'm working on my physical environment.   Somehow it all seems strangely interconnected.

PS:  Oh following the comment by Sol on my last post.  I'm emptying out my handbag into a felt box every night.  It seems that there is method in madness. I only leave the house with what I need for that day.  My occupational therapist's standard kit of tape measure doesn't really need to come with me to the pub on a Sunday.  The upshot is that my load is lighter!!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Not At Dog Stage Yet

Following on from my post about noticing trees last week I bring you this lovely little cartoon that I found online yesterday.  I'm getting there.  My mind is about halfway between the mutt and his owner these days!

Saturday, 10 June 2017

How's He Doing

Louis seems to sabotage all my attempts to take a decent photo of him these days.   I have to catch him unawares  or he'll either photobomb, pull a face or turns away, like in this one.  But  I love this though.  It seems to have accidentally turned out okay.

Louis is now a term into his new school so it's about time for a progress update.  I'm pleased to say that he's thriving in a beautiful and friendly environment with small class sizes.  I'm astounded that this can be achieved within the non selective state system.   No longer am I receiving text messages about disorganised  behaviour on a near daily basis.  I don't miss those I can tell you!   His first report was superb and he's back on to achieve the grades that I knew that he was capable of.  There was  a huge range of GCSE's to choose from and is studying subjects that weren't on offer at the traditionally academic grammar school.  One of the things that he previously struggled with due to his dyslexia was language learning.   Yet continuing either French or Spanish were compulsory in his old school. It was a very steep uphill struggle.  Now he is able to study additional English and Maths lessons  instead that compensate for his difficulties and augment his strengths.

I was unaware  of how much stress that Louis, me and his dad were under when his school wasn't a good fit for him.  It was only after the change took place that it became apparent.   My son is happier in a small mixed sex environment where there's a focus on acquiring vocational skills.    Even though I've had to change my working hours, leaving home earlier and getting back much later than before, it's not a problem because there's no homework!  In the evenings and weekends time is our own.

I'd urge other parents whose kids aren't happy to carefully consider swapping schools if this is possible.    Sure there may be personal sacrifice for you and worries about how they're going to settle in and make new friends. But shouldn't children be supported from an early age to change the things that aren't working for them?   I was talking to another friend who was near to tears saying how miserable her own child, who has similar interests to Louis,  is at their current senior school.    On the back of our experience she's took action.  She made an appointment for them to visit Louis' school. They'll be starting in September!

Friday, 9 June 2017

Tiny New Business Update

Things are a bit different here at Lovelygrey HQ than they were six months ago.  Through sheer bloody mindedness and learning to say no a lot more often than I've ever done in the past the balance between my life inside and out of the NHS has been restored.  Yay!  I'm using the time that I've freed up in a variety of ways.  There's a bit more time for leisure and soul seeking.  I'm reading  much more and getting creative again.   Another pizza base awaits my attention.  I'm just trying to think of a suitable design.   But the bulk of my extra hours goes on developing my own Dementia Consultant business.  The picture on my post today is one I've used on the website.  Lovely isn't it?  I like the way that sand can convey the metaphor of a changing brain.

In an ideal world I'd jack in the day job and devote my efforts to full-time self employment.  I'm finding the project exciting and exhilarating.  Even though I'm theoretically working it's enjoyable to be finding my ropes.   There's so much to do and I'd love to work on this all day and every day if I had the time.  The sensible head on my shoulders stops me doing this.   I have a roof to keep over my head and the mouth of a minor to feed.  The regular income from employment is pretty handy as it happens.  I'm growing and developing the business but slowly.  Salty Dog continues to be encouraging of my tortoise over hare tactics and advocates patience..  She believes that I will get there.

So what have I been doing? Well from a financial perspective I have a bank account and have found a lovely local accountant who is reasonably priced.     She's ready to go once the pennies start coming in.  My main focus is on building up awareness of my personal brand so that there is a good chance of having a ready market there when I start offering services to sell.  I'm far more excited about my Facebook and Twitter following than I've ever been for this blog.  I do this for fun not for commercial gain.  It's very different.

My first priority from a product point of view is developing online courses.  I have blueprints for several but I want to do it right.  So I'm taking a Udemy course on online course design.  After all I don't want dodgy camera angles and muffled sound quality to scare my punters away.  Be warned I might be trying out my new found skills in video production on you guys shortly!  

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Vote Please!!!

It's general election day in the United Kingdom.  Once I've got myself up and sorted out I'll head on over to the bowling club on the nearby green that serves as our local polling station and put my tick in a box.  I used to have a postal vote but didn't renew it when I moved to Brixham.   There's a sense of occasion about showing up in person.  It reminds me of the privilege I have in being able to vote. Many have gone before me who didn't have that right.

This is  the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst in her prison uniform.  She's here to call attention to the fact  that many have been imprisoned and been killed fighting for political equality.  The struggle goes on for many.   So, as a mark of respect to all of these people please use your vote.  It's no secret that my own leanings are definitely at the pinko end of the spectrum.  Maybe I should be urging the true blue among you to stay at home to give old Jezzer a better chance.  But it's not so.   As a 'female pleb' who's had no political voice in the past I urge you.  please go.    We need everyone to have a say in order to preserve democracy.  A balance of voices is healthy!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A Duet'll Do

Hmmm!   What shall I blog about this morning?  That was just what I was thinking a couple of minutes ago as I supped my first cuppa in my cosy bed.  Life is good except for the lack of inspiration. So I was in the process of a bit of procrastinating.   I can be quite good at that! Trawling through the inbox of my Google Mail account seemed like a good stalling tactic.   In there I came across this.  It made the hairs on my back stand on end.

Have a wonderful day good people.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Posh Puzzles

Every year as part of her lovely Christmas open house celebrations in Exmouth my wonderful friend, the Second Martha Stewart buys a  Wentworth jigsaw puzzle.  These are beautiful but extraordinarily complicated.  Each piece has no straight lines.  It makes them a bugger to complete.

Last year's puzzle, 'Triskelion' was passed onto me to try at home It had been finished in what seemed like a flash by Martha's guests.  The suggested time of completion on the box said something like a couple of hours.  But be blowed if it didn't flummox me and Louis.  We'd been trying to get it done for months now.  Just as we thought we'd cracked it we'd notice a segment where we'd put one of the many identically shaped pieces in the wrong place and try as we might we couldn't get it right.  I'll confess that we'd all but given up on the blasted thing.

When Spiky Kay and Red Mel came to visit the other weekend they came to the rescue.  Hey presto we now have a completed puzzle.  I'll just accept that some people have a much better aptitude for fine detail. I won't be breaking this up any time soon now the conundrum has been solved.  I still don't trust my ability to put it all back together again!

Monday, 5 June 2017

That Tidying Book

A period away in my motorhome always makes me reflect on how little stuff I need in my life.  So perhaps it was a good place to read Marie Kondo's  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying.   Here's some of the things that I gained from the book.

  • A deep sense of respect for the things that I own and the part that they play in my life.
  • A way of getting rid of things guilt free by giving thanks for the role that they have played in my life however small.
  • The idea of using what you already have as storage solutions.  A wooden box that we got from the supermarket that contained strawberries was re-purposed as a caddy for my cleaning materials in the bathroom.
  • Anyone who's read the book would guess that I'd read it too by the way my clothes and towels are now stored vertically rather than in a horizontal pile.
  • Even in the small space living environment of the van there is stuff that needs to go because it does not bring joy.  I thought I was pretty minimalist in the van yet there was probably three bin bags worth of stuff to throw away or recycle.   Even though I'd only taken enough clothes away for a week, I no longer own three of the garments anymore.  A pair of holey leggings and a couple of ill fitting swimsuits are gone as they do not fulfil the purpose of bringing joy into my life. 
And just when I thought that I'd been doing pretty well at home lately I'm forced to re-evaluate my decluttering efforts.  Even though about ten bin bags of stuff went in the charity bins just a month ago it seems that there might be a bit more work to do.  After all I'm after spaciousness in my life at both a physical and meta-physical level and don't feel that I've quite achieved it yet.  I'll recommend this as a read to you guys. Even if you don't take on all the principles and adopt Marie Kondo's methods to the letter I think it's guaranteed to give food for thought.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Colouring Is Now Cool

Teenagers are a constant source of amazement.   It's hard to imagine what might float their boats.  But on Friday I was begged in a rather wonderful home interior store in Perros Guirec to buy, not one, but two giant colouring posters by Omy depicting bizarre cartoon scenes of New York and Brittany.  We drove to the ferry port at Roscoff last night and I pulled out the Breton one.  It kept us occupied for hours and I had a fight on my hands when it had to be folded away at bedtime.

Bossy Beth and I had a brief break.  We walked to a nearby beach to leave the weird rocks that Lou and I decorated on our last summer holiday.  That bloke is apparently a YouTuber.  We invited Lou to come but he was engrossed.  'I've got to finish colouring my sausage!'  was his excuse.

The poster is going home. It will be hung in the kitchen and anyone who visits is welcome to pick up a Sharpie and contribute to completing it.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Technicolor Trees

For work I have been driving the same route for thirteen years now, ploughing along the  A-road between Totnes and Kingsbridge on an almost daily basis.  Maybe I've spent twelve and a  half of those on autopilot with a mind full of stuff. Sometimes it's productive, planning creative projects or just preparing for a difficult visit ahead.  But mostly it's been rubbish filled thoughts, going over things that have happened again and again, worrying, reliving past hurt. anxiety about the future.  I'm sure that there's a few out there who know the kind of thing.

Although I've practised mindfulness for a good decade I've always been pretty distractable.  But more lately I've been more successful in curing those thoughts and just being with nature while I motor along.    And my world is now in technicolor now I notice it.  Honest!  It must be like being on psychedelic substance even though I've not had any first hand experience of those.  A few puffs of a couple of joints are my total experience of illicit druggy use.  There!  That's scuppered my chances of ever becoming the US president!

I perceive the quality of light, little flowers in bud and  when I'm forced to stop to let a lorry pass.  But the trees are what I'm noticing the most.  There are some on route that I've become familiar with for the first time.  I'm seeing for the first time how they change with the seasons, the budding, blossoming and unfurling of leaves.  And then there are those that have been bowed by the westerly winds that predominate around here.

I'd love to be able to take photos to show you their majesty but I can't.  It would be a bit dangerous and many are sited in places where I'd be unable to stop anyway.   So, these are the ones that are near the entrance to the campsite.   I took some pictures of them on foot.  I've had plenty of time as I pass to admire their magnificence this week.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Glamour Puss

Four years ago Lou and I took a boat trip out to the Sept Iles to see the bird life.  Yesterday we repeated the trip and introduced Bossy Beth to the forty thousand strong gannet colony that makes one of the islands look like it is snow capped.  Our favourite sighting had to be puffins swimming in the sea and taking off like little fat bees.   I didn't get a good photo of them so  here's a couple of the gannets, With my rusty grasp of French I was able to learn from the  commentary that they mate for life. 'Always faithful' the lady said.  However do they know?

Then back to the motorhome. It was one of those days where a man around the house on wheels would have been handy. Whether he  intended to stick around permanently or not I didn't really care - as long as he stayed long enough to sort out my bike!  One problem after another has meant I haven't been able to ride it on this holiday.  Every time I set off there's another clunking sound which involves a visit to Youtube to  solve it.  The plus side is that the men who feature in those cycle repair videos are often easy on the eye   The minus side?  This engineering lark doesn't really come naturally.    I also get covered in grease and muck.   It's wasn't a good look with the '40s style chiffon that I was wearing yesterday.   My wardrobe isn't heavy on workman-like gear. To make matters worse I had to empty the Portapotti afterwards.  The trip to the disposal point with a box of bodily waste always feels like a walk of shame!  Glamourous I was not.

I was reminded of a conversation with Salty Dog where there was wine involved.   We were categorising our ideal blokes.  Hot/cute came at the top but close on the heels came 'They must be able to mend things better than we can.'  We were unanimous in agreement.  What a pair of users!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Little Peeps from A L'Aise Breizh

These dudes grace the back of Klaus the Knaus, our beloved motorhome.  They are jolly. It's traditional now for us to buy one  from the A L'aise Breizh shop in Roscoff on the last night of each holiday here.  Apparently we're in good company as one and a half million vehicles sport the stickers of the Breton company based in Morlaix.  These are cartoon versions of the ladies of the Bigouden region who sport tall lacy bonnets on festival days.    At home I have a butter dish with the same logo.  It reminds me of all the wonderful times that we've had in my favourite Celtic region.