Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The Wonderful Chocolatey Creations of George Larnicol

I've posted about the chocolate lion in the Concarneau branch of Georges Larnicol before.  Its willy looks contains about the same amount of chocolate as an old style large Toblerone,  before they made the gaps between the triangles bigger.   I hope and pray for  a day when humankind isn't trying to get one over on each other anymore, a world where big organisations embrace the spirit of generosity.

Anyway I won't be posting about the lion today.  You can do a good thing to death so anyone who wants a peep can go and have a look at my original post.  But I thought I'd show you some of the other chocolate creations in the shop.  Like the lion they all huge.  Like this lighthouse that was at least four feet high.

And the rocket suspended from the ceiling.  I'd have loved to have seen a chocolatey moon as well.  Perhaps that another job for the guy who likes to use cocoa products instead of lego.  Incidentally we did spot almost luminous green cheese in the market yesterday that had been infused with pesto. Brought back by an astronaut perhaps?

I think that this is my favourite creation, such surreal subject matter.   We're leaving Concarneau today but will undoubtedly be back on other of our trips.  As Louis has acquired a bit of an addiction to Georges Larnicol chocolate lollies I expect I'll be able to marvel at the strange art of the chocolatier once more in the future.11111111

Monday, 21 August 2017

Off Grid-ish

A technical motorhoming post today for those that are interested in the gubbins that we have at our disposal on the road that keeps us comfy.  Here's the view from Klaus the Knaus  my motorhome where we're parked at the moment on the fringes on Concarneau.  I've kept the above the cab window in shot as proof,  We visit some wonderful places in France using the free or cheap aires.  These are designated motorhome stops, usually in car parks but sometimes on what appears to be downgraded campsites.  The last two at Landerneau and Plougonvelin were like that.  It meant that we were able to hook up to electricity.  Many people use them.  In the time that I've been travelling in France as a single mum with kid in tow I've never felt unsafe.

Aires with hook ups are in the minority.  Most of the time we're self reliant.  We can be self reliant for about three days, more if we're in an area where I can impose strict potta-potti use guidelines.  Here's what we've got that means with can go off grid - for short times at least.

One hundred litre water tank: - You'd probably use that amount in the morning before work at home. Here it lasts us about five days.
Grey water tank: - holds dirty water from washing selves, dishes and clothes.  It is not in any way connected to the toilet so can be emptied down drain holes in the street.
Aforementioned Porta Potti:    A bit of water is augmented with blue liquid to eat up you know what!  We're supposed to use  special toilet paper that degrades more quickly but have normal stuff at present as we've run out and it's a bit tricky to get hold of.  There's a separate compartment that holds flush water which also has a bit of the blue stuff added.
A solar panel on the roof:  Supplies a leisure battery which powers lighting
A gas bottle:   This lasts yonks.  It provides hot water, heating when needs and powers a three way fridge when we don't have an electrical hook up.   The fridge uses electricity from the main battery when we're moving along as well.  It's very clever and I keep my fingers crossed that I won't have to replace it any time soon.  It sounds as if it would be an expensive repair.
An assortment of chargers for the cigarette socket to charge mobile phones and power banks:  We fight over their use a bit.  This includes one which I can use to charge the laptop. However this has a fan which runs down the main battery.  I found this to my cost last year when I had to ask a nice man for a jump start.  So I have....
A trickle charge:  Just a long bit of red wire with croc clips.  It was homemade. I attach it to the positive terminals of leisure battery (charged by the sun, remember) and the main battery to keep us nicely topped up so we can move on when needed.

I might have said before that I never feel deprived living in my motorhome.  Having access to perfectly adequate heating, lighting, cooking facilities and access to technology makes this possible.

Sunday, 20 August 2017


We are at the aire for motorhomes in Concarneau, one of my favourites stopovers in Brittany.  From the van's window I can see the sea through the trees of a wonderful wooded area where black squirrels have been spied on previous visits. It's just a two minute hop, skip and jump down the path to a beautiful beach.  I went down to litter pick and watch the sunset last evening.  Yes, I think we'll be here for a few days.  There's no rush to move on.

Yesterday afternoon we cycled down to the ferry stop where we take the boat trip into the ancient walled city of the town.  It's got some wonderful boutiques and eateries.  I bought the ring that graces the index finger of my right hand there last year.   A fish spa had opened and Louis begged to go.  At 10 Euros for fifteen minutes it wasn't not going to break the bank so I agreed.

The garra rufa fish which are housed in tanks in these places are like tiny ineffective piranhas.   They're not going to tuck in so voraciously as I understand that they have no teeth.  As soon as my feet were in the water they flocked, even weaving in and out of toes.  It's supposed to be relaxing.  I question that.  But it is a bit of a giggle having your feet gummed by little creatures the size of minnows.  And afterwards?  Well all toes remained intact.  And we both agreed that our feet were defnitely softer and smoother.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Picasso Alone

Not much of this holiday to Brittany was planned in advance beyond that nerve wracking Parcours course that I wimped out of a few days ago.  Louis also wants to go to an aquapark.  I've factored that into the equation.  The only thing that I wanted to see was the Picasso exhibition at the Fonds Helene and Edouard Leclerc. That's why we've ended up back in Landerneau where last year's touching Chagall exhibit was enhanced by a good free view of Iggy Pop.  I avoided the Festival de Bruit this year as after the Iggy set got a bit lairy.  Strains of foul mouthed rap and hip hop echoed around the cutesy French valley until the early hours.  The van shook to the beat and ,as I like my kip, I was a bit perturbed.   We've timed our return to the town a bit later on this year.  The aire de camping car is a haven of tranquility.

The queue to see Picasso was 'enorme' when we arrived in town on the first day.  It put Louis off and I headed off yesterday alone.  Even our customary game of 'Spot the Willy' that we've played in art galleries since he was little wasn't enough to tempt him.   No matter.  I'm good at doing alone,  Here's one of the first pictures in the exhibition, one by Jose Ruiz y Blasco, Picasso's dad.


Louis probably had a premonition about the exhibition. It was surprisingly light on penis representations.  Picasso was more of a boob man - square ones mainly.  Here's one of the two that I spotted.  The other was on a drawing labelled 'Femme' and seemed to be emerging from her face.  I was rather puzzled but there you go!

Here's an example of cubism.  I thought that it was a bit curvy given its genre.

I think that this was my favourite pictures in the whole exhibition. It depicts Jacqueline, Picasso's much painted second wife.  What may it more pleasing was that it was hung next to one of the preparatory drawings.  I'm a bit of a pleb really when it comes to art as this commentary will attest. But I do find it interesting to see how a work has evolved.

A Janus type image perhaps.  I hardly ever know how to interpret what I see when I look at art.  Just thought that it might be a depiction of past youth and a future where the nose continues to grow.  That's a biological fact.

This was another that pleased, a depiction of Paris.  No cornered body parts in sight.

And here's one of Picasso's doves.  He must have gained inspiration from his Dad's work.

Sometimes I wonder if artists are having a bit of a laugh when they produce a piece of work. 'Foot Bath' looks like something a four year old would be praised for at nursery.

And then just when you think that this bloke can't paint for toffee you come across something like this.

The final painting in the show that Picasso painted after he'd passed ninety.  He really was prolific up until the end.  All that interest he had in young women must have given him some va va voom!

Friday, 18 August 2017

Dinky Ink

There's lots about me that's quirky.  My brother told me that recently.  He  believes that it's why men are wary as they read my idiosyncrasies as meaning that they is some inner darkness that means that they should stay away. Oh my!  But I'll stick to being me for I haven't really a clue how to do normal.  And anyway I'm content with how I express myself through appearance, language and creativity, my slightly off the wall belief system and in the way that I do things slightly differently from others.  I told Louis the other day, that being cool isn't having the right gear but it's about exuding a sense of being comfortable with who you are.  I truly believe that.

One of my little oddities is that I write with a fountain pen.  I wrote a post years back about how I thought that it might be an eco-friendly choice.  Really I use one because I like the weightiness of using one and yes, I admit I think it's a classy bit of kit.  My writing is horrible and I used to get lots of admonishment in school reports but it's slightly better with a fountain pen.  There's another reason.

It's terribly difficult to buy ink in the UK except in specialist shops and bigger branches of WH Smith. And Quink is expensive these days, about seven quid.  It's a  big beast to carry around in my handbag so I always have to remember to refill at home or work.  So  I was delighted to find another thing to love about France.  The big  Leclerc supermarket at St Pol de Leon had an amazing array of ink cartridges.  I'm not so alone here then in harbouring antiquated writing habits.  They sold these dinky little bottles of ink too that are just right for tucking in a pencil case!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Late Musings

By the time you read this we won't be camped near the fort.  We'll have moved onto Landerneau to see a  Picasso exhibition and take advantage of one of the best public swimming pool that we've ever been to.  But for some inexplicable reason we lost phone and Wifi in the middle of yesterday morning so I'll have to post late.  It is as if we are dead to the world.  If signal has failed across the entire region of Western Brittany, the beautifully named 'Finisterre' (end of the world)  I will have to resort to phoning Mum and Dad from a kiosk.  Long gone are the days when less than weekly contact sufficed, even if it is just posting on my blog.

Being without those e-distractions isn't all that bad.  There's more time for all those things I love to do on every holiday.    I swam in  the sea at the plage de Berthaune.  It's a similar length stroll away as my own beloved beach at Fishcombe Cove is at home in Brixham.  I went for a rainy cycle ride and explored the neighbourhood.  It's easier to do that on two wheels than in a lumbering great motorhome.   I walked by the coast and read of course.  When I left home I thought that bringing half a dozen books was an over generous stash.  But I'm on my third already.  OMG the second was potentially life changing non fiction!  But I'm trying to build up some momentum before a book post so I'm not going to tell you anything about it now.

Of course, seeing that we're in France we're eating and drinking like kings.   I have a new favourite sandwich, made with a crusty baguette of course.  They sell carpaccio in the supermarkets here.  Of course they might do at home in Waitrose and suchlike but I'm a thrifty single mum and rarely shop in the posh places.  It's thin slices of raw beef marinated in oil with herbs to those of you who aren't already in the know.  Not a vegan's first choice I'll admit but to lovers of rare steak like me and my boy it's lush.  I pop it in buttered that's also been spread with avocado.  That's it – apart from the crisps of course.  If a posh deli owner is passing and happens to read this I recommend it for your menu.  It goes down a treat!

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

My New French Word: Le Vertige

Photo: Tourisme Bretagne
Ah the French word for 'vertigo'.  I think I had some of that yesterday.  We are camped near Fort Bertheaume for three nights, a beautiful spot that we discovered on our ramblings last year.   About five minutes from the aire de camping car where we're parked up there is an island with one of those fortresses that Napoleon was fond of building.  It's home to Bertheaume Iroise Aventures,  a parcours course with zip wires.  Louis was keen to do it last year but he didn't have the right footwear.  He still wears Crocs in preference to anything else a lot of the time in spite of the fact that they're horrendously untrendy.  I know that because, as a handsome boy, he's getting a fair bit of attention from teenage girls.  Then they notice his footwear and their looks of admiration turned to scorn.

Bedecked in trainers we set off to do the course.  I had no qualms about it.  After all I'm a graduate of the Go Ape course in Haldon Forest.  But let's cut to the chase.  I'll 'fess up to wimping out early on around the circuit.  Sheer terror set in from the beginning of the course, not an emotion I'm seeking on my holidays.  My legs shook and I hyperventilated as I had to negotiate my way between metal things in the rocks which always seemed just a bit too far to take a step easily.  I feared for my knee which has the ACL repair.  It doesn't get insured when I go on holiday anymore.

 At the start of this 'monkey bridge' I turned and shot back to one of the exits.  I basked in the sun at the top of one of the fort's turrets whilst Louis went round the course with ease.  There was part that he wasn't supposed to do as he's under 16 but he snuck around it.  I thought he would.  I contented myself to goes on the two zip wires that run from the mainland to the island.  That was enough bravery for me for one day!

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

A Tethering Miracle

Contentment has come upon us now that we're travelling around Brittany in our beloved motorhome. Perhaps our Romany ancestors followed similar paths and that's why my son and I are so comfortable with a nomadic lifestyle.  Here's the Rade de Brest.  I woke up near to its shores yesterday morning at sunrise and took this shot.   We've decided we'll be back to explore the city another time.  For reasons of timing around a French bank holiday when all shops shut for the day we moved on.  Today's distant view of the French Land's End is obscured by sea mist this morning so that's while my picture on this post isn't entirely current.

Another 'e-miracle' seems to have occurred.  I wrote about the timely arrival of a free powerbank the other day.   Now something else has fortuitous has happened in the realm of techno gadgetry.  I've tried unsuccessfully before to tether my laptop abroad using my phone as if it is a modem.   I do it all the time at home.  I thought I'd ordered a prepaid dongle  to provide separate Internet so I could blog and develop my business in the morning.  It'll use up nicely that time when I allow Louis to have a teenage lie-in. Something must have gone tits up during the purchasing process my dongle as it didn't arrive.  There's no trace of an order I'm certain I made.   Eeek!  Writing mini essays on a smartphone isn't fun.  I got fretful.  'Nothing ever works out for me!' was one of my unhelpful thoughts.

Except it has.  Tethering works fine this time around and I've saved myself seventy quid as a result of the 'mistake'.   I like to think of this as another of those things that I call miracles.  A vicar friend uses the term, 'blessings' which is more understated but we've agreed it describes the same events.  The quote from 'A Course in Miracles'  that currently sticks in my mind is about getting something different from what you've  asked for.   'Do you prefer that you be right or happy?' asks the text. Maybe that's why I haven't got lots of the things that I've prayed for.  Someone up there has my happiness and peace in mind instead.

Monday, 14 August 2017

We Found Nemo and Other Fishy Things!

Pictures today!  From Oceanopolis at Brest yesterday, a great big aquarium by the sea.  It wasn't on our very rough and ready holiday plan to come to this city by the sea but I'm so glad we did.  We've found a camping spot next to the water.  I've had my morning cuppa watching the sunrise and then went for a flattish run.  Lou hasn't stirred yet.  What do you expect?  He's a teenager on holiday.  Anyway let's get on with my virtual slideshow.  Now can you guess which one's Nemo?

Lou's been here before but he was little and memories were slow in coming.  But they did come back to him.  'Did I lose a cuddly dog here?' he said as he went in.  Yes he bloody did!  What a palaver that was.  The entrance to the polar region smelt fishy.  'There's penguins here isn't there?' he said  as the odour jogged more brain cells into action.  He didn't quite remember where they were though.  You watch a film and then a screen rises to reveal these guys.

The Polar region houses some amazing Inuit art.  A whole skull carved with little people, animals and igloos.  But I think this is my favourite, a hunter with a seal under the ice.

Weird creatures I've never seen before.  I did take a picture of the notice showing what they are but I can't be arsed to go and have a look.  I'm on holiday after all.

Here's my boy with an octopus.  If we'd have stuck around longer he may have predicted some lottery numbers for us.  I took a few selfies of me and a ray but you're not seeing those.  I look as rough as rats. I didn't quite realise just quite how exhausted I'd got.

Arty inspiration in the gift shop at 20 and 40 Euros a throw.  I wondered if I could cut something similar myself out of scrap metal for my garden.

An absolutely gorgeously blue lobster.

I have to be careful with choosing activities for Louis these days in case they're seen as baby-ish.  He choose to do this himself.  The joy on his face suggests that steering model boats about a little artificial pond and trying to crash into the others is still perfectly okay.

More art because I'm that kind of girl.  Isn't it fabulous? Now I know what the Inuits do on those long cold nights when they're stuck inside!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Six Hours South

I was doing that thing on Friday and into the wee small hours of Saturday morning that many working people might be familiar with - catching up on paperwork before I go on holiday. And I didn't crack it either.  The realistic plan to be completely up to date by Friday didn't work out. Micro-planning isn't a given when there's lots of poorly people about.  Still my admin is at a stage where I was happy to leave the work computer in its bag back home.

And after whirlwind packaging, collecting my bike from the shop where it was serviced and picking up Louis from his dad's house  we were off.  On Roscoff-Plymouth crossing yesterday the first thing I did was collapse in a heap on my bunk and sleep for two hours.  Lou went to the cinema and watched 'The Pirates of the Carribean'.  After that I could manage the start of the holiday proper.  A slap up steak dinner in the ship's cafeteria with one of their delectable raspberry tarts for dessert followed by some literary therapy back in the cabin.  'The kind of masterpiece that reminds you why you read books in the first place.'  is one of the reviews on the cover of my novel.   Now that's my kind of reading!

After dinner I headed off to the shop on the Amorique.  Even though the boutiques on Brittany Ferries aren't that large and I'm not an impulse purchaser I've accumulated some treasure over the years.   Lovely bags, perfume, toys for Louis when he was younger,  Breton tops,  a beautifully ergonomic corkscrew.  All has been really reasonably priced.  I think their buyer has very similar taste to my own.   This is my latest purchase.  A reusable coffee cup was on my wish list.  I bought this one by Neolid.   Its a clever lidless mug.  The top opens so drink that can be poured in but twists shut so drink cannot spill.  And as you can see when it's just open just a teeny bit it holds a reusable straw.  Its a beautiful addition to my kit list to cut down on single use plastic.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Another Poster I Used To Snog

Another quick post today. I've still got unfeasibly large amounts to do before I go away.  So here's a musical moment.  I 'loved' Gary Numan more than any other fourteen year old girl back in the 1970s when 'Are Friends Electric' was released.   But I am a flighty creature.  I've already told you about Donny and how I declared undying love for him.  Inevitably my passion snuffed it - for good.  A few poster boys on and it was Gary's turn.  I moved on from him goodness knows when.

But I'm back Gazza.  Someone told me that you are still making tunes today.  So I've been having a little perusal and I'm in lurve again.    This time, even though you have worn rather well, it's solely with the music. Have a listen to this. It's absolutely brilliant.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Slower Times

It's the last day at work before I'm off on annual leave for three whole weeks.  Lovely!  I should be able to retune the batteries in that time.  Consequently I've got more to do today than looks feasible for a mere mortal. But I've been in  this position countless times before so have to tell myself that everything always gets done.

So you'll have to content yourself with this young lady today.  As I downloaded the image I found out the name of the clown was Bubbles.  I never knew that.  A reminder perhaps of times when TV stopped and the world was a slower place altogether.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Days Out In Devon: The British Fireworks Championships

Thanks to the very gorgeous Salty Dog I managed to wangle a corporate hospitality ticket for day one of the British Fireworks Championships at Plymouth last night.  If you're ever on holiday down this way in August it's worth seeing.   Over two evenings six teams compete to put on the best pyrotechnics.  It was really rather wonderful.  At a time of austerity I'm sure that they'd be those who'd argue against loads of money literally going up in smoke.   I'd disagree. For these marvellous displays bring joy to so many souls as once.

I didn't take huge amounts of photo and most of mine were pants anyway.  So here's Salty Dog's video of  Competitor's Number 3 showstopping effort.  Yes that's definitely me that you can hear doing some of that whooping!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Gin and Time Share

I was out with my usual bevy of gay men on Sunday.  We ran away with the pub quiz and won a free drink each.  As my prize I sampled rhubarb gin for the first time and am now a convert.  I wonder if you can make that stuff.

One of my friends was regaling us with tales of the free holidays he'd been on by accepting the chance of viewing timeshare properties..  He'd been all over the place and had some good trips away after accepting in advance that a day would be taken up by the heavy sell.  He'd seen variations on the theme of beige apartments in many different countries.  The trip to the complexes was livened up by a challenge of being dismissed as soon as possible as a time waster.  Mock religious fervour seemed to do the trick nicely.   The timeshare dudes also lured him into a presentation being held in London by guaranteeing one prize from a dazzling list:  a Ferrari, a massive TV or a stick blender.  He had his eye on one of those right from the start.

The sales tack revolved around stressing the family friendliness of the complex on offer.  'Look,' said my friend camping it up big time.  That's no good to me.   I'm a screaming queer and being surrounded by a load of noisy kids would be my worst nightmare.  Give me illicit drugs and a gay orgy around the pool. Now that would be my kind of holiday!' The  alarmed rep backed off and bought back his manager.  So my friend went through his list of requirements once more and mustered up even more alarmingly adult activities.   I think he's really more of a museum and ice cream parlour kind of guy but isn't it wonderful where the imagination can lead us?  'Now can I have my Ferrari?' he added hopefully.  The sales crew admitted defeat.   'Get him his blender.' the boss said to his minion.  My friend was ecstatic. He went away with what he'd came for, as he was missing an item of vital kitchen equipment.  Apparently it saw good service for years.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

1,000 Cranes

Photo:  Bored Panda

When I saw these wonderful models of bonsai trees, made by  artist  Naoki Onogawa, which each incorporate 1,000 origami cranes, I thought I'd do one of my quick 'ooh ahh, aren't these lovely' type of posts and that'd be it.  Little did I know that if I delved I'd discover the significance behind this feat.

There's even a  word for folding 1,000 origami cranes, 'Senbazuru'.   Ancient legend has it that if you achieve this the gods will grant you a wish.   I should jolly well think so!  Kits to make them are sold in Japan, complete with strings to hang them on.   Traditionally a set of 1,000 cranes is given by a father at a wedding to bring one thousand years of prosperity and happiness on the couple.  But making them is not a feat for the faint hearted.  JAXA, the Japanese space agency set this as a task for budding astronauts.

There's a statue in Hiroshima to commemorate Sadako Sasaki, who suffered leukaemia because of atomic fallout.  She died after folding 644 cranes during a hospital stay and her classmates completed the task.   Cranes are often left at temples to disintegrate as the wish manifests.

So after finding out all these stories I love the imagery that this beautiful art evokes.  Perhaps we need to start a similar tradition in the Western World?

Monday, 7 August 2017

Cheesy Again

I've  been rather tight lipped for the last month for I managed to break two of my front teeth falling off a curb in the dark.  Yes, before some of you ask the question, I had been drinking alcohol but not in quantities that made falling flat on my face a certainty.  The curb in question was much higher than normal and I think that my brain wrongly compensated for one that was a regular height.  It's why I think I didn't break my fall without putting my hands out.

Emergency dentistry came to the rescue but one of the teeth that I broke already had a crown due to a mishap at a toga party when I was a student.  Accident prone; Moi?   As the dentist suspected the repair did not bond to the artificial surface..  It lasted less than forty eight hours.  I had to wait a while for the next appointment. Apparently affronts to vanity do not class as dental emergencies even when your teenager is calling you an embarrassing hillbilly.

This replacement feels a lot more secure.  I might even give apple eating a go.  Thanks NHS dentistry.  For the very reasonable sum of £20.60 per visit I'm delighted to be able to show teeth again when I smile.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

A Sunday Giggle

Sometimes inspiration flows freely for my blog.  But today I woke up with nothing immediate to share.  What I find amazing though is that on  more than 2,500+ occasions I've found something different to write about.  There's never been an occasion where I've drawn a blank.

So  here's today's offering from a random trawl through Youtube.  I'm glad I found these guys from the days where telly watching featured in my life rather more than it does now. I'd forgotten how much I used to enjoy their silliness.

Oh and PS:  I'm a girl with a wonky eye but mine was fixed by a surgeon when I was four.  

Saturday, 5 August 2017


Daily meditation practice seems to be paying dividends.    I use the instructions for meditations by Wayne Dyer to guide me for twenty minute sessions: this one in the morning and this one at bedtime where I nearly always fall asleep halfway through.  I've found it easier  to focus on the present moment through concentrating on sound rather than the breath as I've done in the past.  My mind seems to wander less.

I've already mentioned that I now sleep through the night for the first time in years.  That seems to be one benefit that's arisen from the practice.  I can't think of anything else that might have effected the change .  Life still  throws the same intensity of challenge, especially at work which seems more intense than it's ever have been. Yet in spite of this I'm not so worrisome these days and thoughts about what I've not yet done don't haunt me at 2am.  I try my best and it is not possible to do more.

The other thing I've noticed is a sense of plenty.  For if I stay attuned to being in the present I  have everything I need for that moment 99.999999% of the time! It is only by worrying about the future that I experience a sense of lack.

Have a wonderful weekend good people.  And remember not to look to far ahead!

Friday, 4 August 2017

Travels Far Off In Time

Little Blue, the new Skoda Citigo, that I ordered the other day comes with £500 of free fuel. I won't have load of red petrol containers arriving on my doorstep.  That would be silly. The deal comes in the form of a pre-loaded debit card.  'You don't have to spend it on petrol.' said the salesman.  'You can use it for anything, a holiday maybe'.  That got me thinking.  It doesn't take much persuasion to get me in a travelling mindset.

I've never been to Portugal although for a while now I've been thinking that I should suss it out. Louis has been with his Dad a couple of times and loves it.  A random family that we met in the science museum at Granada and now keep in touch with have a restaurant there.  And a brave friend of mine is emigrating there in September.    Even without all the accolades from others, this picture alone would have persuaded me to go.  Doesn't it look delightful?

So my search for a budget conscious February half term getaway for 2018 has drawn me to Lisbon.  Cheap in school holidays?  Some of you might think that there's no such thing.  But I've managed to come up with such a canny deal that I thought that it was worth boasting.  Flights from Bristol are a shade under £160 in total.  We'll use AirBnB for accommodation that I'll let Louis choose.  After all he'll be off by himself pretty soon so he needs to get the logistics of exploring far and wide sussed. So I reckon the flights and apartment will come in at around the £500 mark.  And with all those dinky trams to run us around the city we won't even have to hire a car.  How's that for thrifty?

Thursday, 3 August 2017

A Duo of Genesis

I car shared with Ibiza Queen Vikki Plymouth bound for some training yesterday  'Shall we go in your's or mine?'  she asked.  No concert!  She has a twelve year old Mercedes which, in spite of its advancing years, is in near pristine condition, has leather seats and  Bose speakers.  We sang along to Genesis for we are both children of the sixties and this is music reminiscent of our teenage era. Here's a very youthful Phil before he lost his hair singing one of my favourite songs.   I saw the group performing this live at Wembley Arena on the Abacab tour way back in 1982.   So poignant that it make me tearful even though I bet no-one has a clue what the words mean.

 And I was going to stop but got carried away with all that musical reminiscence.  So I  couldn't resist adding another piece which touches my heart; A beautiful song which resonates with love.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Memorial in Mud

Photo:  The Guardian
I've never been one for  much analysis when it comes to the arty realm. When studying for O-levels, the precursor of GCSEs,   I adored English Language for it allowed me explore write creatively, something I gave up for thirty years as there was no equivalent qualification at A-level.  For fear of being judged negatively I didn't have the guts to express myself outside the educational arena in those days.   Yet I hated English Literature with a passion.   I had no desire to pull apart text and examine it in minute detail.    I'm content with getting the overall sense of a piece.  I love discovering the creations of others that tug at an emotional level rather than cerebrally whether that's done with music, words or visually.  These are moments that seem akin to personal intimacy.

I didn't know about Damian Van der Velden's dissolving mud sculpture that commemorates the 100th anniversary Passchendale until a couple of days ago.  Had I have seen photos of it before I would have rushed to Trafalgar Square to experience it for myself when I visited London on Saturday for it took my breath away.  It's one of those pieces that evokes the type of deep feelings that I'm talking about.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Plastic Free July: The Navel Gazing

Oh my word it's over!  Never in a million years did I think that  would be so freakin' difficult.   Giving up buying and accepting single use plastic for a month was even harder than when I've forgone tippling for the  forty days of Lent.   Look around properly in the supermarket and you'll get an appreciation of just how many normal consumer items are off limits.   Just popping in to grab a quick lunch, for instance, is a nightmare.

A couple of times I've failed outright, the first time on day one.  I was a little merry at Kay and Rosie's wedding and so didn't give two hoots that there was only disposable knives provided to cut the cheesy cake.  I've been pretty damned pleased about the  plastic wrapped stuff that I had in my cupboards and fridge-freezer at the start of the month.   There's been a little bit of cheating.  I bought cheese and some delectable  tiny sour cream and chive crispbreads from Lidl in ziplock bags that I've kept to reuse.  And even though I chastised them by calling them eco-bastards I was still secretly over the moon when friends brought 'forbidden fruit' like crisps to my home and van.   I've been invented too. I ran out of washing up liquid when there was no chance of going anywhere The Zero Waste Shop for day.  I used shower gel from my toiletries stash as a replacement!

So will I be rushing back to the supermarket today to resume my old ways?  Well yes and no.   Here are some of the things that I've taken on board as permanent change:

  • My 'Milk and More' deliveries are a keeper for my milk and OJ.  So convenient.  I'll only need to buy plastic milk containers when I go away.   I invested in a dinky little pouring lid.  Plastic itself but not off limits as it will last for years.
  • I now carry a set of cutlery and a metal straw in my handbag.  They're good conversation starters and a little bit less aggressive at promoting change than leaving a pile of rubbish at the supermarket checkout.
  • I've changed to using Natracare pantliners.  I did consider the washable cloth variety but the ones that I saw looked liked someone had made them out of kaftan material. Making a statement in my knickers is not my style.
  • I'm baking my own bread again as evidenced by today's photo.  The ingredients for bread mostly come in non plastic packaging.
  • I'll be using the Zero Waste Shop and a scoop and weigh place that I've discovered in Kingsbridge for some of my store cupboard goods and cleaning products.
  • When I return from my holidays I'm going to resume a veg box order.
  • Popcorn will be on the menu a lot more as a replacement for some of those crisps.
  • And of course I'll opt for plastic free alternatives whenever they're available and not ludicrously expensive.

 I'll still be buying my yellow sticker good quality meat to freeze from the supermarket. It's  way cheaper than from the butcher's shop and economics has to be a factor for a single mum working for the NHS.  But guess what my first naughty shop is going to be?  I'm off out to buy some frozen peas.  I missed having them after I ran out half way through the month!