Saturday, 30 September 2017

Normal



When I'm not subjecting you all to my own blurry, wonky pictures I turn to Pixabay.   I think I've mentioned it before.  It's a great free resource for bloggers and anyone else who wants to choose from a wonderful selection of copyright-free images.  When I was thinking about this post I wondered what sort of photos I'd get if I typed in the word 'normal'.  The result was bizarre.  Lots of pictures of cats, crossing railway tracks, a slow worm, a grandfather clock in the street of Baden Baden and, most curiously some shots of Chinese policemen  posturing for  a fight  WTF!  This charming shot was there too, tagged 'baby', 'normal life', 'lovely' 'Thailand'.  I decided to use it as it's cute.

I crave normal.  When I tell people they look at me with disbelief. 'You, oh quirky one?' they seem to say.  And then they come out with that old chestnut 'What is normal anyway?'  A good question but I think I know the answer.  Normal is a state of peace where my kid and I are living peaceful, content lives.    We are not causing chaos for others in our wake by our actions, words and deeds.  We go about considerately with regard for others and don't get embroiled in the dramas that others create.  That is my definition of normal good people.  I think we've achieved it.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Flying Marine Beasties


A joyful post today for we all need a bit of that in our lives.  But you're going to have to do the teensiest bit of work in the form of clicking on a link to view what I'm electronically showing and telling today.    It's not so easily shared as I'd like it to be. 

I recently wrote an article suggesting kite making and flying as an activity for people with dementia on my other blog.  I've used kites as therapy with good effect.  But they're only been simple things made out of tissue paper and drinking straws.  I've just found the Facebook page of  a group from the Netherlands who take the art of kite making to a jaw dropping dimension.  I saw a video on Facebook of their octopuses and wanted to feature it today.  But alas it's not available to embed.  So I've had to make do with a still shot of these magnificant beasties.  But please pop over to the Mascotte Kite Team Facebook site, click on videos and look at the footage of their wonderful flying marine creatures.  It's stunning.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Planning for a Final Journey


Arrangements for the scattering of my ashes when I leave this earth have already been disclosed here.  Louis is well aware of the plan and the part he needs to play.   He'll be off on a plane. In a secret squirrel mission in the dead of night my remains will be tipped into Beehive Geyser in Yellowstone and blasted in the air of my favourite place on earth during its next eruption.  What a send off!  Don't worry I'm not thinking of popping off at any time soon.  It's just that I'm a bit of a control freak and like to plan well ahead.

Green Fuse, the funeral directors shop on Totnes' main street has been a source of inspiration for an earlier post.  I was delighted to see a ship like this in the window the other day.  So much nicer than a stuffy traditional urn! Perhaps my final plans should include a sail around Yellowstone lake as well!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Green Book

Back in the '80s again!  I promise I'll return to the twenty first century shortly.  Whilst a student I vividly recall browsing in a bookstore and being drawn to a  big fat book. It was on a display table rather than the shelves. The cover had green writing and gold lettering.  'Buy me.' it seemed to call.  It was extremely expensive for the time, about £15-20 I think.  I interpreted the automatic thought as the inner cry to impulse spend.  It was an urge that I didn't always resist as evidenced by my collection of jumpsuits and the used student overdraft facility. But on this occasion, I curbed the desire.  I left the shop without making the purchase.

Over the years I'm surprised that I thought about this incident on and off.  I don't normally think of things that I left behind in shops.   In my accountancy years and beyond there were more free pennies available but I didn't come across the book then.  Earlier this year when I started to hear about 'A Course in Miracles'  from the spiritual teachers I've been listening to online I got excited.  'I think that's the book I saw years ago.'  I thought.  I did a  Google Image search.  Most of the images showed a book with a very dour blue cover. There were a few hardback versions embossed with a jazzier blue star.  'I must have been mistaken.'   I went ahead and bought the kindle download version of 'The Course in Miracles', the cheapest edition.  This was  before I realised that there was a free version available online.

I'm reading the book.  It is meaty. But as usual the electronic edition is not cutting the mustard.  I love the feel of a  traditional read.  So I went to Amazon marketplace in search of my own secondhand bargain.

And here is it.  Ah! the joy of having proper pages to turn and bookmark.  The original cover price was £17.00.  I bought mine for £6.66 and the postage was free.  Do you know if someone told me it was the exact same one as I saw in that shop years ago it wouldn't surprise me!




Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Japan



My recent rediscovery of Gary Numan and Louis' insistence on repeatedly playing in the car an acceptable cover version of Tears for Fears 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World'  has lead me on a little exploration of '80s music.  Not of the ra-ra skirt variety I hasten to add.   I like to think I'm a bit more sophisticated than that.  Ha!

My reminiscence brought me to Japan.  The group and not the country.  Here's an old doleful and stark favourite from my years marked by my devotion to black eyeliner pencil used extravagantly.  It's beautifully crafted.  And somehow David Sylvian managed to pull off that floppy haired look of the decade more stylishly than anyone else that I recall.

Monday, 25 September 2017

The Magic of T-Cut

I introduced my boy to the wonderful properties of T-Cut on Saturday.  At sometime this week I relinquish Leif and become the proud owner of Little Blue.  The last update that I had from the nice man at Skoda was that he was sitting in a dock in Germany waiting to board a boat.

Now I'll be honest and say that Leif has been in a bit of a sorry state recently.  Ironically, all that tidying activity that I've indulged in lately took its toll on the car with multiple trips to dumps and charity shops. Furthermore there were a couple of scratches that postdated the accidents a few months back.  A motorcyclist clipped me with his handlebars whilst I was doing the usual thing of being static on the M5 in Somerset.  I sent him on his way with a hug and a caution to be more safe than sorry in the future. Some scuff marks also appeared on one side of unknown origin.  It tends to be a hazard of having to park in hospital car parks.

Now I was going to pay Louis to help me restore Leif to spick and span but somehow the chore became a good idea for a punishment for wasting my time.  I'd asked him to pick up his Explorer Scout uniform from his dad's home three or four times last week.  He needed it for car park duty to raise money for the unit's funds at a local festival.  But when he returned on Friday he swore blind I hadn't reminded him.  So a trip to Totnes was required for the handover.  As if I need unexpected things to pop up in my schedule at the moment.

We are both occasionally fiery.  Reiki Ray would put that down to us both being Aries.  After much arguing, some of it in the street, Louis set to the task.   The hoovering, scrubbing, washing, rinsing and polishing took us both the best part of three hours.    Louis became fascinated by the T-Cut.  That magical retro product has vanished all those awkward marks away.    And it's lovely having a beautifully clean car.  The tidying regime has gone mobile.  There's new  'no eating,cluttering  and littering rules' in place so that our new arrival avoids becoming a garbage facility on wheels!

Sunday, 24 September 2017

More Hooch

My brother told me the other day that my house looked like it was turning into a hooch factory.  So many kilner bottles of fruit are now infusing in alcohol.  I bottled the last of the sloes from France  the other day and tasted a small sample of last year's crab apple whiskey.  The fruit is supposed to steep for five years so my first batch isn't theoretically drinkable until 2021!  But I wanted to check it was a goer before I made another lot.

I have to say it's already delicious.  It's not at all like the cheap whiskey that I made it from at all but very complex. Unfortunately the crab apples in the local park were past their best when I returned from holiday.  But I've made enquiries and should be receiving a stash from someone's garden shortly so that I can create the 2017 vintage.

This is my latest effort.  I popped into town yesterday to buy fruit to top Louis' weekend pancakes and there was treasure in the local greengrocer.  Yay!  So I've created a jar of rhubarb gin from an online recipe. So easy peasy.  I just shook together a kilo of chopped fruit, a couple of bottles of gin and about 250g sugar. 

And there's much less need for patience here.  The recipe suggests that it'll be ready in four weeks.  My quiz night friends will be especially excited to try it.    At the result of a tip off I've went 'scrumping' too yesterday!  I'll reveal more and show off my latest batch of alcoholic delight after I've been to Aldi to pick up some cheap vodka!

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Never Too Late


Apologies:  I haven't been responding to my comments of late.  Sudden unexpected life change is eating up time that I didn't even know I could eke out from somewhere.  I was busy anyway.  Normal service will be resumed when I've sorted out new ways of being.  I still can't show and tell as it involves others who don't want their story shared.  I take comfort from something that I read along the lines of  you will never be given more to cope with than what you can bear.



But I've resisted stopping my daily blogging.  At this point in life it forms part of my essence.  So today let's give you some colour for there must be others out there who, like me, thrive on it.    Here's a couple of pieces of work by aborginal artist Loongkoonan who started to paint in her mid nineties.  At the age of about 105, her actual birthdate is a bit uncertain, she had a retrospective of her work in Washington DC.  That brought her to wider attention.  Inspiring stuff that shows that maybe it's never too late to start something new.


Friday, 22 September 2017

Lessons From Little Green Men



I'm still recovering after my little trot around Bristol last Sunday.  It's funny how my exhaustion has not just been physical but has affected my ability to think.  So I'll be kind to myself  today and draft an easy post.  So here's a little lesson for living that I've meant to share for a while and had on the back burner.    

Thursday, 21 September 2017

My Own Personal Teacher


In the days when anxiety ruled my life my ability to converse with the locals when I was in France suffered.  I used to excessively angst over what I was going to say and beat myself up uf I'd used the wrong word, didn't have the vocabulary in the first place or realised after the event that I'd got my sentence structure entirely wrong.  Now in spite of having studied French to undergraduate standard with the Open University my language skills are still pretty appalling.  I don't get enough practice you see.  But these days that doesn't stop me conversing with the locals in a combination of pigeon French.  It goes down a treat and leads to some interesting interactions.

During this summer's holiday I had many conversations about what I was up to when picking sloes on the French coast path.    With the French being such avid foragers I almost expect to find that word might have spread by next year and they'll be no gin enhancing berries left when I visit my favourite spots.  And I had a really interesting conversation with a bloke in a shop in Dinan.  I was buying a leather wristband from him, almost identical to one that Sugar Plumb had gifted me.  Sadly, it had fallen off my wrist unnoticed.  The chap made one especially for me that was the right fit. It took about ten minutes.  There was time for one of those stilted chats.

It turned out he was a yoga teacher from Paris who was looking after the shop for his brother who'd gone off to visit his spiritual teacher in India.   We got around to sharing our experiences of meditation practice in Franglais!  The man expressed the view that it was hard to do the personal work that I was doing without a guru.  After all, both he and his brother had their own..

It got me thinking.  Now I'd quite fancy a little trip off somewhere to find my own  spiritual master.  But to be frank I haven't got the time.  Work gets in the way and there's the small matter of parenting.  I'd be a bit flaky if I decided to up sticks and leave Louis to find myself!   But it's occurred to me that  I have loads of teachers.  I can learn  from everyone I interact from.  Sometimes I'll be inspired but on other occasions the opposite is true.  Others teach me by their example how not to act as well.  And maybe it's the case that we have the most to learn from the people who've behaved appalling towards us?    So I'll stick with this for the time being.  I won't be kneeling at the feet of  a beardy man dressed in a sheet any time soon!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

A Day In Selfies



I said that I'd show before and after pictures of my dental work last week.  Frankly last Tuesday I didn't have the balls to take a selfie.  Being vain I was devastated.  A few of my colleagues said that they wouldn't have had the courage to have come into work.   They've been sweeties but have also taken the piss a bit. Not only was this cosmetically horrible it hurt to breath, eat and drink.


My solution was wearing my 'snore guard' for the majority of the day.  Still odd looking but not quite as scary as the ragged gap.  I had to take it out before eating and drinking.  A dental device full of chewed food and coffee was even more unsightly than lost teeth!  I also had a monumental lisp with or without it.


Ha!  Back to normal.  New crowns were fitted yesterday afternoon and so I took a celebratory picture just before popping of to the land of Nod.  I'm thinking of eating a celebratory apple today.  It'll be the first time I've dared to do it in months!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Borrowed From Banksy


I am still  well wiped out, waking today at an almost unprecendented six thirty something.  Everything aches and more weirdly I'm having trouble thinking.   Fatigue was setting in before the run. There's been so much going on in the background.  Time to take it as easy as possible even though I've still got a full time job to do.  I haven't got much planned over the coming weeks and that's a jolly good thing. 

So, in order not to tax the brain cells too much this morning,  I'll keep this post brief.  I came across this Banksy piece online the other day.  It pleased me greatly.  As did the caption that accompanied it.

'Help each other grow instead of destroying each other.'


Monday, 18 September 2017

Pooped!


One of the 'Four Agreements', a code that I try to live by is 'Always Do Your best'.  The book quantifies this by saying that our best will change from moment to moment.  If I am perky it will be different to the times when I'm feeling off colour.  This realisation will save me from self judgment, self abuse and regret.  And so it does.

I finished yesterday's Bristol Great Run but it was a struggle.  The first eight miles were a breeze but then it became tricky.  No, it wasn't the shoes or the knee that had the cruciate repair.  That's not given me any trouble since I followed my rehab plan to the letter. I got pain in my sides that wouldn't go away.  I put it down to the guard I'm wearing to make me more comfortable until the gaping great hole in the front of my mouth is repaired.  My breathing is shallower with it.  I had a choice of running and taking a chance that I would collapse through lack of air or walking the remainder of the route and knowing that I would finish, albeit behind the people dressed as chickens.

So that's what I did.  For behind the wacky exterior lurks a whole lot of common sense.  I wanted to run another day and didn't want to let down my sister or all the lovely people who sponsored me.  My tally was about £785 last time I looked.  I was passed by a T-Rex, a couple of girls completing the circuit as a three legged race and and some very impressive power walking old ladies.  I crossed the finish line way over my target time in a shade over three hours thirty.  Bless the compere.  He said that I was still looking glamorous at the end.  I liked that.

Here's a family photo taken before the race of my mum, dad and Louis who cheered me on.  I'd really love to show off my medal and the race T-shirt, a beautiful design that Louis' already nicked.  Ladies who wear pretty dresses on a daily basis have no need for such garments.  But they're in other parts of the house and I still haven't much energy left for moving.  Yes, I'm extremely pooped but proud. 

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Ready to Run


It's the big day!  I'm up and raring to  go.  After all my intention is to complete my first half marathon in quarter of a century.  Mind you if you'd just seen me trying to lever myself off the air bed in Red Mel's living room and hobbling across the kitchen to make a cup of tea you'd be rather incredulous.  Stiffness sets in the mornings.  That's been normal for me ever since I did a fair bit of walking on the Appalachian Trail in 1997.  We used to call it hiker hobble!  The cold that's doing the rounds in the office also appears to be emerging but thankfully it's not at the nasal drip stage. 

I'm as ready as I ever could be. All my running gear is laid out and here's my little selection of supplies.  Plasters, safety pins to secure my race number and  jelly babies.  They come highly recommended by my sometimes running pal, Disco Queen Vikki just in case I need an instant energy boost on my way around.   Unfortunately I had to buy new trainers to accommodate my super expensive running socks.  It's a bit of a risk running in new shoes but they're dead comfy so fingers crossed.  It was time for a new pair anyway.  I didn't seem to be able to stop the old ones rubbing on longer runs.  They have to be replaced pretty often as pounding the pavements squishes the cushioning.

I don't have to travel far at all.  The start line for the fast guys is just outside Red Mel's front door.  It's just an easy stroll a few yards to the pink zone.  'Pink is for pussy.' Louis told me yesterday.  It's where all the other fat fifty somethings will be starting from, nearly half hour after the official start time so the elite athletes are tripping over us.

Somewhere along the line race running has gone very high tech.  You can download a Great Run app and my progress around the course can be tracked if my race number is entered.  It's ideal for stalkers and Louis.  He's really excited that I'm being tagged like a naughty prisoner and he'll be able to see where I am at all stages.  I suppose it stops me sneaking off and catching a bus to the finish as well.

Thanks to everyone who's donated to my JustGiving account raising money for IIH UK in memory of my sister.  I've just checked the total and, already, over £750 has been raised.  I am truly bowled over the generosity of my friends, family and the relative strangers who read my blog.  With that I'd best finish.  I need to have breakfast to set me up for the day.   Oh and Happy Birthday Sis.  I hope you're watching me from your cloud on your birthday.  You would have been forty eight today.  I really hope that I do you proud!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Bee Strong



Here's a little clip today that will induce awe and wonderment. Don't enlarge it to full size.  It get's ever so grainy.

 I've always had a bit of a fascination with bees.  An essay about them at school elicited my only ever A+ grade.  Normally I was pulled down by my appalling handwriting. But I digress.  Watch the lengths to which this little darling went to find himself a cosy new home.

Friday, 15 September 2017

All Knitted


My brother is staying with me at the moment.  We treated ourselves last night and had a yummy meal down at the harbour.  Fishy of course seeing as my home is just a stone's throw away from where the largest fishing fleet in England park up.  Paul had a banana split for pudding as he was feeding his inner child.

As we left the restaurant as the light was fading I noticed this.  My camera died just after the picture was taken so I wasn't sure how it would come out.  I'm pleased I managed to capture it.  All the creatures in this sea based installation are knitted.  Even though I'm not a dab hand with wool myself I just love the crazy concept of yarn bombing.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Blessings


Thanks for all your comments from yesterday after my dental disaster.  People have been wonderful online and at work.  Special thanks must go to Barbie Nurse who sits behind me in the office and lives just down the road.  'I made a really lovely vegetable curry yesterday.'  she told me.  'Would you like me to bring some round?  There's no hard bits in it!'  And true to her word, when I arrived home yesterday an ice cream tub of gorgeousness was sitting on  my doorstep.  At tough times it's lovely to have kindness thrown at you.

And so whilst lisping my way through the day I've been thinking of  blessings to keep me going.
Food on my plate, the love of my family and friends, my capacity to do good at work and the gorgeousness of the Devon countryside, both inland and near the sea all feature.    But what's been really wowing me at the current time is thinking about seeds. The realisation that the complex structures in nature and metaphorically our ideas are all created from nothing is blowing my head away.   In a good way of course! Some mornings, for instance, I have not a clue about what I might write on my blogs for the day but something always materialises.

There's a series of talks by Wayne Dyer on Youtube called 'Manifesting Your Destiny'.  I've provided the link to the first of these.  They're a wonderfully uplifting way of passing car journeys when I'm not rediscovering Gary Numan.  I think I'm on the third time round of listening.  In one he talks about how, he was a little boy in foster care, he cut open a tomato seed expecting to find little tomatoes.  Of course all he found was dust.      It's a reminder of the tremendous potential of regrowth that's from essentially nothing in even the leanest of times. 

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

A Massive Great Dental F*ck Up!


A large amount of the  brown stuff has hit the fan.  Remember I posted a proud picture of me with restored teeth?  Well both broke again on holiday.  I woke up one morning to find I'd swallowed one piece of filler and then my gap widened the other repair fell out whilst I was eating a sandwich.

I returned to my Polish dentist on Monday.  He fitted me in for an appointment to do major work yesterday.  I believe that the plan was going to be that a replacement crown would be made for my front tooth and the one next to it would be filled.  In the interim I'd have some sort of temporary cap to preserve prettiness.  What happened instead was out of a horror story for dental phobics.  Thirty years ago, my previous dentist, a madcap ex-army type, had sort of welded the post holding the old cap to my gum.  It took half of the tool supply from B&Q, a good dollop of anaesthetic and lots of frenetic pulling to get the tooth out. Half my gum came away with it!

So for a week I have the unsightliest of gaps I have ever seen. I'd show you a picture but I'll save that for a before and after post.  I'm too vain and frankly a little upset.  In the interim I'm going to be wearing the mouth guard that I'm prescribed to stop snoring in the day.  Unattractive too but it's the lesser of two evils.  

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven



Ah, autumn is setting in!  It's outrageously chilly already. I even popped the central heating back on for a few minutes last night as well as a woolly pully.   That's unheard of so early on in September.  Where's the Indian summer I've become accustomed to?

So here's a little number that reminds us of the passing of time and changing of seasons.  I don't normally like jangly sixties music.  That includes a lot of what the Beatles composed and performed early on.  Sorry to all you Fab Four fans out there.  But there's nearly always an exception to rules.  I am fond of this Byrds number based on lines from Ecclesiastes. 

Monday, 11 September 2017

The Joy of Down


It's now less than a week to go before I run my first half marathon in a couple of decades.  Gulp!  Mind you when I took my first tentative steps on the NHS Couch to 5K programme last June I didn't really believe that I'd come this far.  Yep, I'm still pretty slow but cut me some slack!  I'm an old lady in athletic terms.  But I can run until I'm bored.  When I stop I'm not out of puff and my legs don't ache.

I went for a preparatory run yesterday and was out for over an hour and a half. I'd hoped to tip over the two hour mark but my shoes was rubbing slightly on the underside of my foot and has left a small abrasion.  Rather than make it worse I stopped.  After all I won't be going anywhere next week with a great big  painful wound in my insole.  An expensive solution arrived from Amazon later in the day.  If my entire sock collection was replaced with those beasties I reckon I'd have to increase my home contents insurance.  I hope that they do the trick.

Yes I think I've done enough in terms of training.  I get bored rather than tired these days.  And the runs that I do around Brixham are far more challenging than the Bristol half marathon course.  It's almost flat.  Mind you another runner said boredom could be a factor to contend with.  After the ups come those exhilarating downs they said. The picture today captures the joy of going downhill.  But I'm sure with crowds of people to cheer me on I'll have plenty to keep my attention.

Thanks to all those who've sponsored me so far.  I'm genuinely touched.  If there's anyone else out there who'd like to donate to IIH UK in memory of my sister  please go to my Just Giving page.  Ta! xx

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Disappearing A Camel


My project based on Marie Kondo's 'The Life Changing Magic of Tidying' was completed yesterday.  Our home has been  thoroughly decluttered and organised.  And it stays tidy, seemingly all by itself.  It's a minor miracle!

The principle of having a place for everything really works. There are no sneaky places where a chaotic tangle of possessions lurk.   I told you before how I  reduced the need for storage in my craft area to a lone IKEA unit and the desk drawers.   The chest, wardrobe and underbed storage area in the spare room are now emptied too, amenable to use by guests.  Towels and bedding are now housed easily in my own wardrobe.  The cupboard under the stairs is minimalist in the extreme whereas before it was like a military operation to get anything out of it.  I'm going in I used to think!  Three vacuum cleaners have been reduced to one and that now lives with  just the carpet and steam cleaners.  Staying ordered eliminates minor annoyance throughout the day.  It's bliss.

Louis' attic room was the last to  be tackled.   I couldn't really face it for a long time.  It was our biggest source of conflict, a tangle of toys, books and clothes combined with general teenage detritus.  He's been away at his dad's house since we returned from France and I decided to take the bull by the horns and tackle it alone.  Before Lou went away I persuaded him to clear out some of his old toy.  I've tackled the rest and it's done and dusted. You guys can't see it though.  I'm cosied up with a cuppa  writing in bed so can't be arsed to pop upstairs and take photos.  It'll have to wait for another day.

I've snuck some more stuff out including a pile of soft toys including this camel.  Years of parenting have taught me that clearance  of children's possessions cannot be left to them alone.  They overvalue things that they haven't used in yonks.  Over the years a procession of stuff has been squirrelled out without Lou's knowledge.  Very occasionally he asks where something has gone.  I take the flack.  A telling off every so often is a small price to pay for a bit of order.  I'm waiting to see if the disappearance of the camel goes unnoticed.  The odds are that I will get away with it!


Saturday, 9 September 2017

Only Just 'Spotted'

Photo:  Artsy
You know, sometimes I think I'm off on another planet.  I like to think that I'm a bit arty and reasonably well informed about the subject.  But I never recall seeing anything by the Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama until the other day.  I was rather blown away with the joyfulness of her spotty creations.  It turns out she's one of the most influential artists in the world and one of her works once held the record for the highest price ever paid for a piece by a woman artist.  Now she's come to my notice I expect I'll be coming across her time and time again.  It seems to be the way of things!

Friday, 8 September 2017

Another Reality


I'm making progress with my tiny business slowly and surely.  Too slowly in my book I sometimes feel.  But I have to be pragmatic.  There's only so many hours in the day and I'm busy anyway.  So that's how it's got to be.

It occurred to me that, since I started my other blog, I hardly ever post here on the topic of dementia anymore.  So I thought I'd rectify that.

Here's a  little film that I've posted to the social media accounts for my business.  This lady's reaction to being taking outside of her care home is wonderful.  Someone on Twitter pointed out that, at the beginning of the clip, someone shushes her in a patronising way.  I agreed.  Talking to adults as if they are children is a no-no in my book.   Because of that I thought long and hard about sharing the video.   In the end I decided to go ahead.  For it captures moments of joy so well and is a good example of how technology can lend itself to enriching the life of someone who'd never contemplate using it themselves.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Crisp Corner

There's often food lying around in my office.  I brought back galettes and palets, buttery biscuits from Brittany.    There's a couple of tubs of chocolates, courtesy of a temporary collleague who left to go to a new job yesterday.  And there's also crisp corner.  People tend to buy snack multi-packs and leave them for others to share.  There's always something to nibble on if I'm a little peckish.

Some dear soul left a bag of Salt & Shake crisps.  I know the vintage bag in the illustration has a 'n' rather than an ampersand but they were slightly renamed when taken over by Walkers at the beginning of the millennium.  Hardly any other crisp variety has so much potential for reminiscence.  At the back of the packet indicates they're one of the oldest brands that date back from the 1920s.  The little blue bag was conceived when a bloke in London provided salt cellars for people to season their crisps and got fed up with them being nicked.

I love the little ritual involved with preparing to eat, tearing open the little blue packet, sprinkling the salt, screwing up the top of the bag and shaking.  Does anyone just use a tiny bit of the salt?  I think not.  It might just be psychological but what amazes me about these is that they seem to taste better than any other plainly salted crisps that I've ever had!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Teenagers: Expensive Beasties


Here's a holiday memory. We were at the wonderfully interactive Cite de la Voile Eric Tabarly at Lorient a couple of weeks ago.  This is a shot of Lou pretending to sail a iddy biddy dinghy.  I must think about whether he'd like a go at the real thing next year.

My son is growing fast. It seems that it was just at the beginning of summer that we were arguing about which of us is taller.  Now he towers above me and there is no contest.  Fancy trainers that I bought him for his birthday in March are too tight already.  Trousers seem to be a regular item on the shopping list to avoid that half mast look.  He begs for jeans from Fat Face.  I get them from George at Asda at the moment explaining he can have some nicer ones if he'll just stop growing!  His current coat is one of mine that I don't wear very often, a North Face Ski jacket that I bought for £200 in a sale about fifteen years ago.  He sports it with pride and I've seen him flashing the label to his friends.  A friend with bigger lads just gifted me a parka yesterday that might do for a winter wear - if he likes it that is.  He refuses point blank to wear stuff that doesn't pass muster.

What with all the kit needed for school and the fact that he eats like a horse it seems an extra specially expensive time of childhood.  What doesn't help is that many museums, travel companies and other organisations now class him as an adult even when his height/weight makes no difference to the costs to them.    How is it that someone with no capacity for earning can be categorised like this? I'm no prone to moaning but, at a time when childcare costs are pretty eye water these extra expenses really get my goat!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

As It Gets Darker


Each morning before I rise I meditate for twenty minutes,  manage my social media accounts for my little up and coming business, answer emails and write a blog post or even two at a push.  It takes an early bird mentality to do this.  But with the mornings fast getting darker my sleep pattern has been disrupted and I'm waking later.   Beyond 6:30 this morning. There's hardly anytime to do everything.  Eeeek!

So here's a rushed little post.  Let's hope normal service is resumed soon.  In the meantime here's a rather wonderful seasonal picture for you to enjoy in lieu of a proper post!


Monday, 4 September 2017

P is for......

Add caption
I'm not going to go into detail as I have limited time  this morning. But we nearly didn't get onto the 9:15 ferry sailing yesterday.  Eeek!  I might 'fess up about what happened at another time.  Don't worry though.  It's nothing too serious.  Customs men didn't find an illegal arms cache in the motorhome bathroom although they did peer in twice.  Finally we got on the boat with minutes to spare.  It was a stressful few minutes though I can tell you.

As we were crossing the car park from seeing the lovely staff at Brittany Ferries information desk at Roscoff and going back to the van Louis turned to me.  He knew that I'd been a bit twitchy.  'See that sign that we've just walked by.'  I turned to see something very similar to the picture at the top of today's post.  'It's behind us like the past that the 'P' stands for'.  Very wise words boy!  Some of my hippy musings must be rubbing off!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Pop Ups



Here I am in my motorhome on a Saturday evening at the ferry port in Roscoff.   We've had a lovely lunch in town and I've had a tidy up.  The toy box and halogen cooker have swapped places to make life easier on our next trip away.  Not sure why I had thought about it before but ho hum.  So I'm now supping a glass or two of Muscadet and was looking for something quick and dirty to schedule ahead for tomorrow morning.  I'll be way too busy tomorrow morning with making sure I'm on the boat on time for the early sailing to worry about blogging.

I came across this and it fits the bill nicely.  Louis and I thought that these dynamic pieces of origami by Haruki Nakarmura are incredibly cute.  Especially loving the armadillo!

Saturday, 2 September 2017

A Day At The Pool


We're off on the final leg of our travels around Brittany in a few hours.  There's a very predefined pattern to our last day in France.  It hasn't varied much for years.  We'll head back to Roscoff, on the way stopping at the bit Leclerc supermarket at St Pol de Leon.  There's provisions to get.  For instance, when I'm working in Kingsbridge I often pop into the social services office and tuck into their biscuits and cakes.  I've promised to top up their supplies with something yummy.  And Salty Dog want La Baleine sea salt and a crateful of Muscadet.  I'll oblige there too.  I'm not one for taking half a vineyard's worth of wine for my own consumption.  I prefer to save it as a holiday treat.  Then we'll park up at the ferry port and cycle off into town for a good fishy meal and a meander around.   In the morning I just have to nip over into the check in lanes for embarkation.  So easy!

So the last couple of days have been slow paced.  Probably a good thing too.  I had a beautiful cycle around Carantac Bay on Thursday.  I treated my bike to a proper service before we came away and it's a pleasure to ride.  It's always a bit clunky after I attempt to fix it myself by watching 'how to' videos on Youtube.  I want to cycle more at home but the bike rack that attaches to my car is shockingly difficult to assemble. I've just realised that the rigarole of getting it attached with only a 75% chance of falling off  has been putting me off doing more little jaunts of two wheels.  That's another thing to sort out when I get home.    Little Bluey, my new Skoda who'll be arriving soon will be treated to a rack that fits him snuggly.

Yesterday I didn't leave the campsite.  For two days I started my activities with aqua fitness sessions. It's something I find fun, but like karaoke, is just reserved as a holiday activity.  I followed it by a yoga class run by the same unfeasibly cute French guy.   To follow I had sessions swimming in the pool followed by the jacuzzi and sauna.

It's occured to me that I'd like to supplement my running and fairly regular swims and walks with other exercise, what with it being good for the body and soul and all that.    Gym membership isn't my thing and I don't know where I'd fit in the commitment of regular classes.  So I'm going to come up with a list of things that I like to do and pick from it once a week or to ring the changes.  Yoga and aquafit could be on their. But I also enjoy ten pin bowling, skiing on dry slopes,  dreadfully inept games of badmington and pitch and putt.   I also fancy a go at one of those dance classes where you dress up and mimic a night out at a club.  There! How's that for a start to the ideas that should perk up my fitness regime and hold my interest through the long winter months.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Where My Nose Has Been

It seems it has been well and truly stuck between the pages of a book!  In the first two weeks of our trip to France I got through seven of them.  I thought that the contents of my mobile library were excessive before I came away but now I've run out of reading material.  Bah!  Switching to the Kindle app on my phone is of course an option but as I've said before I really am a stickler for a proper page turner. So  I'm amusing myself  with a a long forgotten needlepoint as a substitute.  If I finally finish it I can move on to a more interesting design.  It's been hanging around for nearly as long as I've owned the van.

As a further diversion from sewing here's a little run through of my holiday reading material.  It's a pretty varied selection.  A suggestion for pretty much every one of my blog readers I reckon.



The first Edna O' Brien book I've ever read.  It's one that I picked up for a donation of a few pence from the hospital bookshelf.   I'll be looking out for this author in the library.  An Irish woman has to leave her homeland as her consequence of her affair with a holistic healer who is not what he seems.  Twists and turns all over the place.  Gripping stuff!


I've had this for ages but couldn't get started with it when I tried to read it before.  What a silly old sausage for I devored it this time.  The story of runaways in the US at the time that racial segregation was coming to an end and their new lives with beekeeping sisters.  I'm sure many of you have already read it.


Now let's get geeky and specialist!  This is a fascinating look at dementia research with the members of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.  Nuns agreed to participate through interviews and testing and by donating their brains after death.  The study yielded so much that gives food for thought and is a wonderful example of how research can be conducted compassionately.  I know I'm a bit biased because of my profession but I think that this would make interesting reading for a wide audience.



Homework done!  I told Louis' lovely enthusiastic English teacher that I'd read this as its a GCSE text.  I started it on my last holiday but didn't get through it so read it from the beginning again this time.  The story is, of course, well known.  What really surprised me is the freshness of Dicken's writing even though the story was penned well over a century ago.



This was passed onto me by Red Mel.  It's a translated from the Swedish about the life of a grumpy old geezer and how he fares following the death of his beloved wife.  I loved it and will look out for the film version to see if its a match for the novel.




One of my sister's book that was passed on before she died.  It's a funny self help guide for people with autism and their families written by a thirteen year old boy.  Although Louis isn't autistic he does have a range of specific learning difficulties and sensory preferences that mean he sees the world a bit differently.  Some of the examples given ring true to our own experiences.  It gave me a little more insight into how he perceives the world.


And finally the one that might be life changing!  This is a book exploring non drug treatment of mental health disorders in women.  It's a funny piece of work really.  Quite detailed, and if I'm honest hard to understand explanations of the way that the mind and brain interact, give way to suggestions for treatments that are alternative to drugs.  I'm not going to be advocating coffee enemas to anyone I work with in a personal capacity in the NHS!  But the stuff about the effectiveness of dietary change is so thought provoking that it deserves lots more exploration and discussion with colleagues.  After all there are many people who are reluctant to take medication and others where throwing tablets at the problems isn't an effective cure.