Tuesday, 31 October 2017

A Good Start

I was listening to one of my online gurus on my travels the other day.  I've forgotten which one.  Courtesy of being lead astray by searches on YouTube their numbers seem to be expanding.  At waking time I'm often not my best.  I'm often roused by thoughts of everything that needs to be done in a day, that realistically won't get completed as there often isn't enough physical time. What this person suggested was to start the day conjuring up good memories about people who have loved me.  My favourite is thinking about the enthusiastic welcome that I always got when I picked Louis up from nursery when he was a baby.  He was so excited.  It was as if he was in the presence of a superstar!    Anyway, this is a lovely idea which kickstarts the day with a bit of positivity.   Have a wonderful one folks.  

Monday, 30 October 2017


I don't watch much telly at all these days.  It's mostly because there's so many other things that I want or need to do.  It doesn't take precedence.  But I have caught the last couple of episodes of 'Strictly Come Dancing'.  That's because I've been around the houses of friends who are avid followers when it's being broadcast, my boys last week and Red Mel this weekend.

Although it wouldn't be on my must see list I do find it enjoyable even though I haven't a clue about who most of the 'celebrities' are.  Debbie McGee is the exception and there's a handsome short-ish smiley man that I've developed a bit of a crush on.   I ooh and aah at the costumes and the sets and try to critique the dancers - even if I have got two left feet myself.  That camp bloke at the left hand end of the panel would give me very short shrift indeed.   I don't think I could even string a few steps together and would be out first round with only a glamorous frock as a souvenir.  There was a rather intimate bit of dancing in the last show.  'Look what he's doing to her!' I exclaimed to Red Mel. 'If he's got a girlfriend she might be a bit cross.'  'I know' she gasped 'And there's only a bit of netting between them!'

One of the couples danced to a cover of this on Saturday.  Here's the Chris Isaak original.  I forgot just how much I loved this atmospheric song when it came out in the '90s.  It was the Halloween show.  Yes this music is definitely haunting!

Sunday, 29 October 2017


I have a list of things on Google Keep that I'm going to blog about.  Some stay on there for years, others for a matter of days.  Every so often I come across a title and can't remember what it relates to.  'Hollow' was an example of this.  I pondered it every so often.  Was it a navel gazing exercise? It's not befitting of my current state of mind so I didn't think so.   I had not a clue.

But yesterday I remembered.  I was having one of those days out in Bristol which helps me to remember why I love this city so much.  Charity shopping, stopping off in quirky pubs for craft brews sometimes made on the premises and eating gelato with Red Mel's gorgeous granddaughters at the wonderful Swoon ice cream parlour. They remind me how simultaneously delightful and hard work little kids are!   We also headed up to the Royal Fort Gardens to get an arty blast and check out some sculpture.  It was then I was reminded why 'Hollow' was on my list.

It's an installation that I was prompting myself to see.  Artist Katie Paterson along with architects, Zeller and Moye have produced a cosy chamber.  From the outside you wouldn't guess that it contains slivers of wood from over 10,000 tree species around the world. 

It's an amazingly beautiful space to sit in and experience the contrast between the denseness of the wood and the night pouring in through the glazing above.  You can read more about 'Hollow' here.  I wished that I'd seen the website about the sculpture before my visit.  I didn't realise that there was a collection of fossils under foot too.  Serves me right for not being observant enough.  However, now there's a perfect excuse for a return viewing!

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Would You Like to Fly.......?

It was a glorious day yesterday.  Don't you just love an Indian Summer? I arrived at Red Mel's at about 11-ish, she made a lovely picnic and we headed out on our bikes to the grounds of Ashton Court where we laid out a  rug and plonked ourselves down.  We were about to pedal on further but were waylaid by  goings on further down the field.  So we stopped to watch the proceedings. The rest of today's post will be in picture form. It was all very photogenic.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Dem Bones

Here's my latest purchase.  Something for the home S&M dungeon maybe?  No, I haven't changed my mind about steering away from being a dominatrix.  If I had any extra space it would be for an arts and crafts studio.  However I'm sure that an imaginative bondage fan might find a use for it.

This is in fact a bike carrier for  my  beautiful new car Little Blue who incidentally is going like a dream.  I'm especially loving that light pouring down through the sun roof as I belt around the Devon lanes.  I bought him a little present on the day that I collected him, some lovely rubber car mats from the Lidl down the road from the dealership.  This is his latest gift.   As usual purchases require justification so here goes.

Just before I went on holiday I had my bike serviced.  It's something that I wish that I could do myself but there you go.  I squeeze plenty into my life without being a cycle mechanic as well.  I took it to the cycle shop on a cheap carrier that I bought from Halfords a couple of years ago.  It was a nightmare.  It wasn't really a one woman job to install it on the car so it took ages with mega swearing involved.  And then when the dirty deed had been done it wasn't all that secure.  However hard I tightened them the bottom straps were forever coming away from the bumper.  'To be honest it puts me off going cycling.'  I told the nice man at the bike shop when I asked his advice about a new one.  'I'm really not surprised!' he said.  He'd suggested that I asked the people at Skoda what they suggested that I should replace it with but they suggested a roof rack.  The prospect of hauling bikes about head height on my own didn't appeal so I did some research and came up with this.

This is the Saris Bones 2, that comes in at a whopping £125 full price.  However a bloke on the internet said that if you don't mind a battered box and no instructions you can pick one up on Ebay for eighty quid.  So that's what I did.  Now it's set up for the car it pops on securely in a couple of minutes.  I've also bought a false cross bar that converts my bike into a manly one whilst it's being carried so it sits better on the rack.

So I've taken a day off  to make my weekend a long one.  I'm off to Bristol in a minute to join Red Mel, the great big cheat, who has  a new electric bike to get her up the hills.    Let's hope it's the first of many lovely cycling trips over the winter months.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Hygge: Bring It On!

Yes, there is definitely a sea change in my psyche.  Back in March I spoke about the dark months of the year in a pretty negative light.  Sod Hygge!  I declared as I embraced the return of British Summer Time.  Of course I'm noticing that the days are getting shorter.  The process seems to speed up at this time of year.   But now I'm not bothered like I usually am.  The SAD lamp is still switched to off although its intensity will be jolly handy for crafting now my blindness is reaching mole-like proportions.

I'm enjoying the changing of the seasons.  Again,  I'm noticing more of the world around me and appreciating little things for the first time.   I'm thrilled by the misty mornings and the leaves falling around my car as I drive around between my visits.  The winter wardrobe is out of storage.  I have gorgeous new boots and feel dead cosy.  And even though my caseload is at a record high I'm content at work.  I announced to Scary Secretary that I was really happy at the moment.  'Well you're the only one in this bloody office who is!'  she said.  I'm staying out of their way for a few days then.  My perkiness could piss them off.

So I'll keep doing what I'm doing.  Twice daily meditation,  actively looking for the good rather than the negative in every situation and planning lovely things for the wintery season. Happy Hygge everyone.  Light those big fat candles and rejoice!

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Yee Haa! A New Recipe

My paper based recipe collection has been much depleted since I condensed my entire permanent book collection down to one rainbow filled shelf unit.  Even though I kept them as favourite reference sources I'm finding that I'm hardly ever using the recipe books that I still own.

So I've started to pore through the volumes left.  I'd like to expand my cooking repertoire.  Sure there's quite a lot of old favourites here.  I'm not a bad cook and famed for some of my creations.  My roast potatoes and fish pie, for example, are pretty darn legendary.   But it would be nice to try some new dishes. So I've decided to test out a couple a month.

Here's the rather successful and very easy Texan Cornbread from the Hairy Bikers series 'Mums Know Best.'  To save me typing it  out you're all smart enough to follow the link here.  It's on page 4 of the PDF file.  Of course, being an unruly lawbreaker,  I've tinkered and made some alterations.

  •  I used polenta instead of cornmeal.  I'm sure all over the rest of the country there's aisles full of the stuff in supermarkets but we can be a bit backward when it comes to foodie trends in these parts.  Hell chicken korma is still seen as a bit exotic.
  • Bacon  dripping was replaced with butter.  
  • Oops! - looking through the recipe it calls for a cup of milk in the batter.   I forgot that!
  • I used pork mince instead of beef as that was all that there was in the freezer.  It's sadly needing a yellow sticker top up.
  • I cook pretty much everything at 200 degrees celsius.  The recipe says it takes 45-50 minutes so I sat down and had a G&T and a talk on the phone with my mum.  After about twenty minutes whilst I was still yabbering the cornbread looked pretty much done.  I turned the oven off until I finished the call.  It turned out fine.  This shortened cooking time may have been caused by the missing milk so keep a wary eye out if you decide to try this.

Verdict:  Cowboy food at its best:  Delicious and there's loads of it.  Louis will like it as long as I leave out the chillis.  It will keep me in lunches for days to come.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Early to Bed

I went to bed at an unfeasibly early time last night.  At about 7:30 in fact and was asleep within the hour.  I needed it.  Even though it was a pleasant uneventful working day I was absolutely shattered, dead on my feet and was finding it hard to think, let alone do anything meaningful.  I'm scratching my head to think why.  It's not as if I do much burning candles at each end these days.

It feels slightly naughty to hunker down under the duvet when the evening has just started.  But I found this charming little video that absolves me.

Monday, 23 October 2017

On a Whim

I do not like to waste annual leave sitting around doing nothing.  It just so happens that I have a spare six days this year without the boy.  Louis has a fortnight long October half term and I thought he'd be with me for one of the weeks.  But instead the lucky lad is off for a midweek-midweek trip to the Big Apple with his dad. So that gives me some rare time off all without a kid in tow.   Now I'm a creature who swings widely between party animal and hermit.  On this occasion I fancied  using the opportunity to go off alone.

I contemplated a week of navel gazing in Klaus the Knaus, my motorhome in Cornwall, a kind of mini retreat with a bottle or two of wine and a large pile of books.   But then the low cost of our flights to Lisbon in February half term got me thinking.  Surely I might be able to go somewhere for less than the cost of a train journey to London if I did my research properly?  Unfortunately Spain is out at the moment.  Boycotting the country is my way of protesting about heavy handed action taken by the authorities in Catalonia.  In my book democracy doesn't involve representatives of the government beating up people when they're going to vote even if the election isn't unofficially recognised.  That ruled out Mallorca and my beloved Andalucia, both as cheap as chips to get to.  I plugged my available dates into Skyscanner and came up with Malta, as an alternative, for just a tad over fifty pounds for return flights.

Now I am not flush at the moment.  I'd also like the chance of meeting some other travellers and chillin' with them.   So, even though I'm likely to be viewed as an old age pensioner by other guests, I've gone for a backpackers hostel rather than a proper grown up hotel.  My compromise is that I've booked a single room and will take ear plugs.  The prospect of sharing a mixed sex dorm with hipsters thirty years my junior was a step too far in the direction of economising.  Having a T-shirt printed with 'I am not a cougar' on it has already been suggested.

This is my first experience of solo travelling without Klaus the Knaus.  If you remember just me and him went away to Brittany together three years ago.    I never did the gap year thing and  I plan to be globetrotting around the world into my retirement.   Any reticence is superimposed with a great big dose of excitement.  I'm sure that I will have adventures!

Sunday, 22 October 2017


The latest addition to my hooch collection has been made from some of these.  I've found a secret scrumping sight on a lunch break with Disco Queen Vicky  I was in the market for crab apples to make the 2017 vintage of fruit infused whisky but spied these beasties on a tree instead.  I didn't know what the hell they were so had to go away and do a bit of research.

It turns out that they are medlars.  The Olde Englishe name for them is cat's arse.  It doesn't take much imagination to see why.  When unripe their innards look a little like a pear but they're not to eat when they're like that.  They need to be 'bletted', that is allowed to rot.  Trust me I've tried them.  I think that they taste like a cross between a cherry and a date that isn't quite as fibrous.

Unsurprisingly there arenot  many recipes for aperitifs made of medlars but I did find one using vodka and a bit of sugar.  I've made this unpromising looking jar of murkiness.  Apparently you leave it for six months before straining off the liquid.  The recipe said that the remaining fruit makes a good base for homemade mincemeat.  

Saturday, 21 October 2017

A Building Fit For Books

I've had an imaginary scenario running through my head since I saw a picture of the Kansas City Public Library for the first time a couple of days ago.  A passer-by asks for directions.  'Oh, it's easy.' says the city reside.  'You go straight down here.  Take the second right and the first left and then you're there.  You can't miss it!'.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Apps For Happiness

Over to you  lot to do some work today. It's rather good to delegate.  I'm trying to put together a little smorgasbord of apps from Google Play.  It's for the tablet of someone on my caseload at work who is depressed and not particularly au fait with modern technology.  Has anyone got any suggestions of what I should include?  Of course I've got some ideas of my own that might stimulate, educate or entertain.  But I'm interested to see what ideas others might come up with.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

My Other Louis

It's just dawned on me that I've never shared any Louis Armstrong music with you guys.  Let's rectify that now shall we?  This guy has journeyed with me for a while, since my university days.  Maybe he's the subconscious inspiration naming my son?

I had a cheap double cassette, probably from Woolworths which got played until the tape got stretchy.  This was one of the songs. As well as showcasing great musicianship it should give you a jolly good giggle.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The End of Ambition?

I had my annual appraisal yesterday and got a good star.  I am a hardworking, talented, compassionate clinician who my new manager enjoys having on her team.  Onwards and upwards then?  No, even though I've been ambitious in the past I've made a conscious decision that looking to advance my career in the NHS isn't going to happen.  I've chucked out all ideas of doing any self development work and have made a commitment for the next year that amounts to turning up and doing my mandatory training.

So what's happened?  Quite honestly there isn't any time for anything else but the most urgent care.  It wouldn't be safe if I threw anything else into the mix and my priority is towards doing the best for the people that I work with rather than being self serving.  So the career advancement projects and studying that I used to do have gone out of the window.  Without those there's no prospect of climbing the ladder in the health service especially as I'm geographically compromised because of having a child.   When I was a kid myself I was told that if I worked hard I would be rewarded.  But in the last three years I've driven myself harder than I've ever done before.  There's been no extrinsic reward, although thankfully there's still intrinsic benefits.    It's just been necessary to keep my nose above the water. 

But enough is enough.  I could have gone on moaning.  I used to do that.  Instead I decided to take control and have started on the path of self employment. I've been open and honest now about my plan.  In lots of ways it's a shame.  Most of us are passionate advocates of the NHS.  But it's getting to be a intolerable place to work.  I'll keep going for a while but, for my own sanity and health, I don't think that I can go on at the same pace that I've been sustaining in the recent past.

My plans for the near future are to change my working hours to give me more time to kickstart my business properly. I'm putting in a request to change my working pattern to a nine day fortnight.  Then when the pennies start coming in I'll bale out gradually.  I'm still ambitious and hopeful and believe that hard work can reap its own rewards.  I'm just following a different path to success these days.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

As If You Need One: A Reason For Kindness.

A ludicrous and unseasonal picture today but it serves to illustrate my point.  Yesterday in the car I was listening to this Youtube presentation by Wayne Dyer and he mentioned a piece of research that I felt compelled to pass on. 

But first, I thought I'd do a bit of delving myself to see if the study that he alluded to was robust enough to be taken seriously  I was going to set about the task of academic inquiry at bedtime last night, my final wanderings on the Internet for the day.  But I was shattered and instead got a fast track into the land of Nod.

So to hell with it!  I'm going to share this anyway because it's a nice idea.  Apparently whenever you are kind to someone, their serotonin levels increases.  This is the hormone, of course, that some anti-depressants seek to top up.  What's more your own levels rise too.  And furthermore anyone else watching the kind act gets a surge of happy chemicals as well.  Now isn't that something worth trying even if the evidence for this turns out to be half baked?

Monday, 16 October 2017

The Arrival of Little Blue

Little Blue, my new Skoda Citigo has finally arrived!  Somehow he got caught up in the Greenpeace protest about Volkswagen diesel cars and spent longer than expected sitting on a dockside in Germany.  Maybe he was delayed for a good cause?  I've captured him with a leaf stuck in his front grille.  Perhaps this symbolises the fact that his own eco credentials are rather good, a Greentech low emission petrol engine.

He's got a step more refinement than Leif, my car that he replaced.   This time I've chosen a version with more punchy air conditioning and a sun roof.  Even though the chance to drive around with it fully open have been limited on the couple of drives I've taken it's so lovely to open up the cover and have more sunlight streaming through the roof.  I'm a sucker for getting as much light into a space as possible.  Skoda have also added a couple of small refinements.  I can now control the passenger window from the driver's side of the car.  That's handy on my ferry trips.  And the parcel shelf has now got strings attaching it to the roof.  Leif didn't have these and I can't count the times I had to stop because I'd forgotten to put the bloody thing down.  Tiny differences but I'm all for things that reduce everyday annoyance.

The salesman at Skoda was diamond.  He couldn't do enough.  Just before Little Blue arrived in the country he phoned to ask me to choose a numberplate.  They were all pretty non descript.  I picked at random  A couple of hours later he phoned back like an excited puppy.  Another batch of plates had arrived and this one is as nearly to a personalised one as it gets as it incorporates my initials.  Silly frippery but it was pretty hard to refuse!

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Nearly No News

Is there anyone else out there who has made a conscious decision to cut down on the amount of news media that they absorb?  I did it when Trump came into power.  Don't get me wrong I'm not living in a bubble.  The dangerous escapades of the US president don't pass me by completely.  I also know that there might be a hurricane on the way so it's probably not a good idea to dry my washing outside tomorrow.  And it seems that a film producer who made more than one or two passably good moves let testosterone get the better of him.

What I'm not doing anymore is getting regular  updates of what is going on in the world.  I don't have headlines popping up on my phone or listen to the hourly bulletins on Radio 4.   I'm not going to let the constant repetition of stories fill my mind.  It seems better to devote my thinking time to how I can make a personal difference rather than fretting about things that are outside my control.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Crabby Thoughts

Photo:  Rhian Wyn Harrison
Since Calamity Jane made a fish print out of a polystyrene pizza dish and my attempts to make a print of my own were unsuccessful my head has been full of crabs.  This is the way of things when I think about a creative project that I'd like to conjure up.  Thoughts about its execution fill my head.  It's  a much better use of brain space than worrying about the past or the future I can tell you.

Photo:  Rhian Wyn Harrison
I also look for online inspiration.  In my meanderings I came across the wonderful work of local artist Rhian Wyn Harrison and yes, I'm especially taken by her crab picture.  But I also like the way that shes uses old books and maps for her work rather than boring cartridge paper.  Now there's an idea I might pinch in one of my future creations.

Friday, 13 October 2017

This is Me!

Creativity isn't flowing freely at the moment but it will come back once my brain as well as my body has tipped into recovery.  I've no doubt of that.  In the meantime you'll going to have to make do with another lazy arse video.

There are similarities between me and this ultra cute kitty.  I'm pretty sleepy, not just completely out of it at night but dozing in the day as well.  For someone who is prone to bouts of insomnia this has to be viewed as a glass half full kind of thing.    Healing too seems to be going in the right direction.  The infection seems to have moved upwards.  I'll spare the detail.   No more pain though and if I stay completely still the coughing ceases.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Naff All: One A Month Special

Thank you for all the really kind words and thoughts yesterday.  I'm still feeling as rough as rats but not quite as bad as where the chest infection emerged.  Yes, Frances I had considered costochrondritis and thought it's a possibility for what I've got.  I even wonder whether it's been lurking around since I did the half marathan last month.  The pain feels remarkably similar to what laid me low after mile eight.  And Toffeeapple  I'm aware of how just how long lived chest infections can be.  One floored me for over a fortnight when I was a lot younger and fitter.  I recall then that I popped out to the shops five minutes away for some yoghurt and fruit juice and could struggled to make it back home!  I'll go to the doctors if this baby persists but at the moment I'm treating myself according to advice on an NHS website which stated that most infections of this type fix themselves in about a week with  rest, analgesia and plenty to drink.  I'm not rushing back to work and perpetuating the problem.

I'd planned to write this post a few days ago when I was still okay.  It's reared its head in a timely manner.  Years back when I started blogging I wrote about scheduling in one activity a month that was a treat to give me something to look forward to. I've been doing that ever since.  Hell, most of the time there's even two or three exciting things that I've planned upfront:  holidays, festivals, activities with my friends and family.  November is like that.  I'm seeing Aril from Gnat Bottomed Towers for one of our London jollies,  plan a cycling weekend in Bristol to tease Red Mel on her electric bike and I've booked onto a printmaking course at  the Double Elephant workshop in Exeter. December's filling up a little bit as well.

But I decided to keep October free and plan nothing at all.  For the first time in years I've keep my weekends empty.  And its lovely.  It doesn't mean that I'm doing nothing at all.  But it has allowed me time for spontaneity and relaxation.  It's quite lovely and comes highly recommended.

By the way I covet hammocks but have nowhere to hang one of my one.  One day.......!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Capstan Full Strength Girl

I am poorly.  It is as if I have been chainsmoking these guys.   My breath is rasping and  I cough as if I'm on my last legs every time that I move.   But let me reassure you that I am, as usual, nicotine free.  It seems that the pains below my left rib that kept me awake last week may have been the warning signs that a fully blown chest infection was on its way.   I thought that I was super weedy on my run on Sunday but couldn't work out why then.  I stopped soon after my warm up and meditated in the park instead.  Bloody hippy!

So I have been rendered bed bound, aside from crawling downstairs to the kettle and driving Louis to and from the school bus in my sleep attire, which thankfully looks as if I've just been to a yoga class.  As many of you are aware parenting goes on even if you are on your last legs.   In lieu of cooking I stopped at KFC last night.  It's Louis' favourite fast food joint and an occasional treat for him.   I'm really not so keen on all sorts of different levels but I partook as I didn't have the energy to crawl to the fridge.  Louis offered to bring me a tray of food in bed.  'But my room will smell of fried chicken.' I remonstrated.  My son was genuinely surprised I'd object. 'And the problem is.....?'  he replied.

I haven't been unwell enough to skip work for so long now.  It came as a bit of a shock that I'd be laid low.  There's a stupid part of my brain that thinks I'll be able to plan for illness but that's not the case.  Another part of my psyche has the erroneous belief that I can use the time super productively, writing and watching inspirational videos whilst reclined.  But that's really not the case. My mind is nearly in meltdown.  Besides sleeping I've been playing a game on my phone where I design rooms with the type of furniture that I wouldn't pick for my own home in a month of Sundays.   It seems that this isn't a time for being deep.  It's for resting up mentally and physically and being patient.  Normal perky service without the hacking cough will be resumed shortly.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The Real Cost of Clothing

I've done a bit of totting up and worked out that, aside from leggings and underwear, Birkenstocks because five year old ones that had split beyond repair and necessary replacement running shoes I've bought four brand new items of clothing in 2017.  There was that dress with the daisies that God ordered me to buy back in the spring.  A cheapie Bardot frock from Asda came in at a rather more reasonable eight pounds.  The other two items I've bought from Thought, the sustainable clothing brand that used to be called Braintree.

Back in the summer I decided to treat myself to a full length raincoat.  As I wear dresses and skirts all the time these days, even when I'm hiking a traditional jacket and waterproof trousers don't do the business of keeping me dry when those rainy spells make an appearance.  The Studio Jacket keeps my frou-frou lower garments covered and is still available if it takes anyone else's fancy.  The clincher was that it has those holes in the cuffs that you can poke your thumbs out of.  I love those.

My philosophy on buying clothes has changed in recent times.  I see things from a 'pay per wear' perspective.  If I'm going to get a lot of use out of something it's worth spending the extra money. Conversely it's made me stop and think in charity shops rather more than I used to.  If I'm not going  to wear something again and again I'll forego it these days even if it is just a pound or two.  It's not worth the wardrobe space it uses up.   From this perspective expensive clothes can sometimes be bargains and there's the real winners.  Cheap clothes that last and last and stand the test of time.  There's a couple of black long sleeved T-shirts from Asda that I bought for £4 each over a decade ago. I've spruced them up with a bit of Dylon a couple of time when they've faded and they've looked like new each time.

My latest naughty purchase is this, Thought's Abigail dress that arrived last week.  I fell in love with it in a Brixham boutique in the spring and spied it again in the sale but alas, not in my size.  But the online store had it so I snapped it up.  I love that fabric that again looks like'50s curtains.  I especially love the squggle over the stripes.  It's right up my street and definitely a keeper.  And with time I expect it will be a bargain.  I cant' see any reason why I won't be wearing it lots for years to come.

Monday, 9 October 2017

A Funny For Monday

I  realise I've posted a lot of video clips over the last few days.  Normally I try to space them out and ring the changes.  But I couldn't wait to share this little story from 8 out of 10 cats.  It's Monday morning too and many of you might need humour more than at any other time during the week. 

This is so silly that it made me do that LOL thing.........hard!  And when I showed it to Louis he laughed so hard that he said that he couldn't breathe.  Yes definitely worth sharing.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Ten Things That Have Changed My Life...For The Better!

A navel gazing post today.  Sometimes it is good to reflect on what makes me the person that I am today.  Here are ten things that I've done that have really made a difference and transformed me.  Maybe they'll spur someone out there to take a leap that changes their own life for the better.

Being a mum:  Duh!   As if this would make no difference at all!  My son has brought me so much joy and a fair measure of angst at times as well.  The most important lesson he taught me is the one about putting another person before myself.  I'm way less selfish because of parenthood.
Living in my motorhome/long distance trekking on the Appalachian trail with just a backpack of possessions.:  I've grouped these together as for me paring down possessions isn't a frightening prospect.  I know how liberating it is.  I've been there.  It's not just theory!
Changing career:  Hiking the A.T. twenty years ago marked the transition between my life as a tax accountant and one as an occupational therapist.    I drink less champagne these days and do not hob nob with the rich and powerful.  In spite of the stresses of working in the NHS I can say that I'm rarely bored.  Each day is different. And I make a living in a way that is a much better fit with my values.
Mindfulness:  A long old journey now of more than a decade.  Sometimes, like now I meditate regularly and at other times I'll just live with an acceptance that the present moment is really all I have.  It's got me through some sticky times like the period six years ago when I didn't know whether I would live or die.  I've embraced the opportunities for learning that physical and mental setbacks have provided.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy:  Specificially working through a set of workbooks, 'Overcoming Low Self Esteem' by Melanie Fennell.    It got me out of a cycle of low mood, anxiety and being over bothered by what others thought of me.  The need to be perfect and the fear of doing things wrong was so disabling.  Even though I'm a bit fat, wrinkly and clumsy I'm gorgeous darlings!   It helps that 'My Boys' tell me this frequently!
Embracing creativity:  Okay I'll never be Picasso or Shakespeare but not being an expert no longer stops me playing with being arty.   And sometimes I'm really pleased with the results.
Wearing insoles in my shoes:  Pain from Morton's Neuroma was compromising my ability to walk, hike and run.  Investment in special insoles has sorted that.  I really much get those replaced at some time.  The ones I had made in 2013 are a bit beyond their best these days.
Getting out of an unhappy marriage: Not the easiest decision for someone who truly took their marriage vows seriously at the time they were made.  With a kid in tow this was even harder but sometimes things are broken beyond repair.  Being on my own has taught me self reliance and resilience.  I'm happier alone than feeling very lonely in a relationship. Even though living in two homes brings its own problems my son is happier.  It was a good move.
That magic of tidying book:  Yes really!  Even though it's a newcomer to the scene the sense of physical and mental spaciousness that order brings is such a delight.  I cannot imagine going back to life where clutter lurked behind doors and drawers.
Taking responsibility for my own happiness:  The final one and most important.  It is my reaction to what others throw at me that causes me to suffer.  I've shed the blame and the bitching!

Saturday, 7 October 2017

A Duo of Babies

I was going to start my running regime again this morning but woke at 8:15.  Such lateness is pretty much unheard of.  So I've taken the view that my body is telling me to rest and as I try not to be hard on myself, or anyone else for that matter, I'm listening to it.    I've decided today that I'm going to share not one but two baby related videos.  This first is just about the cutest thing that I've seen for a long while.  This newborn is so lush that I might have got broody and hormonal if I had any hormones left.

Moving on.  Here's another to warm those heart cockles.  This shows that it's never too late to learn and put those skills into service for the good of others.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Latest 'Guru'

I'm experiencing night time niggles.  I woke up the other night with pain on my left hand side emanating from under the ribs which I thought was definitely a heart attack.  It felt serious.    Rather than phoning 999 I decided that I was probably over reacting so rolled over and tried to go to sleep.  I drifted between the Land of Nod and pain but woke up the next morning ALIVE!  Barbie Nurse said that it was probably trapped wind.  Yesterday I was roused again from pain  this time radiating down my arm towards my thumb.  It feels like the carpal tunnel syndrome that first emerged when I was pregnant has reared its head again.   Definitely nothing that might require a defibrillator.  My solution to my wakefulness is turning to inspirational Youtube talks that help me accept my situation.  I might as well be doing something meaningful.  And if they send me back to sleep then its okay too.  It seems very much like a win-win situation.

Tara Brach is the latest teacher to inspire me, a psychologist and advocate of insight meditation.  She is lovely - wise, serene and funny.  She's definitely a role model.  This is my favourite talk so far, a call to accept struggle rather than increase my suffering.

Thursday, 5 October 2017


This post's title may have lead you to believe that it brings news of a new beau. Alas, I'm still firmly in the camp of those waiting for a bloke to fall in my lap.  I'm leaving such matters in the hands of the gods rather than actively seeking.   No, today's post is about language used by complete strangers.

Being brought up in Essex I am well accustomed to going about my business and being called darling, sweetie and yes, duck or ducks in the local shops and on buses.  When I first came to Devon the local accent was alive and well.  It took some time to get used to being called 'me lover'  by men and women alike.  It came complete with the elaborately rolled 'R's that after thirty odd years I am just about competent in imitating. The jolly mumsy cleaners in my halls of residence were memorable suspects.  And still I'm called darling or dear on a regular basis.  I was greeted with 'How are you today love?'  on the ferry this morning.

I like this faux familiarity.  It's sweet.  In the vast majority of cases the utterers of these words are well meaning.   There's just a few individuals out there who make these terms of endearments sound creepy.  Yet I've come across people who are very adverse to this.  I recall one manager who was ready to kill if someone called her 'dear' and it puzzled me.  Perhaps it was a Scottish thing.  Is there regional bias or is it just personal preference? I'll be happy to know.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

More OCD Than Me

Photo:  thisiscolossal.com
We haven't had a post for some time now from thisiscolossal.com, one of my favourite sources of arty inspiration.  So let's put that right.  Either of the links above will direct you to a post about Austin Radcliffe. Next time Louis tells me that I'm OCD because I keep the house so ordered now I'll tell him about this chap and his book  Things Organized Neatly: The Art of Arranging the Everyday.   I think he's got it way worse than me!   His beautiful arrangements of everyday objects, including toys, bring warm fuzzy feelings to this tidy girl's heart.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

A Bit of Mozart

Lets go highbrow today shall we?  No because I'm turning into a posh bird or anything like that.  It's just that I was reminded of this piece of music because I heard it playing in the background in a shop this weekend.

 I first heard the third movement of the 'Serenade for Thirteen Winds' in the film 'Amadeus'.   It was critiqued by Mozart's arch rival Salieri.  I'm sharing this today as the oboe which makes an appearance after those opening notes still sends the most amazing shivers down my spine.

Monday, 2 October 2017

More Pizza Plate Printing

It was wet and windy yesterday here in the wild South West.  My friend Calamity Jane was staying with me.  No doubt I'll be seeing more of her as she's moved from Essex to Cornwall.  Her house purchase is nearly complete and she's swapped a stressful job in education for a desk job with the Devon and Cornwall Police that she can leave right behind at the end of the working day.  Now that's the stuff of dreams for me.  Maybe one day.....

She wanted some to make some art to adorn her new property.  I'd promised my Other Boys an octopus print for their spare bedroom so there was an element of killing two birds with one stone when I agreed that this was a good way of spending time.   So I brought my supplies downstairs along with a couple of polystyrene pizza bases.  I thought that we'd have another play with using them as printing blocks.

Now I've been wanting to design a crab for some time but my attempt didn't quite work out.  I'm going to have to spend some time working on a design and eating shop bought pizza because I've run out of those handy bases that I recycle to such good effect.  Jane's first attempt was a butterfly picture but she wasn't all that happy with it.  She was then inspired to reuse the base on its other side.  It was textured with a dotty design.

Here's the result inspired by one of my tea towels that has a shoal of mackerel on it.  I think she's quite right to be rather proud of her first foray into printmaking.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Student Curry (Serves Loads)

Life has been a little more challenging of late.  As usual my friends are rallying.  We are good at taking care of each other when more brown stuff than usual is hitting the fan.  Barbie Nurse lives four doors away.  She knew that I'd be working late one evening.  'Would you like me to bring you some curry for your tea?'  she inquired. 'It'll save you cooking tonight.'

And true to her word when I arrived home there was an ice cream tub of goodness waiting on my doorstep.  Butternut, chickpea and spinach curry is absolutely divine.  I begged the recipe.  It just so happened it's from a student wellness website from the University of Sussex.   Here's the link.    I made a big batch yesterday in the slow cooker.  As usual I deviated from the recipe a bit. I can  Here's my adaptations.

  • I didn't have two tins of chickpeas necessary to make a double quantity so improvised and added a can of butter beans that had been lurking in the cupboard for ages.
  • After I'd added all the ingredients to the pan I transferred the curry to the slow cooker for the day.
  • There wasn't enough room for two cans of tomatoes in the slow cooker so I added a good squirt of ketchup!
  • Before adding spinach and coconut milk I popped half the curry into a plastic box ready to freeze and then popped the rest back into a pan to warm with the last ingredients.
  • I served it with Aldi's chapatis which I cook in a pan with a dab of butter and some store bought onion bhajis.
It occured to me that, except for the buttery flatbreads, this is a meal for those vegans in your life.  And it could be so easily adapted too.  Barbie Nurse has substituted sweet potato for the squash and I'm thinking of trying a chicken version for my carnivorous son.  Student cooking needn't just be the preserve of those young'uns away from home for the first time. It's great for all of us who want to eat well and save the pennies.