Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Picks from Pixabay

Last time I shared some random pictures that I chanced upon from Pixabay I got some puzzled responses.  So now I have a few more I thought I'd do it again.  They catch my eye for a number of reasons,  the beauty of the composition, their unusual or pleasing subject matter or the fact that they make me giggle.   Few words from me today.  I'll let the images do the talking.  I think that my favourite random one for weirdness is the Lego copper with the slug.   It raised a hearty belly laugh. As Lou would say when he thinks that I'm not listening, 'WTF!'.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Spreading Happiness Through Socks

I've just come across this  entrepreneurial young man who has to have one of the most infectious smiles I've  seen for a long time.   Before this video starts he can be seen holding up his own creations designed to raise awareness for Down's Syndrome.   Alongside his father he's built up a rather successful business selling wacky socks in a very short space of time.  Today's title is his tagline.    What an inspiration this guy is and this father-son combo, where John works closely with someone who recognises and supports him to draw on his strengths, is such a great model that perhaps others with special needs could follow.

I'm  particularly taken with  the idea of the 'Sock of the Month' club although I'm afraid I'm not going to be subscribing.    My zaniness is tempered by the fact that I'm a strictly plain black sock kind of girl.  I'm as conservative it comes when it comes to cladding for my tootsies.  But for those who like a little craziness going on at ankle level go and have a look at John's website.  There's a wonderfully original selection.  Hell, as a Coen brothers fan I'm even tempted by the Bigfoot Lebowski pair and they're a very garish yellow.  For any Brit who can't resist I see John ships to the UK.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Hare Medley

It's a long time ago that I started the linocut of the three hares.  Nearly three years in fact.  Sometimes things get put on the back burner.  But for my Sabbath crafting this week I decided to revisit the project.

One of the reasons why it was put on hold was that I was having trouble with blunt lino cutting tools.  The image was not defined enough when I did a test print.  It's only recently that I've perfected my sharpening skills using a whetstone, honing compound and a slip strop.   The tools cuts as if they are going through butter now.  I must have got the technique right. 

It's going to take a little while to  tart up my lino plate so you're going to have to wait even longer for the finished result.  I hope it'll be worth it.    I looked back through old posts and there's plenty of hares in progress so I'm not going over old ground.  Instead here's a medley of leporids that I spied whilst having lunch at a posh garden centre with my friend Brenda the other day.  I knew that this image might come in handy!

Sunday, 28 January 2018

The Joyful Art of E-Tidying

Now I have a house where everything stays tidy of its own accord my thoughts have turned to my virtual world.  Not because I spend every waking hour glued to my phone or computer screens.  It's just they they've become more significant as places that I turn to store stuff and retrieve information.  How would I ever have imagined that I wouldn't have a need for CDs or vinyl twenty years ago.  Spotify and YouTube take care of my musical life?   And even five years ago I wouldn't have contemplated life without a printer at home.  On the rare occasions I need to print something out I borrow the one in my office.  Yes, paper is nearly a thing of the past.  Apart from the recycled stuff that I  wipe my bum on. Surely there will always be a need for that.

In order to create a sense of calm my e-world needs to be ordered too.  The same principle of making sure that all my physical possessions have a specific home where I can lay hands on them without stressing applies.  There's a bit of work to do here but here's what I have in mind it will be like when it's done.
  • All apps on my phone and tablet home screens are already in alphabetical order except for the ones I use really frequently which is on that bar at the bottom.  Come to think of it that's alphabetically arranged too.  Louis takes the piss but let him!
  • The home screen on my laptop is nearly empty.  There's a couple of files containing stuff that I access often, photos for my blogs and business stuff but that's it.    And yes there's a bit of an ABC theme going on with my shortcuts bar as well.
  • By now you won't need to be told how my playlists on Spotify are arranged!
  • The screenshot shows the result of my latest virtual cleaning efforts.   I think that having a clear In Box came from David Allen's book,  Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity that I read years ago.  I've just got round to doing this at work too.  Anything that I need to keep goes into separate folders which are regularly cleared out to remove redundant 'paperwork'.
  • Notes to myself are made within the very handy Google Keep app.  Again I make sure that I delete what I don't need anymore.  Those that I don't refer to on a day to day basis are archived so that they don't clutter my home page.
  • All documents on work and personal systems are going to be filed meaningfully.  My home system isn't bad at the moment but work files need a clear out.  Have a mentioned that I'm up to date with my clinical paperwork for the first time in living history?  A combination of sheer hard work, a lovely organised new manager and....... err manifesting time has achieved that.   It's giving me time to sort myself out.
  • The big task in hand is giving some order to my digitally stored photographs.  They're a right mess at the moment.  In the digital tidy up little and often will be my mantra.
'What a bloody control freak!'  some of you will be thinking. Well yes and no.  This makes sense to me and I thought I'd share my ideas for those who'd like to be on a similar journey.  Others seem perfectly happy in a state of perpetual muddle and even say it unleashes their creativity.  If it works for you that's okay too.    We all just need to work out our own way of making our real and virtual worlds a good fit for us so that they contribute to our sense of calm and happiness.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Still Still

Morning!  My back is still playing up but I don't think it's as bad as at the beginning of the week when just shifting my weight in my chair caused me to emit potty mouthed utterances.  I'm still taking painkillers but trying to reduce their amount and frequency.  One of their side effects is that they make me feel nauseous.

The recommended treatment for back pain seems to be getting the mixture of rest and activity just right.  I may have done a little too much yesterday but you live and learn.  I'm also pleased about what I managed to achieve in spite of the physical niggles.  Even though keeping going is absolutely essentially I' notice that I'm pain free  when still.  This, as a metaphor for what happens in my spiritual life, is not lost on me.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Swinging it Around

My post the other day highlighting all those reasons that I'd found in a twenty four hour period to be grateful  mentioned the fact that I'd learned that it was considered posh in Greek times for a willy to be small and flaccid. Very handy information to have don't you think?  It elicited a rather random comment from Flis about her Cerne Abbot giant clock whose member forms one of the hands.  The idea tickled me and my blogging friend, the very gorgeous Aril from Gnat Bottomed Towers  so  went off and do a little bit of research to see if I could find him.

And here he is, on 'the Dick Dock Clock'  (yes really), sold on the website of a little shop called Harbour Times in Weymouth.  He's hand crafted and you can choose the shape of the clock and whether you want Roman or Arabic numerals.  I've just noticed that the willy forms the second hand so it must be spinning at quite a rate.    Would I give this house room?  Yes, probably.  I'd just have a little trouble thinking about where to hang it!

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Cuddly Lobster

Even though I live in a  home by the sea I've not decked it out in marine style.  You know what I mean.  Blue and white decor, bleached furniture, bits of driftwood, shells and pictures of boats, fish and beach huts.  It's a style beloved of the holiday letters around here and can all be a bit much.

The only room that will have a nod to the  nearby beach and waves is the hallway  It has a stripy blue and sand coloured stair carpet that came with the house when I bought it which dictates the theme.   It wouldn't have been my number one choice but it's darn wasteful to rip up perfectly good floor coverings that aren't totally objectionable. So it had better stay.  Actually it's a perfect colour match for my framed posters from the Phare d'Eckmuhl bought on our 2016 summer holiday.

The hall is being decorated at the moment - slowly.  I'll show it off when it's had its makeover, probably in a few months from now.   There's no rush, thank goodness.   I saw this  in the window of one of the shops down in the harbour.  Normally I don't go for seaside souvenirs but this little guy caught my eye as I was passing with my brother.  He nipped back and bought him for me as a late Christmas present.  I was thrilled.

So what do you do with a  full sized cuddly lobster?  As his label says he's not a toy and, with all that scratchy string, he probably wouldn't make the best bedtime companion.  I've decided  then that I'll stick one of those disc hangers on his back.  They're the things that I used to display my eclectic mix of  mad wall artifacts.  And he can be displayed in the hall  as well.   For he's another great match for that stripy carpet.  Maybe it was meant to remain after all.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Clever Crows

Here's a very cool idea from Crowded Cities.  These Dutch guys are training crows,  extraordinarily intelligent birds to pick up cigarette butts in exchange for food. What a great solution to littering!  Of course, it would be an even better idea if people didn't think it was okay to drop their rubbish in the first place!

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Greek Gods and Unicorns

Yesterday morning wasn't the best.  Doing the chores before I got out of the house:  a shower,  preparing breakfast and lunch and putting the washing up away caused my poorly back to spasm.  I was in tears, pretty unlike me and Louis bore the brunt, poor love.  He was slower getting ready than I'd like, probably because he's in the wars too.  I wasn't the nicest mother in the world but then intense pain has the capacity to turn someone in evil bitch from hell.  I must remember that when it's me on the receiving end.

Thank goodness that I work in a hospital with a minor injuries unit.  I was pain-free-ish within a couple of hours.   Bless you John the nurse!  Today my list of yesterday's things to be grateful for seems to have acquired more meaning than usual.  Here we go:

  • The power of analgesia:  I've added super strength codeine to the mix of drugs I'm now taking.  At last something hits the spot!
  • The nearly totally free NHS:  Never something to be underestimated.
  • Morrison's Wonky Avocados:  Word got out from one of the student nurses that you could get a big bag of them for £1.75.   There's about six small but perfectly formed fruit in it.  My entire office went  over to the road to avail ourselves of this very healthy bargain.
  • The relatively short cue at the year long roadworks that have appeared on the ring road.
  • The unicorn one:  My business Twitter account seems to have had a glut of followers who like to dress up as the mythical beast.  Why oh why other than to give me a giggle.
  • Kind people who plied me with tea all day.  Thanks guys
  • The  view as I drive over the hill into the South Hams:  Always changing always a stunner to greet me first thing in the morning.
  • My slow cooker:  I popped a chicken in first thing in the morning and it had worked its magic.  A delicious supper waiting for us when we came home.
  • Being totally up to date with my clinical paperwork for about the first time in three years.
  • The Artsy article on why ancient Greek statues have small penises:   For the titter the title gave me and then for such an informative read.  In summary:  Big ones were considered vulgar.

Thanks for all your kind wishes yesterday.  I've woken much improved to day.  So that can be the first thing that I give thanks for on today's list.

Monday, 22 January 2018


'Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against'

The quote is Rumi, a  Islamic poet who lived in the 13th century.  I keep coming across him lately and love the way that his beautiful words can touch the soul of someone living nearly eight hundred years later.  The picture is one of those random ones from Pixabay that I now collect just for the hell of it.  A random melange which seems to work quite well don't you think?

I've hurt my back.  I don't know which micro-movement jarred it.  Nothing obvious springs to mind.   It started with a dull ache yesterday morning.   I have an idea that physical pain can be a metaphor for something at the emotional level.  Ibuprofen and paracetamol, my normal trusty combo of analgesia aren't touching the sides so I'm delving within and looking for pointers.  Send healing my friends and to Louis too.  He fell in the bathroom yesterday, bit his tongue and is on a soft cold diet!

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Storage: Inspired by Meanqueen

My boy is miles better.  I let him have a day in yesterday so that he could stay cosy and he drifted towards his electronic gadgetry.  Here he is murdering somebody on his Xbox.   Now those games have been getting on my nerves for a little while now.    Not because of the violence you understand.  That goes with the territory with teenage boys.   No it's the bloody mess that they create.   This is the only corner of the house left that hasn't been 'Japanese Art  of Tidied'  to within an inch of its life.  I've been on the look out for an aethetically pleasing container so I can rein them in.

Louis lost his appetite for a few days so I wanted to tempt him to eat on Friday.  'Is there anything that you really fancy?'  I'd asked.  He thought about it.  'Chicken Korma would be lovely.' he said.

Now if I was a perfect mother I'd have rustled up a curry from scratch but it'd had been a hard week at work and I was knackered.  A full time working single mum has to compromise sometimes.  So  I bought one of those supermarket 'boxed sets'.    It came in this box.  Even though it was natty I was about to throw it out. Then I came across a recent post about storage solutions by my friend Meanqueen.  She's done a video where she's put all sorts of old boxes and pots to good use.  It got me thinking.

So today, after detouring to the Breakwater to see the seals again. I popped into town and chose some wrapping paper.  When I got home I got out scissors, cutting knife and the glue gun.  I took the box apart,  covered it with pretty paper and  reassembled it.   There you go.  One of the naffest crafting posts ever but I'm rather pleased with it. It has something of the Elmer the Elephant about it.

Louis' games fit in it perfectly.  I knew they would  because I'd checked before I went out.  I'd popped them all in and put them in alphabetical order at the risk of the usual accusations of having OCD.   I  This is much more in keeping with  the decor of my living room than having randomly scattered Xbox disc cases everywhere .  Toy shop chic, Sugar Plumb call my style.     There's just one problem.  My latest storage solution is already full.  If Louis pops down Game again we're in trouble. I suppose that we'll just have to have demolish another load of supermarket ready meals!

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Ditching Grumpiness

I have a little morning routine going on even before I leave my bed.  I meditate, write in my Little Book of Gratefulness and ponder on the meaning of my daily angel card reading.    Then I'll do some blogging related stuff:  scheduling and writing posts, replying to comments, that sort of thing.  I might enter a couple of competitions on Prizefinder too.   All with a great big steaming cuppa to welcome in the day.   But yesterday's routine  was disrupted.  Louis rang at 6:45  He's been poorly for a couple of days but despite that had struggled into school.   But he'd woken up feeling  much worse and his dad had left home early to get to the airport to take his girlfriend away from his birthday.  Could I come and get him?

So I dropped everything and by 7:15 I was out on the road for a forty mile round trip.  I started off feeling grumpy.  My precious me time had been snatched away.   In the old days those emotions would have gone unchecked for the whole journey.  These days I try to change the focus by listening to uplifting music or something inspiring on YouTube.    After all it's only me that my bitter twisted inner world will affect.   So I switched from  resentful thinking to listening to this Wayne Dyer talk  for the second time in a week.  There were lessons within it that I hadn't quite absorbed  the first time around so that's why I made a return visit.

In one part Wayne speaks about two very similar encounters where he was asked what it was like to live in his hometown.  He'd turned the question around each time.  'What's it like where you live?' he'd asked the two individuals.  One talked about how she found the residents tricky whereas the other said that they were friendly and caring.  'That's pretty much how you'll find folks to be here.' he replied on each occasion.

Yes, we  do make our own reality.  I ditched the grumpiness and started to notice my world around me.  It was touching how a groggy looking Louis was so pleased to see me when I arrived to pick him up.  I'd done right.  And the drive back was lovely.  The light was beautiful and although this picture isn't my own, the one over the South Hams yesterday morning was just as much of a humdinger.   I'd have missed it if I'd have stayed at home and would have done too if I'd stayed in the negative fretful mindset. 

Friday, 19 January 2018

Dog Sled: Bringing New Meaning to the Phrase!

I  realise that people in other parts of the UK might have been experiencing wintery snaps.  We hardly ever get any of the white stuff in Torbay.  Just one flake gets us a little excited and causes traffic chaos!  So it's a snowy themed post today just to remind me what snow looks like.  I hope you enjoy it.  Even if you've seen it before it's worth watching again as it's really rather joyful.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Trump Tales

My friend, The Second Martha Stewart, snapped this at WH Smith on one of the London stations.  Interesting times.  Even though I've reduced my news input these days in favour of directing my focus in a more edifying direction,  what's going on in the big wide world doesn't entirely pass me by.   

Louis seems fascinated by Donald Trump.  It started when he told that sweet 'old lady' on the bus that the then president incumbent wanted to sleep with his daughter.  It's refreshing to realise that a teenager recognises outragoeusly unacceptable behaviour when he sees it.  I must have done something right on my parenting journey.  Last weekend he went to Waterstones to spend the book token that the staff gave him on his recent work placement.  He'd been told to buy one academic book so he got a revision manual for his GCSE English.   He also spied this on the front display counter.

Some way has taken lots of quotes from Donald and rearrange them to create poetry.  I love the Dylan Thomas-esque cover too.  'I've got to have that!' said Louis.  The book's gone off in his school bag and apparently all his friends are having a bit of a laugh too.   Here's one of those 'beautiful poems' that gave me a giggle.  It is quite astonishing that the most powerful man in the world saw fit to let these utterances out of his mouth.  But he did.  Each line in the book is referrenced.
Will Smith did a great job by smacking the guy “reporter” who kissed him 
Together we're going to fix our rigged system

Sarah Jessica Parker voted “unsexiest woman alive” – I agree
We must keep “evil” out of our country
A person who is very flat chested is very hard to be a ten
We're going to make America great again

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Good Old Ebay

Back in 2012 I bought my first Skipping Girl bag from Oxfam, an Australian brand hand woven out of repurposed fishing twine.  And here it is.  I've had a couple more since.  They're really robust apart from the clear plastic that usually covers the twine handles.  Once it splits all sorts of debris gets in and makes for a shabby carry all.  Thank goodness for Ebay.  Here's my replacement that arrived last week.  Just over a tenner and it will keep going for a good year or so.

I'm a bit naughty about buying clothes.  One of the reasons is that I get bored with wearing the same thing.  It's a win-win situation for the charity shops as I donate and I'm a customer as well.

There's two dresses though that I bought from George in Asda about four years ago that I love and have worn and worn.  But they're both on the way out.  However with a complicated search on Ebay I've got  replacements.  Here's the first photographed with my original dress.  I didn't realise quite how much it had faded until the new one arrived.

And here's what the new one looks like on me.  It the type of style that I like with a homage to retro.  It's ever so stretchy and I got away with buying a size 12 for the first time in many years.  The cardigan is a newbie too from a Newton Abbot charity shop on Friday.

The second hasn't arrived yet so you'll have to make do with the picture from the Ebay seller.  My original was a £7 sale bargain which has tided me through many smart and casual occasions. It's been a corker.  I love the pattern on the fabric and the neckline.    Not sure if the material degraded on its own or if it was helped by moths but it's recently developed loads of tiny holes.  It'll be lovely to have a pristine version to compare it too

What I'm now wondering is whether I'll finally be fed up of this stuff when it gets worn out again or whether I'll be back again on good old Ebay hunting out identical items yet again!

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Before Mickey

I came across a beautiful little video the other day.  Pretty please I'd like lots of you to follow this link and watch it as I'm unable to embed it in my own blog post.  You won't be disappointed, I promise.  It tells the story of the German animator Lotte Reiniger whose earliest cartoons pre-date those of Disney and it's called 'The Animation Genius You've (Probably) Never Heard Of'. 

No I hadn't.  But as someone who is a bit of a fan of the art of papercutting I'm glad I came across this wonderful homage that is recreated in Reiniger's own style.  It's tempted me to go in search of the original works.  Here's one exquisite example that came out six years before 'That Mouse' made an appearance on the silver screen.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Brixham Crab and a Record Seal Count

Week two of  a restful Sabbath on a Sunday.   After a little lie in I decided to go for a little morning stroll on my ownsome down the Breakwater.  I paused to take  photos.   Such a different day from a week ago.   It was a calm grey morning and the neutrality of the light seemed to pick out the colours of the fishing boats more than usual.

I saw the most seals I've ever spotted.  Here's five of them on the pontoon and there was another two that kept popping up in the water.

At the end of the Breakwater I took an unpromising picture of the jetty that's out of bounds to regular folk.  Quite by chance  in the afternoon I used a special effect on my phone and it was transformed.  I'm rather pleased with my arty accident.

Back to the house for some printmaking whilst Louis shot things on his Xbox.  I finished piercing a polystyrene pizza plate with a skewer a zillion time and got out the ink to see how Crab Mk II would turn out.  I'm much happier with this week's effort.    The nature of the material used makes it look as if this guy is in a sandy rockpool.  

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Pleasant Pheasant

As an omnivore I happen to believe that game is one of the best choices that I can make when it comes to eating meat.  It's reared in the environment organically and even has a bit of a chance of popping its clogs at the end of a long happy life without  the need for human intervention to dispatch it into the afterlife.  So when Jayne, one of our support workers, asked if I'd like some pheasant the other day I jumped at the chance. Her husband is the well loved postie in a rural area and he'd been given a shedload by one of his 'customers'.

Now originally I thought it would arrive complete with feathers, beak and all.  No bad thing I thought.  It would be good for me and Louis to have a sense of where our food came from and pluck the birds.  But in the end I was presented with three prepared breasts in a ziplock bag.  I decided to slow cook it.  'A few chestnuts are nice with it.' suggested Jayne.

And so yesterday Lou and I went on a chestnut hunt.  None in Asda or Morrison's.  Eventually we found some in a very beautiful greengrocers in Totnes at a very beautiful price.  £5.40 for less than a pound in weight.  Bollocks to that!   A 50p can of cannellini beans made a good substitute.  When we arrived home  here's the gist of how quick it was to put together a rather wonderful hearty meal.

In the time it took for us to boil a kettle for a cup of tea and the chicken stock for the casserole I chopped up the pheasant,  six rashers of streaky bacon,  an onion,  a couple of carrots and about four potatoes and popped it all in the pot.  I added the beans and a can of chopped tomatoes, three cloves of  crushed garlic and a good sprinkling of sage.  I topped it up with stock, seasoned it well and popped the cooker on high for an afternoon of cooking.  Done!

About a couple of hours before teatime I made dumplings out of 200g self raising flour, 100g of suet and a good shaking of salt.    I used just enough water to bind the ingredients together by hand and popped dinky little balls of the mixture on top of the bubbling mixture.  The job took all of an extra three minutes.

Twenty minutes before the end of cooking time (about six hours) I removed the stock and boiled it in a saucepan to reduce it.    I added a few peas to the casserole for a contrast in taste but mostly because pretty much any savoury dish looks prettier for a bit of greenery.

No fancy cosmetically enhanced food photos.  Just a picture of a boy enjoying his tucker.  I hope this proves that my quickly prepared winter warmer was entirely successful!

Saturday, 13 January 2018

The Shiniest of Upcycling

A friend tagged me on Facebook the other day.  She'd attached a video showcasing the work of artist Matt Wilson who recycles cutlery and other bits of metal to make sculptures.  She thought that it would be right up my street.  You can follow the link to watch it here but I've decided to share some still photos so you'll be able to focus more closely on the exquisite ingenuity that goes into the design of each piece.  If I've whetted your appetite go and have a look at the Airtight Artwork for more beautiful work.

Oh my goodness gracious!  I am so pleased that these came under my radar.  It's great how you can identify what bits and pieces went into the making of each sculpture.  I'm particularly taken by this pregnant android.  It seems like she has a measuring spoon or ladle as her tummy.  I'm not sure of the scale.

Here's another of those gorgeous little birds.   I like how the stamped markings on the cutlery has added a certain jauntiness to his plumage.

And I think that this has to be my favourite piece of upcycling ever.  A man who finds a use of redundant shower hoses has to be a genius!

Friday, 12 January 2018


Bookwormery has been a lifelong habit for all but the first two and a half years of my life.  I was still toddling when I first learnt to read and started sharing my stories with the next door neighbour's dog. Precocious, moi?

I remember when my mum took me on my first visit to my infant school.  It was a lovely place , a source of great memories with toys that would set a health and safety inspector's pulse racing in modern times.  Like the sets of wooden blocks  backed with real nails that you hammered into a cork tile or the hand of another kiddie when they were being particularly annoying.   There were also climbing frames constructed over concrete.   It's a wonder that we didn't all come away with head injuries.

'We teach ITA here.' Mrs Cook, the headmistress told my mum.  It was a phonetically based teaching tool with no upper case and weird and wonderful letters that augmented the usual alphabet.  While it was popular for a while in the '60s and '70s it lost favour as loads of people who learnt it struggled to spell properly when they made the switch back to standard English.   Mum told Miss Cook that I could already read.  'Of course she can't dear.' was the answer.  In those days head teachers were held in high regards and had sufficient authority to get away with being patronising.

In order that I could identify where I was supposed to hang my pink coat the peg  had a picture of an umbrella above it.  Of course it was assumed that if the word 'Julie' had been there instead it would have make no sense to me.  I vividly recall the first time that I was called up to the front of the class for my first 1:1 reading session with my teacher.  This book 'paul' , written in the Initial Teaching Alphabet,  was put in front of me.  In spite of some unfamiliar curly characters  I read it from end to end on the first attempt much to the lovely Miss Nightingale's astonishment.  Someone then had a rethink and decided that I could revert to using the proper alphabet.

And so it was that  I was allowed to do my own thing for the first two years of schooling whilst the others in my class caught up.  I became chief errand runner and immersed myself in a sea of Fuzzy Felt and old fashioned standard English books from the library meant for the older kids.   I'm in two minds as to whether leaving a four year old to educate themselves is a good idea.  It made conforming to formal teaching difficult and to this day I find sitting still in a classroom a bit of an ordeal.  But then again maybe a bit of self sufficiency served me well.  I've only just got to appreciate that in later life.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Wednesday: Woohoo!

Hump day is a phrase that I've heard  before, used to describe Wednesday as it's slap bang in the centre of a typical working week.   By its afternoon you're over a metaphorical hill and on the descent towards the next weekend.    As of yesterday it became a special day for me.  I put in extra hours on other weekdays and as a reward get a midweek break from my existing NHS job.  So  my usual working pattern means that I'm never in the office for more than two days in a row.  Even though most people seem to use four day working to take a longer  weekend I personally think that having Wednesday off rocks. Tuesday night suddenly became really rather exciting.

No lie in though.  There's a  still a teenager to get to school .  After dropping Louis off for the  bus I headed back home via Aldi for cheese and tinned tomatoes and ended up semi-impulse purchasing a new roasting tin.    My old one's been a sorry state for a while and I had it in the back of my mind to replace it.  After a quick coffee with  Mr Metrosexual who was still in his pyjamas when I called at his house  I  did some work on my other much more sensible dementia themed blog.   Mr Metrosexual then reappeared at lunchtime.  I can see he might be a distraction.  He gets a bit lonely in retirement and seemed delighted that I'm around to entertain him midweek when nearly everyone else is working.    We went for a stroll along the breakwater and celebrated my new found freedom....with chips!  Such a lovely day with the calmness of the sea in contrast with those crashing waves at the weekend.  Lots of cormorants spotted doing their usual disappearing act.

The planned afternoon return to beavering to kickstart my own business properly went a bit awry.  All those carbohydrates  and the fresh air could have been the reason that I became very sleepy.  Fifteen minutes of meditation practice somehow turned into a full blown siesta!   But all was not lost.   I have compiled a rather lovely 'To Do' list  to steer my venture in the right direction.  Do not beat myself up and  ease in gently are my mantras.  After all when I start to draw in those customers shortly as planned there might little opportunity for  impromptu slacking!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Vegan Landscape?

This photo, downloaded from that very handy Pixabay website where I get my free pictures when I can't be arsed to take my own, depicts the type of Devon countryside that I  drive around  during my typical working week.  Someone's got to do it!  All this beauty is  a bit of an antidote to counter the trauma that I come across as part and parcel of working in a mental health team. 

As I was bimbling around in my little blue number the other day a question popped into my head.  'With the sharp rise in meat free eating patterns how would this landscape be transformed if everyone were vegan?   After all it's been crafted by the farm animals that have populated it over the centuries; pigs, chickens, cows and many sheep that hug those hillsides.   I went on the Internet to do a little bit of casual research  Go and have a look for yourself because I haven't got the time to write an essay.

It' makes quite interesting reading  There seem to be opposing camps who'd lock pretty big horns if they came into close contact.   To my brain that's relatively untutored from an ecological perspective they both seem to have some valid arguments.   But I wasn't really trying to weight them up.  My wondering was just from a pretty neutral aesthetic perspective.  Just what would it look like?

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Baxter and Suitcases

This is my  handsome doggy friend Baxter.  Mr Metrosexual's foot gets a look in too.  They were passing the house on Sunday just before we were about to begin our walk.  'I need a picture of Baxter for a blog post.'  I called out.  They obliged.  He's all muzzled up as the court system has deemed him dangerous due to his breeding.  In reality he's a big softie.  The only potential for harm is when he bounds up to greet you excitedly and nearly knocks you over in the process.   Okay cats might risk life and limb if they approach too close.  He hates them.

In between Christmas and New Year I popped round to see Mr Metrosexual for a cuppa and ended up drinking far too much gin instead.    For after all you only live once.    Mr Metrosexual showed me the present that he'd bought his partner Ruff Stu for Christmas.  It was a rather swanky carry on case.  As it was wheeled into the room Baxter showed signs of distress, a bit of whelping and then he moved away sulkily and then refused to be coaxed back to join us.   'He always gets like that when he sees a suitcase.'  said Mr. Metrosexual.

Baxter understands their meaning  all too well.   He knows that packing heralds a time where he'll be left behind in Blighty.  Even though he normally has a house sitter or goes to stay with 'My Other Boys' who spoil him rotten he is still sad at the thought of being left by his masters.   Is he unique or does  the sight of luggage causes anyone else's pet to have abandonment issues?

Monday, 8 January 2018

Sabbath Number One

So I used the first Sunday in 2018 to kickstart my Sabbath a week plans.  So what did my day of rest entail?  I decided that a  coast path walk would be lovely as the forecast was for sun.   It stayed dry but the wind and sea conditions were livelier than usual.  Here's what I mean.  The black dot at the top of the picture is a seal.  I'd just been wondering if they'd venture into such stormy seas and got my answer!

I walked with my brother who's staying with me at the moment.  We thought about a selfie but it was too nippy to hang around.  Our stroll ended with brunch in the  Wetherspoons at Paignton.  Then we caught the number 12 bus back to Brixham and had another pint in the one there.   Isn't that almost a pub crawl?

Back home for a nap to sleep off the ale and then onto a bit of printmaking.  Here's one I made earlier.  It's a print from my polystyrene pizza plate crab that I made when I was poorly. Hmmm!  No wonder I wasn't in a rush to show it off. It was not how I imagined.  Not enough definition.  So I've started again today.  The background is going to take some work for their to be plenty of contrast so the crab stands out.  I'll be poking around with a skewer for the rest of the week and then getting out the ink next Sunday.    I'm sure that fourth commandment said that crafting was mandatory on the Sabbath.

And so I had a lovely restorative day.  Just the thing before a new regime where I've put aside time to work on kick starting my business alongside full time employment.  I've got a feeling that being stern with myself about setting aside time for enjoyable pursuits is going to be a rather good idea.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Tidying Update

Back in September I completed the not insubstantial task of tidying Louis' room using the principles in Marie Kondo's 'Life Changing Art of Tidying Book'.  Four months on and it's a miracle!  His attic retreat remains in good order.  True I have to pop up and retrieve socks, pants and sweet wrappers from under the bed.  But there's not been a return to the groaning pit of squalour it used to be where I stood in despair and thought  'Where the hell do I start with this lot!'

The landing outside is also ordered.  There's even storage areas that are empty.  And  there's still plenty of shelf top available for Louis to acquire more crap to display.  Of course I meant treasures just then.

The rest of the house remains easy to look after as well now that all that I own has a home.  Yes I've had plenty of people take the piss but let them.  Honestly I feel happier now as my tidying heroine, Marie, promised.  But then I always knew that it would be so.  For I'd worked out the inter-relationship between an uncluttered environment and a calm mind a long time ago. 

Just two problem areas remain.  The sheets on the top shelf of my linen cupboard are messy.  I'm not the best at precision folding yet.   I'm on a mission to work something out.   By the way all my pillowcase are stored vertically in that storage box.  I'm super happy with that arrangement.  Sad isn't it?  No wonder Louis periodically forces me to self test for OCD.

My food cupboard isn't to my liking either.  I'm blaming the Second Martha Stewart.  She sent me away with two big bags of  uneaten food from her holiday home at the end of her stay.  So my larder is a bit crammed.  I'll just have to set about thinking how to use some of the strange goodies I've accumulated and start munching.  Bacon jam on a great big gingerbread man anyone?

This system works.  I'd really recommend it.   The house is easier to clean.  Nothing gets lost because everything has its own home.    Every purchase is made on the basis of whether it brings joy and enhances my life.  Way more stuff still leaves my home than is making its way through the door.  The sense of space is wonderful and still expanding.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Lovely Late Resolutions

Did anyone make any New Year's resolutions on Monday? How are they going?  I bet a few have been broken already.   The man on the till at Asda yesterday told me that his attempt at an alcohol free January had lasted a day!    My lovely boss said that she'd given up making resolutions based around denial in an attempt to lose weight, be healthier or become more organised.  Instead she's committed to giving herself  treats.  Having a regular manicure was one of them.   And maybe she's on the right track.  For if we take action to feel good about ourselves perhaps things like reducing our chocolate and prosecco intake and doing more exercise, will become easier to achieve. 

I didn't actively make any resolutions but perhaps  deciding to give myself a Sabbath each week  fits the bill.   I start tomorrow.   A walk and some crafting is planned.  I've also had an idea for a rolling ongoing resolution to be renewed in years to come.  Each year while I'm still able I'd like to visit a country that I haven't been to before.  Portugal and Ireland are on the list for this year.

So if your resolve has been pants have a rethink and come up with something lovely that you can do for yourself in 2018. 

Friday, 5 January 2018

Hoping for Winnings

In order to give the universe a leg up in helping me manifest wonderful things in my life I'm back spending just a few minutes a day on Prizefinder, a website that lists competitions, sometimes hundreds a day.  Years back I had some sucess in using it.  My  Dualit kettle and toaster were a prize and I also won a year's membership to a swanky gym in Plymouth.

Keep your fingers crossed for me and let's hope that I'll be a winner.  The idea of an exotic holiday that's beyond the budget of a single mum on an NHS salary is really quite appealing!

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Am I Psychic?

I'm been playing with a little app on my phone lately called 'Are You Psychic?'  It prompts you to choose one of the five cards shown above on twenty five occasions.  Laws of chance predict that a score of five or below is unremarkable.  But if you consistently get more  than this on subsequent attempts then something else may be going on.

These are Zener Card, produced by a scientist of the same name in the early 1930s for testing ESP.  'Ah they're the cards in the scene in Ghostbusters where Bill Murray was perving!'  said Barbie Nurse.  There's other sets of cards to choose from in the app but I'm rather partial to these because of their provenance.

So how am I doing?  Well my combined test results are at 23%.   I've scored 12/25 on a couple of occasions and I often get a run of scores over five.  I'm less 'psychic' when I'm a bit stressed or tired.  The lack of consistency means that, in spite of my gypsy ancestry, I won't be opening a booth on Brixham Harbour and inviting people to cross my palm with silver any time soon!

What the process has sparked is a latent interest in probability.   Maybe this is fascinating me more than the hocus pocus.  What I'm trying to work out at the moment is the chance of getting any particular score.   I think I've found the formula but my rusty maths head is struggling to use it.  I'll post the chances of scoring 12/25, which I thought was pretty impressive, when I've worked it out.