Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Wye, Valley

We went out for a little drive yesterday. Well, when I say a little drive, it started as a quick trip to deliver a bicycle to my great granddaughter and then to get some chicken food and do some shopping for food for us.

An awful lot of Welsh mountains in that water
The E"R trees
We called briefly at Rory and Kerry's house - it is so good to see them so happy and the children looking so healthy and contented. Anwyn was thrilled with her bike and when we told her that her Aunty had acquired it for her she said a delighted thank you and was eager to try it out. We then drove out to Chepstow to buy the chicken food and as we came out of the car park Mr M said "right or left?" Now I confess right here that I am a compulsive left turner. If I come to a junction and I don't know which way to go I will always try to turn left. So that's what I said. We arrived at the roundabout and Mr M had decided that a... "little run up the Wye Valley" was needed after all this snow.
The Skirrid from Pandy.
I managed a couple of pictures of the River Wye in its winter colours - chocolate brown and very bad tempered.
When we got to Monmouth we drove over the Wye Bridge and turned right - Mr M prefers right turns. and headed up the A48.
"Shall we have lunch at Jo's?" I asked, feeling my tummy rumble. "That was my intention" came the reply. I like it when we think the same way. I managed to get a quick snap of the E"R trees on the end of the hill. They were planted in coronation year and will probably be felled when our good queen dies.... poignant.
After a lovely lunch of Cod and chips for me and liver and bacon for him we headed towards Hereford. We stayed on main roads because there was such a lot of snow and side roads and lanes are not important for clearing are they?
at hereford we did a sharp left and headed down the Abergavenny road. I managed a quick snap of the Skirrid as we slowed down to drive through Pandy. Oh that's something to remember in all this snapping. My photography is done at an average speed of 40mph. Mr M will slow down sometimes but he rarely stops. I am quite adept at taking pictures of hedges and fences and continually, as in the first picture on here, of getting the wing mirror as the only thing in focus. Just occasionally I manage to get something good, not often but enough for me to keep on trying.
Where was I? oh yes. We decided that we would do our shopping in the new Morrison's that has opened in Cwmbran. This was a bit of an error on our part. We had forgotten it was Saturday and Cwmbran is horrendously busy on a Saturday because the town centre has free parking so everyone for miles around goes there. It is a new Morrisons so everyone was going there for a look and this is Cwmbran.
It took 20 minutes to get into the carpark and find a space. There were people in the store who don't know how to shop - no etiquette, they left their darned trolleys just anywhere, without thought of people coming along the aisles. the stood against the shelves and chatted to people so that they blocked it for everyone else. I was continually saying "Excuse me, could I just get....." or "Sorry to interrupt but could you just pass...." By the time we got back to the car I was grumpy and fed-up! Then it took about 20 minutes to get out of the place!
The chickens love their new food - they weren't keen on the old stuff and only ate it because there was nothing else and they were on the dregs from the bottom of the food bin. We also got a huge sack of corn so they are ok for their evening treat for a long time to come.
Oh and I will explain the Wye Walley reference very soon.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

The one about the snow

Look at my washing line! isn't that cool? Well, frozen actually, but you know what I mean. I love the way the snow was falling gently enough to first stick to the line and then to build up.
I went down the steps, just after taking this from the kitchen window, and when I opened the door to the chicken run they stuck their heads out of their house, looked at the snow and went straight back to bed. I filled their water and food containers and hung a new cabbage on the wire but not even that treat could tempt them out. so no chicken footprints in my snow!

Mr M said he would clear the steps for me and then sat in front of the TV until son-in-law arrived. While S-i-L was changing the bulb in the study Mr M donned his coat and boots and ventured outside. We think it is because the snow shovel is new and he doesn't want anyone else to play with his toys until he has had first go.
The steps are now cleared and have road salt on them

Look! can you see the way the snow on the chicken wire on the gate has melted into a lovely pattern? Isn't that beautiful? It looks even better when you are inside the doors with a steaming hot cup of coffee and a bacon roll - special treat for us at the weekend - a huge tiger bread roll, or a Giraffe roll from Sainsburys with several rashers of crispy bacon and a few mushroom slices. no need to eat again until tonight.

I am so glad we got the drain in the corner fixed before the bad weather. Now at least the water will run down into the sewers and not onto the steps through the holes as it used to.
I simply had to have a blog about snow. It has become such a rare occurrence in this area. I hope my daughter will take this chance to show us pictures of Miss Em in the snow

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Simply a moment - January

It is 7pm. We have just eaten dinner and Mr M has "done" the dishwasher while I made the tea and coffee. I stopped to glance at the old Christmas cards brought by my daughter from her colleagues in work while Mr M went into the front room to set up the last disk from season 2 of The West Wing. No TV, no noise from the neighbours and no traffic noise from outside.
My hands are still as I listen to the silence.
I look about me at the blind on the kitchen window, the draught excluder in the shape of a cat that is promised to one of my grandsons, who has loved it since he could stand up even though it was taller than him. I see the birthday presents wrapped and ready for the very important third and eighth birthdays coming up next month. I look down the hall to the front door, covered now by the thick curtain that keeps out the draughts. Mr M comes out of the front room and looks expectantly at me.
"Ready?" he asks. "Yes I'm ready," I say, leaving the cards and walking quickly towards him. A moment of silence is sometimes all a person needs to take stock of how fortunate they are.

This moment is part of something given to us by Alexa at Trimming the Sails Why not pop over there and take a look at some of the other moments.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Just made my heart swell...

Miss Em is feeling much better today. She had the dreaded lurgey before Christmas and was off school for the last week of term, always a downer when so much exciting stuff is happening. She felt a little better on Christmas Day but by that time Mummy and Daddy were sharing her germs and Grandma and Grandpa were recovering. The week after Christmas she slipped back as the secondary bacterial infection took hold and the first lot of antibiotics failed to make an impression. She reached the end of the week with a visit to the out of hours doctor - I just love that the acronym is OOH DOC - and some antibiotics that really meant business. By Sunday she had bounced back, had a couple of good night's sleep and she went back to school today. Daddy is on afternoon shift this week so I get to collect her from school and feed her until her mother gets home from work.
I LOVE this special time with her. She talks about her day. I tell her little bits about my day and we do crafty things or read a little or just watch TV a bit - as long as it's not cartoons I can only do cartoons once a week on a Friday.
Today at lunch time the phone rang and a nice female voice told me she was the school and asked if I was Miss Em's Mummy, "I am Grandma," I said, "What's wrong?"
"There's nothing wrong," said Nice Voice, "Miss Em has come to the office because she thinks her Mummy might not realise that there is no Gardening Club this afternoon and she wanted us to ring home to make sure that everyone knows that they should come to school to fetch her at the proper time."
I said thank you and I would be there at half past three and I put the phone down.
She will be eight years old next month and yet she had the common sense to go to the office at lunch time and ask if they could ring to make sure that she wasn't left waiting at three-thirty. I would never have thought of that at her age and if I did I would have just worried about how I would get home and begun making ever more fanciful plans about what to do when no-one turned up. I certainly wouldn't have thought it through like that.
When we got home after school I told her how proud I was that she had thought about it and said "Thank you so much for doing that"
"you're welcome" she replied "Can I watch TV for a while?" So for her it was no big deal. My heart just swelled fit to burst. I was so proud of her.  To me, her mother, her father and her grandpa it is a huge deal. Just needed to share

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Day Jake Bought a present...

This story is brought to you through Story Telling Sunday Three: Pick your Precious This was thought of and is held together by Sian at FromHighintheSky After you have read my story why not go over there and click on the links to read everyone else's story. I can assure you it will be worth it.

Wicked Uncle Cliff shuffles
Wicked Uncle Cliff came to stay for New Year. He is a Courtesy Uncle and not a blood relative, not that he could be any closer to our family. We have known him nearly 30 years now and he was the boyfriend that my daughter left home for 20 years ago. They split up but he continued to be our friend as he had been before they became a couple. Writing this explanation is so much more complicated that actual life!

Anyway, when they were together and living in Manchester, Cliff was offered a German Shepherd dog in exchange for a motorcycle. Cliff was working in a pub and the man used to come in with his dog and Cliff always thought it was awful that this man should have such a lovely animal and be so cruel to it. The man said he had a job offer in London but he couldn't afford to get there and had no way of taking the dog. Cliff offered him a motorcycle in exchange for the dog and the deal was accepted.

This dog was Jake. We went up to visit soon after and I fell in love with this huge but incredibly gentle animal who listened intently to everything I said and then looked at Cliff to make sure he understood.

Jake was now being fed good food. He had his own bowl and water dish. He had a ball to play with and was taken for a walk twice or three times a day. He no longer had to rattle pebbles against his teeth or pick up chips in the street although that habit took a little while longer to break. He would walk alongside Cliff and ignore every other dog even if they yapped in his face. Put him on a lead and he immediately started to pull and choke himself.
We walked to the petshop one day to get him some food and biscuit and while we were there he examined every box of toys but didn't touch them. Then he spotted the ones that are made of animal hide and he carefully lifted out the biggest one and brought it to Cliff.
"Do you really want that?" asked Cliff. Jake carefully stood on his hind legs and put the bone-shaped thing on the counter, then he looked Cliff in the eye. "OK, if you're sure you want it" said Cliff and it was added to the list. He gave it to Jake to carry home.
When we got back to the house Jake put the chew onto the chair that Cliff preferred. Cliff picked it up and put it into Jakes's bed and then sat down. Jake went to his bed, picked up the chew and took it to Cliff, dropping it into his lap.
"I don't want to play, Jake, take it and lie down" Cliff never shouted or raised his voice so this was said quietly, almost conversationally. Jake just looked at him. Cliff tossed the chew into Jake's bed and then Jake went and lay down. Over the next two days Jake persisted in putting the chew onto Cliff's chair at every opportunity until we suddenly realised that he was not wanting to play he was giving it to Cliff as a gift.

He had chosen the thing that he most wanted in that shop and brought it home for Cliff because Cliff had given Jake a safe home with food and fun and lots and lots of love. I think that this experience has to be one of the most precious things I have ever seen. Jake lived to a very good age for a German Shepherd - until his hips began to fail and he could no longer walk far. Even now when we think of him we have a smile on our faces as we remember special, precious times with a very intelligent dog. So intelligent he could speak Arabic, but that's a whole other story.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Wicked Uncle Cliff

playing cards with WUC
It is always good when someone you like comes to stay. When that someone has been a friend for more than twenty years, their visit is always looked forward to and enjoyed. When they bring a friend who fits into your family as though they were born there it makes everything just about perfect.
WUC shows us how to shuffle
Wicked Uncle Cliff came for the whole weekend and New year. This was an unexpected bonus for us and nearly a week of excitement for Miss Em. She adores him. He teases her and buys her presents - that she never takes for granted - and he takes great delight in her sense of humour and her amazingly adult outlook. In some things she is a normal seven year old but on occasions she can leave us all lost for words at her grasp of how things work in the adult world. He pushes her brain and finds ways to make her think and she loves the challenge.
This time he introduced some card games. Simple ones that a seven-year-old can understand and play. It has been interesting to watch how she has toned down her behaviour as it became obvious to her that she was getting just the same attention as everyone else and she was being treated exactly the same as everyone at the table. She stopped trying to be the centre of attention and concentrated on playing to win. We played Newmarket and Chase the Ace and a little game that we think is called tuppence-ha'penny.
At Midnight last night we upheld our tradition and stood by the front door to yell Happy New Year to our neighbours across the road. Then we all came back into the warm, gave everyone a hug and after a while drifted off to bed.  A very good start to the year