Sunday, 21 December 2014

At Christmas We... Christmas Club

bah humbug
...try very hard to get into the "Christmas Spirit", you know, the mood that old Ebenezer Scrooge was in when morning came and he was still alive.
We usually find ourselves in the sort of mood he was in when he warned Bob Cratchett that he wouldn't get paid for taking the whole day off.............. ok, perhaps not quite as bad as that. It's all the stuff that gets in the way, all the getting ready.
I am nearly old enough now that I can palm everything off onto my kids and let them bring Christmas to me, except that I have a nearly ten year old granddaughter who thinks that it won't be Christmas without dinner at Grandma's table. We are cooking the turkey this year - there see, all the effort and the mathematics working out how long in the oven and what temperature - I used to get paid to work all that out! I'm retired now so why am I still cooking?
Yesterday we went out shopping for "The rest of the stuff" Mr M took only five minutes of driving time before he was muttering about "Drivers and screwdrivers" and "Why aren't they concentrating and watching the lights?" and "What's he looking at on the floor? I bet he's using his phone!"
Costco was full so we had the "I bet she drives her car just like she drives her trolley*" and "Why do they stop in the middle of the aisle and block it for everyone?" and "They always stop just where the thing I want is on the shelf!" and "Well, do you?" This last one is usually referring to something he said while walking slightly in front of me with his head turned away. I have had to train myself not to laugh out loud because "It's not funny".
We stack everything in the back of the car, decide not to go to Farm Foods today as that will just break our spirit totally so we get a large pizza to go and when we get home we spend the rest of the day slowly eating it.
One of these years we'll get everyone to bring Christmas to us and we'll have our breakfast and settle into our chairs and let it all happen... one of these years.................... but not yet.

This is in response to an idea called Christmas Club by Sian over at FromHighInTheSky why not pop over there now you've read this and see who else has added their story

*Shopping cart

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Grandma, you know the treasure chest...

"The green one with the cute tassel for you to open it?"
"yes, I know the one"
"Well, last year it was under the Christmas tree and..." She pauses and chooses her words carefully "I thought we could do it this year and we could put gold coins in there, like last year. I think Mummy has got some at our house."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how traditions are created.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The munching........ like the haunting but worse

The Muncher continued to make noise on Tuesday evening. Mr M was dozing in front of his computer and I was reading my kindle in my chair when it began again. I crept out into the hall - tiled floor with carpet runner so no creaking boards to give me away. I could hear it but could not get a definite fix on direction. This means it is munching its way up from the cellar walls down underneath me.
I removed my hard-soled slipper from my foot.
I braced my other hand against the wall.
I banged on the wooden wall of the under-stairs cupboard with the hard-soled slipper then I stepped onto the suspended floor of the breakfast room and stamped hard with the slipper-shod other foot.
Then I banged a few times on the wooden floor with the slipper and shouted "Have this for a headache you munchrat!"

This took just seconds to do and as I was shouting Mr M shot out of the study, wild-eyed and ... I was going to say panic stricken but he never panics so he just looked a bit shocked really ... Oh what the heck! let's use a bit of author licence shall we?
Mr M shot out of the study, wild-eyed and panic stricken "What's wrong! what the he...."
He saw the slipper held tightly in my right hand.
"Oh, still munching eh? well that'll give him a headache"
He turned to go back to his jigsaw on the computer, paused and turned back. "It'll also make our noisy neighbours aware of how sound travels through the walls" He grinned and disappeared into the study.

If it continues we will have to get the rat man back again ~sigh~

Monday, 15 December 2014

Me on Monday - I can hear munching

It's been an empty the pantry and search for rat droppings sort of a weekend - there might have been other things happening but the munching from somewhere around the pantry took precedence.

That is all

Sunday, 14 December 2014

At Christmas we... Buy Cranberry Sauce

the eldest and youngest with their Granny. She has her coffee mug in her hand
and will soon be lighting up the first cigarette. 
At Christmas we.... Always have cranberry sauce to go with the turkey. We buy a jar weeks before and put it in the pantry - or sometimes we put it in the fridge.
Christmas day dawns and we open presents put the turkey in the oven and get the vegetables on the go. Eventually we sit down to eat and we all enjoy our dinner, pulling crackers and wearing silly hats ( perhaps I'll tell the tale of Hannah and the paper hat one day, although without the physical actions it loses a little...). We doze in front of the TV for a while and then play silly games until the small ones collapse in tears of exhaustion.

Some time in the days that follow one of us will go to the pantry or the fridge and move something. "Oh look," we'll say "A jar of cranberry sauce, weren't we meant to have that with the turkey?" then we'll laugh and it will get forgotten until November when we scrape out the contants into the food recycling bin and wash the jar and put it in the glass recycling box and the next time we go shopping we say "Don't forget the cranberry sauce for the turkey".
This is a tradition now, it has to be as we have been performing the ritual every year for the last 34 Christmasses.

This has been written in response to the idea of a Christmas Story Club devised by Sian at FromHighInTheSky. Why not take a look at the other stories now that you've read mine?

Monday, 8 December 2014

Me on Monday - A Shop Local weekend

An Expert.n: A man outstanding in his field
 It was an expert spotting, sign reading, Sugar Loaf snapping, Big Bale Turkey spotting kind of a Shop Local weekend with Admiral Lord Bluefunnel and his Lady coming to us to share dinner for a change.

The expert is actually a scarecrow, but you realised that. Mr M first pulled that pun on me about 30 years ago when he saw a man walking through a field with his dog.
"He must be an expert" he said. I peered through the windows, wondering how he knew. Eventually curiosity got the better of me and I asked
"How do you know?"
"He's out standing in his field so he must be an expert."
I giggled and I still giggle even now. I am fortunate that now I have a camera so I can document these important things.

We went to a Farm Shop called The Salting Stone. They breed and rear their own rare breed pigs and the had a beautiful, boned leg of Welsh pig so we bought it together with some sausages and I couldn't resist taking a picture of the notice.

Then we were off into the unknown... well, not really because the roads in our county are all pretty well known to us. We headed towards Abergavenny pausing to take a picture of our lovely Sugar Loaf Mountain. Doesn't it look dramatic against the backdrop of that huge mountain behind it? Well, that's the funny thing, there is no huge mountain behind it. Not even a small mountain, that is a big cloud bank with a few wispy white ones just to set off the Sugar Loaf properly. I have never seen a cloud like that before and the scary thing is that it didn't do anything to the weather!!

We went around Abergavenny and headed towards Hereford. We didn't stop there either because Mr M was heading for Oakchurch Farm Shop. We needed a few additions for Christmas presents and this was where we were going to find them.

I managed a quick 5mph shot of the big bale turkey on the way in because on the way out I knew that Mr M would be in my sight-line.

From there we pointed the car in the direction of Brecon but we didn't go there either. We turned off at Talgarth, stopped for fish and chips at the Castle Fish bar, but that's a whole other story and I am still too cross to laugh about it and came home. Sunday I vacuum cleaned. I say this with pride because this is the second time I have done it this year. I don't do housework. No, really, I don't do housework but after several years of stupid useless vacuum cleaners I now have a Henry and he sucks up dead leaves that blow in through the door everytime it is opened and he eats the grit and small stones that track in on shoes and he is my kind of cleaner. I might use him more than twice a year, who knows... at least until the bag is full.

I cooked half the pork joint and did roasted vegetables and stuff and Admiral Lord Bluefunnel and Lady Bluefunnel came to dinner. It made a change for them to come to us. Lady Bluefunnel and I tend to think of things at the same time but she is quicker to act than me. While I am forming the idea she will text me and say "Food with us, Sunday?" This time I texted her while Mr M was completing the purchase of the meat. I was able to show the Lord Admiral just how much I have found for his family tree and he was delighted, and then remembered a few more names of cousins and stuff so I have some more names to research now.

Me on Monday was invented by Sian at FromHighInTheSky. My thanks to her for providing a focus that encourages me to write.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

At Christmas We......

used to have the traditional Get-Powell's-cattle-out-of-the-vegetable-garden runaround every Christmas afternoon just about the time when it was beginning to get dark.

I have searched for pictures but there are none. We lived in the country in an old water mill with my parents. Mum and I would cook the dinner we would all sit down to eat - wearing our Christmas finery of course - and afterwards we would ask one another if we should just sit back and doze for a while or should we just change into working clothes ready for the great break in.

We had Christmas there for twelve years and every year, without fail we would hear our own animals making the "Monsters-are-coming-to-eat-us!" noises and there they would be, Mr Powell's steers trampling over the cabbages. They had found the weak spot in the fence even though my Dad would spend Christmas Eve making sure the fences were all strong.

Sometimes I miss the tradition, but not often because I was usually the one that had to go through the ditch to chase the last steer out and I inevitably finished up with more water inside my boots than outside.
Now I am wishing we had pictures

This is all because of an idea by Sian at FromHighinTheSky Why not take a look at her blog now that you've read mine - she has lots of good stuff in hers

Monday, 1 December 2014

Mushroom Curry -- that is so not happening!

A catering career and a lifetime of cooking should have made me sensitive to my instincts about a recipe, you'd think eh?

We went to my youngest son's recently and his lovely wife cooked for us and one of the things she served was the most delicious mushroom curry. I decided I would like to have a go so I googled. A person should always google first and I found lots of recipes but only one where the illustration looked similar to the food we had eaten.

I looked at the ingredients.
Green Cardamom. I confess that I had to google again to see what they looked like and then to see where we could buy them. My son-in-law finally found some in the Marsala Bazaar which is just down the road from here. They have loads of marvellous things in there.
Cloves. What? ok got it
Fresh Ginger, ok we know that. A bit sweet though.
Green Chillies. So not going in my curry as I am allergic to them.
Garam Masala. got it
Chillie powder. got it
Garlic Paste. got it

Then the instructions.
This is where the misgivings began. Something about the fact that one line read "...cook briefly until the raw smell go away"
This would be a problem as my sense of smell has never recovered from the virus of four years ago.

We finally got all the ingredients together, including enough yoghurt before Mr M ate it, so yesterday I made the curry, following the instructions to the letter.
I put it on the plates with the rice.
We both ate one small forkful and while I scraped the plates into the foood recycling bin Mr M ordered chinese to be delivered. The taste of cloves was nearly overpowering but it was off set by the green cardamom. Those two flavours battled with the sharpness of the yoghurt and lost. The only thing that would have changed it were the chillies
The chinese was lovely

Sunday, 30 November 2014

At Christmas We...

AJ age two and a bit putting on her new slippers 4.35am Christmas Day
Never used to put up the Christmas tree until Christmas Eve. It was the duty of the youngest generation of the family to decorate the tree so this fell to me every year as I am an only child. I continued this tradition with my own children throughout my first marriage.
They would spend all day bickering and playing as well as decorating the tree and by bedtime they were usually exhausted and went to sleep almost immediately only to be awake at 5aam.
Mr M was brought up differently and his tree was always up and decorated by the middle of December. My children thought this was a much better idea so for the last 33 years we have been tinselled and beribboned by the 14th.
I am grudgingly coming to believe that this is a good thing, although I do sometimes think that giving the small children the task on Christmas Eve made the time go a little faster for them and kept them occupied.
Perhaps I can reinstate it for the great grandchildren eh?

Perhaps not.

My thanks to Sian over at FromHighintheSky for giving me the focus I needed to tell this Christmas Club Story

Monday, 24 November 2014

Me on Monday - Cardamoms?

It was a recipe seeking, bed changing, sheet washing, card writing, present knitting, watching the Roosevelts kind of a weekend.
I was looking for a recipe for mushroom curry because we had some at Mark and Jo's and it was delicious but they still haven't given me the recipe. I know, I know I should wait but I am like Inego Montoya in The Princess Bride, I hate waiting. So I did an online search and peered at lots of pictures looking for something that looked like what we had. I found a recipe and then I had to look up cardamoms because I have never seen them and I didn't know anything about them. What do I find? you can buy them at Amazon! for goodness sake! a book store that sells spices.
Our lovely guest has gone home to Atlanta now so I stripped off the bed and prepared it for the next guests and then put the bedding into the machine. While it was chuntering away I wrote my Christmas cards. Then I realised that I hadn't written the letter-for-friends that goes into some of the cards so I sat down and did that. Washing still not done so I elevated my legs and knitted for an hour and then it was time to cook dinner.
Sunday evenings for the last few weeks have been devoted to The Roosevelts on PBS America. Absolutely fascinating. Final two and a half hours next Sunday.

And that's me on Monday, sleazing and not doing much until I cook the Ostrich steaks for dinner and then watching TV and knitting afterwards.
Sian over at FromHighintheSky made me do this - I lied she does it and I join in

Monday, 17 November 2014

Me on Monday - aching

It was a guest arriving, catching up on 15 years, child minding, Costco visiting, present buying, dining with the Bluefunnels sort of a weekend.

Steve arrived on Friday. His parents had collected him from the coach and at last he was here, all the way from Atlanta. His wonderful wife, Robin - who just happens to be my soul sister - had sent me some exquisite presents. Steve had brought the Milk Duds requested my Miss Boo so we talked the evening away until Mr M arrived home from work. He brought pasty and chips for Steve and fish and chips for me and him. As soon as Steve was full the tiredness and jetlag grabbed him by the eyelids and took him off to bed. Miss Boo was with us because Mummy and Daddy were going to see Big Mac's Wholly Soul Band. They were disappointed because at the time the show should have started the drummers kit was still in the flight cases and the PA system was not even visible. They left and went to the pub instead

Saturday we went to Costco, where they always have stuff I desperately need - even if I don't know it until I get there. Presents for the great grandchildren, loads of things that would be great presents but are too heavy to post. Steve went to visit some friends and I did some serious crochet.

Sunday and Steve went to lunch at his parents house while we dropped Miss Boo off at her Gang Show rehearsals and then went shopping. We took Steve up to the Bluefunnels for dinner. It has been longer than 15 years since they last met - it was a Dungeons and Dragons campaign and Lady Bluefunnel was playing a magic user - she had a spell that could kill us all and kept wanting to use it but that's a whole other story. We caught up on the adventures of the past few weeks - they have been to Cornwall and London we have had a funeral with all the attendant familial harmony. We laughed, we talked, we ate, we discussed one upmanship and name dropping and gave Steve lots of amunition based on the "When my friend went to Highgrove for cocktails" story. Then we came home and fell into bed by about 10pm.

That's me on Monday, preparing to sit and crochet squares of leftover yarn and do not very much until I collect Miss Boo from school, feed her and get her to Brownies.Joining in with Sian at Fromhighinthesky why not join in too

Monday, 10 November 2014

Me on Monday - to the Rescue!

It was a scaey FB status, sigh of relief, now how do we get his car to Bristol? sort of a weekend.

My youngest son, seen above second from the right in the "team photograph", had an accident in work on Thursday. We first got the news through Farcebook when his status revealed that he was at the local hospital. We had to wait until he was sent home for the phone call to explain what had happened. He works as a truck driver - those huge Wilkinson articulated things you see on the motorways are what he drives - and the depot is here in Newport, but he now lives in Bristol. His work colleagues got him home but his car was still in the car park at work. He can't drive because he damaged his ankle when the trailer he was standing on collapsed under him so it was up to us to get his car back to his home.
We have not been to his home. We are totally unfamiliar with Bristol. Getting directions from whatever program Mr M used is PANTS. Thank goodness for mobile phones.
My daughter drove his car and followed us because we had the instructions. She has driven that car once before and off we went! Can you imagine what I would have been like six months ago, when I was on the other medication? Well!
I read out the instructions and Mr M tried to put them into what he was seeing. Follow the Portway for 8.1 miles. At the roundabout do whatever.... there was no roundabout, just a very strange junction with lights. I noticed the swingbridge briefly as we passed and then we were also keeping an eye on whether the others - Miss Boo and her Mum - had managed to get through the lights and so on.
We paused and rang Youngest Son. I perused the instructions and realised that we might just have done several of the things without knowing. Youngest son confirmed that we were in the right place. We continued on and eventually pulled into the right place.
Then we had a bit of a surprise when my sweet daughter-in-law cooked for us. Amongst the things we had was the most delicious mushroom curry. I can't wait to have the recipe because it was just perfect and I would love to make it for us. A lovely afternoon getting to know my new granddaughters and to hold my new great grandson. and a chance for them to get to know us. Miss Boo is delighted that she has new cousins and now she can't wait for Christmas when they will be coming over to us to stay.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Left over icing? no problemo

What do you do when you have completed the Halloween gingerbread house - yes we were a bit late but the weekend was full - and there is still icing in the tube?

Well, when you are nine and two thirds you squeeze it into your mouth. We have such fun after school.  I was lucky to get her attention on the gingerbread house because I have just introduced her to Calvin and Hobbes. I figured that as she can now read the words and she has a good working vocabulary it was time to open up the world and there is nothing better than Calvin and Hobbes

I asked her to think about her relationship with Harry bear and how we adults see him as a stuffed toy but when they are alone he can talk and do all sorts of things - She is pretty good at keeping a straight face but there was that single moment when she looked at me and wondered just how I knew. Now she has read a quarter of a book of C&H cartoons and she believes that this is how I know about Harry....................... 

Grandmas are wonderful - In fact Miss Boo said exactly that yesterday as she was sticking bats on the gingerbread house "It's lovely having a grandma that can knit and crochet and scrapbook and do crafts" pause for one, two, three beats "You can sew too can't you Grandma?"
"yes, I can"
"Oh that makes you nearly perfect."
"only nearly?"
She grinned
I grinned and added " I can't tap dance though."
She grinned again.

When Miss Boo was born my daughter expressed a wish for her to have the same relationship with me as my daughter had with my mother.
I think our relationship is as different as it could be and is still one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done after bringing up my own tribe.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Me on Monday -Christmas plans?

For goodness sake! I am still in shock from actually having someone knock the door to trick or treat and Miss Boo is talking about Christmas Dinner. It seems that Christmas isn't "proper" unless dinner is eaten at Grandma's table. Having had more to do with the growing up of this grandchild than any of the others I think it is the need to make sure that her memories of childhood are special.

My father always said that you have to make memories for small children so that when they get older their brains have been trained to remember and to tell the stories. Well, it worked with me didn't it? so I just have to pass it on to more generations.

Christmas Dinner at ours it is then... 

Sunday, 2 November 2014

"It's been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone"

Does anyone else like Garrison Keillor? I 'discovered' him way back in 1992 when one of his poems was included in the English GCSE exam paper. I know, I was over 40 before I took any GCSE exams. I was too busy when I was 16. I was going to Agricultural college and running a riding stables. I didn't have time for exams. I am wandering from my title now, so I'll just regroup my thoughts and carry on... Garrison Keillor.............right.

I was intrigued by the poem because it was about a woman who........... well I'll use the words that one of my fellow students used shall I? We were doing a course called the Preliminary Certificate in Social Care. It was a qualification that care workers were encouraged to obtain as it was supposed to mean more money. What it actually gave you was more responsibility for the same money. Part of the course was GCSE English, to help us write reports and client notes in real English.

After the exam was over our English tutor, who was and is a wonderful man and I am still in contact with him now, gave two of us a lift home, the others had their own transport. He asked about the paper and Lorraine, who is badly dyslexic, told him that "There was this poem about a woman with several children. The question asked what did we think of her. I wanted to say that she was a prostitute and a whore but I couldn't spell them so I said she was a slag and a slut and shouldn't be allowed to keep the kids."

There was a brief stunned silence in the car and then Mike pulled over and roared laughing.

The thing is that I began seeking out work by this new author and soon after this there was a TV programme about him and his Lake Wobegone stories. He had a weekly Radio programme where he would tell these stories. I have gradually collected his books over the years and I find I can re-read them time and time again. Feeling a little in need of familiarity the other night I opened Lake Wobegone Stories and there it was...

It's been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone.................... and I was wrapped in the gentle humour of the writing.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Me on Monday - bereaved

It's been a saying goodbye sort of a Monday. Mother-in-law died during the night. She waited until she was on her own so that she wouldn't upset us. We are upset anyway.

A quiet few days I think

Monday, 20 October 2014

Me on Monday - happiness is not being a webmaster

It has been an AGM attending, job losing, Happy dancing, Journal editing, Bluefunnel visiting sort of a weekend.

All this interspersed with Mr M visiting his Mum while I did domestic stuff and crochet and watching TV.

The AGM took most of Saturday, as they usually do. A lot of Society members were dissatisfied with what was happening with the website and as soon as people started arriving I realised that a plan of attack had been put together. How did I know? Oh well for the last 20 years I have attended the AGM and every year we are desperate to get a quorum of 30 members so that the meeting can actually make decisions and every year we just scrape through. Mr M stays outside in the car because he hates meetings and prefers to read and snooze. On three or four occasions we have had to drag him in to get the quorum we need. Saturday we had no problem. That waved a few brightly coloured flags I can tell you.

There were no heated words and I realised as I got up to deliver my report as Webmaster that the members of one branch had not sat together - so the first shot was going to come from that side of the hall eh?
The election of officers proceeded and when it got to Webmaster the chairman said that I had been nominated and then asked if there were any nominations from the floor. This is part of the constitution of our society and I waited for the voice from behind me and was not disappointed. A gentleman said that he wished to nominate a person, I silently said that I would second the nomination - without moving my lips. This was a difficult moment for the new Chairman because she knew it was coming and she could no longer look at me. Chairman said that because there was to be a vote the candidates would be asked to leave the hall. I was out of my seat and on my way before she had finished speaking. I paused only to say that if I was allowed to vote I would like it to go to the new person and I went out into the car park to wait.
When I was called back in the Chairman still had difficulty looking me in the eye as she said that most votes had been cast for the other person - I did that thing that everyone does these days and jerked my hands downwards while saying YES!!!
The members seemed surprised but they had all forgotten that I took the task on because no one else would do it and we needed the website to go live by the end of the year. That was my brief and I achieved it so I was delighted to hand over to someone who seems better qualified than me - I hope it proves to be a good thing.
On Sunday we went to the Bluefunnels for dinner. Admiral Lord Bluefunnel is my cousin. Our families lived close enough for us to see each other several times a week when we were young and he is the closest that I have to a little brother. We have always been on the same wavelength and from the moment they met Mr M they have liked him - well, what's not to like. Mr M and Lady Bluefunnel think along the same lines and sometimes say things together. In fact we all do that. They are two of a very small number of people that we can spend 16 hours in the same vehicle with and still get together three days later and talk like we haven't met for weeks. Today I did the final check of the Journal and sent it off to the proof readers so it has been an excellent weekend

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Me on Monday - Snuffling

It was a waiting in limbo, not starting anything in case I can't finish it, making apple pie, going out to dinner with the Bluefunnels sort of weekend. The Doctor now says that M-i-L could be with us for weeks to come so my darling F-i-L is now spending every waking hour at her bedside while Mr M and his brother and sister get there when work allows. I have kind of withdrawn a bit because my strength will be needed afterwards. Monday was a sleaze around until 6pm day and then a stay awake until 7.45 to go and collect Miss Boo from Brownies. Her Mum and Dad had gone to a Joan Armatrading concert in town, a birthday present for Mummy from Daddy. This meant that Miss Boo was with us and she refused to go to bed here so her poor Daddy had to carry her home. Next time I will make Mr M come with me and we'll go to their house. I don't know why I didn't think of it before - see, that's something else the medication has done. It has trained me to stay at home! belatedly joining in with Sian's lovely Meme

Monday, 6 October 2014

Me on Monday - an awful down sort of a day

It's been a living in limbo, waiting for the inevitable sort of weekend. My dear, sweet, lovable, infuriating, practical, totally loving, funny, delightful Mother in Law was trapped in Alzheimer's Disease ten years or more ago. She has been "gone" for months, no longer able to walk or talk - oh how she loved to talk - or feed herself or do any of the ordinary things that give life dignity. This weekend we were told that there is absolutely nothing else to do now but wait. She is pain free and drifting slowly down.
Today it is the 58th anniversary of the day my in-laws made their marriage vows. My husband left early to go with his father to the nursing home and then to work. He will go back after he has finished his shift and this will continue until the end arrives. She cannot "Rage against the dying of the light" but I can, and I will.

Why on earth would anyone worship a god that could be so cruel? I am now confirmed in my atheism.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Happiness is a postcard

Today we went out early and when we got home the postman had delivered the mail and there on the floor as I opened the door was this.

I can't begin to tell you how much it made me smile. Many many thanks Ruth, a little ray of sunshine in the midst of some clouds of sadness. Really appreciated

Monday, 29 September 2014

Me on Monday

It was a breakfast-at-Jo's, birthday treat, Christmas shopping, hugging my new daughter-in-law, planting new lavender plants now the chickens have gone kind of weekend and it segued into a washing hanging, table tidying, thinking about sewing, can we do craft stuff Grandma cos it is Mummy's birthday tomorrow? Kind of a Monday.
It seems like I planned it wrong when I had my children. They were all born between the end of August and the end of September and as my birthday is in there too it makes for a busy time. Now I have grandkids too and they are also having birthdays around this time. Oh and great grandkids have birthdays in the autumn so it must be in the genes.

Just joining in with Sian again

Sunday, 28 September 2014

A Birthday Trip.

 "I think I would like Breakfast at Jo's as part of my birthday treat," I said to Mr M as I passed him on the way to the kitchen.
"OK," he said, "get your shoes on and we'll go."
I love that. It is the main reason I am so careful how I say things because he would move mountains to get me what I want. I certainly never say "I want" unless I really really do. Now where was I? oh yes, going to Jo's for breakfast. It is a roadside cafe about 40 minutes drive away on the route leading North, between Monmouth and Ross-on-Wye. Breakfast was delish thank-you for asking, and then we headed north past Ross and heading sort of to Worcester but not on motorways. "Switch your camera on" he said as he pulled over and reversed into a gateway then drove back down the road the way we had come. "OK," I said as he found another gateway and turned us around so we were again heading north. Then he pulled over and whispered. "Take their picture before they know it is me." I looked across the ploughed field and there were around 50 pheasants in that field, stuffing their faces with seeds and stuff. I clicked the camera just once and immediately they all ran like the wind down the slope and out of sight. One day we'll get the perfect pheasant portrait.
Soon we were in a place with two names. The village of Staunton and Corse. There is a delightful garden centre there. We have been there once already this summer because I took a picture of the garden gnome there for the scavenger hunt - one of the pictures that has completely disappeared from my computer. Anyway we had a very nice cuppa there, even if Mr M did try to pour his tea all over the tray.

Next we went to one of those places that you drive through several times and always say "We'll Stop here one day," but you never do. Upton-on-Severn. We found a parking space close to the river and after watching the ducks for a while we took a stroll along the street and did a little Christmas shopping. We were very pleased with our purchases and managed to get them home unseen. Now the family will need to wait until December to see who we bought for.

A little way outside the town I spotted a sign for "Clive's Fruit Farm" with the apostrophe in the right place. I commented and Mr M said "Do you want to take a look?" now six months ago I would have immediately said "NO, no, it's ok." and we would have driven past because the anxiety I felt would have prevented me from going to a place I didn't know. On Saturday I said "Oooh, yes please!" so we followed the signs and found a lovely farm shop with huge fruit boxes full of apples and pears as well as vegetables and with bantams running between your feet as you sat outside the cafe to drink another cuppa.
We then headed for Oakchurch Farm Shop, which is between Hereford and Hay on Wye only we got side-tracked. Mr M carries a map in his head. He looks at the book or the google map and it is in his head so he knew we had to turn left at some point... he was a bit previous.
This gave us an unexpected tour through a delightful village called Dilwyn and then several other places before we skirted around Hereford and found the right road again. We got to Oakchurch and did a little more Christmas shopping and put the Brita water filters into their recycling box - this is the only place we know of that still has it. Then we came home.
Mr M set the tripometer when we left in the morning so we knew that we had done 200 miles for my birthday treat. It's a good job he thinks of driving as his hobby, leaving me to record it all on my blog and my scrapbooks - well, that's my hobby.
MR M has reminded me that before we went to Oakchurch we had a late lunch at the OK Diner in Leominster. That's why we were in that area when we had our diversion. Everyone knows that the OK Diner is the birthday mealstop of choice.... don't they?

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Me on Monday - late!!!

It was a Dalek seeing, Darth Vader avoiding, Storm Trooper rebuking, K9 patting, Cardiff Jack Sparrow ogling, Minion hugging, T-shirt wearing, convention organising kind of a weekend. Dragondaze! We were so tired by Saturday night that I slept for 12 hours straight. We enjoyed it so much we are doing it again next year. We raised £1000 for Barnardo's Young Carers, a charity that supports children who care for sick or disabled parents. We had several local children there with us and they had a fabulous time playing board games and Role Playing games and we also had War games and loads of trade stands. I will show you my Organiser T-shirt another day. I managed to avoid being photographed because I spent most of the day taking money and giving out the badges that allowed the people to get into the games.
There is a man inside this Dalek. I saw him get in. It was great seeing the little kids screaming as he moved silently along the corridors and when they found the lifts the word they used was "Elevate". made me larf
This one is radio controlled. OH, oh see the round yellow bits? my cousin supplied those to the company that made them
Cardiff Jack Sparrow. He is amazing! he has the voice and the walk and all the mannerisms - and he is, so my daughter says, HOT. Who am I to disagree? very nice to rest ones eyes on I must say

The lovely man inside this minion is the man who was inside the Dalek. After he had entertained as the Minion he took off the costume... out of sight of the paying public of course and went to get his lunch from the cafeteria. He gave them his voucher, they gave him the bag with the food. He opened it and inside was a banana. I am told that Minions love bananas - would kill for one. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The End of an Era...

Just occasionally in your life you meet someone who becomes a profound influence without ever stepping into centre stage. You know you are a better person because you have known them; you know they will continue to influence you for the rest of your life.
All this knowledge rarely shows itself to you until that person has gone. This is how it has been for me with regard to Len Hough.

Len was President of the local family history society. We first met when my mother volunteered me to be Minutes Secretary for the Executive Committee, that is a whole story on its own, and that was in 1994. Len was Treasurer for the Society and was justifiably wary of this new woman who had appeared out of nowhere. I spotted him as the one to go to for help - and asking him for help as the way to reassure him. I would draft the minutes on my computer, print them off and post them to Len. He checked and corrected and posted them back the same day. He never spoke of this to the committee so I didn't either.
Pretty soon after this the Editor of the Society Journal resigned and the Exec decided to have a Journal Committee while they searched for a new Editor. I expressed an interest and was given the chance to work more closely with Len in compiling the Journal. At that time it was still done with a typewriter, craft knife and glue. Cutting and pasting meant just that! Len watched carefully because he was not going to allow anything to sully the reputation of the society.
Eventually I became Editor and introduced the Journal to the wonders of the computing age - this was 1995 and there were still those who thought computers would never catch on except in the workplace.
Len was never afraid to talk to me about things, both good and bad. I discovered that he had been a primary school headmaster in his working life and I just knew that every child that went through his school would have been encouraged and praised. He taught me to step back and evaluate, to assess quietly and NEVER to assume that things were as they seemed. He showed me that there was always a way to get good behaviour from the most boorish of people and I never, in twenty years of knowing him, heard him raise his voice. He had a way of damning with faint praise that I envied and tried to learn. He never said a nasty thing about anyone and yet I was in no doubt of his opinion of certain people.
He gave me the confidence to serve on the Committee and to take on the post of Chairman for three years. He supported me when I fought to change the way the Journal was delivered to members and he supported the changes that were made to the society website while not liking them one little bit.
He was never a close friend, because that was not his way. We shared an interest and he and his lovely wife Isla always seemed delighted to see me whenever we met. I will miss his physical presence at meetings and open days but he will be with me always. Rest in Peace Len.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Shiny red apples?

I saw a picture of some lovely shiny red apples on someone's blog and it immediately brought a story to mind.
The location: A supermarket fruit and veg section on a Sunday.
The Players: a mother with a small son aged around five years old.
The script:

Mother: Shall we buy some apples? They would be nice in your lunch bag for school.

Child: Ooh, can we buy some of those juicy, red, poison apples?

Mother: (hiding her grin by turning her head away from him) Of course we can!

Now Mr M and I cannot go through the fruit and veg section without one of us asking "Shall we buy some juicy, red, poison apples?" and secretly watching the expressions on the faces around us.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Me on Monday? Let's give it a go...

It was a Saturday sleazing, kindle reading, legs elevating, hanging washing, Oops, we need food, shoes on and a visit to Farm Foods, last day of the holidays out for a ride, seaside cuppa, wild-life photographing, bomb disposal, old car spotting, chicken herding kind of a weekend.
Mr M pointing to a hole in his shirt, caused by a
bit of tobacco dropping from his cigarette when he used to smoke.
He gave up in June. I made a mental note to throw it out!
 Saturday was the sleaze around day doing not very much and doing it slowly. I looked at the thicket of brambles in the front garden and made a mental note to remind my Son-in-law that he has said he would "deal with" them. Mental notes are no good, not when your mental bit forgets to write them down!
A Dragon fly on a bench at Llantwit Major. I know it is a dragonfly
 because its wings are not folded.
Sunday started out slow and then Mr M reminded me that we would be having to eat the cardboard from the cereal packets if we didn't go out and do some blankety blank shopping. We went to Farm foods and spend loads - and got a £7.50 discount because we had coupons. We then gave the left over coupons to the people in the queue behind us so we did a Good Thing while shopping. Back home decanted the bags into the freezer and made a cuppa. I said. It's the last day of the holidays and I really feel as though summer has come to an end"
"put your shoes on" he said. So I did and we went out for a little ride. Stopped for a cuppa in Llantwit Major because we had discussed the fact that now my tablets are changed I should be able to go through the little narrow streets without sobbing. This has proved correct. I not only went through without sobbing I maintained my end of the conversation without hesitation.

Naval Bomb Disposal trucks. They did a controlled explosion
down on the beach because some very old phosphorus grenades
had washed up and were too deteriorated to be moved. 
Saw this car as we were leaving the area and did my best to get
a picture. It is very difficult at 30 MPH
We saw the Bomb Squad vehicles as we arrived and we wondered if this was something to do with the increased security because of the NATO summit next weekend. We got ourselves a cuppa. Mr M says that if you like stewed tea that is stronger than paint stripper then the beach cafe at Llantwit Major is the place for you. he poured his into the grass and I got him a diet coke. As we were drinking it there was a loud bang. a very loud ground shaking bang. We looked at each other and sat very still. Everyone around us stood up and rushed towards the beach. Now perhaps we are odd but why would anyone rush towards an explosion? The RNLI lifeguards stopped everyone from going onto the beach so they couldn't see anything. Mr M asked one of them what was happening and got all the details. We continued westwards, taking to the M4 around Port Talbot - or as it is known in our family Port tablet - and then headed north-east-ish towards Merthyr. We left that road and threaded our way along the heads of the Valleys Road and then came down through Blackwood, Abercarn and paused in Cwmcarn to drop in for a cuppa at our cousin's house. It is always good to see them and catch up on the doings of Mr M's family. Then full of gossip and tea (coffee for me) we came home and cooked a healthy dinner. I had salmon fillet with vegetables and actifry chips and Mr M had barbecue ribs, vegetables and actifry chips. 
And that was me on Monday

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Some sweet words by Miss Boo

Don't you just love the tomato sauce on the nose?
My daughter told me this and I felt it just needed to be shared. Bear in mind that Miss Boo is nine and a half years old, an only child who spends a lot of time with Grandma.

We spent Sunday doing a Treasure Trail and the theme of this one was a treasure hunt where we had to answer all the clues and the location left at the end was where the "treasure" would be found. As Boo and her parents were walking from our house to theirs after our delightful day out she asked "Mummy, what was the treasure?"
Mummy replied that it was just the pleasure of working out the clues and finding the answer. Miss Boo walked a few more steps and then said
"No, the treasure was that I got to spend a whole day with my family." Then she skipped through the gate, eager to be in the house and curled up with her cats. This left my daughter and my son-in-law swallowing hard and trying to sniff quietly.
When I was told I did the classic sharp intake of breath and then quickly wiped my eyes and harrumphed a few times.
Sometimes that kid can reach the parts other kids don't know exist

Monday, 25 August 2014

Treasure Trailing AGAIN

We have had the booklet for the Usk walking trail for quite a while now. So we decided to have a day out with Miss Boo and her Mummy and Daddy. Mr Ms knees were bad so he stayed in the car and read his kindle while the rest of us walked the trail. We had a lovely picnic at The Island, the first time I had been back there since 1962 and then I decided that I was too fat to walk the rest of the trail so I made my way back to the Square and sat in the sun waiting. No anxiety no panic - new tablets so I am free of that and I revelled in the simple pleasure of being able to go where I like.
This is Twyn Square in Usk, where the trail begins. Are they looking at the answer to a clue? you'll need to do the trail to find out!

Mummy was so thrilled to find the answer to a clue we had to have a cup of coffee before we'd really got started

"Is this a Kissing Gate Grandma?" "Yes Boo, but that's not quite what it means."

This isn't part of the trail but we thought the idea of a book stall in the church was delightful

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Not joining in a Meme, but...

I have looked at lots of Blogs that are doing the ZIZO meme and thought that I would never find anything to Zoom In and Zoom Out of - if you see what I mean. However, (don't you just love that word? I do, nearly as much as I care for "apparently", apparently)... I seem to be seeing good things to zoom into and that little voice in my head says "ZIZO!" so I am not joining in but...

this is Newport Castle, seen from the window of the coffee lounge of the Riverfront Theatre

These are "professional abseilers" it says so on their van. They are putting up new banners so that when the NATO leaders fly up from Cardiff in their helicopters they won't see the dirty ones left over from the 2010 Ryder Cup. Heaven forfend that they should be subjected to old banners!
I just keep thinking that Mr M is paying their wages with his council tax ~sigh~

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Take to the Hills!!!

We had a day out with the Bluefunnels. Their turn to drive and choose the destination. They chose a Treasure Trails Spy puzzle in the Malvern Hills. We like Treasure Trails because they take you to places you would never stop at and make you seek out things you would never look for.
I pointed the camera and they all immediately went into the Cousin Pat pose-for-the-camera-mode.

We met Jill the clockwinder, She helped us with a clue and then told us about the cafe. We carried on with the trail as there were several clues in this village and she sought us out because she thought she might have told us the wrong answer. We talked to a great many villagers who asked if they could help. and even the ones that were just walking along the street said good morning. I could live there

We discovered a nice coffee shop in a village. Their pain au raisin was very nice. Admiral Lord BF didn't like the chocolate "thing" that Lady BF chose for him but Mr M and I both tried it and said it was very nice. Oh it looks like they are eating and we aren't! ours arrived after the picture. Mr M has pies from the butcher next door. Recommended to us by Jill the clock winder

we saw a witch in Wyche. It wasn't until I just really looked at this picture - I was standing still when I took it but we were parked in a bus-stop so I had to be quick - that I realised just how dramatic she looks against the sky. We were fortunate that it didn't rain on us at all although it did threaten several times

Lunch was "Just up the road" at the OK Diner in Leominster. This is our favourite eatery. I like that we can order a mushroom and cheese burger then say "No bun, no fries, just a side of coleslaw" and that's what they give you!

On the way home we stopped to show the Bluefunnels the delightful 12th century church at Kilpeck. This little Gem is an absolute must-see. We take all our friends there at some point and we always buy a pack of notelets and I usually put any odd change into the box as well

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Wedding -

My youngest son got married yesterday -

I am blogging this now because Mr M said, and I quote - "You should get rambling on there so that I will know what I've been doing." so for the benefit of Mr M
 My youngest son got married yesterday to a beautiful woman with a keen sense of humour and a wicked giggle. I took loads of pictures and at one stage I was in charge of two cameras! My own precious Lumix, with the Leica lens (apparently I have to say that every time I mention the camera) and my youngest son's Nikon DSLR with all sorts of whistles and bells. I put it on auto and pointed it.
I have never been to a bi-lingual wedding before and the Registrar rose to the occasion and ensured that the translators had enough time to make sure everyone understood what was happening

Anyhooooooo, I thought a few pictures would show what a wonderful day was had by everyone.
Starting with a team photograph. Mr M wearing a tie. That only happens at weddings and funerals. He chose the hand-painted silk one because it was pink and summery. Next to him we have the Groom, doing his best Blues Brothers impression and trying to convince us that he wasn't stressed, yes Mark we'll believe that.
Next is the Best Man, my eldest grandchild who said he would love to be best man for his uncle when his own Dad wasn't able to be there.
Next is my eldest granddaughter's partner, Rory, who is a really lovely young man. The sort of young man you hope your daughter will find and fall in love with. He is caring and attentive, loves his children and looks after them and will do anything he can for us.

After signing the register we had the chance to take a few more pictures and in this one you can see that the stress has gone from my son and his shoulders have dropped. You can also see just how beautiful my new daughter is!

There has to be a picture of the Bride and groom with the parents. This was taken by  Rory with my camera. Everyone else was taking a picture of Rory because he had the greatest difficulty working out where the zoom was. Joanna's parents knew there was something going on but until it was translated into Polish they had no idea why we were all laughing so much. I bet they wondered what sort of a madhouse their daughter was letting herself in for.

 The wedding breakfast was outside in the communal gardens of the Centre. We were in a shady spot and everything just flowed. This is one of the happiest weddings I have ever been to. No one seemed harassed or upset. Everyone mingled, my daughter amazed us with her ability to say "lovely to meet you" three different ways in Polish in the same sentence. We were hugged and kissed then hugged some more.

Seeing my boy so happy after the long and difficult time he had on leaving the army has meant so much.

There ya go Mr M, now you know what we've been doing, you can relax too

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

New Meds, New Life - and a ZIZO

I have to say that even though I disagreed with the doctor in the hospital at the time. I will be eternally grateful to her for giving me back my life.
Does that sound like Hyperbole? well it's not. It took something like four days for my body to get used to the new meds and to allow me to stay awake through the day. Then we went out in the car and we drove along a piece of country road that I really dislike. Narrow lane, high hedges, trees meeting over the top. All the things that have caused panic attacks in the past - in fact that very lane has caused me to be hysterical on one occasion. I was prepared for it.
It didn't happen.
When we got to the end I told Mr M that I hadn't even felt slightly breathless. He said "Perhaps the change in tablets was a good thing"
And that's when everything fell into place
Ten years ago I was put on the tablets for my blood pressure. Ten years ago I suddenly could not go out of the house on my own. As my parents had gone to live in the nursing home around this time I put my anxiety down to the relief from stress and tried to overcome it.
It didn't get better.
Now it is so clear that the betablockers were causing the anxiety and yet not once did my GP say anything about it. Not once did anyone query when it had started. I am totally relieved to feel normal again but at the same time I feel cheated out of time I could have been - I don't know, doing craft fairs, taking my granddaughter to the swimming pool for lessons, visiting my great grandchildren and doing ordinary stuff like walking into town to get my eyes tested. I am intending to do all sorts of things now.
In the mean time Mr M and I went out for a little ride the other day and we saw the sign that said Hedge Pussle Maze. "We'll stop there one day" I said "Do you want to?" he asked "yes please" I replied so we turned off and followed the sign and they had a butterfly Sanctuary and a tea shop and a miniature golf and a paintball thingy. It was raining so we scurried through the maze, which was wonderful and we were entranced by the butterfly sancturary and while I am not taking part in the ZIZO meme I couldn't resist doing this