Friends

30 June 2013

Sunday Scenes

A fine day in Australia, pictures taken by our daughter






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29 June 2013

Saturday Special

Meet Cub X


Newest arrival at Dudley Zoo: an eight-week-old Snow Leopard cub, born 2 May 2013. The cub is the first Snow Leopard to be born at the zoo in 12 years. The youngster has been nicknamed Cub X by keepers until they confirm its sex. The baby recently made its public debut and delighted visitors with five-minute play-arounds with first time mother, Nanga, aged four. His father is three-year-old Margaash. 


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28 June 2013

There's a Mouse in the House


(photograph courtesy of www.naturephoto-ca.com)
Noting that the bird feeder was empty I thought I’d better get out there and give the birds their daily bread rations. The tube, as shown in the picture (minus the chaffinch) was totally devoid of seed. Why? Because the mouse was inside the tube, upside down, scoffing every last grain, and believe me he did have the last grain. And there was I, without camera.


He might have been the cutest field mouse I’ve ever seen but I still told him off, words like get out of there, you stupid mouse. At least, I think that’s what I said. Hearing that I was ever so slightly annoyed, Mr Mouse decided to make a run for it ... up the slithery tube, right to the top, whereupon he jumped to the ground, a drop of more than six feet. And there was I, without camera. Can you credit it?

I know the mouse has been eating seed but he did that whilst sedately sitting on the rim of the feeding hole and he always cleared off when a bird flew in. Mr M must have been pretty desperate to go right inside the tube.

Memo to self. Remember to take camera when filling bird feeders. 



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27 June 2013

The People's Tenor


The other weekend Joe and I spent some time in Sutton's town centre. Primarily we went to see a new Vintage Market for Crafts on its first visit to the area. There was plenty to look at and photograph, although for me the market was a disappointment. It was the lack of variety that put me off but I guess that was because a couple of weeks before we had seen a far superior craft fair. However, I'm not sorry we went because we were privileged to meet and talk with The People's Tenor.

We were passing a kiddies roundabout at the time ... a roundabout with music, or so we thought. It wasn't the usual jolly kind of music you expect to hear on a kiddies roundabout, it was opera! For a moment I thought I was listening to a rendition by Andrea Bocelli. I noticed some equipment plus amplifier a few yards away and then spotted a table with a pile of CDs on it. The guy selling the CDs was John Innes, otherwise known as The People's Tenor. Just listen to his voice. 


Rejected by music colleges and TV talent shows, Scottish tenor, John Craig Innes, sings in shopping areas to make a living selling his CDs. Without a recording contract and fearing his time to succeed was running out, he spent his savings to hire The Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and the creative team behind British diva Katherine Jenkins to record his debut album. When sales of his professional album got no easier he self produced a UK concert tour to promote it.

The People's Tenor is a story of perseverance and self-reliance of an inspiring character for our current times. John Innes is an outsider trying to break into the music industry on his own terms, but his story is for outsiders from all walks of life. 

John has raised a lot of money for Help for Heroes, the charity that helps our brave wounded servicemen, and the CD we bought was made for that purpose. 

Now, when I'm in the car I drive to opera and enjoy every minute of it.


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25 June 2013

SOLITARY CONFINEMENT (Repeat)



SOLITARY CONFINEMENT

I sit alone, breathing in the silence of early morning. Outside the dawn is beginning to break. From where I sit, huddled against the cold, I can just make out the awakening light through the trees. Soon there will be bird noises. The tiny creatures will need to fluff their feathers to keep warm. They’re lucky it didn’t snow in the night although it would make a nice scene for me to look at.

All my nights are spent in this chair because a recurring dream dictates that I do not go to bed. Did I say recurring? The word should be used loosely because each one has a difference.

Have you ever had a nightmare, one so scary you dare not shut your eyes again? Did you experience the cold sweat of relief when you realised it was just a dream? That’s how it used to be with me but now… now there is no reprieve. I am doomed to spend my days and nights in fear.

It started a year ago, after the office dinner-dance. I had been dancing with the handsomest man in the party, presumed to be an invited guest from another branch of the firm. Yes, I fancied him.  And why not?  We were free agents. Newly freed, both divorced from our partners, both childless and living alone.

His name was Nick. Friends laughingly referred to him as Old Nick because he was older than most of us by about twenty years. With his dark looks, age didn’t matter.
That evening I fell for the smouldering eyes and the way he held his head to one side when he spoke. You may think there was nothing remarkable about that, but you can’t see what I did. The gesture seemed inviting and I was determined to find out to what I was being invited.

I wore black that night, a strappy, slinky number that suggested more than it showed. I know he liked it by the way he fingered the straps as we danced. I’d only ever danced inches away from a partner but with Nick I was held close to his body, the way I’ve seen in films. We moved in unison, swaying, his body moulded to mine. I didn’t know I was that lithe, to be honest.

It was like that all the way through the evening. I had the greatest time and as the night wore on I began to think about what might happen at the end. Would he want to take me home? Would I invite him in? Of course, I would. He’d got me rearing to go and I was determined to see it through.

You can imagine my frustration when he left me after the last waltz. ‘Catch you later,’ was all he said before disappearing through the double doors to face the moonlit night alone.

~~~

It’s a man thing, I realised, as I lay in bed and went over the evening events. Even so, ‘catch you later’ was very off-putting. A girl didn’t know whether he meant it or if it was merely an opt-out. Later on that night I was to find out.
 
Nick came to me as I slept. In a dreamy state I welcomed him in my arms. It was him, yet he looked different, older. The handsome face was, well, odd. If I told you it was distorted you’d think, yeah, that’s how dreams are. I tried to recall how he looked at the dance but those striking features eluded me. Now all I could see was pockmarked skin and bloodshot eyes.

Although his suggestion that we go on a train journey was met with surprise, I agreed.  How we got there is a mystery but, yeah, that’s how dreams are. We were comfortably seated in a compartment, the only two people there, when he suddenly got to his feet, dragging me up as well. The next thing I remember was being hustled along the corridor. I dropped my bag and began to fret about losing the valuables, credit card and cash, but Nick wouldn’t stop. Instead he dragged me further along until we reached the door. The train was rocking with speed as he pushed it open and tried to throw me out.

I woke up screaming. My face and throat were wet with sweat. The duvet was on the floor, pillows strewn on top. It took a long time to regain my calm and grasp that it was only a dream.

Normally I forget dreams the minute I wake, but this one lingered.  It haunted me through the tea and toast, it bothered me while I dressed, and worried me even more when I was ready to go and couldn’t find my bag. Had I left it at the hotel? Still somewhat taken aback by Nick’s sudden disappearance I’d walked home, trying to analyse the whole thing. There was no need for money and my house key was hidden under the pot in the garden. I never took it with me when I went dancing.

~~~

The first thing I did when I arrived at the office was to ring the hotel. No, Madam, no lost property was handed in. I went round the staff, asking questions. No, Maria, they said, they hadn’t seen anything lying around. Perhaps you didn’t take it to the dance, suggested my closest working companion. I was pretty sure I did.

So I reported the loss to the hotel, the office administrator, and the police.

It bothered me that I should lose a bag in a dream and then find it really was lost.  

After doing the important things like notifying the bank, I settled down to work. In fact I worked extra hard in the hope that the awful day would end quickly.  

~~~

There wasn’t much of interest on television but I carried on watching until my eyes began to blur. A hot shower and an early night would be good, I thought, and then bed.

I climbed in, hugged the comforting duvet to me, tugged the pillow into position, then went straight to sleep. For once my overactive thoughts left me in peace.

~~~

He came again that night, his presence announced by repeatedly uttering my name. Ma-reee-ya, Ma-reee-ya. It made me shiver. He was dressed in black with a white silk scarf knotted at the neck. Facial growth covered his chin, dark whiskers that made him look older than his years. His distorted features were now quite grotesque, sunken cheeks, a lopsided nose, swollen lips, one eye open, the other closed. He was friendlier than before, although his grip on my hand was vice-like as he invited me to accompany him for a walk.

Because the evening was on the cool side, I slipped a shawl round my shoulders. A gift from a friend, beige coloured, embroidered with peacocks and my initials MD in the middle.  We took the path that led to the lake, pausing now and again to kiss, and for me to suffer the rising nausea each time he pressed his lips against mine. I had no choice but to surrender since his hold on me was like steel. I remember it so well. I also remember his hysterical laughter as he pushed me into the lake.

Struggling to keep my head above the murky water, I screeched and screeched that I couldn’t swim.

Then I woke, still shaking with fear, horrified to feel so drenched. My rose patterned nightdress was soaked with perspiration, the duvet wrapped so tight I sweated with the heat.

And so it goes on. Every night he tries to kill me, each attempt different to the last. His face is skeletal now and the more gruesome he gets the worse the torture.  The fear is so great I am afraid to sleep lest he should succeed.

~~~

The man called Nick, whom I met at the dance, rang me not so long back. He apologised for leaving me so hurriedly and suggested we meet up for a night out. I turned him down. I could no longer be sure if he and my ‘dream’ man were one and the same.

The psychiatrist had lots of explanations about my state of mind, none of which I understood. I mean, I was normal before all this started. Wasn’t I? Anyway, the psychiatrist reckons that dreams are figments of imagination. You know, I would believe that if it wasn’t for the fact that my handbag was found beside a railway line some 90 miles from where I live. I suppose someone, somewhere, is wearing my lovely shawl since it is nowhere in the house and I am not careless enough to mislay things without knowing.

So I sit here breathing in the silence of early morning. Outside the dawn settles in. From where I sit, huddled against the cold, I can see sunlight filtering through the trees. Soon there will be bird calls. They are lucky it didn’t snow in the night. It doesn’t matter to me; I’m too tired to go out these days. Since sleep is something to dread I sit here, alone with my thoughts, and wonder how much longer I must exist in this dream, doing nothing else but link figments of imagination until they resemble life as it was.

If I could differentiate between fantasy and reality things would be different. Maybe I should turn the tables, take the lead, form a plan; a successful one. My best friend thinks I am incapable of rational thought; she may be right but it would be good to try and prove her wrong.

Elusive thoughts often flutter through my head, ideas on how to bring an end to this mental incarceration. Perhaps I should have not have turned Nick down after all. Maybe a daytime rendezvous would help me see things more clearly. What’s that old adage? Do unto others as they do unto you? Ah yes, now we’re talking!

It’s quite light outside now. The birds are fighting each other for food. A woodpigeon lands on a slender bough in the cherry tree, seesaws until the branch settles A feral cat lurks behind the hydrangea; watching, waiting; food for a week. I too am watching … and waiting. A chance is all I need, I think, as I turn to gaze at the phone. ‘Hello, Nick,’ I’ll say. ‘How’re you doing?’ 

24 June 2013

23 June 2013

Sunday Scenes, from Oz

Alfie, our daughter's dog, seems to be fascinated by Australian television

Or is it the dogs he likes?

Ah, at last, a good looking man. No, Alfie, you can't switch him off. 

22 June 2013

Saturday Special

Every year, without fail, the Blue Tits nest in a box right by the kitchen window but only once have I seen the babies leave home. That one time was exciting, though. I should have been on my way to the office but having seen one baby emerge I needed to see them all. There were four fledglings altogether. It was a delightful sight seeing each one teeter on the edge of the hole and then drop to the Cotoneaster hedge below before flying to a nearby branch. There are no babies in this video clip but I managed to capture the parents while they were were busy finding food for their young.



Apologies for the poor slideshow. The pictures were perfect but something went wrong with the preparation of the show. 

20 June 2013

Ever had an erupting face?


Once upon a time I had problems with Clinique merchandise. It was okay for a couple of years but then suddenly the moisturiser didn’t suit and the exfoliant was too harsh. It didn’t surprise me to read an article in the newspaper about a woman taking Clinique to court for the same symptoms I had. Both of us had been using the products for a while before we became ‘allergic’ to them. I can’t remember if she won the case but the information gleaned from reading about it made me feel better. Naturally, I stopped using Clinique products altogether.

I moved on, trying all the well known and respected skincare specialists, Elizabeth Arden being the last one. I got on well with their creams but steadfastly refused exfoliants and toners. When they introduced Prevage I was talked into trying it.

Okay, it was my own fault, I should have listened to my inner self instead of the ‘reassuring’ voice of the EA specialist. Basically I took them after describing my skin condition to Diane, the EA girl, that of my skins sudden inability to absorb the cream, to which she replied that Elizabeth Arden knew all about it and that’s why they introduced the new Prevage. Like I say, I should have listened!

If you don’t get on with them, bring them back and I’ll refund the money. Well, with a safeguard like that who would imagine things going wrong?

One application of Prevage was enough. It lay heavily on the skin like a sticky mass ... all day.

I returned to the store with both jars and my story at the ready, only to find that it was Diane’s day off. I explained the situation to an assistant I hadn’t seen before, explaining why I was returning them.

Oh no, we can’t accept goods that have been opened.

Well, yes, I can understand that. It would be awful if I’d mixed some poisonous substance in the cream and they used it on unsuspecting customers. This girl was uncooperative with a capital U and all I could do was to ask her to record on my information card that I was THOROUGHLY DISSATISFIED.

For a while my skin had to go naked, i.e. without moisturiser, until I discovered Nivea Soft. That kept me going for a while but eventually I became concerned about some rough areas on my cheeks.

I went back to town to consult. This time approaching Clarins for advice since it’s a well known fact that they don’t use chemicals or harsh ingredients in their products. I already used their cleansers (skin, not drains) so I knew the girls there. Naturally, the one I talked to was VERY helpful. She suggested I try an exfoliant. My hands went up in horror. Oh no, NOT an exfoliant.

She talked me through the procedure like I didn’t know it, but I bore with it. When she referred again to the exfoliant I told her about my past experience. You won’t have any trouble with ours, she went, ours is mild and wouldn’t harm a baby’s skin.

I’m a sucker. I fell for it. I bought exfoliant plus two new skin creams, plus an anti-ageing serum. And guess what. First and only use of the exfoliator resulted in my skin flaring up like a burning bun. I promise you I only skimmed the skin with the cotton wool pad, there was no pressure and certainly not an excess of liquid. Why? Because I'd been there before and knew the dangers. Duh!

I couldn’t bear to put my head on the pillow that night. The burning and itching drove me mad. Fortunately I still had some of the doctor-issued hydrocortisone left from last time but it took two days for the redness and tiny eruptions to lessen. Not disappear, just diminish slightly. I’m working on that, but one thing I have discovered is that those dry patches have disappeared. If they ever come again they’ll just have to stay put. Like the Clarins girl said: You have problem skin. Another problem I have is dealing with the knowledge that I spent loads on these products and can see nothing for it, except maybe the day and night moisturisers which might suit.


I still have to tell the Clarins girl what I think of her!

18 June 2013

TRIANGLE (Repeat)

March is such a sluggish month. Dregs of winter impede the appearance of spring and postpones the awakening of hope. But this year Angela Wilson’s mood was nowhere near maudlin, which probably had something to do with Bridie.
          Though the living room fire was blazing, the room was reluctant to shake off the winter chill. It was actually designed as a bedroom, even though it was on street level, but they soon changed that. Bradley and Angela were of the opinion that chambers designated for the sexually inclined were definitely better located on an upper floor. With the over-large window directly opposite the homes of eager and impressionable youth Angela’s stomach rolled over at the idea of transforming their young neighbours into voyeurs.
          Of the three bedrooms in the house Angela and Brad’s was the most modern. Lots of cane and pine and a water bed that even now Angela was not at ease with. She had been certain the episodes of frenzied limb-racking would create a puncture, but those days were few and far between.

Brad worked away on a regular basis, sometimes abroad but mostly in the UK. He was Sales Director of a furnishing company that specialised in beds of all kinds. His selling record was so good he’d been promoted soon after the firm opened the Brighton branch. Promotion meant frequent travel, sometimes for weeks at a time.
          Bridie spent many hours in the Wilson household, sometimes babysitting, sometimes calling round for lunch.  Being an excellent and enthusiastic cook she often undertook to cook them a meal before going back to her own apartment. When Brad was away she stayed over, sharing Angela’s free time and Angela’s bed. Other rooms were occupied by kids reluctant to shift and in this they were backed up by their mother who wanted security and normality for her children.
          Brad suggested that Bridie stayed, arguing that since her car was unreliable and him not around to drive her home it made more sense. Angela agreed to air the idea but privately contended that Bridie was perfectly capable of using the bus.
          It was amazing how circumstances could change one’s mind.

The first time Bridie stayed, although by then Angela had got to know and like her guest, she felt nervous about sharing her bed. But the hour was late and they’d both had too much to drink for Bridie even to consider driving home. 
          Bridie was more relaxed about it, rushing into the bedroom exclaiming enthusiastically over the décor and furnishings. Angela hushed her, reminding her by placing two hands against her cheek that the children were asleep. Bridie immediately put her forefinger to her lips and crept towards the bed upon which, to Angela’s horror, she began to bounce. Angela’s heart leapt into her mouth, so fearful was she that unstoppable water would gush out and flood the room. The occurrence actually served to dismiss Angela’s embarrassment at undressing in front of Bridie … her alarmed shriek produced so much laughter that the two fell onto the bed in a state of total paroxysm.
          In her alone moments Angela remembered that night, she would relive it, seeing again the way Bridie writhed ecstatically when she climbed on the bed. She had a nice body, lissom and free, unlike her own somewhat stilted form.

Bridie’s influence on the family was considerable. Seven year old Denny doted on her. Sarah Louise followed her everywhere, practically walking on her heels. Brad reckoned she was suffering from a touch of hero-worship though Angela thought nine years of age was a bit young for that. Even Tiny, the mongrel, obeyed when Bridie O’Shea issued an instruction.
          There could be no argument about her attractiveness. Bridie had an expressive face with skin smooth as silk and laughing green eyes peering through a Titian fringe; long, straight hair, stylishly cut to frame her face with wispy strands flying loose around the ears. Small ears but powerful hearing. She was vibrant and exciting. She would enthuse over things that others overlooked, a bit dramatic at times, yet endearingly so.
          At the start of their acquaintance Angela mistrusted all that zeal, believing it to be put on in order to establish some sort of familiarity, but the more she got to know her the more Bridie proved to be a naturally zealous, harmless soul.
         
It was Brad who introduced Bridie to the family. They met at a weekend seminar in a Brighton hotel. On discovering how close to him she lived he invited her home to dinner. Angela remembered being furious that he’d done it without consultation, thus she was determined to dislike her.
          When Bridie arrived Angela took one look at her tall, slender figure, the dove grey designer suit worn over a scarlet blouse, five inch heels that looked as if they were glued to her feet, and felt an immediate bête-noire. All evening she was powerless to control the sarcasm, frequently alluding to the seminar, making childish innuendoes about the sleeping arrangements and suggesting that seaside hotels were rife with off-leash husbands. It was a surprise that Bridie didn’t walk out. What Angela didn’t know was that Bridie was a nice person. She knew Angela was resentful, yet she stuck around.
          Angela got over it. In fact, as days turned into months, Bridie only had to crook a finger for her to rush to her side.

Bradley

It took a lot for Brad to admit he was wrong.

From the first moment he saw Bridie he was besotted. He wanted her, needed her near him. The longing to touch her kept him awake nights. He would lie at Angela’s side, curled away from her, and allow visions of Bridie to enter his mind, imagining her in Angela’s place, her small but perfectly shaped breasts pressed against him. What did she think of him? Did she know how his heart beats quickened whenever he saw her?
          The knowledge that she shared his bed with Angela did nothing to ease the ache in his loins. If anything it made him want Bridie more. He wanted to see for himself how they behaved together. Were they lovers? Was that why Angela’s manner had softened? Or why she no longer seemed to mind when he went away?
          Angela had long since ceased to matter in his eyes. She had changed over the years, become more like her wretched mother, always nagging and making out she had headaches at bedtime. Funny she didn’t have them during the day. He knew that at forty-nine he was no longer the greatest specimen of manhood, the flabbiness around his belly confirmed that, but he did still have urges that needed satisfying. In real terms his wife was no longer fun to be with and their rowdy kids drove him crazy.
          Bridget O’Shea had been like a breath of fresh air and still was but lately he thought she gave Angela more of her time. He’d hoped, by the special way she kissed him whenever they met, that Bridie fancied him. It wasn’t just the kiss, it was the whole body language, the way her fingers caressed his neck when he bent to kiss her cheek, the way she twisted her head to redirect his lips, the pressure of her body against his, and the brief gyration of hips. Not even Angela kissed him like that.
          Brad thought back to the evening Angela visited her mother. Bridie popped in unexpectedly, professing that she didn’t know Angela would be out. She’d dropped her coat on a vacant chair and flopped down on the three-seater couch, caressing the cushion next to her as an indication that he should sit beside her. He did, but not until he’d poured two large glasses of Pinot Noir.
          They’d talked about their respective jobs, her hand on his knee all the time, one finger gently scratching his jeans as it inched higher and higher up his thigh. The jolts inside him were too powerful to ignore. He totally lost control, seizing her body, crushing her to him until she gasped for breath. He kissed her delicious lips. When their tongues met it was like heaven had opened its door. If Angela hadn’t arrived home at that very minute they might well have ended up on the water bed.
         
Yes, he thought she was falling in love with him … until the day his appointment at the Brighton branch was cancelled at the last minute and he arrived home without warning. Bridie wasn’t feeling well so Angela had invited her to stay the night rather than go home to a lonely apartment. He’d ended up sharing young Denny’s bed, unable to sleep because his thoughts were in the next room.
          He rose early, thinking he would grab the bathroom before anyone was about, but Bridie was there before him. He saw her go in, heard the bolt hit home, the first fall of shower water. He imagined her stripping off the borrowed dressing gown, imagined her naked under the spray, soaping and swilling, and wished he was in there with her. All he could do was wait.
          But he had a rude awakening when she emerged, back in Angela’s gown, a towel wrapped round her beautiful hair, smelling of Imperial Leather. It was only a minor brush there outside the bathroom, when his towel caught the gown and pulled it to one side, when he gazed in fascination at the sight of her shapely white thigh, so the unexpected harsh rebuke and the venom in her voice was like a punch in the gut. Only then did he realise he was mistaken.

Angela

Angela watched Brad through the dressing table mirror, trying to gauge his thoughts as he lay reading in bed. The book was called Trio, which she thought was very appropriate. They had retired early. The children were staying with grandparents for two days, no doubt being cosseted and spoiled. She picked up the framed photograph that had graced the dressing table for years, gazed at the two of them on holiday in Ibiza. Slim and happy. At what point did he acquire a paunch? When did she stop noticing?
          As she smeared night cream over her face and neck she thought about the occurrence downstairs when she attempted to sit on his lap. The idea was to try and regain something of their youth in the hope that it might shake off the powerful feeling that they were drifting apart. The idea was a mistake. He’d jumped like a scalded cat when her leg touched his, almost knocking her over in the rush to get away from her. These days neither of them knew how to converse when they were on their own, let alone make-up to each other.
          She had to face it, as their marriage wore on Brad had become uninteresting. She wouldn’t have thought it twelve years ago, when they doted on each other’s words, when each was inspired by the other, when they couldn’t bear to be apart. As she replaced the lid on the pot of cream, she gazed again at her reflection, wondering when it all changed and if, maybe, they were at a turning point in their marriage? At least when Bridie was there she kept them going as a threesome. Angela hoped she wouldn’t stay away too often; life without Bridie’s frequent visits would be … she stopped to think would be like and came to the conclusion that the word she was looking for was dull. That was when it dawned on her that she really did miss her. She knew the path she’d stepped on was pebbly but she didn’t know how to stop the joyfulness that Bridie’s presence created.
         
A week later, when Bridie was out with a friend and Brad was working away, Angela tried to sort out the mess in her mind. No longer were her feelings for Brad clear. Although she thought she still loved him her feelings for Bridie were growing stronger. Without her the days would be intolerable. Hell, the idea was not to be dwelt on. If she was no longer here she would miss her companionship, her tolerance when the kids played up, her gentleness, her nearness when she stayed over, shared her bed. Oh how she longed to touch her wonderful body at those times. With a deep sigh she moved into the kitchen to start preparing supper.

Bradley

Brad’s boss, Charlie Williams, sat at the head of the conference table and talked about necessary changes to the team’s way of working. If he’d been challenged the meeting might have some life in it but there was no opposition and very few questions. They were only half way through and already Brad’s mind was wandering.
          The scene at home, outside the bathroom, still worried him. He was still disconcerted over the effect Bridie’s thigh had on him and the malevolence in her voice when she brushed him aside. Surely he hadn’t been totally mistaken about her. She’d seemed so eager to get acquainted when they met that first time, in the Brighton hotel, when they’d bumped into each other on the staircase, laughed at each other’s embarrassment. Hadn’t she looked him right in the eye and silently spoken her interest? Hadn’t his stomach lurched at the touch of her hand at dinner, the first time he asked her to join him. Wasn’t there a mutual longing when they said goodnight, neither of them really wanting the evening to end.
          And what about the other times he’d been away, when she turned up unexpectedly at his hotel. Was it purely coincidental that her work programme coincided with his? She never stayed at his hotel but they always dined together before she drove home. Brad took a sip of water and remembered the toasts they made. Everlasting friendship, she’d said, her eyes gazing dreamily into his. What was a man to think when he was treated to her dazzling smile as she leaned provocatively towards him? 
          Squaring the spotless blotter in front of him, lining up his pens equidistant to the water glass, Brad thought about Angela and the recent change in her. She seemed to dote on Bridie. Bridie could do nothing wrong. Bridie knew this, Bridie said that. Bridie, who had invaded his home and his heart.
          Noticing the way Brad fingered his pens and the occasional window gaze, Charlie Williams sarcastically pointed out that Brad’s presence really was required so perhaps he should keep his mind on his work. With an effort, Brad sat up straight and endeavoured to concentrate on proceedings.

Angela

Angela glanced at the china wall clock before stacking utensils in the dishwasher. It was nine o’clock. Bridie would be here soon and Angela wanted everything neat and tidy for when she arrived. It was quite late but she thought after a boozy evening Bridie would be glad of a bite to eat. Hurriedly she went into the lounge to draw the bronze coloured window drapes. The ambience was good with perfumed candles dotted around, the simulated log fire glowing in the dimmed light, and the smell of the freshly baked scones spilling into the room. She was thankful she’d resisted the temptation to eat earlier, by herself. Denny and Sarah Louise had been allowed to watch a comedy show before going up to bed. It was Angela’s hope that they were tired enough to fall straight to sleep. She wanted Bridie to herself.
Satisfied that everything was in order, Angela went to the bedroom and changed out of her casual everyday dress. Her clothes were laid out on the bed, the new black lace underwear, black pants and low cut cream top, chosen with care in an attempt to brighten up her dreary life. Bridie was such a fashion conscious woman, she thought it was about time she made a bit more of herself. She did so want to create an impression, to eliminate those work-weary feelings that frequently enveloped her.
After slipping her bare feet into black satin mules she admired herself in the cheval mirror, making the merest adjustment to her cleavage before adding a dab of Estēe Lauder’s Sensuous. A smile spread across her face at the thought of Bridie’s reaction to the new image. 

Downstairs, she stretched out on the couch, a glass of Muscat on the coffee table at her side. She intended to watch television until Bridie arrived, any minute now.  An hour later she woke to find that she still wasn’t home.
          It was almost midnight when she heard the key in the door and voices in the hall. She went to investigate.

Bridie wasn’t quite as drunk as her male companion.

Angela stared in disbelief at her friend and the overweight fair haired man she was passionately embracing in HER hall.  She quaked with anger. How dare she bring him here without so much as a by your leave? When Bridie opened her eyes and winked Angela’s rage boiled over. ‘Get OUT,’ she screamed as she tried to pull them apart.
          ‘Oh don’t be such a prude,’ Bridie retorted, scathingly. ‘Jealousy will get you nowhere.’
          ‘Jealous?’ screeched Angela. ‘What the hell are you talking about? You come in here dragging in some drunk off the streets and expect me to accept it?’
          ‘He’s NOT someone off the streets. This is Colin. As a matter of fact we just got engaged. I thought you should meet the man I’m going to marry.’
          It was news to Angela. Not once had Bridie mentioned Colin, or indeed anyone else in her private life. She always seemed so … alone. She had become an inherent part of the Wilson family, they knew everything about her, or so they thought. Momentarily, Angela wondered if Brad knew but somehow doubted it.
          Moving away from the couple, Angela ran into the lounge, slamming the door behind her. She sank into the settee. The candles had melted down, the Muscat was still on the coffee table. She picked up the glass, drank in two long gulps, then leaned back and cried until she heard the click of the front door as it closed behind Bridget O‘Shea.

It took several months of soul searching before Brad and Angela got over the loss of their mutual friend. Both realised what fools they’d been though neither admitted it to the other.

Bradley

In his opinion Brad had been duped into thinking Bridie was falling for him. Only now did he realise she was a natural flirt. He was ashamed that he’d been taken in by her, his pride was hurt and he didn’t know how to cope with the humiliation. His saving grace was that Angela knew nothing about the activities that took place when he was away from home albeit that, apart from one session of ardent kissing, he and Bridie were merely friends sharing the occasional dinner.

Angela

Angela was mortified when she realised how envious she had been. Her jealousy bordered on possessiveness but she refused to admit that her feelings for Bridie O’Shea had moved to another level. She had been infatuated, that’s all. Just because she shared her bed with her didn’t mean anything other than two friends sleeping together, each one hugging the side of the bed so that they wouldn’t make contact. Angela pushed away those past longings to caress. From now on she would concentrate on Brad. Maybe if she stopped niggling over little things they would get on better. She knew she neglected him. She was hyper-critical, took no interest in his work and even accused him of having no interest in his family.
          Suddenly guilt-ridden, she resolved to change. She couldn’t be described as a good wife but if she worked hard maybe they could get back on the old footing. This new resolve made her feel suddenly eager to put the relationship back on even keel. She reckoned she owed a great deal to Colin Wetherby for unwittingly saving the day, and her marriage.

Brad and Angela declined the invitation to the wedding.


17 June 2013

Monday Mirth

I am besotted by Mrs Brown ... here's another great laugh.


16 June 2013

Sunday Scenes

Some more awesome pictures for Sunday











Wishing all Dads a Happy Fathers Day

15 June 2013

The Demise of Google Reader



Ron posted recently about the imminent demise of Google Reader, which takes place on lst July. It was something I had been thinking about so his blog post was timely.

I rarely used Google Reader, preferring a personal blog roll (see side bar, headed My Blog List) which is a lot more efficient than Reader ever was simply because it kept up with things a lot better.

In case you don't know, although I am sure you do, the blog roll can be found in blog settings/layout/add a gadget, providing (I think) a Blogger template is in place. The beauty of My Blog List is that I don't necessarily have to 'follow' people to know when they post their latest although there is an automatic facility if I do follow them.

I commented at the time that I heard Bloglovin' was a better alternative but whilst on Ron’s blog I read the views of his pals and that’s how I heard about Feedly. Naturally I went to have a look and have now installed it. It sits there on my bookmark bar just waiting for me to read a few blogs.

After that, knowing people were using more than one blog feed, I decided to take a look at Bloglovin'. Of the two, Feedly and Bloglovin', I preferred the layout of the latter. Feedly arrived showing just a list of blog names (you do, of course, click on the name to read the blog) although, like Bloglovin' it shows pictures and all by a simple adjustment in their settings. At first the latter seemed more user friendly but really there's not much to choose between them. 

The downside with Bloglovin' was that notifications came by email ... on the PC, on the iPhone, and the iPad. Help! I felt so bombarded I couldn't wait to change the settings. 

However, for your information, both the aforementioned feeders update from Google Reader for you so there’s absolutely no hassle. The uploading needs to be arranged quickly though, otherwise time will run out. All in all it took just a minute to transfer from Reader - in both cases. 

However, as I said to Ron, unless Google decides to withdraw the blog roll facility, I shall stick with it.

I hope this gives some insight to solving the problem of losing Reader.

13 June 2013

UPDATE ON GARDEN AND BIRDS

Apart from messing about with the new camera I was busy in the garden while the sun shone! Don’t get the wrong idea, I haven’t done any actual gardening; by busy I mean surveying and generally wandering about. The rough patch at the bottom of our vast estate, which we started last year (or was it the year before ... I lose track of time), is now overgrown with weeds wild flowers so I keep going down there to see what’s come up next. There are loads of newbie flowers that I don’t know and can’t find in my book on wild-flowers. And you should see the bees feasting on the pollen. It’s a lovely sight especially since there’s a big worry over the decline of bees. I feel I’m doing my bit to help save them.

The birds have no qualms about scoffing all the food I put out. They don’t seem to realise that the more they eat the more it costs. I shall soon have to charge them for eating in our wildlife restaurant. The best of all though is seeing the bluetit babies getting restless in their box. Pretty soon they will leave and the parents will take them far away so I can’t see them anymore. Maybe next year they’ll be the ones inhabiting the box for their babies. The nesting box isn’t a grand affair but the bluetits come every year without fail. I’ve often wondered if it’s the same family all the time. Do bird babies remember where they were born? Do they come back because they were born there? I know wren’s return to their nesting place each year, so why not the bluetits?

We’ve had different birds this year mainly, I think, because of the top rate food. Joe frequently threatens to buy cheaper stuff but I smile nicely and remind him that it’s the right seed mix that attracts the different species in all weathers.

Talking of weather, what on earth is happening to planet earth? The weather here has turned yet again. For a few days it was almost summery, now it feels like we’re back to winter, hot one day, perishing cold the next. I think it would be warmer in Iceland than here. Take today for instance. I put on a warmer jacket to go shopping because I knew full well that if it was cold outside it would feel even colder in the supermarket’s freezer section. What I didn’t reckon on doing was to change from blouse to woollen twin set before lunchtime. It was that cold I could almost hear my teeth chattering. I told them it’s no use complaining to me, get on to the weather people. I hold them personally responsible, you see. Seriously though, who else but mankind can be blamed for the topsy-turvy conditions.

Do you mind if I change the subject... I can’t stand even thinking about cold weather even if it has descended prematurely. Would you like to see some photographs instead?


I am enjoying the new camera IMMENSELY. Here are a few shots to prove it.



I had one second to catch this gorgeous Bentley


Magpie, thinking about....
having a preen before....
feeding her baby!
Woodpigeon, settling down for a rest!