Friends

31 January 2015

Songs and Sounds on Saturday

Louis Armstrong's 'What a Wonderful World' 
makes me long for the old days!

29 January 2015

HOLLY - AND JOE

Christmas certainly lingered in my lounge. It came about because of a habit I’d got into of decorating the place with branches from the garden, the one with the tiny cones that I thought was a Cedar. Last year we had an abundance of holly, some with berries, most without. I picked a few twigs of each and put them in water, using three new vases. The display was quite seasonal. But as you know, nothing lasts, especially cut flowers and leaves. However I was in for a surprise.

Due probably to the warm room and having water to drink, one of the holly cuttings started to show minuscule white balls. Honestly, if I hadn’t stopped to check the water level in the vase I probably would  have missed them. Aha, but once seen there was no going back. I have been watching ever since. Those minute balls got a bit bigger, then tiny white petals began to show. Now there is a tiny – and I DO mean TINY – berry shaped thingy in the middle. Could this be the start of a red berry, I asked myself. When I checked today most of the TINY flower petals had fallen but one had turned into an infinitesimal buff coloured ball.

Time will tell - and so will I if things develop. If you don’t hear any more you’ll know the buff coloured ball came to nothing. 

Pic taken in Oz 
UPDATE ON JOE

I haven’t updated you on Joe’s medical condition so I’ll do that now. A couple of days after getting the good news that the chemotherapy was a success he developed something else. It was a shock to find him quite poorly one morning when he’d done so well with all his treatments. It only took a few hours, during which he was examined (thoroughly) by a paramedic and later by a doctor, to find out that he had a suspect heart problem. By this time he was feeling better and in any case the medics didn’t think hospital admission was urgent. However, it took just two days for an appointment to come from the hospital.

And we have people here who moan about our health service!

So where are we now? After a scan and a consultation it was decided to perform an Angiogram which revealed that one of the arteries leading to the heart was rather tight, which slowed the blood flow. It was decided to insert a stent to relieve the situation and he will have that done pretty soon... that is if a consultation with the oncology consultant and others allows it. He gets quite tired and breathless now but that should be sorted after the stent op.

When all that is cleared up maybe his hernia will be sorted!!!

Honestly for a once perfectly fit man Joe has become plagued with different health situations and yet he continues to be optimistic and cheerful. He even jokes about his condition. Next time you have a drink in your hands, do raise your glass to my Joe ‘cause he deserves it. 

27 January 2015

SIGNS FOR ROGUE TRADERS


I wonder how many readers tolerate salespeople at their doors? Years ago people knocking on the door were usually neighbours wanting to borrow a cup of sugar or something but now there are so many rogue traders it’s difficult to differentiate between good and bad salesmen. Because of this people don’t bother to answer the door unless they know who is calling. How sad the world has become!

Last year at Townswomen’s Guild and again at the Women’s Institute’s ACM, I listened to talks about Rogue Traders. Both speakers outlined some of the tricks used to gain our confidence as well as access to our homes – all very worrying, particularly to older folk. We constantly read or hear about pensioners who have been robbed and some who have even been knocked about and hospitalised.

So what to do? Apart from hiring armed guards or take ownership of a few wild dogs there isn’t much we can do unless we lock ourselves away and have nothing to do with the outside world. However, councils and police came up with the idea of putting notices on our doors and the speakers at the aforementioned events gave some away. Me being a greedy kind of gal, I took a few to distribute at the WI but not until I’d pinched a couple for myself.

The notices are not the same as the one at the start of this post. I have a few of those but they’re rather large whereas the ones I have are circular and take up less space. There are two sides: one is for the householder to read if someone strange knocks her door, and the other is what the trader (or whoever) sees. Once the backing paper is removed it can then be stuck to a glass door. Sadly not everyone has a porch door so I don’t know how residents without one would manage unless they put it in a nearby window.

It’s quite gimmicky and I couldn’t wait to install one on my door. Here’s a couple of pictures I took. 


As you see, the notices are called DOORSTOPPERS – dead original! Note the warning to unwanted traders: ‘SORRY, I DON’T RECOGNISE YOU, I’M NOT LETTING YOU IN’. And it works... leastways let me say that there have been fewer callers at MY door since the notice appeared. Did I say fewer? I’ll rectify that – in actual fact I believe it has stopped the callers altogether. Time will tell, of course. 

25 January 2015

An Irish Ghost Story


From a backlog of emails I selected this tale for your amusement

picture courtesy of www.caminodesantiago.me
This story happened a while ago in Dublin, and even though it sounds like an Alfred Hitchcock tale, it's true. 

John Bradford, a Dublin University student, was on the side of the road hitch-hiking on a very dark night and in the midst of a big storm. The night was rolling on and no car went by.

The storm was so strong he could hardly see a few feet ahead of him. Suddenly, he saw a car slowly coming towards him and stopped. John, desperate for shelter and without thinking about it, got into the car and closed the door.... only to realize there was nobody behind the wheel and the engine wasn't on. 

The car started moving slowly. John looked at the road ahead and saw a curve approaching. Scared, he started to pray, begging for his life. Then, just before the car hit the curve, a hand appeared out of nowhere through the window, and turned the wheel. John, paralysed with terror, watched as the hand came through the window, but never touched or harmed him. 

Shortly thereafter, John saw the lights of a pub appear down the road, so, gathering strength; he jumped out of the car and ran to it. Wet and out of breath, he rushed inside and started telling everybody about the horrible experience he had just had. A silence enveloped the pub when everybody realized he was crying... and wasn't drunk. 

Suddenly, the door opened, and two other people walked in from the dark and stormy night. They, like John, were also soaked and out of breath. Looking around, and seeing John Bradford sobbing at the bar, one said to the other....

Look Paddy....there's that idiot that got in the car while we were pushing it.'

20 January 2015

A Sign of Things Past.

 

Like Ron, I love signs, though my problem is finding them. Local stores don’t seem to go in for them anymore. I guess that’s because of the rapid changeover, I mean what’s the point of paying for a beautiful sign when a store’s actual existence is in question? However, now that I have a super duper camera, I really should get out more to look for more signs. Oh, if only local stores would get with it!

On my travels I used to see lots of fabulous signs but rarely took a picture – except when in Switzerland, when I found the MOST GORGEOUS sign... made from wood and hand carved. I took a picture, the only sign in my collection of holiday snaps. See it - bottom right. I was so enamoured with the whole place I framed a group of pictures which adorns my kitchen wall to this day. 



I tried to find a clearer picture of the sign on the internet but it seems to have disappeared. There's no 'sign' of it anywhere!!

Two weeks in Switzerland was a wonderful holiday. We stayed in Grindelwald in the Jungfrau region. It was summertime so the only snow was on the mountains. It didn’t matter because it enabled us to travel round a bit. Yes, even up mountains, although at a certain point on Schynige Platte I had to let Joe go on alone because the rarefied air caused breathing problems. I wasn’t the only one suffering, most of the Chinese visitors had the same problem. Isn’t it odd how some are affected and others are not.

Anyway, back to the sign. It was at the entrance to Schynige Platte mountain railway in Interlaken (Bernese Oberland) and the sign told us the height of the mountain was 1,967 metres, that’s 6,454 feet) – pretty high, huh? However, on the picture at the start of this post the height is quoted as 1,983 metres. 

I like the way the artist had the man peering through binoculars at the summit. I doubt I could have bent my head far enough back to see the summit, let alone go up top. The train travelled on a single track with passing loops and you could guess the steepness by the tilt of the seats ... the entire journey uphill was almost like lying on my back. I was sure we travelled in a tunnel the whole time, I can still remember the train stopping at 'viewing places', but modern day photographs seem to suggest an open air route. I guess things change with time, and our visit was way back in June 1988 - anything could have happened during intervening years. Hmm, I wonder if Switzerland is still there!!


It was a shame I couldn’t complete the trip up the mountain because I missed seeing a display of ice statues and a team of husky dogs. I had to put up with coffee in the restaurant while I waited for Joe to return. Imagine that, a fully fitted restaurant three-parts of the way up a steep mountain, though from what I’ve read there is now a fully fledged hotel/restaurant right on the summit. Still, there were other things I could do so I’m not complaining.

Thank you, Ron, for reminding me of a great vacation.

19 January 2015

Getting it out of the system!


Is it decreed in the heavens that everyone should have an off day? Is it ordained that if one partner has it rough the other should likewise have a bad time?
1. 
My upset started early this morning. Remember the problem I had and still have with the damned washing machine? Well, it just had another turn! I had got into the habit of loading the washing machine for an overnight wash because then it seemed to be less temperamental. I religiously load two of everything, never one, never three, because the machine doesn't like it. So last night I wool- washed two jumpers. It has been done before many times but this time the machine objected and left the two garments in a sodden state. Several times I tried the independent spinner but no joy there either. So now the garments are hanging - indoors because of the weather - and dripping into the laundry room sink. 
2. 
Joe's upset came at breakfast when the bag inside a practically new box of sugar puffs decided to split - just as he was getting his breakfast. You never saw such a mess, although to be fair the bag did split over the work counter and not too many went on the floor. 

I have now discovered that blackbirds quite like sugar puffs. 

Maybe tomorrow will be better. 

Thanks for listening :o)

16 January 2015

Whether the weather be bad... or not

'Ferny Creek, Victoria's coldest and wettest town'

(headline and pictures taken from the Age website)


Yes, it's high summer where our Rosanne lives - in Australia. And there was me wishing it was summer here in the UK. Rosanne loves it though, well it must make a change from the extreme heat they have there. Realistically, though, it must be a relief to have loads of water damp down all the wild fires they have there. Remind me never to moan about the weather again.


Living in the middle of the UK is a bit protective for us. Yes, we get snow but nothing like the stuff that falls in the North and, yes, we have rain but again we're lucky when we think of those who suffer extreme flooding. I cannot begin to imagine what it feels like to have a home totally ruined by water. As I type the weather changes from startling bright sunshine to darkening skies threatening goodness knows what in the way of rain or sleet or snow. Yesterday, I had trouble turning the car on ice and today I rushed to get out of the rain but deep down, as I draw the curtains to blot out the bright sunlight that prohibits computer viewing, I thank my lucky stars I live where I do 'cause there's never a dull moment!

13 January 2015

A MISTAKE TO BEAT ALL MISTAKES!

Are you sitting comfortably? Then, I’ll begin. This is the tale of a stupid woman who dropped a terrible clanger at Christmas time.

I believe I told you I had found my grandsons ... I was so over-the-moon about it, I must have done. Never mind, this is another post tied in with one of my lovely lads only it’s me that got things dreadfully wrong.

It was Christmas, a time for remembering loved ones and giving gifts, and I wanted to send a Christmas present to both Keith and Sara, that’s the lad and his partner. As usual I didn’t know what to buy, a task that’s getting more and more difficult as the years go by. My brain just can’t seem to think what people would like. It’s even more difficult, though, when you don’t know the likes and dislikes and have no idea what their home is like. After a great deal of mindless thought I opted to give money.

I had been in the mood to do a bit of craftwork and for a couple of weeks had been designing and  making envelopes to put Christmas gifts in. It struck me that some would be suitable to hold money. Here’s a shot of some I didn’t finish or use. They're nowhere near as good as the Christmassy ones.


Ah, I thought, perfect for the lad and his girl. I created two more, decorated with cut outs, holly leaves and a Santa for the girl and a Christmas tree with a choir for the boy, with loving words and their names on each. Into these I put a few crisp notes. Both envelopes were very flat and fitted inside the Christmas card. No bulk at all.

The card was posted well before Christmas and you’ll never guess what I did, sorry, didn’t do.

I DIDN’T REGISTER IT AT THE POST OFFICE!

I ask you, how stupid can a person get? The worst thing happened  ... the card and contents never arrived at the lad’s home.

Okay, don’t rub it in. I’m a first class idiot. I paid for it, though, I felt sick, I worried, and I pestered the lad to see if it had arrived. ‘No, Gran, it hasn’t come.’

I’ve calmed down now and written it off as the act of a lunatic, one that will never be done again. A hard lesson to learn!

Well, it’s big son’s partner’s birthday soon so on my last visit to the mall I looked round for a suitable card. I didn’t find one for her, but I did find THIS:


Hell, this must be standard practice if they’re making cards about it!

It’s certainly got me wondering if my gift of money went the same way.

10 January 2015

Songs and Sounds on Saturday

I heard this on a friend's blog and felt I had to share it. It took me back a few years!
Do  you remember this song?

07 January 2015

A WEEKEND AWAY


A visit to see Blackpool illuminations is a must in this country. Situated in the North of England, the whole promenade – which is very long – is decorated with lights and themes. Even trams and boats are given a theme, which vary each year. 



The following piece, found on Wikipedia, describes the location better than I can. 

Also known locally as The Lights or The Illuminations, they run each year for sixty-six days,[1][2] from late August until early November at a time when most other English seaside resorts' seasons are coming to an end. Dubbed as "the greatest free light show on earth",they are 6 miles (10 km) long and use over one million bulbs. The display stretches along the Promenade from Starr Gate at the south end of the town to Bispham in the north.

At the time in question it promised to be a nice weekend weather-wise so Joe and I decided to treat ourselves with a visit to see the Illuminations. Normally we would stay in a hotel but that year we thought we’d do Bed & Breakfast in a guest house.  It would be fun, we thought.



What we hadn’t taken into account was the demand for B & B accommodation during the Illuminations period. Once there we had to walk the streets looking for a sign that said ‘Vacancies’... very hard to find considering the thousands of people with the same idea. However, find one we did. It was getting dark by this time so we were delighted with our good fortune. Without hesitation we rushed in and booked a room and breakfast. Everything was working out fine. We dumped our gear and left the house to go and see the lights.



We were out quite a long time, having taken a tram ride, done a long walk along the promenade, had a bite to eat, visited the Pleasure Beach fair, with tiredness slowly taking over. By this time it was around midnight so we walked back to our accommodation. It was an adventure and we were certainly reliving our youth.

Now, I'm a fussy person. I like everything in place so I don't waste time looking for things. The first task after boarding ship was to sort out the suitcases and the personal toiletries... you know the sort of stuff, facial cleansers, conditioning cream, hair brush/comb, hair dryer etc. All items would be placed either in dressing table drawers or in a neat arrangement on the top. I was always up first in the morning and it was so much easier to find things in the half light, before sun and husband rose for the day. This practice was uppermost in my mind on this short B&B break but tiredness prevented actually doing it.


So to bed! And what a bed that was. I spent the whole night trying not to fall down the large indentation in the mattress, hugging the side of the bed to keep myself ‘afloat’ so to speak. It was awful. It was uncomfortable, hard on the bones, and a bit smelly. I couldn’t wait for morning.

It was first light when I gave up, tired and dispirited. Being as quiet as I could I washed in the tiny cracked sink and damped down the hair (shampooing would have been impossible) thinking it was a good job I’d remembered to bring the hairdryer.

Well, it is okay having a hairdryer handy, but you do need an electric socket to work the damn thing. There wasn’t one in sight. I hunted round the walls, even crawled under the bed in case it was at the back thereof, but no... no electrical socket anywhere. Couldn’t even make a drink. I didn’t take this kindly or even philosophically. In fact, I seem to remember being in an unhealthy rage.

When I simmered down I attempted to make myself as presentable as I could in order to go down for breakfast. My hair, when wet or dry, is very hard to deal with ... I needed that hairdryer to put a curl in it. There was nothing else for it. I had to go downstairs as I was. Not a happy thought and certainly not a pretty sight.

There were a few people in the dining room. Joe, bless him, greeted everyone with his usual bonhomie while I tackled breakfast with head bowed... trying to hide my hair. Imagine my surprise when a booming voice said ‘Good morning, everyone. Smile please.’

Smile please *o“^*+!=%

I turned to look at the man with the camera ... and blasphemed.

Someone explained that it was normal practice for the photographer to come at breakfast time and take our pictures.

And me with a mess of hair all over the place?!!

I cannot remember exactly what I said but the photographer beat a hasty retreat and I vowed never, ever again to set foot in a Blackpool guest house.

03 January 2015

DEAR DIARY (repeat)


 It was the afternoon of New Year's Day. Gemma and Peter Swift were writing in their respective five-year diaries, given by Gemma's mother for Christmas. Both diaries were lockable and leather-bound: Pink for Gemma, plain black for Peter, both with a silver key.
           
Last night's party was a great success, scribed Peter.
           
I've never been to such a boring do, noted Gemma.
           
Peter capped his pen and propelled himself from the table. 'Fancy a beer, Gem?'
           
'Don't scrape your chair,' snapped Gemma. 'You'll damage the carpet.'
           
'Was that a yes or a no,' enquired a grinning Peter, who wondered if she was still mad because the coal tit had scattered seeds on her precious new patio.
           
'It was a no. Thanks.' Gemma carried on writing.
           
'Brandy?'
           
'No, thanks.'
           
Peter fetched a can of lager from the fridge and returned to the dining room, sat directly opposite his wife. 'Writing about the party?' he asked, drawing his diary towards him.
           
'Not in detail.'
           
Peter picked up his pen. 'Me neither,' he said, beginning to write. Martin Wedgwood. What an opportunity. Stroke of luck meeting him in a casual setting. Made my approach less obvious. And what a wife. The black mini-skirt was a sensation.
           
STRUMPET, recorded Gemma in bold script, then added, but at least she wasn't boring like most of the females. She adjusted her reading glasses and tugged a strand of straight, mousy hair, remembering the time she'd spent in the early hours squinting in the mirror and brushing her hair into some kind of captivating style. But it was too straight and too fine to do anything with. The men were tedious too. All workaholics from the way they talked, and so uninteresting. She eyed her husband, who was sucking the end of his pen, staring into space. Searching for inspiration, she guessed, but he wouldn't have found any at last night's party.
           
Peter was thoughtful, wondering if any business would be forthcoming from the men he’d mingled with. The managing director of the knitwear company, for example, and the one from the printing firm who said he was disenchanted with his existing accountants. But his mind kept reverting to Martin Wedgwood who had taken his card and promised further talks. Now if that came to something, his managing partner would be delighted. Yes, it was a first-rate party.

Imperceptibly, Gemma shook her head. If only Peter hadn't raved so much about his work. There was nothing enthralling about the accountancy profession yet he went on and on to some guy in a flash tuxedo who could only shut him up by asking for his card. Julie was interested, of course. But she was interested in all the men. You could see her brain ticking over deciding who to lure … and when.
           
Boring, she wrote again, unable to think of a better adjective to describe the event. She supposed Peter would be recording his tête-à-tête with Julie, whom Gemma thought was the wife of someone important but couldn't remember who. It was surprising that her husband, whoever he was, didn't keep her under lock and key. It was most disconcerting the way she tossed her red hair and displayed long legs as if she was contending for Miss World. The mini-skirt barely covered her buttocks let alone her thighs. Gemma sighed and twisted round to extend her own legs, tilting her head to inspect them, and deciding they'd be shapelier if she lost a bit of weight.

Peter noticed Gemma's move and silently admired the focus of her scrutiny, recalling the way one greasy-looking partygoer had gawked at her until he told him to lay off. Work or no work, he wasn't standing for that. Impulsively he pushed his diary to one side and leaned across the table to take Gemma's hand. He could smell the almond handcream she used, and the Shalimar behind her ears. 'It was a rare old party, eh, Gem?'
           
'Wonderful,' replied Gemma, not wanting to crush his admiration for the inebriated fools who posed as New Year revellers.
           
Peter released her hand and pushed his chair from the table. The lager can toppled and rolled backwards and forwards as he drew Gemma to her feet, he held her close and whispered, ‘Did I remember to wish you a Happy New Year?’

Gemma nodded, for once overlooking the likelihood of a ruined carpet.

‘And did I tell you there’s every chance of promotion if I land a major client after last night’s affair?’

Gemma shook her head.

‘And did I tell you it could mean a partnership if I continue to acquire new clients?’

Gemma gasped. ‘A partnership?’

Peter whirled her round. Tremendous party, don’t you think?’

‘Marvellous, my darling. Simply marvelous.’

01 January 2015

Celebrating a New Year


Wishing you all peace and joy as we enter the New Year. 

Blogging brings friends to our lives and for that I thank you. The support offered to Joe and me during the months when he was unwell was and is appreciated more than you can know. I am glad, nay honoured, to know you all through the blogging medium. 
So wherever you are

CHEERS!

Colorful Champaign image

May all your days be Merry and Bright