29 October 2013

Another book sold... and other matters.

I’ve sold another book. Yeah! At this rate I might have to get more printed! Okay, it was only Feline Capers, the smallest of the lot, but it’s still a sale. The TG Chairman had been told that I’d written something about cats and was eager to make a purchase for a relative’s birthday. The relative is apparently mad keen on cats. Actually I thought it was daring to buy something she hadn’t seen but who am I to quibble?

It’s not long to stepdaughter’s wedding  ... 3rd November ... in Australia. It’s very sad that illness prevents her father going to the wedding. Thankfully one of her English friends will be there and we will, of course, be there in spirit. I’m thankful that the whole affair is to be video’d so we can at least see the whole affair. We have sent our respective speeches and Rosanne has promised not to open them until the day. Hopefully someone will read them for us. It’s not usual custom for a stepmother to prepare a speech but there was so much I wanted to say to her on her big day. Nice stuff, mushy in parts, but generally letting her know how much I care and how proud I am to be her stepmom.

Joe went for an MRI scan and dozed off in the tube! He was told that under no circumstances was he to move so I guess nodding off was the best idea. He’s very brave. And now it’s gone quiet. One minute life is like a helter-skelter with unexpected and unplanned twists and turns, and then we hit a lull while we wait for a letter or phone call to tell us what the next step is. We’re getting through it okay, although Joe is beginning to feel housebound. Maybe I should hire a troupe of dancing girls to cheer him up. 

I’ve only had to miss a few engagements (willingly) so it’s not the end of the world. Since I couldn’t attend the WI Federation’s Annual Council Meeting I was reimbursed for the lunch I didn’t have, but there was no need to reimburse me for anything at the local WI’s AGM. I’m only a dual member there so it wasn’t important. I must try to attend the AGM at my own WI since that one has priority; however it’s not until the second week in November so there’s time yet to think about it. However, I did make the lunch with some TG members ... a casual affair at the local pub.

Prince George was christened on 23 October and on that day we attended the funeral of a neighbour. We’ll always be reminded of both occasions simply because of the date. Our neighbour, Mary, had a fall and was admitted to hospital with a broken femur. She was doing well and due to come home when she suddenly went into relapse and died. She was 93 years of age and leaves Bill, her husband aged 97. They have a good family who visit daily and we keep an eye on things from our house. Of all the neighbours in the road they made the most contact with us ... two of the most cheerful pensioners I know.

Ending this with a few animal gifs. Hope you all have a good week and don’t overdo the Halloween celebrations. 

27 October 2013

Sunday Scenes

Some scenic shots taken in Australia 2012

And the best shot of all:
Dad and Daughter... two of my favourite people

22 October 2013

More News from Home

It’s the unexpected things that make you want to scream, cry, or rejoice!

We had a call from the consultant to say that Joe's kidney has improved sufficiently for a second option to be reconsidered. He now has to see the radiologist with a view to having chemotherapy and THEN surgery. So it could be that the planned surgery on 7 November will not take place. Joe will have a decision to make.

There have been two hospital visits since the last update. Different hospitals, of course! One was for a blood test, the result of which probably led to the change of opinion mentioned above and the other to check Joe’s respiratory condition ... too often referred to as the treadmill or wired for sound!

I took a couple of photos of him wired up and wearing a mask while riding a stationary bike but I promised I wouldn’t send the pics round the world. He had to cycle for about ten minutes while his heartbeats, oxygen levels, and blood flow were all recorded on computer. He did really well; I couldn’t have done half the time and still look as fresh as he did. His only complaint was that his thighs ached... can’t think why, can you? At the end of it all they said everything was fine. At least that's something positive. 

Saturday we went for our flu injections at the local surgery. What with one thing and another I’d been rushed off my feet and could have done without being jabbed with a needle. On arrival we faced a long queue of people being herded to various sections by a dishy young lady. No wonder the men had smiles on their faces! I noticed she had a handful of leaflets but when I overheard her ask someone if they were born before 1940 I panicked. Whatever service she was ‘selling’ I didn’t want to know. I mean, haven’t we got enough health issues to contend with without worrying about more? When the young lady came to me I was ready for her. After learning that people born at a certain time were being given the opportunity of having a pulse check, I declined. ‘No thanks,’ I said. ‘I’ve got enough to cope with without you discovering something wrong with me.’ She laughed!

When it was our turn to face the needle we sailed into the nurses room, coats off and arms bared. That was when I saw HER waiting for me. WHO? None other than that fabulous Asian lady doctor who was so helpful to us before... Dr Begum (the emergency doctor mentioned in a previous post). She wasn’t just helpful in manner but she actually got him to hospital in double quick time. Afterwards she rang our home number a couple of times to find out how he was and to offer her services above the call of duty. I loved that woman then and I love her even more now. As doctors go she’s the tops. I would feel safe in her hands.

Anyway, there she stood in the nurses room, needle at the ready, greeting me like a long lost friend. Perhaps I was! She went across the room to talk to Joe and checked that he was okay and then came back to do her bit with the needle. Except first she grabbed my pulse and did what I’d refused to have done ... a pulse check ... without even asking when I was born! We had a laugh about that and guess what ... my pulse rate was fine. Her parting shot was a request that if we needed to know anything, anything at all, we were to ring her. Did I say I love that woman?

Joe’s Birthday on Sunday was going to be a family affair but with all the to’ing and fro’ing between hospitals he decided a quiet meal for two would be sufficient. The comment ‘hope you got me a cake’ threw me into a panic because I hadn’t even thought of a cake. Since I am not a baking cakes type of person I had no alternative but to race out on Saturday morning to buy a ready-made.

We went to the New Hall, my favourite place, one that’s perfect for celebrations. Here’s a few pictures.

Roast Lamb
Fillet of Pork

The new cleaning lady, Paola, is settling in so well I wonder how I ever managed without her. She has her own agenda ... she tells me what needs to be done. Currently she is cleaning the windows, one a week until they’re all done. I even caught her cleaning the light fitting the other day. Oh I do envy her energy. She’s only here 1.5 hours a week.... it would take me longer than that deciding what to do. Of course, that’s not totally true but it feels like it sometimes.

On line shopping was going great until one delivery came minus one item. It wasn’t a terribly expensive item but it still irks when you have to pay for something not received. How to deal with it was a mystery until I remembered that the store is on Twitter. I typed a message to the effect that although two items were ordered only one had been received and a minute later received a reply asking that I send a direct message with details of item and phone number. That done, I waited all of thirty seconds for a reply. I was given a code number and told to enter it on the next order. It’s what they call an e-voucher. No problem, then, all done and matter resolved. I have to say that with the new style assistance at the cash-out and the way they deal with customers on line this supermarket is top of the list as far as I’m concerned.

Finally, how about this for a bit of crazy driving... speedy version ‘cause I guess you haven’t got four minutes to waste:

How not to leave a car park

17 October 2013


The white elephant stall was chock-a-block with lampshades and books, a strange combination of offerings from members of the Brookhampton Branch of Gardener's Forum. Emily Jenkins had expected to be inundated with plants and seeds, but the only offering remotely connected with gardening was a thin publication on house plants. She grouped the larger items at the side of the trestle table to allow for easier inspection of smaller contributions, giving place of honour to a wooden box of ornate knives that looked as if they'd never been used. Nestling on white satin, the lustrous instruments looked rather superior amongst the cracked teacups, battered handbags, two steel toast-racks, and a souvenir clothes-brush in a plastic clog.
Emily loosened her cuffs and undid the top button of her cream blouse. It was a very warm, but pleasant in the shade of the horse chestnut tree, and peaceful now that a nearby car alarm had stopped its deafening din.

Behind her a voice said, 'Afternoon, Miss Jenkins.'
It was Martin Crisp, village postman and hero of the rugby team. His wife Sandra, impeded by a pencil-slim skirt, was striving to catch him up.
Emily greeted them cordially, pleased that her first customers were people she knew so that if she made a mistake in her reckoning she wouldn't feel so bad. 'Not playing today, Martin?' she enquired.
'Not this weekend.' He grinned at Sandra and gave her ribs a playful dig. 'Thought I'd give Sandra the benefit of my company for a change.
Sandra blushed and gave him a coy glance.
Moving to the front of the stall, Martin began to browse through the hardbacks. 'Might find something suitable for your brother,' he said, flipping the books one by one.
Sandra picked up a pale pink Tiffany lampshade. 'I like this,' she said, wheezing a little, still breathless after her short run. 'The colour's perfect for our spare room and it only needs stitching around the rim. Maybe there's a book here which would help.' She started to search through the craft books which Emily had displayed on a cardboard box.
'Crikey, look at this.'
Sandra's ash-blonde hair swung like a curtain as she spun round to face Martin, who had his sturdy arm outstretched as if wanting to select a book but afraid to do so. Emily put on her spectacles and peered over a heap of paperbacks trying to make out what had attracted him, but it was difficult to read anything upside down.
Forsaking her own search, Sandra drifted to her husband's side and quizzed him on his discovery.
He pointed a stubby finger at a distinctive leather-bound volume, blue in colour with black lettering and a silk marker. 'Black Country Stories,' he said. 'Like Gran used to have, though if I remember rightly hers was thinner. This could be an omnibus edition.'
'What are Black Country stories?'
Though Sandra addressed Martin, she peered at Emily as though she might have the answer pushed up her sleeve, which of course she did not. She had heard of the Black Country, but didn't know there was a book about it.
'Anecdotes about life in the Black Country,' Martin said as he lifted the book from the stack. 'This must be more than sixty years old. Can't be too many around.' Carefully he opened the cover. 'Nineteen-thirty-four. What a find.' He lowered the book and, according to his later account, was about to ask the price when a slight man in a filthy grey raincoat shoved Emily to one side, stretched over the handbags and plucked the book from Martin's hand.

Sandra watched open-mouthed as the man sprinted towards the exit carrying a bulky brown canvas bag.
Martin quickly regained his composure. 'Blimey, the book wasn't old enough to warrant a snatch.' He leaned across the lampshades. 'You look a bit pale, Miss Jenkins. You all right?'
Emily nodded, but continued to rub her arm. Sure as houses there'd be a bruise by morning. 'I never ...' She stopped to clear her throat which had gone dry with nerves. 'I swear I hadn't seen the book until you picked it up.'
Sandra wailed, 'Ooh, Martin, d'you think the man was a crook?'
'Don't be daft. He probably can't afford to buy it, that's all. Pity, though, I'd have liked it. It'll be worth a bob or two in a few years.' Suddenly, Martin stood on tiptoe, stretching to see over the hawthorn hedge. 'Hey, there he is. Perhaps I can persuade him with a tenner?'
'Who?' asked Sandra.
But Martin wasn't able to reply. He had taken off in pursuit of the man, knocking the knife box askew as he hastily bypassed the counter, but the scoundrel, on hearing Martin's cry and observing his athletic form sprinting in his direction, swiftly took to his heels.
'Ooh!' exclaimed Sandra. 'Isn't Martin brave?'

The following morning

While washing up at the sink, Emily spotted Sandra teetering up the path on her incredibly high heels.
'Coo-ee, Miss Jenkins,' she called, seeing Emily peeping round
the net curtain. She waved and pointed to the door as if she was in a hurry to be let in.
Absorbing some of her urgency, Emily dabbed her hands with the tea towel and went to the door.
'Ooh, Miss Jenkins. Wait 'til you hear what happened yesterday.'
Emily took her in the kitchen and invited her to take a glass of squash but Sandra didn’t hear, she was already in full flight with an account of events rushing from her mouth like cascading utterances, each one rolling so close to the next it was impossible to decipher the arrangement. Eventually, after listening for a few minutes in complete bewilderment, Emily shouted, 'For heaven's sake, Sandra, be quiet.'
'Ooh, Miss J. Was I babbling?'
Emily pulled out a chair. 'Sit down, there's a dear.' Regardless of whether her visitor wanted one or not, Emily poured two glasses of lemonade and placed one in front of her. 'Now, Sandra, start again, slowly.'
'Well, it was like this ....'

Apparently, by the time Martin caught up with the loathsome villain (Sandra's description of the thief) he was preparing to leap on a moving bus, but Martin went headlong into one of his famous rugby tackles and frustrated the attempt. Fortunately, the man's holdall burst open and a load of valuables fell out, vases and picture frames and boxes and things. Martin surmised they were stolen and made a citizens arrest.
Sandra hoisted back her shoulders and beamed with delight. 'Not afraid to have a go, isn't Martin.'
When Emily asked if the book had been rescued, Sandra speeded up, stumbling through a garbled version of facts as if she hadn't a minute to live. Emily laid a hand on her arm to calm her excitement and finally received a coherent report.
The book had been stolen from Myers' Mansion on the hill, innocently taken, the police thought, scooped from an onyx table with some costly silverware. But it didn't take the thief long to discover that the book was a facade for a cleverly disguised box containing a diamond necklace. The felon had shrewdly dispersed the gear amid a clutter of people's discards on sundry stands until the heat died down. A risky thing to do, considering everything at the fete was for sale.
Emily rubbed her greying widow's peak, a habit of hers when fraught. She wondered what the thief would have done if she had sold the bogus tome. Her heart pounded inside her chest at the thought of what danger she might have faced, imagining that scruffy individual threatening her with a dagger or a gun.
'You O.K. Miss Jenkins?'
'Course I am. Your news knocked me a bit off kilter, that's all.'
Sandra smiled and chattered on about how fortunate Lord Myers was that Martin was around to single-handedly save the day.
'He should be rewarded,' Emily said, feeling like doing a spot of rewarding herself.
'Oh, he was,' Sandra said, amazingly nonchalant all of a sudden. 'Lord Myers wrote a cheque for two thousand pounds.'
Emily was astounded. Such a substantial reward implied that the necklace was of immense value. And to think she had it on her white elephant stall. She had a vision of awarding it pride of place amongst the teacups and toast-racks, adjacent to the silver knives and the clog, debating the price with the Vicar and thwarting bids to steal it with a bag.
Two thousand pounds! No wonder Sandra was in such good spirits with such a sizeable sum on its way to the bank. Emily was pleased for Martin whom she considered deserved a reward, but as far as she was concerned it was the end of her venture into selling. In future she would offer to run something less risky, the tombola, maybe, or welly-whanging.
Sandra drained her glass. 'I wouldn't have been surprised if those fancy knives were part of the haul. Lovely they were. Strikes me the robber didn't have a clue about thieving. Imagine stealing, then disposing of half the loot. Stood to reason he'd lose it. Mind, I'd most likely do the same with alarms ringing loud enough to wake the dead.' She set the glass on the table and wiped her lips with a tissue. 'Shows how much I know about burglarising.'
Emily has a pressing matter to attend to

After Sandra had gone, Emily put the glasses to soak in the sink and stood for a minute or two gazing through the window, watching the squirrels tracking each other through the conifers, then she let lowered the blind to keep the sun out of the kitchen. The cuckoo clock struck the hour. Midday already, and she'd done nothing in the house. But she had a more pressing matter to attend to so the housework would have to wait.
Bustling into the dining room, she opened the sideboard drawer and withdrew the box of beautiful knives, the only item on the white-elephant which had taken her eye. Opening the lid, she selected one and took it to the window for a better view of it. The handle was so smooth it felt velvety and fitted her hand as though it had been specially crafted for her. She studied the tiny monogram. It wasn't easy to see, but she guessed it was the Myers' family crest. Replacing the knife in its slot, she closed the lid and tucked the box under her arm, then scurried into the hall to change her shoes.
Humming a cheerful ditty, she chose her best cardigan from those neatly arranged on the closet shelf. 'One day soon,' she muttered as she checked her appearance in the mirror, smoothing her hair and removing a speck of dirt from her chin, 'when Marmaduke Myers advances my reward, I'll buy some fine knives like those.'
She felt exceptionally happy as she grabbed her bag and keys and stepped out of the front door. Numerous coveted items orbited her brain: bone china to display, silk sheets to lie on, Turkish carpet for the lounge. Pulling the door to with a bang, clutching the knife box to her bosom and singing, 'New coat, new shoes,' to the tune of New York, New York, Emily Jenkins took her first jaunty step towards Myers' Mansion on the hill.

15 October 2013

Fresh news, oh and a bit about dogs

At the last WI meeting I sold one each of my eight books. How’s that for excitement. The two smallest, the cat and dog tales, were sold at auction but the auctioneer didn’t want any more. ‘People won’t be interested in books,’ was the remark made to me, so I sold them privately and kept the money. That’ll teach them!

Talking of dogs, one of my blogging friends recently related an incident about a guy who suspected that his canine pal was spiritually inclined. It reminded me of my own suspicion based on past events.
Many years ago whilst out walking with Goldie, our first Labrador, a funeral procession approached the road where we walked. I didn’t know what caused it but something made Goldie freeze on the spot. His fur quite literally stood on end. No matter what I did he would NOT budge. Then the procession appeared, the hearse and a line of cars driving slowly towards us. Goldie seemed to be paralysed but the minute the hearse moved away he relaxed and started to walk on, as if nothing had happened.

A few years later our second Labrador, Maxie, froze to a standstill in the garden, nose in the air but otherwise no movement. Although I couldn’t smell anything, there were several fires miles away where carcases of cows were being burned at the time of mad cow disease, or was it foot and mouth, I can’t remember which. Anyway Maxie had picked up something spiritual, just like Goldie did all those years before.


The latest medical news is that on 7th November Joe will be having a major operation. The consultant tried all ways to avoid this but after many tests he said surgery was the only way. The plus side is that Joe will be able to lead a normal life when it’s all over. In view of this I bought him an early birthday present. ... nightshirts and boxer shorts. 

I didn’t realise nightshirts were still in fashion but what a relief to find they were. Accommodating yards of plastic tubing isn’t an easy task when only pyjamas are available. Now Joe swans around in his nightshirt like the kid in the nursery rhyme. All he needs is the hat and candle to go with it and the vision would be complete. That’s his story; secretly I think he’s classed himself as one of those toffs who buy their gear at Savile Row. For those unfamiliar with UK shopping habits, Savile Row in London is where the gentry buy their clothes, and this shop just happens to sell on line as well. Well, you have to spoil the other half on birthdays, don’t you?

Derek Rose
Derek Rose is a three-generation family business, based on Savile Row in London, specialising in top-quality nightwear and loungewear. Only the finest materials are used, and all patterns and textiles are designed in-house. Over the years Derek Rose has supplied royalty, film stars and music legends. We think the right pyjamas can imbue the wearer with a timeless masculine elegance.

14 October 2013

Is it or isn't it?

Has anyone else received an email like the following, or is this just another scam?

In compliance with the email upgrade instructions from Microsoft Corporation and your email domain host, all unverified email accounts would be suspended for verification.
To avoid suspension of your email account, and also to retain all email contents, please perform a one time automatic verification by completing the online verification form.
Please CLICK HERE for the online verification form.
As a confirmation of complete and successful verification, you shall be automatically redirected to your email web page.
Please do this for all your email accounts.
Thank you.

Email Support Team.
© 2013 Microsoft Corporation.

The CLICK HERE instruction was an official looking form asking for email information. 

I do have several email accounts and a frequent check is made on them all as to who I am. I'm quite satisfied with that but I would be grateful for your comments on this latest so-called enquiry.

13 October 2013

Sunday Scenes

Stop lights gave me time to drool over this sports car!
It's not often we get a decent sunrise so I took the opportunity of getting out there with camera!
Profiteroles to die for!
Room with a view. We went out for a meal recently and this was the view on a rainy day. There were three 40th anniversary parties going on while we were at the restaurant so I took a few pictures. It wasn't a great success except for the next random shot. I didn't know I was getting a view through the mirror. 
Now wondering what they were getting up to!

A cluster of fungi on the lawn.
It reminds me of something horses leave

08 October 2013


I'm as proud as punch because, at last, I’ve done it. All my work is now in book form, eight books in total. I think I mentioned before that I am donating some to the WI auction on Thursday, it will be interesting to see members reaction, if any. The Townswomen's Guild (henceforth referred to as TG) has asked me to read one of my stories at the birthday meeting. I’m honoured to be asked but it poses a problem ... which one shall I read? Decisions, decisions! 


Joe came out of hospital last week and we have a district nurse coming in once a week to do what's necessary. 

On Saturday I took him out to lunch. He paid, of course, but I took him! We had a lovely meal and it was great to be out together in a pleasant environment instead of talking by a hospital bed. We treated ourselves to starters of soup (him) and spinach and cheese etcetera (me), followed by a sea-bass meal and exotic desserts – a mess of fruit compote and meringue for him and panna cotta for me, with floater coffee to die for.

Our table faced the lake where experienced and novice sailors navigated their yachts. Although the sky was filled with heavy clouds the sun’s brilliance showed on the water. I tried to get a decent picture of it but window frames and half drawn blinds were an obstruction. I’ve cropped the pictures in an attempt to show the scene rather than the restaurant windows. Foolishly I'd gone out without thinking I might get some good photo shots so I only had the phone camera with me ... yeah, I know, I’m an idiot.

See what I mean about obstacles!

See the glistening water. ... it positively shimmered
Mel, you will be pleased to know that I’m sticking with the cleaner. She’s GREAT, well at half my age she should be, don’t you think? Last week I asked if she would concentrate on my work room/office, which is always the last place to get much. Before I knew what was what, the girl had the nets down and was cleaning the windows. That was after she vacuumed throughout the bungalow, mopped the kitchen floor and my rather large laundry room. Oh to have youth at one’s side! I love her to bits. 

I am now a dab hand at ordering groceries on line; just had my third delivery. It’s great that I can have it all delivered when I want it and not have to wait for them to decide. If I forget something it’s no sweat to pop out to the local store and at least I don’t have to break my neck to do it.

Any more tips, Mel, and I’ll be pleased to consider them... yeah! 

It always takes a while to get into the swing of things when joining a new outfit but after a year’s attendance I now feel at home at the TG monthly meetings. What is noticeable is the difference in people. The last meeting I attended is a case in point ... after telling one or two about Joe’s medical condition the word spread and lots of women came to me at the end to give their best wishes. That’s more than they do at WI. Members there are a lot more reserved.

For several years Joe has played a part in the local institute by checking their books at year end and giving the benefit of advice, so I guess something will be mentioned at the next AGM. He hasn't exactly pulled out but it has been suggested by letter that it might be in their best interest to find someone else, purely as a just-in-case situation.

My eyes have been opened lately, surprisingly so. I have been a member of the WI for 21 years, a comparative newcomer compared to some, and always thought the organisation was the be-all-and-end-all of establishments for women. That is until I met Marion, an old WI colleague who had also joined the Townswomen’s Guild. She invited me to go along. After retiring as WI County Chairman I was at a loose end with regard to outside commitments so I took her up on the idea.

Marion was with a different WI for many years, until it was closed for lack of officer support. The usual story, nobody wanting to take office and run the institute so it had to be suspended and then closed. Not wanting to lose out on WI altogether Marion and a few others joined another local institute and invited me along. And you should hear them complain: it’s cliquey, nobody speaks, we can’t hear what’s going on, this isn’t for me, are complaints thrown around every month ... and I thought it was only me that noticed!

It is said that fame goes before you. One thing I’ve discovered is that an ex-County Chairman doesn’t fit in easily. Joe said that would be the case but I didn’t really believe it. The President of the WI in question, who was once very friendly, now keeps her distance and if I dare make suggestions (requested) about, for example, raising much needed funds, she responds with a look which I interpret as a sort of ‘who do you think you are’ attitude.  Perhaps she thinks I might dictate rules or something. Well, far be it from me to do such a thing. It’s all very off-putting but there's some consolation in knowing that other ex-chairs have experienced similar things. I cannot see the TG ladies behaving in that way... they are much more relaxed and waste no time bending a few rules if the mood takes them. 

It’s a shame, because the WI is a fantastic organisation that does a lot of good for communities far and wide. Maybe in time, with new and younger blood coming in, things might change. Maybe younger members won’t learn how to whinge or constantly complain about rising fees, or maybe they will pass on their untainted views and teach the oldies a thing or two. We can but hope.