30 May 2015

Songs and Sounds on Saturday

Cavalleria Rusticana Intermezzo by Pietro Mascagni
is such a moving piece of music. It stirs my soul whenever I hear it.

 His 1890 masterpiece caused one of the greatest sensations in opera history

25 May 2015

My Lovely Day

It was my birthday on Saturday and what a lovely day it was, too. Rosanne was in the UK long enough to spend a couple of weekends with us and as a special treat Joe booked a table at a new-to-us Italian Restaurant called Romantica. Italian, I love Italian, especially their food. The meal was great and so was the new place. I have a feeling we’ll go there again. The next photo is the view from our table... lots to look at if ever there's a pause in conversation!

I took the picture to try and get the two black figures on the top right but the angle and distance was wrong from where I sat. This was the best I could do with my new phone.

Here are a few captures:
Tiramisu - my favourite pud
Him and Me
The new toy
You might have gathered that Joe bought me a new iPhone. Yes, I know I already had one but it pays to update the technical stuff. I had been a bit fearful of losing old faithful but decided that I needed to move on and not be scared of things going wrong. I needn't have worried, everything went smoothly once I got the phone home and checked everything out. Ooooh 'phone home' - that sounds familiar.

Prior to visiting the shop I had synced the phone with iTunes (Apple) and established that I was correctly connected to Cloud, I mean it’s a long journey through the skies if it isn’t working properly! Even so, things could have gone wrong, hence the nervousness. However, on the day all worked well. Everything was where it should be and I didn’t have to make any alterations. That Cloud is amazing – and so is technology.

However, I did get one or two things I hadn’t seen before, the most fascinating being a folder with a heart emblem - marked HEALTH. It was a measuring device for how many walking or running steps the phone-owner takes in a day. Wowee, I couldn’t stop looking at it. I walked up and down, in and out, and kept looking at the updated numbers. I remembered the old saying about housewives walking miles (two, I think) just making beds. I didn’t believe it then but I do now. Crikey, all that effort to go into the kitchen to make a cuppa. Unbelievable! I can measure sleep as well but to heck with that. I need my sleep uninterrupted!

These days I don’t do much exercising so imagine my surprise when I chased the squirrel (nearly caught him, by the way) and found myself running. Yes, actually RUNNING. Something I never, ever do. I couldn’t believe it when I checked the phone and found I’d run just over a kilometer. Me? I’ll be running the marathon before I know it. NOT!

The phone’s camera is better than the one in the old phone. The pictures are bigger since the view is enlarged. I can take black and white pictures as well as colour and I like being able to choose the desired effect before taking the pic. Now that IS progress, and all that on a simple phone. 

I played a few games on the old phone, e.g. Scrabble and the like, so I checked to see if they were still on the new one. They were, thanks to Cloud, but they’re all that much bigger so it will take time to adjust.

The interesting thing about purchasing a new phone is that I still have the old one. Apparently because of that wonderful invention, CLOUD, I didn’t need the SIM card transferred from one to the other. I can’t use the old one as a phone but I can get on the Net and do everything else. Could be useful. Once more I say, technology is amazing!

Joe is a bit of a romantic and as a surprise pressie he produced this box of chocolates. I have never seen such a large box. I got the ruler out and found it was 16 by 14 inches. It’s not every day a gal gets a heart shaped box of chocs of such proportions. Pity there's only one layer! 

I can’t wait to get started on the choc sampling and if you’re reading this Joe, I bags the first one. 

23 May 2015

Songs and Sounds on Saturday

I saw Paint Your Wagon something like fifty years ago 
yet the music lingers on, and on, as do the memories

22 May 2015


This is an old puzzle but you would be surprised how many people don't do well at it.

So, how are YOUR brains?

Read the following sentence:


Now count aloud the F’s in the rectangle.
Count them ONLY ONCE – do not go back and count them again.


There are six F’s in the sentence.

If you counted only three the less we say about it the better.

If you counted four you are above average intelligence.

If you got five you will never forgive yourself for having missed one.

If you counted all six you are brilliant and should not be wasting your time on foolishness such as this.

18 May 2015


Question: why prove we're not robots when a comment goes on a blog anyway?

Yes, those pain-in-the-neck CAPTCHAs are back, some more half-hearted than others. Now we either have to copy the text or tick a box (I gather robots can’t click buttons to insert a tick) or both, none of which I wish to do.... nor do I have to in most cases. My choice, then, so why bother?

The latest has to be seen to be believed... about nine fairly large pictures of cakes appeared. I guess I was supposed to select one but I ignored it and sent my comment without doing anything. I’m still trying to work out the point of it. It’s amazing we’re not asked for fingerprints or some form of ID.  Why can’t we just put a notice on our blogs saying ROBOTS NOT ALLOWED!!

Hmm I might just do that!

There are some blogs that don’t require this silly check on people because bloggers have taken the time to change their settings to avoid causing irritation to their visitors. Now I am wondering if bloggers don’t know that their blogs have been subjected to the new style CAPTCHA ... or that their settings can be changed. For their benefit here’s the instruction that can be found in Settings – Posts and Comments:

Settings  ›  Posts and comments

Clicking NEVER in the COMMENT MODERATION section works wonders. 

In case you didn't know, selecting REGISTERED USER prevents anonymous visitors from commenting. 

I’d love to have your thoughts on this subject. 

16 May 2015

11 May 2015

A Day Out

Had a very nice lunch out the other day. It was a trip to the College of Food organised by the Townswomen’s Guild. Eight of us went by mini-bus and were dropped off at an impressive building. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photograph of it so I borrowed the one above from the Internet. 

Birmingham College of Food has three restaurants open to the public and they all serve food cooked and served by the students. The Cap & Gown offers starters and main courses in a pub-like atmosphere, the Brasserie serves a high standard of modern cuisine in the evening (seven courses plus canapés) as well as a tapas bar at lunchtimes, while the Atrium offers silver service and high quality food.

All three restaurants offer great value for money and the food is first-class. It's great being able to support a local training organisation with trainees who end up working all over the world.

The students were closely supervised although it didn’t interfere with their performance. I was impressed by the standard of service as well as well as the cooking. Young men looked the part in spotless uniforms and if I hadn’t known they were in training I would have put them down as experienced head waiters. There were girls there, too, but they didn't serve at table. 

The group I was with chose different dishes and I was only able to photograph the few you can see below. I intend putting the idea of visiting the college to my WI, after all the members do love to eat so they might find it an attractive idea. It wasn’t too expensive either and we can, if we want, book a mini-bus. That should go down well with those who have difficulty walking. I can’t wait to go again as there were goodies in the bakery I would have bought had I enough time.

I will close by showing the food pictures I took. There aren't many - I was too busy eating to bother with the camera. I hope the shots of menus are large enough enough to read. 
Deep fried Halloumi Cheese, asparagus and Hollandaise sauce - my starter
Rosemary and garlic braised shank of lamp, creamed potato, caremilised red onion gravy
Deep fried Halloumi Cheese, asparagus and Hollandaise sauce - my main course
Poached Delice of Lemon Sole with a Pave of Salmon, buttered spinach and Sauce Bercy.

Brazilian Origin chocolate mousse, candied orange - my dessert

I've finished this post in time to go out for Saturday lunch. Thank goodness, because all this talk of food has made me feel hungry.

04 May 2015


Councils in the UK have delivered bins like those above so pretty soon we will no longer put our rubbish in black bags. For years we had a black bin to put all our waste stuff in but then came the introduction of serious recycling which meant we put glass and metal in a green box and paper in a blue one. We already had a brown wheelie bin for garden waste but everything else went in appropriately coloured boxes plus a simple black plastic bag. The foxes and magpies had a field day when the bags were put out for collection ... and the community at large began to complain.

The introduction of wheelie bins came this year and we are now the ‘proud’ owners of three huge bins on wheels. Collections have not yet started, though ... they’re due in June. And you should see the list of do’s and don’ts we've received with prosecutions in the offing if we don’t obey the rules. Some folk have likened it to living in a concentration camp but then some complain about anything.

So the bins arrived and the ‘housing’ problem presented itself. Where could we put them?  Some folk have used their garage to house them but we can’t do that – we put a car in ours ... mine, actually, since I refuse to leave it in the open in winter.

We live in a modest bungalow which doesn’t have a lot of ground at the front. The back garden is huge but we rejected the idea of keeping bins there, we would never manage to get them out if we did. Even with wheels attached the bins need strength to move when full and us ageing folk find it a difficult task. Not only that but the journey from back to front of the property, up and down steps, and over the door frame one gets with PVC doors, would be arduous. We were, therefore, faced with a problem. WHAT TO DO WITH THE EXTRA BINS?

Our gardener came up with a clever idea – coaxed into fruition by little me who pointed the way (wink). Anyway, he and I discussed the situation and both of us could tell it would work. When the idea was agreed on he began work straight away, working hard for the next two hours cutting bits out of the high hedge that divides our front garden from our neighbours. The hedge being ancient (a mix of small trees and shrubs) the growth was hardy, so he managed to create two spaces without disturbing the neighbour’s side of the hedge. He couldn’t have done it if the hedge had been reasonably new. Here’s what he achieved.

Now we have three bins in situ, the two you see hiding under the hedge, and the other to the right of the door, practically hidden by a bush, and all practically unseen from the road. Nothing impedes our passage down the side path, where the wheelie bins will be taken when full, and the look of the bungalow remains the same. It would have been an eyesore if all three bins were on display on our frontage.

So there you have it. The gardener was clever and we are pleased with the result.