Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Take heart

If I feel the way I do by watching it, how must Murray feel by doing it?

It was a late night and I feel like a tithe of my normal self. On top of this, I begin my new job feeling like I did on my first day at Hudson Road infants school back in 1957... bewildered, abandoned and ready to burst into tears. I just hope I don't wet my pants!

Actually, I might try the tears just for the guaranteed response. I'm feeling a little mischievous.

Why are they intent on making me be or do something I wasn't employed for? It's like asking a desk to become a plum tree, or a motorway to function as a bottle of milk. Well, I don't want to be a bottle of milk thank you very much...I know I'm feeling light headed but I've no intention of ever being drunk again!

Yes, I know that was bad, but I'm just not in the mood to be serious today.

Perhaps I should take this poem on board by Susan Coolidge who, amongst other things, edited the letters of Jane Austen.

New Every Morning...

Every day is a fresh beginning,
Listen my soul to the glad refrain.
And, spite of old sorrows
and older sinning,
Troubles forecasted
And possible pain,
Take heart with the day and begin again.

That's what I need to do...take heart and begin again. By all accounts I'm very good at starting things.

I think I'm ready to be an optimist again but, like Robert Brault, can't promise to take it up on a permanent basis.

I'm determined to list the things I need to FINISH, not start. This is my 'finishing' year after all...especially my France jobs. I think they are do-able. Ever the optimist is our Ken.

tbc...and it might be a long list.

I've decided to take my own advice from yesterday and be practical. I've already got a list so there's no need to type it up onto my blog. Besides which, I don't want everyone laughing at me once they catch sight of it.

Mark my words...I'm grasping the nettle this year. These are the words of a man of action who has embraced the concept of closure! Okay, go ahead and laugh, 'cos I'm having a good laugh myself.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Be practical Ken

Do you ever agree to things in the heat of the moment and later have second thoughts?

I'm sure I committed myself to climbing the three Yorkshire peaks yesterday.
If I'm really quick I can reverse it. I don't mind going on a leisurely walk...even a brisk hike, but I think 3 or 4 hours is my comfort zone limit.

I enjoyed the challenge the girls agreed to yesterday. Serene was chewing over what hairstyle would suit her next...or was it Juli? Jon suggested they put a selection of pictures in a hat and each of them pick one out. They agreed! Should be fun as there are some pretty funky hairstyles there. They may live to regret it, but hey, a bet is a bet... says I!

My challenge today is to remain optimistic about the outstanding jobs at Bel-Air, and sort in order of priority what needs to be achieved this time round. (RB quotes today on optimism helped).

David is going over at the weekend and we need to plan well as he can take things I'll need that I can't take on the plane.

What I'd like to achieve...

All the personal finishing jobs...in the afternoons and evenings (list to follow)
Raking, jet-wash, back-fill and pointing of the stonework at the back (I'll work on this as and when time permits. It's not really essential this year)
Dig out the patio area ( this is a fun activity during breaks)
Guttering and drainage front and back
Build storage area (personal or community)


Here is the second AAAGGHHH!! After being a specialist in my area and being involved with training others, I have just been re-packaged and dragged out of my comfort zone into another area...permanently! Why did I come in this morning? Not happy! Karen and Kirsty are equally disappointed. This is war!

Well, perhaps not war exactly.

I'm watching the Murray game and my nerves are jangling! He was very late starting.

It's tough to call. Fifth set coming up. It's an incredible game.

Wimbledon has never been this late before...thanks to the new roof.

10:25pm and it's still very tight.

It's 10:40 pm and it's all over. Unbelievable!

Murray did it!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

They're good kids!

"How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child". Shakespeare's King Lear 1605.
I'm totally satisfied and extremely happy that our children live grateful lives. We've just enjoyed a very happy gathering in Leeds. Sarah wasn't feeling well, so Martin stayed behind in Nottingham to look after her.

Another line in the same paragraph is..."Let it(the thankless child) stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth".
This one applies to me more than Bev. There was a time when I thought they were thankless. This happened almost overnight as they each turned thirteen.

For Jon, thirteen stretched to seventeen. Juli to a not so sweet sixteen. Martin to about the same, and Ashley...well, my wrinkles are now furrows! (I'm kidding).

We really are fortunate to have such great kids.

I had a conversation with Danny in the car today where I told him I wanted to rest a while and dream of Santa Clause(Ash was driving). This little five year old leaned over and cupped his hand to the side of his mouth and whispered in my ear...'Grandad, Santa doesn't exist'. He was really concerned that I still believed in him and continued...'He's not real. He only wraps the presents. Mum and Dad are the ones that buy them.

Yesterday, I found out that Emmaleigh's best friend Lily...she said that her and Lily grew up together when they were kids... has a white horse.
She said that if we were thinking of buying her one for her birthday, make sure it was a white one with pink hair. I assured her we wouldn't and especially not one with pink hair. She giggled and agreed it was silly to have a white horse with pink hair.

This was a very magical adult conversation. They are growing up really fast.

We may be tired out with having them, but it has been a lovely time.
I wonder how David and Eileen feel? They had seventeen of the family gathered together yesterday.

Ash and Amber dropped by to show us photos of Blidworth. They've just left.

It's so quiet! It's so peaceful!
Juli looking relaxed after the break...
Aimee after a splash...
Emm being thrown in by Jon...
Chilling out...

I'll put the rest of the pics up on the devinefamilypictures site soon.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Helping Hands

Yes, it's that time of year when, as a church, we try and make a difference in communities...Worldwide! This is on top of what we do throughout the year.

Plans have changed quite a bit this weekend. I was on standby for sailing at Portsmouth but it's a return visit to the Rushcliffe Country Park in Ruddington instead... and I took Emmaleigh who is eager to do some digging.

Martin, Sarah, Ash, Amber and Danny are also planning to be there.

It threatened rain which never dropped...more's the pity! It was a little too hot for digging and the rain would have helped.

We were to dig trenches 16" deep and bury tyres to create a maze. They have some really good stuff here for families and this is a little project on the side which they want to make progress with.
We did well (as usual). The organizers were very pleased with our efforts. Actually, they are still digging I would imagine. We had to leave early so Bev can take the girls to 'The Jolly Jungle' adventure play area in Newark.

I had planned to go to Wanda's with the grinder to cut some slabs but we ran out of time and Emm was hungry (me too).

I'm doing my blog now while I wait for the Murray game.

This is a photo of the motorbike which I made about 30yrs ago. Anna-Belle is seen sitting on it this morning just before we left...

Emmaleigh and Danny...

Me and Ash watching Sarah do the work...

Martin and Danny...A shot of some of the group...It was good to meet up with everyone with something other than food on offer.

I was shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Michael Jackson yesterday but disappointed to read and later hear of a report saying that Fred Astaire was almost as great a dancer.

How absurd! Michael was never that good although I concede he was good. I can't believe all the positive things being printed now that he's no longer here to enjoy it. It was only a week or so ago that he was being slated from every angle.

There seems to be a tendancy in the press to only speak good of someone once they are dead.

I think Michael could have done with a few helping hands and kinder words prior to his passing.

Andy Murray's star is very bright at the moment, but what's the betting the press will portray him as 'gutless' or 'pathetic' should he lose today.

C'mon...a show of hands now...and every day because of what he's achieved. If he loses, so what...there's always next year!

Well, it's all over and Murray won. You'd have thought he could have done it quicker! (lol).

Closing thought of the day...let's give a helping hand to anyone who deserves it by what we think, write, say or do (excluding politicians, accountants and the tax man).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Who noticed?

There was a flag flying at Newark Castle last week bearing three gold lions on a red background. It is of the House of Plantagenet. Very few noticed it or are aware of its significance. It was just a flag fluttering in the evening breeze or limp in the heat of the day.

Sit back, you'll find this tiny bit of information very interesting.

East Stoke (just behind us) was the location of the last battle of the War of The Roses on 16th June 1487 which ended the Plantagenet dynasty. This is why the flag was flying but it isn't the interesting bit that I promised. King Henry 11, son of Geoffrey V of Anjou isn't even the interesting bit...even though it has a French connection and he being the start of the Plantagenet dynasty.

What I find interesting is that on the 27th May 1541, a 67 year old woman called Margaret Pole was dragged to the block outside the Tower of London to have her head cut off. The executioner missed her neck and gashed her shoulder. One report says she leapt up at this point and ran around before being restrained and forced back onto the block. It took 10 additional blows to complete the execution.

The execution was ordered by Henry V111 because Margaret Pole (nee Plantagenet) was the last legitimate threat to the throne.

Henry was Margaret's cousin's son.

Her death ended the Plantagenet threat to his throne.

She was in fact the 8th Countess of Salisbury and daughter of the 1st Duke of Clarence...a brother of King Edward 1V and King Richard 111.

There was so much behind that solitary forlorn looking flag which hung for just a week.

For me, the name of Margaret Pole will always have a place in my heart as one who had the courage to stand up to the tyranny of Henry V111. She did not go quietly...or quickly!

Good for you Maggie...the original 'Iron Lady' in my view.

Baroness Thatcher was only ever headstrong because she was allowed to keep it...and, if I'm honest, I'm glad she did.

I had planned to go to Bridgford as usual this evening, but the grandkids were a bit tiring for Bev to cope on her own. Jon picked up Aimee and Daniel is with Amber and Ash. That left Anna-belle, Emmaleigh and Hollie.

Our strategy is to divide and conquer.

I'm finding this quote by Robert Brault applies...

"By the time a child acquires the ability to reason, he has become totally acquainted with the benefits of not doing so."

At last! All fed, entertained, stories read, settled down and fast asleep. I'm sure there are more than just three!

Juli and Chris are having a break.

Now it's our turn.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Duty and responsibility

I woke up thinking about James from yesterday's post. That poor lad had lost his mother, then his father in a freak accident. He then had to assume the role of father to his new mum and sisters. The likelihood is that he also had the trauma of losing John, his half brother.

He probably was heavily involved with building the handcart...and repairing it. And I can well imagine him sacrificing his all to protect the family in all conditions throughout that journey.

He more than likely ended each day completely exhausted and hungry after pulling and pushing a rickety old handcart over the roughest of terrain.

What awesome responsibility to be heaped onto the shoulders of one so young.

I'm trying to apply this to myself today...the concept of duty and responsibility.
Do I give my all or at least a good account regarding my work, family and other commitments?

Well, I tend to stand back a little regarding my married children as it isn't a good thing to be seen to interfere. I think they need their own space in order to develope. I would expect to help at the drop of a hat if requested though.

Today I offered to go with Juli to participate in the boat race in Portsmouth at the weekend if Chris is unable to make it. It's a charity race and it's a little late to pull out, so someone needs to be on standby. It was worrying Juli as Chris isn't well at the moment.

I know I don't give 100% in other areas of responsibility, but I'm certainly no slacker! I think I'm making the grade and, if the situation arose, I would respond above and beyond. I like to think I'll choose someone like me if I was crossing the plains.

Enough of blowing my own trumpet with cheap words.

Cavan and Roxanne have just asked how I possibly manage to write about something every day.
I told them it was easy and that I'll probably mention it today...done!

When it comes to duty and responsibility there are some great examples out there. I'm just going to mention one...Bev!

Tonight I'm off to make some visits to church members to make sure they are okay. This is a monthly activity which isn't that much of a sacrifice but it's usually well received. It's good to get out in the real world and just interact. I always feel better for making this small effort. It takes my mind off myself for a while and onto other peoples needs.

I don't suppose I'll have much time for the blog by the time I get back so this is me signing off for the day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hannah Middleton Hawkey (Sinfield)

"I've researched my family tree and found no pirates or horse thieves, although there was this one ancestor who was drummed out of Attila's army for conduct unbecoming a Hun. "...Robert Brault.

My wife has found someone who was hung...or is that 'Hanged'? (and it wasn't on the family tree!). I've found loads of skeletons in the cupboards and, depending on how you view theft, a few thieves to boot.

Just to clear a point...Bev didn't find anyone hanging. She found that an ancestor had been hanged many, many years ago...for something he would never be hanged for today!

Hannah, however, was different. She was my great, great, Aunt and has quite a tale to tell.

She was born in 1822 in Sunderland. I don't really know anything of her childhood but I do know that her Dad was a sailor who was on the first ship to sail from Sunderland to Quebec.

Hannah married Foster Hawkey in 1847. Foster's first wife had died leaving him with James their only son .

On September 19th 1852, just five years into their marriage, he was swept off the mast he was repairing during a storm, and drowned.

Hannah found herself alone with James from Foster's first marriage and three of their own children...John, Margaret and Hannah.

For a fee of 45 dollars, she left Zion Street in Sunderland and boarded the Ship 'Horizon', docked at Liverpool... heading for a different Zion. The ship docked in 1856 at Boston.

I think it was at this point that she was assigned to be a part of the ill-fated Martin Handcart Company.

She was 33 years of age with three of her children with her...Hannah (3), Margaret (4) and James (14)...I haven't found out yet what happened to her other son John.

They had to build their own carts for the trek West to 'Zion' in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was one of 575 people, 156 carts and 7 wagons.

Food was scarce and delays frequent due to the cart constantly breaking down and having to be repaired.

James froze to death before the family were eventually rescued by those sent out to find them by Brigham Young...a decision that is well documented in Church History.

She entered SLC on the 20th November 1856 where it was discovered her toes had burst open. The wool coverings (no shoes) that she had wrapped round them had miraculously prevented infection and, as a result, managed to be walking the following Spring.

In the Summer of 1857 she married Samuel Sinfield in Ogden, and in 1869 moved to their new log cabin in Paradise, Cache County, Utah.

She wrote of her experiences, including the 'grasshopper plague', and died in 1903 aged 81.

I have, of course, skimmed over the individual faith, courage and heart-rending implications of that journey for so many as they 'inched' their way to a better life, but it's well documented for those who wish to follow it.

For myself, a tear is always shed when I read of Hannah and other's experiences.

When I joined the same Christian faith in 1974, I had no idea of the rich 'Mormon' heritage running through the family. I thought I was the first...until I researched my family history.

Randi hints that perhaps they were influencing my journey in some way (I'll have to check her exact words), and I think she's probably right.

I know I should really stop here, but this is a journal and I'd like to share my own little light-hearted journey of the day. It began this very morning as Bev and I walked across the field to work. The sun was shining just like yesterday and we were in a mood to match.

I asked...'How many steps before we reach the other side'? 800 Bev replied. I was adamant at 340. The exact number of steps was 340 which made me the clear winner.

I did in fairness reserve my answer until the last step. Do you know, my own wife doesn't believe I was being honest! I think that's terrible!

I wonder how many steps Hannah and the family made to Salt Lake City?

I'm off to the cinema with my son now (Bev has no interest in Angels and Demons), but I've read the book and am looking forward to it.

Hannah... when I can get the picture to upload.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bucket List

What a lovely walk to work in the shimmering morning sun. It's the first time this year that Bev and I have walked hand in hand without coats across the field. Usually we link up and huddle close together with jumpers and coats.

It's so good to feel the warmth of the sun so early in the day and doesn't it make a difference to how you feel?

I'm mildly excited about Wimbledon...it's Murray v Robbie Kendrick today at 1:00(GMT)

Yesterday was a long post and I decided to include my 'Bucket List' today as there is a bit more space. Reading Randi's bucket list reminded me to include it as a post.

I had a separate Irish list which was achieved on our anniversary...things like blowing bubbles in bed at midnight, finding a fiddler, dancing the waltz with Bev on a deserted beach and kissing the Blarney Stone. Actually, we were so disgusted at the cost of kissing the Blarney Stone once we got there that we kissed each other instead.

My bucket list... (originally called 'Things I want to do before I kick the bucket')...then we saw the film.

Things I've completed...
1. Sky Dive
2. Buy a house in France
3. Build a summer house
4. Give a presentation in French to French people
5. Visit Rome, Venice, Naples and the Amalfi coast
6. Build an extension @ Newark home

Things yet to do...
7. Write my personal history
8. Learn a language
9. Windsurf the English Channel
10. Visit the Niagra Falls...top and bottom
11. Visit Kenya (Orphanage)
12. Busk in a city centre
13. See the Northern Lights on my back just like what Joanna Lumley did
14. Grand Canyon Rapids
15. Sit in the cabin of a city centre crane
16. Spend a day giving money away

I think it's appropriate to include this quote from Robert Brault...

"To realize a dream, you must first make it your expectation".

So, that's where I've been going wrong!

I met Bev after work and we walked hand in hand again in the brilliant evening sun.

I was tempted to stay outdoors but found out that the Murray match was just starting. Great match! The American was good (and popular) but eventually lost.

He may have lost, but he won a lot of admirers.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lead-lined will do nicely thank you very much!

I'd like to be the first to be buried in cyberspace amongst my photographs, as the ground holds no memories for me...I just can't picture it...being in the ground that is, without adequate protection!

I'd be burned and scattered on the surface rather than venture below in one chunk to the delight of all those looking for a free meal.

Such were my thoughts as I felt the effects of not wearing a mask as I ground out the mortar from the joints of the bricks on Saturday. That 1933 mortar was airborne almost to herald a repeat of Mussolini's rise to power of that same year...with just as devastating effect. I'm all clogged up!

I haven't told Bev how I feel as I know what her response will be.

To top this, I had to hobble to the bathroom as, for the first time in 30 years, my leg muscle decided to sieze up.

As I'm apparently falling apart I may as well begin to consider my funeral arrangements (rather now while I'm relatively healthy).

I liked what I once read on a gravestone although it shouldn't really apply to me...

'Under this sod lies an even bigger one'.

This tickled me for ages and, for no apparent reason, endeared me to his long suffering wife whom I've never met. I guess his passing came as a bit of a relief to her. (This is classic English humour and may not be understood by others).

It's a novel thought to have a romantic final resting place. The idea of a visual reference is appealing, but the small print comes with that novel idea, and that is what terrifies me. I just hate the idea of me being on the menu. I was never that tasty or popular in life so why the change?

Note to the kids...I was kidding about the cardboard disposable boxes. I was just annoyed at the increased price of coffins. I'm over it!

Please don't get even with me or have the last laugh by sending me off in between some origami creation. I'll know you know!

I'm warming to the idea of you all visiting me from time to time underneath some exquisite blossom with a seat well maintained for you to have a sit and quiet chat with me. Perhaps a few rambling roses nearby would add to the overall ambience.

It would have to be a lead coffin though to repel any unwanted visitors and keep me intact. Please remember to check for stray flies before sealing the lid. This is of particular importance!

Granted, the crane might be expensive to get it into the chapel...or the helicopter to lower it into the grave as I understand these things can be quite heavy, but come on, the cost can be spread over a couple of years. Just give them my forwarding address should there be any default on payments. Better still, as I wouldn't want you to be getting into debt, I'll start saving !

I'm still confused as to where my full-stop will be and semi- colon rested? I understand Wilford Hill Cemetery is full and Sunderland are not interested in me (they were glad to see the back of me in the '70's.

I'm not Polish therefore Newark is also out of the question (ooh, Kenneth, that was below the belt).

I suppose I could try every Shire, County or Borough in the land but I don't think it works that way.

It seems I'm okay to jump off a bridge or cliff although I really don't know where they put such people once they have been found, re-assembled, identified, analysed, investigated and bagged.

Anyway, that's not for me. I'm a total coward when it comes to heights and being spread too thinly.

I'm not sure how France stand on this...the final resting place issue?

Well, it's been fun thinking about this but it has exhausted me. I'll have to leave which songs, and who speaks at the service till another day.

Don't worry, I'm not terminal. I fully expect to last longer than most of my friends, to be what Gordon B Hinckley once described himself as feeling like...'the last leaf hanging on the tree'.

I'm sure I'll be attending the weddings of all my toddler and unborn grand children at some distant point in the future...so long as I stay clear of brick mortar!

ps, All donations of second-hand fishermen and divers' lead weights gratefully received as I have some skill in melting the stuff down to be offered as my contribution towards the cost of a you know what!

It's been a hectic day for both of us and it's only 5pm.

We'll be watching Madagascar 2, Escape to Africa after tea. Then it'll be an early night with a good book. Oh yes!
The cause of my clogged -up lungs...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The day is over

I may possibly be in pole position after last nights' mid-year goals review. Somehow though, I'm not particularly fussed about any dangling carrot save it be a warm smile from Bev.
It was the gathering of friends that has always been the draw and ever will be. I hope that it may long continue.

It was difficult to tear ourselves away from such a good gathering but we had double booked and needed to attend Jo's 40th birthday party. We knew she'd appreciate us dropping by and we were glad we did. The downside was the late night but what the heck, you only live once!

I must post the short video of what my son was doing when he was supposed to be giving 100% as the DJ for the evening. It captures his personality well.

Today was a special day when hidden layers were revealed leaving me feeling emotional and very proud of my family.

After church we departed in a variety of cars and convened at our place for another good extended family gathering. Although Juli and Chris weren't able to attend, we had a brief chat on the phone.

Pete (Sarah's brother) picked up my guitar and played good. He's recommended me checking out Jose Gonzales and Sea Sick Steve.

I really do think I could write volumes about today.

Everyone has now gone, it's dark, I'm tired but happy...Bev's already in bed and I'm here in the quiet of the night, reluctant to concede the day is over.
Serene and Sarah with a little bit of Bev...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Englishman

On visiting RB blog I noticed that I was referred to as a 'Brit'.

After reading so much adverse publicity about 'Brits' abroard, I have concluded that the title has connotations of rowdiness, being drunk or violent, but I am in truth only one of these, tending to take after my children who are known to be excessively rowdy at family gatherings.

I much prefer the title 'Englishman', denoting impeccable manners, chivalry and fair play. Again, only one of which is truly applicable but all of which I have a sprinkling.

At this present moment in time this Englishman is taking a break from looking after his 'castle'. I'm on the roof of the extension with knees wobbling, removing the old mortar from the brickwork and getting ready to re-point.

It's just one of the endless jobs I'm committed to finish this year.

Tonight we have our mid-year 'goals review' to see how we are all getting on with the goals we set ouselves at the beginning of the year.

Five couples including ourselves have been doing this for more years than I care to remember and I can't ever recall winning the prize.

My goals this year were...
To log all expenditure / Visit 12 new places using 'Tom-Tom' / Give a talk in French at our church in France / Raise £500 for Cildren in Kenya (orphanage) / Finish all home and away jobs (England and France).

I can't remember everyone else's goals but I'm quietly confident of winning the trophy come the New Year...or at least second...or third!

I am reminded after reading Randi's blog that I should also look at my own 'Bucket list'. I haven't ticked anything off this past few years.

Friday, June 19, 2009


I read last night from the book Blu recommended that a young French resistance fighter in 1943, condemned for fighting against German occupation, was consigned to a date with Madame Guillotine. He had no complaints. He was fighting for freedom and knew the consequences.

It made sad reading, as much for the government of the day as the young man who had his life cut short.

This morning I read from the Times that a French woman received an 8 year jail sentence for burning a baby and freezing two others after killing them. She will be eligible for early release in 24 months. It was deemed that she was not concious of giving birth even though she was aware of pregnancy.

It made sad reading, as much for the government of the day as for the young lives cut short.

I often remind myself that there is no meat that can be cut so thin as not to have two sides, so I find it hard to wholly condemn her, or the government of the day, but the slice is extremely thin...hence the sadness.

I was also stunned today to find such a response to yesterdays post. What a boost it was to have such positive comments. Thank you so much.

I posted a response on Roberts' blog but it isn't registering.

I painted for a publisher who distributed my work around the country but I soon found the pressure unbearable. They bought very cheaply and I found it hard to keep up with the volume. I had to take time out and that is where I'm at.

My aim is to approach galleries and the general public directly within the next year and perhaps enjoy the experience this time round.

No rush, I'll take care of the weekend first.

Stunned also applies to the poor man in Nottingham City Centre who had the taser used on him more than five times by a group of five or six policemen. It was barbaric. Thank goodness it was filmed.

The last time I was stunned was when I paid for a blackcurrant and soda water.

Karen told me she was stunned by the £25 excess baggage charge last week on her way to Majorca (all toiletries). I think it was 'Vanity Fair'.

Kirstys' Dad was stunned on Wednesday when he was attacked and stung by wasps nesting in the tree he was cutting down.

The man who was invoiced £22,000 for downloading T.V on his mobile whilst on holiday abroad was certainly stung, and I was stunned to find out he was let off (it's the company I work for).

I will be stunned if Murray crowns Wimbledon over the next two weeks.

Yesterday I was stunned when my new dentist phoned to confirm my appointment for 3:20 only to phone at lunch-time to cancel it (trying to secure an appointment these days is like pulling teeth).

I am resigned, beaten, disappointed, dismayed but not stunned by the increased taxes unveiled today. If the French ever bring back the guillotine we will certainly be tempted to copy and make good use of it here in little 'ol England.

I sign off with this quote from Martin Luther King Jr.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere".

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Royal Academy

Watching the open summer exhibition on TV last night reminded me of an unwritten goal I had last year to send a couple of paintings for the selection committee to chew over.

I should have written it down.
Bev wants to go to London again, so I think I'll see when the exhibition is on till and arrange a good day out...she'll think it's for the 'Dome' which we missed last time, but the RA will be foremost on my mind.

In the meantime it's down to mundane things like the family this weekend...actually the family is great, it's the food preparation that's mundane.

This is how the stress of the food preparation is removed...

Rolls (Bev), savouries (Serene), sweet (Sarah), greenleaf (Grandma), meats (Bev), dips (Amber), crisps (Bev). Everyone to bring a drink. Sorted! Let the good times roll!

Here are a few of my paintings...

Congratulations to Katy and Dan for creating a masterpiece of their own...and to the proud grandparents!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Groundhog Day

I slept right up to the time of getting up. That's different!
I did, however, afford myself a luxurious minute before jumping out of bed. I thought of the phone I put on charge and if I unplugged it before retiring.

Then came this thought of how modern we of flesh and bones are not to be plugged in to have our batteries re-charged. All we do is lie down and everything is taken care of.

We were that modern right from the word go.

Granted, some of us do have to be plugged in from time to time, but only when things go drastically wrong. Some also sleep standing and at a moments notice. Fortunately I'm a 'bog- standard' model (I wonder how this saying came about)?

As I entered work there was a thought of 'here we go again, same old routine' so, as I went through the same task of filtered water and putting my lunch in the fridge, I came to my desk and jumped on top of it to survey 360 the vast office as people arrived.

It was nice to see everything from a slightly different angle and it was well received by Karen (back from holiday) and Kirsty.

More importantly, it set the scene for the day. There may be the same tasks ahead of me but my perception will be different.

I'm determined not to have a groundhog day where everything seems to be repetition.

Bev's got the groundhog day feeling today and feels a bit worse for wear. I think it's the thought of cooking for 15 at the weekend.

I'll surprise her while she's out tonight (giving a class on being organized), and organize the family to bring different things for a buffet. She'll be pleased with that.

I'm making lists again for things David can take to France for me in a few weeks. I'll be flying there in the Summer so won't be able to take tools and liquids etc! I've decided that I'll blog exactly what I'd like to achieve this time round.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

To Resist

Would you believe that after work last night we pulled right behind the boy racer I mentioned yesterday.
Later, after a night out at a posh Indian restaurant in Mansfield Woodhouse, we entered Newark from the sugar beet side at 10:20pm and guess who screamed round the island as we approached it? That's right! Now what are the chances of seeing the same nice young man three times in one day?

We were actually looking for him this morning.

The Children of Freedom book arrived yesterday and I was impressed with what Emma Dancourt says of the verb 'to resist'. To resist what imprisons us, to resist prejudices, hasty judgements, the desire to judge, everything that is bad in us and cries out to be expressed, the desire to abandon, the need to make people feel sorry for us, the need to talk about ourselves to the detriment of others, fashions, unhealthy ambitions, prevailing confusion. To resist, and...to smile.

I like it too because it implies a relentless but necessary struggle against something that is naturally inherent within us. I'm reminded that the natural man is an enemy of God.

Not to resist is to allow the weeds and the jungle to totally smother, drag us down, stifle, strangle, cripple and imprison us.

Anyway, I'm considering my efforts to resist some of the above mentioned to ascertain how free I really am. I want to stand up strong and free so perhaps I'll drift from my comfort zone a while and have a 'peek a boo'.

I have noticed though that some who champion freedom of thought display prejudice towards those who practice it...especially those who embrace religion...not that the religious amongst us are without fault.
"As among God, country and apple pie, the least evil has been done in the name of apple pie."-- Robert Brault

Its doesn't matter if you are fat, thin or perfectly formed you'll find yourself up against it. If you are Pakistani, British, American, Indian... or any race on Earth, you'll be hated by another.

If you are wealthy, poor, clever or stupid, industrious or lazy you'll find someone to cross swords with you. Even Mickey Mouse has his critics.

Anyway, to resist and to smile must obviously have a lot to do with the book and the struggle of resisting the German occupation. I've another 20 odd pages of 'Larkrise' before I can start this one though.

TBC... if I can identify prejudices lingering and things unhealthy about me, and if I dare to bare!

Well, I've had a think, and I'm just about perfect really. Okay, there are a few things I can improve on. I tend to treat differently those who don't like me. If someone throws mud at me, I tend to reciprocate if I feel it unjustified.

I don't like advertising boards of the human variety. Wherever there is skin these days you'll find a picture or a message. I don't like reading people before I meet them. I'm sure that's just a dislike though because I seem to laugh and talk with such a lot of them. I don't like them less, I just disagree with what they do. They think I'm as loony for the things I say and do.

I'm still thinking about things...

Monday, June 15, 2009

It takes two baby

The pessimist observes the optimist and thinks, 'All that happiness for nothing'.
(Robert Brault in today's post)

I feel good. I feel happy. I feel optimistic. The glass is half full rather than half empty.

A boy racer overtook us this morning against oncoming traffic and two minutes later we caught up with him. He was behind two buses and a lorry going slow. His frustration was as evident as our joy.

I beat the queue to get filtered water at work and found room in the fridge for my sandwiches. I just know today is going to be good.

Not even blogger being unavailable for ten minutes can stop me feeling good, although the day did start with a threat of Monday morning blues. I found myself with a pair of spectacles, a towel and a shaver in two hands and was briefly confused at what to do next. It made me think of how many things I do with TWO hands (no less).

Things I do with two hands...Wash and dry my face. Peg the washing out. Type blog entries. Put the lid on my pen. Blow my nose. Put toothpaste onto my brush. Drive the car. Wash the pots. Digging. Getting jam out of jars. Threading needles. Sewing buttons back on.

I suppose I could do most of these things with one hand If I really had to, but isn't it cool that we have two?

Generally speaking we have two ears, eyes, nostrils, nipples, legs and feet. Some people aren't so lucky and others have more than their quota according to a conversation I dropped into last week.

Out of all the things I have two of that I would least like to lose, I think a hand would get my vote.

If I was allowed an extra thing, I'd pick my nose (sorry, I'm being rude). Actually, I'd choose another eye. Where to locate it would pose quite a problem though.

Famous couples not married to each other...Torvill and Dean, Pinky and Perky, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and Laurel and Hardy.

Two good 'ol English double acts that are inseparable...Salt and Vinegar and Fish and Chips.

Of all things I'm glad of in terms of two, it's Bev and me.

In the words of a song the singer of which escapes me...'It takes two baby, me and you'.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Not exactly a day of rest, but...

Once a month we fast for the period of two main meals and donate what we would have spent on the meals for the relief of the poor and needy in our area. Today was such a day and, as there are 150+ doing the same thing in our congregation, it's gratifying to know that the relief is considerable.

We also had good discussions during our Gospel Doctine lesson about what doctrinal evidences there are relating to our possible fate after death. Later, we looked at the need to apply the principles of forgiveness in our lives.

Quite enlightening stuff and a lot to consider.

After Church we dropped by on David and Eileen who had kindly bought us a round table for France. Actually it was a belated birthday present for Bev. They just wanted to show us the size and if it would suit our needs. David will be going over in a few weeks and has offered to take it for us. What good friends they are!

It's a hot day and I soon drifted into a deep sleep on the drive home (Bev was driving).

In the afternoon the family arrived and we spent a lazy afternoon and evening in the garden chatting and looking at photographs.

We are really tired now that everyone has left. It was lovely to see them. It was lovely to see them go. Looking forward to a repeat next Sunday (Father's Day).

It's never exactly a day of rest when all the family come over, but we absolutly love it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Our day of rest before the day of rest.

Well, well, well, what a surprise! Bev's in the garden.

We've told ourselves that today will be a recovery day but already there are things on the list.

We had planned to go to the Temple but MIL isn't good enough to travel and we need to keep an eye on her.

We've had a good lie in (up@ 7:45).

I've worked on and sent my designs off for the Newark Art Group.

The weather is pleasant and the sun keeps breaking through in brilliant bursts.

It's time to drag Bev in so we can go out and see what the day brings. First destination is Newark town centre before it gets busy then back to check on Mum.

A mop, mat for wiping feet, towels and a toilet holder for France. The mirror we'd set our hearts on was £505 so I guess we'll have to wait a little while as there are other more needful things to buy first.
The grinding disc we needed today was out of stock so it's in the garden again to cut the hedge in the front and tidy up the back garden.

Our back garden...

Friday, June 12, 2009


Catch up time!

I cut 2" off my Mother in Law's legs on Wednesday evening just before the England game against Andorra. Her feet actually reach the carpet now. I am of course speaking about her chair legs.

Yesterday she was feeling a little low but it had nothing to do with sawing her legs off.

I ordered 'The Children of Freedom' from Amazon last night for one penny +p&p. I also ordered another batch of vitamin'C' tablets.

I felt such a fool this morning. I have a cold sore on the right of my lip and so as not to disturb it while drinking water, I picked the glass up with my left hand.

As a follow on from reading RB's post on friendship, I asked Adele who is my boss and is currently sitting next to me if she has any friends and if she had a 'best' friend. After verbally beating me up, she said that she used to have a best friend but she hadn't seen her in years.

We concluded that a best friend has to be part of your life experience past and present...especially present.

We apparently have lots in common, me and Adele. Her parents split up and she ended up in care. Also, one of her brothers is apparently in hiding from the police. My brothers aren't in hiding from the police but if they ever find out some of the things they used to get up to, they will be.

She's extended her stay next to me and Kirsty.

There is just my head hair, neck and eyebrows to trim now...ears and nostrils are all done (gross!)

I've now pencilled in the 27th August as a once in a lifetime experience. Mars will be as big as the moon to the naked eye for the first time in man's history. The next time will be the year 2287. What's the betting it'll be cloudy...on both dates!

I took another photo of the roses on the arch and will post it tonight.

Joan (behind me) has gone to France for a holiday and Roxanne has gone to the Amalfi coast...I'm so envious.

I've just written to a Lady. So I'll add it to the Lord, Dame, Sir and a Right Honorable or two.

Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms and Master are all untitled. I could address a woman as 'My Dear Lady, but she will be untitled. I could say Dear Sir and he'll be untitled and I can say Dear Madam and she'll be untitled.

All that's left is for me to address Your Highness and Your Majesty. Oh, and Your Worship, Duke, Duchess, Count and Countess and Earl. Not to forget the military titles and those of the medical and academic professions.

I wish I'd never started on this.

Linda tells me she's had enough...she can't manage another day and is glad of the weekend. Linda won £40,000 a year for life from a scratchcard. I think she is mad to be here when she could do so much in making the most of life.

In our 'Zone-In' ( a regular meeting to highlight and resolve issues) I gave a humorous report on cyclists getting into our car park...an unnecessary issue which still had to be addressed while Kimara popped her buttons to the delight of all those opposite her. I was next to her so was spared. We had important visitors who thought it was a positive and uplifting meeting. No comment!

Kirsty picked the keys up for her new house at lunchtime.

Meetings in Bridgford tonight and I think Bev is coming to do a bit of genealogy.

I think that's about it. Lots of little snippets. It's been a busy day and a tiring week.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Captain Bob the Englishman

Reading Blu last night reminded me of the sacrifices made by the resistance fighters in Brittany during the closing months of the war.
The book I was reading (The Next Moon) purchased from the English Bookshop in Josselin was about Captain Bob and Lieutenant Marienne and others, set in the area our house in Bel-Air is situated, during the final weeks of conflict.

Stories of sacrifice, patriotism, love, heartbreak and betrayal give a real flavour of how this community was affected during occupation.

Those who survived obviously aged considerably over the intervening 64 years, but others... like Lieutenant Marienne, along with their acts of courage, are frozen in time and will never age.

As we stood and looked at the spot he and others were betrayed and shot, it's easy to imagine it happening as if it was unfolding before our eyes and that we were experiencing a day that they had been robbed of. It was so tragic.

I have great respect for men and women like him who selflessly fought against tyranny...and still do.

It makes me want to make the very most of the freedom they afforded us.

My post today is dedicated as a personal thank you from a stranger to such people the world over.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

They're everywhere

Stubbing your toe isn't the best way to start the day. I've also got myself a tiny little cold sore surfacing. On top of this I'm in need of a little WD40 (lubricating oil).

I've got more hair in my ears and nose than the top of my head. I need spectacles to focus on anything and everything. I've got a bent nose. Eileen thinks I'm a turnip and my dentist is ready to do his worst on me next Thursday.

Oh, and I'm going deaf...Bev reckons it's selective hearing.

I think it was Arlo Guthrie who sang...
'I've got the weakness woes, I can't touch my toes, I'm allergic to flowers and bugs. And when the bomb shell hits I get epileptic fits and I'm addicted to a thousand drugs'.

Well, I'm not quite that bad but I'm definitely feeling it today and I've run out of vitamin 'C' tablets.

I stood at the kitchen window admiring the roses on the arch and tried unsuccessfully to count them. Bev pruned them last year and now they are the best they've ever been. She's offered to prune me tonight...nose and all. I'm okay with this as I could do with being the best I've ever been. I'm just a little nervous about her recent pruning activities as I don't want a repeat of Lautrec (see cruel cuts).

Jon rang last night...and Martin...and Ash...and Tiffany...and some colourless automated sales persons message after I raced to get the phone before it stopped ringing.

Oh my goodness! I've just seen David's email about the UK Border Agency...they are the ones who created that huge queue at Portsmouth as we arrived back in the UK Sunday last. As she handed back the passports she smiled at me. I bet she knew I'd be too late home to have a meal. I bet she knows all about me.
My reply to David was...
The slimy beggars! Who do they think they are? They've actually created themselves a voyeuristic agency and we'll be paying them a wage and no doubt a lucrative pension too. When did all this sneak in?

I can understand we need to keep tabs on benefit cheats, sleazy politicians and terrorists but aren't our emails, mobiles, facebook, blogs and internet already being monitored?

Perhaps that colourless automated message WAS really the government seeing if I was at home and googlemap is really government funded.

Yes, I'm having a laugh but there is a serious side to it too. We already have evidence that our personal data can easily be misplaced (DVLA details left on a train). The government cannot be trusted and it's a fact.

Apparently I could be landed with a heavy fine if I don't give 24 hours notice of my movements. Well how ridiculous is that? What if I was in France and I get a call to say my MIL had collapsed and I had to dash back?

Do I have to put my hand up and say 'Please sir, can I go to the Louvre?

Lastminute.com must have something to say about this if we can't take advantage of getaway last minute holidays and the like.

I haven't even scratched the surface of scenarios. I'm too niggled to expand on it right now.

Eat your heart out George...1984 hasn't a patch on 2009. They're everywhere and into everything.
Pity they weren't in our garden in France to prepare it for our coming...
The little tree is an oak that we are protecting. When the wall is built properly it will have integral seating...

This was one of the views of Portsmouth on our return as we ghosted past the warships...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Cruel cuts and forgiveness

I lack celerity in body and mind today. I told Bev as much to which she replied 'No speed eh?
Now, Bev is not renowned for her command of English so imagine my surprise at her response. It brought a smile to my face and I almost forgive her for chopping my favourite and only 8'6" plant in half in the guise of 'pruning'.

It was a shock to see it yesterday...or not see it as the case may be. I can't actually remember what it is called but I'm forced to rename it Lautrec.

I contemplated retaliatory action in the form of a forage into her sacred garden armed with secateurs, but I'm bigger than that. I'm not into knee-jerk reactions, vengeance or vendettas these days and, as such, allowed her to link arms with me on the walk to work this morning.

No doubt the thing will grow again...unlike the real Henri de Toulouse.

I'm pleased to see my VF shares will mature next month. What's the betting that they will be as savagely treated as my plant through taxes and commissions before they reach my pocket in monetary terms.

Why should I care, were they not free anyway? I think I'll treat myself to something that can withstand a bored wife, shears, butchers knives or other sharp objects.

In the words of Don Williams...'I'll forgive but I'll never forget'.

In years to come I'll say to Bev... 'Do you remember that lovely plant you butchered just because it was taller than you?' But I'll be smiling and there will be no malice.

The bathroom at the start of play...

That's as far as I got this time round...in the bathroom at least. We are really looking forward to putting our mirror up.
I think I'll have to put the other pics on another day. It's taking forever to upload.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Back to reality?

I was at my desk today wondering if it had all been a dream. Had the past two weeks been real?

I sat there thinking it was as though I'd never been away. But I had, and I achieved more than expected. It was a wonderful experience.

The weather was very good and, even though most of the work was indoors, it was nice to eat out in the afternoon and evening sun and feel the warmth on the skin.

I guess last week was living the dream but this and subsequent weeks will be contributing towards a return to it. All of it is reality I suppose.

In our absence the garden here in Newark exploded with colour. Everything was just waiting for us to get out of the way so it could blossom.

It's nice to be back for sure but it'll be nice to get back too. I've already made plans and started with my lists and budget projections.

I think I'll post some photographs tomorrow of the jungle we found that was our garden and our attempts to tame, conquer and subdue and bring it under English rule.

Actually, there is still a great deal of gay abandon and original charm in evidence. The French resistance is alive and kicking and ever will it be so. We prefer to leave England where it belongs when we come here.

I had another meeting in Newark tonight for artists which has left me extremely tired.

I just smiled at the thought of my blowing a raspberry to Portsmouth wearing a bright home strip a few weeks ago. Sunderland weren't relegated although it was a very tense time as the radio signal weakened driving through Josselin.