Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Visits and thoughts of past friends

I'd forgotten how much of a metropolis the hospital was but it was worth the struggle to find the right ward.  Wanda was in good spirits as were Maggie and Jo who arrived at the same time.  Bev volunteered to circle with the car while I dashed in because they've demolished the car park (it was bad enough when the car park was available).  I was out with Bev last night as opposed to Martin.

On the way to the ward I noticed a large painting by Paul Waplington.  I was a friend of Paul way back in 1974 and, after catching up with Bev 25 minutes later, we drove to the street in West Bridgford (Nottingham) where we began married life...the same street where Paul and the rest of us used to congregate in flats to listen to music, play our guitars, put the world to rights and other stuff.

I haven't seem him since then.  In fact, I've hardly seen any of my early friends since then.  I guess we just walked different paths and lost touch.  We had some good times while it lasted and I'll never forget them.

Dylan wrote...'I wish, I wish, I wish in vain that our lives could be like that again. A thousand hours at the drop of a hat...I'd give it all gladly if our lives could be like that (again)'.

Well, I don't want to go back to those days.  If I did I'd probably only end up in prison, rehab or /and excommunicated.  I've moved on, but I wouldn't exclude them from my life if they were still around.

Some of my current friends are just as perculiar as my past ones so I'm sure it wasn't because of my beliefs that we all drifted apart.  I mean, who can be weirder than David Flinn?

Just this morning I had a conversation with Andy Jackson who sports a hairstyle, body armour and nail varnish some women would die for (well, perhaps not), but I find him more approachable than most. 

Dave Collins has more metal around and inside his head and tattoos on his body than anyone on the planet but again, he's the nicest of  people in conversation and I count him as a friend.

Anyway, I'm rambling.  While we were in the area we dropped a little something off  for Anne Bennett. 

We were intending to feed the ducks on the concrete steps side of the river (we aren't allowed to feed them on the grass side) but we forgot the bread, so we headed home, resisting the temptation to drop by our loony friends David & Eileen (we'd have stayed too long).

I enjoyed work today.  Yes, that's what I said. 

The pictures of Bel-Air and Bev didn't work last night. I still had strange dreams.  What can I say?  You just don't cut-it anymore Bev!  (I'm seriously only kidding).

Tonight I'm going to chill...unless Bev reads my blog.

ps, when I posted this comment about Bev , an advert popped up which read "Last minute flowers".  Do they know what we are writing?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dizzy heights, befuddled brains and best wishes...

I was up that flippin ladder again last night as I needed to get some mortar off the brickwork. We then dashed over to Mansfield with the double ladders on the roofrack to remove the grass  growing in the guttering of Ash & Ambers place. I had to extend the ladders and,  with Ashley at the foot,  I felt especially nervous digging and chopping away at the stuff (I thought I could just lift it out). Ashley behaved himself for once but I still had wobbly legs by the finish. I do not like heights.

Before we drove home, he showed me some of the applications on the Mac I'll be buying. It must have been on my my dreams I was trying to copy and paste my thoughts and getting frustrated when I couldn't do it.  I was also trying to use ctrl F on myself to find thoughts but I couldn't remember what the thoughts were.

The brain is brilliant (not mine in particular) but I do wish I could find things quicker.  For me it's a long drive trying to access my hard drive.

Anyway,  apparently they are bringing a new model out within the next few weeks (apple), so I thought I'd wait before ordering.

Tonight I'm out visiting with Martin.  With luck, we'll be able to find which ward Wanda is on.  Wanda had a suspected heart attack yesterday and we are waiting for news. She's an incredible woman who, in my view, has certainly had a challenging past ten years or so.  It's strange isn't it, that some people sail through life, yet others are seemingly dragged through it?  She always has a smile and is stoical to the 'enth degree.

She teaches me by example a lot about service, sacrifice and having a good attitude.

Get well soon Wanda...Allan is in good hands, don't worry.

Work was frustrating today which means I've been frustrated  both asleep and awake. 

Roll on bed time for some nice dreams...I intend to look at a photo of Bel-Air just before retiring, and then a photo of Bev just to make sure.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Winners and losers...

“The greatest wealth is to live content with little.” -Plato

Yesterday, Bev and I discussed an article about lottery winners who had lost everything, and we wondered how so much money can be squandered and the winners be so miserable almost as soon as the cheque drops on the mat.

In sport, Dave Bracegirdle (SKY sports commentator who in in my team at work) is looking forward to going to St Andrews this week to cover the Pro-Am golf.  He then informed me of Neil Webb (ex Forest striker) who was now a postman and is virtually penniless and divorced.  He was such a bright light.
I remember him coming into my shop along with the likes of Nigel Clough, Ian Bowyer, Stuart Pearce and Brian Laws to have their shirts framed. The world was their oyster and they were so happy. Most have gone on to success in management, but others into total obscurity or to struggle with their demons.

The topic then moved to Sunderland's 5-2 win over Wolves. I was earlier speaking to my sister Susan on the phone and she was off to watch the match.

She informed me of Tony Jeffries next fight on the 16th October in Sunderland (Tony is the fiance of my niece Sarah).  The bill sets the scene for two Olympic medalists...Tony and Darren Sutherland the Irish boxer, to face different oponents along with a few title fights.

They both share the same promoter Frank Moloney who dropped by to see Darren last week in London and found him dead, hanging by the neck.

Apparently, he was unable to cope with being a success.  It was so sad to hear.

Frank himself then had a heart attack and is recovering in hospital.

Billie Holiday once sang of 'strange fruit' being black slaves hanging from trees, but this fruit from tinsel paths is every bit as strange.

I wonder how I'd cope with success?  I think I'll take the money and run if it was a lottery win, although that's never likely to happen as I've never bought a ticket in my life and never will.

That just leaves fame followed by the usual fortune.


It's nice to be obscure, anonymous and poor, isn't it?

Sunday, September 27, 2009


"In many areas of understanding, none so much as in our understanding of God, we bump up against a simplicity so profound that we must assign complexities to it to comprehend it at all. It is mindful of how we paste decals to a sliding glass door to keep from bumping our nose against it. " - Robert Brault.

I spent time discussing doctrine today to such an extent that I gave myself a headache.  It's simple really and I'd do well to remember that in future, so that I might enjoy a clear head.
However, if the gospel of Jesus Christ was simple, one would wonder why there are over 500 Christian denominations. Doctrine is common to all and there is truth in all, but some contain more doctrine and others too little. There is only one that occupies that rarified atmosphere of standing alone in mirroring the gospel as preached by Christ himself.
I confess however to an admiration for all who try and follow Christ, regardless of doctrine.
On a lighter note, I'm often held up for derision for starting more jobs than I finish. I thought this other quote by Robert Brault today was hiliarious...
"I can't be a complete fool, because that would mean I completed something I started."
As a kid in care, I was moved around so much that I never had the opportunity to finish anything I started...relationships, T.V programmes, education, models, jig-saws etc! I often didn't even get the chance to start things. As an adult the pattern continued but with a difference.  I now find I'm around long enough to re-visit the many things I start and, as such, accomplish a great deal.  I'm okay with that.
I smiled though when I read that quote. It just reminded me of me.  
We're all different. Of that, I'm certain we can all agree. I love being unique, don't you?
Now I'd like to list all my unfinished jobs, but perhaps not...I know I won't finish it! Anyway, there are some that believe that lists prevent the brain from functioning.  They may be right.  The more lists I make, the more I rely on them and the more numb my brain becomes.
Feeling listless right now...but still my brain is numb!

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I slipped on some drying mortar on the roof today and almost fell.  As I tried to grasp the ladder, it flew off in the opposite direction leaving me on the edge of the roof clawing at fresh air.  Amber heard the clatter of my bucket as it landed on top of Bev's pansies. Bev froze and I swear her first instinct was to check the damage to her flowers ahead of my well being. She checked herself and pushed the ladder back to help me.

I've now finished the pointing of the brickwork both front and back. It's a job I'm happy to have out of the way. All day I've been at it and now I had about an hour and a half to clear up, have a bath and make the following for 7:00pm when we would meet with friends to enjoy eating something that we have grown in our gardens.

I made this...
Diced Leak Surprise...
Diced leaks
Diced bacon
4 Boiled eggs (in quarters)
Cheese sauce
Grated cheddar
Crushed crisps

The surprise was that it tasted delicious!

Bev made this...
Almond Toffee Pears...
12 boiled pear halves (fresh windfall)
Toffee mixture,,,50g margarine
40g flaked almonds
50g sugar
1tbsp flour
1 tbsp milk
served with double cream.  So good!

It was a great evening and lovely to see everyone.  It was so good to eat and chat. There was so much food and such a variety. We hadn't eaten since mid-day so I heartily participated, so to speak (made a pig of myself).

I't been a funny week regarding food really.  Today was the first day since coming back that we have prepared what we've eaten (breakfast excluded).  Yes, with Bev's birthday and treats, we've eaten out every night.

Tomorrow afternoon will see us with a traditional home cooked Sunday lunch (for a change).

The table decorations for tonights meal...hosted by David and Wendy.  Yes, the flowers were from their garden.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Unlike King Canute, I was playing with my can just see David on the far side of the lake. Yes, there is a beach at this lake. (Eileen took this picture)

I was playing with the idea of trying one of these out as he flew over...looks good!

Time to play with the waves...

Bev trying to be clever.  You can just see the turning to our house behind her to the right...

Me playing with my camera again when I should be out there with David...

Could do with a tandem...

A break from work for half an hour...this little thing does over 40mph...brilliant for racing along farmer's tracks!

Actually, yes, this is more relaxing than playing...I had been playing though.  I'd just sat down for a minute.

There you go.  It wasn't all work.

Last night I helped Bev plant the winter pansies under our new (unfinished) brick wall.

Martin and Sarah have just dropped in on their way home from Scotland. They had a great time.
Oops! Bev's calling!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


If you rest, you rust.- Helen Hayes

My advice to you Helen is not to rest in the rain. Do as I do and pick a nice dry, warm day. Anyway, here's proof that I did rest this past month... It's what I call the bench mark for relaxation.

I'm not so much on top of the world as on top of the well (earmarked for renovation within the next four years). I wasn't actually asleep here.  I was tracking a long-haul jet airliner high in the sky and was trying tocalculate it's speed and wondering what the view was like from up there.
How can so many people be in such a speck of an object?

Getting back to relaxation...walking in the woods, visiting places and generally chilling weren't alien to me during this holiday. I had quite a lot of it. I'm coming around to the French idea of a siesta too.  An afternoon power nap does wonders. I wish I could have them in England but sadly it is never likely to happen.  If it does, they'd probably tax it!

Speaking of resting...I've booked Bev and myself into a remote and secluded 4 star hotel for our anniversary next Friday.  The place was built about 1550. It's  in the 'Calendar Girls' region of Yorkshire and we've been advised to use Sat-Nav (they say even the local taxi-drivers can't find it).  On the way there we'll hopefully visit Harrogate and on Saturday we'll drop by Skipton...possibly Knaresborough and Kettlewell of course, before checking in with the 5 Star Hotel Devine in Leeds.

It's our 33rd anniversary (I think). Yep! I've just done the math.
Now I've got to find out what it is...tin, copper, linen or whatever.

Oh my word, the comments option is working! Perhaps it's just had a rest.

Afterthoughts on the subject of friend Gary tells me that when we eventually live full-time in Brittany, we will automatically have a burial plot allocated to us free of charge (other than the cost of the digger on the day). If this is true it would certainly put my mind at rest as I'd then be able to afford lead over wood (see past post in June).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


No bees, no honey; no work, no money. (Proverbs).  But I prefer this one which is most applicable to raising families but it also applies a little to what I've been doing in France this past month....
"The best work never was and never will be done for money". John Ruskin.

My main aim was to finish the bathroom in time for Bev arriving and to sand the beams in the main bedroom so that all the dust will be gone (she hates work dust).  I thought two weeks would easily see it all finished.  I managed it, but it certainly wasn't easy.

Here's a quick run through the jobs in the bathroom alone (not neccessarily in order...remove old toilet. Find a place for all the rubbish. Fabricate studding to house the toilet frame. Re-position the studding to the right place (I was not pleased about having to do this). insulate everything behind the studding wall.  Insulate and box pipes to the shower.  Plumb toilet and cut flush pipes to size.  Make sense of the instructions.  Electric cabling for the lights.  Chase chanels for electrics.  Filling, sanding and painting throughout.  Boarding, tiling, grouting toilet area.  Fit mirror.  Fit lights. Cut and glue timber for shelf.  Stain beams, shelf, skirting, door, velux. Varnishing shelf.  Cut skirting.  Cut and fit door frame.  Cut and re-hang door. Permanent fitting of the toilet. Fixing the velux leak.  Flexi-fill all edges.  Lay and grout floor tiles. Fix new robe hangers to the door. Fit toilet roll holder. Fit the shower door hand rail the right way up.

When I look at the photo, I wonder where all the work is.  It doesn't look a big job at all.

The remaining two weeks were spent creating a coffee table, book shelf unit, hearth, tiling and grouting the patio door area, hanging blinds, more filling, staining and painting in bedrooms and kitchen, chopping branches down with a chainsaw, moving electrical switches, fixing ceiling fan, laying 19' of drainage, grind out access for the down-pipes, cutting grass, digging and leveling a patio area, sanding, staining and fitting kitchen window shelf areas, painting a dormer and moving my wood store.

That just about covers the work.

Jon,Serene and Austin paid us a surprise visit tonight which is why this post is late.  We've had a lovely evening.

Last night was a good night too.  Italian is so much more than pasta and pizza.

How it used to look (toilet removed)...

Dormers painted at the back, little oak tree pruned and patio area dug out...

Window shelves in place,  between beams filled and two rows of back-splash tiles ready to go on...

My book shelves...and just a little bit of the coffee table in view..

Made from one of the old 'A' frames...

Can't really fit all of the photographs on, but it's enough.

Still no comments available I see...oh dear!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Checking to see if I can upload images now

I'll update this post later today...
This is on our way back from a trip with our friends.  It was their first ever boat trip.

This is David at Lac au Duc.

I think I'll dedicate the next three posts to Bel-Air under the titles of work, rest and play.  With luck, all the problems in blogland will have been resolved.

This morning I sneaked downstairs to sprinkle the breakfast table with petals and stick a single flower in a tiny vase. A 'RESERVED' sign and setting the table really nicely before making breakfast set the scene for Bev as she came downstairs.  It's her birthday today and I thought it would be nice to do something that money can't buy.  She was suitably impressed.

I've reserved a table at a local Italian restaurant for 6:30pm and perhaps we'll finish the evening with a romantic walk along the river.  It's such a nice evening that we've decided to walk to the restaurant.

She's talking to our grandkids and Juli on the phone at the moment and is having a good they sing to her.

I took this photo last week in Josselin...buying from the market stalls is way too expensive!

Happy Birthday Bev!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back home...

We eventually arrived back home at 11:20 last night after a very long day of travel. It was so easy to drag ourselves into bed and drift into a deep and welcome sleep.

I woke up this morning confused for a moment as I listened to the traffic...this is noise I've not been used to for the past month. It feels very strange.

Now that I'm actually at work, I'm beginning to wonder if I've been away at all!

Are we glad to be back? More no than yes but we had a great time and made really good progress on the house. It wasn't all work either. We entertained different French friends on two separate occasions, swam in the sea, lazed on the beach, went to Lac Au Duc to watch David windsurf (I only managed to dig my sails out after the visit so I missed out), took our friends along the canal at Josselin in David's boat, played games, jig-saw puzzle(Bev), knitted (Eileen), sat in the garden to read chat and eat, walked around places of interest, picked blackberries, apples and pears, had mini-motor bike races along deserted country tracks with David, walked in the Bois de Chailloux (spelt wrong I'm sure) had bike rides, played with 'Yokki' our inquisitive and energetic neighbourish dog (belongs to Marcel) and also met new people who live nearby.

I counted in excess of 50 jobs completed so it was a busy time.

I can't upload the photographs for some reason but I'll try again tomorrow. Perhaps the missing comments box has something to do with it?