Saturday, October 31, 2009


Overcast, foggy with rain on the way.  Mmm! Do I chance it?  Yes, why not?  I could be back in a few minutes, hours or even tonight if I'm really lucky!

Wow!  I've been outside ALL day.  Not a single drop of rain.

I finished the second layer of rosemary tiles on the other two pillars, capped the front edge of tiles to brick, dug out the tarmac path under the wall and built a flower bed edging.  I also had a supa-dupa fire and burned stacks of rubbish. I love fires!

I think the rain will still come so I've covered everything.

The only casualty was the grinder...totally burned out with sparks flying just as I finished cutting the concrete edges. With bonfire night looming it was a perfect send-off.

I had a chance to practice my French today. While I was working on the wall a man stopped and looked at what I was doing.  He eventually spoke and I could tell  he was German. "Gut" he said as he pointed at the wall.  "Merci" said I like a total idiot.

Going to chill now and watch a movie with Bev.

I've just noticed! Welcome to Helen from Australia. Tomorrow I'll have a chance to read your blog in more detail as it looks very interesting...I've had a quick look and what I read brought memories flooding back of when I worked for Turners bakery in Nottingham way back in the 70's.

What were you and your brothers thinking of  Tammy Lock?  Hanging upside down over a bridge spells danger in any language!  It's just the kind of thing I would have done.

Friday, October 30, 2009

It's only Friday

I would normally be at work, but I took the final day of my holiday entitlement to get on with my wall.  I laid the blue bricks and topped the pillars with rosemary tiles.  The two main pillars had the secondary layer put on and filled just as Juli and the family arrived.  That signalled the end of all things to do with building.

Booked tickets to see Ralph McTell on Tuesday...we're taking MIL who has admitted to liking his songs.  Every time I pick up the guitar I invariably sing one of his songs and MIL screws her face up and makes an exit.  I sing a lot when...oops! There I go again.  Anyway, I was surprised that she wanted to go see him.  I vote Bev to take the middle seat on Tuesday.

Chris showed me some nifty applications on the mac as well as installing Microsoft Office.  We also transferred about 6,000 photographs into iPhoto...unbelievable! It's incredible!

The rain sent me scurrying to cover my wall.

It's been a great day, but I keep thinking it's Saturday.

So tired now.

I hope tomorrow doesn't rain on me.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A new man...

Something has snapped! I've woken up a different man. I'm hungry, determined, mean and moody.  I'm ready and willing...I'm chomping at the bit. I feel inspired.  I have a vision, a plan and a purpose.  I'm empowered.  I've amassed my resources and defined my battle lines. I'm unstoppable, invincible and victorious...or will be!

What am I jabbering on about?

Can't tell!  It's a secret. I said NO! (I don't want anyone to laugh at me). NO! NO! and a thousand times NOOOO!

Okay then...if you must know, I'm getting serious about learning F....(I hope you aren't sniggering!)  Right, that's it!  I'm not playing!

Today's news...Amber's parents are now in the UK ready for the blessing of baby Edith on Sunday and I'm currently discussing the topic of tattoos on women with the girls on the team. I've just enjoyed a prawn pasta with peppers and tomatoes and am enjoying the working day.  Dave has just bought a plant for his wife and is making me feel guilty but I won't give in.  Mmmm!  I think I'll nip down and buy her some flowers as a preemptive 'get on the right side of her' gesture. 

We've all just sang Happy Birthday to Christine and Karen and watched them open their presents.  One of Christine's presents was chocolate shower gel. 'Scuse me! Why would anyone want to jump into the shower and then be covered in chocolate? I've left her reading the instructions because wer'e a similar age and she is as confused as I am. Kirsty is laughing.

Soon I'll be home.

There you go, home already.

I'm off to meetings while Bev and her mum are being entertained by Des O'Connor at the Palace Theatre Newark.  I guess I'm just fortunate.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm sticking with it.

The sun is shining at 7:30am and there is a nice feeling about the day...or is it just me in a good mood?

As I walked into work I passed Kenny Holligworth sitting at his desk and he was checking dates in his 2010 journal...the very same type that I wrote in for all those years up to April this year.  It got me a thinkin' about if I feel it's better the way I do it now.

My whole life is defined by what I think, plan and do.  I can't always record all that I really  think because my journal is available real-time now as opposed to being read long after I'm dead and gone and safely tucked away in  my lead-lined coffin with a to-do list resting gently on my chest.  I want a peaceful life and don't want to make enemies of my readers.

So that leaves just some of my thoughts; some of my plans and some of the things I do.

I still think it's better than a dusty old forgotten journal in the attic written by some old fogie dead dude and chanced upon by a future owner  just prior to burning it.

Then again, would you prefer to have the brutal truth? Can you hack it?  Are you ready for up-front and in your face confrontation? Well, good...because I'm not going to change the habit of a lifetime.  I'll say what I think as usual and continue to create barriers...and enemies.

Just listen to me! I run a mile from contention!  Anything for a quiet life!

I do want my journal to be interesting and readable though and not crammed with facts and everything that happened to me during the day.  You can expect facts yes, but also how I feel and what I think of the world around me.

I'm very happy with my on-line journal.  It's way better than scribbling it down.  I'm definitely sticking with it.

So what am I going to DO with my on-line journal?

I thought I'd like to print it off every year in the form of a book... which eventually will end up in the attic to be found by a future owner and burned..but at least it will have already been read and commented on.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Don't go and see it...

I'm embarrassed to say that I went to the cinema with Bev to see Ricky Gervais' new comedy. Bev had a free ticket from work so I went along to keep her company. Never again!  It was a shallow, boring, crude, blaspheming comedy, which wasn't funny in the least. I thought is was going to be similar to "Liar Liar" starring Jim Carey (which WAS funny), but sadly no!

The good thing about it was that it finished early enough not to have wasted the entire evening.

Amber brought baby E into work today to show everyone. It was nice to hold her at my desk surrounded by adoring women. Edith was the picture of tranquility.  They're off to see Bev at her workplace now.

Back home to work outside before the light fades.

Doesn't the light go quickly now!

Our new settee and chair looks good...a little taller than I expected, but nice all the same.

Right! It's time to get to know all about the mac.  Perhaps it's not such a bad thing being dark outside and not being able to work.

Monday, October 26, 2009


On the day that I found out that the USA and GB economies are the worst hit and are still in recession, I bought an iMac. It has just arrived. I'm even typing this very sentence on it.

As strange as it may sound Bev and I have never been better off than at the moment.  We've been simple-living folk who have always saved and never got into debt, so I think that has a lot to do with it.

We've never chased fashion or pampered our kids. We've never been too proud to accept hand-me-downs from our wealthier friends.  Some of the best buys we've ever made have been from Cancer Research or Help the Aged.  Until a few weeks ago we never even owned a credit card.

Do I sound as though I'm trying to justify buying the iMac?

I guess I am!

Goodness knows how I'll get on tomorrow when the new settee and easy chair arrives!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Clocks back an hour today...

Reading about Randi and her hilarious grooming and spider post reminded me of a similar experience.

Fifteen minutes into our drive to church last week-I was the passenger- I casually asked Bev for her opinion on something. In reply she squealed hysterically and swerved the car to an abrupt stop. I was disorientated for a second, shaken, confused and frankly shocked at her continuing shrieking response to what I thought was a reasonable question...until I saw the spider that had lowered itself and was dangling on a single thread right in front of her face. It was HUGE. I swiped at it and it fell onto her lap (more screaming), I flicked it onto the floor (more hysterics). I had to get out of the car and come round to the drivers side to get at it. It was so funny trying to find something to scoop it out with as Bev continued to scream... there was no chance I was going to touch it.

Why is it that women marginally beat men in the fear of spiders? I was very thankful that Sarah wasn't driving as she would scream just as loud if not louder at plastic pretend spiders.

Here's Martin and Sarah from last Sunday.

The ivy from the front door turning colour as Bev was driving off (wall to the left is progressing).

Bev and Edith half an hour ago...

Oh, and something she's grown in the garden...she's really proud!

Church was good this morning and the meetings were in reverse because of the primary age children presentation on "The family".  They did really well...I remember our children doing the same thing and here they are all grown up and married.  How time flies!  We are really very blessed. I'm very happy.  I'm so happy that I've even forgiven my dentist.

We chilled this afternoon with Edith, Amber and Ash and caught up on the family stretched across this green and pleasant land.

Next week Amber's parents will be here from New York for Edith's blessing.  All the family will converge on Mansfield for a super family gathering. It's going to be quite a day and quite a week leading up to it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Retford revisited...

I wanted to get on with my wall first thing this morning, but the weather wasn't good and the mortar I mixed was too sloppy. I just had time to  put the first layer of rosemary tiles on before dashing to Retford with Bev for our Asda bag-pack to raise funds for CHinK (an orphanage in Kenya).

The last time I was in Retford was in 1975.  I was single and I phoned Bev from a traditional red box to say I couldn't get back in time to take her to a dance.  I was with another girl at the time and she still hasn't forgiven me. She told me that she still went to the dance...and sat with two boys who had dated the girl I was with.  We are all still good friends after all these years.

I was glad to get into the store from the rain but was terrified that all these hardened shoppers would find my fumbling with their foodstuff just too frustrating.  As it turned out it was a fantastic experience-once I stopped putting tins in the flimsy bags reserved for sliced meat only- and we stayed much longer than what was expected of us.

We met  so many different people and had so many laughs and two-minute well as checking out eating and drinking habits. We raised over £400 on just three or four tills in as many hours.

Afterwards we wandered into Retford  and checked the market out and bought some loppers as well as lamb chops, sirloin steaks for a future treat, and shoulder of lamb for tomorrow...from Mr Bacon the butcher.  What a name for a butcher and it really is his name!

From Retford we sat-nav'd across country to ikea before ending up back home in the pitch black.

A long, rewarding and enjoyable day.

Friday, October 23, 2009

To cap it all...

Last night Bev beat me at scrabble...she cheated!  Well, I think she cheated!  Okay, maybe she didn't.

No birds on the cross-bar today so I was on time for work.

Dentist at 12:55 so they can put right what they did wrong a few weeks ago.  The crown they put in place on our anniversary week-end lasted just over an hour before I almost choked to death on it. Bev was driving at the time as we approached the M62 and we almost missed the slip road. 

I don't want to sound negative here but since the very first, I'll restrain myself.  Everyone can have a bad day I suppose, even if that day stretches to weeks...then months.  We'll see what they have to say today.  I'm going with an open mind and a forgiving heart and hope I don't return a broken and toothless old man hell-bent on revenge.

It's now 1:45 and I'm back.  How do you think I fared?

I arrived breathless after a bit of a dash and was pleasantly surprised to be called almost immediately.  The surgeon was very pleasant and apologetic and assured me that the treatment today will be free of charge. 

I was comfortable and relaxed  as I reclined on the chair and pleased to hear her give instructions for the best and strongest adhesive.

With the work completed and the chair raised, I put one foot on the floor and turned to get up.  Then the crown came off!  Yes, it came off in less than a minute. She then plonked me back in the chair and tried again. 

While I gripped my teeth to give the adhesive time to set, she quipped "If it comes off again, you can buy some adhesive from Boots and do it yourself".  My teeth were already clenched so I couldn't say much, but all thoughts of forgiveness had gone...that just left the rising urge for revenge.

I'm sick to the back teeth of dentists.

To finish on a hasn't come off yet!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


English life is re-claiming me and our French lifestyle is shelved for another half year. This feeling doesn't sit comfortably with me.  Can I really allow another year to pass and me not having made inroads into learning the language and preparing for living there?

I think I've taken significant steps towards painting-which is what I intend to do when we live there-with the two day's a week painting guaranteed from December (put back a month). 

The language is the problem, or should I say I have a problem with the language, as I have a seemingly deteriorating memory. My brain cells are being kidnapped! I have clarity of thought for something that happened 30 years ago, but what happened recently is more than a bit fuzzy. 

Yesterday I tried to focus on one French phrase all day, and I swear on my Vodafone pension (worth forgetting about), that I can't recall what it was. I even had to look up the title word for this post as it's meaning had escaped me.
This morning Bev propped a package against the front door.  Why did she do that you may ask?  The answer is because I promised her I'd take it to work for Ashley yesterday and forgot. I almost stepped over it on the way out today.

Aha! that reminds me! (I'll just pop it over to's under my desk at the moment).

Things that help me to remember are post-its, electronic prompts, diaries, lists and Bev. I suppose I should also give credit to the girls at work. I don't always listen to them... which is not to be confused with a hearing impediment.  Kirsty says she's clamping down on my selective hearing (join the queue).
Before I forget, I must record a magical sight I've never had the pleasure of  seeing during my 57 years of life...until this morning.

As I crossed the field (8:50am) which houses five football pitches I was halted mid-stride by the sight of some beautiful light coloured birds (no, I know what pigeons are and can even spell them, but they weren't  pigeons) standing shoulder to shoulder cramming the entire cross-bar.  The rest of the birds were standing in the penalty area looking up at them as if waiting to be picked for a game or checking to see if there was standing room only for one more.  It was all happening around this one goal area and was the strangest thing to see. Then they flew off one by one.

I'm certain I won't see that again and, if I do,  it'll be the second time I'll be late for work because of it.

Anyway, getting back to forgetting things.  I was trying to think if it was possible to remember the last thing  forgotten without being reminded of the thing you forgot?  I don't think it is, is it?

Tonight we forgot how to cook and opted for a treat, after which we will see the day out with chilling-out big time!

Oh! I almost forgot...Apple have unveiled their new iMac at last, so this could be my last post from this PC.  It's already on it's way to us.

We're so excited as we've never had a new computer before. We've also bought new locks for all windows and doors and will be electrifying the house perimeter to supplement the five cameras already in place. Bev vetoed the proposed completion of the half-dug moat which was to be filled with crocodiles, as over the top.  I concurred knowing that possible intruders had to overcome a far more formidable oponent..but it's unfair to mention my MIL twice in as many days.

Perhaps we should just check our house contents insurance!

Oh no! I almost forgot!   A big welcome to Jo.  I hope you enjoy dropping in from time to time.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

21 'W's and a lot of space

Woke up
We had breakfast
Walked to work
Worked hard
Walked back home
Wonderful meal
Washed pots
We chatted
We did a cross-word
Watched football with MIL
What super goals
What a game
What a day
Weary now
What next
What do you think?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The future is in good hands (if you live outside of Swindon)

The following questions were set in last year's GCSE examination in Swindon, Wiltshire (U.K.)

These are genuine answers from 16 year olds. Heaven help us!

Q. What causes the tides in the oceans
A. The tides are a fight between the earth and the moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins the fight

Q. What are steroids
A. Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs

Q. What happens to your body as you age
A. When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental

Q Name a major disease associated with cigarettes
A. Premature death

Q. How can you delay milk turning sour
A. Keep it in the cow (Simple, but brilliant)

Q. How are the main 20 parts of the body categorised (e.g. The abdomen)
A. The body is consisted into 3 parts - the brainium, the borax and the abdominal cavity. The brainium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels: A, E, I, O and U

Q. What is the fibula?
A. A small lie

Q. What does 'varicose' mean?
A. Nearby

Q. Give the meaning of the term 'Caesarean section'
A. The caesarean section is a district in Rome

Q. What is a seizure?
A. A Roman Emperor. (Julius Seizure, I came, I saw, I had a fit)

Q. What is a terminal illness
A. When you are sick at the airport.

Q. What does the word 'benign' mean?
A. Benign is what you will be after you be eight

Q. What is a turbine?
A. Something an Arab or Shreik wears on his head

I'm not sure if they are clever and bored, or just mentally challenged.  I just hope it isn't representative of a rising generation.  Perhaps the teachers were bored and decided to have a bit of fun but didn't tell the kids that they were only joking.  Perhaps it's just Swindon? We know they are in dire need of a decent  football team and I honestly can't think of anything  of worth associated with the place. 

I just googled the place and I'm wrong.  In the 80's they had a world champion darts player.
Diana Dors comes from Swindon (I personally sang to her in the 70's...when I find where the post is I'll direct you to it).

There are also dubious connections with  the Beatles, Stones, Sherlock Holmes and many others.  (They probably all passed through as fast as they could).  No, check this out...It's one of the most famous album covers in the world - the Beatles walking across the zebra crossing just outside the Abbey Road studios in London. And in the picture - yes, you've got to look closely - you'll notice a white 1968 VW Beetle, parked on the left-hand kerb. A car registered in Swindon, no less!

Well there we have it. I take it all back. Fancy that...the Beatles treading on beetles with a four-wheeled beetle in the background...from Swindon.

Tonight I'm out with Martin visiting some new members of our church who moved here from Swindon.  Okay, I shouldn't joke...they may not be from Swindon but how funny will it be if they are?

Here at work Maureen has just let me loose on a box of M&S chocolates. I have to tell you that the lemon mousse light truffle covered in white chocolate with dark chocolate drizzle is probably the nicest chocolate I've ever never bought and eaten. It is gorgeous!! Bev will be proud of me... I've been really good and only had five or six!

Back home now after a really good night visiting and chatting with people...none of them from Swindon.

You'll be pleased to know that I will never again have occasion to mention the place ...unless one of those 16 year old boys ends up playing for Sunderland.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I should be careful what I write in this journal because it's read while I'm still alive.

I got through to Susan and Carol is much improved thank goodness!

So, what will today bring?

OH MY WORD! I have to be very careful what I say now because the girls at work are reading my blog. I take it all back...they are fantastic to work with really!

Sad new about TJ. I now have slight regrets about all our confrontations because I suspect there were a few to do with WHO was right rather than WHAT was right...and that just isn't right!  Lessons to be learned...and it's never too late to learn. 

My todo list today after work...
  • Count all the rosmary tiles to see if there's enough to finish the job 
  • Count the blue bricks and assemble ready to lay
  • Haircut...thanks Ash!
  • Watch "Fast Forward" with Bev
  • Sort facebook out
  • Family chat with Jon & Serene
  • Prepare for H/T tomorrow evening
  • Do SOME French
  • Email Eileen about Wanda's computer desk
  • Count my blessings
  • Tell Bev I appreciate her
All done other than the haircut.  Ashley hasn't brought the cutters with him so he'll have to wait till tomorrow to claim my scalp.

I'm about to do facebook so I'll count it as done.

Oh, it isn't 9:00pm yet so I haven't watched "Flash Forward", but I will for sure.

It was dark by 6:30 and the weather is expected to turn nasty for a few days.  This is England you know!

The clocks go back at the week-end so I guess that heralds the end of summertime and the beginning of a dark, dank and dreary winter. Actually, I don't mind winter once it gets going.  It's sad to see summer end though. I love the colours at the moment and must get a picture posted of our ivy.

That's it! A fairly mixed bag of a day really, leaving me a little reflective in mood but happy to be alive and well.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday invitation...

Church was good it usually is.  I always feel better and come away having learned something new or given something to think about. 

We always leave home about 8:45 and get back about 2:30. So, for any enterprising burglar, try your luck with our place.  Feel free to take the telly and this computer.  There's food in the fridge but before you leave can you do us a big favour and finish the decorating in the front dedroom.  The most expensive thing we own is the six year old car we drove to church in.  We'd love to have left it behind as we've been hoping for years someone would take it. There's no money I'm afraid although you're welcome to have a look around...just make sure you tidy up after you. Oh, and watch out for the budgies as they have photographic memories and speak perfect English. You won't be the first to attempt to permanently shut them up, but you've got to catch them first and they are louder than any alarm.

I also should warn you of our neighbours who know more about what goes on in this house than we do. She often relates back to us of who visited, what time, what they were wearing and what they were driving.  She logs registration numbers, takes photographs and if she engages you in conversation you'll certainly be here when we get back.

Today MIL slept in and stayed behind.  If you'd have chosen today you'd have known about it and yes, I would have visited you in hospital.  It's the least I can do as a Christian.

I'm afraid we just aren't into worldy possessions.

I know it's Sunday but I'll quote Dylan anyway..."when you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose".

Right...Martin and Sarah dropped by after visiting Lincoln Ward Conference and stayed for an hour or so.

Spoke to Juli but still can't get through to Susan.  I'll try again right now.

I'm fully charged, everything is in perspective and I'm emotionally up for whatever next week throws at me.  That's just one thing Suday does for me when I leave the world and worldly things behind.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bricks, beach-balls and bushed...

I guess the intention of a bogus virus warning was to get me to download the bogus antidote. Had I done so, my computer would really have been infected.

There was a chill in the air but no sign of rain so it was all systems go for my wall. All the red bricks have been laid now...just the rosemary tiles and blue bricks to do.  It took me all day and I'm totally bushed.  Around 4:40 I was flagging and decided to see how many goals Liverpool beat Sunderland by.  They didn't score...but we did! It was the most unusual goal ever scored apparently. The ball deflected off a red beach-ball thrown onto the pitch by a supporter, and ended up in the net.  A goal is a goal as far as I'm concerned. By all accounts we were the best team on the pitch anyway. All of a sudden I had all the energy I needed to finish the job.  I know it's silly, but I always have a more positive outlook when Sunderland win...especially against one of the big four.

Can't get through to my sister.

I think I may just about manage to crawl upstairs to bed now.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's 11:30 pm

I spent the whole day working on the wall and it was a lovely bright and sunshining day.

So what else can I say, this being a journal and all? I'll start with our surprise visitors at tea time. 

Brian and Trish and the gang dropped by from Hampshire. It was nice to see them and catch up on news. They were attending a funeral in Nottingham and were calling in on the way home to leave flowers and birthday presents. Catching up with emails-my second goal of the day- became a non-starter. 

We no sooner had said our goodbyes when it was a quick bath and change to meet up with friends at Jon and Anne Green's house.  I haven't laughed so much in ages.  It was a great tonic. A really good pick-me-up sort of evening.   It's really good to have friends.

I had to brush the wall as soon as I got home and after I finish this journal entry it'll be too late to respond to emails.  I'm happily exhausted. The bed and welcome sleep is beckoning me.

Tomorrow will be emails first and wall second...unless these flashing warnings that my computer has been infected are true, in which case it's all wall and goodbye computer.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rain doesn't stop play and dark clouds will eventually clear...

Someone please shoot the weatherman.  Drizzle + bricklaying  in a ditch = not much fun, but I have no other option other than to stop complaining and get on with it.  It's only a small wall but there's over two hundred bricks just to get  to ground level.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be brighter and drier.

Bev really loves me!  I walked to her workplace in my scruffs to pick the car up (needed more sand) just as everyone was clocking out for lunch.  When Bev saw me she beamed instead of being embarrassed at how scruffy I looked.  If I'd had a bowl I'm sure they would have thrown a few coins in.

Susan has visited Carol so I should have some news very soon.  Meetings tonight and Bev has her French class. I would rather stay at home.

Back home again and Susan's phone is still dead.  When I eventually twigged that she must have changed her number, I phoned Tom... then Susan.  Carol has improved but is unable to communicate.  We'll know more after the doctor's rounds tomorrow, but the really good news is that she is not in danger now.

The dark clouds are beginning to clear.

Who can remember the song by Johnny Nash...I can see clearly now the rain has gone...Nov 1972?

Tomorrow I'll catch up with emails after a day bricklaying in the sun.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Come on England...

Dave's chair keeps collapsing and the girls are in hysterics!  What is so funny about that? Once they start giggling there's no stopping them.  Out come the tissues as tears are dabbed and soaked up.  It's contagious!  Where's my tissue?
Why is laughter so contagious?  I'm giggling now and I didn't even find the collapsing chair funny!

That's it!  A numbingly bland day at my workplace behind me.  I felt more revived and revitalised as I walked with increasing speed towards home. I have a few days off to build the second bit of my wall.  The weather is promising and I'm raring to go.  I've a couple of hours before the light fades.

There you go!  Just one sentence later but so much accomplished.  Everything is in ready for an early start tomorrow. 

England are soon to kick off in their final qualifier and I'll be joining that mad hooligan of a football fan my MIL to watch it.  If she behaves herself I'll get the half-time refreshments. If she doesn't, she'll get a touch-line ban and I might even send her off!

Still lots to do after the emailing Steven and Jan Porter who made contact with me yesterday.

Goodish game and well done Beckham but my mind was on other things.  My sister Susan rang to say Carol- the youngest in our family-  has had a stroke and is in hospital.  

A bolt out of the they always are!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cash Cow...

Rachel Campbell-Johnston has this to say about Damien Hirst today in The Times...
"The paintings are dreadful. Think Francis Bacon meets Adrian Mole. So why are these works now hanging in the Wallace Collection? What are they doing in the home of such masters as Rembrandt or Poussin,Titian or Fragonard?
The answer is simple: they are by Damien Hirst. And his is a name which curators must welcome. The artist who can transform a pickled bovine into a cash cow has the commercial touch that any cash-strapped museum needs, not least the somewhat sedate Wallace Collection".

Bravo Rachel!

Currently, the Tate Modern houses a structure entitled "How it is".  Bev swears it's a replica of a building being demolished just down the road from us.

Personally, I think that's "how it should be"...gainfully employing people to demolish such things in the hope of replacing them with something better.

Yes, I know opinion is as split as the pickled cow. I normally use a brush to paint onto canvas, but for once I'm nailing my colours to the mast...I'm not a lover of installation art or Damien Hirst's 25 paintings aptly entitled "No love lost".

I'm pigmented sick of all the fuss and find praise heaped upon such artists as hard to palette. Yes, I know!

Anyway, you may be getting the impression that I'm just a teensy, weensy bit envious of their fame and fortune.  Mmmm... possibly, but not a great deal.  If I can earn a meagre living slapping paint on canvas, you'll see a broad smile on my face...almost sufficient to split me asunder.  I'd be tickled, not pickled.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Steven J Porter

Here we are on a bright Monday morning. It's our first day at our new desks. Kirsty in now opposite me with Christine next to me and Karen next to her.  Opposite Karen is Dave and next to Dave and diagonally opposite me to the right is Maureen/Jo. 

Everyone is calm and talking about a singer who suddenly died (Gately)?  I'm only half listening because I've got a stinker of a contract to sort out.

Everyone started looking at me as I hummed "No matter what you're thinking"...or something like that.   It must have been subliminal! Uncanny!

I'm just reading a few headlines during my break.  Gordon Brown is driving me nuts! If he stays in power I'll be very disappointed.

GOOD NEWS!  They accepted my request so from the first Monday in November I will be officially working just three days a week here.  I'll be painting  for the balance of the week. Now that's more like it! I've got my appetite and enthusiasm back!

MORE GOOD NEWS! After work I managed to get that stubborn bush-roots and all- out of the ground where the rest of my wall will be.  I spent one and a half hours digging around it and Bev dragged it out with rope tied to the tow-bar.  We've also had 180 bricks (yes, those rare bricks I'm having difficulty finding) delivered.  Someone local found them stacked at the bottom of his garden and advertised to sell. I can't believe my luck.

THE BEST NEWS BY FAR...was when I came in and checked my blog.  A comment was left on my June  24th post by Steven J Porter.

Steven's great grandfather was George Foster Mills, son of the 4yr old daughter (Margaret) of my great great aunt Hannah Middleton who was rescued on the plains in 1856.  Well how about that!  That is just unbelievable!  He's a living relative who I never knew existed until just half an hour ago.

What's even more incredible is that he and his wife enjoy reading my blog!

Don't you dare lose touch now Steven and thank you so much for making contact.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

MIL's Birthday.

Happy Birthday MIL (78 today!)

Emotional at first but just like one of those energy saving lightbulbs she eventually ended up very bright.

We all sang Happy Birthday to her from two feet and two hundred miles along fibre optics. Candles were blown out, indicating to us that she still has fairly strong lungs and is likely to be around another year at least!  Okay, I repent...make that ten!  Split the difference?!  I'm only kidding!  No, really!

Everyone has gone now...even MIL has retreated and is watching  the X Factor final.  Who would watch such rubbish on a Sunday of all days?  Millions it seems. Thankfully MIL is one of them.  There I go again!  I don't mean it really! I just can't resist it sometimes 'is all!  We get on really well as it happens.

I 've enjoyed church, being with family, walking, talking, eating and relaxing.

Now I'm going to sit with Bev and see the day out.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Abigail's Party

What a coincidence that Christine, the woman who sits next to me after we moved desks yet again at work, was going to the theatre last night.  She was going to see her niece Holly in a play...who just happened to be the girl mentioned in Phil's blog-a mug of strong tea and a chip butty- when he was talking about not adding garlic in his stir-fry this week because he was to receive the kiss of life on stage for five nights.  It's the very same play that Bev and I will see in a few hours.

Before we go I have to dig out two remaining concrete chunks in prep for building the other half of our wall.

The sun is shining and it's a perfect morning for it.  It's a perfect morning for anything outdoors.

I'm boycotting the England game today.  It's scandalous that we have to subscribe to watch our national sport.  Anyway, I've got better things to do.

What a day!  Yes, I'm back home.

Nottingham centre, Hockley and the Lace Market were just spectacular today  There was so much atmosphere, colour and music.  We experienced lots of buskers and groups playing acoustic and electric guitars, penny whistle, harmonica,  various drums, accordian, jugglers and limbo dancers.  There was a crafts market in slab square too. Everyone was happy it seemed. The place rocked! Why didn't I take my camera?

We dropped by Edins Cafe as featured by Phil in his's quite a chic, earthy friendly place.  It oozes charm.
It took a while to find the theatre but we arrived in good time (10 minutes to spare).  A few couples were arguing about seats seconds before the start...they had the same seat numbers on their tickets but one couple had the wrong day. It was really funny to see who would back down first. It made for a good start. 

The play (Abigail's Party) a comedy satire so much reminded us of an almost identical experience we had with our neighbours Dave and Helen Voce in the same time period. It was uncanny.  Bev was in stitches.

 You all did really well Phil.  It flowed well. It's beyond me how you remember all your lines, never mind all the facial and body language.  Well done! We enjoyed it.

What's next? 

I've only just seen your invite to meet up after the show Phil.  Sorry we missed out there.  We would have hung back if we'd realised you had time to spare between the two performances.  Hopefully there'll be another opportunity in the future.

On the way home we dropped by HMV and used my birthday vouchers of a few years ago to buy a double album of  "A Show of Hands", a group we saw live in Leicester earlier in the year...a supurb evening! Miranda Sykes is an excellent musician and singer but I couldn't see anything with her alone.

A good day today!

Friday, October 09, 2009

On the road to freedom...

"Stubbornly persist, and you will find that the limits of your stubbornness go well beyond the stubbornness of your limits." -Robert Brault.

I've always been a stubborn so and so, and I'll carry on persisting...until I get it right!

So, as a spin-off from yesterday what are my plans?
  1. Build up the stock of paintings and resource material.
  2. Check to see if there is a market for originals and prints in my style.
  3. Build a new website to include trade and retail as well as licensing. 
  4. Arrange visits to publishers
  5. Arrange visits with galleries
Time frame...9 months (let's hope it doesn't end up a pregnant pause or a false alarm).

The time taken to build up the stock will give a good indication as to how I'm enjoying it and if I should continue.

I've emailed my manager asking for a three day week in order to have time to paint.  The response is encouraging.

My expectation is that I will enjoy it and make the break to full-time  in June.
I won't allow so much pressure from my publisher this time if I go ahead. The key is enjoyment.

Spending the summer painting in France is an option now.  Feels good!

All I have to do is make it happen!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Focus, concentration and goals...

"Most obstacles in life have no power to stop you but only to make you stop yourself." -Robert Brault.

I wrote a number of years ago that the world has it's fair share of quitters, drop outs and clock watching idlers who are forever thinking of break times, holidays or retirement  I considered myself a self-starter who had a degree of initiative. Today, as I came across what I'd written, I felt uncomfortably close to some of the things I disliked in people...mainly because I'm in danger of losing sight of my main goals because of a few perceived obstacles blocking the way forward.

It was Richard L Evans who said "If wedon't change direction,  we'll arrive at where we are going".

Socrates said "He who would move the world, must first move himself"

I'm beginning to question my motives and motivation now.  I'm the problem, not the obstacles.

I know that money is a powerful motive because we need to feed , house and clothe ourselves. I once read a survey that suggested that 71% of problems across social, marital, health and education had a financil basis so yes, money is necessary... I suppose!

We work hard for money, harder for people and hardest for a cause-for principles or what we believe in.

Eisenhower once said that the great driving forces of the world are not intellectual, but emotional".

Successful people do the following...
  1. Set specific goals
  2. Have enthusiasm
  3. Have concentration / Focus
Well, I seem to be okay for setting goals...even achievable ones. True, I don't always have seems to come in bursts- so perhaps I need to look at this.
Concentration, focus or will power is my problem. Today I had eight quality street chocolates on my desk.  I was to have one an hour.  They were all gone within 30 minutes...such will power!

I'm just not focussed enough for some of my main goals! When I was a boy, I put a magnifying glass to my bare leg on a mediocre summer's day and concentrated the light in one small area. It certainly made me move. The urgency to move as quickly has lessened as the years go by.

It has been said that we have great potential, we are potentially great and that it's great to have potential.  It's a different world when we are involved rather than being carried along and are just drifting.

To be fair, in the past my life has been good and even now I've nothing really to complain about's just the current 9-5 slot -the area of one of my main goals, that needs tweaking.

Right!  I'm taking charge!  When?  Soon! (lol)!

Another good day at work and everyone is on each other's Christmas card list again.

Oh No! Did I mention Christmas in October?  Oops!

Time to get EMOTIONALLY involved...perhaps I'll then work my socks off until I've tasted success!

More to come on this subject.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

One of those days...

I walked to work yesterday feeling positive, happy and relaxed.  I don't know how it happened, but from 10:30 onwards strange things happened and the mood blackened.  The team suddenly became aggressive and negative culminating in words being said, barriers put in place and temperatures plummeting below zero.

Team meetings by management were instigated and implemented immediately.  There was finger pointing, sudden bursts of accusation followed by frosty silences, mumbling, razor sharp tongues in action and oaths uttered.  By the time 4:00pm came around it was either going to be blood, broken bones and open war,or peace, concilliation, tears and regret.

Well, it's amazing what a single kind word does in getting the ball rolling.  Tears flowed, smiles returned as did the warmth, apologies offered and accepted and an atmoshere of optimism dispelled the dark cloud hanging over us.  It felt like a winter purge leaving us with an early thaw.  The pessimistic grip had loosened at last.

Some things will never be the same though and I resolved not to be here by June 2010.  It's time to get back to full-time painting in preparation for living in France.  It will never happen until I make it happen.  I've been too comfortable with things as they are.  It's time to move on and I think nine months is adequate preparation and lead time.

Last night Bev worked at the back of the garden while I started to remove the posts in the front garden in preparation for finishing the other (smaller) part of the wall.

We spoke to Juli, Eileen, David, Marie-Jose and Florent in France and our CHinK friends about fund raising in Kenya.  I also booked tickets for the theatre on Saturday to see 'Abigails Party'. I was lucky to get tickets as every evening is now sold out.

It was nice to chill after such a frustrating day.

It's sunny at the moment, it's Wednesday and I'm about to walk to work again.  With luck 10:30 will pass without incident and I'll enjoy a full working day.  Oh yeah!!

I ENJOYED THE FULL WORKING tears, barbed words, averted glances or pregnant pauses!

I did however feel a chill in the air walking back home but I can live with that.

Another follower I see.  Welcome Berowne!  What part of the planet do you rest your head on and is your interest in things French, art or just the ramblings of an obsolete radial driller and has-been window dresser?  Actually, these are two little known facts about me.

I'm determined to study some French tonight...nothing will stop me...unless I get carried away with reading my favourite blogs.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Marks & Spencer

I'm not sure if M&S is known outside Europe, but all the same, this is something I found interesting.

We had just woken up feeling groggy after our 4:00am text from Ashley on Saturday morning.  Throughout the night the wind had been howling...not that we could hear it much, but the trees gave evidence of it as the branches swirled outside our bedroom window.

This is a lovely location...a house built in the1500's and full of charm.

At breakfast (8:30) in front of a welcoming fire set inside the largest inglenook fireplace I've ever seen outside of a stately home, we planned the day.

Skipton was to be our first visit, so after watching the ducks, geese and chickens play outside around the brook, we set off. 

This is what we learned about M&S from the local museum as Thomas Spencer gazed down at me from his glass cabinet. No, he wasn't stuffed-it was a photograph.

The man hailed from Skipton apparently and had been encouraged to join up with a penny bazaar merchant named Michael Marks from nearby Leeds.

Thomas put £300 towards the venture and Michael £450.  Had it been the other way round we would have had S&M (just doesn't have the same ring).  It could even have been M&M's if Thomas had been christened Maurice (now that's interesting). They could have gone into sweets instead!

Anyway, while we were visiting Harrogate later that day, I couldn't remember the date that M&S got together until we came across this busker.  I found him great to talk to as I had an epiphone 12 string just like his way back in 1977 (minus the bolts). Note where he's chosen to play...and the date!

Yes, it was a funny way to have a question answered and yes, to busk in Paris or another major city is still on my bucket list.  Hopefully, I won't have to wait until I'm penniless.

Here are a few other photos...

A French chicken hutch in Yorkshire which is guaranteed to deny foxes a free meal.  The owner insists it works so I took detailed pics for reference.  It houses three chickens and if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed they'd walk up those rickety ramps.

In the Dales with the weather improving...

Our little friend the Harrogate Harrier.

If you want to get away from it all, this isn't a bad place to start...go with someone you love.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Special Delivery...

Emmaleigh, Aimee, Danny, Anna-Belle, Austin, Hollie and...

Edith Nadine Devine

3rd October 2009  6:05pm
7lb 13oz

Well done Amber
 (and Ashley)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Post post...after the last post...

Yes, I'm confused too. Anyway, this really IS the last post until Monday.

We are all ready and the dentist hasn't cancelled yet.

Calendar Girls country here we come! 

For those who are not aware, 'Calendar Girls' was a very English grass-roots film starring Julie Walters and Helen Mirren which is set in the area we are going to in a few hours time.  It's a film I'd recommend although some say I have poor taste.  What do they know?  I have excellent taste!  Watch the'll laugh and cry (what more do you want)? And it isn't as dodgy as the title suggests.

Amber...PLEASE don't have the baby in the next hour or so. Wait until we've booked into the hotel or too far to turn back (am I being too selfish here).  We'll be thinking of you.  Bev has her mobile for updates.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The last post...rhyming slang!

Weather...quite nice. The sun is shining right now (5pm).
How do I feel?  Not relaxed.  I've not enjoyed work today in the slightest.  Roll on tomorrow afternoon.

I've just realised that after the dentist tomorrow lunch-time (I bet they ring to cancel) I'll be off to the Yorkshire Dales with Bev.  This then will be my last post until Monday.

Randi didn't understand me when I mentioned the word 'porkies' recently.

Here's a small selection of rhyming slang just for you...They usually originated from the East-End of London but it'll be fun to start your very own...if it doesn't already exist.
  • Pigs ear - Beer
  • Plates of meat - Feet
  • Butcher's hook - To have a look
  • Tea leaf - Thief
  • China plate - Mate
  • Mince pies - Eyes
  • Loaf of bread - Head (use your loaf-use your head)
  • Pork pies - Lies (little lies/ fibs are porkies)
  • Apples and pears - Stairs
  • Scarper - Run away (from Scapa Flow, meaning to go).
  • Adam and Eve - Believe
  • Ruby Murray - Curry
  • Trouble and strife - Wife
There are rude ones I believe, but let's not go there.

Any to add?

Right, I feel a lot better now! 

I'm going to use the chainsaw on that tree stump at the bottom of the garden now.  I'll feel better still when it's done. It has restricted entry into our shed for long enough.  GRRRRR!!

That's better!  It's bark wasn't bigger than my bite!