Sunday, January 31, 2010


My feet haven't touched the ground today.

Jon and Serene plus my brother Tom and Lesley came over for dinner. They were later joined by Ash&Amber and Martin&Sarah. We had a really relaxing a hectic sort of way.

Still unable to include a movie clip. Ash told me how to do it but I'm feeling slow just hasn't clicked. I'll try again tomorrow. Right now I'm unbelievably tired.

Hard luck Andy Murray. Maybe Wimbledon is the time to do it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Time for a moan...

It's exactly a week that we attended the wedding reception for Andrew & Becky so perhaps showing a clip or two would be was also the night we lost the car registration plate.

Actually, I'm unable to download the clips. This was their first dance as Mr&Mrs. Yes, I know you can't really see them...

I'll ask my son tomorrow afternoon how to download video clips and include them in a post.

It was such a bright and beautiful day today and I couldn't resist doing a few jobs outside. When Bev returned she told me off for burying her bulbs. Such a response quickly brought back the early frost. Thankfully, she later gave me a smile resulting in a major thaw. She also gave me a full bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate which kept me quiet for a while and is now all gone. I know, I can hardly believe I've polished off a whole bar...and I only gave two squares away!

I have a 20 minute speaking assignment at church tomorrow. I should have spoken a few weeks ago but the snow arrived and the meetings were cancelled. I thought I'd gotten away with it!

I wanted to say something yesterday about the apparent witch-hunt against Tony Blair and the decision to go to war with Iraq. Now's my chance.

There seems to me to be something sinister in the way the media attempts to manipulate the viewer in relation to political issues. It has evolved over the last year or so and is beginning to niggle me.  Instead of just giving a report of the news, they are encouraged to give their own personal analysis which is taken as an authoritative voice and is further analysed in the studio by people who know very little, but like the sound of their own voices. What we end up with is the viewpoint of a bunch of rambling know-it alls rather than plain and simple unbiased first-hand extended news reporting... and it's their view which is presented, parcelled and passed to a gullible public as factual. We could hear the man who experienced it firsthand and are surely intelligent enough to either accept or reject his reasoning. We don't need the rest of it from babbling fools.

As far as I was aware, the decision to go to war was sanctioned by Parliament which included the opposition with all party backing, and not solely that of Mr Blair. I'm not a lover of our former Prime Minister but I think what he's being criticised of is beyond the mark...and the remit of the reporters.

I've had my moan now so I should be okay for a while.

Is there anything that niggles you? Go on, have a moan on me!

Friday, January 29, 2010


Seeing as I won't be posting any originals until March I thought I'd include some of my limited edition prints.

This one is when we were stuck in the centre of Paris waiting for Lance Armstrong to pass by and win the Tour de was a super-hot day. I was pleased that I caught the atmosphere of waiting crowds, searing heat and least I think I did. incredible place with lots of galleries. This painting really doesn't do it justice. I think I'd like to paint it again to capture a bit of atmosphere. Apart from the detail, there are two other things I dislike about this is the no entry sign and the other is the woman's thin left leg. Because it's a print, it's too late to change things.
Honfleur again. I think I'm disappointed because it doesn't show the boats which are just across the road from these people. I'd much prefer painting boats than people stuffing their faces. of my all-time favourite places (the old quarter). This isn't the old quarter however.
Naples again...

These are all 10"x10" but I'm thinking of reducing them to 6"x6" and embellishing them.

Done nothing today other than paint. Loving it!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

If I had a choice I'd live...

We go to Bridgford so often that you'd think we should live there. Well we almost did...about 30 years ago but it all fell through because they said the area was due for redevelopment and the houses will probably have to be demolished. The area was redeveloped but the houses are still there. We started married life in Bridgford but each time we've moved it's been further and further away. That's where we've been tonight.

We love it here in Newark though. We were chatting in the car and would like to do a tour of the place when the lighter nights arrive. I know we've been here about eight years but it has a rich history and there's tons we haven't seen.

Did you know that there are people living in New York who have never been to see the Statue of Liberty and some Parisians have never been up the Eiffel Tower?

I enjoyed painting today but am starting to get a little cramped. I've got paintings everywhere in various stages of completion. What I wouldn't give for a large open-plan studio that is flooded with natural light.

Welcome to Molly Potter! It's a lovely name that just rolls off the tongue. By all accounts I think she had as much luck as me in the choosing your parents game. Still, we do the best with what we're dealt with I suppose. We wouldn't be the interesting individuals we are without the challenging or colourful upbringing we had.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy dropping in from time to time.

That's me done. Another day gone and the first time ever that my horlicks is way too hot to drink.

While it's cooling down I'm thinking If money was no object where would I choose to live? Would it still be here?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Close your eyes

I've had some book vouchers for over a year and thanks to Blu I wandered into town and nervously unfolded one and asked "Do you accept these?" Yes! she said.

This is what I ordered...

Usually when I put my feet up I quickly fall asleep. I've only heard snippets about her life but sufficient to keep me awake for a little while...I think

At work, Kirsty asked me to close my eyes and describe what Christine was wearing (Christine sits right next to me). It was her attempt to demonstrate to everyone within earshot that men aren't as observant as women. She was obviously bored and was looking for a little amusement. She thought I'd fail miserably. She was right!

Am I a reasonable representation of all men though? I think not! I'll get my own back I'm sure.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Up early and straight to work. Didn't even come home for tea...straight out to pick Martin up and try and beat the football traffic. Visited Hong and fitted a new toilet handle, then on to see Bev Cotton and Jaimie-Lee and finished off having a good old chat with Anne Bennett.  All in all, a really good evening.

It seemed a long drive back to Newark as I listened to the end of Forest's win over QPR.

I'm not particularly hungry, my eyes are sore and I'm ready for bed.


Monday, January 25, 2010

As you were...

I tried it but didn't like flitting backwards and forwards between the three blogs, so I've brought my art back here until I can create a suitable website. 
That's it! All done!
Last post from the art blog...
The Royal Academy forms have arrived so what to paint is on my mind. I've also been thinking of how much painting time I have. 17 days would be too tight for framing so in real terms I have just 14 painting days left...that's a selection of two from the six to eight paintings I'm likely to produce.

I'm abandoning detail and will be going for free, loose, bright, colourful and intuitive... none of which are in evidence with this batch. Today was good and I've almost finished a painting that can possibly be a contender. No, it won't be on show today.  In fact I won't be showing any new work until I've finished the batch to showcase sometime just prior to framing in March.

I'll have an online exhibition to canvas opinion as to which two to choose.

These paintings won't be up for selection...a combination of new and previously unfinished work.

This one has had a change of sea colour and a little overhaul...

This is a giclee of Positano which I've embellished with oil...I have fond memories of being there.

As is this one...but of Cornwall. You may recognise the scene from a recent oil.

A different interpretation of the same scene...

I have to say that I am thoroughly enjoying painting again. My working day begins at 8:00am and reluctantly finishes around 6:00pm.

I paint to loud music most of the time and turned-down radio for a few hours. I don't particularly like painting in silence for longer than an hour.

MIL has to ring the bell at the bottom of the stairs if she wants my's the only thing louder than her dulcet tones.

Did I say dulcet?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I'm no pugilist...

The weather is as steely as yesterday but inside things have brightened up a bit.

After church I took a flower for Janey and checked if she was behaving herself. I found her contemplating mischief.

When I first met her she had vivid red streaks in her brown hair. Then she was brunette. Then she wore a blonde wig (which we shared once). Then back to a patchy brown before settling with her favourite.

The headstone is just like Janey...larger than life! I didn't have to go looking for it. It's taller than anything around. In life she was so small that you'd have difficultly in picking her out in a crowd...until of course she opened her mouth(in the nicest possible way).

Here's a few words that we sang today which she never caught sight of but will answer one day with a resounding yes!

Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad? If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone's burdens been lighter today because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way? When the needed my help was I there?

If I can answer with a resounding yes too, then I'll be as happy as Larry...whoever Larry may be!

I was heartened today by what the church I belong to have donated in monetary terms over the past ten years to those in less than 900 million dollars. I know it pales against what Christendom and the world in general have donated, but it doesn't take a genius to work out how many slices of bread you get for that amount and is pretty good for just one organisation.

They are in the thick of the current disaster too...leading by example which is what I expected.

George Clooney gets my vote for donating a Million and spearheading a billion dollar relief project. Add this to what governments and common individuals like you and me donate and you get a picture of genuine love and concern. It may not be an accurate picture but what the heck! I just hope it all gets to where it's needed very soon.

I googled Happy as Larry...
Australian boxer Larry Foley (1847 - 1917). Foley was a successful pugilist who never lost a fight. He retired at 32 and collected a purse of £1,000 for his final fight. So, we can expect that he was known to be happy with his lot in the 1870s - just when the phrase is first cited.

Yes, I had to look up 'Pugilist''s someone who fights with his fists for sport. You learn something new every day...if you're lucky.

I'm no pugilist but I should really knuckle down to a bit of meaningful studying now.

I've just decided...I'm going to Kenya at the end of the year to help at the orphanage. Posting this is unfortunately very public and may be viewed as a motive for doing it, but I would have written it in my old journal anyway. I've never offered this type of help before so there's nothing to be blowing my trumpet about. I'll probably be more of a hindrance than anything but I'm tired of just talking about it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I'd like to say I had a full and exciting day but I didn't. As soon as I heard that Joel (our neighbour in France) had died I just didn't feel in the mood for anything.

The one pleasant surprise was to finally track down and send an email to my old friend Tony from 30 years ago. He was featured in a post back in August countdown 5 at the bottom of the post (a B&W photo of Witchwood).

Weather...overcast and dreary.


Friday, January 22, 2010

It's nice to be indoors.

Cold, rainy and miserable if you are a postman today...but if you are an artist you are warm, dry and happy!

I have actually worked on a building site in winter and have walked the streets as a postie...and been out in all weather for the Wildlife Trust and Rushcliffe Parks and Gardens, so I can empathise with anyone having to suffer miserable conditions.

Thinking about it, I'm always out in poor weather when jobs have to be done...and I don't even get paid for it!

A good productive day and a lot to be thankful for.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Royal Academy application form.

It came at last. I just need to get some paintings together for the selection committee...easier said than done.

Bev has taken her mum to do some visiting and took some genealogy to do while she waited for her.

I've been working on my French while waiting for the blinds to be finished and I'm currently typing this and listening to James Taylor.

My painting efforts were interrupted by a flying visit to Lincoln to have the number plate fitted.  The LAMMA fair is in progress so the traffic is heavy.  I used to think it was Llama... I listened to it being mentioned on the radio and wondered why there was so much interest in exotic animals. LAMMA has something to do with agricultural machinery which makes a lot more sense.

I painted this temporary super quickie for the bedroom wall to surprise Bev...just the curtains to go up now (when they arrive).

Oops! It looks like I've lost all followers. I must have done something wrong but can't think what.

I'm off to do a little more French.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In the limelight

I watched the first episodes of Coronation Street in the early 1960's when Ena Sharples, Martha Longhurst and Minnie Caldwell ruled. I last watched it when Elsie Tanner died in the 70's (I think).

Tonight it still seems to be making an impact in the lives of the British public and has just won the battle of the soaps at the British Television Awards.  I feel almost embarrassed that the world might see it all as a reflection of the shallowness of the people of our great nation.

Why do people (I was one of them for a few years in my youth) get so carried away and waste so much of their valuable time watching such dribble?

Anyway, the news that really took centre stage and warmed my heart today was of the late, late survival of the women and children of the Haiti disaster. I stand amazed by the humanity on show and the miracles that are happening as people are dragged out of rubble.

The real stars are easily identified...they are the ones not on stage.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Need to be stronger...

It was Bev's night out and my French night in, but the DVD wouldn't work and the Manchester derby was about to start. The  result was a fantastic game  and victory over the French language. Perhaps tomorrow evening I'll have more will-power. Okay, there's no perhaps about it. I will be stronger and concentrate on my French.

In footballing terms though I think I'm cured. Sunderland suffered their heaviest defeat in their Premiership history on Saturday...and I wasn't physically sick. I didn't even give it another thought. It no longer has a grip on me. It's time to take a grip on myself. I'm a grown man for goodness sake. Who cares what happens in the football world anyway?


Monday, January 18, 2010

As you were.

I thought I'd surprise Bev by taking her on a short mystery tour to treat her to the chest of drawers she fell in love with a few weeks ago, but when we got there it was gone and she was left wondering why we were there. "I thought it might be nice to see if there was anything left in the sale" I said, to which she quickly replied "There was only one item I would have liked from this place". Then she cast an eye over the floor for what I knew was the very thing I came to get.

Some things don't work out the way you would like.

We didn't even get the early night we need to re-charge our batteries.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Allington...a new experience.

Saturday was the wedding day of one of my nephews and, as we set off around 10:45pm bound for  home, we decided to use the Tom-Tom. This new car of ours has one built into it so we thought to give it a whirl.

It took us cross-country along unfamiliar roads. The rain lashed down on us as we meandered through villages and we felt good about the journey and the now familiar signposts. Then, as we drove down a steep hill and under a bridge, we hit a flooded area which caused the displaced water to rise violently and crash down on top of the car. The force  took us by surprise and it became the topic of conversation for the remaining 25 minutes of the journey.

As we entered Newark we decided to put petrol in the car instead of Sunday so we drove past our house to fill up. As Bev paid, I took the opportunity to walk around the car to admire it. To my horror I noticed we had no registration plate and I stared at it like a man-refusing to believe the obvious and didn't notice Bev standing by me again suggesting we go back for it.

25 minutes later we arrived back at the bridge hoping the number plate would be floating happily. Nothing was visible so we concluded that it must have sunk.

This is when I lost my senses and got out of the car, removed my jacket and tie, rolled up my sleeves, took my shoes off, rolled my trousers up and waded into the freezing cold black water. My legs were numb as I came out the other end having found nothing. I then re-entered the water on the other side and found a registration plate...not ours. Then I almost slid over something smooth...our number plate.

At this point I realised that here I was at almost midnight under a bridge and almost knee deep in freezing water...for what? It was only a registration plate which could easily be replaced.  I should be tucked up safely in bed. How the heck did I manage to get myself into this situation. If a car had come, I would have at best been totally drenched.

I suddenly came to my senses and quickly waddled out clutching both number plates... just as Bev clicked the camera.

I don't think I will ever re-visit Allington...I've been there, done it and don't want to do it again...ever!

ps, Welcome to Vera and a couple of family members.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The perfectly sighted blind man

Yesterday my painting was interrupted by the carpet fitters who were late arriving and today my painting was interrupted by the blind man.

The blind man isn't actually blind, he's the man who came to fit the blinds in the bedroom. I think it's pretty cool to see his vehicle livery which reads 'The Blind Man'. He sometimes drives with dark glasses and really looks the part. His name is Robert and we've known him for over 15 years. The fitting is a free service when we ordered the blinds but the problem was that he wasn't able to fit them. The man who came to measure (Bev's boss) measured them incorrectly. This means they will all have to be re-cut.

Isn't it typical that the blind man was able to see perfectly and the man who came to measure wasn't. The good thing is that Bev can get them done very quickly as it's her job. She also gets to tell her boss off for being incompetent which is almost worth the inconvenience of having no cover at the windows now that we've moved back in.

Yesterday we drove straight to Nottingham and didn't get back until 10:45 after a stop for a chat with David & Eileen...hence no blog entry.

Watched Slumdog Millionnaire the other night..brilliant! I loved it. A bit of an eye-opener but a top-class film. I didn't recognise a single actor as the credits rolled, but seeing as they were all indians it isn't surprising. I would recommend watching it if you haven't already done so. Top film! Did I mention that it was a good film? Go see it and you can tell me how it started as we missed the first five minutes.

We've just had a freezing walk to Homebase to buy a tin of paint and will now be settling down for a home based date and popcorn.

I love the week-end.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The best is yet to come

On this cold and treacherously icy day my post is dedicated to warm-hearted Jo...and I suppose Teresa too, the saint from The Performance Centre.

This Performance Centre has nothing to do with the arts but everything to do with holiday coordination within the company I drag myself to. It's very complicated and extremely difficult to get what you want, especially when there are about 600 people to please.

Jo kindly agreed to move her holiday to September which paved the way for me to slip in quickly and book the vacated slot and have the final day I needed to ensure a bargain flight in July to France.  Teresa was the one who rubber-stamped it to make it official.  I guess Jo is the saint...Teresa was just doing her job, albeit a very good job.

So May, July and August/September are the months all booked off.  We're excited and can hardly believe it's settled. We have to wait to book the ferry crossings but the flights are all booked now. It's great when you have the best of days with the promise of the best yet to come. France here we come!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Stay away from temptation

The New Year usually heralds new beginnings or a fresh start but Bev is adding to the dodgy hobby of growing that which is illegal...yes, we all remember how she protested her innocence.

My only crime was to forget to empty my jeans before they were bundled into the washer.  Bev just couldn't resist expanding her empire by muscling in on the money laundering scene.
She's dry is the Queen .

Yes, all serial numbers have been deliberately blurred.

Personally, I think the Quality Street is the real temptation.

I'm tempted to share my resolutions for this year, but pride prevents me.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Uneasy start and fading memory.

I did it!
I drove the car to work before Bev took over to drive the extra little bit to her place of work.

I reversed into the main road (illegal).  Then I went to grab a non-existent gear stick (it wasn't where I expected it to be).
The deaf man who delivered the car must have used the sat-nav because suddenly a very loud woman frightened the life out of me by giving me directions to go back. I was however proud that I pulled the correct arm to make the indicator rather than the wipers work.

All in all it was a good experience...we'll get on fine together given time.

Phoned my sister to wish her happy birthday for last week. I must remember to get it right for next year.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bedroom almost ours again...

It's a very strange feeling being here this time on a Sunday but I definitely enjoyed the lie-in.

The day has been spent reading, updating photographs and keeping in touch.  What a super relaxing day...except for trying to upload these photos of recent work.

Thanks for the suggestion Jean.  It didn't work unfortunately, but Ash managed to see where I was going wrong...I had too many applications open and blogger couldn't update.

Anyway, this is the start of re-decorating the main bedroom...removing the ceiling due to a leak.  All the walls have been stripped here and look how poor a condition the walls are.  Under the mirror we had dressing table and storage... the bed was opposite.  Bev wanted the bed to be between the wardrobes so who am I to object. The wardrobes are fitted into the alcoves.

All the ceiling off now...and behind the skirting I found a newspaper dated 1968.

Ashley having a smashing time yesterday...sorry, make that Friday.

All done...plastering under window, boards up on ceiling and filled/sanded, electrics re-directed, light switch re-directed, door removed and fitted to open the opposite way, walls filled, coving in place, wall papering all done, chimney breast double lined, connecting top piece re-fitted, underlay in place ready for carpet and three coats of paint throughout. ~I'm particularly pleased with the ceiling...super white and super smooth (doesn't really show on the photos).

This shows the depth of the wardrobes and where the bed will go...although Bev doesn't like the bedstead and would prefer a wall mounted padded backrest...when she has decided on a design (could take months).

Next Friday we move in.

I'm feeling really good because I've realised that I'm running out of building projects and that pretty soon my Saturdays will be spent sight-seeing and visiting.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Work, rest...then play.

That car on our drive reminds me of Bev in the 70's sitting at the side of a dance hall waiting to be asked to dance. I think to myself...'I see you stranger and you sure look good to me!' Shall I tell her that I would love to dance with her? I will dance with her. I did dance with her...eventually! And we've been dancing ever since.

That car sure looks good to me. I'm not going to start talking to it but soon I'll get to know it better. I will!

We worked hard on the bedroom and it's now all ready for the carpet to go down next Thursday. It was supposed to have been today, but they couldn't make it. It's just as well because there was more work than we thought. Tomorrow I'll take a picture or two and post them.

I got the call around lunch-time that church has been cancelled tomorrow. You could have knocked me down with a feather. I've never known church to be cancelled before. I was both stunned and elated because I don't have to finish my talk now. So relieved!

Tomorrow will be a day of rest in every sense of the word. Next week...playtime! A nice drive!

Friday, January 08, 2010


I've just seen the cutest photo of my daughter and one of my sons when they were very young. They were taken by friends who have scanned them and put them on Facebook. I guess Facebook can't be that bad after all. While I was on it Becky Latham popped up on the screen for a chat...frightened the life out of me. How the heck did she know I was on it?  I haven't seen her in years and it was really good to chat for a few minutes. It's sad when we get so busy that we can't manage to stay in touch. Helen Cryer (the one doing all the scanning) posted the photo of my son and guess who was in the picture with him (other than me and a few old friends)?  Tony Latham...Becky's husband. Scary or what!

I think I'll give her a call on Sunday for an update on the family.

I had a bad night with stomach pains and was awake from 3:00am so I didn't get up until 9:00. It was slow going but I managed to carry two 8x4 MDF sheets from the wood yard as I haven't got a roof-rack and he couldn't deliver. My arms were almost dropping off as it is about 800 yards away.  They are now cut to size and on the chimney breast of our bedroom...the boards, not my overstretched arms.  The carpet fitters aren't coming now until next Thursday so the pressure is off.

I'm speaking again at church on Sunday so I'd better pray for more snow so I can't make it... or stop procrastinating and start preparing. I don't really feel up to it but I suppose things will fall into place when I get going.

We've had more snow so I didn't get a chance to drive our new car again. It's been sitting in the drive, covered in snow and thinking no one loves it. Perhaps Sunday.

Although this has been the best day for Facebook (for me personally) I still think I'll be kicking it into touch soon. It's just too manic and I have very little spare time. This is how I feel when I visit it monthly.

I'd welcome any suggestions on how it can be kept through low maintenance and what the benefits are of having it around.

Juli...your blog won't allow me to leave comments. I didn't mean to say those things about your photo on Facebook...honest!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Why do we do the things we do?

I trudged into the back garden to make my snowman and prepare ammo for later, but the snow was very powdery and difficult to compact and mould. I gave up because my fingers were dropping off. Why can't snow be a little warmer?

I didn't stay long in my studio as we have carpet being fitted very soon in a bedroom that isn't ready.  I think I'll also have to sacrifice tomorrow to get it ready for Saturday.  It'll be worth it...I think!

Reading Foreign Quang the other day made me think about why I particularly like Dandelion and Burdock on Sunday. I reckon I've sussed it!

I think I was about seven when I was in care with the Bell family.  Mrs Bell always made fresh bread and cakes. Mr Bell would be forever winding the clocks up. The house would chime out a reassuring sound and on Sunday afternoons we would read the Dandy and have D&B to drink. For someone with my background it was sheer luxury.

It's the first time I've analysed why D&B invariably stays in the fridge during the week and comes out  on Sunday and is savoured. When the family come around on Sunday and it does come out, no one gets close to it but me.

I think I'd like to investigate other things I do to find out why I do them.

Pretty heavy for a Thursday don't you think?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A little bit of a change around.

We took the tree down today and the place looks bare in comparison to how it was.

Loads of snow fell today and tomorrow I'll make a little snowman.

As you can see, I've spent some time changing my blog around.  I like clean lines and bright colours. The title picture is of a detail of one of my Venice paintings. The boat looks a bit out of place in Venice but that's just the way it was. Perhaps I'll paint another with gondolas.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Its arrived!

Bucket loads of snow! I walked back home after work across the playing fields that I'd walked in Summer in a t-shirt with the sun beating down on me. This time, I was wrapped up with multi-layers and it was freezing but it felt magical to hear the scrunch of fresh snow underfoot. There's much more to come apparently. It's the worst winter for 20 years and the news is that the big freeze could last until March.

It's causing national devastation as usual and I fully expected to hear that our car could not be delivered because of the conditions, but there it was in the drive. It stopped me in my tracks. I eventually moved again and circled it a few times before entering the house with a smile.

I wouldn't dare take it on the road at the moment but I've already enjoyed sitting in it. I'll probably twitch the curtains tonight. Tomorrow I'll pause to admire it as I pass by on the way to work. By the weekend I won't even notice it.

The ceiling in the bedroom is painted and the room is papered with this amazing fibreglass wide roll mesh that B&Q used to sell here in Nottingham. Juli kindly picked a roll up for us from the Sunderland store...yes, one roll has covered the entire room with lots to spare.

I'd like to take credit for all the hard work, but Bev is the one that put the stuff on the walls and painted it. She's done a fantastic job. We're a good team.   I do what she doesn't like doing and she does what I can't do.

There is snow on the ground, something on our drive, something on our walls and something on my mind right French commitment. Gotta go!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Cost of living

We totted up our expenditure for the year the other day and were surprised at how much we spent on some things and how little we spent on others. Here is an average monthly spend on a few of the things would be nice to see how it compares with other parts of the world.

  1. Food £122.65pm
  2. Petrol £103pm
  3. Household...toilet rolls, tooth paste etc! £8pm
  4. Presents £61.85pm
  5. Health and Beauty £41.64pm 
  6. France £156pm
  7. Decor £103pm
  8. Other...stuff not categorised £108pm (big surprise!)
  9. Council Tax £149pm
  10. Gas & Electricity £88
There were other things like telephone, insurances, TV and internet, water rates and donations etc!  All in all we think we did quite well and if we subtract some of the one-off purchases (especially for France and home decor) we could live quite comfortably In France on what we originally thought.

It was a worthwhile exercise.

This year we will do the same but with more specific categories. 

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Goals Night

We had a great night and Briony achieved most of her goals to score 80% and win the trophy for 2009.
My French goal let me down and I only finished half of my finishing-off jobs goal, so I trailed with a 60% success rate.
Meeting up and having a good time laughing at each other's failures (in a kindly sort of way) was and always will be the enjoyable part of the evening. It was such good fun.
I've set some fairly simple goals this year.  We each set five goals and mine are...

  1. Submit two paintings to the Royal Academy Summer Open Exhibition selection committee.
  2. Board out the loft here in England.
  3. Build a storage area in France (approx. 25'x12').
  4. Set up a gallery round and weekly art blog in the UK.
  5. Personalise our English and French homes with paintings, ornament, books, photos etc! 

These are simply things we'd like to achieve rather than resolutions, so we don't beat ourselves up if we don't achieve them although I'll be disappointed if I don't achieve these if I'm honest.

I wonder how our children and their friends got on with their goals night?
It's going to be a great year... I feel it in my tired old bones!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

This is not a post

I forgot that I'm not supposed to be posting today. Oh well! Never mind! It's not the end of the world!

I was totally clogged up with dust after sanding the ceiling but that was all the work achieved today.

We drove to Coventry to check out our new car which wasn't the one we originally chose on Thursday in Grantham. I saw a better spec on the internet and because it's from the same Toyota group, we dashed over to settle everything.

On Tuesday we will be the proud owners of a Toyota Yaris 1.3 VVTi SR. It's a smaller car than we are used to but it's also the car we've been wanting for about a million years. It isn't new, but we would never buy a new car anyway. Registration...BEV 1 (as if!)

It's our get together tomorrow evening when we all check out how we did with the goals we set for 2009.  The bedroom was one of my goals which I might get 1/2 a point for. We'll have to see about the rest.

I reckon David will sneak it this year...he smiles every time goals are mentioned.

Friday, January 01, 2010

An omen?

I woke up to bright sunshine and an overwhelming feeling of optimism.  It's going to be a great year!

I found Bev already up and watching Sheila Hancock on TV tracing her genealogy.

When I checked my blog, Marie-Jose (my French friend) had left a comment...her very first comment on my very last post.  So the first things that I experienced in 2010 was sunshine, warmth, a feeling of optimism, genealogy and a communication in French. I'm well happy!

I also notice that on the very first day of 2010 I have broken my first resolution by posting.  That has to be failure in a spectacularly quick time, although it's not failure at all is it? What I so often view as failure is nothing more than a desire to do better in an area that I recognise I'd like to spend more time in than I am.

I'm ready to tackle the first job of the year...the bedroom.

It's almost 6pm and I've had enough of the bedroom. The ceiling is almost ready to paint now and the coving is up and walls prepared. With luck, tomorrow will see the ceiling painted and the walls papered.

Bev feeling better after being off-colour most of the day.

Time to relax and make plans and then begin my first French study period.