Friday, April 30, 2010

Three Peaks Challenge

I lost my sight yesterday for a while. My peripheral vision was okay, but the centre of my vision was all pixillated for some strange reason. It happened once before about four years ago...just before a stonking migraine. No headaches this time.

Everything was back to normal for the debate and football, both of which were a little disappointing.

We are off to do the Yorkshire three peaks now. Tomorrow is the walk, but we are meeting up with everyone and staying at Dub Cote Farm tonight.

I have to say I'm a tad worried about my ability to walk for 12 hours up and down hills...and rain is on the way.

Why did I agree to this?

Perhaps it won't be so bad!

Perhaps it will!

Perhaps next time I'll think before I commit myself.

Perhaps I'll stop complaining and resolve to have a good time!


I think I'll take comfort from this quote from Robert Brault...

"Failure would be a bad thing if it didn't reopen so many opportunities."

That's better! 

There is opportunity in them there hills.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A pretty decent day

They were hiding in the dark and huddled together as if such a cowardly and pathetic act would protect or save them. It was futile to resist. The attack was decisive and indiscriminate. Call me violent and callous but I don't think I'm alone when it comes to tearing them apart and taking particular pleasure in ripping their heads off.

Snap! At the exact time that I write 'ripping their heads off', Bev mentions someone on TV that has just ripped someone's head off. How about that! She wouldn't believe me and had to come to the computer to see for herself.

Such will always be the fate of Jelly Babies unfortunate enough to be in my possession. I must have polished off an entire generation today.

Amber took her 'Life in the UK' exam today. It was a 45 minute expensive 'rip-off' type of exercise that took her six minutes to complete even allowing time to read through and check mistakes. What if she failed...will they send her back to the States and leave her baby and husband here? I can understand the relevance of this exam for some, but not for an American who has married,  has a family and has worked and lived here this past few years. /she already had to pay a small fortune when she arrived and she will soon have to pay a small fortune to have the move 'rubber-stamped' and made permanent.

It raises the temperature in me when I place this type of struggle and anguish against illegal immigrants who pay nothing yet enjoy so much. Keep calm Ken, breathe deeply!

Anyway, I was determined to learn something new today and stay positive.

What did I learn? I learned that Danielle doesn't mind me calling her Dani. I learned that I can turn a 45 minute wait for a meal into a positive experience if I put my mind to it.  The meal was my reward for narrowly beating Bev over two games of bowling tonight. Three strikes in a row sealed her fate. I punched the air as if I'd scored the winning goal at the world Cup Final.

I also learned the Jose Mourinho really is special. I sat with MIL for 45 minutes to see Inter stave off Barcelona to reach the Champions League Final. Jose is a nutter but I can't help liking him at times. My MIL is a nutter but I can't help liking her at times too.

Now I have 45 minutes of relaxation before a much longer horizontal spell in that there bed upstairs which beckons will be my final act of a pretty decent day.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Danielle didn't arrive on time and I thought she'd had enough and decided to call it a day so to speak. I was beginning to think I overwhelmed her with work. As it happens she turned up and is fine.

I've spent the whole evening sorting photos out...all 8,250 of them. I think it was worth it even though the job isn't finished yet.

Time to have a break.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I asked Kirsty if there was any news from last week. She said there wasn't. Then I found out the following...
  • Scott is leaving the team
  • We have a new starter
  • We will receive a performance related bonus payment this year
  • We'll get a pay rise for the first time in two years
  • There are new processes in place from today
Now, I think that's quite a LOT of news from just Thursday and Friday.

Our new starter is Danielle. I spent the day training her and she's very sharp. I think she'll do well and deserves a break. She's had a bit of a tough time of late in terms of employment.

I'm  now the only male on the team. Outnumbered again!

Bird-watch...Greenfinch and Great-Tit on our feeder table this morning.

Starting to get excited about going to France...just over three weeks away.

Welcome back to Martin & Sarah who think there is nothing quite like England and being home again.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Unexpected pleasure

We were with Jon & Serene barely two minutes when we had surprise guests...Juli & Chris and the gang. Chris had read my blog and saw we were going to Leeds so they made the journey too from the Sunderland end. It's a 90 minutes drive either way.

Hi Hollie, can I borrow you a minute?
That's better! Bev usually tells me off.
Hi Juli, can I borrow you a minute?
Perhaps not.

Aimee and Emm playing...
Austin, Anna-Belle and Great Grandma
Austin and Danny the better half of Jon.
Serene, due Wednesday...

Serene was telling us that she's been so sick during this pregnancy. She was driving recently and was unable to stop in just all came out while driving and she had to carry on. How funny is that? Another time she was on a bus and hadn't anything to catch it in other than by cupping her scarf. That was even more funny.

So glad I'm a man. I've had some pretty spectacular vomits in my time though.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Storm clouds?

It was a big day at the 'Weathering the Storms of Life' exhibition. David and I took care of two workshops and we had good fun. It went well but it's tiring. I was wiped out for a while when I got home.

Next Saturday we are walking the three peaks in Yorkshire. That'll be even more tiring. These Saturday's soon get snapped up.

Tomorrow it will have been exactly a year since Martin ran the London Marathon. I hope the weather is as good because we are off to Leeds in the afternoon to see Austin and will probably end up in the garden.

Saw an adult goldfinch feeding in our garden this morning. I'm getting quite interested in birds (must be getting old).

I'm now thinking about the storms of life. For me there doesn't appear to be any on the horizon. Long may it continue to be the case, but if they do suddenly appear I hope I have the energy, friends, attitude and resources to cope with them.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Not the best of days but I'm not counting it as a day three.

My sister had her exotic holiday cancelled because of volcano dust so she had to settle for Scarborough instead (I think that's where she said she went). It was freezing cold and they have now arrived home to builders using their garden as they work on next doors house. She isn't too pleased.

She tells me that Tony Jeffries is fighting tonight (Sky Sports 9:00pm). Sarah has already left to get to Coventry in time. It'll be a tough fight...his toughest yet. I would have liked to have gone, but we are picking our car up. I also have preparation for tomorrow's class about 'Education and learning to weather the storms of life'. It's being shared with David...two x 45 minute classes.

She passed on some alarming news about the health of John, our brother.

Martin Skyped me again. It's raining in SLC and they're off to do some shooting.

Feeling mentally dull on this beautiful sunny day. I need an early night.

Enjoyed painting (see painting blog if interested).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

All is well

Desperate people leave babies on doorsteps. Some leave friendship hampers or little presents. We found this on our doorstep this morning...
Strange eh! It's new and unopened. Why us?

Seeing everything pop up in the garden is inspiring...
We have tulips all over the place
Cherry pear trees blossoming...
An auricula I didn't even know we had.

The transplanted cherry survived

Life is too short...I'm kicking Piaf into touch. She may have an incredible voice. She may have sung with passion, but the author is just too dry and crams the book with too many facts. It's for anoraks really.

We sang 'Happy Birthday' to Austin this morning.

Juli called me mid-brushstroke and it was good to hear her voice. Martin skyped me mid-brushstroke to say he was off to Paradise (that's nice!) He'll try and find Hanna Middleton Hawkey's final resting place and take a photo for me.

Watched the second Prime Minister's Debate and think Cameron is a bigger gamble than Clegg. Brown was stronger than last week but people should remember that he's had thirteen years and is only just beginning to make promises. I don't trust him, although on the economy he has an authoritative voice.

I know it's strange, but even before I opened my eyes this morning, I mouthed these words..."I've concluded that a painting is completed a long time after it's finished".  I then I said..."Or should that be a painting is finished a long time after it's completed?" I think it was on my mind that I still work on paintings long after the paint has dried.

Finally, the fish! Alive and well and thriving on neglect.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dead or alive?

We were herded into buses and ferried to some conference centre hotel type place twenty minutes away to listen to a load of corporate drivel. Within two hours we were back at our desks to consider how motivated we now were.  That's all I want to say on the matter and leave the reader to determine if the writer feels motivated sufficient to shout for joy.

I sigh and get on with life and note how nice the weather is, albeit with a slight chill in the air.

KenG and Derek dropped by just as I was talking to Martin on skype. They have been scheduled to fly on Sunday but this represents bad news for the fish who will have been without food for a week by the time they arrived home on Monday afternoon. The holiday automatic feeder didn't take volcanic dust into account.

We have the task of trying to save them tomorrow evening but first we have to prise the house key from a neighbour who has never actually seen us. Martin left the key with them but neglected to take their phone number with him.  If they are fish lovers, we are in. I don't mind fish but I'm not prepared to give them the kiss of life. If they are floating it'll be a quick snack for the nearest kitty. If they aren't floating we'll change the filter, install another holiday automatic feeder and beat a hasty retreat. It'll be a new experience for us. Can't wait!

Guess what was for tea tonight?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Well, I'm doing it, but it's nothing to shout about.

Here we are facing a new blogging year almost four months into the real one. It's time to perhaps check on my main goals for 2010 and see if I'm on track.

These are the simple goals...the ones that I've been wanting to achieve for years but have allowed other things to muscle in. If I achieve these I'll be a happy man.
  • Prepare two paintings for the RA Sumer Exhibition selection panel.
  • Create a round of 6+ galleries for distribution of paintings.
  • Build a storage area in France.
  • Board the loft.
  • Personalise both homes with paintings, mirrors, photographs, rugs, ornaments etc!
Every year we get together with a group of friends who each decide on five goals for the year. The winner receives a trophy(of sorts). It's really just an excuse to get together and have a good laugh. And laugh we do...especially as goal after goal is shown to be unrealistic.

No.1  Achieved.
No.2  1/3rd achieved
No.3  Not started yet but the funds have been allocated as well as the time to build it.
No.4  1/3rd achieved
No.5  Have made a start with gathering stuff together.

So, all in all a reasonable effort  up to now. I've lots more things I hope to achieve but these are the ones I don't want to wait another year for.

Three of the nicest things I achieved one Anniversary was to blow bubbles in bed at midnight, waltz on a deserted beach and build a sandcastle for Bev.

The deserted beach in Ireland...
The start of the was good fun.
The camera batteries were being re-charged during the bubble blowing.

I'm reminded of a quote I heard last Sunday..."It's in the doing, not in the thinking that we achieve things".

The list of things I'm not doing  keeps me humble.

Monday, April 19, 2010

One full year of blogging

306 posts-nothing posted during holidays in France or when I was just too tired, forgetful or lazy- reminds me that I've lived a full year at odds with the notion of "Where did tit all go?" I'm grateful for the reminder because it has flown by.

Thank-you to my very real blog friends who have shared their lives with me.

I'm about to sit down with Bev now before I get all watch "Flash Forward" no less.

Here's to another year.

Thanks again for making the journey special.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tomorrow isn't just another day.

Eyes like grit. Sore gum. Feeling tired, under pressure and wondering if a person I know is right...but I'm sure he isn't.  This person is often depressed and feels that if he has two consecutive good days, the third has to be bad. He believes that it doesn't work that someone can feel good all week...not for him anyway. What right have I to be happy? I don't deserve good things happening in my life!

I found it difficult to respond. You don't tell anyone feeling so low to snap out of it. You don't tell them they are talking rubbish. The thought occurred to me that if this is his third day, does spending time with me constitute a bad experience?  I concluded that I shouldn't be flippant and If they are talking to me at all, it means that I am approachable and it's enough to just listen for a long time before saying anything.

I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to yesterday but pleased that someone feels they can bare their soul. We both felt the better for it.

A good night's sleep will sort the gritty eyes out. The sore gum won't be so sore tomorrow. Being wise with my time tomorrow evening will ease the pressure for what threatens next week.

Martin & Sarah still falling foul of volcano dust in SLC. We are missing them now...who'd have thought I'd find myself saying that! know I'm kidding!

Tomorrow is a special day I notice.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Making the most of it

"Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy." -Robert Brault.
We were sitting in the sun on the garden bench having a breather and were talking about this very thing of being just happy with here and now. Yesterday has gone, we don't have tomorrow but we do have's all we have. We've reminded ourselves of that fact and have had a happy day in the garden front and back. Bev was having to pinch herself.
Hasn't it gone quickly. Pretty soon it'll be yesterday. 

Behind on all my e-mails so I'll perhaps catch up tomorrow afternoon.

Friday, April 16, 2010

GBH...a man amongst men.

Well didn't he do well...Nick Clegg. I thought the televised debate with the big three was very successful. I loved it. I had an instant comparison and made notes on how each of them stood with the issues of the day. Can't wait for the next one.

I finished the book...
It was absolutely fantastic to read about my great-great aunt as she pulled a handcart twelve hundred miles over rivers and mountains.

I enjoyed the book although it was as much to do with the author's inner struggle with her relationship with her father, her bike and her apparent lack of faith on leaving the Mormon Church as a teenager, than her great-great grandmothers who risked their lives to remain faithful. I find her relationship with her Mother who remained faithful throughout, particularly special.

There are many contradiction and inaccuracies but I think she was being as honest as she could. After all, it is her story and she tells it very well. The clue to her struggle is actually in the title...a woman's story.

I think it's fair to say that Jana is a feminist and, as such, is unable come to terms with what she considers a male dominated church. The majority of women within the church would disagree with her, and to her credit she even presents a case against her own viewpoint.

I think she quietly takes comfort from the fact she is sealed to her mum...or that may be the other way round.

I have personally met, talked with and sat next to Gordon B Hinckley...a man Jana singled out for criticism on the subject of women.  I've also listened to him over many years and consider him to be one of the most sincere, humble and influential men in the world. I know what his stance was with regard to women and it wasn't what Jana is portraying...albeit in just one sentence. Sadly he's no longer with us but all that he said on the subject is a matter of record.

When all is said and done, I enjoyed the read and I like Jana over the 300 pages she shared with me.

Now it's back to finish off Edith...
I'm only on page 59 of 236 and am not really enjoying it. I'll reserve judgement until the bitter end though.

PAINTINGS... I've decided not to include any paintings here in my daily journal, but put them directly onto the paintings blog (see my other blogs).

Had a nice walk around a sunlit lake with Bev and am just about to sit down to watch The Mentalist.

ps, Thanks for making contact with me Jana. It was a very pleasant surprise. I look forward to responding.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


The sat-nav guided me magnificently to 7-Dental for 9:00am. I'd been driving since 7:40am trying to beat the rush-hour and was pleased to find a parking space within a two minute walk of their plush waiting room.

I was to end up horizontal in the 14th and last of the theatres trying to communicate with a foreign surgeon...but trusting her implicitly. I'd been here before, which is why I was prepared to travel. They are the most up to date dental surgery I can possibly hope for and thoroughly professional.

It was a bloody but painless affair thanks to two enormous needles filled with comfort. I can't say it was a pleasant experience because it took forty-five minutes to extract (I rarely give things away without a struggle). I left with clenched teeth over blood-soaked pad crammed into a black hole.

Next stop was the small studio workshop of a stained-glass artist. I mumbled what I wanted and hope that I pick up what I thought I was communicating.

Complaint Number 1...
Why are we expected to pay £7.50 for EACH item on a prescription? This is daylight robbery but it was so funny to see Bev hold up a long queue to question it. 'Why should I pay £7:50 for Ibuprofen when I see it there on your shelf for less than £3, and why should I pay the same for mouthwash when I can buy one get one free for £2? They were nodding in agreement behind her. "We'll just have the amoxicillin thank you".

When the pharmacist came to us with the package and asked me to confirm my address, I turned to Bev, pretended to be senile and asked her where I live ....did I say pretend?

Why do they feel the need to have an address confirmed when anyone can walk unchallenged into a chemist and pay less over the counter? Pretty soon we'll have to show our passport in order to buy bread and milk. Actually, can you get amoxicillin over the counter, probably not?

Complaint Number 2...
Our new passports have arrived. Why do we have to renew it every ten years when we have a driving licence with the same information for life?

Other news...
Tonight is the very first live TV political debate between the three main parties. I'm eager to see it. Perhaps they'll have something to say about prescription charges.

Martin skyped me a few hours ago. They are stuck in SLC because of the volcano-dust and have no idea when they can fly home. They are planning a trip to San Francisco if it's prolonged into next week. I hear that the volcano is even more violent since the eruption so unless the wind direction changes, they'll get their wish... but will be unable to see anything.

I think this is the first time Martin has been grounded since leaving home.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Politics everywhere

I've opted today to spend time looking at the political landscape. The colours are confusing.   Blue isn't blue and red isn't red as far as I can see. Am I going colour-blind? The picture isn't clear. The lines are blurred. Perhaps I need to brush up on the main points again. Hue will get my vote?

The concern I have is that there isn't a blank canvas to create a masterpiece...the base colour is already muddy, lifeless and mirky. Nothing is fresh, vibrant or optimistic. We need better models. From whom or where can we draw hope? Where do we Gaugin from here?

Such is the art of British politics...sketchy at best and framed in half truths and broken promises. They are making a right exhibition of themselves.

They are worth hanging though...if you get my drift. (I had to modify my previous comment in case they were onto me.)

Okay, I'm feeling blue at the moment but it could be worse...tomorrow I could be Brown.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Standing out.

I think people have to stand out for me to remember their names. If they are outrageous, funny or cantankerous then there is no problem. Bibi Hughes is all three.

Bibi started here the same time as me a number of years ago. Every morning and afternoon for our induction we enjoyed over-the-top role play. From our original group there is only fingerless Linda still here (two fingers from her right hand lost to an industrial bread slicing machine)...unless I'm wrong and they all still work here but aren't outrageous, funny or cantankerous enough to be remembered by name.

This morning I heard Bibi shout my name and ask if I was feeling strong. She was trying to unscrew a milk carton top. "Yes, I can do that", I said. After five minutes I was forced to give up along with any thought of chivalry  or helping maidens in distress. I was pathetic and handed it to Andy...remembered by his long pony tail, and told him it was his big chance to impress. It took him less than a minute. He is bigger than me!

I suppress the urge at this point to blurt out a modern-day packaging rant.

Kirsty inspected my lunch-box...again I suppress the urge to share why she ended up blue in the face and tears streaming down her cheeks with laughter. I don't see anything funny with a freshwater prawn pasta with an accompanying fruit selection, but have to say laughter is contagious and I found myself laughing with her though perhaps not for the same reason.

I was proud of myself for not succumbing to a lollipop but noted it's location in case I'm not so strong tomorrow.

Wasn't it a beautiful sunny day today! It's a pity that the air conditioning wasn't working and we all sat at our computers shivering to death.

I thought a lot about France today. It's getting closer!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Our big night.

Work was routine and bland today. It does happen from time to time and all you can do is put your head down and work away.
It was Sky-Sports Dave's last day of work on Friday and the 'Good Luck' banners, balloons and empty seat remained as a visual reminder that time marches on.  I think I'll miss him.

I love the way Bev brushes olive oil and sprinkles ground black pepper on the jacket potatoes before putting them in the oven. They are so tasty and just perfect for the likes of me who battle against a changing shape. Actually, it's more like a skirmish, but I still need to end up on the winning side.

It's official! We are responsible for a special little package for the very first time tonight...along with elephant, teething rings, caterpillar, a bag full of noises, fat plastic coloured rings, bangles, flashing lights and mirror. Everything but a dummy, pacifier or whatever people call them nowadays. Every item so far has made it to her mouth. Here she is...
My camera cannot cope with artificial light. Amber has left her newly acquired Nikon D5000 for me to have a play with. I'm trying hard not to be covetous. I bet it takes super indoor pictures.

Time to play...Edith first!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Aston Villa v Chelsea FA Cup Semi-Final at Wembley.

We had great fun yesterday. Jon opted to drive and this time we headed for Stanmore tube station. The parking was  £1 for the entire day...incredible!

A few pictures...

Jon ready to go. We returned to this station for the match later on.

The 'Tweed' period run...There were hundreds of them on all types of cycles. A fantastic spectacle. I liked this woman who was smoking a pipe...too many photos to choose from.
Jon on art...
Back here again. Can you spot me?

Loads of demonstrations as usual...

Enjoyed a chat with this artist...David Pilgrim. If you click on his blog you'll see how the painting turned out. Jon and I played a few pranks on this bridge like posing as officials and preventing tourists from taking photos without a permit.
This is what David was painting. I snapped this because I will be doing the same hopefully.

There were dozens of interesting people doing all kinds of things.
Countless statue-like people...
The mechanics of the London Eye...
Part of a fairground ride.

Jon on the underground with arm raised
Body piercing extremes...

This dance couple were incredible...the video is hilarious but I don't know how to post it. Jon looking on.

I would have liked to have taken a photo on the tube to the match, but it was crammed with supporters...very loud supporters who couldn't hear me shouting my team.

Almost there...
Kick off...
The atmosphere inside Wembley is breathtaking. Both the teams in London that I was supporting lost...Villa here and Sunderland playing just down the road at West Ham.But I was pleased to see this during made me feel at home.

A fantastic day overshadowed only by my losing my mobile phone somewhere in London.

Imagine my surprise when later in the evening after Jon had dropped me, off I heard my ringtone and found the phone upstairs in the bathroom. Jon had found my phone in London and smuggled it onto the bathroom shelf just before leaving for home after a drink.

He's far too much like me.

Friday, April 09, 2010


I don't normally have corn flakes for breakfast but I did this morning. For the first time in my life I poured chilled water over them instead of milk. I stood there thinking something wasn't quite right.

Is that what happens as you get older?

I painted for a few hours before taking the car to Toyota Grantham to have the brakes and accelerator pedal checked. This was as  a result of the World-wide recall.

This is what I painted yesterday (plus lots of touches on other paintings). It's one of Bev's poppies from last year. I painted it on boxed canvas ready to take to France.

This was my last fire or should I say the last fire I made. I hope to have many more. I love fires (take note Molly P that this one is outside ). I include it only because the painting reminded me of it.

I'm excited about the Villa v Chelsea game that my son has got tickets for. It's at Wembley, not at Villa Park as I thought. This means another trip to London tomorrow. How cool is that?

He's told me I'm not allowed to wear football gear...especially a red and white football shirt. I was planning to wear it as It's probably the only time I'll be able to have a part of Sunderland in a semi-final at Wembley. We'll also be in with the Chelsea supporters. I'm supporting Villa, so it will be very interesting.

I've just realised that Sunderland are in London too, playing West Ham. How freaky is that? If the game was 12:00 kick off, I could have seen both matches.

All the same, I'm really looking forward to it.

ps, Molly P...if you are reading this, I don't seem to be able to bring up any recent posts of yours. Are you out of action for a while? I miss reading your posts. I hope all is well.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Auto pilot.

Thoroughly enjoyed painting and intended to post today's efforts. I'd forgotten that it was my responsibility to make the evening meal so I had to dash and in the end didn't have time to post it. Everything was just perfect and ready for when Bev walked through the door. The phone rang. "I'll be ten minutes late", she said. Almost one hour later she walked through the door...she'd been stuck in traffic. All those times I was longer than ten minutes late for tea came to my mind. I've come to realise that just five minutes makes a difference when you are preparing food. Keeping it just perfect after fifteen minutes is harder than preparing it in the first place. She must have been furious with me all those years. What an idiot I was not to realise what a difference it makes. Sorry Bev, for all the times I said I'll be a little late only to turn up at least twenty minutes later.

I then had to dash out for a meeting.

When I arrived back home I realised that I'd done it again. I'd managed to drive home on auto-pilot. I had no recollection of going around islands, stopping at junctions or waiting at traffic lights, yet I'd arrived home safely...thank goodness!

I'd love to know how that works.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Heads or tails?

Last night we were at Ash & Ambers for a meal and wallpaper stripping. Tonight it's total relaxation.

I can't seriously be called a football fanatic, but I've been so looking forward to tonight. It's ManU v Bayern Munich and nothing will tempt me away from a first half on our telly and a second half on MIL's telly. I've things to do but they'll just have to wait.

It's half-time and what a game!  3-1 (4-3 agg.) If you aren't watching it, you are missing out. Well, okay...I know there are more important things in life but right now my mind is blank.

My head says that Bayern will pinch another precious away goal to win it on aggregate, but my heart wants United to finish 4-1.

It's full-time and my head wins as United leave the field with tails between their legs.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A drop of the red laughing matter.

All of my fingernails are free of blood-blisters at last. I was proud to raise my un-blackened middle finger of the right hand to show Kirsty sitting opposite me. She raised her eyebrows and suggested I was being rude. An innocent mistake I swear. Never even crossed my mind.

On the subject of blood and pain...

Both Kirsty and I were giving blood today. It was her first time and I lost no ground in making her think the needle was at least a foot longer than it was. I was fortunate to be entering the mobile unit just as she was about to lay on the couch. I could see see was worried a little, so I decided to relent...then re-group with a final reminder of just how painful it was. For some reason the two nurses took sides and left me feeling as if I was being a little if!

It took five minutes and three seconds to get the blood out of her and they decided to make a competition out of it. It took ten full minutes for me, but it has to be said that the equipment wasn't functioning properly after Kirsty had had her turn. I reflected on this afterwards as I chomped on custard creams, chocolate bourbons and shortbread biscuits while washing them all down with orange juice.

I enjoyed the chat with the jovial nurses and found out that one of them had lost her wedding ring and will be spending their anniversary in Cornwall where they were buy another. It's amazing what you can find out in just a couple of minutes.

Like last year, I was a little shocked at the personal questions asked before being allowed to give blood-a sad reflection on today's society.

I'm glad it's all over. I do not like needles and, as usual, I was able to mask this fact by making light of it.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Robert Brault

I must make mention of a DVD that I saw recently and would normally not have considered watching. We watched it on Blu-ray (belonging to our son and housed with us while they are in America). It took us completely by surprise. Star Trek. Highly recommended. You won't be disappointed. Go on, treat yourself and get the pop-corn popping.

Yesterday was Bev's side of the family get-together although it didn't get underway until the evening. It was good to see Guy and Esme...haven't seen them in years. A good evening.

Paul (Bev's brother) rang me today to apologise for anything he may have said that could have been offensive. He'd had a few (not too many) and was concerned his comments about religion (brought up by a fellow drinker) may have been perceived as being directed at me. He need not have been concerned. I put him at ease and thanked him for providing entertainment in the form of his trying to clear a three-foot fence whilst under the influence and failing in a monumentally funny way. We get on fine!

Today has been strange. I've wasted a few hours doing nothing in particular. Cleared the garden a little more and considered what I'd like to achieve for the rest of the year and how I might accomplish it. I've also read my book, thought about some conference talks, sorted paperwork and drafted the next post for 'Destination Brittany'. Actually, I've done quite a lot now that I'm thinking about it.

In conclusion, I was sad to hear that Robert Brault has brought to an end his glittering blogging escapades. His posts will be missed by everyone fortunate enough to have made his acquaintance, experienced his wit, stood in awe of his talent and appreciated his empathy and wisdom in replying to comments. It has been a great year Robert.

From just one of your many fans...a sincere thank you!

Saturday, April 03, 2010


Before I forget again, congratulations to Martin & Sarah who have been trying for a first child for years now...pregnant at last! 

Martin & Sarah are in Utah at the moment but Jon & Serene, Juli & Chris and Ash & Amber joined us for a few days with their families...and what a few days! We've had a great time!

Apart from just enjoying being with them, I also loved standing in the room where the broadcast of King Edward abdicating as a result of his love for Mrs Simpson, was received (actually, everyone with a wireless received it). Also seeing the other rooms that they occupied in Belton House as guests of the owner. I find this sort of thing absolutely riveting. I've always loved looking at things, being where others have been and experiencing things that others-who have long since passed away-experienced too.

The highlight of today was listening to the last twenty minutes of the Sunderland v Spurs game. The man they sold to us last year scored two goals and missed two penalties. We also had a goal disallowed but eventually won 3-1. It was a magnificent result and worthy of mention. I don't expect you to share my enthusiasm here. 

Actually, this is perhaps a good time to register my surprise as how many responded to  FF's post about netiquette.

my position on the subject is clear...just in case anyone is interested.

1. I would hope that no-one feels obliged to respond to anything I've posted here. I write because it's my daily journal (even though I don't write daily of late). I would expect most of what I post to be so mundane as to negate the need to comment anyway. If you like what I write then fine! If you don't like what I write then fine! I will think absolutely no less of anyone who regularly do leave comments but choose not to for whatever reason.

2. I would genuinely hope that any visitors to this blog will not be upset if I do not reciprocate. I don't always leave comments because I don't always have time, and when I do have the time the post may not warrant a response. Anyway, it may be not be all that interesting...I'm unlikely to comment on handbags and the like, am I? Many times I read but don't respond and other times the interest isn't there for me to even contemplate commenting. Also, as is the case with Molly P, there may be a fault with the site which prevents anyone from being able to read or leave comment even if they wanted to.

3. By all accounts I have always been a bit unusual...a square peg in a round hole type of person. I've always felt ill at ease with feeling constrained or made to conform or follow any sort of etiquette...even if I do. I wish to retain the right to freely write and respond as I feel the need to. Having said that, I consider myself to be inoffensive or malevolent in any way (Politics and politicians aside).

There you go... the 1,2 and 3 of my own shade of etiquette which may or may not be shared by visitors here.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


The plan yesterday was to take the A1 to High Barnet on the outskirts of London and catch the tube to Green Park.

As we came off the A1 I decided to check I had the address of the RA (even though I knew it) and to my horror I read the small print of something I'd not noticed before...all application forms must be received by 16th March. All of a sudden they weren't all that fact they were gigantic! Here I was on the 31st with an armful of paintings and no-one answering the phone at the Academy.

I'd measured and recorded them, priced them, put stickers on the back with titles along with hanging tags to match. I'd filled all of the form out along with various ticks and waivers. I'd signed and dated it. I'd protected the corners and wrapped them well...but hadn't sent the form back!

I eventually got through and told the girl I was a naughty blind artist. She took pity, laughed and told me not to worry.

Feeling a lot happier we hopped on the tube...with new glasses, paintings and not so new jeans...I was forced to wear the hat.
An hour or so later I came across this reminder...must find a toilet soon.
How come I get the biggest one to carry?
I love Fortnum & Masons large window displays...
And another...
Good old Trafalgar, looking towards Downing St. Do you notice the microphone lead going up Nelson's column so he can be heard above the traffic? He should have been a conductor! :)
The usual demonstration on their way to deaf ears...
Victoria Embankment...soon to be a splash of colour. Embassies to the right, river to the left.
A reflection...
Downing St. Do you see his taser? Outside No.10 they carry machine guns but the only shot you ever see on TV is a freezing unarmed Bobby.When I came here as a student, these gates didn't exist and I walked right up to the door for a photo. Mind you, our PM needs protecting these days. I'm hoping he'll be in for a shock soon!

BB...I cut me out of the photo. Can't compete!
Just checking the time...
Something taller than Nelson's column...
Wild horses trying to stop me going through Piccadilly.
The new build on the left caught fire just as I took this picture...the place was soon swarming with fire engines.
How come he can get away with it? I'd be arrested for sure the second I drop my pants, sprout wings and start firing arrows at passing strangers?
The Royal Academy of Arts at last...but Van Gogh beat me to it.

We queued two hours to get to see this exhibition. There's a fine art to getting people through quicker...which they do not have.

The man with the yellow top told me I could go straight through to use the toilets. As I left the queue I turned with thumbs up and shouted "So, it's okay for me to jump this queue and go straight in, yeah?" It raised a welcome laugh on a blustery cold day while standing still for long periods was no laughing matter.

No photographs allowed...but I didn't see the sign.

Dropping the paintings off at the back via Burlington Arcade was quite an experience. It was manic. We were in the middle of an 8,000+ drop-off period for all unglazed works of art.

A really good day. Thanks for your help and company Ash...and for driving!