Thursday, December 1, 2011

Another list and some advice

1: The friendly receptionist at the doctor's (I arrived an hour early due to bus times and Rob's dental appointment and she fitted me in to a cancellation slot)

2: Christmas is coming!

3: Rob had an extra day off this week

4: That my stiff neck is almost better

5:Cheese on toast for lunch

I was cleaning the shower this morning when this song popped into my head.  Good advice for everyone.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This week's grateful list

I don't really intend to post a list here every week, but as Thanksgiving is coming up, it's a good moment.

1. The continuing mild weather

2.That all of the radiators are working correctly now, non are stuck on very hot or off.

3; That I managed to find a way to buy something that I really wanted

4. When I phone my daughter and future S-I-L they always sound really pleased to hear from me.

5.That every day has a moment that makes me laugh out loud.

To all those who celebrate Thanksgiving I hope that you enjoy your special time with your family and that the turkey cooks okay.  Wouldn't the world be a better place if we all stopped to count our blessings from time to time?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How to be happy

I watched a TV programme about happiness the other evening.  It was interesting viewing, complete with psychologist to explain how it all works.  Did you realise that if you are happy you live longer?

First define happiness;  I can't answer that.  I am happy in my life, but I suppose my lifestyle would drive some people nuts.  I work from home so I'm alone most days.  I love it!

The psychologist said that researchers took a pile of American baseball player cards from the 50s.  They sorted them into three piles.  Ones that didn't smile, ones that gave a social smile and ones that really smiled with their whole faces.  Guess which ones lived the longest?

They told us that if you write down 5 things once a week that you are grateful for and get into the habit of doing this, you will start to sleep better and be generally healthier than people who don't.  Being in a state of gratitude also protects you from agression.

learn to notice and capture the little things in life.  You might think that the happiest people are the ones that win the lottery, they aren't

Five things in my life that I'm grateful for this week

1. The realisation that most of the things they mentioned in the programme about happiness I was already practising.
2. Living in such a beautiful place
3. Closing the shutters the other evening just as the moon was starting to rise.  It was a really beautiful site.
4. being able to listen to music while I'm working.
5. My family

Have you got 5 things to be grateful for this week?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why you should be afraid of Virginia Woolf

A few months ago I came across a book in a charity shop. I had three reasons to be pleased to find it: Firstly, that it was in English. Secondly, it covered the years 1915 – 1919, around the years of the First World War, a period which interests me a great deal and thirdly, it was the first volume of The Diary of Virginia Woolf.

I didn’t intend to start to read the book straight away as I had others in my ‘to read’ pile already. So I placed it on a shelf with some other books in the bedroom.

A couple of days later I noticed that some books had fallen over, so I straightened them up and thought no more about it. The next day the same happened – and the next. Virginia was always upright next to these books. So, smiling to myself I moved the books around. The following morning I discovered, not only the first books had fallen over but also the new neighbours to Virginia’s diary. Pretty soon no book on the shelves in the bedroom remained upright – except for one. Virginia was always triumphantly upright. In the end I grew tired of this game and left the books as they were.

It wasn’t until I bought some more books; including Earnest Hemmingway’s ‘A Farewell to Arms’ that I decided to tidy up shelves again. I placed the two unread books together.

It seems to have done the trick.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sleeping with the Enemy

I’ve had the DVD for several years and watched it several times. Starring Julia Roberts the film is about a young woman, Sara/Laura, abused by her husband who fakes her own drowning to start a new life without him. Of course in her new life she falls in love and lives in fear that her husband will find her again somehow…

I went to a charity shop a few weeks ago. They have a foreign books section and I was delighted to find the book written by Nancy Price, that the film was based on. I couldn’t put it down. It had a lot more depth than the film, helping readers to understand why a lot of women stay with abusive partners. There is also interesting detail; the heroine uses the last of her money to rent a modest apartment, she has no belongings because she’s supposed to have drowned. How can she survive until her new job starts?

If you’ve seen the film and enjoyed it, you’ll enjoy the book.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Love and Einstein

“Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love.”

I found this quotation in a book. How nice, I thought and went to look for it. It turned out that Einstein indeed wrote it, but not quite:

“Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do – but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it.”

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Farewell to Arms

I finished the book today. If you haven’t read it I recommend it. I didn’t like Catherine Barkley. I felt that her character was too wishy washy, there was nothing about her that you could get your teeth into. I seem to remember thinking something similar of the leading lady in ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’.

Anyway, this post is about a strange and interesting coincidence. In the book, while Frederic Henry is having his wounds tended to, the doctor says ‘You will have nothing to worry about if it doesn’t infect and it rarely does now’. Amongst our purchases at the auction in Limoges this week we picked up a leaflet written for French surgeons in 1914. The leaflet explains how German bullets are smooth and leave clean wounds that do not infect, are easy to deal with and heal well. Allied bullets however, left a lot of damage and danger of infection, etc. as they shattered on impact. How is that for propaganda? Even your wounds healed better if you were on the right side.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Up the Junction

Back to 1979 we go and a lot of memories. In 1973 I went on my first course in London. As I was underage I stayed at a retired bank employee’s house in Streatham with another girl from Barclays. To get to Teddington every morning, we had to change trains at Clapham Junction. We were both from the sticks and managed not to get too lost. Yesteday, I turned on Radio 4 to a program about how the song Up the Junction came to be written. It’s available to listen to for one week only. Here are the lyrics too.

Is the stuffed dog still on display there?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Wah Wah

Turn up the volume !! Get out the air guitar (or even a real one if you’ve got one)

George is still my favourite Beatle.

I had a lot of problems getting hold of the boxed set of the Concert for Bangladesh when it came out. A lot of shops didn’t stock it because there was no profit to be made from it – it all went to help the people who badly needed it. US$ 243,418.51 was raised.

Hands up if you’ve still got the boxed set

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mighty Eucalyptus from little seeds grow

Nearly 20 years ago I bought a packet of seeds from the supermarket; they were Eucalyptus seeds. It seemed ambitious growing a Eucalyptus tree from a tiny seed, I couldn’t afford a baby tree, so I thought I’d give it a go. At first I put the seeds into small pots they I transferred them into bigger posts and later when they were even bigger planted three of them in the garden.

During the first year I didn’t think that they were growing. I started to measure them once a week – and they were!. They all grew for a couple more years until they were coming along nicely. Especially the one which reminded me of a graceful lady in long skirts. In the mid nineties we had a very cold winter. I knew that the trees could withstand up to -15°C, so I wasn’t too worried. Unfortunately, the end of the winter was very windy and all three of my trees looked as if they had died. The graceful lady in long skirts had been the largest and closest to the street so needed cutting down because as the tree rotted the branches would become dangerous.

One of my kind neighbours said that he would cut the tree down, another would cut up the wood and take it away to use (we didn’t have a fire place). When the tree was cut down we discovered a small shoot which looked alive, so we decided to leave it and see what happened.

The small shoot grew from strength to strength and soon became a big tree, much bigger than we imagined it would ever become. This time the tree was definitely male, strong and straight.

These pictures were all taken this spring

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The barn

The first time I saw the old barn that was to serve as our garage I was intrigued by it. Built of limestone a long time ago, the ivy covered walls were beginning to crumble away. Inside; the enormous beams that supported the roof sported the scars of ancient generations of woodworm.

The barn really captured my imagination. Everyone that visited the house that summer was invited to look around my barn and write a short story about it by the beginning of September. What a mistake that was – my inspiration flew out of the window.

Sometimes on a hot day, I would just go into the cool barn and look at the walls. I loved their creamy yellow colour, no stone was the same size or shape and looking closely, I could make out the faint traces of fossils. At the far end was the timber frame of what once had been a doorway. The floor had been concreted years ago and was showing more signs of wear than the ancient walls! Still no inspiration came to me.

I discovered that under the village the remains of a network of tunnels had been found in recent years. Where had the blocked up doorway led to? What kind of lives did the people live who had called the barn their own in the past?

I never did write that short story about the barn. The people who came and went through the now blocked up doorway, carried their secrets away with them.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Globetrotting Beefeater: Part 2

Part 1 is here

A few days later the beefeater heard the excited voices of children and was aware of the comfortable envelope being ripped open. He had arrived at his new home. He was placed on the refrigerator alongside a team of football (soccer) shirts and an ocean of fridge poetry.

At first the Beefeater was happy to sit on the fridge door and watch the comings and goings of the family. Sometimes he joined in with the games of football, sometimes he tried to read the poetry to himself. This way learnt some French words, but he didn’t understand all of the poems. He felt lonely despite his busy life. He wished that he had someone to talk too.

Time passed and sometimes our brave Beefeater was forgotten about. He slipped down to the bottom of the fridge, past all of the poetry and onto the floor. He was always found and dusted off before being put back at the top of the fridge. He couldn’t help thinking that no one really cared much about what happened to him…

One afternoon his life was to change forever. he was put back at the top of the fridge and joined by a real princess. She was pink with yellow hair and a golden crown. The Beefeater thought that she was the most beautiful magnet he had ever seen. From that day onwards she always watched him play football and they read poetry together all night long. He never ever felt lonely again.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happiness or Joy ?

Happiness appears to be a very popular theme at the moment. Do people feel that they are happy? What is happiness? I’ve always preferred the word Joy. For a start it is the middle name of my little sister. Let’s see….

(Wikipedia says)
“Happiness is a mental state of well-being characterized by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources.

The science of happiness endeavors to apply the scientific method to answer questions about what "happiness" is, and how we might attain it.”

A science??!

(Wikipedia says)
"Joy may refer to:
• Happiness an emotion
• Joy (Given name) people with the given name or surname Joy"

(Cambridge Dictionaries online says that)
"Joy is great happiness." says:
the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation: She felt the joy of seeing her son's success.
a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated: Her prose style is a pure joy.
the expression or display of glad feeling; festive gaiety.
a state of happiness or felicity.

–verb (used without object)
to feel joy; be glad; rejoice."

Number 5 is the definition for me. If you had to use another word instead of happiness, which word would you choose?

I hope that your Easter is a joyous one.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I've always loved Buffy Sainte-Marie and this song especially.

Aim straight, stand tall

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Globetrotting Beefeater: Part I

This one is a 'true' story....

Once upon a time there was a Beefeater. He was very smart indeed in his royal red uniform and on his back was a magnet. He lived on a shelf in a shop in London with lots of other Beefeaters waiting to be bought by tourists from all over the world.

One morning the Beefeater was sitting on the shelf watching the tourists looking around the shop, when all of a sudden he was picked up by a very nice lady from South Africa. The beefeater didn’t mind too much because he had several other Beefeaters for company when he was put into a paper bag. The Beefeater and his companions waited patiently in the dark wondering what would happen next.

They knew that they were being moved around because they had quite a bumpy ride and other things were put on top of their bag so they felt quite squashed. Then they were left in the quiet for a couple of days. They could hear the nice lady from South Africa from time to time coming and going but she didn’t seem to pay them much attention…

All of a sudden the Beefeaters felt their bag being moved around and they were placed in quite a soft place which smelt very pleasant. And then they felt the bumping of being carried around yet again. A few hours later the Beefeater felt a very strange sensation in his tummy and heard a very loud noise. Again, he didn’t mind too much because he had the other Beefeaters for company and they were very comfortable despite being squashed. After what seemed a long time the Beefeater felt the strange sensation in his tummy again and all went quiet.

The bumpy ride started again and then stopped. The Beefeaters whispered amongst themselves, they wondered what would happen next.

The beefeater didn’t know it, but it was after a couple of days that the nice lady from South Africa unpacked that particular suitcase. She wanted to send the presents she had bought in London to her friends that lived all over the world. When she came at last to our beefeater she picked him up and said:
“Parlez-vous francais?”

What could she mean? She popped him into a padded envelope which was very comfortable indeed. The Beefeater set off on his second journey in an airplane, but this time he was on his own. He felt cozy and safe, so he didn’t mind too much....

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Punch February 9th, 1884

Miss Cribbleton (questioning Old Sailor with a view to « copy » for her thrilling Novel in the Mayfair Magazine); “ Dear me ! What a dreadful shipwreck! And how did you feel when the billows were breaking over you?”
Old Salt. “Wet, Marm – very wet!”

Friday, January 21, 2011

Punch January 5, 1884

I still see the people I know in the village who gave me a pile of books a few years ago. This week there was a knock at the door and I was presented with Punch’s Almanac for 1884. A collection of the Punches published in that year. It’s in very good condition, even though the cover and spine have been repaired. I thought I’d share it with you from time to time. I’ve always loved Punch. When I was at school I was in a class where the teacher supplied us with copies if Punch to read during the registration period. In those days Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were frequent victims of the satirists pen.

Today we have two ladies discussing church:

“My Husband is Vicar of St. Boniface – but I don’t attend his Church”
“Indeed! How is that?”
“The fact is, I – I don’t approve of Married Clergymen!”

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gerry Rafferty 1947 - 2011

I was dozing off in bed last night and Rob was listening to the news on the radio. All of a sudden the familiar saxophone from Baker Street was playing. It could only mean one thing. I knew that he had health problems due to heavy drinking, but his death was still a shock. I expect a lot of us in the blogging world will be writing about him today. His songs were so romantic and beautiful.

In the early 80s I was driving through London with a boyfriend and as we turned into Baker Street, the song of the same name started playing on the radio – what a conincedence! Having said that I thought I’d post my very favourite; Home and Dry