30 November 2008

St Andrews Day

You can find out how Scotland celebrates it National Day...click here But Scots across the world from Sydney to Toronto will also celebrate their heritage, with everything from a concert to a Ceilidh.

If I had to choose where I would like to be today, it would have to be the town of St Andrews, Fife.. When I worked at Balmoral I had friends who were at St Andrews University and was invited to visit them. We had a great weekend, and they took me on a tour of their town including the cathedral

Apparently St Andrews got it's name from legend, when an angel appeared to a Greek monk named St Rule or St Regulus and warned him to remove the bones of St Andrew to ' the ends of the earth ' for safe-keeping. St Rule removed a tooth, an arm bone, a kneecap and some finger bones from St Andrew's tomb in Constantinople and brought them to Scotland. Shipwrecked, he came ashore on the east coast of Fife and built a chapel there to house the relics and later removed to the Cathedral.

My weekend was marred only by a rail strike which meant travelling back on a monday afternoon rather than on the Sunday, and to while away the time I spent a few hours in lectures with my medical student friends and even understood the lecture on ketones, though I was thankful not to be asked any questions by the lecturer.

One farmer has cheered up some people by dyeing his sheep blue in celebration of the day.

Happy St Andrews day to all of those who live in Scotland, or to those who wished they did.

29 November 2008

Saturday Satire - Exercise Class

Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side. With a 5-lb potato sack in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, and then relax. Each day you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer.

After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-lb potato sacks. Then try 50-lb potato sacks; and then, eventually, try to get to where you can lift a 100-lb potato sack in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute. (This is the level I'm at now.)

After you feel confident at this level, put a potato in each of the sacks.

28 November 2008

I was asked, and politely too....

MeHereNow tagged me to do this quick meme - though I will be honest I kind of get a kick out of these.

1. Five names you go by:
  • Lis
  • Sage
  • Yul (as in Grinner rather than Brynner)
  • Oi you!
  • Safara (my other ego who I write as occasionally)
2. Three things you are wearing right now:
  • Dr Solomon's socks - had them as a freebie from an IT mtg
  • Burgundy Trainers
  • My piglet necklace - rarely take this off these days
3. Two things you want very badly at the moment:
  • a. Warmer Weather
  • b. A Snickers bar
what can I say from the ridiculous to the cheap...always wanting what I don't have lol

4. Three people who will probably fill this out:
5. Two things you did last night:
  • Cooked dinner
  • finished a book
6. Two things you ate today:
  • Soup for lunch
  • a bowl of cornflakes with a sprinkle of cocoa flakes
7. Two people you last talked to on the phone:
  • SOH
  • Someone from the BMW Club
8. Two things you (did yesterday) - changed from going to do tomorrow as tomorrow is a Saturday and I won't make up my mind until I get up.
  • attend a staff meeting
  • Make a fish pie
9. Two longest car/bike rides:
  • Detmold (Germany) to Lake Garda (Italy)
  • Home to Cote d'Azur
10. Two of your favorite beverages:
  • Rhubarb and Blackberry Tea
  • Hot Chocolate - preferably the Green and Blacks Organic made with milk mmmm

27 November 2008

Things to be grateful for

I have an inkling that many of us are not necessarily having a good time leading up to the festive season, what with all the credit crunch and jobs being lost etc., but as it is thanksgiving (for the US at least) this week, I thought I would kick off a list of things to be thankful for.
  • Having SOH in my life, even when he is in pain he is considerate and caring
  • Having a job I like doing, interesting and entertaining
  • Having a garden which is big enough to provide us with vegetables
  • Having friends whose support is there, no matter what
  • Having memories of those who are no longer around
I'm sure there are lots of other things, but I was trying hard not to list material possessions as they can change more quickly than other things.

Happy Thanksgiving Day to the citizens of the US, may your day be blessed with family happiness and joy and your Turkey be done to a turn (just like this ole bird)

26 November 2008

Winnie the Pooh and Piglet Too

I have a love of Winnie the Pooh, and especially Piglet as that was Sam's nickname (owing to the fact that he looked a little like a minature large white pig with his porky little legs).

I have wanted to visit Ashdown forest since I read Christopher Milne's autobiography and found that "Pooh's Forest and Ashdown Forest are identical". For example, the Five Hundred Acre Wood became the 100 Aker Wood and Gills Lap became Galleons Leap. The North Pole and the Gloomy Place are in Wrens Warren Valley while a memorial to Milne and Shepard is in the location Enchanted Place.

Ashdown Forest covers an area of approx. 10 square miles, but despite its name, woodland makes up less than 40% of the total area of Ashdown Forest and it is doubtful whether that figure was ever much higher. Apparently the word “forest” is derived from the Latin "foris", meaning “outside” and in medieval England meant outside cultivation and belonging by default to the Crown. Now I know why commoners have such a hard time.

There is a bridge, Posingford Bridge, located close to Hartfield village, and Ashdown forest where Poohsticks is played and was first mentioned in The House at Pooh Corner. Though it is not known whether the game was first played at the bridge then written into the story, or vice versa.

Poohsticks is a simple game which may be played on any bridge over running water; each player simultaneously drops a stick on the upstream side of a bridge and the one whose stick first appears on the downstream side is the winner. Of course, it is not just any stick, it should be made of organic materials preferably willow and not of any artificial materials. The stick should be be dropped, not thrown, into the water as any player who is deemed to have thrown their stick should be disqualified.

There is a shop in Hartfield village, that is known as Pooh Corner, another place on my list to visit eventually.

Max over at Britishspeak was asking about Poohsticks and it reminded me to mention it in this post.

25 November 2008

Time to think of Calendars

I always have a calendar at home, for SOH and my appointments, and at work for information.

This year, at home I have Scenes from Wales, and at work I have a calendar showing different quilts - and comes with a booklet for making up the different designs (this is way out of my league).

Whilst I was perusing the various different bits of the Mail on Sunday I came across this calendar, the water-skiing westies.. and immediately thought of Sally-Ann, who has Cornwall beside the Sea blog, as she owns a westie called Hamish.

Now I don't know if Hamish has been waterskiing, or even wants to but I think that something like this would be a must for all West Highland White terriers as it is humourous as well as scenic.

I would love a calendar of Jack Russells, but can't find anything half as amusing and I might just have to try and get a copy for the office as SOH-Dad has already brought us a calendar of Cornish Scenes for home.

24 November 2008

Colours in the Garden

We were pleasantly surprised to see a male pheasant,who has the most wonderfully coloured plumage, in the garden this morning, feeding on the fallen pears which have not yet been picked up. The difference in colour between the male and females are quite startling. The female role would be to incubate the eggs and this grey brown colouring would fit in well, while the male is purely there for display purposes.

It cannot be said too much, that they are not the brightest of birds especially where traffic is concerned and many a body lies beside the road which gives the foxes a free meal.

Normally I would have been out there earlier in the year picking the pears up as they can attract all sorts of vermin, such as rats, but it is nice to see that some other wildlife is feeding off the produce of the garden.

Sorry, I don't have any pictures so had to download this one to give the full picture, by the time I organised myself this morning he was long gone as more people were waking up and he decided that there was not enough ground cover for him.

The snow has all gone, in fact it went yesterday morning. Leaving us with just damp rain to come home in; never a good journey on the motorway and with an accident holding us up we took longer than usual to get home.

A long weekend, but a good weekend. We got to meet up with some old friends and have a meal/drink with them and it is always good to catch up with people.

23 November 2008

Sunday Snow

Today, we are in Derby and overnight and now it is snowing... will we get home tonight?

Well SOH is driving and I have full confidence in him to get us home safely, sadly no pics as yet but I will try and get some.

While it is unusual to have snow before christmas, the likelihood of a white christmas is slim to none as they have forecast mild, damp conditions... I would love for SOH and our first christmas to be full of the cold white stuff I think we might have to save up some of the early stuff into the freezer for the big day.

Yep, I finally mentioned Christmas and the Americans haven't even had their thanksgiving day yet.. sorry but it is only next week and now there are less than 31 days to the big event so finally I can feel happy at mentioning it at last and trying for a little festive spirit (or is that spirits out of a bottle!).

Have a great Sunday folks, may yours be blessed with good weather, good food and good friends.

22 November 2008

Saturday Satire - Three Brothers

An Irishman walks into a bar in Dublin , orders three pints of Guinness and sits in the back of the room, drinking a sip out of each one in turn. When he finished all three, he comes back to the bar and orders three more.

The bartender says to him, "You know, a pint goes flat after I draw it; it would taste better if you bought one at a time."

The Irishman replies, "Well, you see, I have two brothers. One is in America , the other in Australia , and I'm here in Dublin . When we all left home, we promised that we'd drink this way to remember the days we all drank together."

The bartender admits that this is a nice custom, and leaves it there. The Irishman becomes a regular in the bar and always drinks the same way: he orders three pints and drinks the three pints by taking drinks from each of them in turn. One day, he comes in and orders two pints. All the other regulars in the bar notice and fall silent. When he comes back to the bar for the second round, the bartender says, "I don't want to intrude on your grief, but I wanted to offer my condolences for what must be, a truly great loss."

The Irishman looks confused for a moment, then a light dawns in his eye and he laughs. "Oh, no," he says, "Everyone is fine. It's me, I've given up drinking!"

21 November 2008


One of my aspirations is to make a quilt, I have an embroidery centrepiece (which I am still working on) in the design of a celtic knot in golds and browns and aim (when I have done it) to put a patchwork quilt surrounding it.

Don't hold your breath waiting for it, I am not the faster sewer out, but occasionally when I get a bit of space and time I like to give my hands something to do (other than feed me chocolate and bad, bad, bad sweet things like chocolate).

What I don't know is how to go about making it, and combined with no experience of quilting.. this is turning out to be some challenge.. but first of all I have to finish the embroidery...lol

20 November 2008

Stress Management

A lecturer when explaining stress management to an audience, Raised a glass of water and asked "How heavy is this glass of water?" The answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.

The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it.

If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem.
If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm.
If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance.
In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

He continued, "And that's the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, We won't be able to carry on. As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.

So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don't carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you're carrying now, Let them down for a moment if you can. So, put down anything that may be a burden to you right now. Don't pick it up again until after you've rested a while."

Here are some great ways of dealing with the burdens of life:
  • Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.
  • Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
  • Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
  • Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.
  • If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
  • If you lend someone £20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
  • It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply be kind to others.
  • Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.
  • Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.
  • Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.
  • The second mouse gets the cheese.
  • When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
  • Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.
  • You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
  • Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.
  • We could learn a lot from crayons... Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.
  • A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

19 November 2008

Auntie Lil - 80 years young

Or as we pointed out last night when we visited she is now only 8!

Lil is my Dad's oldest sister, and all her family live quite a distance away so when Dad was alive he always dropped in for a cup of coffee once a week, to check up on her and make sure she was alright and after he died I carried on. Not that Lil needs anyone to check up on her, she is fiercly independent and though walking any distance is difficult for her she still manages to get down to the Post Officed to get her pension and to the shops for her groceries.

All of her family are visiting her in the next few days to celebrate her birthday, and she admitted last night that she was already tired but welcomed them anyway. We had a slice of her birthday cake, which one of my cousins had decorated beautifully in glittering style with lilac and purple silk flowers.

Happy Birthday Auntie Lil

Lots of Love

Sage & SOH

18 November 2008

Just a Thought

During our weekend in Cornwall, about 10 days ago, we were chatting over a cup of tea/coffee/wine/mead (can't remember which one) and I can remember discussing Dad with SOH's oldest sister when she asked where he was. Now I can't remember how I usually speak of him, whether it is the present or past tense, so it flummoxed me (such a nice word) when she asked about him and I had to tell her that he died in 2002.

I know that when Mum died, Dad was keen to mention her likes/dislikes etc and whenever we went somewhere he would comment that 'your mum would have liked that' and it became normal to me to not to include her in conversations as though she were just out of sight and not mind. So naturally when dad died, I did the same thing with him and he often turns up in my conversations.

Is this common, how many people talk of their loved one's as though they were still with us rather than no longer of the living?

The Mundaneness of things

I had a busy day on Saturday, doing three lots of washing and a whole heap of ironing, not to mention cooking a full roast chicken dinner for SOH who was busy working. He had left at 3.50am in the morning and got home just before 6pm so he was in need of some much needed hot refreshments.

The reason for such a mundane day was that we had had 3 weekends where we were away, or busy with Rugby, American Football, Work, Committee meetings/AGM etc that we haven't had the time to catch up with the mundane things that make life go more smoothly.

So Saturday was my catchup day, and I did feel better now I have got things more under control and now we can turn our hands to the other things like the garden which needs some tidying up and leaf gathering not to mention rosebush trimming before we get too much colder weather (though you can't get much colder than when the snow is laying on the ground).

17 November 2008

Autumnal Mornings

Just for your amusement and pleasure this picture was taken early in the morning (well before 8am anyway).. last week. I love the colours and the contrast of the tree against the colour of the sky..

Never mind that red sky in the morning means a sheperd's warning and the weather might deteriorate; it is a gorgeous picture of nature at her best and worth a post.

This picture was taken just after 7am this morning and from a similar angle but just edging into the trees.

We get this view from our bedroom window and in the spring we get to see the leaves start to block out the skyline and you have to wait until Autumn to get the same view again. Kind of makes up for the loss of the warm sunshine and long sunny days.

Autumnal Gatherings

SOH did us proud, he offered to make his Sweet and Sour Chicken dish and used the last of our peppers to do it. It is a definite advantage having the polytunnel to grow crops as we can leave them in there to ripen up long after the rest of the garden has gone to sleep.

After picking the pepper and chopping all the rest of the ingredients he delivered this to the table..

All I had to do was to cook the rice and serve it up.

Oh.... and it tasted delicious as well...

Thanks Hon

16 November 2008


Was our first official committee meeting of this year, having been elected last month, we only have 3 meetings a year so it is not an onerous task. Most of the work is done with the memberships needing to be done and reported on.

So at just before 9am, we headed up to near Newark to a place called the Friendly Farmer who don't mind us meeting in their cafe and we do spend plenty on teas/coffee and of course the bacon or sausage baps. There is also a butcher's in store with farm products and after the meeting, SOH and I took advantage of the delicious looking pork pies, and purchased a chicken and leek pie which we will have for tomorrow

Tonight, we are having stoup with left over chicken from the roast yesterday and make with the stock from the roast and lots of vegetables to thicken it all up and this will be eaten with garlic bread.. a perfect end to a dull day

Update :

  • recipe for Stoup is on the recipe blog...
  • Just for Annette, SOH and I make up 1/4 of the Committee for the Midland Section BMW club.. and the reason we only need to meet 3 times a year is a lot of our work can be done by email and it helps to keep costs down.

15 November 2008

A great man

One of my favourite actors, John Le Mesurier, died on 15th November in 1983. John was born in Chaucer Road, Bedford in April 1912 (so he was a local Bedfordshire lad) and served as a Captain in the Royal Tank Regiment during the Second World War in UK and India.

One of his more enduring (and endearing roles) was as the upper-class Sergeant Arthur Wilson in Dad's Army from 1968 to 1977. He apparently accepted the part after finding out Clive Dunn, with whom he had worked in the Players' Theatre, would be playing the part of Corporal Jones.

For nearly 20 years until his death in 1983, he provided the original voice for the animated TV commercial character "Flour Grader Fred", a little man in a bowler hat who advertised Homepride Flour and related products. I had a plastic Fred for many years until it finally got thrown out in one move too many; it may well be a collectors item now.

In his private life, John was a heavy drinker and this led to him suffering a serious illness which affected his weight and co-incided with the ending of Dad's Army; though he still managed to do a small number of films including The Fiendish plot of Fu Manchu in 1980.

John died at Ramsgate from a stomach haemorrhage, (which was brought on by cirrhosis of the liver) on 15 November 1983, aged 71. and is buried in the churchyard of the Church of St. George the Martyr, Church Hill, Ramsgate.

His self-penned death notice in The Times stated that he had "conked out" and that he "misses his family and friends".

His last words before slipping into a coma were reportedly, "It's all been rather lovely".

I think his final words perfectly sums up his character and both Dad and I were sorry to hear that he had died. The coincidence was that John was 71 years old when he died, the same age as my Dad when he died in 2002.

Saturday Satire - Internet Dieting Plans

A guy calls a company and orders their 5-day, 10lb. weight loss program.

The next day, there's a knock on the door and there stands before him a voluptuous, athletic, 19 year old babe dressed in nothing but a pair of Nike running shoes and a sign round her neck. She introduces herself as a representative of the weight loss company. The sign reads: -"If you can catch me, you can have me." Without a second thought, he takes off after her. A few miles later, huffing and puffing, he finally catches her and has his way with her. The same girl shows up for the next four days and the same thing happens. On the fifth day, he weighs himself and is delighted to find he has lost 10 lb. As promised.

He then calls the company and orders their 5-day/20 pound program.

The next day there's a knock at the door and there stands the most stunning, beautiful, sexy woman he has ever seen in his life. She is wearing nothing but Reebok running shoes and a sign a round her neck that reads: "If you catch me you can have me." Well, he's out the door after her like a shot! This girl is in excellent shape and it takes him a while to catch her but when he does, it's definitely worth every muscle cramp and wheeze, so for the next four days, the same routine happens. Much to his delight, on the fifth day he weighs himself only to discover that he has lost another 20 lb. As promised.

He decides to go for broke and calls the company to order the 7-day/50 pound program. "Are you sure?" asks the representative on the phone "This is our most rigorous program." "Absolutely," he replies, "I haven't felt this good in years."

The next day there's a knock at the door; and when he opens it he finds this huge, muscular, 7ft black man standing there wearing nothing but pink running shoes and a sign around his neck that reads:- "I'm Kenneth. If I catch you, you're mine..."

14 November 2008

Today is Children In Need day

When the UK goes completely bonkers, as do the television schedules as fundraising takes on a huge part of the day.. even the radio this week has been having an auction of items you simply couldn't buy like 45 mins with Mark Knoppfler.

For more details : Pudsey

Unlike many charity fund raising events, the proceeds go to UK based charities who provide grants to organisations working with children who may have experienced mental, physical or sensory disabilities; behavioural or psychological disorders; are living in poverty or situations of deprivation; or suffering through distress, abuse or neglect.

So if you do nothing else today, tune into BBC1 and watch the sheer fun of it all.

ps - It's Prince Charles's 60th Birthday today, do you think he will get his free bus pass?

13 November 2008

Layer by Layer

Something that I read on the Web about William de Braose Abergavenny Castle the other day reminded me of a book I read a couple of years ago by Barbara Erskine called Lady of Hay.

I can remember the first time I read this book, a thriller that sends chills up your spine. A link to the past to the de Braose family and the modern day with a heroine experiencing the history of Mathilda first hand.

I have read it a couple of times since, and I know I often get asked how can you read a book more than once? My answer is simple, I see the tapestry in the words, the more times I read it the more complex layers become revealed until you are seeing the book in virtual 3D in your mind's eye.

One of my favourte books, and I know I have mentioned it before, is Katherine by Anya Seton. I will read it again in the years to come, and almost smell the rushes on the floor, the scent of the candles and incence in the air and the pungent smell of the garderobe.

Or I have a very vivid imagination, that occasionally runs wild with me..

I will admit to reading some books only once, those that fail to capture my imagination or the subject matter is not to my interest; those I pass on to others but many remain on my shelves to rest quietly for the time when they will be opened once more.

12 November 2008

Memento Mori

I had all these bright ideas yesterday, when I was listening to the conference speakers, but somewhere between then and now it disappeared into the ether..never to be seen again.

So instead, I give you 'Remember you are mortal'

During the conference, we held a two minute silence at 11am, which was nice to see; though I would rather see Armistice Day become a new bank holiday as it deserves a special moment of thanks as we see fewer and fewer veterans of the Great War.

Linked to this : when SOH and I were down with his family in Cornwall, SOH-Dad showed me some details of his Uncle Harold Dawe, who sadly died in France in early Oct 1917. SOH-DAD provided me with visual copies of the papers received, including the letter saying he was killed in action, also a letter from the pensions office. This information included his rank, army number, regiment and I am now trying to find out a little more about him.

On to the war graves site, only to no avail, the only gentlemen on there were either not in the right regiment or were not on the right date having been killed earlier in the war.

I had a breakthrough when I queried the dates involved, as this was Passchendaele or the third Ypres offensive, and so far I have 'interrogated' a number of websites trying to find out a little more information.

I have also contacted the war graves commission with the information I have as many of the WW1 records were lost in the blitz bombing of London in WW11 and it may well be that his details were lost at this point in time; but hopefully they will come back with yet more information than I have currently.

It is equally valid to say that as this was a difficult time just after the heat of battle and many men were buried without the details being kept for identification; partially the numbers of men involved and the conditions of the battleground.

If Harold is known, buried etc, it is likely to be at the Tyne Cot cemetery which was first used in October 1917 when one of several German blockhouses on the Passchendaele Ridge was captured by the British Army on 4th October 1917 and then and used as an Advanced Dressing Station. As a result of this there were some 350 burials in the vicinity of the Dressing Station between then and the end of March 1918.

This photograph is taken from the high ground of the Passchendaele Ridge, looking south-west towards Ypres. This was the dominating view over the northern part of the Ypres Salient which the Germans had from the Passchenaele Ridge as the Allied soldiers tried to approach them during the Third Battle of Ypres (Battle of Passchendaele) 31 July - 10 November 1917.

The cemetery is the last resting place of more than 12,000 soldiers from Oct 1914 to September 1918. Many were reburied when the cemetery was enlarged after the cessation of hostilities and many of the gravestones are engraved with no-known name only 'an unknown soldier of the great war'.

I have one more casualty I am still trying to find out more details on, and that is my Great Uncle Charlie who also died during WW1 but we don't have any details on which regiment he was with, where he died in the field of conflict nor when so it is an uphil struggle and may not even be known.

11 November 2008

Sent to Coventry

Not to worry, I haven't done anything wrong (well not that I know anyway).. just that today I am going to Coventry to attend a conference on a recording system for lectures..

But it set me thinking as to the origins of the phrase, and a quick search of the internet revealed :

It is quite probable that events in Coventry in the English Civil War in the 1640s play a part in the phrase. Coventry is an industrial city in Warwickshire, England. In the 17th century, when this phrase is supposed to have originated, Coventry was a small town. It is suggested that the phrase originated from people being physically sent there as a punishment.

One story is that Cromwell sent a group of Royalist soldiers to be imprisoned in Coventry, around 1648. The locals, who were parliamentary supporters, shunned them and refused to consort with them.

The other story is that there was once a garrison in Coventry, a fact which was massively unpopular with the local inhabitants (usually because of the drunken conduct of the soldiers), so much so that they would not even speak with any of the soldiers stationed there and certainly the women were strongly discouraged from discoursing with them.

Hence, it was effectively guaranteed that any soldier posted to Coventry would be in for some serious shunning.

I like the second idea, but the reality is we will never know.

10 November 2008

The Weekend in a Word


SOH did all the driving, as I have never towed a caravan at all before and I don’t think now would be a good time to start. So thank you SOH, hope you are not too tired today at work :0)

We set off later than we had liked to Cornwall, getting away just after 11am on Friday, and not arriving at our destination (just outside of Redruth) until gone 6pm, and setting up a caravan in the dark is not a good idea but help was given by the family and soon we were partaking of a cup of tea. This was most welcome as the next destination was the bmx track where the youngsters were giving us a demonstration of their abilities on a bike. Surprisingly the bikes seem to be much of a size though the riders were all different heights.. I didn’t go around the track myself, but SOH’s niece did and it looked like it would keep anyone fit if they did it a couple of times a week. Pictures would have been forthcoming except that because we left in a hurry (and ok I didn’t think to do it the night before) I forgot my camera, so apologies for the lack of photos.

We dined on Sausage and chips, washed down with hot chocolate and when the youngster had done enough we headed back to the caravan for another hot drink before finally getting to bed just before midnight. Needless to say we were bushed.

Saturday morning was a delight of blue skies, given the storms of the night before when we gently rocked in the caravan, it was a nice relief to not be faced with more rain. We drove into Redruth itself, as I needed to get part of SOH’s Christmas present (he knows what it is, but I am not going to put it on here as it would spoil the big day I think). Then we did a few other chores before heading over to Portreath where SOH lived for a while and walked on the beach watching the storms heading in to us. I love the winter tides as the sea is a green glassy colour which matches the grey stormy skies with only the breaking waves adding a tinge of colour.. how I wished I had brought the camera at this point.

Saturday evening, I was treated to some Cornish mead, strawberry flavoured. It was very nice, and though it doesn’t taste as though it is alcoholic, you do notice the kick as it warms you up from inside. We had a stew and dumplings made by SOH’s oldest sister which was lovely, and went down well given the stormy weather outside again.

Sunday, was grey and dank. We packed up the stuff from the caravan that we weren’t leaving down there and put it in the car. Said our final farewells, though we will be back just after Christmas, and headed off to see SOH’s Dad who lives a few miles away. I forgot to take the apples down that I promised, but they should still be good at Christmastime, either that or I will pack some up and send them down by post.

We got home just after 7pm last night, tired. We took the stuff out of the car, though unpacking would be incorrect as we have that to do tonight. After a supper of beans on toast, we watched a fascinating documentary on BBC Four about a French photographer Albert Kahn. It was interesting as not only did it cover the first world war, it showed how quickly the art of photography developed.. hah even a pun.

09 November 2008

Remembrance Sunday

Today at 11am, we will stand silently and think of the sacrifices that the men (and women) in the British armed forces, both today and in the past, have lost their lives so we may enjoy our freedom.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Liet.-Col. John McCrae

08 November 2008

Saturday Satire - An English wife abroad

Three men were sitting together bragging about how they had Given their new wives duties.

Terry had married a woman from America , and bragged that he had told his wife she needed to do all the dishes and housework. He said that it took a couple days but on the third day he came home to a clean house and the dishes were all washed and put away.

Jimmie had married a woman from Canada . He bragged that he had given his wife orders that she was to do all the cleaning, dishes, and the cooking. He told them that the first day he didn't see any results, but the next day it was better. By the third day, his house was clean, the dishes were done, and he had a huge dinner on the table.

The third man had married a English girl. He boasted that he told her that her duties were to keep the house cleaned, dishes washed, laundry and ironing twice a week, lawns mowed, windows cleaned and hot meals on the table for every meal.

He said the first day he didn't see anything, the second day he didn't see anything, but by the third day most of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little out of his left eye, just enough to fix himself a bite to eat, load the dishwasher, and call a handyman.

NB I could not possibly comment on this post being of English origin :0)

07 November 2008

Off to Cornwall with a Caravan

SOH and I are heading off to Cornwall today, with a caravan in tow. This is because it is currently being stored at this end of the world, but realistically we will only use it down in Cornwall - so we are finding new storage for it down home and family way.

Apologies for being a less than witty post, but sometimes you can't just make things up on a whim when it is late at night and we have to head off early in the morning to drive 300 plus miles.

On the other hand, the positive side is that we will have free accommodation when we go down to Cornwall and will be able to use the bikes to get there - double bonus for that.

Hope everyone has a good weekend.

06 November 2008

Today's Post Brought to You By the Letter T

Janet over at 32 aker wood participated in a sort of voluntary meme. If you want to play, you just leave a comment on the post and ask for a letter. Then you list 10 things you love that start with that letter. So I asked for a letter and she gave me the letter T.

1. Tea - who wouldn't love a nice cup of tea on a wet autumnal morning or Winter's afternoon

2. Tomatoes - especially when picked warm from the plant, that lovely flavour that shop brought ones simply don't have

3. Thyme - I haven't been very lucky with this herb, but I keep trying as I love the smell

4. Tools - I like looking at DIY tool catalogues and imagining what I could do with them if I knew how to use them. My Dad was the handyman, it didn't pass down the genes to me.

5. Two wheels - my motorbike, being able to go out on it, the sheer grin factor it provides me with.

6. T'other half - we might have met late in life, but at least we met. Some people go through life not ever meeting someone as special as he is to me. All together now 'aaaawwwww'

7. The pasT - I am fascinated by history, not just English history. I spent about 6 months drilling into the background of the American Civil war, just for fun, and found a number of fascinating facts such as the first submarine was used during this period. Who would have thought it possible that modern inventions are actually many years of research/work and not necessarily highlighted.

8. Tinned foods - how did someone think of doing tinned foods? for years they would preserve in kilner (or preserving jars) but when did someone make the leap to tinning the items and what will we be doing in the future? I do admit to loving Spam... yes well someone had to say it..

9. Teaching - something that I have to do as part of my job, and love doing it despite not being a natural (in front of people) speaker; Wish my job involved more of this and less of the boring stuff.

10. ChocolaTe - see the T was in there all along.. any and all chocolate tastes lovely, even the one with Chilli in... you don't taste the chilli until right at the end and then your mouth suddenly goes warm.

So if anyone else wants to play, leave me a comment and and I'll assign you a letter but it is purely for fun this meme.

05 November 2008

November 5th - Bonfire Night, fireworks and why we celebrate it

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

It is primarily remembered and marked in the United Kingdom where it was compulsory, by Royal Decree, to celebrate the deliverance of the King until 1859. These days it is purely a good reason to launch fireworks into the cold November skies and enjoy the pyrotechnic display whilst eating hot dogs, roasted potatoes with warm soup and hearty helpings of hot chocolate suitably laced with alcohol.

Guido Fawkes is notorious for his involvement in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. He was probably placed in charge of executing the plot because of his military and explosives experience. The plot, masterminded by Robert Catesby, was an attempt by a group of religious conspirators to kill King James I of England, his family, and most of the aristocracy by blowing up the House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster during the State Opening of Parliament.

After being tortured on King James's orders, Fawkes and a number of others implicated in the conspiracy were tried in Westminster Hall. After being found guilty, they were taken to Old Palace Yard in Westminster and St Paul's Yard, where they were hanged, drawn and quartered on 31 January 1606.

For the uninitiated : this means they were hung, but not killed - before they could die from suffocation they were taken down and disembowelled with the final cut being the still beating heart. This was a punishment given for the severest of crimes, and others who suffered the same fate included William Wallace (filmed as Braveheart) and a film I have never been able to watch twice.

Common foods served at bonfire parties are black treacle goods such as bonfire toffee (aka Cinder toffee), parkin, toffee apples, baked potatoes, which are wrapped in foil and cooked in the bonfire or its embers and devilled sausages.

So enjoy the blood thirstiness of Bonfire night...

04 November 2008

Wishful thinking

5 Interesting Places I want to visit one day
  1. Petra - The pink valley in Jordan, ever since I saw it in Indiana Jones I have wanted to go there and on horseback.
  2. Canadian Rockies - what could be better than to take the rockies express and gently sway across these majestic mountains.
  3. California - I want to see the Giant Sequoia trees or Redwoods, and visit the fishermans wharf area of San Francisco
  4. Iceland - (yes even after the last bank crisis) I want to see the land where the hot springs stay hot even in the middle of winter.
  5. Galapagos Islands - home to the largest species of tortoise and just somewhere that time left untouched.
5 Interesting Places I have stayed/visited
  1. Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh. My room was just outside of the main gates and though I didn't see much of the Palace other than the kitchen I did feel it was rather special.
  2. Balmoral Castle - I fell in love with Scotland in 1977 when I first went to Balmoral as a teenager. My first job away from home and I loved the wildness of the countryside surrounding the Castle. I would still love to live there one day.
  3. Paris - who couldn't fail to enjoy this majestic city, it has such joy and passion about it (not to mention an abundance of pick pockets)
  4. Cameron Highlands - like England on a warm Summer's day though after the heat of Malaya it was like walking into a room with air conditioning on at full blast.
  5. Venice - I was too young to get the best out of this family holiday to Italy which included a day trip to Venice, but I remember standing looking at San Marco's Piazza and just taking in the scenery (ok and the smell was a bit fresh)
5 things I want to do one day
  1. Fly in a hot air balloon - despite being scared of heights
  2. Stalk a deer, and get close enough to get a great shot (with a camera - hands up if you thought I would stalk and kill a bambi!)
  3. Surfing in Cornwall - have never done it, want to do it one day before I get too old or it is too cold to do it and SOH can and has done it.
  4. Take a safari trip to Africa, I quite fancy the idea of doing it on horseback and I think there is a firm that does this
  5. Take the motorbike and ride the Route Napoleon - The N85 from the french coast (Golfe Juan) to Grenoble

This post is designed to amuse and replace any negative thoughts of the American Elections which may or may not have an affect on any readers of today's news

03 November 2008

Feast of Saint Winifred

Today is the feast day of Saint Winefride (Welsh name Gwenffrewi) who was a legendary 7th century Welsh noblewoman who was canonized after dying for the sake of her chastity. Winefride was the daughter of a Welsh nobleman, Tyfid ap Eiludd. Her suitor, Caradog, was enraged when she decided to become a nun, and decapitated her. In one version of the tale, her head rolled downhill, and, where it stopped, a healing spring appeared. Winefride's head was subsequently rejoined to her body due to the efforts of her maternal uncle, Saint Beuno, and she was restored to life. She later became a nun and abbess at Gwytherin in Denbighshire, and Caradog, cursed by Beuno, melted into the ground.

The moving of Winefride's bones to Shrewsbury is woven into A Morbid Taste for Bones, the first of Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael novels. Throughout the series, the protagonist - a Welsh monk at the English monastery at Shrewsbury - has a kind of "special understanding" with the saint, whom he affectionately calls "The Girl".

Some of the Cadfael (pronounced Cadvile) books were made into films starring Derek Jacobi as the modest monk with a deep history, and were filmed in poland. But he was also narrated by Philip Madoc in some BBC dramatisations.

21 books make up the total number of Cadfael novels, and are well worn on my bookshelves along with the companion of the series showing locations on the Welsh/English border where the fictional monk visited or were close to Shrewsbury Abbey. Worth a read if you like this period of history with Stephen and Maud fighting for control of England.

02 November 2008

Gimme an Arrrgh*

Cornish Pirates won convincingly at Bedford yesterday afternoon, kick off was at 3pm so before long the gloom set in and so did the rain. It didn't spoil the game, nor our enjoyment of it, by half time the Pirates were leading 9-3 and in the second half dominated the game to finish on a score of 26-6.

Not sure what happened to Bedford's game, but it was almost as if they weren't playing cohesively as a pack and on more than one occasion they launched fists at the Pirates players with one player being sent to the sin bin after an earlier warning.

We were lucky in that where we were standing was with our backs to the winds, and with some trees behind us we were fairly well sheltered but by the end it was a soggy end to the game. We headed home for a well earned tea of Chicken Chasseur which had been cooking while we were at the match.

I'm afraid though, that we had to sacrifice going to the Ace cafe to hear Sam's launch of his new book Distant Suns but we were too late after the game to head down another hour to London just to get there at the end. I hope Sam's launch went well and from his other books I am sure Distant Suns will be just a big a hit as his previous two.

* The pirates supporters have a chant, gimme an p, gimme an i, gimme an r to which the response from the crowd is p, i and arrrghhh hence the name of this post

01 November 2008

Saturday Satire - The Wasp Expert

The world expert on European wasps and the sounds that they make is taking a stroll down his local high street. As he passes by the record shop, a sign catches his eye.

"Just Released: New LP - Wasps of the World & the sounds that they make - available now!"

Unable to resist the temptation, the man goes into the shop.

"I am the world expert on European wasps and the sounds that they make. I'd very much like to listen to the new LP you have advertised in the window."

"Certainly, Sir," says the young man behind the counter. "If you'd like to step into the booth and put on the headphones, I'll put the LP on for you."

The world expert on European wasps goes into the booth and puts on the earphones. Ten minutes later, he comes out of the booth and announces, "I am the world expert on European wasps and the sounds that they make and yet I recognised none of those."

"I'm sorry sir," says the young assistant. "If you'd care to step into the booth, I can let you have another 10 minutes." The world expert on European wasps and the sounds that they make steps back into the booth and replaces the headphones.

Ten minutes later, he comes out of the booth shaking his head. "I don't understand it," he says, "I am the world expert on European wasps and the sounds that they make, and yet I still can't recognise any of those!"

"I'm terribly sorry, sir" says the young man, "perhaps if you'd like to step into the booth again, you could have 5 more minutes."

Sighing, the world expert on European wasps and the sounds that they make steps back into the booth.

Five minutes later, he comes out again, clearly agitated. "I am the world expert on European wasps and the sounds that they make and yet I have recognised none of the wasps on this LP."
"I really am terribly sorry," says the young assistant. "I've just realised I was playing you the bee side"