Sunday 31 March 2019

...Like Eagles

My next Stanley Spencer "Christ in the Wilderness" painting is called "The Eagles" [from Luke 17 Where there is a carcase, there the eagles will gather.
Eagles crop up a lot in the Bible.
I read that Eagles lay their eggs 'out in the wilderness' away from other creatures, in order to protect their young from harm. In this painting, like The Hen there is a sense of Jesus protecting the birds as they feed. Originally I thought about using that picture today, for Mothering Sunday -but decided against it.
Eagles have amazing traits - fiercely nurturing their young, phenomenal eyesight [including an extra eyelid to protect their vision], faithfulness [mating for life] incredible patience [especially when watching prey] and the ability to soar to great heights.
These are qualities also needed by mothers** 
- fiercely nurturing the young
- always watching for danger [eyes-in-the-back-of-my-head]
- faithfulness to family and friends
- courage [as eagles fight snakes, so mothers fight for the young and weak]
- incredible patience
- the ability to soar, achieving far more than you thought possible
Eagles catch the wind, ascending on thermals - using power greater than their own to reach greater heights than before.
**and fathers, in fact, needed by all of us!
Two lovely Bible verses which have been an encouragement to me in this past week
Exodus 19:4 - You have seen what I did, how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself
Isaiah 40;31 Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.







Saturday 30 March 2019

Spring Forward...

...fall back
Did you learn that at school, to help you remember which way to move the clocks at the start and end of British Summertime?
It's all down to a guy called William Willett, a prominent Edwardian builder who lived in Chislehurst in Kent. He was a keen outdoors chap, and noticed that in the summer, the sun was up - but his neighbours were still abed. What a waste of good daylight, he thought.
In 1907 he published a book entitled "A Waste of Daylight" in which he advocated changing the clocks at four points in the year, to make more 'usable' daylight during working hours. Winston Churchill and a few other MPs were interested, but Willett's overly technical explanation was a little offputting.
The outbreak of WW1 in 1914 put a huge strain on the economy, and the government were looking at ways of cutting costs, and in 1916 they adopted "Daylight Saving" in the hopes that it would reduce costs as less coal would be needed for lighting factories etc. Sadly William died in 1915, and never saw his idea come to fruition.
But he is remembered with a memorial in Pett's Wood, close to his Chislehurst home. It is maintained by the National Trust.
The inscription read "Purchased by Public Subscription as a tribute to the memory of William Willett, the untiring advocate of "Summer Time"
On the back is a sundial, with a Latin inscription meaning "I only count the hours of Summer"
There is debate about whether or not we should continue with changing the clocks twice a year. Many EU countries want to abandon the idea and voted to do so in recent days.
I have no idea what will happen.
At the moment I am not in favour of anything which messes about with my sleep patterns!
But don't forget to adjust your clocks sometime this evening/tomorrow morning.
Trivial fact for the day -William Willett was the great great grandfather of Coldplay's Chris Martin


Friday 29 March 2019

The Cost Of Inflation

Pop down to the Dorset coast, and you'll find dozens of shops like this Weymouth store - selling "beach toys and inflatables". All year round- not just in the summer season. Lilos and dinghies [with warnings about not using in the sea!] swim-rings, and various creatures and accessories.
Nemo clown fish, dolphins, unicorns - and random items like bananas, guitars, pirate swords and more. Plus colourful beach balls.
And children pester their parents and grannies, and for the duration of the holiday, these things are treasured.Then they split and the air escapes and the fun has gone. "It was only a few quid, chuck it in the bin" says Uncle Bill "We'll get you another one next holiday"
At the other end of the scale there are more 'professional' inflatables- bouncy castles, and 'proper' seaworthy dinghies. But even these have a limited life span.
So full marks to "Wyatt & Jack" a company based on the Isle of Wight, who decided to make use of these discarded items. They take damaged dinghies, battered bouncy castles and flattened flamingos [which Rosie insists on calling ptamingos, like pterodactyls!]- and turn them into useful bags and pouches.
A tote made from red bouncy castle fabric- embellished with part of an inflatable cactus.
And yellow dinghy fabric, decorated with sections from a dismantled 'globe' beach ball.
What a brilliant idea! They have enlisted the help of beach wardens at Swanage, who collect the discarded items and pass them on to W&J. 
These will be made into bags and totes for sale in Dorset NT Shops. I am very impressed with the range of goods on sale - varying in price from relatively inexpensive thinner plastic totes and pouches right up to more costly heavy duty rucksacks.
They also make to order - one lady contacted them to ask if they would make a bag from her flamingo. Purchased on holiday the day her boyfriend proposed, she wanted a useful way of keeping it And every purchase comes with a tag, inviting customers to return the bag when it is of no further use, to that it can be remade again! Look at these items from their website
We had a banana, for Holiday Club, I wonder where that went? And 4 inflatable guitars. I do know that on our motorbike holiday to Belgium, we left a very dead airbed in a rubbish skip on the campsite. But there must be something in the loft... What could I make?
Important tips for sewing plastic fabrics like this

  1. Do not use pins - join pieces with pegs, wonderclips or magic tape. Pins make nasty holes
  2. Use a new, sharp machine needle. If fabric is thick, use a denim or leather needle.
  3. Use a longer stitch length than normal
  4. Measure twice,stitch once
  5. NEVER iron your finished item






Thursday 28 March 2019

Am I Going Off My Trolley?

Do you realise that we have had the 'new' pound coins for exactly two years now? I posted about them in March 2017. Two metals used in one coin, and writing round the edge, in an ongoing effort by the Royal Mint to defeat the counterfeiters.
People continue to mutter about the 'cashless society' - and it is true that we are all using fewer and fewer coins as we go about our business.
Car parks now have card slots and phone apps at the pay machines, and even quite small businesses have card readers to enable you to 'pay with plastic'
One place where a £1 coin is still often needed is at the Supermarket to release a trolley. But as this is simply a deposit and not a payment, it is OK to use a £1 sized token instead. I keep one on my keyring. When I go to Cornerstones, this smiley yellow face is useful when I pop out for groceries.
But I have a dilemma -if I am returning my trolley, and another shopper comes to me, brandishing their £1 coin and says "Can I buy your trolley?" I have to say "No, sorry, it's got a token in it!" and leave them to walk over to the line and detach another trolley. Somehow I feel uncomfortable, not being able to help. I have plenty of these tokens- they are often given away as promotional items. For a while, when asked, I'd say "Oh please take the trolley, keep your £1, it has a token in it" and I would replenish my keyring with another token from the stash. But that didn't really work- people got confused and somehow wanted to pay me anyway...
But after my visit to the Screwfix Show last year, I have solved the problem. I was given this odd looking freebie. "I'ts a trolley token" said the Squires company rep.
I put it on my keyring. The next day I was out with my friend Angela and we popped into Lidl together. "Ooh, I can use my new token" I said. 
I pushed it into the slot, released the trolley - but left my keyring dangling.
Halfway round the store, Ang said "You've dropped something" and there on the ground was the keyring and token. It had dropped right out.
I have discovered that this gadget goes into the slot, and releases the trolley, and if I then wiggle it left and right, it pops out again! I get a trolley, then get my 'deposit' back immediately!
So now I just do my shopping, and load it back into the car - and if someone asks for my trolley as I'm returning it, I just say "Here you are" - otherwise I push it back to the line, but I don't link it to the rest, I just leave it there, almost in place, but quite liberated. I would never leave the trolley abandoned in the car park [a habit which irritates me enormously]
My family think I may be losing my marbles, but I feel a perverse pleasure being able to leave a 'free' trolley for somebody else.
Thank you Squires for such a clever gadget!


Wednesday 27 March 2019

The Tudor Tailor

I came across this photo from 1988. Tudor Day at Brampton Road Primary School, Bexleyheath.
At the end of the row of children performing their Tudor Dance is a little girl in a white cap, and red dress with lace sleeves.
I'd modified my 1968 red maxi dress into an Elizabethan gown for Liz to wear.
Her cap was made from an old white shirt of Bob's. In fact I made about 20 of these for her friends using their Dads' shirts [at least 3 others appear in the photo] To be honest, it is a mismatch- the cap is 'peasant-style' and the gown is from a well-to-do wardrobe.
If only I had possessed this book back then. Steph and Gary gave me this for my birthday last year. I had mentioned it after watching the author, Ninya Mikhaila, on Amber Butchart's series "A Stitch in Time" [recently repeated om BBC4]
I cannot begin to tell you how much I have revelled in this glorious publication. I have been reading and rereading it for almost a year and I should have reviewed it months ago. I love it!
I doubt I shall ever have to produce a Tudor gown for Rosie, or dress Bob as Henry VIII in doublet and hose - but if I do, then everything I need is here. The pictures, the patterns, the illustrations, the carefully written instructions and helpful diagrams.
I keep the book by the bed, and sometimes just read through a few pages and dream of cutting and stitching billiments and bongraces, galligaskins and gable hoods...
Not only is there all the practical stuff, but the first third of the book is wonderful historical detail.
Information about the fabric, and the weaving, the changing shapes of garments, and the underpinnings. The influence of European fashions on English style. It is fabulous!
And if you like reading CJSansom and other authors who write about the Tudor period then you can make sense of words like kirtles, and linsey-wolsey [which is a fabric, not a character]
One major problem with maintaining historical accuracy is the lack of surviving clothing. Very often a garment would be re-made or repurposed after its owner had done with it. Two of the most helpful sources of information are [1]the garments recovered from the wreck of the Mary Rose [which sank in 1546] and [2] the Essex Wills - a collection of Tudor wills maintained in the Essex County Archives - ten volumes of 10,360 documents, which make 2230 references to clothing.  The testators vary from wealthy landowners to sailors, servants, butchers and bakers. In these wills can be found detailed descriptions of garments being passed on to friends and family.
There are also many paintings from the period- but the majority of these, unsurprisingly, display the wealthy patrons rather than their servants.
And the vocabulary...Elizabethan women wore two pieces of fabric, over their breast, and their back, called bodies - from which we get the word bodice. Who knew?
Even if you are not into sewing, and have no practical need of this book, but like reading Tudor stories, I would recommend borrowing it from your library.
Fustian and frizado, sarcenet and stammel, bay and buffin - if only Fabricland stocked these, alongside the polycotton and scuba jersey!
Definitely *****
I'd give it 6 stars if I could.



Tuesday 26 March 2019

Du 'Ave A Du Maurier

Back in the 70's there were a whole load of TV ads for the aperitif Dubonnet [which I have never tasted, although I understand the Queen is very fond of it] The slogan, always in a french accent, was "Du 'Ave A Dubonnet" I suddenly thought about this last week, as I was reading some short stories by Daphne Du Maurier. 
At the beginning of March, I listened to an afternoon play "The Years Between" by Ms DuM [link here] It was really good, a bittersweet yarn set at the end of WW2 - and made even better because the male lead was Roger Allam. He has such a glorious voice, which appeals to females across the generations [I appreciate him as Thursday in Morse, Liz enjoys Mannion 'In the thick of It' and Rosie is fond of 'Sarah and Duck'] So I was in a DM frame of mind, and spotted this book in the Library
I fall asleep easily at the moment- so short stories are a good reading choice.These are 6 tales, first published in the early 50s. [now a Virago Modern Classic] The introduction tells how Alfred Hitchcock was a friend of Gerald DuM, Daphne's father, and followed the young writer's career with interest. He took 3 of her stories [The Birds, Rebecca and Jamaica Inn] and turned them into successful films. 
The Birds was originally set in Cornwall [DMs county] but Hitch transposed it to California [and he messed about with other details too, for 'cinematic purposes'!] It was interesting to read the original story - I think I preferred it. Four of the stories are of similar length, and one is almost twice as long. They have clever, alarming twists, and leave the reader pondering [or shivering]. Half are written in the first person - I enjoyed those most, I think. These are classic Gothic Tales at their best
Yes they are dated in style and vocabulary- but the sloppy prose, and casual profanities of so much modern 'chicklit' irritates me. Sitting in the deckchair after Sunday lunch, soaking up the sunshine and Vitamin D, I revelled in these characters and plots. Short - but by no means sweet *****.
Back to the Dubonnet - one of those ads featured that lovely music "Shepherd's Song" from Chanson D'Auvergne by Canteloube. Tony Osbourne Sound recorded it with soprano Joanna Brown and it got into the charts. At the end of the ad, a french farm cart trundles down the road, with a sleepy, bearded peasant sitting on the back, dangling his feet. [older readers may recall this image] The peasant played by a young musician called Richard Stilgoe earning a few quid as an extra. Now Sir Richard Stilgoehe has a glittering career behind him. Among other things, he has worked on the lyrics for both Starlight Express and Phantom of the Opera. He got his knighthood for charitable works. His dad and grandad were both water engineers, so he has done much to provide fresh water in the third world. In fact, all his royalties from S.E. go to help communities in India have fresh water. Not quite as much as Abba's Chiquitita, or Barrie's Peter Pan - but a fair amount nonetheless [over £150K p.a.]
Du Maurier, Dubonnet - do enjoy some music... [it is Tony's orchestra plying, but I could not find a clip of the original advert, sorry]


Monday 25 March 2019

Good Mousekeeping

This is such a lovely little story, which brought a smile to my face in the middle of so much that is sad and depressing in our news bulletins right now. Watch it and be cheered!
It reminds me of Beatrix Potter's tale of The Tailor of Gloucester, where the mice finish the stitching on the waistcoat but leave one buttonhole unfinished as they run out of thread [so they pin on an explanatory note saying "No more twist!"
Mr McKears calls his little rodent "Brexit Mouse" because he's busy stockpiling  

Sunday 24 March 2019

Awake My Soul

This next Spencer picture is simply called "Awaking" . Nothing more complicated than that. Jesus wakes and his first action is prayer.
Hands together in supplication, eyes turned heavenwards.
I love those mornings when I wake 'naturally' and I can spend unhurried, uninterrupted, quiet moments talking to my Heavenly Father. I feel the day has started properly. 
But I am so aware of the fact that it is not always like that. There are a multitude of things getting in the way - for me, and for so many others

  • I'm woken 'unnaturally' by the alarm clock. Maybe my body, mind and soul aren't ready but the demands of the day mean I must get up and get on with it. 
  • I'm woken by the needs of someone else - the phone ringing, the baby crying, the pet scratching at the door needing attention, an early visitor pressing the doorbell. 
On these mornings it is often a case of "pray as you go" and I know my attention is sometimes not properly focused on my prayers or the task in hand. God is amazingly patient and gracious, and makes sense of my garbled words. 
John Wesley is said to have risen at 4am to spend the first four hours of the day in prayer. I remember a tutor at Spurgeons College pointing out that Wesley was usually in bed well before 9, and he didn't have any children! The tutor suggested that maybe we should not attempt to copy the Methodist's pattern if we were living and working in a society which required us to be busy later into the evenings. 
Here's a choir in Norwich Cathedral singing Thomas Ken's Morning Hymn [aka Awake my soul] . Written in 1695 it was originally frowned upon, because he used his own words not direct Scriptural texts. I learned this in childhood, and still enjoy singing it. You can find a modern version of the lyrics here. They're probably more meaningful to today's readers than the 17th Century originals, but I'm a little sad that we've lost the dull sloth! [Rosie has sloths on her new pyjamas]




Saturday 23 March 2019

Buttons And Bedmaking

As I had to attend a family funeral in Essex on Wednesday, I stopped overnight with Rosie and family in London. She loved the toolkit. She said Daddy has just turned her cot into a bed and she demonstrated how. [I hope this video clip works for you] 
I finally finished the new cardi [ details here
I altered the original pattern a little

  • Omitted "mock pocket flaps" [pointless]
  • Wove contrast yarns through the ribbing
  • Put seven different vintage buttons down the front
It's a generous fit right now, but growing room is useful at this age.
We made up a guessing game -. The cardi was laid on the sofa, then one of us closed our eyes while the other put their hand over a button  Then we had to guess which button it wasn
Heart, yellow flowers, blue umbrella, red dog, yellow teddies, pink elephant or white flower. Rosie was quick to learn and full of giggles. 

Friday 22 March 2019

Spring Joy

Bless wrote about her Winter Joy List, and challenged us to write our own list for Spring.
Here's my acrostic list of a few of the things that spark joy for me at this time of year... 
Swedish Semlor buns. A lovely indulgent treat - but only for  Lent! 
Pancake Party - I love having a houseful of friends and Bob and Geoff flipping dozens of pancakes
Reading with Rosie - cuddling up and - enjoying a book together
Inspirational articles - so many magazines right now, encouraging me to lose weight, get fit, declutter, learn a new skill... 
New life in Nature - baby lambs, blossoms, green shoots... 
Going to Kingston Lacy - and seeing how the gardens are changing
Jugs of tulips - I love these bright spring flowers, and the way that they bend and twist in the jug in a crazy nonconformist way. 
Organising the flowers for Mothering Sunday - such a privilege, and what a joy to see every woman leaving church with a pretty paper carrier containing a primula plant. 
Yellow - the colour of sunshine, daffodils, fresh lemons, primroses, custard, bananas... 
Light and Longer days - walking together in warmer evenings 
Improved health - oh I do hope so! 
Seasonal wardrobe Swap - away with thick woollies, rediscovering pretty floral frocks
Time - if I'm not fit enough to do any Supply Teaching, then maybe I can find time for some other special projects which have been "on the back burner" for far too long! 

Thursday 21 March 2019

Do-You-Think-He-Saurus?

I keep forgetting to post these pictures, but this was at the tail end of our day trip to Bath [see how blue and clear the sky has become]
On our journey home, we skirted round Salisbury and passed the main branch of In-Excess, which is a local discount chain [reminiscent of Trago Mills in Cornwall, but smaller] We pulled into the car park and had a brief wander round the shop [it was almost closing time] Then when we came out again we noticed the Jurassic Surroundings behind us.
Round the car park were the most humongous animatronic dinosaurs!
If you put £1 in the slot, they moved and roared.
I had no change, and decided to wait until Rosie is with me [and a little older - currently she is not fond of experiences which involve what might be termed 'mild peril']
I don't know how much it has cost the company to install and maintain them. But in the past 5 years since they arrived, they have raised well over thirty thousand pounds for the local Hospital Trust. Well done In-Excess for such a crazy, but generous project.
The display is very popular with children - watch the video clip below. If you are near Harnham, A3094 [South West side of Salisbury] it is worth making a quick detour just to see these amazing creatures. [apologies for late post. Been enjoying a lazy morning in bed! ] 

Wednesday 20 March 2019

If I Had A Hammer...

When Bob left his job as en electronics design engineer, to train to become a Baptist minister, his work colleagues gave him a blue Black and Decker Workmate. A colleague told me that they didn't normally give such expensive parting gifts- but nobody could remember anyone else ever leaving the company to go to a job where they would earn a much lower salary!
Bob still uses his workmate, regularly - and laments the fact that the newer black/orange models are nothing like as good.
Rosie enjoys watching her Dad and her Grandad making and fettling things, and her Mum repairing and fixing bicycles. So I couldn't resist it recently, when I was in a CS recently and a staff member brought an item through the shop to put in the window display. It never got there - I intercepted her, and took it straight to the till!

A child's version of a Workmate, with all the tools - and with it, a tool tray containing even more tools. All this and change from a fiver! [to buy all this new would cost at least five times as much]  "Is it for your grandson?" asked the lady at the till. "No, my grand-daughter Rosie, she is three" I said. "Oh dear, I really shouldn't have presumed it was for a boy, should I?" she said, grinning. 
The parts were a little dusty, and so I brought them home and gave them a thorough scrub in the bath. When Rosie grows up, I hope she too will be as keen on "Make do and Mend" as the rest of us!




Tuesday 19 March 2019

Red Letter Day

Next Monday [25th March] the prices of Royal Mail stamps will increase. It will cost 3p more to send a letter [1st class going up from 67p to 70p, 2nd class by 3p from 58p to 61p] Ofcom had ruled that prices could not go up before 1st April, but things had already been set in motion for the earlier date- so Royal Mail have taken what they hope will be suitable action. Perhaps you've already read their statement...
Dear Customer,
You may have seen media coverage around the new price of a 2nd Class stamp which is due to come into effect on March 25 of this year.Due to an error on our part,our new 2nd Class stamp price of 61p will be 1p above the existing regulatory price cap for a period of 7 days - from March 25 until April 1.We are donating the revenue that we expect to collect from the error - around £60,000 - to the charity Action For Children,which helps disadvantaged children across the UK. We apologise for this mistake,and we are sorry for any inconvenience it may cause.Thank you for your continuing custom with Royal Mail.

Stamps purchased before the price rise will still be valid. As I usually post a few Easter cards and we have a number of family birthdays coming up, I need some stamps. I am buying mine this week before the prices go up. 
But I am really glad that this great charity will benefit from RM's error. You may recognise it by one of its earlier names [NCH Action or National Children's Homes] It began in 1869, when Methodist Minister Thomas Bowman Stephenson opened a children's home in Waterloo, just two years after Baptist Minister, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, opened his orphanage in StockwellIt is sad to think that 150 years later, both these charities are still working hard to help disadvantaged children in this country.
There has been criticism, from some quarters, of the Comic Relief Programme on Friday night. Some allege that the presentation of the current state of poverty in Britain was exaggerated. Others were upset by 'rich white British saviours' going to give handouts to 'poor black African children'. Still others were concerned about the promotion of 'single-use-plastic red noses'.  I find all that quite distressing. Donations over the weekend were significantly reduced from the previous CR in 2017. I hope that cynicism and 'compassion fatigue' are not going to diminish all the good work being done by CR since 1985.
Oh dear -this post began as a reminder to buy stamps and has ended in a rant about the need to be generous.  This should lighten your mood- me ten years ago being the Lady In Red supply teaching at a Leicestershire village school . I rather liked that borrowed scarlet wig["And they tell me that your husband is the minister at the chapel?" said the School Governor who was visiting - clearly unsure about this wild extrovert employed to teach for a day]

Monday 18 March 2019

I Know You've Missed Me!

That is what this Swedish poster says. It is Lent, the traditional time for semlor buns, and the Swedes are always pleased to see this treat back in the bakery window.
Originally made just on Shrove Tuesday, they were then made on other days, at one point it was illegal in Sweden to make and sell them outside of Lent. 
Now they are in the shops from Christmas till Easter [imho much better than those over sweet Creme Eggs] Liz introduced me to this delightful treat, and for the last three years I have made a batch.[you can find the recipe here]
Although Bronte Aurell, from ScandiKitchen, says fresh is best, I found last year that there wasn't too much change in flavour if thy were frozen.
So last Saturday afternoon, I donned my posh new pinafore, turned on the radio and made 16 semlor instead of eight, portioned them up and froze them.
The two on the little tray are the ones we ate at Saturday tea-time!


Thank you to all who've sent helpful messages re the fatigue, via comments and emails. Update - just heard from GP I have a Vitamin D deficiency, so now on medication!


Sunday 17 March 2019

The Hen

Another of Stanley Spencer's "Christ in the Wilderness" Lent paintings. A Russian writer has said of these paintings "Where else in the Bible does man appear in such union with the beasts, with no fear and alienation? Obviously, in Eden, where Adam resided before the fall. Christ, who came to save mankind from the curse of original sin, is the new Adam, as described in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul. 
...Therefore, Jesus peacefully dwells among animals, birds, plants and with childish curiosity he peers at them, for this firstborn Son of God has found his human nature, similarity with earthly being. As a creature 'from another planet', Jesus gets used to this world, delicately delves into it, amused and delighted"
This painting is entitled 'The Hen' - a reminder of the words of Jesus in Matthew 23, as he weeps over the city of Jerusalem
"O, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing."
There is a proud cockerel, and other fowl, strutting behind, at the back of the picture -but Jesus encircles the mother hen and her chicks, with his whole body - protecting them, watching over them.There is care and compassion in his face. He is aware how fragile they are, utterly defenceless, how easily they could be hurt or killed. The mother hen gathers them, hides them, and she makes herself vulnerable as she protects them. This picture doesn't show 'amusement and delight' - but sadness. 
Our world has seen another turbulent week - the continued division in the British Parliament, political unrest in France, tension in the USA government, and now the killings in New Zealand. Oh that people across could gather together, united, protected, supported by the fatherly love of God, as the chicks gather under the wings of their mother hen...but they are not willing.
It was so good to see pictures of Andrew Graystone standing outside his local Manchester Mosque during the Friday Prayers.
Here is a man who takes his Christian faith seriously. "You can respond with fear, or you can respond with friendship" he said.
Lord, in a world of fear and hatred, give us your compassion - and help us to extend the loving hand of friendship - especially to those who are in need.

Saturday 16 March 2019

Flowers, Friendship And Fatigue

 As well as the flowers outside in the garden, I'm currently enjoying flowers inside the house.
My two orchid plants are both blossoming. The one on the right has been dormant for about a year, and I thought it was dead and nearly discarded it. But my good friend Jenny gave me some orchid food - and these gorgeous pink blossoms appeared unexpectedly. Thanks J!

Then in recent weeks I have received a couple of floral cards from blog-friends [you know who you are] one is a delightful decoupage in shades of peachy pink, the other a get well card with stunning scarlet poppies. Both so very pretty to look at - but more important are the thoughtful words inside. 
The older I get, the more I value friendships. I am sure you feel the same. 
A big thankyou to the people who suggested my mystery herb might be rocket. 
The leaves do not match the rocket I get in Lidl - but they definitely have the same peppery flavour.  Did you know that the Romans introduced rocket to Britain two thousand years ago? In the Middle Ages, it was forbidden to grow rocket in monasteries because it was believed to arouse sexual desires. It was often mixed with lettuce leaves in salads because lettuce has a soporific, calming effect, and the theory was that the two would cancel each other out! I discovered a crop of flatleaf parsley too - a good source of vitamin B. 
I saw the GP yesterday - he thinks I have Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome, and need to rest and pace myself better. He's done blood tests for vitamin B & D deficiencies, and apologised that the NHS cannot afford to prescribe a week's holiday in a sunny climate. At least it is nothing serious or sinister - and I must just Slow Down A Bit.
I'm trying ["You're very trying sometimes" says Bob] Thank you to all my dear friends out there who have sent such kind wishes. 




Friday 15 March 2019

The Cup That Cheers

I had a friend once who got very hot under the collar when people said "Cheers!" when they meant "Thank You!" An ardent teetotaller, she thought it had alcoholic connotations. I confess that it has never really bothered me, despite being brought up in a strictly TT home.


I frequently say "Cheers!" when I'm leaving- as a form of Cheerio, I suppose
And just occasionally "Cheers!" as a greeting to a friend
And sometimes "Cheers!" when I raise a drink to my lips [whether tea, orange juice, or wine] in the sense of good cheer, well-wishes, blessings to my [drinking] companions
But mostly I use this expression as a way of saying "Thank you!" - sincerely, but briefly and without undue fuss. 
It is good to say Thankyou - 

  • to the bus driver on the Park'n'ride,
  • to the person who helps you lift your suitcase onto the train,
  • to the shop assistant who is genuinely helpful, 
  • to the waiting staff who ensure your 'eating experience' is a good one,
  • to someone who gives you a gift - especially when it is totally unexpected
  • to the child who brings you something, or gives you a sudden hug
  • to the guy who sees you have 1 item and he has a trolleyload, and lets you go ahead in the queue
  • to the spouse who tells you that you look lovely today [when you feel anything but]
  • to the friend who treats you to a coffee and spends time in proper conversation
Some of these need a proper expression of gratitude - for some 'cheers!' will suffice. I mentioned recently doing the Ipsos Mori survey. It is the second one I have done - and when I did the first one, my gift voucher was delivered by hand by the Market Researcher along with an acknowledgement slip. I had forgotten all about it until this week. I'd tucked it in my big Study Bible as a bookmark. 
I was preparing to lead our Homegroup - we are working through Philippians. It is full of words from St Paul encouraging people to show gratitude. And my IM survey slip had a lovely word-cloud on the front. 
Isn't this super - thanks in so many languages?
And I love the little reminder of the Greek word for thank you is 
εὐχαριστω - eucharisteo, from which we get the word Eucharist, the name used by many Christians for the service of breaking bread and sharing wine.

Cheers! [and thank you for reading my blog]






Thursday 14 March 2019

Baptist Bob Gets Very Wet In Bath

As last Tuesday was spent getting ready for, hosting, and clearing up after the Pancake Party, Bob never had a proper Day Off. So this week, we planned to do something Very Exciting on Tuesday. 
Having lived here in the South West for 4 years, we felt it was about time we visited Bath. 
We got up and set off surprisingly early, stopping for breakfast at the Fontmell Magna Post Office as it opened at 9am. We enjoyed bacon and sausage sandwiches, and hot drinks, then drove on to the Bath Park'n'Ride [situated at "Odd Down"] By the time we parked the car it was raining "straight 'airpins" as Nana would have said. We jumped on the bus [concessions for over 60's] which took us into the city centre.
It really was too wet to do very much walking around. We went into the Abbey - currently something of a building site. The floor is sinking badly so they are undergoing an extensive programme of digging up and relaying the stones.
Much of the Abbey is behind screens - you can peer through the windows to see the work. But they are clearly endeavouring to maintain all the usual activities.
A beautiful embroidery is a focal point as the altar is currently out of use. Either side of this, over the choir stalls, we admired the lovely choir of carved wooden angels.
There are hundreds of memorial tablets all over the walls and floor. It seems that the world and his wife must have come to Bath to die!
We noticed the plaque to Sir Isaac Pitman - but felt a little disappointed that it was entirely written in English. They could have put something in his language
We came out and walked through the rain, browsing in a few CS and stopping for a snack lunch. We checked out the net for ideas of places to visit. Many were either closed for the winter, or shut on Tuesdays! But we were able to visit the Postal Museum.
I was thrilled by all the stuff I learned in the Bath Museum. The first Penny Black stamp was franked and posted in Bath. The first 100 mile airmail flight was from Bath to London. 
Last Summer I took Rosie to the Children's Play Area of the London Postal Museum. She loves it there, and dashed off to put on her red tabard and hat and be a postal worker, weighing and stamping parcels and delivering them through the letterboxes.
I am afraid she has inherited my love of interactive learning environments. Dressing up is such fun!
Back in the 1700s, the Mail Coaches began their speedy service between Bath and London - much faster than the usual stagecoach [and a little less comfortable] Charles Dickens often travelled to Bath by this method. Here's Grandma in suitable garb! [Note the matching red fingernails- my 40bags-40days challenge for Friday was to clear out my makeup bag. I rewarded myself with a manicure in the evening]
The rain continued. We went back to the P&R and drove to Warminster [where my parents had their honeymoon in 1948]
The rain finally stopped, and the sun was shining. Coffee and cut price banoffee pie and more CS to browse around. Then home at last, and Bob cooked delicious steaks for our evening meal. 
We may have struggled against the wind and rain at the start of the day, but by the evening, we both agreed we had enjoyed a lovely day off. 
When I said we'd gone to the Postal Museum in such appalling weather, a friend said she hoped I didn't stamp around. I replied that I hadn't - I'd been with my own First Class Male.




Wednesday 13 March 2019

A Night On The Tiles

They are busy putting new tiles on this building at the moment- it houses Ferndown Council Offices, and our fine Town Library. Not sure this is a wise activity in a week of such high winds, but there you go...
The Latin word for tile is tessera, and small tiles, put together in a pattern are called tessellations.
I've long been fascinated by tessellation patterns, and particularly the ones created by the Dutch Artist M C Escher.
Look at these amazing creations - all exact, interlocking, repeat motifs -  Birds
Knights on horseback
 Lizards 
And a mixture of fishes and frogs

And then, this week, I came across a French Artist, Alain Nicolas, who not only draws brilliant tessellations, but has a wonderfully helpful website explaining how to design your own.
Look at these - men, dinosaurs, reindeer
These are so intricate, and so clever. Do check out his website, where he shows how to alter a basic tile pattern [square, hexagon, triangle etc] to make a repeating tile shaped like an animal or person or flower.
Here he has produced a dog tessellation in honour of his faithful friend Lucky.
I think it is so clever, and so well explained. I wish I had a class to teach this to on a wet windy Friday afternoon!
Actually I have taught about Escher in the past [without the benefit of Monsieur Nicolas' clear diagrams] and had great fun, combining principles of maths and geometry with artistic creativity.
There was a particular school I often worked at in Leicester where I did such a lesson. A few days later, a woman stopped me in the supermarket "It's Mrs Almond, isn't it? You were the  Supply Teacher for my son's class the other week. He really loved all the work you did about testicles. Thank you so much" I was slightly taken aback at first, till I realised what she meant. "Oh, yes, I remember now - the class produced some lovely tessellation patterns" [I wonder if the she realised later exactly what she had said. I hope not, the poor woman would have been mortified]
Who would have thought a host of guitarists like this could be rotated and interlocked, and used to cover a whole page?