Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Busy busy busy

Thought I'd better do at least one posting in December.  I haven't been idle, its been a busy month.

Very last day of November we travelled to Crymych to see my daughter, G9 perform in the orchestra she has joined.

First weekend of December saw us going to a bonfire on the common land.  Unfortunately due to the very wet weather we all gave up and went to Maggie and Phil's house for a glass (or three) instead.  Shame. This was followed the next night by a housewarming party, held by the lovely Jane from our dosbarth Cymraig.  Good mate Carl was also there and as sparky and entertaining as usual.  Wonderful evening had by us all, although subsequently the morning after was a bit of a blur. 

We went to the church at the bottom of the garden for a magical evening of carols, mulled wine, mince pies and other goodies.

St Meilyr's Church
Then there were the preparations for the grand Coffee Morning to be held at our house, not only that we had two family visitors staying in The Cabin and three in my house. The visitors lent a willing hand on the morning itself though and really helped to make it a success.  In the afternoon all the ladies went to the Oriel Linda Norris Gallery to make some fused glass Christmas decorations.  Friend and fellow blogger Maggie Christie joined us with her beautiful daughter.  Sunday we had our first Christmas lunch.

Our neighbour was Santa for a morning (but shhhh don't tell G9) and we went along to their chapel in Gelli to sing a few carols, drink mulled wine (well G9 didn't) and meet him in the flesh.

We went to Ysgol Maenclochog to watch the school Christmas play.

We had carols to sing with the Adran but unfortunately although we went out all wrapped up they ended up being cancelled due to the snow.


Last weekend my brother and family came to stay.  Saturday evening we had our second Christmas lunch.  Sunday we went to the local village of Llangolman and walked for a few miles to find a holy well.  It was a lovely walk, the fields were covered in snow and the hills really were alive with the sound of music as we all sang carols.  We were blessed with very clear skies, with the moon out and the sun setting.


As well as of course frenetically wrapping presents late at night once G9 has gone to bed.  Writing cards.  The usual.  Phew.  Roll on Christmas I'm looking forward to a break. 

Nevertheless these simple pleasures bring home the true meaning of Christmas and I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else in the world than here; with the family, neighbours and friends that surround us.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Morning views

Looking out of the bedroom window this morning...

And then the bedroom door...

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Joining in...

I had in my mind's eye when we moved that we would join in.  It was mentioned to us a few times that we really should; often dire warnings of ignoring this good advice were made explicit. 
"Oh you will be OK as long as you enter into the spirit of things and don't ever turn down invitations." 
...or worse...
"You know what the Welsh are like and they really don't like the English."  Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.  "Hope you've packed a fire extinguisher." 
These comments from parochial well wishers simply confirmed that our decision to move was the right one.  We had always intended to join in as really it would be a bit shortsighted of us to move somewhere new and then promptly insulate ourselves from the world.  You have to make an effort to make new friends.  This was going to be home after all.

Never a more welcoming crowd could we have we met.  Cymru Am Byth!  A Barabrith was awaiting us on our arrival, left on the doorstep.  People have warmly invited us into their homes and plied us with food and wine. 

In our turn we help with looking after the common land (actually Him Next Door does most of the mowing), this Friday we have a community bonfire to burn all the chopping back we did earlier in the year.  We also go to fundraising events in the local community and support the school, village hall and local shop whenever we can.

We actually proactively fund raise for both the common land (Cadwraeth Llysyfran‏) and St Meilyr's Church, nestled at the bottom of the garden.  I am not particularly religious but believe I suppose essentially in Christian principles.  And the Church is truly beautiful and awe inspiring in its age and presence.  You wonder what those walls have witnessed in their time.

From my involvement in the immediate community was born the website http://www.llysyfranchurch.co.uk/.  My little bit of giving. 


140 Christmas Cards sold so far...


Saturday, 13 November 2010

Letter writing.

A quaint old tradition. 

I have one friend from school who has not dabbled in the 'Interweb' at all.  He insists on writing letters and I must admit there is nothing like finding that little jewel amongst the drab brown envelopes scattered on the mat.

I can type quicker than I can write, so I have found that my handwriting has deteriorated somewhat... especially when balancing the pad on my knee with one eye on the TV and one hand holding a cuppa, all whilst trying to help G9 with her gwaith cartref Cymraig.  (Hmmm perhaps that's why she doesn't get 10 out of 10).

I can barely understand what I have written myself when reading my letter back, goodness knows how anyone else can.  But still, it's more personal somehow than the typed page.

The only other time I hand write in earnest is on Christmas cards.  For those I see regularly I don't pen much except for the usual salutations*, but for those I rarely see it's a chance to catch up.  So I carefully write little messages in each card for my distant friends and family, all individually scripted.  It makes my arm and hand ache, but every year I do it, just to get those little gems back.  It's like Facebook but hand made.

I have a box of old love letters and cards, hand written by someone who died when just starting out in life.  Although I look at them rarely, when I do I feel connected somehow - they have more resonance than a typed page could ever have.

Writing this blog has made me feel a little guilty as it reminds me I have a pen friend I still owe a letter to, its been months and months.  Somehow life keeps getting in the way.  It's back on the top of my things to do for this weekend.


*Addendum: I never understand why people have photographs on their walls of relatives they live with, after all they see them every day. 

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Beautiful October

What a beautiful sunny, warm and dry October we are having.  The flowers in the garden are a bit confused and have been putting on the best shows, trying to entice the insects.

There's nothing so beautiful as a rose.
 
That's Billy the fish in the background (opposed to Billy the boy).




And with a heavy heart I see just round the corner winter coming. I so much prefer the light to the shade.  The warmth to the cold.  The long days to the short.  So late in the year these special sunny days are like priceless gifts, they are to be treasured.  They hearten the soul and the memories of them will have to last until Spring.

As others say it so much better than I can do, I'm going to share with you some quotations and poems that have particularly touched me about this time of year.  If you have your own and you would be willing to share them, please comment,  I'd love to read them.

"I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house.
So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.
- Nathaniel Hawthorne

"I know the year is dying,
Soon the summer will be dead.
I can trace it in the flying
Of the black crows overhead;
I can hear it in the rustle
Of the dead leaves as I pass,
And the south wind's plaintive sighing
Through the dry and withered grass.

Ah, 'tis then I love to wander,
Wander idly and alone,
Listening to the solemn music
Of sweet nature's undertone;
Wrapt in thoughts I cannot utter,
Dreams my tongue cannot express,
Dreams that match the autumn's sadness
In their longing tenderness."
- Mortimer Crane Brown, Autumn Dreams

...... The following one is particular pertinent to us here, as we are surrounded by trees.

"October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came-
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band."
- George Cooper, October's Party

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Mrs Angry

I have been lusting after an iPad for a long time. 

Business and private bank balances do not warrant such an extravagant expenditure, so I have gone without.

J on the other hand ordered one - secretly.

He was away on a business trip when I discovered this.  I phoned him whilst he was travelling.

I was prepared to forgive him if he'd bought it for me.

Nope.  Just for himself.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

The Teenage Attitude

Imagine this, I have a mug, letters and the kettle in my hands.  Yelling for Topsy to follow me out of the door - like now, so I can start work.  I'm already late.

Not on your nelly. 

I do an odd little dance.  As my hands are full my legs make frog like movements to encourage her to come on and I pull a myriad of coaxing faces.  Nothing doing. 

Topsy is terrible in the mornings and likes to stay in her pit for as long as possible.  Instead of leaping out of bed like a young dog should, she gazes up at me, rolls onto her back and emits the vibe of, "get me out of here if you can."

Hmmmm; Dog 1 - Human 0.

Topsy - dog with attitude.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Burning the midnight oil...

I've dabbled in website development, strictly as a sideline - never really admitting I do it.  One of my clients recently asked for their website to be totally revamped.  Nice and simple site. Not too many pages.  They were very pleased with it.  Then the Principal asked if I could do one for her son, who runs a Real Estate firm in the USA.  Requests for a blog and database etc... whoa.  I tried very hard to wriggle out of it, but when the cheque arrived before I had even started, I felt I didn't have much choice.

Quick - Amazon.  Bought a couple of books (knowledge in cold storage).  Both good but one in particular has been revolutionary.  I ordered new software on the back of it (which I'm still waiting for) but I feel empowered.  I am beginning to understand what I'm doing now, the fog is lifting.  I can deconstruct what is really going on behind the scenes.  Sounds strange but I've always used WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) software up to this point.  But for many reasons it has been really restricting me and it bloats the code.  WYSIWYG works well until things do not go as planned - trying to edit the code was like wading through treacle as I hadn't learned the basics from scratch.  Now that's all changing.  I'm really starting to understand what the code can actually produce and how I can manipulate that code, this time to my tune.  I might be back in control.

It really is like another language with strict unforgiving grammatical rules, but hey ho I've never been a first past the post kind of person.   Always a plodder that (hopefully) gets there in the end.

My Web Design Bible

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

This week, phew

Sometimes I think I might be taking on too much.  I am not the sharpest tool in the box and as well as learning Welsh I am just about to take on Expression Web, (Microsoft's tool for web development).  I dabble, so far mainly for free or for a very low fee.  But people and businesses keep asking me to do a website for them too - and their requests for functionality are getting more sophisticated.  I can't sit still any longer and am going to take the bit between my teeth and learn this software so that I can push my own boundaries and those of any future websites I do.  With all the behind the scenes coding I suppose it will be a bit like learning another language... 

I am having trouble running.  Something has happened to my foot\arch and I am blaming my trainers.  There is a fantastic shop in Haverfordwest (TriExercise) who will look at your gait and do a Running Gait Analysis and then recommend shoes especially to suit you (yes there is more to this running lark than just throwing yourself out the door in a pair of shorts and trainers).  The trigger for this extra expense finally came when I woke up very early one morning this week shouting "OW OW OW" - just like that and very loudly (which J can verify).  Never have I had such bad cramps and never in my calf muscles.  Something has to be done.

It's Topsy's birthday this weekend. Normally I would ignore this but G9 insists on celebrating big style.  So I am joining in (secretly I'm rather enjoying the planning of it too!)


Happy 21st (in doggy years) Birthday Topsy!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Men

I really wanted to go shopping for food for our camping trip on the way - making it a part of the holiday.  "No." J said flatly.  "I always do the shopping, I know what I'm doing and after all it'll save us time on the journey.  I'm going the day before and I'll make sure I get everything."  After that diatribe I gave in - albeit reluctantly.


We got to our camp site about 7ish in the evening and after unpacking and settling in I asked what was for tea.  "Sausages" he said.  Unfortunately they were still frozen in the cold bag. 

Plan B - we'll have pasta instead.  This is when we discovered you know who had forgotten to pack the pasta. 

Plan C - tuna then, you guessed it he didn't pack a tin opener.... though I did have a Swiss Army knife but the bread he'd brought was a huge home made loaf - we had nothing to cut slices with. 

Anyway us girls really wanted something hot to warm us.  Ho hum, off to the local supermarket with tail between his legs. 

Will I ever, ever listen to him again?

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Life changes

It struck me the other day when Him Next Door took G9 out for a body boarding session at the beach.  They'd both acquired new wetsuits, G9 for her birthday and Him Next Door... well any excuse. He also had to get a body board, after all G9 had one!  They do say men never grow up.  This picture was made all the more pertinent as Him Next Door and G9 might never have met; when I was pregnant he ended up in hospital and had a triple bypass.  It was a worrying time for us all. 

The plus side of his heart attack for G9 was that when he was recuperating he had more free time to spend with her, right from the moment she was born.  They used to go off walking with G9 stuffed in a 'back pack' gaily being fed cold mashed up food.  (She still likes cold cooked food now).  It is only because of Him Next Door does she love swimming so, he religiously takes her to the pool every week.  It is one of his favourite activities and he has passed this love on.  He helps with her violin practice too as he can play the organ; reading music is something neither of G9's parents can do.  They are so very close.  I think she is now his excuse to try anything new and he can back slide into childhood unnoticed and without comment.  All this activity keeping him fit and healthy, whilst in return G9 gains a wider breadth of life's experiences.

What a special relationship that benefits them both, one that will live on in G9's heart for all time.

Two peas in a pod

My Gran on the other hand is finding things more difficult.  Every day now she seems to regress a little more and needs a bit more care. Little things but it's always in some way detrimental to her quality of life. She has always been physically active and is very alert but has just announced that she no longer wants her hair permed as it takes too much out of her and she avoids her weekly bath - tending to coming up with lame excuses.  Gran now gets very, very out of breath so doesn't go further than five feet with her walking frame and although she takes her water tablets her feet are still ballooning and are very hard.  Her Next Door really needs help and has asked for it.  Lets hope she gets it and any help available isn't on the hit list of the local authority cuts.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Time management and working from home

The trouble with working from home on a beautiful day is that the pull to go outside and potter round the garden is immense.  I sit behind a large picture window where I can watch the birds bathing in the bird bath and butterflies flitting about.  The sky is a perfect blue today too.  It's made even more tempting as yesterday was not a lovely day, so you really want to treasure the sunshine all the more.  Perhaps I'll take my coffee outside for a beak, within earshot of the phone.

Blue skies through window.
I am very fortunate as my 9 to 5 tends to be anything from 10ish to 5, luckily J my other half prefers the mornings and I don't mind covering the back end - so J finishes between 4:30 to 5 and he gets to watch Star Trek in peace.  Unfortunately my late starts are not to do with long lie ins but more often due to domestic chores.  J also gets some time out in the working day to do the weekly shop.  On the up side we don't have to do anything over the weekend that we don't want to, the time is utterly all our own - which means we get to play. 

There is no rush hour for us - wasting our lives sat in traffic.  It is difficult for us both to take time out for a holiday when it is not either a weekend, public holiday or the Christmas break and that is the biggest issue.

On balance I would not change what I do though, nor who I do it with.  I don't get that Monday morning feeling and that's worth all the tea in China.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Visitors

After moving to a new place and not knowing a soul, I do miss being able to pop into someone's house for coffee.  Trouble with living here is that we get an awful lot of visitors, which we LOVE but I miss being surrounded by my old buddies, where I could just drop in unannounced and snaffle their coffee (or wine if the sun was over the yardarm).  Although I am building up a new network of friends it takes a while to gain that easy comfortable history together where you can truly relax and be yourself.

Our last visitors, Kay and David
It is like we run a hotel - people drift in and visit at all times of the year.  We have to make the beds, cook the meals, drive people round the countryside.  So although it's great to see everyone, (it really is and please keep coming), it's very hard work! 

This weekend I'm seeking my revenge and I'm going to camp on my friend's floor... so for once the tables are turned.  I can't wait. 

Its just struck me though that I'll have to pack an overnight bag and drive for three hours to gain this little luxury.  Hmmm, maybe it's not so bad having people visit us after all, I take it all back.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

A little slice of heaven

just to be able to get in the car and GO to some of the most unspoilt places on this planet (even though it's busy at the moment with the school holidays).  With over 50 beaches to pick from, all within half an hour to 50 minutes away, we are truly spoilt for choice.  The only fly in the ointment is trying to get us all unanimously agreeing on the destination... I think I might have missed my vocation as a mediator.

We chose Newgale and Whitesands today.  I don't know what it is about the seaside, but it makes us all so happy; any cares or worries we may have just seem to dissolve away.  To sit with the sun on your face, listening to the roar of the waves, with warm sand between your toes.  A great stress buster.

Newgale

Whitesands, we sat with a take away coffee or two for hours, just people watching...



Stayed for a while longer and had a fish supper too.

Nothing to do but watch the sun go down.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Shwmai

I've always envied people who can speak another language and play an instrument.  I've encouraged (pushed?) G8 into doing both.  She is fluent in Welsh and is learning to play the violin.  It is the best age to learn and I really do not know why both are not compulsory in school when young, because believe you me it gets much harder to do when you are older.

And I chose Welsh.  Not the easiest language to learn - don't get me going on mutations.  I've been so busy this year for one reason or another I just about made it to the Welsh lessons but did nothing in between them.  And it showed.  The tests at the end of term were just a blur, I had little idea about what was going on.  I had to cheat or hide my paper.  It was embarrassing. 

I have made myself a promise:- Bydda i trio i wneud a tipyn bach o Cymraig bob dydd yn y gwyliau nawr.  What I'm trying to say (it may not be completely grammatically correct, remember I'm a learner) is:- I'll try to do a little Welsh every day in the holiday now.  I am so far behind I really need to do this if I am not to lose the plot completely. 

Although I feel I am still such a beginner and cannot (wouldn't dare) have a conversation in Welsh (unless it's with the dog), it does feel a waste of three years to give up.  And if there is one character trait I have in abundance it is tenacity.  I am a plodder.  I get there in the end.  I hate giving up.  It will not beat me. 

Pass me that guitar.

Friday, 2 July 2010

The Aftermath.... an eclectic mix of thoughts

Well we seem to have survived the BIG party... but boy are we all exhausted.  And to top it all we have another six visitors arriving today, (J's brother and family).  I think I shall have to deploy some match sticks to hold my eye lids open. 

We are also dealing with various invasions of insects; ants and wasps to name but two.  It makes you realise that give them a year unchecked and your home would be over run with pests, vermin and various vegetation.  The Victoria Creeper on the front of the house needs a hair cut every other week this time of year, otherwise it really would literally creep into and over the house. 

We have also discovered that rats had been nestling in the loft in The Outback.  These are being dealt with but had only been noticed when the man to service the Rayburn popped his head up into the attic... "How many are there?" Her Next Door shrieked (in pure panic mode), but Boiler Man wouldn't commit himself, just grunted.  This vagueness of course toyed with her dark imaginings; we must have vast colonies up there she insists.  Although only the droppings have been sighted so far.

I also listened to the news last night about Nick Clegg's "suggestion box" and apparently there is still an archaic law that states as a British citizen you are supposed to report sightings of grey squirrels, well we'd be on the phone every half hour.  If there are any laws or regulations you'd like to do away with Nick invites you to comment, see http://yourfreedom.hmg.gov.uk/ for more on this - generally very interesting stuff.  I'm going to put my two penneth in.  Get involved or please don't moan about it.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Letter from The Queen (& Ian Duncan Smith AND The First Minister of Wales AND The Secretary of State for Wales).

Well it’s the morning of my Gran’s 100th. It’s the culmination of a lot of very, very hard work, mainly for Her Next Door. The ‘event’ starts today with Gran’s actual birthday and some people arriving to help us celebrate with an evening meal at Something’s Cooking (thank you Tony), the big party on Saturday through to the final people leaving Tuesday.

Unless you have ever organised a large ‘do’ it’s difficult to understand the amount of hard work that has to go in to it. So much to think about; invitations, organising who stays where (thank you to our neighbours who have been fantastic), talking to the B&Bs for those we just can’t accommodate, organising transport to and from the B&Bs, the venue, music, balloons, food, the cake (thank you Tracey), drinks, contingency plans if it rains, organising the letter from the queen, publicity.

The list is endless. Her Next Door has not been sleeping very well either as she keeps waking up with jobs to do churning round in her head.

We were going to just have an ‘open’ weekend all weekend, but in the end we managed to organise the Visitors Centre just across the way (only a few steps really) for the Saturday evening. Gran knows and likes it there. It has a disabled loo too, which at 100 is important! I personally was quite keen to do this for three primary reasons:-
1) firstly and most importantly in my eyes it gives Her Next Door a few hours off, once she is there she can relax and let others pour drinks and sort out the food. She too can really enjoy the actual party.
2) if it does rain we have one large room where we can all gather and mingle.
3) it gives a focus to the celebrations; everyone getting ready, changed, expectant for the main event.

Initially Gran herself was not so keen on a large get together. She finds it difficult to hear what you are saying to her when in a large crowd, with lots of others talking in the background. But recently she has said that she is really looking forward to it now. There are some people coming that she has not seen in an awfully long time and very, very nearly all of her family will be there. Sixty two in total.  There is one very dear man who won’t be able to come, but I am sure Granddad is looking down on us. We miss him, Gran most of all.

Today and Saturday though will be two extra special days, remembered and treasured by us all.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Mid Life Crisis

It was my birthday yesterday.  I may have lived more years than I have left to live.  A sobering thought.

I need to let rip, otherwise I may be too old to do so.

I could buy a Ferrari, but I’m not really into cars. A car for me has always been about getting from A to B without breaking down.

I’ve considered a change of job, but I really can’t think of anything I want to do more. I don’t think I’d qualify as a wine taster with my indiscriminate taste.  Any way I like working for myself - I can give myself half days off and I can change my job description to suit my mood.

I could buy myself some heavy jewellery, but that really does remind me of medallion man and hairy chests from the 70s.  Not that I have a hairy chest, nor am I a man last time I looked; but it's all very ostentatious.  Not really me.

I’m pretty confident I could get a bit on the side, but I imagine after a few months it would be like having two partners.  Why would I inflict that on myself?

If I didn't have responsibilities I think I'd sell up, get a back pack and travel light for the rest of my life.  Can't take it with you after all.   Without the people I love around me though, I'd be very lost.

Perhaps I'll look more seriously into keeping chickens or bees.  Or do more gardening.  Not exactly letting rip though.  I'm going to go shopping on Saturday... let's see what I come back with.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Gran's rebelling...

Him and Her Next Door have gone away for a few days leaving us to Granny sit.

This is fine except Gran is going through a rebellious stage... "I am not getting dressed today, I feel dizzy when I try to..." glaring at me as if daring me to argue.  "I've put on my summer dressing gown for the daytime.  I'm quite decent."

Hmmm, one of Her Next Door 'rules' is that Gran should get dressed daily - except for her bath day, she is allowed a day off then. 

"And another thing, I don't want a new dress for my party." 

Blimey, let it all out Gran.

Is there a book on how to handle teenagers centenarians?

Hopefully Her Next Door will remain blissfully unaware of this outburst.  Nobody reads this do they?

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Our garden in pictures

I love this time of year... (and wondering around the garden on a sunny day like today is the perfect antidote to politics).

Monday, 10 May 2010

Ms Angry to Ms Proud in 48 hours

Lows
Friday morning I found our Internet was down – being an IT company we are dead in the water without it. I phoned our ISP (note this stands for Internet Service Provider) who duly did the line checks and found nothing wrong. He told me that before anyone would send an engineer out we had to replace our router.

Not an unreasonable request I suppose except that I informed them that our neighbour was also down. What was the likelihood of two routers going ‘ping’ at the same time?

Apparently this information was irrelevant and had nothing to do with our issue. To me it was obvious that they were following a problem solving ‘script’ and come hell or high water and even when provided with useful information, they had to ensure that each item was duly checked off the list. Sorry Madam, it MUST be your router, grrrrrrr.

An hour round trip to pick up a new router, ½ hour to configure and £80.00 later, low and behold… our Internet was still down. Apologies, but the earliest an engineer could be with us now was Monday. My response? Insert expletives here.  I would also like to know who is going to refund us the cost of purchasing the router - it doesn't make a very convincing objet d'art.

Highs
Sunday I did the Race for Life at Scolton Manor in Pembrokeshire, what a beautiful day in more ways than one. There was a little team of us and G8 also ran. It brought tears to your eyes reading some of the dedications pinned to the backs of most of the runners. I ran for one person in particular who never got the chance to grow old, but also for two or three survivors. As we began our running they played Heather Small’s “What have you done today to make you feel proud?” and for once I had an answer to that.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Carers

It struck me recently how old age strikes with some stealth, it creeps up on you almost unnoticed.  We're all living longer and therefore having to cope with aging and all it brings in a way never encountered before.  If not for ourselves then for others who are close to us.

My Gran, who is very alert and has all her cognitive skills, yesterday had an accident she couldn’t avoid and was utterly heartbroken. How cruel ageing can be. The only real joy she gets from life (apart from her family) is from listening to her books and doing quiz shows on television as her sight too has let her down. She never moans though and is usually surprising cheerful.

My Mother-in-law is with us for a week and she too is struggling a little, mainly with arthritis which her weight aggravates and the two combined are now really affecting her mobility. She fails to remember things sometimes too.

Both Grannies would choose to remain totally independent - but for various reasons really can't. Mother-in-law lives on her own still but is helped enormously by her only daughter who shops, cleans and drops in daily for much needed human contact and Gran obviously lives with us cared for mainly by Her Next Door - but neither helper gets much direct help from the Government - financially or practically. This caring group is ignored yet it will become a bigger problem in years to come as each generation seems to live that little bit longer.

All this free caring is saving the tax payer a lot of money. Is it fair that people in their late sixties and early seventies who should now be free of mortgage, children, paid employment etc are finding they have other responsibilities? Please don't misunderstand, all mentioned here do this willingly and with much care and love - they wouldn't have it any other way. But should this silent army be doing it alone and without any support?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The lonliness of the long distance runner...

I love it, I go into a world of my own... and think all sorts of thoughts. Although I can never remember them when I get back. A bit like dreaming I guess.

Tonight wasn't so lonely. The dog actually kept up... well I had to carry her past the fishermen (I should have started jogging by then but thought it might be better if she didn't actually run off with one of their fish). I had to go dangerously close to them to retrieve her. I normally try to avoid all human contact in my running gear, not a pretty site. I dumped her unceremoniously at the beginning of the track and tonight she kept up. Actually she was good company, until we met another runner - yes who is she? I was so busy telling the dog to shut up that I didn't have time for pleasantries except for a rather muffled ‘hiya’. She looked a darn site fitter than me and I was soooooooo relieved that at least I had my new gear on and not my old jogging bottoms that have paint splodges all over them and a top that is supposed to be white but has a definite grey tinge to it.

I wore my new trainers (a pair of Saucony Progrid Triumphs) for the first time and boy do my toes thank me for it. A couple of my toenails have gone black so this time I have bought a whole size larger. My feet generally feel better all round and just to be sure I bought some running socks; yes I too thought a sock was just a sock but oh no, it’s all very technical. My sports bra also arrived. Wow, this over the shoulder boulder holder was a struggle to get on but again so comfortable, no black eyes at least.

I am now on week 8 of the Couch to 5k in 9 weeks - yes OK it has taken me rather longer than 8 weeks to get to this point but we'll just gloss over that. I'm now doing 28 minutes solid running. I need a goal to aim for so am running in the Race for Life at Scolton Manor. I keep being badgered to enter the Cardiff half marathon by a couple of proper runners - gosh how many miles is that? Don't tell me, it may be a step or two thousand too far.

Reasons to run for me are really for my mental well being – I do feel more positive and definitely more content.  It is great to pound the tracks and loose yourself in the here and now. Shedding a few pounds won't do any harm either but it's not my primary reason. It's not for everyone - but it suits me.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Secret surfer

I am so glad I had a daughter; I can delight in things like matching handbags. I love surf gear, and there are an awful lot of shops in these parts to tempt me.

G8 was after a new bag and while she was at a dance session with her best friend I was sent off on a mission to look for one for her. What a responsibility. Well I trawled through the shops in Narberth (the loveliest shopping place for gifts and quirky items).  It was a tough job but someone had to do it.

I didn't find one, I found two!  A matching pair.  I just couldn't resist one for myself.  The one I spotted for G8 was PINK, great. Sold. I asked the sales assistant if it could be returned - although I was pretty certain G8 would love it you can never be sure.  And crucially it would be coming out of her own savings, I'm a great believer of children learning the value of money and understanding that unfortunately it doesn't grow on trees. 

The bag cost £20.00 in round figures.  I told G8 it would cost her £15.00 of her hard earned pocket money (she'd lent us £5.00 to buy ice creams earlier in the week).  When G8 decided to keep it she went to remove the labels and she noticed the price of  £19.99 and insisted I still owed her £5.00. She'll make a great politician.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

I'm on an 'up'

I think it must be spring waving her magic wand and the lighter early evenings. Cold, long winter nights are not for me and I'm sure I get SAD because of it. To raise my spirits I try various tactics.

1) To socialise - I can be my own worst enemy if left on my own for too long.

2) To resist the eighth piece of chocolate - it only make me feel fat and slightly sick.

3) To have a glass of red - but perhaps not the whole bottle.

4) To switch the telly off - and go and read a good book instead.

5) To go out for a walk or a run – stimulate those endorphins.

6) To read Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. Google it - please, it really is worth reading. Here are the last few words. "With all its sham, drudgery & broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."

7) To appreciate what I have and not max out my credit card chasing the materialistic 'dream' created by global advertising.

8) To spend time with my lovely family and friends (they are the best).

9) To really look at the daffodils, listen to the chatter of the birds and feel the breeze.

I am healthy - but not so wealthy and well wise is really debatable (now common sense I've got gallons of that). Stuff the money; I'd rather have time to do the above list. I just need to learn to count my blessings more often.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Let there be light

J and Him Next Door have attempted to chop some of the trees down before. J being the one clambering about in the tree tops, I daren't look. Health and Safety would have a fit.

One previous episode involved the rope snapping. Luckily it was the branch end; it was already pointing in the right direction so it didn't hit any permanent structure and J had the good sense to let go.

Although quite a good job has been done so far by the resident males of the species we decided to hire the professionals when it looked like some of the trees nearest to the house were just too tall and frankly J doesn't have those agile monkey features required for such a feat.

Well the professionals were amazing, the young lad (anyone under 40 is young to me) was right at home, swinging around at the very tops of the trees. He reminded me of Lisa the gibbon at Manor House. Fantastic. What a great job. I was full of admiration. J muttered that he could have done as well if he'd just had the right equipment! Absolutely no further comment.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

BINGO!

How interesting could a night out at the bingo possibly be?  

Well - taking into account the fact that our gear box has gone on strike, very.   It took me 10 minutes to get out of our drive... 1st gear all the way, making us late picking up our neighbour.

Never mind, another one in the car reassured me as I had someone else to help push if required!

Lets stay in 1st... trouble was we'd be late even though I was was pushing the accelerator to the floor and the engine was screaming in protest we were not going very fast, let's risk it - I hiked it up to 3rd, the only one I could get into.  God help anyone coming the other way now as I had to keep my speed up round those hair pin bends...  only I didn't make the last one as there was a hill the other side and I had to change down... but I couldn't.  There I was on that hill, brake foot hard down, nearly wrenching my arm out of its socket trying to get the thing into gear - any gear would do.

Eventually I got it into 1st and this time I stayed in 1st for the rest of the journey.  At 7:59pm I shoved our neighbour out of the car to say Her Next Door and I would be coming, we just had the tricky task of parking.  Luckily we found that I could drive around the village hall, no reversing required.   Phew.

Our neighbour won the flyer though, the top prize.  Being late has its advantages...
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