Monday, October 29, 2007

The Human Condition.

I can see how my comments yesterday, on the Gap/child labour news, might have seemed insensitive. Of course that was not my intention, but I had also been listening to a programme on Radio 4 about Fair Trade coffee, and how it is produced and sold.
Farmers and many families in Africa, India and South America, are involved and it seems that the children of these families invariably help with the work - to a lesser or greater degree. Many of these families can't afford to send their children to school (of course their work is very poorly paid) so what alternative is there for them? At least they have their children with them, and those children are learning about the world in which they live. Whether we like it or not (and we see these situations from our great height as a 'caring' and uber-civilized society) this is how many people are living, and there are still women giving birth in the fields, or in filthy huts and shelters. These families don't have the benefit of drainage and clean water. Yes, some children are working for unscrupulous profiteers who take advantage of their vulnerability, but these children are not only working in filthy and unhygienic conditions, they are also living, eating and sleeping in these same conditions. Of course it's appalling, but a holier-than-thou attitude to how they have to work to earn money to live will not help them. What can we do? We will, I suppose, continue to give money to charitable appeals and hope against hope that the money, help, food and support reaches the poor people for whom it is intended. Of course we will also continue to buy clothes from Gap, and food that is not necessarily from sustainable and ethical sources. This is the world we live in. This is the way we have made it. It's not perfect.

Yesterday's lunch with my London BF was perfect. It was pouring with rain all day, so a visit to the Gourmet Burger Kitchen was very welcome. We splashed in, dumped our umbrellas, and each had a large glass of rose wine to go with our burgers (just the one). We didn't stop talking for two straight hours and it was only the fact that she had a meeting at 4.30 that stopped us.

I was talking on the phone with another friend this morning, who had what sounded like a worse week than mine last week. She believes that everyone is having a bad time at the moment, because Mercury is retrograde! This may well be the case, as I have heard nothing but bad news from friends generally over the last few weeks. The only exception has been my ex-Arundel BF, who is off to France tomorrow. She has rented a house for six months, and will be starting work on her French house in a month or so. How I would love to be in her shoes...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Immediate Concerns.

The more I think about Daughter and her op, the more nervous I get, so I have been looking up Colposcopy, and the treatment of pre-cancerous cells in the cervix, on the Internet. There is a lot of information, thankfully, because the more informed we are, the better we can deal with the situation. It is quite scary, though, and I am quite cross that her GP didn't send her for a smear test six months ago when she went to him with excessive bleeding. It says quite clearly on the various websites, that excessive bleeding is one of the symptoms of Cervical Cancer, yet he told her to come back later if the bleeding didn't go away. I would have thought that when she told him that she had had what seemed like a period for at least 3 weeks, he might have considered sending her for a smear test? There is not much one can do about it now, except hope that all the pre-cancerous cells have been zapped. I have suggested that we both go for an appointment with her GP when he has received the Consultant's report, so that we can ask questions and see what the prognosis is. I'm sure that they have everything covered, but where my precious Daughter is concerned, I'm not taking any chances.

I haven't bought my copy of The Sunday Times yet, but am looking forward to reading what they have printed about the supposed blackmail of one of the Royal Family. Surely, though, we know that our beloved Royal Family has always had more than its fair share when it comes to sex (just think of all those mistresses and affairs - and not only in the past), and probably drugs too. I'm not accusing anyone of anything, but I do know that where drugs are concerned and where money is no object, the more likely it is to be spent on drugs. I know my two children were fairly short of money in their teens and mostly that was an advantage rather than the reverse. (They couldn't get into much trouble on their allowance of £30 a month.)But it was common knowledge, apparently, that all the 'rich kids' at senior school were the ones who could afford the drugs, and therefore had the related problems (if not then, they do now). If only the Royal Family had real jobs and less money to spend...

The other news item that caught my attention was about Gap and the fact that child labour has been used to produce some of their clothes. I don't know any of the facts so can't really comment, but I'm not sure how it helps to destroy the clothes that have been made in this way? OK, I understand that this means they can't profit from the sales, and that is commendable. But those children are probably helping their families in the only way they can - and it isn't so very long ago that child labour was fairly normal in this country. (Not that I'm saying it's a good thing!) Charles Dickens knew about it, experienced it and wrote about it. Are we so far advanced, so civilized, in this country that we can afford to condemn what happens in other, less affluent, countries?

This is all very serious stuff for a Sunday. I'm off to have lunch with a London Best Friend, whom I haven't seen for about a year. It's pouring with rain and very grey here, but I know she will make me laugh. We met on Skyros in 2001, on a magical holiday, and have kept in touch ever since. We chat on Facebook - I wonder if she's seen that terrible photo..

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Photo Opportunity.

I'm getting out of Facebook - I was 'tagged' in a photo, by a 'friend' (actually the mother of Honorary Grandaughter). It's extreme cruelty, because I look terrible - it was taken about 4 years ago, before I went to Weightwatchers, so I look gross. And I had the most terrible haircut. Terrible. I hope it's possible to delete photos, because I'm going to do it right now. Oh, stupid Vanity, to think I could get away with being on Facebook at my age...

Have been watching "Help" on TV this evening. Those lovely Beatles, and I knew every word of every song of course. Not just every word, but every musical phrase, every breath. The Beatles were in my blood back then, and though the film was completely daft, I watched spellbound. Having the chance to see them all as they once were was sad and wonderful, all at once. It took me back to one fine day in London when I was walking back to work, after lunch, along Savile Row. I heard music coming from above and there, on a roof and just out of sight, were the Beatles playing their last, impromptu concert. I crossed the road to get a better look, and was rooted to the spot. It was magic. I was one of those lucky people who stood and listened on that historic day. Pure, bloody wonderful, accident. For once, I was in the right place at the right time.

Getting Better.

Feeling so much more positive today, which is probably to do with having slept well and not feeling so anxious generally. Grandson slept well too, and this morning made his own scrambled egg for breakfast. He had a little help, of course, but not much - I was mostly concerned with keeping his fingers away from the hot spots. Anyway, it was a great success and he ate every scrap. Very impressive. He then joined my French Student, who arrived home just in time for breakfast this morning at 8.30! They ate pains au chocolat together.

French Student has found a part-time job already, and is now looking for somewhere to live in Brighton. So far she has seen a couple of places which were very grotty and dirty, and also expensive. This doesn't surprise me, but she is obviously quite shocked. I have offered that she can stay on a while after next week-end if she doesn't find anywhere decent, so we shall see what happens. She will have to be very quick off the mark to get a good one..

Daughter arrived with the Boyfriend, looking rested and feeling much better this morning. I can remember how hard it was to recover from anything when one had the constant demands of small children to attend to. After my brain tumour, I was so weak for so long. I remember crawling up the stairs on hands and knees at the end of each day, knowing that Daughter would probably be up again at 6am (she was only 18 months old and Son was three). It was a tough year, and only made bearable by an absolute angel who lived in the village and used to come in every morning to help. She would turn up at about 9am, by which time I'd had it already, and would send me back to bed with a cup of tea for a couple of hours while she amused the children. She certainly earned her wings - Jukie, you were a saint and I really don't know what I would have done without you!

Friday, October 26, 2007

When will we share precious moments?

I cooked a particularly good spaghetti Bolognese last night, which just goes to show that a little angst thrown in with the other ingredients adds that 'je ne sais quoi' to the taste. My French Student and I enjoyed it with some french bread. Sadly, Son didn't make it down to Brighton in time to eat with us - in fact he didn't appear at all last night. He was late leaving London, and went straight to friends before the Laurent Garnier gig at the Concorde. I hadn't heard of this person, and thought he might be a bottle of Champagne. Anyway, he's a well known French DJ, of the House persuasion and his appearance last night was enjoyed by all. So my French Student didn't get to meet Son after all, which would have been nice. Maybe some other time..

I kept waking up last night, and the heebie-jeebies had me at 4am. I just couldn't think of anything else but impending gloom and doom for us all - and by the time I fell out of bed this morning, I was as grey and depressed-looking as the day itself. Thankfully, though, there was a bit of good news from our hanging-in-there buyer. When I phoned her to see what might be happening, she told me that she has another possible buyer who seems very keen. More importantly, this could be a first-time buyer with no attendant chain. We had a long chat, which reassured us both, and are now looking forward to some better news very soon. We have become quite good friends over the last four months, since we are both selling and buying privately. Had there been Agents involved, we probably would have had very different experiences. Here's hoping that it all works out.

Felt much more cheerful after that conversation, and it was even better when Son phoned to see if there was any food going. I hadn't seen him since before his birthday in September, so it was great to be cooking him brunch. We had a companionable half hour before I went to collect Daughter and Grandson from Nursery. Later, we all sat and caught up, with Grandson sitting on Son's knee and making us all laugh. These times together are too brief really, but I know that their lives move so fast. Son and his Music Buddy have been asked to do a remix for a label that's putting out some good stuff, so they had to hot-foot it back to London to work on it over the weekend. Daughter was feeling rather wobbly, so I have kept Grandson here for the night, and she has gone home to have a cosy evening with the Boyfriend.

In the news today, very pertinently, was the Government's intention to vaccinate all young girls against the Human Pappilloma Virus (genital warts to you and me), which is sexually transmitted, and is the main cause of Cervical Cancer. This is very good
news indeed for all young women, and though it comes a little late for my Daughter, it is a cause for celebration.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tension all Shipping!

This week has been complete shite so far, and it's only Thursday! This morning I managed to get the car down to the tyre place for a new tyre (£47), which was duly put on with the promise to also put the spare and the jack etc, back in position in the boot. When I arrived home and checked the boot, there it all was, just thrown in. I was so angry that I drove straight back, much too fast, and stood over them while they did what they had promised to do earlier. Not a good start.

Daughter and Grandson were waiting when I finally stomped in the door - and as we had a viewing at Son's flat, we all had to stay out until 2.30pm. Our planned trip to the park was interrupted by a call from the Agents, who had lost the keys! We had to drive over and give them Daughter's keys so that they could have another set cut, and then we went to the park. It was cold, grey and miserable. We attempted to have some lunch in the park cafe, but Grandson had different ideas. He had obviously picked up on the tensions - Daughter is not feeling well after her op. yesterday and I'm just about to boil over with all the frustrations relating to the car and the flat - and just wouldn't agree to anything. Hot chocolate, sausage rolls and fish fingers and chips were all rejected. We all ended up practically at screaming pitch. Poor Daughter, having to put up with Grandson and me! Finally, we drove back into town, not knowing what to do about collecting the keys, only to discover that the people who were coming to view simply didn't turn up! I can tell you, the language was appalling - even Grandson went quiet. I dropped them off and drove home feeling utterly and completely beaten by it all. I'm going to do some cooking now, in the hope that it will calm me down..

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

And for my next trick..

The perfect end to a perfect day. After helping Daughter with the cleaning etc, at the flat, I went to collect the car with its new battery. Fine. Only £63. Then called her to say that I'd pick up all the toys etc that we had sorted out for the Charity Shop. As I pulled up outside the flat, amid the hooting buses and flashing white van men, I noticed that I had a flat tyre. Oh Joy. Drove very cautiously along the sea front until I lost my nerve and pulled over. Whereupon a knight in shining armour appeared on a bicycle and asked if I needed any help. Half an hour later, I had the emergency tyre on the car and limped home, having thanked my knight profusely. Tomorrow, I'll cheerfully fork out for a new tyre. Probably only £40.

I have just poured myself a large glass of wine. Looking forward to tomorrow..

Yesterday...all my troubles seemed so far away.

An awful lot has happened since yesterday. Daughter, feeling very sick and not much better, came to collect Grandson yesterday, and we ended up going out to a local park for a bit as it was a lovely day (again) and we all needed some fresh air. Sadly, though, my car would not start when we all got back in. Panic. The battery was dead flat. So I phoned a friend (the husband of one of my BBFs) and he came out with jump leads to help. It was quite funny really, because when he arrived he couldn't find his battery to connect us up. Daughter was able to inform him that the battery was probably in the boot - his car is a Mini - as she knew that Minis used to have all their workings in the boot! How clever. Then we tried and there was no response at all - as it turned out, because he hadn't started his engine! Now this may be page one for those of you who know about cars, but it was news to me (and to him!). Next, with his engine going, my car started very enthusiastically. Fine, so I dropped off Daughter and Grandson and took the car in to my local garage. They looked long and hard at my battery, which seemed to be charging up pretty well, and then asked how old it was. I replied six years, which was the cause of hoots of laughter. Apparently that's a great age for a battery and I needed a new one. Fine!

The evening was spent eating bangers and mash with friends. And I tuned in to Son's DJ set on a digital radio station when I got home, so that was a nice end to the day.

This morning I had promised to accompany Daughter on a visit to the Hospital (or the Water Pistol, as Grandson calls it). This was a follow-up to her recent cervical smear test, and as it turned out her results showed some pre-cancerous cells which needed immediate attention. So she had to have a couple of injections in the cervix (ouch!), and the offending cells were removed then and there. This left her very shaky (naturally) and she has to look after herself for the next few weeks. She said that the doctor was very good - thoughtful and considerate - and has given her explicit instructions about what to look out for and how to cope with the healing process. He said that he was pretty sure that he had got all the bad cells. We do hope so! Interestingly, he also said that she must absolutely not smoke, (not that she does any more) because if she does the cancer will not go away. I was amazed to learn this, and do think that this fact should be added to the advertising messages on the dangers of smoking. Thankfully, the Boyfriend doesn't smoke any more either, but she will have to be very careful. She can't lift anything heavy (like Grandson, who weighs a ton) or do anything strenuous while it all heals up. And she has to have six-monthly check-ups and tests for the next five years! I'm very pleased that this was picked up so quickly, and followed through so efficiently, but what a fright it has given us. And yesterday I though a flat battery was bad news...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cooking and Reading.

I have something to add to the cooking hedgehogs information from yesterday. I had forgotten that what the Gypsies did was to encase the hedgehogs in clay (these were dead hedgehogs, not live ones!) before they popped them into the embers of the bonfire to cook. There were obvious advantages here: first the spines were rendered harmless, and second, the fleas were wiped out at a stroke without close contact. Then, when the hedgehogs were done to a turn, the fired clay was easy to knock open. This was probably the precursor to the chicken brick, that purely 70's kitchen must-have for the newly-wed.

Reading the Sunday Times yesterday evening (actually it takes me a week to get through it), I saw that Ed Balls - now there's a name to conjure with - is suggesting, from his position as the children's secretary, that parents should be reading bedtime stories to their children as a way of improving literacy. I guess I must be truly 'middle England', but that's something I have always done. Mind you, Ed Balls is suggesting 10 minutes per night. I can't do fewer than three stories a night with Grandson now. And when my two were young, I would have been lucky to get away with 20 minutes. When they were older and I was reading "Great Expectations" (with the voices of the characters causing much merriment) - it had to be a chapter a night because I wasn't allowed to stop in the middle. And there's the suggestion that even reading the label on a baked beans can is better than nothing! This reminded me that Sister and I used to read the label on the old HP Sauce bottle, to practise our French: "Cette Sauce, de haute qualite, est une melange des fruits, des epices et...." and there my memory fails me. I bet Sister could finish it off for me.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Kangaroos don't fart.

Honestly, the things you hear on the radio. This morning on Terry Wogan it was a regular feast of animal information. First of all, we should all be eating more Kangaroo meat! Apparently it's low in fact (fat, you wally, or should that be wallaby) and gamey in taste. And incidentally, Kangaroos don't fart - something to do with enzymes and metabolism. Don't ask me to explain it, because any kind of science or scientific information has always managed to pass me by. (Rather like Maths, which I just can't do either.) Then there was a conversation about the Tasmanian Devil, which is falling prey to a contagious form of cancer, so they (the Australians) are thinking of sending a few healthy specimens of these bad-tempered, carnivorous animals over here, so that they can establish new colonies. Now I may have got the wrong end of the stick, but I can see all sorts of reasons for not doing this. For a start, what if they send a few infected ones by mistake? (And these sort of mistakes do happen.) How contagious is this cancer? And how can we possibly know what would happen if they thrived?

Then there was the example of wild bears being re-introduced in Northern Italy, after they had become extinct. What happened? They ate all the sheep, of course.
Now there's a surprise.

Talking of eating unusual things, I can remember, 'when I were a girl', that the Gypsies used to call round regularly, selling clothes pegs and similar items. They were dressed in bright clothes and had some lively stories to tell. My Mother used to threaten Sister and I with the Gypsies if we were naughty. The thought of being sent away with them was both scary and enticing, somehow. And the fact that we would have to eat baked hedgehog was fascinating to us. Apparently the Gypsies cooked them, just like baked potatoes, in a fire. When they were cooked, they just peeled away the spines and skin and scooped out the meat. Ugh. It still gives me the shivers to think of it.

Back then, we also had a horse and cart delivering the milk, and I also remember the Accumulator Man, who came round to top up your Accumulator. What the devil that was, I don't know, but I think it had something to do with batteries and acid. Anyway,it was something else scientific which I didn't understand.

Last of all, on Terry Wogan, they were talking about coughing sheep. So next time we pass the sheep on the way to the Donkey Farm with Grandson, I'll have to listen out for the ones with colds!

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Yesterday morning I was awake and up very early, because of Grandson, and so saw a fox from the kitchen window. It was quite small and really beautiful - possibly a young one because of its size. It wasn't the sort of foxy red colour one expects, but a very pale beige with a few black accessories (rather elegant) and with a luxuriant black brush. It moved very quickly, over the shed roof down into the back garden, and then went back again a few moments later. I haven't seen a fox here before, but I do hear them at night sometimes, And I have heard owls at night too. You wouldn't think of Hove as a wild animal habitat, and we are on a main road. When I told my downstairs neighbour about this sighting, she was rather anxious for her two little cats, Tom and Gertie. I'm not sure that a fox would go for a cat, but who knows? I'm inclined to think that any sensible cat would keep out of the way of a fox - most cats are pretty clued up when it comes to self-preservation.

This morning was sparkling and sunny again, so Daughter and I went with Grandson to the Car Boot Sale. It was freezing cold, but worth it for the glorious views alone, as you sit with your cup of tea, or whatever, and your bacon sandwich. We bought more videos for the home movies, some home-grown red onions which were beautifully plaited, and some lovely brown free-range eggs. And Grandson spent his pocket money on a Power Rangers book and a stuffed Rupert Bear, who looked brand new. Daughter is feeling much better, and has lost half a stone because she hasn't been able to eat for the best part of a week. It's an ill wind, as they say..

Shame about the Rugby, I suppose. I'm far more concerned that my team, the Spurs, are in the bottom three of the Premiership. How did that happen? I so remember the "Glory Days" when we couldn't stop winning everything: the days of Bobby Smith, Danny Blanchflower, Jimmy Greaves and Dave Mackay; the days of Gary Lineker and Gazza. OK, so I have a long memory, but once a Spurs fan, always a Spurs fan.

I'm off now for a walk by the sea. I can't sit here while the sun is shining, and besides, I need the exercise. When I read about other people's experiences, I'm glad I didn't opt for running when I was younger, because I might now have dodgy knees and not even be able to walk.

Latest news from Sitemeter is more International readers (New York, Brazil, Ottawa and Argentina) and more home readers. And the fact that my blog has been added to someone's favourite blog list. I'm thrilled to bits, of course. I just wish I knew how to add a list of my favourites to my blog! I must keep trying. Which reminds me of what I once said to my Headmistress at the Romford County High (her name was Miss Bubbers, and she was a tartar). I was in trouble for some reason, and whined "I am trying, Miss Bubbers." "Indeed you are, Margaret." she replied, with a frosty smile. It was my first lesson in the importance of getting your grammar right.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Opting Out.

I must be the only person who's not watching the rubgy this evening - well, maybe not the only, but in a minority. I just can't get enthusiatic about the game, whereas I just love football (OK, soccer) and will watch even the most boring game if the Spurs are involved. Or if Son is involved. I remember many winter Sundays when Son was playing in his Sunday League for the Cherry Hinton Lions and I was glued to the touchline, whatever the weather. My ex-husband used to turn up occasionally, maybe every 6 weeks, if it fitted in with his other social arrangements. On one memorable occasion, when they were playing a cup match, it was freezing and snowing (sleeting really) and my ex said "Why don't you go and watch from the clubhouse? It's freezing out here." He obviously didn't get it. My reply was "While my Son is out here in the sleet and snow, so am I." Our fortitude and stoicism were rewarded. Son scored a goal in the second half, and his team won the match. Considering the fact that it was practically nil visibility and they were sliding all over the place, it was amazing that the match wasn't cancelled. When they came off the pitch at the end of the game, they were all blue and red in patches, and shivering mightily despite having run around non-stop for 90 minutes. They were literally steaming when they came into the changing rooms, and had to peel off their soaking, half-frozen kit. It took ages to stop them shivering and thaw them out. But their faces were a picture - it was a well-deserved victory. What a team they were! Son still plays for a team in London, one that's connected to his last job, I think. They train on Tuesday evenings, and play matches in the London parks at weekends. On his birthday, I bought him a Spurs away kit (the new, blue commemorative one) to wear for training. Bless..

Today was another lovely, sunny day, but I was not at my best, having been woken early by Grandson again. He was with me all day yesterday, which was a really stunning day. After I collected him from Nursey (sorry, Pre-School), we walked down to the beach and sat on the shingle watching the waves. There was another Mum with a small boy of about 5, and Grandson and he played at climbing the groynes and jumping off. I watched from a safe distance, trying not to be too protective, and it was good to see Grandson getting braver with every jump. A couple of times he tumbled over onto the stones, but was no worse for that. Then they dodged the waves and threw a few stones into the sea. It was what you might call harmless fun, and a lovely way to spend a sunny October afternoon.

Poor Daughter is still pretty sick, despite which she came over to collect Grandson this afternoon. We all sat in our neighbour's garden with cups of tea, while the various children set up a couple of tables and held a garden sale for passers-by. Grandson was in his element, playing with two eleven year old girls who obviously adored him as much as he adored them. Daughter came inside and fell asleep on my sofa - poor love. I dropped them home later, and came back to collapse on the sofa myself. Now, revived by fish and chips and a glass of wine, I'm sitting in solitary splendour. Everyone but me, it seems, is either going out for dinner or watching the rugby. I'm wondering if I'll have the energy to go to the last Car Boot Sale of the season tomorrow - it would be a pity to miss it..

Friday, October 19, 2007

Good Morning.

Up with the lark this morning, and sure enough the phone rang at 7.50! It was Daughter croaking, bless her, that she couldn't move, and could I take Grandson to Nursery. Foreign Student didn't deign to appear for her breakfast, so I left it on the table and whizzed off to pick him up. It's no joke stopping in the middle of Brighton, in the middle of the rush hour, and dicing with death in the form of the big buses which queue up at the temporary bus-stop outside the flat. Anyway, we got him into the car and off to Nursery (sorry, Pre-School). And I'll be picking him up at 1pm, so I don't have all day, as my Mother used to say.

Son is back from his holiday in Crete, and will be house-sitting in Camden for a couple of weeks. I have no further news for him on the flat, but wish with all my heart that I had. I know that we're waiting for someone else to sell their house before we can all move on, and I know that our buyer is desperate to get on too. She has had confimation of her buyer's offer, and has their solicitor's details. We just need that magic moment when everyone says OK, let's get going.

I have been listening to the morning story on Radio 4 this week; "Blue Sky July". The mother who wrote this moving book was told that her child Joe, who suffered from severe cerebral palsy, would never see, speak, walk or recognize his parents. I have listened spellbound as she described her slow and painful 7 year journey from life with a severely disabled baby, who slowly but surely becomes a seeing, talking and even walking child in mainstream education. It does show how love can make the most wonderful things happen - who could doubt it in a case like this? I feel amazingly grateful for my loved, healthy and happy family. Lucky me..

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Lavender Chocolate and other Treats.

Yesterday evening was good fun. Gay Friend sat and chatted to my French Student while I cooked, and then after the food we chose to watch "Ghost". Gay Friend had never seen this, which I found amazing. I do love the film - it's the manifestation of the forces of good and evil that I like best. It affected me really strongly the first time I saw it, and it still gives me cold shivers now, 17 years later. Demi Moore is so beautiful, and Patrick Swayze almost too sensitive. And Whoopi Goldberg (what a weird name when you look at it; is she Jewish?) is always good value. A really good movie. Our after dinner treat was some organic dark chocolate bought by Gay Friend, which was flavoured with Lavender essential oil. Strange but true, and a wonderful taste.

I have to apologise to the people who go to the trouble of commenting on my blog. I know it's pathetic, but I can't seem to reply to them. I have tried clicking on the reply button and sending a message, but it just gets sent back to me as undeliverable. Why isn't a reply directed to their email address? I know that when you make comments, you have to leave an email address, so surely that wouldn't be difficult to arrange? I have resorted to posting comments on their blogs, if they have them - but it's not the same as sending a polite acknowledgement. Quelle bore.

Today I deserted my sick family and scooted off to spend a day with my ex-Arundel BF and my Bosham BF. Bosham BF and her husband, whom I have known these 40 years, don't actually live there, but rent this darling little cottage overlooking the water. They take it for the Winter, from October to March, so have a perfect hideaway to disappear to whenever life in the country gets too hectic. We sat in the glorious sunshine, drinking wine and eating gorgeous fish pate and homemade little tartlets with salad. Everyone who walked past looked very envious, as well they might. We looked at photographs of ex-Arundel BF's new house in France, which looks lovely - quite a challenge because there's plenty of work to do on it - and with fabulous views all round. The water gleamed in the sun, and there was not a breath of wind. Swans swanned past, wading birds did darting runs and speared invisible titbits, boats puttered across the estuary from time to time and the tide crept up nearly, nearly to the path. It was pure heaven, and I really didn't want to leave.

Tomorrow I will probably have to go and rescue Grandson from the sick house. Daughter and the boyfriend are both now very poorly and they have all been to the Doctor today (though at least Grandson's spots turned out not to be anything nasty or contagious). Ah well, back to the real world..

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Simple Pleasures.

I haven't had a moment to myself since yesterday morning, because Grandson was so ill he just wanted to be cuddled. That was fine, because it's a bit of a luxury to do nothing for a whole day. He slept quite well too, only needing some Calpol at about 3am because he was burning up. This morning, though, he was fine - pointed to his open mouth and said "all gone". So I was able to drop him off at Pre-School and just hope he will last the day.

I've had even more excitement from Sitemeter, which dotted Dubayy in Dubai, Myanmar in Rangoon, Grand Rapids in Michigan, Little Rock Arkansas and a place called Chagrin Falls in Ohio (that's 3 in Ohio now!). Chagrin Falls sounds just the sort of typical American small town you could describe in a laconic American drawl - it looked to be right in the centre of North America, close to a huge body of water. I should maybe go to these places and meet the people who have logged onto my Blog - what an adventure that would be, especially for someone who's never been outside Europe.

The news continues to rabbit on about the threat of obesity in 25 year's time. It seems we haven't adjusted to sedentary jobs, labour-saving devices and high-energy foods. These facets of modern life were all considered 'progress' of course, though not by me. Nor by my Grandmother, Martha, who never stopped working and lived to be 95! I have a job to sit down during the day (I know I'm doing it now, but it's not for long), and even when I was working in Advertising in London, I couldn't sit still for long. The creative process, for me, involved a lot of rushing about
talking to people, making cups of coffee and using up masses of nervous energy in meetings with clients. It was not what I would have called a sedentary job. And neither is being a mother of course. Now there's a job where you never sit down - if you are doing the job properly, that is.

And as for labour-saving devices, I actually prefer to wash the floor on my hands and knees, and to whip cream, mash potatoes and make pastry with my own hands instead of a machine. But of course, if you've never seen anyone doing this, or been encouraged to try yourself, then it probably doesn't occur to you.

High energy foods are a mystery to me too. What are they? Do they mean fish and chips, Kentucky Fried Chicken, ready meals? And there's Cocal-Cola and all those other sugar-filled drinks. Luckily for me I grew up after the War when we only had the fresh stuff. My Mother cooked fresh food every day (maybe because she had no choice) and as a result I do the same today. We may have had a basic and not very adventurous diet, but it has created a generation of healthy old specimens. Trouble is, these new findings mean that many of us will probably outlive our children - what a dreadful thought. Perhaps I should start smoking again to shorten the odds. UGH..

The thing is, when I do sit down in the evenings, having done all the jobs, fed my students, sorted out the kitchen etc, I really enjoy the evening, whether I'm chatting to friends on the phone, reading, sewing (by hand of course) or watching a film. And speaking of films, it's Toad in the Hole (made with Organic pork and apple sausages) and a video with Gay Friend tonight. Simple pleasures...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Quick and the Dead.

This morning I'm going to collect Grandson because Daughter is not well. Yesterday my Grandson had a terrible sore throat, and couldn't swallow or speak. They sent him home from Pre-School with a temperature and feeling very poorly. When I saw him in the afternoon, he was just lying on his Mum, like a droopy little elf. Anyway, today she has caught whatever it was, and I have volunteered to have Grandson here. He sounds much better, can actually speak, and wants to come and play in the garden! As it's drizzling with rain and pretty gloomy, I don't think we'll be doing that.

Checking on my Sitemeter today, I have even more, far-flung readers! Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Santiago (Chile), Dayton Ohio, Akron Ohio (2 in Ohio - what's the population of Ohio again?), and Grand Rapids, Oregon. And Sitemeter lets you zoom in to see an enlarged map. It's very exciting and quite good for my Geography, which has always been poor.I put this down to my Geography teacher at the Romford County High School for Girls. She was called Miss Davey, and had an enlarged lower jaw, rather like Desperate Dan. (Thankfully she didn't have Desperate Dan's stubble.) Sadly, she was not a good teacher either, so Geography was never made interesting for me - until now, that is. It just goes to show that making a subject personal brings it to life. Anyway, thanks to Sitemeter for making Geography interesting at last.

I heard Jeremy Thorpe mentioned on Terry Wogan's programme this morning, (though I didn't hear the context) so other listeners are on the same wavelength regarding the Lib Dems. Of course we won't be raising the dead, but the Lib Dems certainly need a life injection...

Monday, October 15, 2007

'Nother Bit.

The word on the street today is all about DIY dentistry. What an horrific thought.
As BBF and I sat enjoying a cappucino and a pastry in the new deli, we heard several people talking about it in scandalized tones. People are actually pulling their own teeth rather than grapple with trying to find a local National Health dentist! I'm sure this is true, because I have had no luck in trying to find this rare animal. And the cost of what I would call 'simple' dentistry is pretty scandalous too. One filling costs £80 - I don't know what it costs to pull a tooth, but I do know that if you're a pensioner, paying £80 out of your monthly pension is going to leave a big hole in your budget for the month (never mind the gap in your teeth).

One of my other Brighton Best Friends has had a terrible time with dentists. And she is now going to the lengths of sueing because he has made such a mess of her dental work, besides causing her endless pain and problems. And my Aristocratic Best Friend has gone off on holiday (to France actually) with a new implant practically falling out after four or five visits to a very expensive dentist in London. He just doesn't seem to be able to get it right! The trouble is, you never get a second opinion with a dentist. They all seem to know what they are doing, but never really explain it to you - and whoever you ask, it always costs more than the last dentist you asked. Some serious work is needed to get things right. And how would we expect MPs to sympathize. On their salaries, they can afford all the expensive implants, bridges, crowns, laser cleaning, root planing, whitening, or whatever they want. Once again, it's only the people who pay for everything out of their taxed income, or their pensions, who are short-changed.

Stop Press on Ming (?) Campbell this evening, who has finally been shouldered out of the Lib Dems. They really have had a wobbly time lately. Perhaps they should bring back Jeremy Thorpe (though I don't think he's still alive) to give the party a bit of zest - or just cast about for a character actor who could give a believable performance on the Conference stage. Golden must be rubbing his hands with glee - another rival bites the dust without even drawing his gun..

The View from Hove.

Yesterday, as we sat companionably with a cup of tea at the Car Boot Sale, we were talking about politics in general, and Golden Brown in particular. It seems I'm not alone in disliking the man. We both, BBF and I, felt that he had been hiding his light under a bushel, and has now well and truly thrown the bushel (whatever that may be) off. And, in his true colours, he looks angry and even more unpleasant than ever. It seemed to us that what this man has forgotten is that no-one actually voted for him. He has not been voted into office by 'the country' only by a group of noisy and overeducated blokes (mostly) who behave like jeering louts in the office. And, if the rumours were true, there was a lot of arm-twisting going on when he was being voted in as Labour Leader. It was implied that he was not a man to cross if you wanted to keep your job. Nasty. What we both said was that we have never voted Conservative in our lives, but are now seriously considering it, just to get rid of Golden.

My French Lady has left this morning for Montreux. We were talking over breakfast about her children. Apparently they go to school some distance from Val D'Isere, as do all the secondary-age children from the ski resorts. This means that they have to board for three nights, and come home on Wednesday afternoon for the night and Friday evening for the weekend. It sounds a good system, which her children seem to love. And it gives her the opportunity to work without having to worry about childcare. They are bussed to school on Monday mornings and Thursday mornings - and as she says, when the weather is terrible, they are safe and sound and warm in school with all their friends from home. It does sound a typically sensible French solution to a perennial problem.

Last night I was handed the ultimate accolade by my French guests. After dinner,(which was roast lamb, roast potatoes and parsnips, plus steamed vegetables, followed by steamed chocolate pudding with a few raspberries and a drizzle of cream) my French Lady said to the new Student "On mange bien chez Margot." Wow!

My new French Student is 21, and just lovely. She has that sort of blonde curly hair that mermaids have - and a very sweet face and nature. She staying with me for three weeks and is planning to get a job and stay on for as long as possible after that. She wants to really improve her english and hopes to get a job in a hotel and share a flat with another student. Very impressive; she said that she wants her parents to be proud of her. Aah..

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Cosmopolitan or what..

Well, who's the cosmopolitan Blogger now - as of yesterday and today, I have readers in Montevideo, Los Angeles and the City of London as well as quite a few in our own dear Blighty. It is wonderful to know that anyone at all might be reading my Blog, because you imagine that you're burbling away to the Universe and the words are just floating off like soap bubbles and popping before they can be enjoyed by anyone else. Hello everyone out there - it's lovely to know that I'm talking to someone.

I didn't quite win a fortune last night, but did win £10 on the Lottery. It rather made me feel that I should have asked for a bigger win. Perhaps the Universe was listening, and I wasn't specific enough. Next time I'll ask for the Jackpot and see what happens.

Heard this morning on the news (several times) that obesity will soon be as big a problem as climate change. Does this mean that all the truly obese people will be asked to stand at the bottom end of the British Isles so that it tips into the sea? Otherwise, I can't quite see how they can compare the two. (I wish I could draw, because that would make a fab newspaper cartoon.)

Another glorious day, so went to the Car Boot Sale early with one of my Brighton Best Friends. It's the just best fun you can have for a fiver on a sunny Sunday morning. Now I'm sitting on my balcony enjoying the sun and waiting for my new French Student who is arriving any minute. More info later..

Saturday, October 13, 2007


I know I've already done my bit for today, but I'm so excited - my latest reader is in Montevideo, Uruguay - how cool is that? And I'm into double figures: 10 views for each of the last three days. I don't know what I've been doing that's any more interesting, unless Golden Brown has set his spies on me!

Ah well, time for a glass of wine and some mature reflection. It has been a lovely day and my walk was perfect; the sun was sparkling on the sea, and I came back to do a bit of gardening. Maybe tonight my numbers will come up on the Lottery..

Giving a title to this has just reminded me that years ago, when I was at the Romford County High School for Girls, I starred in the Sixth Form production of 'Lady Precious Stream' and I still remember my opening lines: "I am your humble maid Precious Stream, and I heard my Father calling me to come to the garden and see him." I somehow managed to acquire a fan club of younger girls, and they nicknamed me 'nother bit. This was explained to me as Precious Stream, shortenend to P.S., ie another bit at the end of a letter. Clever eh? Funny the things you remember...

Vive La France.

It's a sunny Saturday, and I'm just about to go for a walk by the sea, and explore a new deli-type shop and cafe which has opened nearby. I bumped into a friend of my new neighbour this morning, who told me that it was worth a visit. It turns out she used to work in Advertising too, and knows Charlie Saatchi well. (I knew Charlie, but not very well, and he is completely out of my league now.) Anyway she is planning to start a new career here, probably working in film, and we are going to get together and look at possibilities, over a bottle of wine. Hove is full of interesting people who have both a past and a future - people whose families have grown up and moved on and who now want to do something interesting with their time. Also, we need to earn some money to live on. But of course, not many people want lively and interesting fifty or sixty-somethings working for them, do they? It would seem too much like employing your Mum or your Dad.

More news about my ex-Arundel Best Friend's new house in France. It sounds a good project, with some extending and refurbishment needed. It is near Cordes-sur-Ciel, in glorious countryside and with great views. She encountered some problems this week with the French legal system, but managed to sort them out fairly quickly and everything is now going ahead. She is going to rent somewhere nearby for six months, while the work is being done. I'm full of admiration for her, and really looking forward to seeing the house and staying with her. As soon as Son's flat is sorted, I'll be there.

My French lady is here for her weekend of teaching at the European School of Animal Osteopathy, in Brighton. She has what seems to me a pretty exotic lifestyle: she lives in Val D'Isere, so she skis a lot, and she teaches courses both here and in Switzerland. She is fifty-something, divorced and has two youngish children who live with her. And she has a 60 year old boyfriend who is a business man with homes in Paris and the South of France. He has a yacht, and they spend their time together between Val D'Isere, Paris and the Riviera. Not for the first time, I'm forced to notice that only in England is there this ageist attitude to women. She is quite obviously a mature, intelligent and desirable woman, who is enjoying a really good relationship with a mature man who appreciates her. If he were an Englishman of 60, he would be poncing around with some airhead 20 or 30 years his junior, dying his hair, and getting heart problems trying to keep up with her. Every time I go to France, I can't help noticing that I magically become visible again. In this country I'm completely invisible, and it seems to be entirely because of my age. In France, however, people notice me, speak to me, and seem to actually listen to me too. No wonder I'm considering leaving these shores for La Belle France. Apart from the lack of ageism, there's also the food, the climate, the health service. I could go on, but not many people would be listening...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Inheritance Tax too.

Silly me, I probably over-reacted to the announcement on Inheritance Tax - though it did sound as if single parents were getting shafted again. I've read the Telegraph article and it is obvious, I suppose, that each individual estate should be taxed individually. But there still remains the thorn that couples will be able to leave £600,000 tax free to their children, while we single parents will only be able to leave £300,000 or thereabouts.

Now I'm not a rich person - far from it, but my modest maisonette in Hove is actually worth around £450,000, or so I've been told.If I'd had this sort of capital 30 years ago, I would have been considered seriously rich, and that's the whole point about Inheritance Tax. It was set up to tax the really rich on their vast estates, but now affects ordinary people whose houses, at £250,000, are far from expensive or luxurious! Very cleverly, successive Governments have 'overlooked' re-setting the threshold, so that increasing numbers of the middle classes with nice houses are nicely caught and nicely taxed - again.

I bought my first property in 1974, a cottage (an old Forge) in Gloucester for £10,100 at Auction. Just imagine how many of those I could have bought for £250,000! And the fact that my "estate" would now be worth so much is entirely due to the fact that I have worked at improving the houses I have lived in, and have moved on as the market has moved up - just like many people. We moved from Gloucester and London to Kent, from Kent to Essex, from Essex to Cambridge and from Cambridge to Brighton. And during that time it has probably cost at least £50,000 in Estate Agents Selling Fees, Mortgage Fees, Solicitors Fees, Stamp Duty and Removals, all of which had to come out of earned and taxed income. So the Government, over the years, has made a pretty decent profit out of me. I was able to do this because, at the start, I had managed to save £3,000 for a deposit (from my taxed income of course, I didn't have any other income!). So now, if I drop off my perch tomorrow (which I hope I can avoid), the increase in my property's value means that my children would be liable for Inheritance Tax at 40% on everything above £285,000. I am a single (divorced) parent with two children, so they would be the only people to inherit. And if I were a couple, they would be paying nothing! Can this be fair? I think not. Too much information? Probably, but you can see my point I'm sure...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Inheritance What??

I am absolutely hopping mad. Once again, the single parent family has been discriminated against in monumental fashion. What do the Government think they are doing with Inheritance Tax? What has it ever been to do with being a couple or not? And how can they think of getting away with raising the limit, only if you are a couple?? This cannot be legal - either the IHT limit is £285,000 or it's £600,000. It can't be one rule for couples and another rule for single parents. I'm so mad, I'm going to get onto the Government website and let them have it! How can anyone think that this is OK? Up till now, there has never been any question of status involved. So they can't just change the rules. (Oh of course, some 'lucky' widows will still be able to claim the extra amount of exemption!!) It gets worse with every minute. Hold on, Golden, you and your buddies are about to get some shit thrown at you over the internet, and elsewhere if I have anything to do with it.

On a lighter note, our video evening yesterday was great. Supper was superb; my Gay Friend cooked the most delicious calves liver with onions and shallots plus organic spinach. And we had parsnip mash too. This was followed by fresh pineapple with organic double cream - what a treat. Then we watched "Moulin Rouge", which I had sort of forgotten. It was breathtaking in parts, though my small screen television doesn't do it justice. I loved the music, and the witty way in which Baz Luhrman had all the modern songs interwoven with the more traditional stuff. It is pure, gorgeous, romance, and with the traditional tragic ending. It made me nostalgic for love - the sort of romantic love I can just about remember from my youth. How sad to think that I will never feel that again. As Son would say "That's really sad, Mum."

I have emailed the Prime Minister. It's the first time I have been moved to actually do anything like this. And I will follow it up. I am determined to get in touch with my local MP and get some reaction. Surely this is what democracy is all about? I'm not really a political animal, but it strikes me that I have been fighting the corner for single (divorced) parents for a very long time, in my own way. Guess what, Golden, it's not our fault that we have been dumped and left to bring up children on our own. And it has never seemed right to me that the dumpers have always been free to go off and create new families, which they often dump in their turn. When did it become OK to behave so badly? Something stinks somewhere, and it isn't the Mothers who also have to be Fathers because there's no-one around who cares to take that responsiblity.

An update on Grandson: he is doing really well with the new food regime, and better still, he is sleeping through for 12 hours without waking. His little tummy is obviously more comfortable. He seems to have adjusted to the "no juice" routine very easily, and is definitely calmer and more cheerful. Of course I still feel guilty because I didn't do anything sooner, but there you go. A Mother's place is in the wrong...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Counting our Blessings.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful - I've been out and tried it, but have come back indoors to hibernate. It's a pouring day, a day for cups of tea with biscuits dipped in. Actually, this evening Gay Friend and I are having another of our supper and video evenings. This time, he is going to cook, which is a rare treat for me. We're having calves liver and spinach, with pineapple for dessert. Sounds lovely. And I have bought the wine and some sweeties as an indulgence for later.

Son has gone off cheerfully to Crete for a week. I do hope it will be hot and sunny there. I spoke to him when he was on his way to the airport, and let him know that the flat sale is still in positive mode. I spoke to our buyer this morning; she has accepted the new buyers' offer, and they are arranging a survey. Everyone wants to move quickly, so it's looking good.

There's good news on Grandson's new food regime too. He is getting used to the difference between thirsty and hungry - bless him - and the latest news is that he ate all his supper this evening: sausages (healthy ones), carrots, cauliflower and peas and some home-made chips (made by Daughter's fair hand). His dessert was a cut-up apple and half a croissant. He has been drinking the smoothie, watered down with lots of water, and actually had his own bottle of water when I saw them earlier today. I'm sure that the transition won't be entirely smooth, because he has been used to having a sugar rush. Poor little chap, that's not his fault. And I feel really bad that I didn't spot it sooner. Actually, if I'm really honest, I did think of it, but didn't like to interfere! I wondered if his behaviour was sometimes diet related, and particulary sugar-related. Wrong again - I should have said something but Daughter does such a good job that I really don't think I should criticise her. I know how difficult it is being a single parent - the last thing you want is your mother telling you what's what. Anyway, between us we've now gone through the dummy-related speech therapy, the night-time nappy drama, and now the new food regime. And I must say that in each case, Grandson has come through with flying colours, adapting to each new situation with intelligence and good humour. That's pretty amazing for a three-year old. And his Mum's not bad either. I'm very proud of them both.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Politically correct?

It does seem that Golden Brown has ducked before the shit could hit the fan. How calm he is, how unpleasant. He is being so careful not to upset anyone, or raise his voice. He reminds me of a parent who is trying to keep his temper with a small and very irritating child. He thinks that if he grits his teeth and smiles, then no-one will know how angry he is, and how he is planning to get even later. Forget it, Golden, you've been rumbled.

Good news this morning. I'm getting another student at the weekend, for three weeks. And my French Lady, who teaches at the European School of Animal Osteopathy in Brighton, (that's not a joke, it's a real place) is arriving this Friday for three nights. Hooray, I'm going to be busy, and it will be a handy bit of money coming in.

Daughter and I went to Tesco this morning to shop for food. This is for Grandson's new food regime, so we were looking at all the labels and avoiding sugars and other additives. We realized (why didn't we know sooner) that your average orange juice has masses of sugar in it, so didn't buy any. Instead she bought a carton of Innocent Smoothie, with no additives of any kind, and is going to ration his intake, dilute it with water and make one carton last a week. We checked the labels on everything else we bought, and ended up with a good selection of healthy stuff which will hopefully also taste good when cooked. When we collected Grandson from Pre-School he had eaten all his lunch (ham sandwich, apple, raisins) and had only had water to drink. Then he had some dried apricots, raisins and grapes during the afternoon. Supper was a bit of a washout because he didn't eat more than a couple of mouthfuls of his baked potato. And he completely ignored the chopped ham and sweetcorn in tomato sauce, which was delicious but different from what he has been having. To make up for it, he had a cupful of milk before bed - let's hope he doesn't wake up hungry.

Son is off on holiday for a week tomorrow. He is going with friends to a house on Crete, which sounds perfect. I hope he enjoys it - he has had a pretty difficult time this year so far, and really needs a break. I'm hoping that by the time he comes back we will have positive and definite news about the flat sale. Everything is crossed..

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Food for Thought.

Awake at midnight, 1am and 2am, when I gave up and brought Grandson into my bed - not that I mind having him in my bed, but he wanted to sleep in the other room to begin with! Then he was fully awake at 5.30am!!! I just can't take these sleepless nights any more. When I had two small children on my own, I must have managed it. But now I'm 25 years older, as I remind Daughter. Of course she can't imagine what it's like to be as old as me..

Thinking about yesterday and last night though, I have a theory that he is actually hungry. He drinks a lot of juice (diluted) but seems to do this instead of eating. He is confusing hungry with thirsty, and filling his stomach with liquid rather than solid stuff. Yesterday, while he was out with me, he had masses of juice, a piece of flapjack, a bite out of a sausage roll and an ice cream. Not very nutritious. And then I gave him a small pizza and some smileys (potato), a carrot and some cucumber. He ate about half of it, and left the carrot and the cucumber, so no real nourishment there either. As I said to Daughter, his diet is mainly carbohydrate and sugar - little or no protein for his little body to grow on. When you look at that intake, no wonder he was wakeful last night. I'm sure I would wake up starving. Having talked it over, Daughter and I have decided that we will give him "real" food from now on. Proper meat and fish meals with real vegetables. She is going to work out menus for the week and stick to them - and give him less juice! This morning he asked for juice, but I said he could have some if he ate his breakfast first. I gave him a scrambled egg and wholemeal toast, plus a cut up apple and some raisins. He probably ate about half of it, but that was a real improvement on yesterday already. And he didn't ask for a drink after he had eaten, so maybe the theory is right. Anyway, it's worth a try, and perhaps he won't wake up so early if he has had some decent food during the day and goes to bed on a comfortably full stomach.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Home Front.

Phew, feeling better at last. Positive news on the home front - or Son's home front -
which means that, though we're by no means home and dry, we can be more confident that things are moving forward. A glass, or several, of pink wine was consumed this evening, in mild celebration, and I stopped feeling sick with apprehension. Positive thoughts and vibrations are what we need now, and I have primed all my friends to provide them. Grandson is asleep upstairs, having run around in the park for 6 hours today. I don't know how he keeps it up. Those little legs didn't stop. He went to sleep singing along with me to the Winnie the Pooh wind-up song. Neither of us knows the words, so we sing "doopy doopy doopy doo" to fill the gaps. Lovely.

Anyway, I'm off to bed with my book in case I have to be awake early tomorrow. I'm re-reading "A Year in Provence", which I'm enjoying just as much as the first time around. And since my ex-Arundel Best Friend has just, this week, bought a house in France, it seems very appropriate. I'll write more about this later, when I've seen the pictures and heard more details - though it does sound lovely. Let's hope I'll be doing the same before too long..

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Another Country.

Well, it's nice to be home. I did have a lovely visit with my Cornwall Best Friend (who reminded me that she is my oldest BF - we have known each other for 40 years!)
but it was a very long way to go. I drove down, or rather across, on Friday and it took something like 7 hours because there were two dreadful accidents on the way. The first involved three cars which were in pieces by the time I crawled by - it made me feel sick, and I simply felt glad to be alive. The second had traffic inching along for about an hour, and the red sports car that was stuck under the rear of a truck looked like a crushed toy. That was the journey down, so I was both pleased and relieved to arrive in one piece, however late.

Cornwall is a strange place - not just a foreign country but almost another planet.
Where my BF is living with her bloke is a development of what was once a farm with outbuildings, near the sea. They are built of stone, very solid and old, but are strangely new-looking too. And they're very smart - with enough bathrooms and shower rooms to float a cruise ship. BF's house, well really her bloke's - is stuffed with things. It looks like a beautiful, beamed warehouse full of props waiting to be used on a film set. I have never (and I mean never) seen so much furniture, so many pictures, and so many just things in one place. They are all very stylish, grand and rather wonderful, but it's impossible to make any sense of it. The garden has probably 40 full-grown olive trees which are planted in huge tubs above ground (the house is called Olive Tree Barn), and apparently there is still lots to be done. And they are going to build outside to provide more storage for the things they haven't got room for at the moment! There are full-sized painted figures, lifelike cats, owls and other animals standing around all over the place, there's a larger than life cockerel (probably 6 feet tall) outside the kitchen door and altogether it's like nothing I have ever seen in my life. On the plus side, it's very luxurious too -with wonderful bedrooms. I slept in a four-poster and had my own superb bathroom. We drank lovely wine and ate gorgeous food.

On Saturday, BF and I went to a painting course in Truro, at the Art College. I was really looking forward to learning how to paint with oils, and it was very instructive. The teacher, a mature lady called Ann, was very professional and such a good teacher. We were all very enthusiastic and didn't want to take breaks. By the time we finished, at 3 o'clock, we had all completed a painting and more or less knew what we were doing. I have brought my painting home and am going to continue with it - the great thing about oils is that you can do that. BF and I also had an afternoon painting yesterday, this time with watercolour, so I've brought another effort back with me. I also brought back some clotted cream...