Saturday, June 28, 2008

Down to the sea again..

At last, I felt ready to go for a walk by the sea. And it was a glorious, blue-sky day with a stiff breeze and not a cloud to be seen. As I turned towards the Pier and Brighton, there was a stunning sea-scape. Across the whole bay the waves, topped with white horses, were racing towards the shore and crashing in white foam onto the shingle. Wind Surfers and Kite Surfers were out in droves, throwing themselves into the surf and riding what looked like impossible waves. Those Kite Surfers must be very fit, because they leap into the air, twisting and turning, and somehow manage to hold onto their kites, land on their boards and manoeuvre themselves out to sea and back again - and all this in very rough and windy conditions. It's what I'd call an extreme sport. The seagulls were enjoying the weather too; they were swooping, diving, hovering and floating on what were obviously perfect thermals. Their cries of delight echoed around, and you could almost see the smiles on their beaky faces!

As I walked, I passed someone who looked very like an old lover of mine. So much so that I turned around to check, but no - he was probably 20 years younger than the one I remembered. He was part of my life for a while, when the children were fairly young, but sadly it didn't last. Those of you who are of a delicate disposition probably shouldn't read on, because it was his body I remember most. He was always lovely and warm and brown, and had a furry back. (I have to say this is not the sort of thing I would normally find attractive, but it suited him.) He was the best kind of lover, I think because he genuinely liked women, and he was funny too. We did have a very nice relationship for a while. I'm sorry, Dear Reader, if I have offended you, but it was a lovely memory and it made me smile all the way to the Beach Cafe..

This morning (Sunday) was another bright sunshiny day, so Gay Friend and I went to the Car Boot Sale up at Brighton Station. There's always good stuff to be had there, so we had an interesting time. I bought a pink gingham tablecloth and a circular tray with a wire rim, both to use on the balcony, and a lovely long sparkly dress thingy for only a fiver - don't know if I'll ever wear it though. GF bought a great Panama hat (genuine and a bit frayed, but only £3) and some Sixties sunglasses in a perfect case, with four different coloured lenses. He deliberated for ages over an old, ticking-covered bolster, but decided against it in the end. Afterwards we came back and had lunch in the sun on my balcony, and when he went home I retired for a little nap. All in all, it was the perfect day..

Friday, June 27, 2008

That was the Week, that Was.

Cor Blimey, it's Friday again - how time flies! I have had quite a good week, which is more than can be said for Gordon Brown, and Zimbabwe. Poor old Golden must be feeling very down, having lost yet another by-election in such a resounding way. Fifth behind the Greens and the Liberals just about says it all. When will the man realize that we just don't want to play (or work) with him. I do wonder if he was the sort of playground bully who forced the other children to play his games by bribing them with sweets. That's what he's doing now of course. Apparently, he has to make concessions on every Parliamentary vote these days to get anything through. Give it up, Golden, and take your sorry arse back to Scotland (if you can remember the way).

Zimbabwe is, of course, quite another kettle of fish. That monstrous Mugabe probably feels that he has won, simply because he has terrified everyone into either withdrawing or voting for him. I don't know why someone doesn't just do away with him. That sounds awful I know, and it's not something I would normally even think of. But those poor people are being subjected to dreadful violence; I heard this morning that children are turning up at clinics and hospitals with bones broken by Mugabe supporters to deter their parents from voting the "wrong" way! It's obscene that such violent intimidation should go unchecked. There are "Rape Camps" too, for the wives and daughters of men who have committed the sin of voting for the opposition. (The opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has even advised his followers to vote for Mugabe because of the threatened, and actual, violence.) Does anyone seriously want such a monster to continue to live and perpetrate these obscenities against his own people? He'll go to Hell, that's for sure. And the sooner the better, as far as I'm concerned.

I'm searching for someone called "Soo's Stuff". I happened across her a couple of days ago, and started to read her Blog, only to discover that she had my Blog on her "playlist". The trouble was, I was called away from my keyboard before I had a chance to save her details or read all her posts. Daft as I am, I just scribbled down "Soo's Stuff" and didn't get the full blogger address. And now I can't locate her. It's so maddening. I spent an hour last night trying to track her down, but, the short-term memory being what it is, I couldn't retrace my steps. Please can anyone out there help?

Before I go, I must tell you about Son's trip to Cannes. Apparently it was great and the weather was too. I've seen the photos (on his Facebook) and the video clips of him jumping off a yacht into gorgeous blue sea and dee-jaying at one of the official events (not at the same time, obviously). When I spoke to him yesterday, he was still yawning! I asked if he was going to Glastonbury this weekend, "No" he said "we're going to another Festival" - this one is near Oxford. Then next weekend one of his friends from Uni has a two-day Garden Party to celebrate her Birthday. It's one long social round, it seems, with a bit of work sandwiched inbetween. I'm hoping to get to see him soon, but I won't hold my breath for a free weekend..

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Back to the Present.

Sorry that I forgot to get back to you all about the weekend. I don't know where the time has gone, but I have also been trying to catch up with all my Blogging friends. There's just never enough time in the day.

Anyway, Grandson was here from Friday afternoon til Sunday morning, and we had a great time. He woke at 6.40am on Saturday, but I managed to get some extra time snoozing by giving him his game to play with. And a biscuit and some milk. It was a grey day, so we opted to go to the "Saturday Morning Pictures" at the local Odeon. We saw "Underdog", a funny film about a dog who acquires super-doggy powers, defeats the baddies and saves the world. Hmmm. Then we wandered to the Beach Cafe for a coffee (me) and a chat with all the girls (Grandson is a huge favourite there), after which we walked along to the Paddling Pool, stopping for a bit of Volleyball on the way. At the Paddling Pool he stripped off completely, raced into the water, which was freezing, and wouldn't come out for an hour. We managed to borrow a blanket to dry him with and arrived back home just in time for another Barbecue Party downstairs. That was fun too - I ate and drank far too much again, while Grandson played with the other children there (football, frisbee, tennis, throwing things generally, squirting waterpistols and crashing into the undergrowth). I finally managed to drag him back upstairs at 10pm! (I know, I'm a bad Grandmother too) and we just fell into bed. When I turned the light out, he said "It's so dark I can't see my hands, Nana." I laughed and gave him a hug. "Neither can I" I said, and then we both promptly fell asleep.

Daughter and the Boyfriend came to collect him on Sunday morning, so I then went off to a local Car Boot Sale, but didn't find much of interest. It was very windy too, and there's something about that wind that sets my teeth on edge. I came back and gave in to sleep for the afternoon (after all I had been awake since 6am again), and then went out to my BBFs for another Barbeque and a glass of Rose. We did a lot of catching up, and I filled them in on the details of my trip to France. It seems such a long time ago, and the fact that I've sort-of collapsed since then has made it seem even more distant. I'm learning to live in the present moment, take things as they come and please myself. And it seems to be working. I enjoyed my time with Grandson so much more because I wasn't worrying or thinking what else I should or could be doing. After all, the present moment is all we can be sure of. I'm reminded of Laurie Lee, writing in "Cider with Rosie". On his very first day at school, the teacher told him to "Sit over there for the present." Bless him, he sat there all day waiting for her to give him a present! Oh the poignancy of those childhood memories.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Memories in Black and White ..

As I lay in bed this morning thinking about getting up, I watched the spots and stripes; patterns of sunlight decorating my bedroom wall. I was luxuriating in the comfort, vaguely listening to the ringing in my ears (I hadn't yet turned Terry Wogan on) and wondering where the young me had gone. There she was on the wall, thin and brown, sitting to have her photograph taken (in black and white) in the South of France, next to a dog called Ulysse, and looking rather sad. I can remember that holiday (it's only short-term memory I'm having problems with). I was with a bloke called Mikey, renting a little apartment near the sea, and I used to walk along the beside the pines in my gorgeous flimsy Celia Birtwell number down to the ankles. I wore a bikini underneath and my shady hat on top. Ulysse belonged to the owner of the apartment, who lived downstairs, and he used to accompany me on my walks. I can remember the smells of the pines and the sea, and the feel of that hot, dusty little lane under my bare feet. Now, of course, it's probably a three-lane motorway, and Ulysse is long gone. I do wonder if that lost world lives on somewhere, because it's certainly real and clear in my mind. The photo hangs on my wall, as does the dress, which is now beautifully fragile, and probably wouldn't survive being worn after 35 years. Memories...

My Grandson is my darling, my goose-bump, my little tickle. and I love him with all my Smarties. He is coming to stay tonight, so we'll catch up on the happenings of this week. Daughter is bringing him - he can't quite travel on his own yet - and we will probably go down to the Paddling Pool tomorrow if the weather is fine.

When I phoned my neighbour Sue yesterday morning, she sounded so terrible that I thought at least someone had died. Instead I discovered that she was devastated because her Daughter had got a 2.2 degree instead of the 2.1 she was hoping for, and which she had missed by a couple of marks. After a lot of discussion, several phone calls and a cup of coffee, I managed to convince her that it was actually a cause for celebration. Funny how these results are always a disappointment. But in fact, after the event, no-one ever wants to know what class of degree you were given, only that you actually got it. The fact is that her Daughter now has a B.A. Hons from Camberwell College of Art (very sought-after) and can get on with the rest of her life. (Apart from her huge Student debt of course.) It reminded me of Son's degree celebrations, six years ago. He was also two marks off a 2.1 and though slightly disappointed was delighted to have got through the whole business intact. At his Degree Ceremony, he and his best mate turned up in their gowns and hats, with shirts hanging out, wearing trainers and huge smiles. They had organised an event for the Graduation evening, where they would be dee-jaying, and had sold all the tickets, so they were in for a great night. (They called the event "Qualified?", just to include everyone - even those who hadn't actually passed.) I have a snapshot of them taken on that memorable day - it's the only Graduation photo I have and it's perfect. More memories...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Money can't buy me, Love.

It's very hard to stay calm and relaxed when you listen to the news. What a lot of absolute nonsense is being bandied about regarding the latest inflation figures. Apparently, wage increases are being cited as the main reason for the inflationary increase! Would that be the MP's wage increases of 26% then? And what about the Gas and Electricity charges - mine are up 100% in two years - I've checked, and I haven't been using more fuel, I've been making every effort to use less. Then there's the rocketing price of oil, petrol and diesel. Up by god-knows-what percentage this year alone. Not to mention the hugely escalating food prices. Who do the Government and the Bank of England think they are fooling. Most of the people I know who are actually earning haven't had a wage increase in a very long time. And we hear that derisory increases of 2% or so for the police, firemen and other essential key-workers are going to break the bank? It really is about time something was done - just how hard do we have to be pushed before we actually react? I know it's not in the British character to be revolutionary, but surely there's a limit. And to have those pompous gits in the Government and the Bank of England telling us that we're being paid too much (and spending too much) is just insulting, expecially when their salaries are eye-watering when compared with the rest of us! Is there no-one out there with a bit of common sense?

On a lighter note, Son is in Cannes this week, at the "Cannes Lions" Advertising Film Festival. He has a very busy itinerary, apparently, and will be dee-jaying twice during the week too. I'm sure it will also involve a lot of partying and champagne consumption. The last time I went to this was 27 years ago with my then-Husband, when I was still working in Advertising; Son was nearly two and I was expecting Daughter. (I remember that I felt sick most of the time, so couldn't really enjoy the wonderful food or the champagne!) I still have the photographs of us on the beach, with Son building sand castles and watching the topless ladies sunbathing. I don't suppose much will have changed, except he probably won't be building sand castles this time.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sunshine and Tears.

The nicest thing happened to me on Sunday. I was at the Brighton Car Boot Sale with one of my BBFs, sitting in the sunshine with a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie. Bliss. Then my phone rang and it was Daughter, calling to wish me a Happy Father's Day! What she said was "I was wondering whether to ring you or Dad, but it was no contest really, since you did both jobs." Well, in my current wobbly state this brought tears behind the sunglasses. How lovely. It really was the sweetest thing to have done - and so thoughtful.

Yesterday the local paper was bursting with headlines about car-booters being targetted by clampers locally. Apparently these low-lifes had gone to Lewes Car Boot on Sunday, knowing that it's frequented by bargain-hunters, pensioners and the like, and had had a field day clamping all their cars. There was a near riot, the clampers had their tyres slashed, and the police were called. What did they do? Precisely nothing. They told the sobbing pensioners, and all the other victims, that they would have to pay up, to the tune of £120 each, to get their cars un-clamped. I'm sorry, but I think they could have done something. They could have told the profiteering clampers to sod off. What is the effing world coming to?

Today I had my second Shiatsu Massage and it was different from last week's in that she worked on different areas of the body. I was a lot less tender to the touch. And I was able to report that the pains in the shoulders and the ringing in the ears were much reduced since last week. Debbie asked me lots more questions, some of which I couldn't answer, and some of which reduced me to tears. This was apparently a good thing - a sign of progress - and it was somehow quite comfortable, and comforting, to be sobbing into her tissues. At the end of the session she did give me some more homework to do this week. The trouble is, with this short-term memory loss, I can't remember what it was...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Shiatsu Anyone?

The truth is, I haven't been too well. Not exactly sick, and haven't been struck down with a disease (thankfully, touch wood etc), but what my Mum would have called off-colour. It started with a pain like a sharp knife going through my left hand, painfully tense back and shoulders, very shaky hands (more than usual), and a realization that I had had a very loud ringing in my ears for months. Suddenly I couldn't ignore any of it any more - probably because I could hardly turn my head in any direction. And my usual morning walk by the sea was a thing of the past - I just couldn't raise the energy or the enthusiam, even for a look at the sea. Something was wrong alright. So I dialled the number of the lovely Debbie Collins, who does Shiatsu Massage (if you're reading this, Billy, I know what you're thinking) and was lucky enough to get a cancellation - last Tuesday. Now Debbie is a wise woman - she is very skilled and when she gets her hands on you, you know you've been handled. She is also very spiritual and tunes in to whatever you may be thinking or feeling. Altogether this makes a visit a great experience, but you have to be ready for it. As Debbie asked her questions, and I gave my answers, it began to make sense. Her diagnosis? I have been living on Adrenaline for probably two years, and have been "strung out" to the point where everything was very wobbly indeed. In her language, "I don't think I've ever seen anyone where every point on the meridians was so tender." Wow! No wonder it was painful. It was true that every place she touched was tender if not painful - and some really hurt! The answers to her questions were telling too; for example, during the massage she asked if any fear had been involved during the long drawn-out Son/Daughter flat-selling fiasco. I laughed. "Debbie, I was shit-scared every day." I said. "Aah" she said, nothing more. At the end, as I lay there feeling completely spaced out, she gave me her recommendations. From now on it has to be "Me, Me, Me" (for a while anyway). The pains in the hand and shoulders are a warning indicator, and so is the ringing in the ears. If and when they get worse, I have to just walk away from whatever I'm doing. And I have to sleep a lot. In the afternoons and at night. In Debbie's words "Just do what pleases you, and take it easy." Apparently the pains will go, and the ringing in the ears (which I thought I had forever). After the massage I felt wiped out, came home and slept like a baby, and have been following instructions ever since. Oh, and I have a good old-fashioned tonic to take, called Floradix. Just what my Mum would have ordered.

So since then I have been taking it easy, and sleeping a lot. Thinking it would be a good idea, I also went to see my ABF in Kent, the Garden of England! She is still mostly sitting up in bed and getting about on crutches, but now has a lovely South African girl as a carer. Luckily her appetite has not been affected, so we ate well. I pottered about in her glorious garden, dead-headed and pruned the roses, and I also slept - every afternoon and every night - and have come back home feeling much better. The hand and shoulders are less painful and the volume has been turned down on the ringing ears by about 50%. So far so good.

Today is Father's Day, and I know that Daughter, Grandson and the Boyfriend are going to spend the day with the Boyfriend's Father. He has recently had triple bypass surgery, which was a success, so I hope they have a lovely day. Daughter is also expecting to see her Father, my Ex, tomorrow. He and wife No. 4 are on a visit from New Zealand (flying Club Class of course - nothing less), and will be staying in a hotel near Daughter next week for five days. As long as he doesn't come anywhere near me, and doesn't upset Daughter, I'll be OK (I can feel those shoulders tensing at the thought of it). I have already warned her not to let him get to her - and I know that Son doesn't want to see him. I'll just be feeling anxious from a distance, but I know that the Boyfriend will protect her and Grandson. That's his job for the next five days. Happy Father's Day to all you lovely Fathers.

PS. If you're curious about Shiatsu Massage, just Google it. I tried to find a link to put in, but they are very confusing and I couldn't get it right. There is a good one at which describes the therapy perfectly.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

"Wide eyed and Legless..

I've gone and done it again.." I knew I shouldn't have had that iced coffee this afternoon, but I was tempted and I couldn't resist. Consequently it's now 3.30am and I'm wide awake! At least I can Blog instead of just lying there wishing I hadn't had the coffee.

Actually, there are other contributory factors. Last evening I was invited by my lovely downstairs neighbour to her barbecue, and as I was having Hon. Grandaughter for the night I took her too. Luckily there were quite a few other children there (Hon. Grandaughter is 9 going on 10 - or should that be 19?) and they all mucked in together, playing games and squirting everyone with water pistols. We visited my pond and my tadpoles several times (amazingly they are still tadpoles, but absolutely huge - I do begin to wonder if they are toadpoles?). Some of us also sat and watched Doctor Who at 7 pm (actually just me and most of the children) and the rest of the time I ate too much and drank too much while chatting non-stop with my neighbours lovely friends. It was great company and food, and gorgeous bubbly, so once again I didn't resist the temptation. It's only now I wish I had. Hon G. and I staggered upstairs at 9.30 pm and ate custard tarts before I tucked her into bed, swiftly followed by tucking myself in too. Now I'm paying the price. My stomach is gurgling away and I can hear the birds starting up outside.

Yesterday Daughter was having another Birthday Party for Grandson, this time at her home near Dorking. She had invited 15 children (most of his nursery school class) plus their parents, so she was making sandwiches and jellies to feed the five thousand when I phoned in the morning. Grandson was very excited because the Boy Friend was going to do face painting for all the little tykes - I bet that kept him busy. I was at their house on Friday, having taken Daughter back home with the buggy etc, and stayed there with Grandson while she went shopping. I made the mistake of looking for some paper for Grandson to do painting on. Oh Boy - I opened every drawer and cupboard in a fruitless search for the paper, and really wished I hadn't. I'm not exaggerating when I say that they were all stuffed to the gills with letters (opened and unopened), pens, make-up, old mobile phones, cables, bits of toys and god-knows-what rubbish. None of them would close properly unless you gave them a good shove. Luckily I didn't have my glasses on so I couldn't see anything in detail - just the general mess. The kitchen was the same when I went looking for something or other - and as for the sofa! Grandson dropped one of his toys and I lifted up a cushion to retrieve it - it was unbelievable under there. At least three months of muck, bits of food (some of them quite large) marbles, dust and more muck. I got the damp cloth and the dustpan and brush and cleaned the whole sofa, simply because I couldn't ignore it. But I did think, "why does she live like this"? I have often said that Daughter is as happy as a Pig in Shit, and it seems to be spot on! I have never seen so much muck, dirt, dust and general disorder. And as for the washing!! I won't go on. I probably shouldn't say anything to her, but knowing me I expect I will. Get ready to duck...

Friday, June 6, 2008

What and the City??

I'm one of the girls for sure after last night. Went with Daughter and two of her friends to see "Sex and the City" - and had a really great time. What a revelation - the cinema was full of lovely girls who had obviously prepared for the event and were totally inter-acting with the movie. They were mostly dressed up to the nines - high heels, high fashion and large boxes of popcorn, sweeties and coke (OK, some of them were a trifle on the porky side). But it was terrific fun. Everyone joined in with all the jokes, oohed and aahed at the dresses and shoes (which were completely fabulous), laughed (or gasped) at the sex - and there were some very very raunchy moments. All in all, it was an evening I won't forget for a long time - sex doesn't come my way very often, either on-screen or off, and this was great. It was open, funny, and an essential part of their lives. So was LOVE, all capitals, and the pursuit of love. It was wonderful that, for two hours at least, we were all part of that glitzy, girly world with its happy endings.

I'm off to take Daughter back home later, anad we're taking the windmill I bought for Grandson for his birthday. It's a replica of a real windmill, made of cement I think, and with real sails. It stands about 2 and a half feet high, and I have given it a coat of white masonry paint as a basecoat. The plan is that Grandson and I will paint in the details - it has windows and a door, a brick and stone base, and is mainly clapboard. I think we might paint some flowers growing up the side too. The only problem is carrying it to the car. The Boyfriend had trouble getting it up to my balcony, so it could be tricky. It weighs a ton. Maybe I could find a strong young man to carry it to the car.. if only I had the odd neighbour who was as well-endowed as Samantha's in California!!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Home Again, Home Again.. Jig Jig Jig..

Well at last - it seems to have been a very long absence, and I can't hope to catch up with everything and everyone at once. (And thanks to all of you who have been checking in to see where I've been.) I'll try and give you a summary of my trip, and fill in the details later.

Flying to Toulouse was the easy part, and I was met by my France BF at the airport.
We hadn't seen each other for nearly 7 months, so it was great to catch up with what had been happening to her. She drove us to the gite we were renting for May, we dropped my suitcase (literally - it was so heavy) and then did a flying visit to the two houses she is buying there. The first one, in Cordes-sur-Ciel, was still pretty much a building site (though it improved dramatically during my stay), but in a lovely situation on the south side of Cordes, and with a fabulous view over the countryside. It will be just great when finished, but has been going slowly and has I think been pretty frustrating for her. Then we went to look at the second house - a converted barn in a blissfull little village called Labarthe Bleys, just outside Cordes. This was, it seems, an impulse buy when my BF was faced with the option of having to either rent in high season there (very, very expensive) or return to Blighty to sort out her stuff here. Great on paper, but pretty stressful when you're faced with French bureaucracy and the reams of paperwork involved. I won't bore you with the details, but rather her than me. She does seem to cope with it amazingly well though, and is juggling builders, electricians and plumbers, buying materials and bathroom suites, dealing with notaires and legal matters and also her garden photography, and is managing to keep all the balls in the air! Aside from all that, we did have some lovely meals (both in restaurants and home-cooked), and I did a good survey of the surrounding areas and villages. Sadly, the weather wasn't being very co-operative, it was the opposite of idyllic. We had some sun, but mostly clouds, more clouds, thick grey clouds, rain, thunder and lightning and torrential rain. Actually, I did spend one whole gloriously hot day by the pool, when I dipped in and out of the water to keep cool. And we did have some two-hour spells of basking in the sun. We managed to eat outside quite a lot, including breakfast on the terrace fairly often, but on the whole it was english weather. Disappointing as it was, it actually gave me a reality check. The grass is not always greener, and by the end of the three weeks, I was more than ready to come home. What I also realised, is that for me, three weeks without a hug is too long. That was actually very important. And of course it was something I already knew - I don't like doing things on my own - I prefer to share experiences and I don't really want to be far from my friends and family for very long. Yes, I needed a break and getting away from the previous year's stresses and strains was vital. But once I had put those behind me, I realized that I need to think carefully about what I do next and not rush into anything simply because I want to get away. Luckily I have options - I don't have to move immediately. I can take stock and live in the present moment. Lucky me.

The journey back was not the best - my flight from Toulouse was delayed, so we arrived at Gatwick at midnight on Wednesday (28th). I managed to catch a train to Hove at 1 am and arrived home just after 2am on 29th. When I woke up after a few hours sleep, I realized that I had just one day to prepare for Grandson's Birthday on Friday 30th. I had totally forgotten that Daughter and the Boyfriend were going to a wedding at the weekend (he was Best Man), and that I was having my Grandson to stay. I was so looking forward to seeing them, and I certainly caught up on the hugs and kisses. We had a little Birthday lunch in a local Italian restaurant, and then a Birthday tea here before they went off to Hastings. Grandson and I just had the most wonderful time. I didn't even care when he woke me at 4.30am!! We ended the weekend with a proper Birthday Party yesterday. Son drove down from London. My Sister came from London too, and lots of Daughter's friends came, with their partners. We had cucumber sandwiches, sausage rolls, crisps, jelly and cake and lots of fun. It was just wonderful; everyone had a great time. My lovely Grandson is four. And I'm counting my blessings.