Thursday, December 10, 2009

I mean well.. but..

Oohh, I feel as if I could curl up in a corner and die. When will I realize that I really can't get so involved in my "childrens" lives. It's no good, I start out with the best of intentions, and then I get carried away. I think I really can help and try to put things right if possible, and then I find myself in the wrong again. And actually, that's spot on. Why should I think I know best in any situation? I haven't had much success with relationships after all: married twice and divorced twice, who's going to take relationship advice from me? I've just got to let them get on with their own lives and get on with mine - but that's a big part of my problem. I have always put my children, and their needs, first. I didn't see that as wrong, and in the circumstances in which I found myself, it was the safest route really. And of course it brought rewards in that we had a very close family unit, just the three of us. That's fine as far as it goes, but it's not exactly a template for a balanced family life is it? What they had was a very devoted single mother, who was immensely proud of them and supported them in everything. OK, but I worry that it has meant that they don't have a model to follow in their adult relationships. That is a debate that could go on forever of course, and I guess that many people have far worse disadvantages to overcome.

I know that we all have our crosses to bear. Mine, at the moment, is that I feel sick and unhappy because I have caused both of my children a certain degree of unhappiness, simply by thinking that I know what's best. I need to either get on with supporting them in a way that's not intrusive, or get out and get on with my own life. Or, better still, find a healthy balance between the two. My Daughter has made her own choice of partner. She is happy with this, and it's not my place to interfere. My Son has a busy life and is fiercely protective of his private life. He doesn't really need me either. It really is taking me a long old time to get used to that state of affairs. If they have problems, I always think it's my job to try and solve them. But what I may see as concern and support, they see as intereference. The fact that everything I say, do or feel is motivated by wanting the best for them, isn't good enough, in fact that's mostly the problem. "Butt out" is what I should do. It hurts, of course, but that's what I have to do. And stop being so pathetic about it.

So, enough of the soul-searching for one night. What else have I been doing? Well, I've done more gardening for my Therapist. Luckily it was a perfect day on Tuesday, and I managed four hours work - two hours digging and the rest planting bulbs. I must say that I couldn't move afterwards, and came back home to a lovely hot bath which helped to soak and soothe the aching muscles. Then yesterday I went up to London to see Rufus Wainwright at the Royal Albert Hall. First of all I caught the bus from Victoria to Peter Jones, my favourite store. It's a very Christmas heaven at the moment, with glorious decorations hanging down through the central stairwell, and strings of lights decorating the restaurant windows. There was a very elegant lady playing Christmas music on a harp, and the displays were wonderful. I spent a couple of happy hours there, choosing what I would buy for everyone, in my dreams!

Then I took another bus up to the Albert Hall, meeting one of my London BFs there. We had a quick slurp of wine and then sat down to Rufus Wainwright and family in their Christmas Concert - lovely. It was nice to see the rest of the Wainwright family (Martha Wainwright, his sister, and Kate McGarrigle, his mother) and friends, but personally I could have done with more of Rufus. He is so extraordinary and has a magical voice coupled with great talent and a wicked sense of humour. It's a fabulous combination.

Finally, thanks to my BFs best friend, I had a lift to Victoria after the concert, and so was home and tucked up in my bed by 12.30. Busy, busy, busybody, that's me!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

At last..

Marmalade of apples, raisins and shallots:

This says the quantities serve eight. And it goes well with pates, terrines, cold meats or cheeses.

350g Cox's apples
250g shallots, peeled and halved if large, then chopped
50g raisins
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 nutmeg, freshly ground
275ml strong dry cider (actually I used 330ml)
55ml cider vinegar
25g dark muscovado sugar
1/8 teaspoon whole cloves.

To prepare the apples, wash, core and cut into quarters (no need to peel), then slice each quarter into three (I found this varies with the size of the apples). Place them, along with all the other ingredients, into a medium saucepan, bring everything up to a gentle simmer and just leave it to cook very gently (without a lid) for 50 - 60 mins, until the liquid has reduced and the mixture looks sticky
and glossy. I then spooned the marmalade into warm jars, covered with paper circles and then with pretty mob-caps made from bits and pieces of fabric I've saved.
If you cut the fabric circles out with pinking shears, it makes a lovely crinkly edge, and you can then tie them with ribbon as a nice finishing touch. Hand-written labels add to the warm, homely feel - and the finished jars of chutney/marmalade make lovely presents.

I hope you enjoy making this - it's really easy. I've now made two batches, the second with double the quantities, and both were equally delicious. Good luck..

I'm sorry that I still haven't done the Vegetable Lasagne recipe - I'm rubbish at working out the quantities and I tend to work on instinct to get it right - I'll try and put my mind to being more precise and get it done in the next few days. Tho' actually I'm gardening for my Therapist tomorrow, in Town on Thursday for my London BF's farewell party at her house, and then driving over to Sissinghurst on Friday to stay with my Aristocratic BF for the weekend. Maybe I'll do it on Monday...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blow, blow, thou Winter wind..

Heavens, what weather! Yesterday I had arranged to drive across country to an ex-Advertising BF who lives in the middle of National Trust woodland in the middle of nowhere. It was a wild drive, with lashing rain and winds all the way, but quite an adventure really, and absolutely lovely to arrive at her gorgeous old house which looks as if it has been planted in the earth and then overgrown with old trees and wild plants. It's really magical. And then to be welcomed into the warmth of her house, which is comfortably cluttered with wonderful stuff! There are shells, books, ancient objects, fossils, rugs, throws, piles of jewelled fabrics and soft cushions, and paintings everywhere, both framed and unframed, because she is a prolific Artist (with a capital A). Her husband was also at home (he has a delightfully archaic building in the garden that he uses as an office), and he made us some fresh coffee which was just lovely. We had intended to go out and about to look at various places, but as the weather was so atrocious, we simply sat and nattered most of the day. We covered a lot of ground, metaphorically of course, and interspersed the day with refreshments and laughter. It was the best sort of day possible. Lunch was some lovely little pear and stilton tarts, loving made by my BF, with a salad and a glass of white wine. Perfect!

I had taken her a jar of my freshly made Marmalade of Apples, Raisins and Shallots - which is perfectly delicious, though I say it myself. It's intended to be eaten with either cold meats, pates or terrines, or with cheese. Yummy. I'll give you the recipe (though it's not my invention - actually it's from the Mail on-line and I came across it when looking for an article in their "You" Magazine). I have to say it was the simplest thing to make, requiring only a fair amount of chopping and a bit of simmering. I'm planning to make another batch, with double the quantities, to give to friends for Christmas. The jars do look very pretty with little mob caps made from bits and pieces of fabric which I seem to hoard and then tied with ribbon. I made some labels which I wrote in coloured pencils,and they just finish it off nicely. Hopefully, I've uploaded a photo for you to see - and of course I can't put it where I want to - it seems to be at the top of the page! Ah well, at least it's there.

This morning I was due to make and deliver a Vegetable Lasagne (another dish I'm now making for the Deli), but discovered I didn't have the dish in which to make it, so had to venture out into the wild weather to collect it. I've now made the thing, but since I started cooking the wind and rain have escalated into full-blown gale force with horizontal heavy rain hurling itself at my windows. I think I'll just take a few minutes to finish this and then hope that the gale subsides a bit. I drove along by the sea to collect the dish earlier, and the view was both amazing and awe-inspiring. The waves were being whipped up all along the beach and promenade, curling round both the piers, old and new, and looking like wild horses with foaming white manes and tails, galloping towards the shore and hurling themselves onto the shingle. Magnificent!

Perhaps I'll give you my Vegetable Lasagne recipe too, which is a combination of all the recipes I checked in my Cookery books and on-line. I added a few touches of my own, removing an aubergine here and adding a touch of Brie there. So look out for a culinary adventure in my next post - hopefully.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Every year I take the time to celebrate, or is it commemorate, the lives of those who died in the defence of our country and our freedom. The Lost Generation of WW1, and all those who have followed since then. Misguided as War undoubtedly is, we really cannot deny that those who have fought for us, and for King or Queen and Country, have been both heroic and tragic. The Remembrance Ceremony never fails to bring me to tears, and this year was no exception.

As it happened, I was driving up to London yesterday, to deliver Son's desk to him. This is the old oak desk which matches his chest of drawers, and lived in his bedroom in Cambridge. And since the chest of drawers has already been moved to the London flat, it seemed proper that the desk should follow - especially as it's the perfect size for his new computer. So this was why I was sitting in a traffic jam in my car with tears streaming down my face, and trying to sing "Oh God our help in Ages past". I'm relatively fine until it gets to the verse which says " Time like an ever-rolling stream bears all her Sons away" and then I dissolve. It's the simple thought of all those wonderful young men: sons, brothers, fathers, lovers, husbands, whose lives were wasted in the pursuit of power. What a terrible thing. It did make me feel very fortunate to have a Son who is (hopefully) in no danger of having to go to war!

I listened as the service continued, and was reminded of something I heard last week on Woman's Hour. Apparently, had the dead of the Wars been able to march past the Cenotaph (a rather macabre thought) it would take three and a half days! I found that dreadfully sad - how could such a waste of young life ever be justified? It was also said that Vera Brittain, famous writer of that WW1 period, who worked as a nurse in the war, didn't lift her head from her duties on Armistice Day because she had nothing to celebrate. She had lost a brother, three close friends, and her fiance in that dreadful War. And sadly her experience was pretty typical. My Grandfather also served in that War, and was very lucky to survive it. My Mother vividly remembered his homecoming in 1919, after five years away. (She was born in 1910, so would have been four when he left and nine when he came home.) They lived in Tottenham, and she recalled that the men from his regiment all came down the road together - those that had survived of course. They were all so infested with lice that they had to strip naked at the garden gates, leave all their clothes and kit to be burned and have their heads shaved to avoid contaminating their families. I imagine that the kettles boiled and the tin baths were well used that night. And my Mother remembered being given the top of his boiled egg as a treat!

Ah well, another year has slipped away, and have we learned anything about the futility of War? Of course not. Just look at Afghanistan. Last week alone more of our brave young men, and women, lost their lives. And so it goes...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Latest Heartache...

Oh dear, there's always something to worry about isn't there? I was doing my Grandmotherly duty last week, when Grandson was on Half Term holiday, and it was lovely to have him here, but he was very tired and kept saying that he didn't want to do anything much. (No wonder after six weeks of term and the fact that he broke his thumb only two weeks ago.) He was, unusually for him, very short-tempered about little things, and mostly I just dealt with it by giving him a cuddle or a bit of reassurance. After a few days he was feeling better, but he was obviously not feeling very secure, and talked a lot about family, which may be something they have been talking about at school. Of course that brings to the fore the fact that the Daughter's Boyfriend is not his real Father, something which I'm sure Daughter hasn't yet told him, and what with the Engagement and the planned Wedding, I began to feel that something specific was making him feel uncomfortable. As you will all know, I'm not happy with the situation - and with good reason - but I stupidly hadn't realized that Grandson might be feeling something similar.

Anyway, on Thursday we went down to the sea, him on his bike and me walking. It was a lovely day and he was mostly whizzing ahead with me bringing up the rear. When we got to the promenade he spotted a young family and stopped to watch them. There were four of them: a Dad, Mum and two small daughters, one probably older than Grandson and one a bit younger. They did look like a nice family: The Dad was helping one of the girls on her bike, and I just walked past until I realized that Grandson was still watching them. I wandered back and asked Grandson if he was OK and he said "I wish I had a family like that, Nana". Oh the heartache of that simple sentence - I couldn't believe what he had said - though it was perfectly clear. It was such a sad, and grown-up thing for a little boy of five to say. And I was so taken by surprise that I didn't ask him why or anything. I stupidly let the moment pass without trying to find out more. And I have heartily regretted it since, of course. It is, to me, the surest sign that my darling Grandson isn't feeling either happy or secure in the "family" that Daughter and the Boyfriend are trying to put together. I have felt for some time that Grandson knows instinctively that the Boyfriend isn't his Father, and I feel so bloody helpless, and so sad for him. When Daughter came to collect him on Friday after work, she just didn't want to hear anything from me. She said that she wasn't feeling very well (and she didn't look too good either),and she just wanted to get away. All I managed to say was that Grandson is not as happy or secure as she thinks he is. And hopefully she will think about that. It was very hard for me, because I knew how much he had missed her and could see how much he wanted to be with his Mum. They stayed to carve a pumpkin to take back with them for Hallowe'en and Grandson didn't want to go - he just wanted to stay here with his Mum - but she couldn't wait to get back to "Daddy". As Grandson sat in the car, he said "I love you very much Nana" and I said " I love you too my precious." Daughter said nothing and she hasn't phoned since then. It won't be easy, but I feel I really must tell her what her little boy said - it breaks my heart to know how he is feeling.

I know what you're thinking - it won't help. But, d'you know what, I don't think I have anything to lose. I feel pretty sure that I have lost my Daughter, for the time being anyway, and actually the most important person in all this is my little Grandson. She is a grown-up and can deal with her own stuff, but he needs to know the truth and he needs to have his Mother on his side. If he knows that the Boyfriend isn't his real father, he will hopefully be able to deal with his own feelings. He won't be forced into calling the Boyfriend "Daddy" and he won't feel guilty. And hopefully he will one day have that lovely family he wishes for. I'm not going to lie to him, and I'll make sure that Daughter doesn't. He's such a dear, honest and brave little boy, and he deserves the best.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Shame on us...

Despite my parents' various problems, I believe I had very secure and happy childhood. I was never abused. How lucky I was. It seems that accounts of child abuse, cruelty and even murder are now commonplace, almost everyday occurences. How terrible that is, particularly for those of us who have a horror of any kind of hurt or damage being inflicted on any child. I know that when I was a child, there was a completely different view of children from that which prevails now. Childhood was not idealized as it often is today. We were disciplined, by which I mean that we had clear definitions of what we were allowed and expected to do. Perhaps some of my contemporaries were physically abused in the course of that discipline, but I was not aware of that. Mostly, we accepted that we had to do what our parents expected of us. We probably didn't like it much, but that was life. And I'm pretty sure that that was one of the reasons why so many of us married young - to get away from our parents and their way of life. If this seems a very matter-of-fact description, it probably is. And I'm not saying that our lives were either better or worse. They were simply different. I only know that when I came to have my own children, and when I had the sole responsibility of bringing them up, I was a more compassionate and loving parent than my own had been. As many of my contemporaries did, I felt that showing my love for my children was more important than disciplining them - I didn't mind admitting that I was wrong either (and I often was). Don't get me wrong, I did have reasonable expectations of my children, and they knew where their boundaries lay, but I also wanted them to be happy and to know that they were loved. I'm sure that this belief brings its own complications - it's unrealistic to expect happiness to be a constant in our lives. And if we had no sadness, arguably we couldn't appreciate happiness when it came along. But how, when, where did it become so threaded through our society that little children should come into this world so unloved and uncared for that they are almost routinely abused and cruelly treated? How is it that our society actually tolerates this? I have seen, as most of us probably have, children being abused, shouted at and and hit in the street. And I have sometimes spoken out, and sometimes not. Why are we, as a society, afraid of these bullies. I wish I had the answer - and I wish that our society had the courage and the strength to actually do something about these abuses and frightful crimes. So our Social Workers are now overloading the system with cases of child abuse and neglect (in the wake of the fallout after the case of poor little Baby Peter) - because they are afraid that they will be seen to be inefficient. They might even lose their jobs! But how do the children feel? How do those poor little neglected scraps of humanity feel when they see yet another Social Worker walking away from them and leaving them in the "care" of brutal, ignorant and abusive adults? I don't have the answers, but I do have many questions. How many bruises to you have to see on a child before you realize that that child is being cruelly treated? How many reports of crying and screaming can you ignore? How many times do you send an injured mother and her children back to live with a violent and abusive partner? I often wonder how we continue to live in a society that allows these, and many, many more crimes against humanity. Heads down, we scurry on about our business, living our own lives, seeing only what is closest to us. Of course we can look after our own dear children, to the very best of our abilities. We can hold them close to our hearts and make the best possible future for them. And perhaps, in the end, that is the most we can do. I'm not religious, but I surely know that any person who abuses or hurts a child and ruins a young life is going to Hell for it. And for that reason alone, I hope there is a particularly nasty Hell reserved just for them.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Never mind, things could be worse.

For some reason I'm feeling nostalgic this evening. I've had a mixed couple of weeks, with worries about both Son and Daughter, and I've been looking back "in my mind's eye" to the days when, whatever was wrong, we would sort it out and settle down for a cosy evening cuddled up on the sofa at home. Ah, those were the days...

What's been happening? Well, Daughter seems to be continuing on her path towards a Wedding, if not a marriage. It seems to me that "Planning a Wedding" is about the day, the dress and the party, while a marriage is about a future life together. I'm far from convinced that the future even comes into it for her - I think it's all about the fantasy and fluff of getting married. Anyway, there has also been a new addition to their household - a very large dragon or something similar. I walked, all unsuspecting, into their sitting room, to be confronted by a huge black cabinet with a glass front, inside which was a large gecko, I screamed and jumped backwards. Its tank hissed. It has light, heat and water, and what look like live crickets, obviously as food for the monster. I beat a hasty retreat to collect Grandson from school and refused to go back in again. I told Daughter that I thought she had completely lost it, and she told me that I was being negative. I guess it's the ultimate chav accessory. It goes perfectly with the boyfriend's dreadful chav haircuts, the non-stop video gaming and the obssession with his car. Perhaps this sounds amusing, but when I think that this is the "Daddy" influence on my Grandson, along with his unswerving avoidance of anything remotely intellectual, it makes me feel both angry and helpless. Just for a change...

Son, on the other hand, has a lovely girlfriend who is both intelligent and sensitive. They have been getting on very well and she has been staying with him for a while since she had problems with her boss and her last flat. This seemed to be working out well until hiccoughs appeared in the shape of Son's flatmate (they bought the flat together), who objected to her continuing presence. Poor old Son, just as he had settled into a home for the first time (not a rental) and was feeling secure, along comes trouble. I can't imagine how the Girlfriend managed to upset the flatmate, since she has clearly improved the place and has also made Son pretty happy. Apparently though, he had become used to having the place to himself (not that that was part of the deal). He is also an avid computer "gamer", so I suppose that having a happy young couple coming home in the evenings pissed him off. Well I can tell you, his response has also pissed me off. Not to mention Son, who has found another flat for the Girlfriend and is seriously contemplating moving out himself. Now does that sound fair to you?

So, you can see why I'm feeling nostalgic. Give me the good old days when I could put on a plaster, or kiss it better, or just send the troublemaker home after tea....

Oh, and another thing that's really upset me is the news that the lovely Terry Wogan is deserting me. I don't quite know what to do about this - he has been my support and stay for more than 30 years. Of course he is now 71, and is probably fed up with getting up at some ungodly hour in the mornings. I do understand, but I just don't know what I'm going to do.
And if the BBC seriously thinks I'm going to listen to that w***** Chris Evans instead, they've made a big mistake. Oh what the hell, just call me Grumpy.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Anyone for Summer Pudding?

I was just sitting here eating some of my Summer Pudding, well actually my Grandma's recipe Summer Pudding, and it occurred to me that you might like to try it.
Actually, it seems a funny old time to be making this, as it's well and truly Autumn now, but here goes - I made this one because the berries were all on special offer in Tesco!

You'll need one medium-sized pudding bowl (the old-fashioned china kind), a loaf of stale white bread (this is more tricky than you think, as no-one sells day-old bread any more), a punnet each of redcurrants, blackcurrants and raspberries, roughly 2 ounces of caster sugar (I use vanilla sugar, which is simply caster sugar into which I put a vanilla pod so that it absorbs the flavour.) Plus a little water in which to barely cook the fruit. And, of course, cream to serve.

First cut the crusts off the bread and cut out the slices to make a lining for your pudding basin. This is great fun - children love helping because it's like doing a jigsaw puzzle. You can even use a mixture of white and brown bread if you like, which gives a rather nice patchwork effect. And stale bread really is best because it soaks up the fruit juices so beautifully. Then string the currants, wash all the fruit and put it altogether with the sugar and a little water into a saucepan. Warm the fruit, rather than acually cooking it, so that the juices run. You don't want the fruit to be overcooked and mushy. Leave it to cool a little, and then spoon the fruit mixture into your lined basin, nearly to the top. Cut out a bread lid for your pudding and spoon some juice over it. If you have any juice left over, save it for serving later. Now you need to find a saucer or small plate which will just fit into the top of your basin. Put some heavy weights onto this, so that the bread is pushed down firmly, and then put your pudding in the 'fridge for at least 12 hours. (I always leave mine for at least a day, and my Grandma used to put hers on a marble slab in the larder for 24 hours.) When you come to turn it out, the pudding should have a lovely purply marbled effect on the outside and a sweet/sharp mix of fruit on the inside. And you can now pour on your reserved juice if there are any stubborn white patches. If you have done it right, you can cut this gorgeous pudding into firm slices, but even if it's not perfect, it is without doubt the best pudding I have ever tasted. Served with Jersey cream or clotted cream it's just divine. And it looks very pretty on a white plate too.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Champagne Days.

The trouble with this laptop is that I find myself doing even less Blogging because I can sit here watching a film and time just flies. To get back to the old news, I had not one but two Students because a last-minute French girl turned up rather unexpectedly. She joined my Spanish student, and they were both very nice - though the French girl spoke almost no English. It didn't seem to matter because they got on famously and went out most evenings after supper for a friendly drink.

On the Wednesday I left them to their own devices because I went up to London to meet Son for his Birthday. He was 30 on 16th, hard to believe really. Anyway, I had spent several days putting together an album of photos, one for each year of his life. It was hard to choose which to include - but it was rather good in the end. I also gave him Squirrel's gold watch; a lovely old Garrard Fob Watch with a gold chain, which I'd had serviced and repaired. (It was given to dear old Squirrel in 1963, as a reward for 25 years service at Vauxhall Motors.) One of my Brighton BF's gave me a card and a chocolate cake to take for him too , so he was rather spoiled.

When I arrived in Town, I hopped on the bus and started off taking a look at the Trafalgar Square plinth, which seemed to me to be nothing much. There was a bloke up there throwing down sugar lollies and party blowers - and writing strange stuff on a pad, which he then screwed up and threw down into the crowd. Odd and rather pointless. After that I cruised round the National Portrait Gallery, looking at their latest exhibitions, and took some tea in their little cafe.
Son phoned while I was there and invited me to join all the jolly office people as they were having champagne in Soho. Hard to resist! It was so lovely to see him, and he did look wonderful. We drank a toast to him, or several, and then he and I went back to his flat to meet up with his Girlfriend. More champagne and he opened all his presents, which he really loved. And then I took them out for dinner at a Tapas Restaurant not far from where he lives in Vauxhall. It was the most delightful evening, and I ended up sleeping on their sofa because I just couldn't bear the thought of running to catch a train at that time of night. It was such fun. I finally got back to Brighton on Thursday afternoon, having had a lovely time. Son was also having a drinks party for all his friends on the Friday (which was his Girlfriend's Birthday too!), but I didn't plan to go to that. Daughter did go, and I think they all had a great time. It was a wonderful and very special occasion.

Since then, time has flown again. My Spanish student went back to Madrid last Saturday, and we have had some amazingly hot weather; I've been on the beach and swimming in the sea nearly every day. I'm off to London again tomorrow, to stay with a London BF for a couple of days, and will probably see Son for lunch on Thursday. Hopefully. Back on Friday, by which time it will be October. Autumn already.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What's Up Doc?

How time flies when you're having fun! And what a week it has been. I'm sitting here now at my laptop (get me!) in the sitting room, semi-watching a movie, but basically using my wireless connection. It's blooming great to have said goodbye to all those wires.

Going back to where I left you, I have to say that nothing went quite as planned! The piano delivery was delayed because they were minus one van, so it finally arrived on Wednesday last week. I had been expecting it on either Monday or Tuesday, so there was a lot of hanging around, but never mind. The Piano People, when they did appear, were just wonderful, and made light work of getting the piano out of their van and up two flights of stairs. They soon had the old girl standing on her ornate mahogany legs, and looking very comfortable. Apparently the piano is strung like a harpsichord and so needs special treatment. Luckily the guys knew some names of people who can do this, so hopefully we will soon have the piano sounding reasonable. Then all I have to do is learn to play it again. Don't hold your breath!

I had been planning to go and spend a couple of days (Wednesday and Thursday) with one of my London BFs, but the great Laptop initiation was also delayed because the lovely Dan (and his equally lovely partner, James) couldn't get here until Friday morning and I just knew that rushing back and forth to London wasn't going to work. Especially since I had finally managed to get a Dentist appointment on Friday afternoon. So, as luck would have it, I was here, sitting on the loo on Thursday evening, when I looked down and saw water. Everywhere. I quickly opened the water meter door to discover that there was a fine mist spraying out from one of my pipes. Panic. I phoned the Water Board and then my lovely downstairs neighbour. Roz arrived first (of course) and gamely sat with her finger over the leak (just like the little Dutch Boy) until the water man arrived. Surprisingly, the leak turned out to be my responsibility and all he could do was turn the water off. Great. No water except what was leaking from the pipe. And did I forget to mention that Daughter was staying because she was going to a wedding the next day (not hers, I hasten to add). I sat up until the water stopped dripping (1.30 am) and fervently thanked Divine Providence that I hadn't gone to London, only to return to a flooded house.

I really am very lucky though, because the lovely Roz phoned her friend, and he came and fixed my leaking pipe the next day. What's more, the dear man refused to take any money, so I am in his debt and will have to think of something nice for him. And I had Dan and James setting up my Laptop and transferring all my backed-up stuff at the same time, which was tricky because I couldn't really concentrate on them, and I felt pretty bad about that. Next was the dentist, which wasn't good news - I need maybe an extraction, definitely a crown for a broken tooth and also a new filling, plus a "deep clean" which sounds painful to me.

After all that, I had to get ready for the Wedding Reception, to which I had been invited so that I could bring Grandson home after a couple of hours, leaving Daughter and the Boyfriend to dance the night away. We came home in a taxi at 10pm, and were both tucked up in my bed and fast asleep five minutes later. I was just exhausted, and so was Grandson, who had been dancing on on his own on the stage for a couple of hours, apparently. What Larks!

Oops, is that the time, and my battery is about to run out. I'll have to finish for now and re-charge. More later, bringing you up to date with all the latest news, including the rest of the weekend, new Student(s) and Son's 30th Birthday. Night, night. Sleep tight.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Bye for now..

Not that I'm in a panic or anything, but today is the day when I switch off this dear old computer and pass it on to KT and Hon.G, with the fervent hope that it will give them a couple of years service. This means that I have to lose contact for a couple of days (no great loss, I hear you say!) while I get to grips with my new laptop. (I haven't even dared to open the box yet, but that's another story.) I'm also expecting delivery (on Tuesday) of the piano which belonged to my Grandmother. It's a beautiful old Broadwood grand piano which has a smaller than average keyboard, and is actually rectangular; basically a polished mahogany box on very ornate legs. I used to play it as a girl, when Sister and I were on holidays with Nana, so it will bring a lot of memories with it. I'm planning that it will sit where my computer desk now sits. I have checked and double-checked the measurements, and it should all fall into place, but the upheaval it has caused has been major. I didn't realise how much stuff I had been hoarding in my "Study", my desk and my filing boxes, and so I have spent the last few days clearing it all out and moving everything around. I do hope it works.

Added to that, it is Son's 30th Birthday in ten days (on 16th), and I have been trying to find photographs that summarize his 30 years of life so far. More boxes (under beds and in top cupboards) stuffed with so many photos I simply didn't remember. Am I alone in keeping all these memories? I have found Son's first photo (the scan of him at 16 weeks), plus lovely school ones of him with gaps in his teeth, and cards which date back to when both my children were at Primary School, and of course there are drawings they did then, poems they wrote. It's probably something I had to do anyway, but it certainly has brought the memories flooding back.

Well, I must get on. Switch-off time approaches, and I'm feeling nervous. Dan, my lovely computer man, has backed up all my files, and I've changed my "package" so that I get a much better deal (from the same people). It will give me up to 7mg Broadband, a wireless router, landline rental and all my calls, and will cost me £10 less per month. (Not bad when you consider that I have been paying over the odds for a good couple of years!) And I don't have to change my email address, which is a blessing when you're as technologically incompetent as I am.
So, happy Sunday to you all, and I fervently hope to be back with you in a few days (or at least by the end of the week). "Wish me luck as you wave me Goodbye.."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Life's Rich Pattern...

Never has a truer word been spoke (sic), as my dear old Mother used to say. I am well and truly "in the wrong" now, as never before. I have been absent, as you may know, for nearly a month, and that is because things have taken a nasty turn in our family affairs since I last blogged. Three weeks ago I was totally blasted by a phone call from Daughter, who was on holiday in Greece, to say that the Boyfriend had proposed, and that she had accepted! This, as you may gather, was a total shock, given the upheaval three months ago when it looked as if her return from Dorking was imminent. At that time, they had had the mother and father of all upsets, and she couldn't wait to move back to Brighton. There were several reasons: they had been having "violent" rows, they didn't speak to each other at all, the previous year had been "terrible", she wished she had never left Brighton and couldn't wait to get back, her intellectual stimulus came from work, not from the Boyfriend, she wasn't sure if she could or should "settle for" what they had, she was going to be looking for someone else, and she didn't want to meet anyone who already had a child (as the Boyfriend has). Add to this the state she was in, and the fact that she said to me (however uncharacteristically) "Mum, you were right. You're always right." As I think I said at the time, this did not bode well!

OK, so now it's a complete "volte face", and they are engaged. She has the "gorgeous" diamond ring, to go with the two Chloe handbags, the Dior and Armani sunglasses, and the free Greek Island Holiday (just the two of them of course, Nanny Daisy and I were looking after Grandson). At the time of the upset, the Boyfriend had said that he would not apply any pressure if she would just give him another chance, a chance to change. And then he got his cheque book out. Forgive me if this sounds cynical, but I know that my lovely Daughter can be swayed by pretty things. He has been, very cleverly, playing the Daddy to her Daughter. The Daddy she didn't have to spoil her and tell her how lovely and special she is. However much I tried, I couldn't be that Daddy. And now I'm completely and utterly in the wrong because I can't smile and say, "How wonderful". Actually, I feel sick a lot of the time. And I'm not alone. The friends I have spoken to have voiced varied opinions, mostly in the region of "She could do so much better." Which is all very well, but it's not what she thinks now, three months later. I guess she was afraid to take that step, to be on her own again (not for long, I believe, with her looks, intellect and personality), to be moving back - though she would have had tons of support from family and friends - and despite all her qualities, she doesn't have a great deal of self esteem. And I'm sure that she was afraid of the effect it might have on Grandson - although we all reassured her at the time that children are very resilient and brave - which is another problem because sooner or later he will have to learn that the Boyfriend isn't his Father anyway. Oh God, life's a Bitch for sure. I'm in the wrong, and in the Dog House (arguably that's where I belong) and I don't know what to do next. Help!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Macaroni Cheese Recipe.. at last!

Here at last is my recipe for Macaroni Cheese - and I hope you'll forgive the mixture of measures. Somehow I can't seem to get them constant - I'm useless with metric, but as things like packs of macaroni come in kilos these days, I don't have a lot of choice. If you can't make sense of this, just ask me to clarify it and I'll do my best. Here goes:
This makes four really good-sized portions
Ingredients: 1 third of a pack of macaroni (approx 333gms)
100gms good strong Cheddar cheese (use more if you like it really strong)
Approx: 1 pint liquid (I use half full-cream milk, and half vegetable stock because
I think it gives a better flavour)
1 oz. or 1 old-fashioned heaped tablespoon of flour
1 good oz. of hard butter (no substitutes)
1 good pinch Colman's Mustard powder
Fresh ground black pepper and sea salt to taste.
Approx. 1 oz grated Parmesan cheese for topping (again use more if you wish).
Method: First I put a large, buttered, dish into a warm oven (approx 150) to warm (I use old butter papers to give the dish a non-stick finish). Then I start by cooking the macaroni in a large saucepan covered with plenty of boiling, salted water. It takes about 10 - 13 minutes to cook it thoroughly, and as the macaroni swells you may need to add more water. (Tip: add boiling water so that the cooking time isn't slowed down and stir the macaroni fairly frequently to stop it sticking together). While the macaroni is cooking, make the Roux: put the butter into a smaller saucepan on a low heat to melt. Do not burn the butter - if you do you will have to start again. When the butter is melted, take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour and the pinch of mustard powder, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. It will get thick very quickly. Put the pan back on a low heat and gradually add the milk and vegetable stock a little at a time, stirring all the time with your wooden spoon to avoid lumps. This is labour intensive I know, but the object is to achieve a smooth creamy sauce which is approximately the thickness of pouring cream. If the sauce gets lumpy take it off the heat and whisk with a small whisk until it is smooth before continuing. If your macaroni is cooked before the sauce is finished, simply take the sauce off the heat and put it to one side while you drain the macaroni. I have found that cooked macaroni is very lively indeed! It seems to leap about when you least want it to, so be careful as you drain it into a large colander, otherwise it will all jump out into the sink! When you have drained it, run the cold tap through the colander to wash all the excess starch out of the macaroni. This is very important, because it takes away the "clagginess" of most cooked pasta. (In fact I do this with all my pasta.) Next, put the cooked macaroni (carefully) back into the saucepan and add a drizzle of good olive oil which you mix into the pasta with a wooden spoon. This stops it sticking together. Next continue with the sauce (back on a low heat) by stirring in the grated Cheddar cheese until it is all smoothly combined. At this point I also add salt and pepper to taste. You will find that the sauce thickens as you stir in the cheese, and it should be both creamy and delicious. Now remove your warmed dish from the oven (carefully), pour in the cooked macaroni and add the cheese sauce, slowly, stirring it in well. Then sprinkle the grated Parmesan over the top and return the dish to the oven, turning up the grill to brown the top. This only takes a couple of minutes. The result should be (I hope) a deliciously creamy Macaroni Cheese. This whole process takes me about 30 minutes and makes enough to feed four really greedy people.

Now if I were anything like as clever as my good friend Donna , I would have a mouth-watering photo to show you at this point, but as I'm not, you will just have to imagine it. Despite this, I hope you will try it and enjoy it! Happy cooking..

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Swine 'Flu, My Family and other animals..

Oh Bugger, Grandson has Swine'Flu - it struck him yesterday evening, and Daughter phoned me to say he had a high temperature and was feeling pretty awful. It was the last day of his first year at School yesterday, and of course she now wishes she hadn't sent him back this week after last week's scare - me too! Ah well, we just have to deal with it now. His temperature went up and down last night, and then was decidedly up at 39-point-something this morning. He was also sick, and said he had a sore throat, and Daughter said his glands were obviously swollen and he couldn't swallow. She now has some Tamiflu for him, which she got from her GP, and of course Grandson can't really go anywhere for five days - so neither can she! They were due to come here today for a couple of days holiday, and then go on to a wedding at the weekend - one of her oldest School friends is getting married on Saturday. This is really sad, because her friend has been planning her wedding for two years, and is devastated that one of her oldest friends can't be there. So of course they can't come here either until next week (Daughter said they have to stay away from both children and old people.."And I'm afraid 'old people' means you Mum" - thanks a bunch). Thankfully, my darling Grandson seems to be feeling better this evening, and has gone to bed quite cheerfully. He has had his second dose of Tamiflu and some Calpol to help keep his temperature down - plus he has a fan in his room to keep him cool.

Today's bad news rather overshadowed Daughter's really Good News, which is that her latest Cervical Smear test result came back Negative.. Three Cheers. She opened the letter this morning, in the middle of all the panic about Grandson, and was pretty tearful with relief. Me too. It's her first normal Smear result in two years, and though she will have to have another test in six months, it really is something to celebrate. However, as they're all confined to the house, going out wasn't on the cards. Instead, Daughter went to get a take-away curry and a bottle of wine while the Boyfriend read Grandson a bedtime story. Small pleasures maybe, but it's pretty important to celebrate the good news.

Today is also my 2nd Blogging Anniversary - a small event that's been completely overshadowed by all the Big Stuff above - but that's just how it should be, I think. After all, a Blog is quite simply an on-line Diary; a way of sharing our day to day lives, thoughts, dramas and delights, with our on-line friends. I'm pleased to be still Blogging - even if I'm not writing this Diary as often as I did at the start. I really love all my Blogging Buddies, and I love sharing all your lives and thoughts too. Long may we Blog - and here's to many more anniversaries.

PS. I have promised to put my Macaroni Cheese recipe on my Blog, and will do so soon - I just have to work out the exact proportions etc. Back soon...

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Week in the Life of...

Well, it's the end of another week during which I've prepared a splendid Sunday Lunch, made and delivered two Macaroni cheeses, spent another day gardening, looked after Grandson for a couple of days, enjoyed a visit from a LondonBF and another dinner at L'Eglise, washed and ironed all the bedlinen and changed all the beds, painted a chest of drawers for the Student's room (and carried it from the car and up three flights of stairs) and also had a little panic about Swine 'Flu. I'm beginning to sound a bit like Superwoman aren't I - except for the last item of course.

To begin with last weekend, I was so looking forward to seeing Son and his Girlfriend and I had planned a super lunch for Sunday. I decided to pinch some of Jamie Oliver's ideas, and bought a gorgeous selection of cold meats (from M & S actually) plus an assortment of tasty foccacias, two cheeses, some olives and a dish of organic beetroot. I prepared it all a la Jamie, laying out the cold meats on a large wooden board. I warmed the breads and whisked up a large bowl of potato salad made with potatoes from ABF's garden, organic mayo and a bunch of lovely chives, fresh from Roz's garden. I also washed and dressed some of her fabulous homegrown rocket which has a really mustardy flavour. Oh, and I boiled some organic "Happy Eggs" to go with it. Altogether the lunch was almost totally organic - which is great because Son's Girlfriend is very keen on most things Organic, with a capital "O". And for dessert I made a Summer Pudding, from my Grandmother's recipe, using redcurrants, blackcurrants and raspberries from the Farm, and organic white sliced bread (I didn't know you could get organic white bread, especially not sliced!). I had also bought some single Jersey Cream and some Organic double cream to go with it, so we were amazingly well provisioned. To go with all that yummy food we had a jug of Pimm's, which I asked Son to make - and I must say that the whole thing was a great success. We all ate so much that we couldn't manage the pudding straight away, so we went for a blue and windy walk down by the sea to refresh our appetites. Daughter, Grandson and the Boyfriend turned up at teatime, so we all enjoyed Summer Pudding and cream, plus a lovely family time, before they all had to go. Son and his Girlfriend also went off bearing the old oak chest of drawers from the small bedroom. This was always in Son's bedroom in Cambridge, and as he needed something to tidy up the stuff in his flat, it was the obvious solution.

So, on Monday (after delivering my Macaroni Cheese to the Deli), I whizzed off to collect Grandson from School - only to be on the receiving end of an official School Newsletter telling everyone that there had been a case of Swine 'Flu in the School. This did scare me, I must admit, especially since there was no way of knowing who actually had the virus, how old they were, which class they were in, and how bad a case it was. Nevertheless, we had our picnic tea and our game of football and frisbee on the field, as usual, and I had to wait to tell Daughter until she arrived home from work. We both felt worried, but somehow couldn't decide on the best course of action. The letter advised parents not to keep their children away from school, but what would you do? Most people are saying that most of the cases are mild - but the exception seems to be in younger children, between the ages of 5 and 12, who haven't had the chance to build up any immunity to 'flu viruses. Anyway, I left Daughter to wrestle with that tricky decision, and brought back the small chest of drawers which she has been storing, unused, in the garage. At first I felt rather feeble about carrying it out of the car and into my house, but then I decided that all I needed was a bit of creative thinking. I carried all the drawers out separately, and managed to manoeuvre the carcass by turning it over and over (rather like a square cartwheel) and even got it up the stairs that way. Result!

On Tuesday, which was 14th July, I was expecting one of my London BFs as we had planned to go the the special dinner at L'Eglise, for Bastille Day. She arrived with wine, and I also made a jug of Pimm's (it seemed a shame not to finish the bottle), so we were very jolly company by the time we met her friends in the Restaurant at 7.30. We had a typically delicious meal, laughed a lot, and staggered home rather late. Next day she left after breakfast, and I spent the rest of the day painting the chest of drawers in readiness for my next Student, who arrives on Sunday. Then Daughter phoned to say that she would like to bring Grandson to me for a couple of days - no real surprise there - so they turned up at supper time, and I had the unexpected pleasure of cuddling up to Grandson, who is, of course, in the best of health!

I had a day of gardening planned for Thursday, so I magicked up a picnic for Grandson and me, threw it all in the car, and off we tootled to East Grinstead for the day. Luckily it was a perfect and sunny day, and Grandson had a great time playing with C's children and helping me in the garden. I worked like fury and managed to get quite a lot done. All the planting I had done over the previous two weeks is looking lovely. We've had quite a bit of rain, so everything is growing well. Grandson and I had our picnic sitting on a rug in the garden, and I worked until I could hardly move. By 5 o'clock I was just about done - and completely done in. Actually, we were both really tired; Grandson hadn't stopped running about and I had weeded, watered and planted until every muscle in my body was aching. We laughed about that all the the way home in the car and just about collapsed when we got indoors (though Grandson managed to eat sausages, waffles and peas, followed by ice cream and a big glass of milk). I sat down after getting him into bed and was so tired I just crept up to bed at 9.30!

Today I could move without pain - it's obviously good for my muscles to get so much exercise.
Grey, wet and windy weather meant that Grandson and I were pretty much confined to the house - except that when the sun came out briefly this afternoon we went to the park for a bit of fresh air! And what happened? Grandson insisted on going into the paddling pool with all his clothes on, and tripped over, falling flat on his face. Oh Joy - he was soaked to the skin and then it started raining again. By the time I had stripped off his wet clothes and put his coat on (luckily it covered his willy, but not his bum) it was chucking it down, and I was soaked to the skin. My second shower of the day. We ran back to the car - what a sight we must have been - and arrived home just before Daughter, who was coming to take Grandson back for the weekend. Now all I have to do is make another Macaroni Cheese to deliver tomorrow morning - and as I'm also looking after Hon. Grandaughter tomorrow, I can pick her up when I deliver the dish to KT at the Deli. That's Saturday, and then the new Student arrives on Sunday...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Promises, promises..

I know, as I was reminded by the lovely Lulu at Family Affairs, I'm hopeless at getting back to you all on time. It's an Aquarian characteristic, you know, to be always running late, so I have some sort of excuse, if only a pathetic astrological one!

Anyway, here I am to explain what else has been happening to delay my Blogging. Actually, I seem to be turning into a sort of One-Woman Cottage Industry - a couple of weeks ago I haplessly volunteered to make a Macaroni Cheese for KT at the Delicatessen where she works in Hove. I was in there one day when they were complaining about the quality, or lack of it, in the macaroni cheese they were currently selling. "I can do that." I piped up, and was promptly asked to prove it! So I did, and I have been making them ever since. I'm even up on the board as "Margot's Macaroni Cheese - New Recipe", which pleases me terrifically. I started making one a week, and now it's two, as it seems to be pretty popular. What Larks!

A couple of weeks ago I also volunteered myself to garden for my lovely Therapist, as she has such a busy life and just can't do the garden as well as manage three children, a busy husband and her therapy career. We were walking round her garden, after my last session, and she was telling me what she would like to do, but couldn't get around to. So, as you do, I found myself saying "Would you like me to do some gardening for you?" The answer was yes, so I've been planning, designing, buying plants and gardening at her house since then. Last week I tackled the Courtyard Garden, which was a mess, and transformed it with a gorgeous planting scheme of white, silver, blue, purple and lavender. I used trailing lobelias in blue and white, some tall lavenders with silvery leaves set around with white stones, and osteospermums (white with purple eyes) plus more white and blue lobelia and the odd bit of ivy, all in lovely old grey stone planters. I had this all planned and the plants bought and ready, when the news came that poor C. (my Therapist) had fallen and broken her shoulder at the airport on her way home from holiday. Thinking that it would cheer her up, I carried on regardless, with the help of her children who cleaned pots, washed the terrace very enthusiastically, and generally enjoyed themselves learning about gardening. It was a boiling hot day (last Thursday) and I worked from 10.30am to 4.30pm, but by golly it was worth it. I could hardly move afterwards, but the courtyard looked just lovely when we had finished, and I was delighted that C. now has somewhere pretty and restful to sit on warm days - she certainly won't be able to do anything more physical for a couple of months! And the gardening continues; today I have been out choosing and buying more plants for the rest of the garden (we have to do it in stages, because they have 5 acres!), and tomorrow I'm off to implement the design and do the planting - it's such a delight seeing the schemes come to life. I was just sitting down to do a plan for the next border, when I had to break off and make an extra Macaroni Cheese this evening, because they phoned to say they had run out at the Deli and needed one for tomorrow!

Oh, and yesterday I took Hon Grandaughter to visit Aristocratic BF who had her two grandaughters staying. We were hoping to swim at a neighbour's pool, but sadly the weather didn't like that plan. We ate lunch in a thunderstorm (indoors, luckily) and then took the neighbour's dog for a very wet and drippy walk by the lake at Sissinghurst Castle. It continued to pour, on and off, so the girls played indoors (very happily) and ABF and I sat and nattered over a cup of tea. When we drove back, after supper, it was torrential rain, so much so that even double wipers couldn't cope with it, and we had to sit and wait for a let-up so that Hon. G. could get out of the car. Oh, the joys of an English Summer.

This evening I had intended to do my nails (what nails?), and a bit of long-0verdue shredding of old paperwork. Instead, I've been sitting here chatting away with you for the last hour. And now there's a film I want to watch, Sunday's Times to read (is it really Wednesday already?), and stuff to get ready for tomorrow. That border design will have to wait, and I'll drop off the Macaroni Cheese on my way out in the morning, after I've loaded all the plants and tools into the car. Busy, busy...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Lazy Bones, lyin' in the Sun.

That's me, under the parasol, on the beach, not taking my Blogging responsibilities seriously at all. Trouble is, in this country we just don't get enough sunshine to ignore it when it comes along. My Aristocratic BF had invited herself for a long weekend last week (a "Friday to Monday" as it's called, or in this case a "Saturday to Tuesday") because the weather was so wonderful, and she wanted to get on the beach. This suited me perfectly too, so I happily agreed and cleaned the house from top to bottom on Friday in preparation for her arrival. (Somehow I can't help doing this - any visit is the motivation for me to Spring-Clean.) Afterwards, it feels so good - I always look around, admire the spotlessness and shining surfaces, and think "Great, no more cleaning for a week or two." My reward for all this activity was going to see Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames " 50 Years of Fame", at The Dome in Brighton on Friday night. By complete coincidence, as it turned out, it was Georgie Fame's Birthday - his 66th, believe it or not. We all had a wonderful evening, and so did he! He still sounds the same, and he has his two sons, Tristan (how can Georgie Fame have a son called Tristan?) and James in his band. Tristan plays the guitar and James is the drummer, and they were both very good indeed, having obviously inherited the family talent. Georgie sang and played all the old favourites, and some very good new music too. He still wears the white suit, and talked to the audience as if he had known them for years (well, I suppose he has, actually). He made us laugh when he told us that he had been offered a State Pension of £82 a week last year - obviously on his 65th Birthday - and he thought "Well, if that's all there is, I might as well go on playing for a bit while I can." And he certainly can. He had a surprise guest in the form of Zoot Money (My God, we said, is he still alive?), and even allowed him to play his famous Hammond Organ. The House was delighted, and roared its applause. And there was another guest, whom I didn't know, Ian Shaw, who is also a hugely talented and witty pianist and singer. It was a great evening, and ended with us all singing Happy Birthday to Georgie as his grandchildren came onstage bearing a Birthday cake with candles. Lovely. It felt like a family occasion. And then Georgie, Zoot and Ian Shaw all hopped gleefully offstage, like a little group of garden gnomes, arms around each other and obviously as happy as could be. It was just about the perfect evening.

Next day ABF arrived, bearing half her garden in the form of fresh produce, plus some gorgeous cherries and strawberries and a marvellous bunch of roses and sweet peas. I had already stocked up with Pimm's, so after a stroll by the sea, we settled down to watch a bit of the tennis at Wimbledon while sipping Pimm's. My Student was in London with friends, so I didn't have to feed him, and we enjoyed organic salmon with ABF's new potatoes and some lovely fresh veg. Next day we shopped at Primark and the Pound Shop (well ABF did) and then turned up at Jamie Oliver's new restaurant in The Lanes, hoping for some lunch. Luckily it wasn't too crowded and we sat up on the Roof Terrace and had some of his "pukka" Italian food; we ate homemade breads - a great selection - dipped in olive oil, and then a board of continental meats with olives and chillies, and a salad. Everything tasted divine, and then we shared an ice-cream dessert: hazelnut and vanilla ice-cream, with smashed honeycomb and chocolate sauce on top. Yum. On Monday it was just glorious again, so we decamped to the beach, with swimsuits, towels and my parasol, plus a picnic and plenty of sun cream and water. It was very warm indeed, and I swam in the sea a couple of times - absolutely necessary for cooling down. We had ice-creams from Marocco's, and then came back for a simple supper, the Tennis highlights, and bed! What an idle life. And did I give a thought to my faithfull Blogging friends - well, er, not really. And though I've caught up a bit, I still haven't told you everything that's been happening in my busy life (needless to say, I haven't done the photos either). I'll have to come back tomorrow (I promise) for the next instalment...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Oh Come, all ye Faithful.

Now where was I? Ah yes, about to follow instructions from the lovely Donna on how to put a slide show on my Blog. Huh. That was nearly two weeks ago. I just turned on my computer, and it just turned itself off! So I have been absent again, and it took a while to get back on-line. My lovely Computer Man, Dan, came and shook his head, examined the patient, and took the bloody thing away. However, it wasn't terminal :-) (thankfully, because I haven't got everything backed up - of course); he managed to replace the power unit (?), and he also stopped the groaning it used to do whenever I turned my computer on! What a little genius he is. So here I am with a practically silent computer that is working again - and I now have to get my head around doing those pictures again. That's next, after I have caught up a bit. And we have to back everything up now too. Dan and I have promised to do that sometime soon - let's hope my dear old computer doesn't decide to die on me between now and then.

Son has been both helpful and thoughtful. He thinks my old computer is a "piece of sh**e" but nevertheless he put a message out on Facebook, asking if anyone has a PC they don't want. He admitted it was "for me mam", and said he didn't want any Mac questions from his mates, because we have had that conversation already. All his friends (and probably most of mine too) have now got Macs rather than PCs, and I don't know why I'm still resisting it really. It's just that I'm used to my PC and not sure I want to learn a whole new set of computer "rules". Anyway, we'll see what turns up. I'm pretty sure I'll have to replace this one soon, whatever..

Grandson has been having a jolly time, and has been making us all laugh, as usual. His teacher told Daughter about his latest joke last week, at her Parents' Evening: apparently they were doing a little exercise in class about shortening names, and she asked the children if anyone could think of how their name might be shortened. Grandson's hand shot up, so she said "OK William (that's his name!) how do you think we could shorten your name?" His immediate response was "Mario" - which made her laugh so much she was practically crying. Of course, he loves Super Mario on his DS game, so that was probably where it came from. Priceless! So from now on, he'll probably be Mario for short! His lovely teacher is leaving the school at the end of this term to be a head teacher at another Primary School. She will be sorely missed, and she said that she will miss William because he makes her laugh every day! What a wonderful gift that is.

I have been up to London this week, to the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, which was great. I hadn't been for a couple of years, and I only did it this year because I wanted to go and see Son, and he couldn't make a space in his busy day until later in the afternoon. It was a blessing in disguise, because I had a lovely lunch in the Royal Academy restaurant, and then had a couple of hours walking round the Exhibition. I particularly love the smaller pictures - these are often quite inexpensive (though not as cheap as they used to be - I can remember when you could buy a small print for £10 or £20), and so feel very accessible. They are hung in the Large Weston Room and the Small Weston Room and are mostly small pictures and prints, some of them available in quite large print runs. Though the minimum price is now around £100. I guess that's still not bad for a piece of original art, and it is wonderful to see how many people of all ages, from students to grandparents, come to look at the pictures and sculptures on display. I particularly loved some large collages which were to my mind the most original works in the whole exhibition; there were four examples of these enormous postcard collages by an artist called David Mach R.A. At £25,000 each, they're also among the more expensive items on show. But they are truly wonderful - if you have a chance, do go and see them, and if you're too far away try looking on the Royal Academy website

That's about it for now - thanks to all you Bloggers who have remained faithful and kept on wondering where I was - lost in computer never-land, that's what. I'll be back tomorrow and have another go at those blooming photos - not that I want to tempt providence...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Picture Perfect? Huh..

You know what, I give up. I've been trying to load pictures, but stopped when it became apparent how long it would take! Then I had a genius thought - why not put on a slideshow of my pictures. How? Please can someone help me - technodummy that I am, all Blogger would give me was a slideshow of someone else's photos. All I can say is, Oh Blogger!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Good Times..

What a humbling experience it is to sign in to create a new post. As I typed in my details, the names of updated Blogs were flashing up one after the other in very quick succession - and in many languages. It's a huge community we belong to, and I really love it.

As I write this I'm listening to the new Fleet Foxes album - which I have borrowed from my lovely downstairs neighbour. Son was here last weekend, with his girlfriend, and he noticed it among my cd's. "Did you buy this?" he asked "'Cos if you did, I'm impressed." That's so funny, because I wouldn't have known about them unless I'd heard the music at Roz's barbeque. I did love it, but that's not really the same as knowing who they are. I don't know much about new music, but I do know what I like when I hear it! Anyway, I've added it to my iTunes, so I can play it whenever I want. And I must remember to return it.

This week has been fairly quiet and peaceful after a lot of partying. I did my collecting Grandson duty on Monday, and as it was a lovely day, I took a picnic which we had on the field near his school. This was infinitely preferable to going back to Daughter's house, which is still stuffed with kittens. We played with the Frisbee and ate sausages, sausage rolls, Dalek cake (left over from his Birthday Tea), and cakes brought back from my ABF's Birthday Party. It's been all Birthdays lately, with ABF's Tea Party on Sunday being an absolute winner. We all dressed up in 1930s clothes (all the ladies wore hats, and some of them even wore gloves), and drank tea, ate tiny sandwiches and also tiny cakes which were perched on pretty cake stands. Instead of a Birthday cake, she had two Chocolate Fountains, one milk and one dark chocolate, into which we dipped strawberries, marshmallows and tiny ring doughnuts. Yummy. There was a four piece band playing on the terrace, and the garden looked perfect. The weather was perfect too. And then 12 of us stayed for supper which we ate by candlelight in the marquee. Lovely. I left at about 9.30 and arrived home at 11-ish. Tired but happy.

I'm planning to add some photos to show you, from Grandson's Birthday etc. I'm not going to start now, though, because I know how long it takes me to do it. I'll come back tomorrow. Promise...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Them and Us...

I haven't commented on the MPs' expenses scandal so far, but I must say that hearing the other day that the poor things are feeling awful, that there's a terrible atmosphere in the House of Commons and some of them are depressed made me want to throw up. What are they thinking? Had they never been found out, they would have been merrily carrying on with their hands in the till, making idiots of us all. Oh dear! As so many people have commented, if any of us (the common people) been discovered doing the same thing, we would have been hauled up in front of a judge and (rightly) convicted of Fraud. I've heard all the arguments about them not being paid enough to make ends meet - well how would they like to live on what most of us have to live on? (And pay our taxes, pay our own heating bills, buy our own train tickets - not First Class because that would be a joke - pay for all our own house repairs and buy our own food.)
Yes, they've been elected to represent us, but that really doesn't give them a licence to cheat us.
It saddens me to think that Politics seems to corrupt just about everyone. Where are the people with integrity who actually care about what happens to our society?

The Swiss Parents have come and gone, and were truly a delight to have in my house. They came bearing yet more Swiss chocolate, which went down very well, and were most appreciative of everything. They were here for three nights, and went up to London on one of their days. They didn't speak any English really, except the odd word, so I had to reluctantly reveal the fact that I spoke French. It was worth it though for the look on my Student's face when she heard me chatting away to her Mum and Dad!

Grandson has been here since Tuesday, as it's his Half Term. So I've been having lots of hugs and kisses. His latest fun thing is to launch himself at me and hang on tight while he kisses me very hard. It's so funny, we both end up on the floor with the giggles. Today we re-potted his sunflower seedlings on the balcony, and then we went down to the Paddling Pool for the first time this year. True to form, he raced around in his swimming trunks for about four hours. I don't know where he gets the energy from (unless it's the four helpings of spaghetti bolognese he ate). It's nearly as strenuous following him around, but there's no alternative - the place is packed and it would be so easy to lose track of him! Anyway, we survived, and he is having a pre-Birthday treat tomorrow. I'm taking him to the Sea-Life Centre and then on the Pier for a bit of fun. After that, we're coming back here for a Birthday tea, with sausage rolls, jelly and a chocolate Dalek cake (chosen by him). A few of my friends will be coming too, and his Mum will turn up after work. He is going to be five on Saturday, and is having his proper Birthday Party at home then, with lots of his little friends from school. I can't believe how fast those five years have gone. So much has happened, and all our lives have changed hugely during that time. What a good thing it is that we can't see into the future...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

In the midst of Life....

Well, so mucho for good intentions, I've been even worse at Blogging since I came home. To be fair, it has been a frantic ten days, but I must stop making excuses and just get on with it!

The first 10 days with my new Student have been fine. She is a nice little 22 year old Swiss girl whose native language is French. She had a bit of trouble settling in when she discovered that I didn't have Wi-Fi and so she couldn't connect to her beloved lap-top, and her beloved friends, 24 hours a day. The beautiful bottom lip trembled, and a crystal tear appeared in the corner of her eye. But I was implacable - not to say tough. I tried to explain that it wasn't a case of money - I just don't know my neighbours well enough to knock on their doors and ask if we can used their Wi-Fi connection - and anyway, I'm not sure how that would work. It was fine once she went into School, and they sorted her out I guess, because I didn't hear another word about it! Apart from that, we are getting along famously, and her parents are coming to stay this weekend. It will be interesting, as they apparently don't speak a word of English. It may turn into a French Farce, and if it does, I'll share the fun with you.

The very sad news came when I telephoned my lovely Solicitor, ironically as it turned out, to ask him to bring my Will up to date. When he answered the phone he sounded very down, so I asked him what was wrong - only to hear that his lovely wife had died, in April, of breast cancer, or rather the results of a late diagnosis of breast cancer, and the ensuing operations, chemotherapy and finally inoperable brain tumours. I was devastated and terribly sad for him. She was only 42, and has left three children (11, 16 and 17) and a sad and lonely husband. He was obviously trying to be brave, but I'm afraid I cried, and so did he in the end. Words are totally inadequate when something like this happens - and it is so terribly unfair that someone so young should be wrenched away from her family and a full and happy life. I knew that she had been ill, and had had to have reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy, but I had assumed (and hoped) that she would survive. Oh Bugger.

My 8th Therapy session last Friday was a tough one, which brought up some deeply buried family stuff. It took me completely by surprise because I just didn't see it coming, and I ended up feeling rather threatened. I came home exhausted and slept again, and then spent the night in a state of anxiety. I can't really explain it, because it's rather close to home, but my protective instincts were aroused not only for my two grown-up children, but also for my Therapist who is taking this stuff on. Having re-read this, I can see that it isn't making any sense at all. Sorry...

Grandson was here again, last weekend, and we were hoping to go to the Jill Windmill on Sunday to see her working. Actually we did go, but the weather closed down on us and we sat in the car for nearly an hour, waiting for the storm to abate slightly. We tried to get out once, but were beaten back by the howling wind and rain, so in the end we retreated and came home. Daughter came to pick him up on Monday afternoon (he had an extra day with me), and rushed in with her mobile glued to her ear - looking gorgeous - and hurrying Grandson along because she was going out to dinner. Again. There's obviously something going on because she never has a moment to stop and talk, and poor Grandson is rushed from pillar to post to fit in with her social arrangements. Add to that the fact that she has bought a bright red convertible car (I know, don't ask!), and is planning a holiday without Grandson (guess who gets to look after him) but with the Boyfriend, because he is paying!!! She is avoiding all conversations about the future in any real sense, and acting as if nothing has happened. Not only that, but when I went to their house last week, I was confronted with the most disgustingly dirty tip, five kittens and their mum, and a fridge you wouldn't want to touch if you valued your health. After half an hour I couldn't breathe (allergic asthma) and when she came home I left saying that I wasn't going back at least while the kittens are there. It's all rather a worry. But of course I can't say anything without being in the wrong again.

On a happier note, I had a lovely visit from my London BF, whom I met on Skyros in 2001, and who came to stay on Monday. She arrived just in time to say a cheery hello to Grandson, and then we had a wonderful time catching up. She had brought real Madeira cake, from Madeira, and some potent Madeira Wine. We ate, drank and talked non-stop until we could talk no more, and then we resumed next morning over breakfast before going for a walk along by the sea. She had tickets for a BAFTA special event at the Brighton Dome yesterday evening, to see David Attenborough talking about his life. There was a Champagne Reception first, with very good champagne and tasty canapes, so we felt very spoilt. And the on-stage Interview, with Melvin Bragg doing the interviewing, was so good we both felt it could have gone on much longer. David Attenborough really is a Great British Institution. Afterwards she had to whizz off to her Mum's as they were going to the Chelsea Flower Show today, but it was a fabulous visit.

Now I'm off to bed - feeling very lucky to be alive and kicking...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

So nice to come Home to..

Well, I'm back and shivering with the cold after spending a week in Tenerife, lying in the sun. "Poor you!" I hear you say, or perhaps I don't. Never mind, but 27 degrees was pretty hot, and I actually have a bikini suntan for the first time in years. I just thought "Sod it", and believe me there were lots of women exposing lots more flesh than me by the pool. For example, there were the "two fat ladies" (or 88 in Bingo parlance, I'm sure you get the picture). These two were quite young English women who were absolutely enormous - with powerful shoulders and rolls of fat, all of which quickly tanned to a rich reddy-brown. They had also decided to go topless, and this was quite scary. Somehow, their breasts (pardon me) didn't look like breasts, but like another set of extra large bulges, of which they seemed rather proud. I didn't know quite how to respond to this display, and luckily ABF and I were draped over our loungers on the far side of the pool, away from them, so we were able to modestly avert our eyes most of the time. Anyway, after the first day I had on what looked like a white bikini, while the rest of me was bright pink. Not a pretty sight. But it did improve slightly, and now I have a great tan to start the Summer with. If it ever arrives, that is.

We enjoyed ourselves enormously, eating, drinking and doing nothing, and I managed to read two and a half books. The first was "One Fifth Avenue", by Candace Bushnell of "Sex and the City" fame. It was absolutely wonderful - the perfect holiday read. Being transported to the high life in New York was the best holiday escapism, and I do so admire her ability to make her characters come alive. Somehow, she also makes you feel just what she wants you to feel about these people. You love them or you hate them, but you really believe in them too. I was absolutely there. I didn't want the book to end, so I tried to slow down a bit, but in the end I had to finish it. And now I intend to read it again! The second book was a really elegant little novel by Fay Weldon, called "She may not Leave" - quite a different kettle of fish, and beautifully written too. It has moments when you shiver with dread, in fact it arouses a huge range of emotions. Any woman who has ever struggled with children, child-care, family relationships, sex, work, etc etc, will identify with this. It's wonderful in an odd, quirky way - and it made me reflect on how all our lives are similar, even when our experiences are different. I think Fay Weldon writes brilliantly about women and their lives (as she did in "The Life and Loves of a She-Devil"), and the fact that she wrote that immortal line "Go to work on an egg" when she was a Copywriter, makes her all the more human somehow! The third book is "An Equal Music" by Vikram Seth, which I'm finding it harder to get into. I have a battered paperback copy, which Son sent me, and he said that he couldn't put it down once he started it. So far, it hasn't had that effect on me, but I'll keep on trying.

Home thoughts from abroad.. I didn't miss anyone much, except Grandson of course, but I was so pleased to get home and see that I hadn't missed the wonderful Oriental Poppies in my garden - they are just out now. They look like giant orange papery-silk fake flowers, with dark, black centres, and the bees can't get enough of them. I also came back in time to catch the double white lilac " Madame Lemoine", which I missed last year too, when I was on my fateful trip to France. All I can say is, I'm so pleased that I didn't decide to leave these shores permanently. We may be going through pretty dire financial times, but that's just when we need our family and friends around us, isn't it?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rights and Wrongs..

I really must pull my socks up, mostly metaphorically of course. This month I have been even worse at writing my Blog, and catching up with Blogging Friends. It's been a busy and somewhat tricky month, but I ought to be confiding in my Dear Diary instead of keeping it all under wraps!

I did manage to put on a picture of the kittens (see above right), which is now somewhat out of date. They have their eyes open and can almost walk now - and Tinkerbell is an exemplary mother. She tidies them all up, licks them into shape and then lies down to feed them, with a blissful expression on her little face. They all have homes to go to when they are ready, and one of the little darlings is going to KT and Hon Grandaughter, who are moving out on Friday, after nearly three months here with me. I must say that it has been lovely to have them (KT and HG I mean, not the kittens), not a chore at all, and I will really miss them. Friday is, coincidentally, the day I go on holiday for a week, so everything has turned out pretty well, timing-wise. I'm off to Tenerife with my Aristocratic BF. She has a Timeshare which offers the occasional bargain, so we are going to have a very cheap and cheerful week away. I'm looking forward to just lying in the sun, with book and cocktail close at hand, and the occasional dip in the pool will be the icing on the cake. When I get back I have a new Student coming to stay, so hopefully there will be more interesting news. And I promise to be a better correspondent and a more regular visitor to all my Blogging Friends.

There has been a bit of an upset regarding Daughter and The Boyfriend. I had Grandson for a week of his Easter Holiday, and it was then - when there were no children or other distractions - that they discovered that their relationship wasn't going so well. We had a pretty frantic weekend, (a week ago) when it seemed that everything was falling apart, and Daughter was ready to move back here with Grandson on the spot. However, it now seems to have calmed down. I don't pretend to know what the outcome will be, but Daughter and The Boyfriend have talked things through and she has asked for some time to think, so we are all waiting to see what will happen. Of course I immediately thought "what a good thing they didn't buy that house!" There's always a reason for these things. Apparently Daughter has been aware for some time that things weren't right. (And I must say that having the worry and stress of the Pre-Cancerous cells and the Colposcopies can't have helped.) But they had just fallen into a routine of not talking to each other, until the absence of Grandson meant that they had no choice but to communicate. It hasn't helped that Daughter said to me " Mum, you were right - you're always right." Hah! Somehow, I know that means I'm in the wrong again...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Simply the Best.

D'you know, it was simply the best Easter. I had two days of complete peace and quiet on Friday and Saturday, and then Sunday and Monday turned out to be frantically social and busy. On Sunday morning Gay Friend and I went to the "last ever" Car Boot Sale at Brighton Station. They have been threatening this for ages, but Sunday was finally the day. It was a bright morning, and we wandered around buying lovely bits and pieces before sitting down for a bacon sarnie and a cup of tea. Most of the stall holders we talked to are planning to transfer to the new site, which is at Brighton Marina. This is not a terribly popular move, because those of us who have lived here for a while don't particularly like the Marina. It has one saving grace, which is free parking, but otherwise it is not a favourite place to visit. It has none of the magical glamour of other Marinas I have seen on the Continent. In France or Portugal, for example, they are gorgeous places where one can sit ouside a cafe or bar and sip coffee or a cocktail while watching fabulous yachts bobbing at anchor, and the equally fabulous owners bobbing around in their designer clothes. At Brighton Marina one is always dodging the rain or sheltering from the prevailing winds. It's not a pretty place, being constructed mostly of grey concrete, and though the little boats are nice enough, there's nothing glamorous about it. It's more like a bus station than a Marina somehow. A watery Bus Station. Anyway, if we want to buy and sell our hoarded rubbish in future, it will have to be at the Marina, not the Railway Station. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Then I got a phone call from Son to say that he was on his way down! Surprise, surprise. And he was driving down with his girlfriend. I had already planned to go out for a Pub Quiz that evening, and had been invited for dinner beforehand by one of the Spritzer Sisters. Son seemed happy to consider joining in the Pub Quiz, and being an honorary Spritzer Sister for the evening, though he didn't fancy coming to dinner before. In the end, he and Emma drifted off into town to look around and eat fish and chips, and we arranged to meet in the pub later. It was great fun, though the Pub Quiz was late starting because a crowd of 40 or so pub-crawlers made so much noise we couldn't hear a thing. In the end we came second in the main quiz, and we won the music and picture round section (with the help of a bit of cheating I'm sorry to say). We won two bottles of wine, one white, one red, and I didn't get home until 1a.m! Son and his girlfriend carried on the evening at a drum and bass event, staying out all night I think, and came back to sleep in the single bed. Great fun. And the next morning Daughter and Grandson turned up ready for Easter activities. So I hid some chocolate eggs in the garden and then cooked industrial quantities of eggs and bacon for everyone's breakfasts. What larks!

In the afternoon we all landed on the lovely Roz, downstairs, for her Barbeque. It was a stunning day, and Son did help Roz to put the barbeque together - it was one of those tricky kit things from Tesco - and then we all sat and drank cocktails and ate barbequed chicken, burgers, sausages and vegetable kebabs, all with wonderful side salads and various goodies. It was a real feast, and since there were five of us there: Son and his Girlfriend, Daughter, Grandson, and me, she really was feeding the five thousand (my family are all good eaters!). And that's without counting her other guests. The lovely thing about Roz is that she adores having a houseful of people, particularly children, and so of course people love coming to her parties.We did have a terrific time sitting in the sun, and only left when Son decided it was time to drive back, ditto Daughter, leaving me with Grandson. And of course KT and Hon Grandaughter arrived back home just as soon as everyone else left! It really was a fun-filled weekend, and I had a gorgeous exotic Easter plant from Daughter and a fabulous photographic print from Son, brought back from Argentina. Altogether it was a great holiday, and lovely to see all my nearest and dearest.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Happy Easter..

Daughter phoned me early yesterday to say that she had been for her 8.30am appointment with the Doctor to discuss the position with her pre-cancerous cells and the Colposcopies. Luckily she got a young-ish woman doctor who was most sensitive to her concerns, and also knew quite a lot about the subject. (Apparently she had done her "gynie" training with the Specialist who had seen and examined Daughter last time.) This Doctor was able to reassure Daughter that CIN1 and 2 are not something to particularly worry about, CIN3 is the worst, and even that is still pre-cancerous. She explained that if these earlier warnings are ignored, then perhaps 10 years down the line, they could become cancerous. However, she did take some swabs, because Daughter told her about the excessive bleeding she has been experiencing, and the Doc. did some other tests, plus an internal examination. Daughter is going back to see her when all the results are in, and they will decide on a course of action then. Daughter was immensely relieved, and so was I of course. It was a very good start to the day.

Next, they went off to London to meet up with Son and have some lunch. They went to Son's office first, so that everyone there could meet Grandson, and it was a great success. Apparently Grandson went into the Studio and was (sort of) playing the keyboards and generally entertaining everyone. He had a grand time, and Son had bought him a Spurs shirt as a present. It may be a bit big now, but he'll be proudly wearing it soon, I bet. T-Shirts were rather the theme of the day, as I had sent Son a rather gorgeous Pink Floyd one which arrived while he was in Argentina. Sadly it was too big - so Daughter had to snaffle it from the office so that I can return it and get a replacement. Actually, the company in question DJTees , was so wonderful when I telephoned them, that they are sending a replacement before I even return the wrong one! How amazing is that in this day and age? They are trusting me. I wish them a very happy and profitable future - they deserve it.

I'm having a quiet Easter, which suits me fine. It's cold and rainy today, so I'm going to hunker down with some wholemeal Hot Cross Buns and some little chocolate Easter Eggs for company. Hon. Grandaughter is staying with her Dad this week, and KT is out until later, so a cosy film sounds just right. I hope the weather picks up a bit though, because I want to get out into my garden and finish clearing out the plants which died this year. I've lost all the South African daisies, not surprisingly, and will need to replace quite a few things. I also need to cut the grass and hide a couple of dozen chocolate eggs. Daughter, Grandson and the Boyfriend will be here on Monday for the Easter Egg Hunt, and so will Hon. Grandaughter and KT. My lovely neighbour, Roz, is planning a Barbeque for Monday too, so if we are going to enjoy all those delights, we need a bit of sunshine and warmth. Let's hope it does cheer up a bit.

A Happy Easter to all my lovely Blogging Friends and their families.. I hope you all enjoy your eggs (chocolate or otherwise), your buns, and your precious days together.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spring is sprung, the grass is riz..

It's definitely Spring here, sunny and cold, we're awash with daffodils and the pond is full of tiny tadpoles again. Daughter and Grandson were here for the day today as they are both on holiday this week, so we went for a stroll in the sun to browse the shops in George Street. It was so lovely that we were tempted to sit outside and have some lunch in one of the cafes.. brrr... Fine at the start, but by the time we had our food delivered to our table (wrong order twice!) we were all shivering, Grandson had retreated to his buggy and Daughter had given him her scarf and denim jacket to keep him warm. Typical Spring weather. We beat a hasty retreat , and sat at home with a cup of tea instead. Even on the balcony it was a touch too breezy.

I'm putting on a photo, hopefully, as Daughter was here to show me the error of my ways this afternoon. Here she is, looking incredibly beautiful I think - not that I can take any credit for that - she is just beautiful!

Grandson had his first sleepover with a friend last night. He went to stay with Thomas, his partner in crime at school, and apparently they stayed awake talking until Thomas's Mum, Wendy, finally put a stop to it at 11.15pm! No wonder then that he was tired and wanted to sit in his buggy today. Daughter said that when he came home this morning he looked somehow older - more mature probably! It's a big step, staying away from home, without family, for the first time. When I asked him about it, he just shrugged it off - and when his Mum asked him what they were talking about all night he said - guess what - NOTHING :-)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Having Kittens... Literally...

It's the last day of March, to state the obvious, and I can hardly believe the way the year is cantering on already. And it's lighter because of Summer Time - but still blooming freezing here.
What news from Hove? Well Daughter has finally reached her Weightwatchers Goal Weight - an amazing 10st. 12lbs, which is a huge achievement for her, since her decidedly porky days when she had Grandson as a wee baby and was dumped by the bastard bloke. It has taken her this four and a half years to fully regain her self-esteem and her previous gorgeousness - and I really will try and put on a photo of her as she is now, just to show you how wonderful she looks. Next news, hot off the press, is that their "kitten" Tinkerbell has just had five kittens - the naughty baggage was obviously out having sex at a very early age, and is now suffering the dreaded consequences. Daughter wanted to have her spayed, but the Boyfriend didn't - he thought she should at least have the chance to have kittens before she was "done". So he is in charge of looking after and finding homes for the little newcomers. He says he doesn't think they need looking after, but I guess he'll find out..

Son is back from Argentina, and phoned to have a chat on Sunday evening. He obviously had a really wonderful trip, and was exhausted when he got back. I am hoping for a few of his photos too, so that you can see some of what he got up to. He has also been asked to be Best Man for his old mate Ed, who now lives in Australia. Ed and his intended are getting married in Thailand in January, so that will be another great trip for Son. And he is hoping to celebrate his 30th somewhere in Africa with a crowd of friends - apparently there is a Music Festival there in October. There is also talk of New York some time next year. And I expect he will be off to the film Festival in Cannes again this year! Oh what a great life.

I've been pretty quiet about myself lately because of the continuing Therapy which I'm having every other week. It has been very interesting and sometimes very painful and traumatic (both physically and emotionally). I've been through what I can only describe as "re-birthing", I've re-lived the time around the Brain Tumour (see my previous posts) and the births of both my children. Plus the inevitable emotions around relationships with parents and partners. And I have come to realize that I have buried a lot of rubbish in the past, just so that I could cope with life generally on a day-to-day basis. I'm sure that this isn't unusual. Many of my friends have been through piles of shite in their lives, and so have many of my Blogging Friends, I know.
And Blogging is pretty good therapy in its own right, I think. I've been keeping this diary on and off for nearly two years now, and I know that it has been therapeutic for me. It has certainly been wonderful to have the comments and support of all you Bloggers out there. Without it, I don't think I would be putting myself through this latest emotional struggle. It's strange how a bunch of complete strangers can turn into real friends who bring a smile to my face every day, without exception. Thank you again. I really appreciate it.

By the way.. anyone want a kitten?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Early Bird

Surprisingly for me, I'm up and busily catching worms this morning. My London BF Sue came down yesterday for a belated Birthday treat (for me) and we went out to the gorgeous L'Eglise restaurant which just happens to be a short stagger across the road. There we met up with two more friends of hers, who live in Hassocks, and had superb food (as always), good wine and lots of good conversation. Somehow being late to bed nearly always means I'm awake early, hence the worm-catching.

As I sat with Heinrich chatting over breakfast (well, not exactly chatting, but you know what I mean) I looked out of the window and saw a tiny silver aeroplane winging its way, high in the blue sky, towards the airport, and wondered if it might be Son on his way home. Maybe, maybe not, but it was a nice thought. He is due home this morning from Argentina, so it could have been I guess. I had a lovely message from him, via one of his friends, late on Sunday evening. Apparently he had been trying to call me for Mother's day and hadn't been able to get through. He was sitting beside the pool in a hotel in Iguazu on the border between Brazil and Argentina, where he had gone to see the waterfalls. Sounds just wonderful doesn't it?

My Aristocratic BF is planning a special Garden Party for her 70th Birthday on 31st May, and I have been volunteered to design and print the party Invitation. She has the most lovely garden, near Sissinghurst in Kent, so it will be perfect if we get the weather. Anyway, I sat down at my easel today and painted a gorgeous garden party hat with flowers and ribbons, in soft, smudgy pink and green watercolours. Somehow, it just came out right, so I'm not going to fiddle with it and spoil it. My next challenge is to paint some little cupcakes to decorate the other corner of the invitation, and then I can hotfoot it up to David, Son's lovely friend, who can put it all on computer for me, and then print it. Otherwise I'd have to get out my old John Bull Printing Outfit and do it myself - perhaps not :-)