Monday 30 June 2008


It was back to the Flea Market last Saturday. Up at 4.25 a.m. – that’s early, even for me. Made me appreciate Jo’s fridge magnet...


LIES, damned lies and advertising..

I fancied some soup yesterday and discovered a packet in the cupboard alongside the tins. The packets I buy just require to be stuck in a cup and have hot water added. Instant soup. I had opened this packet that Jo got before I realised it had to be done on the hob. Still, it would only take 5 minutes according to the packet.

Can someone please tell me how it can only take five minutes when the instructions require that you out it in a pan and add COLD (in capital letters) water, bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes. If anyone has a cooker that can bring cold water to the boil instantly can they please let me know – I’d like one!

I’m tempted to have a go at them under the Trades Descriptions Act and force them to change all their packets – that would larn ‘em!

ONE for the girls...

One day my housework-challenged husband decided to wash his sweat-shirt.
Seconds after he stepped into the laundry room, he shouted to me, 'What setting do I use on the washing machine?'
'It depends,' I replied. 'What does it say on your shirt?'
He yelled back, ' University of Oklahoma '
And they say blondes are dumb...

Sunday 29 June 2008

CUTTING the Peats

I have done another of my longer blogs - on peat cutting. So, as with other long blog postings it has gone on Redactori.

The ALL-WHITE Dress Code

How far can you stretch the rules before you break them? Wimbledon has an all-white dress code. This makes clothing designers more and more inventive in terms of how they present their models (i.e. the tennis players!). So far this Championship we’ve had Federa in a 1920’s Fred Perry style cardigan and Serena Williams in a raincoat. But what about the players who bend the rules and have some colour on their clothes? How far will they be allowed to go before Wimbledon either degenerates into just another Grand Slam or they get made to go and change? Federa’s cardigan, for example, had gold piping on it.

Mauresmo had a blue top under her dress and a blue dart in the skirt. The argument that they could have been considered ‘underclothes’ hardly counts when they were visible 100% of the time. I find this bending of the rules good fun but please don’t spoil it and go too far.

Child Death Helpline

In case anyone doesn’t know by now I have a number of different Blogs. One, a set of Book Reviews, has shown how busy I was in the Hebrides – hardly any books read. I’ve only been back a week and already there are lots of new entries. One, “Before I Die” by Jenny Downham, is described as teen fiction. I think it is suitable for all ages and goes on my list of books everyone should read. Children dying after a long illness is a subject that has been dear to my heart ever since meeting people at the Alder Centre who have gone through watching their child die. This books is writing at its very best.

For anyone affected by the death of a child and not living close enough to Alder Hey hospital to use the Alder Centre, there is a Child Death Helpline.
The Child Death Helpline is staffed 7 nights a week from 7.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m., Monday to Friday mornings 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons 1.00 4.00 p.m. The number is: Freephone 0800 282986


One of the things I like about GB’s New Zealand Blog is all the old cars that he sees around North Island. Just occasionally we see a beautiful one here in the UK that is worth a posting such as this Alvis that was in Stornoway a fortnight ago. Perhaps GB may be able to tell me the model.

Saturday 28 June 2008


Bird’s Eye View at Wimbledon
But this character was on the wrong court – he was watching Serena Williams beat Mauresmo – and he should have been watching Ivanovich, the No. 1 seed, being beaten in straight sets by Zheng Zi, ranked 133. The biggest upset of week one.

INN Signs

I like inn signs – when they are well done. It was noticeable that in Keswick there were a number of fine ones.

THE NEW Vocabulary

I wonder how many words we use on a day to day basis would have been understood thirty years ago? I suspect that not a one of the computer technology words that I take for granted would have meant anything to me then. Words like Software and Hard Drive. And words that were in use then have suddenly got new meanings. Most remarkable of these, to me, is “Illegal”. To have been told I had done something illegal would have shocked me ten years ago but now I get told it frequently. Even when I went to post (new meaning) my last blog (new word) it came up with a red warning that said “You have entered an illegal date” because I had put one slash too many in a DD/MM/YY (does that count as a word??). Illegal?? Which country’s laws did I break, I wonder?

Friday 27 June 2008

DESIGNER earrings

Maria Sharapova has a new set of earrings designed for each Grand Slam. But she didn't get much chance to wear these... The Women's number three seed is out. It's back to Florida for Sharapova while her opponent, another 'Russian' from Florida, ranked 154, carries on. I do like Wimbledon upsets.


If you ask six Scots where the boundary is between the Lowlands and the Highlands you may well get half a dozen different answers. One popular candidate is the River Garry.

Earlier in the month, GB and I stopped at Garry Bridge, Looking upriver there seemed to be plenty of water in it but downriver showed just how much the dry weather has affected it. But then it's always wetter in the Highlands than the Lowlands....

I think this is Beinn Dearg from the Garry Bridge.


Before GB headed back up North he treated me to the traditional coffee at Linghams in Heswall while we did the morning crossword.

Please Note Pat - it's a large coffee and each of the sugars was only half a spoonfull. GB witnessed the formal weighing out of each little sachet!

(And this will teach me not to schedule blog postings in advance - GB blogged about Linghams before me!)

Thursday 26 June 2008

It’s Raining

It’s raining here. But not at Wimbledon. That means I don’t feel guilty ignoring the garden and watching the tennis instead. I’ve only watched three and a bit matches so far and already I’m hooked again for another year.

Marat Safin turned back the clock on Wednesday and handed third-seeded Novak Djokovic an early exit. Even more exciting Ana Ivanovic survived a marathon match against Nathalie Dechy to advance to the third round. It took nearly two and a half hours but Ivanovic escaped with a 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-3), 10-8 victory to keep her shot at back-to-back Grand Slam singles titles alive. Andy Murray has just won through and now Kudryavtseva is beating Maria Sharapova by one set... Yes, I'm definitely hooked for another year!

END of Term

It’s the end of term for some of Jo’s counselling students. Judging by the thank you cards her dry sense of humour and her ability to make people look at themselves in a new light have both been well appreciated.

When I first read one card I thought it said thank you “for trampling all over us.” Upon re-reading it I realised the last word was ‘it’ not ‘us’ and put in context it was a compliment!


There's nothing quite like a Jaguar...

Wednesday 25 June 2008

WHAT’S in a name?

Coming down through Scotland GB and I drove through the Pass of Killiecrankie. I just love that name. The Pass was the site of a battle between the Jacobites and the Orange Covenanters in 1689. In this particular battle, the Jacobites emerged victorious. One of the only escape routes involved leaping across a wide gorge. Some soldiers fell to their deaths but one recorded in his own memoirs that he made the 18 foot leap with Highlanders chasing him with claymores swinging.

Kiliecrankie was just one of many names that caused me to wonder at their origins. They also reminded me of that wonderful book by Douglas Adams, "The Meaning of Liff". Here are some suggested meanings for place names we passed en route:-

Killiecrankie - Where the Highlanders killed some eccentric chaps.
Ard-cheatharnaich – ‘ard to pronounce
Coldwell – aren’t they all?
Findhorn – Where ancient wind instrument was discovered.
Lynchat – Welsh gossiper’s home.
Mislet - Rented off to people who didn't look after it.
Glasgow - Windows get broken
Possil – Where they found a fossilised Possum?
Maryhill - Home of Fanny’s sister?

It sounds like a good game for a boring journey. Not that I found our journey in the least bit boring – though the half hour stuck in a Glasgow traffic jam did get me on the age old game of spotting number plates, starting at 1....

AROUND the Piano

When I was young New Year's Eve always consisted of a visit from Aunty Dolly and Uncle Ernie and Aunty Ella (later on with her sister Elsie). We would gather round the piano and Mum would play all the favourite oldies with everyone else singing - Dad and Uncle Ernie to the fore. Sometimes there would be other occasions during the year when visitiors like Uncle JPD and Aunty Muriel would sing along to Mum's playing. These are some of the songs I can recall being sung -

Scarlet Ribbons (for her hair)
Underneath the Arches
You made me do it (I didn' wanna do it)
All through the night
Blue Moon
I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter
Pennies from Heaven
The Lambeth Walk
The Sun has Got his Hat On
You must have been a Beautiful baby
Run Rabbit Run
We'll meet again
Hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line
Old Man River
Swing Low Sweet Chariot
All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth
There's no business like show business
I've Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts
There's a little white house on a little green hill where the red, red roses grow...

I think there were also some Rodgers and Hammerstein and Irving Berlin songs from the various musicals of the 50s and early 60s but which ones I'm not sure. I suspect "The King and I" provided some of them as it was by far Mum's favourite musical.

Tuesday 24 June 2008

SIRENS to sirens

In Greek mythology, the Sirens were three dangerous bird-women, portrayed as seductresses, who lived on an island called Sirenum scopuli which was surrounded by cliffs and rocks. Seamen who sailed near were decoyed by the Sirens' enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast. Although they lured mariners, the sirens were not sea deities. I think I heard the Sirens when I was on Lewis - I was certainly being lured there.

By contrast, the sirens here in Pensby belong to emergency vehicles. There was one evening at GB’s when we heard a lot of vehicle sirens. It was cause for much comment when Jane called in for a chat. Today I have lost count of the number of sirens I have heard. They are quite normal here. In fact, the only reason I even thought to blog about them was the fact that one just went past our house at 11.15 at night at what sounded like about eighty miles an hour . (We live in a 30mph limit!) I am not exaggerating though I accept that judging speed by siren sound is not a precise art.

I think I preferred the Sirens with a capital 'S'.

AND Shades of Nana

When GB and I came down through the Lakes it was absolutely full of memories from our youth. In the distance is Helvellyn - one of the few Lakeland peaks over 3000'. Immediately below it in the picture is the conifer covered hill Great How but we never knew it by that name.

Nana once said it looked just like a tea cosy and the name Tea Cosy Hill stuck for ever after. I couldn't even recall its proper name without turning to the Internet for a map.

As you can see from the windscreen, even the weather was reminiscent of many a Lake District day - rainy!

Monday 23 June 2008


GB and I came back to Pensby through the Lake District. This is the first time I’ve been to the Lakes since getting a digital camera so all my previous pictures are transparencies. The first sight to greet us was that magnificent piece of Skiddaw slate – Blencathra.

Its nickname is Saddleback – appropriate as you can see – but whilst Mum used to call it that I used to insist on its proper name of Blencathra with its wonderful Old English overtones. The friendly argument would rage back and forth – “Saddleback”, “Blencathra.” “Saddleback.” “Blencathra”.

The fell pictured below is Skiddaw. Having no other name one might think it was less cause for controversy but we still managed to debate wherther it should be "Skiddaw" or the local pronounciation of "Skidda'"...


One of the great things about being at GB’s was having classical music playing at the sort of volume one can really appreciate it. Back home I am conscious of the need to take into account Jo and Richard. Classical music is not Jo’s favourite and that would be an understatement where Rich is concerned. So only when I have the house to myself do I feel it fair to play it loudly. And if I’m moving from room to room I don’t have the linked speakers that GB has.

Not only was the volume a great thing but as a bonus I discovered a load of new composers among his vast CD collection. These were

Kabalevsky - Dmitri Borisovich Kabalevsky (December 30, 1904 – February 18, 1987) - Russian Soviet composer. Kabalevsky is regarded as one of the great modern composers of children's music. He helped to set up the Union of Soviet Composers in Moscow and remained one of its leading figures.

Busoni - Ferruccio Dante Michelangiolo Benvenuto Busoni (April 1, 1866 – July 27, 1924) - an Italian composer, pianist, teacher of piano and composition, and conductor.

Raff - Joseph Joachim Raff (May 27, 1822 - June 24 or June 25, 1882) was a Swiss composer, teacher and pianist.

Tcherepnin - Alexander Nikolayevich Tcherepnin (born January 21, 1899; died September 29, 1977) - a Russian-born composer and pianist. His father, Nikolay Tcherepnin, (pupil of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov) and his son, Ivan Tcherepnin, (a member of the Harvard University faculty) were also composers. His son, Serge, was involved in the roots of electronic music and instruments.

Granados - Pantaléon Enrique Costanzo Granados y Campiña (July 27, 1867 – March 24, 1916) - a Spanish pianist and composer of classical music. His music is in a uniquely Spanish style and, as such, representative of musical nationalism. Enrique Granados was also a talented painter in the style of Francisco Goya. This wasn't a discovery insofar as I had already known some of his works but GB gave me his complete piano works. As I write this posting I am listening to some it and enjoying it immensely.

Sunday 22 June 2008


I worked in Liverpool's wholesale fruit market during some of my college holidays. I don't know if this is the reason I "have a thing" about fruit and vegetables or not. Whatever has caused it, I just love wandering around greengrocers and looking at their displays on the pavement. On the way from Merseyside to Lewis I photographed this shop in Penrith.

And on the way back down I saw this one in the House of Bruer and could not resist getting the camera out again.

Dirty Carrots at Penrith

Clean Carrots at Penrith

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