Tuesday 31 December 2013

Have a good one...

Saturday 28 December 2013

So this was Christmas (at The Willows)

Daughter-who-loves-food and Son-in-law-who-cooks came a couple of days before Christmas.

Sadly, despite Daughter-who-loves-food waiting all day for a squirrel to come on the bird table, it didn’t come until Christmas Day. 

Chef serving Christmas Dinner.

Sous-chef doing her bit.

I did my bit by eating it…

Yes, that is Santa on my tie.

It’s present opening time.

Only a chef could get so excited about a pair of kitchen scissors.

Son-who-loves-films knows the way to his mother’s heart is through cheese and wine.

Beautiful artificial flowers from Daughter-who-takes-photos and Son-in-law-and-friend-who-loves-otters.   They will bring a hint of spring to the next few months.

The day after Boxing Day Brother-in-law-and-sister-in-law-who- cruise-the-world came for lunch.


Odds and more odds...

More Gales
For the last two days we have had continuous gales that suddenly stopped at 6 pm last night and left an instant eerie calm.   It is reported that we have had gusts of up to 80 mph on The Wirral – the strongest winds for years.  And the repaired conservatory roof, ain't.  They came out again on Christmas Eve and identified what they think might be the problem and will be out to fix it in the New Year.  Until then we have to live with a plastic box in the middle of the floor again.

The Darwin Awards
The DarwinAwards for 2013 are out.  The glorious winner  was the character who, when his .38 calibre revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.
I think number 3 should be taken off the list on the basis that as so many people park across our drive I find his reaction quite understandable!

They walk among us, they can reproduce.

Abandoned places
I think this set of photos of abandoned places is spectacular.  It will take you a while to scroll through it – especially if you read them all but I think it well worthwhile.

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Enjoy your day

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Saturday 21 December 2013

The run-up to Christmas

A little bit more
I’m writing this post to the background music of some 70s pop.  (I’ll let the shops give me my Christmas carols ration for the year).  Currently playing is a song that Partner-who-loves-tea and I used to have as a theme tune – Dr Hook “A little bit more…”  Next I’ll put on my theme tune since October The Beatles “When I’m 64

The Philippines
I suppose all other news pales into insignificance in recent times when compared with the disaster in The Philippines. Like all storms it was selective and I have an acquaintance on Cebu who was in an area unaffected while the north of her island was flooded.

But as with all major emergencies there come the good guys –

In Santa Fe, in the north of the island of Leyte, MSF teams work hard distributing thousands of reconstruction kits for the residents there. "When we leave each place, we hear the sound of hammers on all sides. It sounds like a symphony of construction. Smiling people, from the rooftops, waving and shouting 'thank you'. The construction kits were an instant success. In minutes they were put to use, "said Ibrahim Younis emergency coordinator. (Photo: Florian Lems / MSF and Quirijn Dees / MSF)

I haven’t taken many photos recently.  Indeed there have been occasions where I have been caught outside without my camera on my shoulder!!  Fortunately the phone stood in on most of those occasions.  Sadly I can’t synch my phone to the computer so I have to e-mail each one I want off the phone.  I e-mail it as an attachment to myself.  Tedious.   I meant to ask Friend-and-son-in-law-who-loves-otters to sort it for me on Monday when he visited but forgot.  Bummer!  Must remember to ask Son-in-law-who-cooks on Sunday. 

Although we are having a quiet Christmas it’s is nice that we have had (or are having) visits from both Daughter-who-takes-photos and Food-loving-Daughter.   Meanwhile, Son-who-loves-films will be doing much of the cooking of the Christmas dinner.

David Coleman
David Coleman, British sports commentator and TV personality has died aged 87.  For many years he headed up BBC’s Grandstand programme.  Despite the fact that Formula One commentator Murray Walker made far many more bloopers than Coleman on live TV, 'Colemanballs' was a term coined by Private Eye magazine to describe verbal gaffes perpetrated by (usually British) sports commentators.   Here are five of my favourites.

“The front wheel crosses the finish line, closely followed by the back wheel.”

"And the line-up for the final of the women's 400 metres hurdles includes three Russians, two East Germans, a Pole, a Swede and a Frenchman."

“That’s the fastest time ever run – but it’s not as fast as the world record.”

“Both of the Villa scorers – Withe and Mortimer – were born in Liverpool as was the Villa manager Ron Saunders who was born in Birkenhead.”

“If that had gone in, it would have been a goal.”

 That may seem an unkind way to celebrate the life of a great man but I'm doing it with suitable humility and the knowledge that for every blooper of his he gave us many thousands of hours of brilliant entertainment.

I can hardly believe it but in the last hour or so I have got rid of a hundred or so e-mails from my in-box!  I am un-subscribing from all the folk who have, one way or another, got me onto their lists in recent years.  Hopefully it will result in having to trawl through a lot fewer to find the ones that matter.  So I am left with about ten that require personal replies – if you are one of those be assured I’m thinking of you; even if that is as far as it has got today.

Rumour has it the Festive Season is upon us.  Santa has been climbing up outside our house for a couple of weeks now but he hasn’t got very far.

I find it easier coming in the back door…

This year I have pinched an idea from Marcheline (if not the skill of it carrying out) and decorated the kitchen window which faces the front gate and road.

The tree has been up for a fortnight.

A few years ago Heather in Vermont sent us a Christmas tree ornament.  It joined the family ones that we have and which we put on as a special ceremony at the end of tree decorating.  (Though as it happens it was the first to be put on and therefore is not in this picture…)

Presents have gradually been wrapped and gone underneath the tree.  This one was opened early because I was advised I needed to do so.

It contained a tree decoration for me from Canadian Chickadee in Washington.  It’s delightful adding to our special ones.  

Every year we add a couple more ordinary ones – even though we have far too many because our tree is now only six feet tall and at one time we had a ten foot one to decorate!  This year we got a little Merry Christmas clock.

I’m not sure how tall this tree in Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral was but it was so dwarfed by the scale of the building that it seemed quite small.  (The bottom right hand corner shows you that the two men standing beneath the tree don’t even reach the bottom row of lights.)

An artificial star is pretty impressive when it shines indoors many dozens of feet above one.

I came out of the Cathedral that December evening to a delightful sunset over Liverpool.

The Conservatory
The conservatory roof that was damaged in the storm has now been repaired.  There was quite a lot of damage to be sorted and we are hoping that it will not let the rain in again.  It has yet to be out to the test – such rain as we have had has been little more than a drizzle.  But we’ve had some strong winds again.  And just as I write this it’s starting to rain heavily and we’ve had a flood warning – “with thunderstorms, torrential rain and damaging gale force winds”.  I wish the weather would leave us alone. 

Liverpool FC
I’m sure this will be of little interest to most of my blog readers but Suarez has signed a long-term contract with Liverpool Football Club.   

He celebrated by scoring two if Liverpool’s three goals against Cardiff City this afternoon and captaining the side not only to a 3-1 victory but to the top of the Premier League, despite Manchester City and Manchester United both winning their matches.  Unless Arsenal win this weekend they will be top at Christmas for the first time for many years.
 1        Liverpool FC       Played  17  Points  36
2        Manchester City FC        17    35
3        Arsenal FC        16    35
4        Chelsea FC        16    33
5        Everton FC        16    31
6        Newcastle United FC        17    30
7        Manchester United FC        17    28

Cafes and restaurants

Partner-who-loves-tea and I have started keeping notes about the local cafes and restaurants and visiting as many as possible to get an idea of which are the best.   I won’t bore you with all the details but we tend to make odd reminder notes in the crossword book as we play and have our coffee. My favourite so far was the note that read “It all began with the thumb in the foam of the alleged cappuccino and went downhill from there….”

May your Christmas run-up be uphill from here on…

Sunday 15 December 2013

Slava Groshev

 I like pictures of people reading, be they paintings, sketches or photographs.  This one is a painting by Slava Groshev.

41-year-old Russian Slava Groshev uses photographs to help create stunningly beautiful paintings of young women. Crisp, vibrant and sharp, Slava's figurative work is so realistic-looking that you could easily be fooled into thinking that he uses digital photography in its creation, but this is not the case. All his paintings are, in fact, created with the old-fashioned paint brush and not digital computer software.

Saturday 7 December 2013

Gales and Tides

Thursday was a horrendous day on The Wirral.  Gale force winds created a tidal surge that left a swathe of destruction across Wirral’s coastal towns today. Such was the power of the sea at noon that sections of railings and feet-thick concrete tide-breaks were ripped apart and the debris scattered across the promenade at Hoylake and Meols, forcing roads to be closed.  There was similar damage at West Kirby seafront, which was closed to traffic as flood water raced across the promenade taking several parked cars in its wake and smashing them against walls opposite the marine lake.  Six of the staff at Tanskey's restaurant on West Kirby promenade became trapped inside and the lifeboat was sent out to check they were OK.  One of the staff said “The cast iron benches outside, which are concreted into the ground, are floating past and a Volvo estate floated past earlier.”

The photos of the tidal damage are from the Wirral Globe.
The whole of the shopping mall at New Brighton was flooded.  This was the view of Morrisons from the Lifeboat Station on the opposite side of the ‘road’.

Residents at a new build flat block in Birkenhead, Merseyside, were forced to flee their homes after the roof was blown off.  A spokesman for Merseyside Police said: "The flat roof of a new build residential block was blown into the road, onto cars and into trees causing a large amount of damage.

The Morrisons store at the seaside resort's Marine Point retail park was forced to close amid widespread chaos.  Its delivery bay was submerged under three feet of water, trapping a truck in its tracks, and the ground floor of the store was flooded.  The flagship Morrisons store, is part of a new multi-million pound complex, which also boasts a Grosvenor Casino, a cinema and a Travelodge.  People staying at the Travelodge were trapped inside as the hotel was flooded and police cordoned off all roads leading to the seaside resort. Cars were left stranded after their owners couldn't get to them and there were even reports of a car being washed down the high street.  

Our conservatory began to creak and leak (in new places) and Partner-who-loves-tea and I went out for lunch to get away from it and to celebrate the end of her fast – she had a dental appointment first thing in the morning followed by routine fasting blood tests so a decent lunch was well-deserved.  We treated ourselves to poached salmon (PWLT) and roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (me) at the Seven Stars in Thornton Hough. 

From there we went to Hooton and as we wound through the lanes we were overtaken by a police car with its blues and twos going.  A few corners later we found out why.  A tree was down across the road.  It’s a good job we stayed on at the Seven Stars for PWLT to have some sticky toffee pudding or we might have been under that tree.

Photos from my mobile phone.

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