Saturday, December 31, 2011

...and a poem

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Alfred Lord Tennyson

God bless you all

A Happy New Year!

A bouquet for you!

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

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Oh the Varmint!

Oh the Varmint!

He’s got me again.  I was sure the days of that last hidden present to tease me were over.  MTL asked me to choose some earrings and he would collect them.  As usual there were lots of little gifts and MTL apologised for the messy wrapping as his fingers aren’t working properly yet and the earrings I had chosen in a lovely gold little parcel.  We both were given lovely presents which we don’t expect or deserve.  Gradually I cleared the wrapping paper, made a list of what from whom and dispersed the presents.

The next day I started to think about thank you letters and spotted two little parcels under the tree which I know weren’t there the night before: one scruffily wrapped and one similar to the beautiful wrapping from the jewellers.  The scruffy package contained a beautiful pair of pale pink fluffy long socks and the gold sparkly package contained a beautiful antique brooch.  I looked up to see MTL with a great big grin on his face.

Pat: “Didn’t they think it odd that you bought two presents?”
MTL: “No they think one’s for you and one for the girl friend!”

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Now where am I?

Don’t take any notice – I’m just talking to myself, checking I haven’t forgotten something.  I seem to have an extra day as I was convinced Christmas Day was Saturday and then thought I had all the time in the world.  It’s ridiculous really – just the two of us - what could it matter if it all goes pear-shaped?  Second wife syndrome?

The boned turkey looks quite harmless and the ham is safely boiled.  I’m trying out a new stuffing – mushrooms, shallots, bread crumbs, tarragon, marmalade and orange juice and I’m going to put port in the gravy.  Bacon on the breast and little sausages will give a bit of a kick, Vichy carrots – cooked with a bit of butter and sugar, a few sprouts and roasted parsnips which are already parboiled to be roasted with drizzles of honey.  Oh and as I can’t stuff the turkey I’m going to festoon it with orange and lemon slices.

I’m coming off the wagon for tomorrow at least - it's been a month - and let MTL choose the wine which I think will be champers.  We are not having a starter but we are having a delicious chocolate and cherry dessert.  We’ll have a light breakfast and then starve till one nanosecond after the Queen’s speech.  I hope Phillip recovers in time to be with the family.  I’ll bet he’s a terrible patient.

When I hear the carols in the morning I shall remember all those Christmases past and the absent ones and the ones still here but absent and I shall toast all my cyber friends – the ones who leave friendly messages and the ones who just lurk – I’ll be leaving a libation and a mince pie out just for you.

Friday, December 23, 2011

For anyone who feels -"Wish I was at home for Christmas."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

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Dogged is my middle name.

Mid morning I started to post four photos as Scarlet asked me to show the tree. I kept the words to a minimum as Picasa seems to have taken against them but it would not publish. So I tried the photos with just identifying numbers - 1,2,3 and 4. No dice! So I tried the four photos with no words and no numbers. Zilch!
Then I tried without Picasa just getting images from Dashboard but it never recognises my file names. Eventually I find the photos and then it all gets rather painful and makes me feel totally useless.

After lunch I gritted my teeth and have just managed to post one photo at a time - no names no numbers but hopefully the copy below will clarify.
Just had a surprise parcel of fishy delights: oak roast salmon, smoked salmon and gravalax. Yum yum. And a surprise bouquet from my help. Feeling a bit panicked so may be quiet for a while whilst I catch up. That usually ends up with me posting every day. You'll have to just bear with me.

For Scarlet
- whose tree is rather prettier. Christmas decorations are not my forte. They end up looking like the Queen Mum out on the razzle. Then I remember the garden - it's amazing what a bit of laurel , holly and ivy can do

#2Scarlet has a star I have my old faery queen

#3This is my favourite bit because the heat from the fire brings out the fragrance of the pine cones and makes the gold bits shiver and shimmer with delight

#4Our postie is a sweetie and never grumbles because I have covered the letter box.

Photos below - they won't post with copy.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

An Engaging Hour

Pat “I‘ve just seen a really interesting interview with Brian Blessed.”

MTL”Isn’t he a bit of a ham?”

I always felt there was more to the larger- than- life, rumbustious actor than appears on the surface and Fern Britton’s interview proved I was right. She is one of the best interviewers – inspiring trust in both the interviewee and the audience.

Unusually the interview took place in his shed in what appeared to be very large grounds. This was his cosy comfortable refuge where he could be utterly quiet, at peace and meditate. He was brought up in Yorkshire – the son of a miner and he gave a graphic account of his teen- age breakdown which moved me to tears.

Friends include Stephen Fry and Virginia McKenna who give affectionate descriptions of his persona. I kept expecting Kenneth Branagh to pop up as they worked together in films for years. He has an exceptional singing voice and had a great success in ‘Cats’. The children in the audience were encouraged to come up and mingle with the actors and when one little girl shyly answered “Yes” when Brian asked he if she had enjoyed the show - dressed in his gigantic pussy costume - her parents burst into tears. She had some condition which had inhibited speech and this was the first time she had spoken.

He has always been obsessed with Everest and risked life and limb to climb it. He managed to get an audience with the Dalai Lama, part of which is included in the programme and he later tells for the first time how the Dalai Lama told him of the forthcoming death of his brother and that he would be re- incarnated and live in Halifax, Canada. Further questioning from Fern elicited the information that Brian had found the child – without revealing their connection - and that he had been given the address from the Dalai Lama.

There are lots of interesting anecdotes – he himself is deeply spiritual and was able to help Colin Blakeley find his way when playing Jesus. He goes back to the dear old days when he was a police man in Z Cars and had me roaring with laughter at a story about John Hurt.

One of his daughters – also an actor - said she remembered as a child what a wonderful father he was – and sometimes ‘a pain’. I hoped we might see his wife who I remember as a beautiful actress but I think she probably values her privacy and who can blame her.

I hope I haven’t spoiled it for you as the whole interview can be seen on BBCi Player and presumably if you have a computer you can see it. Enjoy!

See photos below.

Brian Blessed

The Dalai Lama

Fern Britton
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Pampering or Maintenance?

“Don’t you pamper yourself?” Gina’s question gave me pause for thought. I was visiting her for the first time in her new salon and recognised the mixture of elation and terror that comes with starting one’s own business. Remembering the austerity of one’s youth and the enforced penny pinching whilst nursing and early marriage, it was only when I started making money modelling that I felt justified – indeed morally bound - to keep appearances in top notch condition.

Gina was suggesting I had a manicure whilst waiting for my hair to dry and I realised I hadn’t had a professional one since I left the S.E. decades ago. It was a no-brainer – my nails were not perfect and it would make both Gina and Sally the manicurist happy. I remember reading recently that American women take regular manicures as the norm- or was that just New Yorkers?

Manicures have moved on and I had sort of jellex polish applied which is meant to last for up to three weeks. With my record I reckoned 24 hours would be an achievement but so far it is looking good. The whole thing was pleasurable; Sally had very smooth white cushiony hands – very soothing to my bony ones. Each nail had about ten different things done to it and there was no tedious waiting for it to dry as there was a hand receptacle that dried in seconds. Just getting all the nails exactly the same length was an improvement and my years of massaging with Sally Hanson cuticle cream has paid off.

I’m impressed and seriously thinking of making it a regular habit. I discussed it with MTL and he thought it a good idea but what do you think

I chose a very pale pink – similar to the photo but my nails are now shorter.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Lasting Impression.

We don’t often get late night calls so I was a little concerned as I picked up the phone. A man’s voice answered my tentative “Hello.”

I remembered an ex- naval relative used to bellow:

“Identify yourself!” But I was always taught to give away no information except possibly the number until you know who you are speaking to.

His voice was cultured, mellifluous and vaguely familiar and suddenly I remembered a very tall slender man with a penchant for dotty sun hats and a unique Christian name. We first met R and his wife at Dubai airport en route for Delhi. They were a charming couple – older than us, and they helped to make our time in Rajasthan even more interesting. On our return we kept in touch and when they were visiting nearby we met them for lunch. Then I heard they had gone to live up north to be near their children. The last Christmas card had a new address of a retirement home.

R told me that his beloved wife became ill and when he could no longer look after her they both moved into a retirement home. They settled in quite happily and then after six months his wife had a stroke and died. R decided to stay on. Of course he misses his wife of over 60 years. He had just received my Christmas card and felt like a chat. He said he was very old and couldn’t remember things and I told him we had the same problems.

“I know we met in India but I can’t remember what you look like.” In fact we had exchanged photos but with all his changing circumstances over the last few years I wouldn’t expect him to hang on to photos of stray holiday acquaintances. All I could think of to jog his memory was that I was fair and not very tall. (5’3and a half after shrinkage.)

I certainly have good reason to remember R as he saved me from a very nasty accident. Visiting one of the temples quite early one morning I – with enormous optimism - went to step up from the rocky ground onto a platform in order to look through a window; I managed to get my foot on the platform then lost my balance and toppled backwards. I just had time to visualise a fractured skull with blood everywhere when I felt a steel- like brace at my back which halted the fall. R who was standing a little way away saw what was happening and with an incredibly fast reflex action had leapt to catch me. Others then gathered round and helped him gently steer me back onto terra rocky firma.

Where was MTL you may ask? He was on the other side of the temple and saw it all happen. From then on R was our knight in shining armour.

I told all this to R and he seemed pleased and somewhat comforted by the time we said good night and he knows he can always phone when he feels like a chat.

Below are a few random photos from our trip.

Details of the facade of the Taj Mahal

A young girl with her brass plate to collect animal dung for fuel

Gwalior Fort

A local boy.

Family fun on the terrace of the Taj

One of the temples

Workmen at the Taj

The locals were friendly. There were cranes below.
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Sunday, December 11, 2011

If David says so - it must be true!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Drink and I

First of all let me be clear: I don’t have a problem. I can take it or leave it and just at this moment in time I am choosing to leave it. For now. A week or so ago I had a bug which rendered me sans energy and appetite. After three days I got better and realised that for the first time for decades I had gone longer than 24 hours without a glass of wine. It seemed like an interesting experiment to continue for as long as it felt comfortable and see what effect it had both on my spirits and on my weight. I have difficulty keeping under 9 stone and a few pounds above that and it feels uncomfortable owing to small bones and a short torso. Eight and a half would be grand.

I didn’t want to miss the evening ritual – a relaxed drink before supper – so substituted Diet coke. (Flat D.C. is great, incidentally for Delhi Belly.)

As a child – at Sunday school I was a member of the Band of Hope – much to my Granddad’s amusement – him being a regular at The Rose and Crown, My first memory of sampling the demon drink was the end of our last term at grammar school. In the bowels of the cloakrooms we had discovered an unlocked cupboard which housed meters and had a faint gassy smell. Four of us girls would crouch in there at lunch time in the dark and discuss what we were going to do with our lives, boys and tell each other creepy stories; Edgar Allen Poe was a great favourite. Cider was our tipple - thank goodness we hadn’t got into smoking or I fear we’d have been blown sky high.

In the fifties with babies and little spare money we entertained friends with coffee and sandwiches. It was in the sixties the rot set in; we didn’t do drugs but it was the era of the dinner party. There would be quite stiff drinks as aperitifs, copious amounts of wine with the meal – each course of which would be laced with alcohol and followed by liqueurs and anything we fancied. Then we would drive home. Breathalysers were unheard of. Fortunately the roads were much quieter then.

In the seventies we became more health conscious and many of us stopped smoking and cut down on unhealthy foods and drink. Alcohol became more of a treat and I remember fondly visits to my friend’s farmhouse in the Dordogne. The mornings would be spent hard at work making the house liveable and then at lunchtime we would be treated to champagne cocktails and oysters.

In the eighties after my reunion with MTL there were some long evenings over a bottle of whisky as we caught up with 30 years of living and eventually I realised that spirits were not for me – I couldn’t take the headaches. So wine only was my tipple from then on. The amount would vary according to events and the company but then – after three separate leg fractures I took on board that alcohol inhibits the absorption of calcium and cut down further. So a glass a day is now the norm.

I’m not sure if I shall have a drink before Christmas – I’m not making any promises. It would be good to be more of an epicure and drink only excellent wine, modestly on special occasions. I asked MTL if he had noticed any difference since I cut out the alk. He said:

“You don’t stagger and fall over quite so much.”

That’s a joke!

The Days of Wine and Roses
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Monday, December 05, 2011

Just Words

I have been pondering Neologisms and inevitable Milton springs to mind. He was a blind Puritan who wrote Paradise Lost and incidentally created 630 new words. He would make an adjective from a verb such as stunning and was the first person to use space to mean outer space. Paradise Lost was originally ten books but in 1674 it was made into twelve books, or you may like to see the film: Paradise Lost is scheduled to be made into an action film in 2012, directed by Alex Provas and to be released sometime in 2013. Milton also made completely new words such as sensuous and pandemonium which segues quite nicely into the tale of two pandas: Sunshine and Sweetie.

These are two giant pandas – endangered species - which are on loan from China to Edinburgh Zoo for ten years. They are eight years old – a good age to have baby pandas. Both of them have reproduced before but with other partners. They arrived yesterday - flown by kilt- wearing pilots - to the accompaniment of bag-pipes and are presently settling into their new quarters. In a week or so the lucky Scottish people can visit them. They eat 4kg of bamboo daily and it will cost the Zoo £600,000 annually to keep them. Hopefully thousands of visitors will more than cover the cost.

Sunshine or Sweetie

Sweetie or Sunshine
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Saturday, December 03, 2011

Deanna Durbin - Happy Birthday Deanna - 90 today!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Phew! That’s better.

I was blind and could not see.

I was weak and could not walk.

Some paraphrasing, poetic license and general hamming it up but it wasn’t fun whilst it lasted. I had eight days relying on two pairs of old glasses – one reading and the other bifocals both two years out of date and pretty useless, but better than nothing. The wrong one was always to hand which meant constant running up and down stairs or just frantically searching everywhere. Yesterday I collected the up- to-date pair and now am happy.

Over the week-end some strange bug laid me low - unable to eat, blog or do anything apart from lie in bed sipping water. I immediately moved into another room and MTL stayed well. All back to normal now – whatever normal is at this age- except I haven’t had a snifter in days, have lost a smidgeon of weight and am wondering if I should remain abstinent and lose a bit more – what with Christmas coming on and all.

Continuing with being uber green – recycling etc - I have found that I have to squeeze the tea bags and dry them on the Aga to avoid wet mess in the food waste bin. Am I over doing it I wonder? Talking of bins- as I probably told you we were left with a double set of everything. They always imagine two families live here. Last week MTL put out the two large bins and when I went to bring them in there was only one.

What a cheek I thought - taking one of our bins without as much as a by-your-leave.

Ignoring MTL’s advice I rang the Council and spoke to a pleasant man who said as there were only two of us (family visits don’t count) we were only entitled to one bin – I actually knew that - but he did allow that it would have been more courteous to have told us. Later on MTL said

“By the way Sheila couldn’t get her car out – the bins were in the way so she moved them and we still have two.”

Against MTL’s advice I again rang the council – I couldn’t have the men berated for something they didn’t do. The pleasant man had gone to lunch but the secretary promised to tender my apologies. Now I await events.

More good news – the Australians are coming over in June which inspires me to get the drawing room fully functional again – it is bigger than the family room with lots of comfy seating and all the children are old enough not to run riot amongst the precious breakables.

In the town the other day I became a member of Blockbuster’s so we can rent films. I asked about “A week with Marilyn” and “The Deep Blue Sea” but apparently new films take about 3/12 before they are available. I spotted “Black Swan” but resisted taking it when I realised it had to be returned the next day. Obviously a certain amount of planning is required. Making time to watch extra stuff isn’t easy.

I still haven’t decided about a Kindle – the price is more attractive – I’m getting far too many books which take up space and with a Kindle I wouldn’t have to wait for them to come by post. Decisions decisions! Have a great week-end.


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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Oh Dear!