Monday, 16 December 2013

A Newspaper Sensation Game


Writing in the Rain News Headlines
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Icy Blasts Blowing in from the Arctic


The TV man said we have snow on the way
We have never had weather so cruel.
With roads full of ice lasting more than a day
Next thing they'll be rationing our fuel.

Last month saw reports of high tides and sea swells.
The highest for sixty odd years.
There were crumbling cliffs and we watched as they fell
Saw destruction, saw real people's tears.     

We've had rainfall as deep as when Noah was here,
We've had hurricanes, hailstones and more.
But it happens each year after year after year
So just what are the huge headlines for?

Our country has seasons. It’s not a surprise
That no two days are ever the same.
Weather fronts, isobars showing lows, showing highs
It's a newspaper sensation game.


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

A Special Number Day

Look at the date of today's blog post. It is:

11.12.13

How amazing is that and it's the last time this will ever happen during this Century. I feel inexplicably excited about it... sort of bubbly inside. Why am I so influenced by numbers? Goodness knows! There's no logical explanation but I know that I'm not the only one and so I'm offering 3 thoughts on the matter.

Why 3? That's easy...

Firstly I added up the individual numbers in today's date. 1 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 3. That comes to 9.

Secondly I added them up a different way. 11 + 12 +13. That comes to 36. Add those two numbers and you still get 9.

Thirdly the square root of 9 is 3. So here are my 3 thoughts on my fascination for numbers:

Number 1.  I love numbers that are consecutive, palindromic or, even better, all the same. If I park the car and the milometer is showing 8888 then I get excited.  It's not that I expect anything special to happen. It's just... well, it's just pleasing.

Number 2.  I try not to be influenced by lucky and unlucky numbers but it's not easy. There's something special about the date I was born. 25. It's got to be lucky... hasn't it? My friend lives in a flat that is number 12A and it sits between 12 and 14. A lot of people don't want to live in a number 13 property, it would seem.

Number 3.  I feel uneasy about the mystical aspect of Hebrew letters. Each letter of the Hebrew alphabet also has a numerical value. This gives words different layers of meaning and some people believe that the deeper meanings can be interpreted in a mystical way. I understand very little about it. Maybe that's why it makes me feel uneasy.

What are your thoughts about numbers? Do you have a lucky number, an unlucky number? Do number patterns excite you... inexplicably?


Sunday, 8 December 2013

A Wow Sunset


This photo doesn't do it justice. The whole house glowed a deep red, definitely one of those 'wow' moments. 

Isn't our world amazing!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Give thanks for the miracles...

This week we are in the middle of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. Chanukah is a time when we give thanks for the miracle that kept a light burning in the Temple for eight days, long after the oil should have been used up. This year the festival has coincided with the US Thanksgiving Day, and so today's blog is all about giving thanks... and about miracles.

I would like to give thanks for all the miracles that surround me. 

I can hear what you're saying! You're saying that miracles don't happen any more, not like they did in Biblical times. Well, that all depends on your definition of a miracle.

Charlie's favourite morning activity
For me a miracle is seeing the sun glistening on white-frost grass,

...the softness of Charlie's paw as she woke me with a stroke on my cheek,

...the way that Daughter and I often have the same thoughts.

OK, so these are not major miracles to match the great stories from the Bible but they are precious. They are things that I tend to take for granted and I shouldn't. I want to keep hold of all that awe and wonder from my childhood days.

So remove your 'taking it for granted' glasses, look around you and tell me what events of awe and wonder you can see.


I got the idea for this blog post while I was reading Inger's blog this morning. She is one of those lovely bloggers who I've got to know so well through exchanging blog comments. She lives in California and her blog is called Desert Canyon Living. Thanks Inger.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Learning how to research

The Heritage Lottery Funded project, Lives Behind the Stones, is moving on a pace. [I've explained more about the project here.] Last week we went to the Leicestershire and Rutland Records Office for our first training session. We are hoping to research some of the names on the stones in the oldest part of Leicester's Jewish Cemetery. We know that we will draw complete blanks with some of them but we are hoping to at least find out something of interest, though first of all we have to learn how to find our way around the myriad of resources in the Records Office.
The Leicestershire and Rutland Records Office
The office is an old Victorian School House, quite appropriate for the collection of so many historical documents. Jenny Moran, the Senior Archivist, gave us an introduction followed by a guided tour. The place is packed from floor to ceiling with scrolls, maps, photographs, letters, wills, not to mention shelf after shelf of books packed with names, addresses, jobs, the list is endless. It was a fascinating experience. We were even taken into the private area, where documents are stored at about 14 degrees to prevent damage, and the vast shelves are moved to and fro by means of a hand-controlled wheel.
Jenny Moran showing us one of many sets of shelving packed with documents
 I'm sure that Agatha Christie has used just such a setting for one of her mystery murders.
As Jenny said, there's always someone who can't resist turning the wheel to move the shelf
Jenny had laid out a number of fascinating documents for us to browse including the Synagogue's marriage register dating back to the 19th Century and a number of newspapers from wartime Leicester, a time when a lot of London Jews arrived in Leicester to escape the bombing.


For the second part of the morning we considered a selection of photographs of possible headstones for research and our brave volunteers launched enthusiastically into their work. 

Will they find out about exciting life stories and produce evidence of what life was like in early 20th Century Leicester? 

We hope so. Watch this space! 

Apologies if I have not visited your blog or been on Twitter this week. A young and very dear friend died suddenly on Monday and it has been a particularly difficult time.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

My 5 point supermarket survival plan

1.  I try to park close to a trolley park because I hate walking miles to return the trolley at the end of the shop.

2.  I do my best not to get lured into buying more than I need but I do get tempted by the cheeses. How can there be so many delicious cheeses in the world and what meanie invented cholesterol?



3.  I buy fresh fish. It's much tastier than those frozen lumps covered in breadcrumbs and today the fish man packed my haddock into a 'bake in the oven' bag with a lump of fennel butter. Yum!



4.  I set out with the intention of not piling my trolley up too high...


But


Whoops!



5.  And I always try to get someone else to unload the trolley for me. Thanks, Mr A :-)



Phew! Shopping all done for another week. Time for a cuppa.

What are your tips for a stress-free supermarket spree?




Tuesday, 5 November 2013

My Top 5 Positive Thoughts

Life has been so hectic the last few weeks that I keep having to take a deep breath to stop my brain from exploding. When I feel like this I turn to my collection of positive thoughts. Here are my current 5 favourites:

1.  Life is not about finding yourself. It's about creating yourself. 

2.  Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, as long as you remember to turn on the light.

3.  Negative thoughts will drain your energy, weigh you down, hold you back.    
     Positive thoughts will give you energy, lift you up, set you free.

4.  Don't worry about those who talk behind your back. They're behind you for a reason.

5.  When one door closes another door opens, so don't stare at that closed door or you'll not see the one that's opened up for you.

Have you got a favourite positive thought that gets you through your tough times?

Friday, 25 October 2013

Problems With Photography

Last month I blogged about our Heritage Lottery funded project to catalogue and research the headstones in our local cemetery. You can read more about it here. Thanks to all those who commented. Some of you asked for updates and so here is my first.

We’ve been photographing headstones - not as easy as it sounds. Some headstones slant. Some are subsiding. This is precarious work! Some cameras run out of battery half way through a session. Some people [ok, so it was only me!] are so out of condition that squatting down to photograph one stone after the next is more painful than a step-aerobics class.

Overgrown shrubbery posed yet more problems. The cemetery is surrounded by a huge old hedge with trees growing through the hedge and, in some places, hanging over the stones. Cameras had to be repeatedly discarded while we removed ivy from stones, lifted tree branches, pinned back bushes, covering ourselves in mud, leaves and unidentified insects. [Shudder!] But the main problem has been the weather.

I knew that the rain would be an issue so when we arrived at the cemetery on a clear, sunny autumn day we thought how perfect it was… until we started to photograph. The sun cast such heavy shadows across the marble headstones that our automatic cameras couldn’t cope, and when it came to photographing the shiny granite headstones, all we got were shots of the photographer reflected off the granite. So if anyone can forecast when the next dry, dull, not-too-cold day will be, I would be very grateful.

The photography is almost completed. I’ve booked two training sessions at the Records Office and we’ll soon be absorbed in researching some of the more obscure names that we’ve photographed. You can be sure there will be problems. It won’t be as easy as they make it look on the TV programme, ‘Who do you think you are’ but I could be wrong so watch this space. I’ll be blogging about it as the project proceeds, warts and all!


If you're local to Leicester and you'd like to join our group of volunteers then let me know in the comments below or email me at rosalind.kathryn @ gmail.com

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Prize Winners v. Food Banks

I have three blog ideas tumbling round my brain at the moment. The more I think about which one to choose, the more I find that the issues are linked and so I shall discuss them all and I wonder if you too will be ashamed of our society when you've had time to think about the disparity.

The Reith Lecture

Yesterday morning I listened to Grayson Perry's Reith Lecture on BBC Radio 4. If you missed it you can read the transcript here, although it loses something by not hearing the man himself with his fascinatingly quirky personality. It was a great example of how someone can 'cock a snoot' at the establishment so much more effectively from within but that isn't the issue I'm picking up on here. It's the fact that Perry's pottery once sold for whatever he could get for it. Now that he's a famous Turner Prize winner his works command vast sums of money.

The Booker Prize

Moving on to last night and the announcement of this year's Booker Prize winner, Eleanor Catton. The youngest ever winner at the age of 28, she was awarded a cheque for £50,000 for her book The Luminaries. I congratulate her but I also question the value and our use of money in today's society because my third issue is...

UK Food Banks

A headline in today's Independent Newspaper states, "Britain's Use of Food Banks Triples". Between April and September of this year the Trussell Trust distributed food to 355,985 people, including nearly 120,000 children. Until last year I knew nothing about Food Banks and was surprised to learn that a friend volunteers at her local Food Bank. She explained that people are given three days' worth of food. These are not society's drop-outs but people who are desperate to feed their families. Many of those who she helped were having money problems through no fault of their own. One had to wait for a payment cheque which had taken longer than usual to arrive. Another explained that his allowances had been changed which meant there was a gap in payments and, although the money would be back-dated, he had no savings to draw on.

The article in The Independent goes on to say that the Red Cross "announced it planned to distribute food aid to the needy in Britain this winter for the first time since the Second World War." What kind of society awards five and six figure sums to people who excel in the arts while vast numbers of people are struggling to feed themselves and their families?

How can we justify giving, with one hand, vast sums to successful individuals in the Arts world and, with the other hand, food parcels containing three days' worth of food to hungry families?

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Ey Up, Me Duck

This year National Dialect Day will take place in Devon from 18th to 20th October. I think I'm right in saying that the National Dialect Day is not so much concerned with the accent people have as the alternative words they use. I'm sure they have lots of amazing words in Devon but we have our fair share in Leicester too.

You only have to go down to Leicester Market to be addressed with 'Ey up, me duck' instead of 'Good morning, Sir.' And if you do anything to surprise the stall holder he's likely to respond with, 'Ooooya beauty!' or 'Ark at him!'

As I've lived in Leicester all my life I'm not too sure which colloquialisms are local to Leicester and which are in general use throughout the country. Is it just in Leicester that you say:

       'frit' when you're frightened

       'Charlie's dead' when you're petticoat's showing

       'The Oakey Man' for the Ice cream van

       'Don't mither me' for don't bother me

       'Jitty' for alleyway

If there are any Leicester people reading this, then please add to the list. I'm sure there must be many more local words.

If you're not from Leicester then what local dialect words do you have round your way?


Monday, 30 September 2013

Sur Le Pont: Half a Bridge and Half a Taste of Provence

This time last week we were in Avignon...


on a touring holiday of Provence...


which is a beautiful area of France...

The tour was called A Taste of Provence and that was what we were given.The itinerary covered more kilometres than I cared to count. Unfortunately this meant daily doses of sitting on a coach together with a group of over forty people.

Since Mr A's stem cell transplant this is not the best of environments for him. We opted out of the last two days and, while he sat around the hotel coughing and sneezing and generally feeling grot, I got to see a little more of Avignon than the tour itinerary had allocated.

He managed a slow stroll for Sunday lunch in Avignon's beautiful Place de l'Horloge. We sat in the leafy shade of a street cafĂ© and watched as the locals closed off the entire length of the main street, turning it into a fabulous bicycle race track.


After lunch children swarmed from all directions with an array of bikes and fancy helmets, followed by proud mothers, fathers, grandparents and babies in pushchairs. Each bike race was accompanied by a brass band ensemble and enthusiastic cheers from the crowd.


But this was no 'stroll in the park'. There was a pacemaker, the route was long and hard, with the number of laps increasing as the older children took to the track. No child was allowed to drop out, even those who fell off at the start of races [and there were many who did, especially among the younger groups]. Each child was lifted back onto their bikes and pushed off to rejoin the race. We all cheered really loudly for those peddling like crazy at the back.


You could tell from the atmosphere that everyone was having a thoroughly enjoyable Sunday afternoon but I couldn't help feeling that there was a serious side to it too. These children were being taught to 'stick at it' to 'not drop out' to 'push themselves to their limit' to 'work as a team'. It was a fascinating insight into the French cycle racing psyche and, although we were both disappointed at having to miss the last two days of our Provence tasters, we were pleased to have experienced an afternoon with the locals.

Mr A. is now well on the mend... but my throat feels just a tad... [coughs pathetically]

Monday, 16 September 2013

Lives Behind the Stones

With many thanks to the Heritage Lottery Team 

Several years ago I was fortunate enough to coordinate a Heritage Lottery funded project called Jewish Voices. It involved helping groups of local elderly people from Leicester's Jewish Community to record their memories. The work was fascinating but what made it extra special was that the memories, when gathered together into a book, told a story of demographic and social change in a provincial town during the 1940s and 50s. I hadn't expected the results to be so conclusive and I'm very proud of the book.

I recently submitted an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund [HLF] to run another project, very different but I'm hoping it'll produce just as exciting an outcome. Grant applications are long detailed affairs and I've spent far more hours than I care to count with my Deputy Project Leader, supported by a small but enthusiastic team, filling in forms and working out timetables and costs. It's been a long, nail-biting wait but...

*drum roll* 

Our application has now been approved by the HLF and so for the next year I'll be leading a team of volunteers as we record and catalogue all the headstones in Leicester's Jewish Cemetery. Part of the cemetery dates back to the early 1900s and is in a poor state of repair. We'll be recording all the inscriptions on the stones while they're still legible, creating a website for genealogical research, producing Interpretation Boards for visitors and, most excitingly of all, selecting a cross-section of names and conducting research at the local Records Office into the lives behind those names. This is why I've called the project 'Lives Behind the Stones'.

If you're local and you'd like to volunteer then let me know in the comments and I'll get in touch. Our volunteer list is growing and we're spending the next few weeks recruiting even more people [you can never have too many volunteers!] for one or all of the following:
  • digitally photographing headstones
  • inputting data onto a database
  • researching selected names [There will be a training session run by the Records Office for all those volunteering to do research.]

About the Heritage Lottery Fund  
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural tradition, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 35,000 projects with more than £5.3bn across the UK.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Atone (verb) making amends; Atonement (noun)

This week is a special time between the Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement. It’s a time for thinking about what we’ve done over the last year, thinking about what we should do over the coming year, thinking about those around us and about ourselves.


This scroll, which has been ‘doing the rounds’ on Facebook, expresses the sentiment so well that I thought I’d post it up here for Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, the most important day in the Jewish calendar. It is marked with a 25 hour fast and a day of prayers and begins at sunset tonight.

While I'm thanking those who have helped me...
I knew that if I blogged about that ‘Candy-Crush-related’ obsessive behaviour activity it would shame me into moving on and it has. Thanks to all those who commented. I haven’t quite uninstalled it… yet, but I have moved it to an obscure location on my ipad!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Candy Crush Anonymous

A few days ago a friend introduced me to Candy Crush. I downloaded the app thinking that I could play occasionally in those odd spare moments, like when you're waiting for the kettle to boil. I was wrong. I don't know how the programme writers do it but this game is genuinely addictive and should come with some sort of a health warning.

I can't even begin to explain how satisfying it is when you line up two special tiles [referred to as candies] and watch them explode across the screen because the more candies you destroy, the more likely you are to complete the level and I really want to get to that next level, and the next, and the next... There are, I believe, almost 500 levels. That's masses of 'playing-time' and far too many wasted hours.

To my surprise many of my friends have been playing Candy Crush for some time now. They tell me how they have reached levels in the hundreds. One friend is even on level 300-and-something. They all insist that they never pay for extra goes because here's the other clever thing about Candy Crush. As soon as they get you well and truly hooked they start restricting your access. I've just been told I have to wait 24 hours to try for the next level unless I would like to pay. It's only a small amount but, no, I would not like to pay. I have no intention of paying a  penny to Candy Crush. This is not the first time the game has invited me to pay for 'extra goes' or 'extra lives'. I'm quite sure that some people do pay. It's so easy. Just a click of the mouse. Those Candy Crush writers must be getting rich quick!

So what to do next? I will limit my playing time on the app but I can't bring myself to uninstall it which is what I know I should really do. So if I don't reply to your email/text/tweet/facebook comment then it might just be because I'm playing Candy Crush. If this is the case then I apologise.

Have you been tempted by Candy Crush? Are you addicted to some other game or have you [so far] managed to avoid all such temptations?

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Apple and Honey

It's that time of year again. Sunset tonight will be the start of the Jewish New Year. I mentioned in previous years' posts that apple and honey is a traditional food for this time of year as it represents the hope for a sweet and fruitful year ahead. I'm going to add a wish for a healthy as well as sweet and fruitful year for my family, friends and all the lovely people who visit this blog.

And if you've never tried it do slice up an apple as the sun sets this evening, dip it in some honey and you'll wonder why you don't eat it every day of the year. It's delicious. Enjoy!


Friday, 30 August 2013

Perceptions of nudity

Different cultures have different views of what is and isn’t acceptable regarding dress code. Most of the time I understand and accept these views but this week I’ve been troubled by a nude finger. In fact, I’ve been troubled by the fact that I’ve been troubled by a nude finger, but more of that later.

I’ve just started reading Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. The fiery Baptist Minister and his young family have been dropped into a tiny isolated village in Central Africa. The locals want to welcome them but the Minister is outraged by their nudity, picking out an unfortunate lady to preach his views at. In the words of his daughter, “…Her big long breasts lay flat on her chest like they’d been pressed down with an iron, but she did seem heedless of it…” The villagers didn’t speak a word of English yet that Minister left them in no doubt of his feelings regarding “…nakedness and the darkness of the soul…”

It’s all about perceptions. The story goes on to mention that the women of this tribe would never leave their homes without first covering their legs down to their ankles and yet their breasts remained uncovered and unnoticed… by the locals at least.

Here in the UK in the 21st century we’re used to religious dress codes. I certainly would never go to my Synagogue without wearing a skirt that was below-knee length and a top that covered my arms and front. It’s called ‘modest’ clothing and it can be easily explained and understood.

Not so easily explained are concerns over wearing night clothes outside the house. I still can’t watch Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy without squirming at Arthur Dent in his dressing gown. I don’t know why. He’s not showing anything untoward, but then my dressing gown is also perfectly decent, covering me from neck to ankle but I’d hate to be seen in public wearing it.

So now I’ve admitted that I have ‘dress-code’ issues but this week’s ‘nude finger episode’ came as a surprise even to me. Last weekend I had an arthritis flare-up. My fingers ballooned embedding my wedding ring firmly below the knuckle. I tried all the usual methods of freeing metal from finger but in the end decided to ‘sit it out’. On Tuesday morning I managed to ease the ring off but I now had a naked finger. Had it been winter I might have grabbed my woolly gloves. Instead I slipped surreptitiously into a local jewellery shop and bought the cheapest silver ring they had. The difference I felt as I emerged from that shop, ring on finger, is quite inexplicable.


Do you have any unusual dress-code issues?

Friday, 23 August 2013

A natural when it come to matching colours

It's not me who's a natural.  I'm hopeless! It's Mother Nature I'm talking about. You only have to look into my wardrobe to see that I haven't got a clue about colour schemes, and I can never remember what colour any of my clothes are when I'm shopping for new stuff. Even my black clothes don't match each other. Who'd have thought there were so many shades of black? But Mother Nature never has a problem matching her colours. She can even get orange and pink to go together.

She manages it delicately with this double begonia:


She adds a sprinkling of orange discreetly to this pink echinacea:


And she's bold and 'in yer face' with this dahlia:


The only way that I can be sure of wearing matching items is to have them all the same colour but again Mother Nature has out-styled me. How about this for a perfect blend of a single colour?


What colour schemes are hanging up in your wardrobe?


All the above photographs were taken this afternoon in our garden and yes it's still looking amazing thanks to Mr A's hard work!

Monday, 19 August 2013

A Woolly Dilemma

I used to knit most evenings but that was over twenty years ago. Last autumn I got the urge to knit once more but now I'm wondering which of the following sayings is correct.

It's like riding a bike
OR 
Practice makes perfect

I paid £50+ for chunky wool. This jacket was exactly what I needed for last year's chilly winter. The needles were huge. The wool was as thick as rope. My knitting created a monster that was as loopy as a dish cloth. I persevered. I sewed it up. I ironed it. I don't know why because it was obvious, even before I pinned it together, that this jacket would fit me plus at least another two large-sized ladies.


The jacket in the above photo is no more. I hid it away for many months and finally, with a heavy heart, forced myself to unpick and unravel each piece.

I have now bought a different jacket pattern and, after much discussion with the lady in our local knitting shop, Knit One, I'm using smaller needles to get rid of the loopy dishcloth effect but I needed to be sure that this was going to fit so I quickly knitted halfway up the back [causing my fingers much arthritic-related pain] and here is the result.


I think this time it might just fit me. I've decided that the most appropriate saying is, 

'If at first you don't succeed, try, try again' 

So now if you'll excuse me, I have some knitting to do because this jacket is exactly what I need for this year's chilly winter.


Monday, 12 August 2013

Lunch at Hedges Towers

"What do you mean you KNOW her?" my friend said. "You've never met her. How can she be a friend? What will you talk about?"

The friend who said these words has never been on Twitter, never blogged and doesn't understand how real friendships can grow via our computer screens...

...and, yes, you've possibly guessed the rest. I met up with Carol Hedges today and we talked non-stop for three hours. [We only had three hours as I was taking advantage of the cheap off-peak train fares. Train travel at normal rates is prohibitively expensive... even to meet a very good friend!] 

Visitors to Carol's highly entertaining blog will instantly recognise the car in this picture!


What's more, I've been inside it and here's the proof!


There's a beautifully laid out allotment just visible through the windscreen. We wandered over there and found a kind friend to take a photo of the two of us.


But we were still chatting even as the shutter clicked. 

We discovered lots of things we didn't know about each other, like the fact that I'm older than Carol... but only by one month! We talked about blogging, tweeting, writing and lots more besides. I had a lovely time and I'm sorry there aren't more photos. It's just that we were talking so much...



Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Freshest Pea and Mint Soup Ever

I'm struggling to keep up with our garden's production of vegetables this year. We did plan to sew seeds in succession but I suspect we forgot to tell the seeds. This morning we tried to ignore the rows of fattening French beans and the perfectly formed mange tout. Instead, Mr A harvested the last of the peas.


Some of them had gone over but here are the very last ones for 2013.


Next I searched the Internet and found a recipe for Pea and Mint Soup. You have to simmer spring onions (from the garden), cubed potatoes and garlic in vegetable stock for 15 minutes. You then add the peas and simmer for five minutes. Add chopped fresh mint (again from the garden), a squeeze or two of fresh lemon, a sprinkle of sugar and season to taste. 


At this point I have to admit, it didn't look too appetising but...


...a quick wizz it in the food processor and...

*roll of drums*

Two bowls of soup! Healthy, tasty and undeniably fresh. Most of it was still growing a few hours ago! 

Our conservatory table set for Mr A and his loving wife (that's me!) to enjoy the fruits of our labour




Sunday, 4 August 2013

Heat and Fences

Last Thursday was the hottest day of the year. It was also the day that Daughter and I decided to meet in London for lunch and a theatre matinee to see Fences at The Duchess Theatre. We are truly mistresses of timing.

Heat

We rendezvoused in a sauna-like Covent Garden determined not to let the heat spoil our day. Lunch was a sweltering affair with much wafting of fans and sipping of ice cold drinks. We feared that such a small theatre as The Duchess couldn’t possibly be air-conditioned. Thankfully we were wrong. The theatre was indeed tiny but it was also beautifully cool. The production was amazing but more of that below. This part is about being hot.

We emerged from The Duchess into a blast of heat and went in search of freshly squeezed fruit smoothies, idling our time through the steam of London’s rush hour. We had plenty of time before my train left for Leicester, but as we approached Covent Garden Tube Station the shutters came down to shouts of “Fire!” and “Evacuate the station!”

Traffic was at a standstill as two fire engines, their sirens blasting, edged their way past us to what we later discovered was a fire on one of the trains. We had no choice but to head for the Leicester Square Tube where a mass of sweaty bodies were also searching for alternative routes to the closed Piccadilly Line. After a tortuously long and airless journey I caught my train, with minutes to spare, in a disgusting state of overheating. [enough said!]

The next day the weather had cooled with cloud cover and a pleasant breeze. Yes, we were indeed mistresses of timing.


Fences

This was the best play I’ve seen in a long time. The main character, played by Lenny Henry, was angry and disappointed with what life had thrown at him in America’s South during the 1950s/60s. Overt racism was still evident in jobs, sport and all areas of life, even after integration, and many talented blacks never realised their potential. Henry’s character was superbly horrible taking out his frustrations and disappointments on all around him. More than once his wife, Tanya Moodie, had real tears coursing down her cheeks. [How does she do that once a day and twice on Thursdays?]

By the end of the production I had a lump of sobs lodged in the back of my throat. Was it because the play had been so good or had it touched me personally? I suspect it was both. I’ve never experienced the overt racism that formed the play’s central theme. My regrets are more personal. In my teens I thought I could do anything, change everything, make a mark on the world. Now I realise that I couldn’t, didn’t and won’t.

Do you have pangs of regret? Or is it just me?


Sunday, 28 July 2013

Butterflies are Back

They said that they were endangered but after the last few weeks of sunny weather our garden is once again full of flutter.

I photographed these three within ten minutes of each other and I almost added a Small Tortoiseshell to the collection but it was too quick for me.

A Peacock Butterfly soaking up the sun



A Gatekeeper on the window sill

A Small White fluttering its wings

What kind of butterflies are fluttering though your garden right now?

Thursday, 25 July 2013

I'm Hippie Shaking

Anyone who has visited my blog more than once will know how much I love nostalgia so where better for me to be today than over at the lovely Pauline Barclay's blog Scribbles!

Pauline's latest book, Storm Clouds Gathering, is set in the 1960s and so she's running a series of Hippie Shake features where guests are asked to remember what life was like in the 1960s. I didn't need asking twice!

So please pop over and visit us at The Hippie Shake with Rosalind Adam.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Cruising the Inner Hebrides + a Tweet Meet

Perhaps cruising is a tad pretentious. We were aboard a small converted fishing boat, ten passengers and four crew members. This is our boat called the Glen Massen.


Friends and family kept texting me with news of a heat wave in the UK but this did not materialise in the Inner Hebrides. Here is the view from our boat for much of the week.


We had rain and rough seas too. On one day the sea was so choppy the crew had to tie everything down. It was certainly an adventure! The holiday was made extra special by the amazing crew. I'll never know how Chef managed to conjure up three immaculately cooked meals each day in such a tiny galley kitchen [yes three! I have put on weight!] and he took great care to cater for my many food requests/fads.

The only way to get ashore was on a tender. This was great fun and when there were just a few of us on board the Engineer drove it as if it was a motor boat. You can just see the top of my head on the far side of the tender.



The sun emerged for the last day and, what a difference it made. In the words of our Captain, "These are the kind of views we should have been seeing all week."


And then on the way home we made a small detour and visited Anne Mackle [@cassam101] and her warm Scottish welcome made up for all those chilly days on the boat. This is us in her lovely garden.


The tour was organised by The Majestic Line and I can thoroughly recommend it. We were taken such good care of and the week was good fun in spite of the weather.