Sunday, 28 December 2008

ANOTHER CHRISTMAS IN THE BIN

Tell me why is it that we buy so much food at Christmas? As we were expecting 18 for lunch on Christmas Day I went into panic mode a couple of days before Christmas and hit the food shops with a vengeance. Consequently I have had to throw away enough food to feed a nation. I suppose that I should have been inventive and done artistic things with leftovers but quite honestly after catering for 18 I was knackered and have thoroughly enjoyed the “down time” OG and I have had since they all left.

Two of my darling grandsons slept over on Christmas Eve and left Boxing Day. It was such a joy to have them in the house again. My grandchildren and great grandchildren are my greatest pleasure.

On the run up to Christmas Vinnie, the chef grandson, had decided to shake himself out of “comfort mode” and duly handed in his notice with a plan to work in the French Alps for the season. Up until Boxing Day he had the plane ticket for 29th December but no job and no accommodation. I was more than a little perturbed, imagining him having to sleep rough in the snow.

On Boxing Day he received a call from a lady whose chef had just broken his ankle and was in need of a replacement chef urgently. She asked him to send a restaurant quality menu plan and this is what he sent,

Menu 1


Amuse Buche of French onion soup with parmesan crisp
***

Handmade chicken liver ravioli with lemon & thyme butter and pecorino
***

Whole roast leg of lamb with castelluccio lentils, cavolo nero and salsa verde
***

Individual chocolate fondant with homemade zabaglione ice cream and peanut brittles
***

Selection of local cheeses, fruit and homemade chutneys
***

Fresh coffee and a variety of teas



Menu 2


Seared tuna carpaccio with wasabe and pickled ginger
***

Risotto of red wine taleggio and parmesan
***

Braised then roasted pork belly with cod smoked under chillies,
cannellini bean puree and sautéed spinach
***

Caramelised Lemon tart with crème fraiche and purple figs with honey
***

Selection of local cheeses, fruit and homemade chutneys
***

Fresh coffee and a variety of teas

When I saw the menu I was even tempted to ask him to come and work for me! Wow!! I said “don’t you think these menus are a little fancy? I would have offered beef stew followed by rice pudding”. He looked at me, raised one eyebrow and smiled “I don’t think so Nan, take a look at what they offer their guests”.

He got the job! It’s a different world isn’t it? Good luck Vinnie. The world could now be your oyster.

And finally …. ham and eggs.....a day's work for a chicken, a lifetimes commitment for a pig

Thursday, 18 December 2008

THE PUZZLE TO END ALL PUZZLES


This conundrum was sent to me by my good friend DogLover. He adds :-

"The curious thing is that if you add up all the areas of the four parts they come to 0.5 less than the whole.

I.e. The whole covers 5 x 13 squares divided by 2 = 32.5, but the individual parts add up to 32.

I don't understand why. Is this something that leads to an explanation of the puzzle? If so, I can't see it!"


Is that weird or what?

Monday, 15 December 2008

THE HOMECOMINGS

The machines decided that they had had enough and demanded to be bought in out of the cold. – so in they came courtesy of OG (who nearly sustained a hernia in the process) and John . They are now happily ensconced in their rightful home in the newly refurbished laundry room, again courtesy of OG and John. I only hope that they appreciate them.



And our French family came home too, but their journey was far more troublesome than the machines’ journey (those machines have a charmed life).

The trauma started on a Paris motorway. They broke down and because entrapped in a typically French bureaucratic cock up. The garage sent to rescue them had not been informed they were on a motorway, which, apparently, is the jurisdiction of the Police. The Police did not arrive and the rescue service said that they were not authorised to ring them direct. After a long wait and another call to the original garage that WAS authorised to ring the Police they were finally rescued some four hours after first breaking down. The Police had responded to the original SOS but couldn’t find them so went back to their depot no doubt muttering “Stupid English”.

As the fault could not be immediately rectified they stayed in a hotel overnight and set off for Calais in a hire car the next morning, got caught in a traffic jam, dropped off the hire car and missed one sailing by 5 minutes. Next sailing was par for the course, a two-hour wait. The car hire companies in Dover had no suitable car available for the onward journey so, toting masses of luggage, they staggered onto a train, crossed London by taxi, staggered on to another train and OG met them at Peterborough some 40 hours after they had first set off.

One day to recover and, dropping the children off with us, they set off again in a hire van to collect all their personal possessions from Toulouse and (hopefully) car from Paris. What was that Labour Party slogan? “Things can only get better”?. Huhh!

It will be good to have them back in the bosom of the family again, safe and well and ready for Christmas.

In the meantime, following a CT scan, the oncologist said that one of OG's lymph glands could be slightly enlarged, but as it is within the “normal” range, albeit that it is at the top of the range, it need not necessarily be sinister. Another scan in March will enable him to look at the gland again and determine whether or not further treatment is called for. Fingers crossed.

And finally ….. Earth is the insane asylum for the universe

Thursday, 11 December 2008

WHEN I AM AN OLD WOMAN I SHALL WEAR PURPLE

My 15-year old grandson came across this poem on internet and said it’s me. I am extremely flattered and love him so much for recognising the rebel within. Rock on Ali, the rest of the world may not understand us, but at least we understand one another!

WARNING!

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other peoples' gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickles for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.by Jenny Joseph

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

MADONNA I AIN'T

This weekend we had FOUR little ones for a sleepover. They are great fun, but I had to put an end to fun when I heard

"Let's drag the matress onto the floor".

I peeked through the door there were two of the little darlings on the top bunk trying to haul the matress on the two rascals on the floor. A step too far!

"What are you doing?"

"Nothing"

"Well stop doing nothing".

All this at the top of my voice. OG wandered in to investigate and told me off.

"They're only playing"

"Playing! They are a tribe of vandels!

"OK, calm down, you just go and have a cup of coffee, I'll sort them out".

Are these the two most irritating phrases in the English language or what? Being told to calm down really sends me into hyperspace and the thought of OG "sorting them out" makes me hyperventilate.

Our "French" family come home this week. Their plans relied on selling their house here, not good timing in todays economic climate and now they have to return and regroup. I would like a £ for everytime OG and I had to do this. Every downturn led to more challenges and heartaches to overcome. There is no glory in struggle. But in hindsight it has all been fun, we have had great times both together and as a family and many, many more to come. The upside for me is to have them back again albeit for a short while until the house does sell.

And finally ......... when Madonna first moved to England she said she wanted to feel more English. She is now an unmarried, single mother with three children from different fathers, one of them black. Job done!

Monday, 1 December 2008

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES

Our great granddaughters slept over on Saturday night so I used them as an excuse to watch Mamma Mia on DVD. The girls and I have been to see it twice in the cinema so we pretty much know all the songs of pat. OG pulled faces when I suggested we put it on but he actually loved it (as I knew he would) and the girls and I sang and danced all the way through it. That's about as good as it gets isn't it?

Sunday was not such a good day. I fell and spent most of the afternoon at A&E. Luckily my ribs were not broken but they are very, very painful. It was so silly. On my way back from loading the washing machine in its temporary 17 month old home in the garage I twisted my foot on a small piece of gravel in the drive and over I went.

The charming doctor was very sympathetic and asked if we lived in a bungalow because so many old people are prone to falling down stairs. The bastard obviously hadn't realised that I’m only a 19 year old cowgirl inside, but as I have been reading a new self improvement book and was on my best behaviour I refrained from pointing this out to him. He then drivelled on that maybe I should consider getting a stair lift and I should, at least, take more care. Me! With my new Hollywood bedroom! How romantic is to go upstairs on a Stannah Stairlift. I think not!

Then, came the ultimate insult. Pointing to OG he said “whereas your husband, being a very fit, agile man with no spare weight, would not have hurt himself if he had fallen”. Full-marks to me for not decking the self-righteous misguided smug SOB.

Here is s photograph of my fit husband preparing the new home for the laundry machines and, I might add, not a day too soon!




And finally …… I'm not a complete idiot -- Some parts are just missing

Thursday, 27 November 2008

MAKE MY DAY




According to OG this years “must have” accessory is a screw gun. And as OG likes to be at the cutting edge of fashion he bought himself one. I had never heard of such a thing. I knew that when he was younger he had a licence for a nail gun, but a screw gun? That’s a new one to me. Apparently you load a belt of screws and then fire them at stuff, ideal for putting up plasterboard (or so he assures me).

Now I understand why he was gagging to do Phase 2 of the renovation himself. It has given him an excuse to buy all the latest in tool technology. I must admit that OG is a bit of a tool junky and at the moment he is being an extremely good citizen by desperately trying to keep the world economies afloat by buying power tools. Gordon Brown must be proud of him.

There is a darker side to this purchase though. My esteemed colleague Tanya is worried about leaving OG and me unsupervised with access to such a deadly weapon. I told her not to worry, poison is my weapon of choice!


And finally ….. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance

Saturday, 22 November 2008

OG HAS RE-DISCOVERED HIS MOJO



For one awful moment OG forgot that he had demolished the stairs. Having survived that shock he grabbed his hammer and bolster and battered hell out of the wall for giving him such a fright. Not to be outdone, the man in the iron mask then attemped to set fire to the whole house!

What are they doing? Extending the steel beam so that the pillars can be demolished to enlarge the sitting room and increase the upstairs area enabling one bedroom to be divided into two.

Onto more mundane things. Blog chatter about facebook replacing blogging! I had a bad experience with facebook this week. I clicked on an image sent to me by a "friend". As it happened it had not been sent by this "friend" but by some sad, mad git who spends time salivating in a dark room thinking up ways to screw up software and PC's.

Luckily I had expert help on hand and my man Robert dug me out of this viral hellhole. But be warned, don't click on any links, particularly photographs or videos unless you are 100% sure they are kosha. I can't believe that I actually did it myself because I am normally so aware of the dangers but for some reason facebook had lulled me into a false sense of security and a moment of madness.

I ranted and raged, vowing never to use facebook again. Lo and behold five minutes later found me on facebook complaining bitterly to a "friend" about the dreadful dangers lurking in this particular cyberspace! Mad or what? Replace blogging? I think not. Blogging is for sane, rational people like me and facebook is for idiots!

Must go now, I have to check out what's occurring on facebook.





Wednesday, 19 November 2008

ONWARD AND UPWARD!

Phase two of the renovation work has most decidedly started. This is where my stairs where yesterday. Now they are in the skip. The two pillars in the foreground are destined for the same fate. Ah!!










And for anyone that might be the least bit envious, this is where Castle Bitch has been doing her washing for the last 17 months!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

TAGGED AND MEMED

I was going to get myself organised this morning. OG has painted the six sets of IKEA drawers for our new “Hollywood bedroom” dressing room. They are too narrow for sweaters and I had been wondering what to put in them when it suddenly came to me. We have “acquired” various sets of gloves, scarves, neckties, etc over the years and I thought I would put my “small stuff” in the drawers on the left and OGs (where should apostrophe go?) “small stuff” in the drawers on the right. I know, I should get out more shouldn’t I?

While I was contemplating (procrastinating?) this enormous issue I went blogging and found that http://mothersplaceisinthewrong.blogspot.com/ has challenged me to divulge 7 things I plan to do before I die, 7 things I do now, 7 things I can’t do, 7 things that attract me to the opposite sex, 7 things I say most often and 7 celebrities I admire. Mmmm?

So, while I was contemplating (procrastinating?) this second enormous issue I went blogging again and found that http://sjanne.blogspot.com/ had also challenged me to fess up 6 “interesting” things about myself.

I know that its Sunday so is God telling me something? Does God only speak on Sunday? These are more enormous issues to contemplate aren’t they? Maybe…. No Ann, concentrate in the task in hand.

7 things I plan to do before I die

1. Love OG (aka Old Grumpy) to bits and tell him
2. Be kind and loving to my family, friends and colleagues
3. Live a full and interesting life until I’m 100+
4. Lead a more “spiritual” life
5. Learn from life (so far I don’t seem to have had much success with that one!)
6. Stop obsessing about small drawers and what to put in them
7. Stop being such an “expert” at things I know nothing about (like politics)
Now that one is the hardest!

7 things I do now

1. Love OG to bits and DON’T tell him
2. Procrastinate when something bores me
3. Jump to conclusions and don’t listen to others
4. Cook Sunday Lunch for any of the family that will put up with me
5. Drive like a man
6. Work like a dog
7. Cry like a woman

7 things I can’t do

1. Watch my family suffer emotionally, financially or any other way without wanting to “rescue” them (this gets me into BIG trouble – I’m told they need to make their own mistakes to learn – I say that’s total bullshit)
2. Pass by a baby without wanting to cuddle it
3. Admit I’m wrong
4. Sing
5. Dance
6. Sew
7. Decorate

7 things that attract me to the opposite sex

1. Strong, hairy hands and forearms
2. Charisma
3. Charm
4. Smiley, wrinkly eyes
5. Good body
6. Good mind
7. Good cook!

7 things I say most often

1. How many sales are on the board today?
2. It’s not in the bag until it’s in the bag
3. The “f” word
4. I’m tired
5. “Wow”
6. Love it!
7. Are you free for lunch on Saturday?

7 celebrities I admire

1. Michael Caine (not a lot of people know that!)
2. Churchill (a strange and gifted man and the only person to have a whole section to himself in the Nobel Museum in Stockholm)
3. Maggie Thatcher (ditto woman)
4. Princess Diana (flawed and vulnerable – a fascinating combination and a nightmare to live with.)
5. JFK (power personified)
6. David Beckham (he is massively rich and could do anything he wants, but still jumps through hoops to improve himself – my kind of guy!)
7. George Clooney (because he’s so gorgeous)

Now the most difficult part is to pass this on so I’ve decided to KISS (keep it simple, stupid) and pass on to 7 bloggers named in http://david-mcmahon.blogspot.com/ posts of the day which, incidentally, all make very good reading.

So I ask the following to name the “7 things” questions:

http://mushysmoochings.blogspot.com/2008/11/return-to-our-hide-out.html
http://crystaljigsaw.blogspot.com/2008/11/jigsaw-puzzle-part-1.html
http://rosecreekcottage-carol.blogspot.com/2008/11/just-ordinary-day.html
http://pinkwarmdry.blogspot.com/2008/11/love-and-everything-after-pt-ii.html
http://sarah-storms.blogspot.com/2008/11/food-family-and-forgiveness.html
http://houseoflime.blogspot.com/2008/11/slice-of-lime-spa-days.html
http://lisaschaos.com/well-ruffle-my-feathers/

Now to the 6 “interesting” thing about myself:

1. My grandsons’ (where does the apostrophe go?) friends call me “castle bitch” because I live in a big house and (presumably) I’m a bitch
2. My parents were affluent and I was privately educated
3. I spent the middle part of my life piss poor
4. I am now affluent again (hurray! I prefer it this way)
5. I am a tomboy
6. Inside I’m a perfectly formed 19 year old cowgirl (I know, I keep saying that, but you never know – one day? Who knows!)

And the 6 “interesting” things question I pass on to

http://slchome.blogspot.com/2008/11/thursday-thirteen-what-i-learned-from.html
http://365to42.blogspot.com/2008/11/coulrophobia.html
http://dailyphotoisleofman.blogspot.com/2008/11/can-you-see-berried-sunset.html
http://www.britgalusa.com/2008/11/skywatch-friday_13.html
http://tocelebratemylife.blogspot.com/2008/11/please-turn-that-thing-off.html
http://twoknightsandmaidens.blogspot.com/2008/11/sky-watch-friday-24.html

ENJOY! Now, if you don't mind, I had better get on with cooking lunch!

And finally ...... Word has crashed and I can't get to my "And finally..." list. Sad.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

A MATTER OF PERCEPTION

True conversation:

Youngster says “We have a gay in the family don’t we mummy”

Surprised mother “Do you know what that means?”

“It means when a man loves and man and a woman loves a woman”

“Not necessarily. I love my mummy and she’s a girl”

Youngster smiles knowingly “I know that! But you love Aunt xx don’t you?”

“Finish your breakfast and don’t be so silly”

And finally ....Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

CHICKEN LICKEN GOOD

This was sent to me by my friend who was raised in Arkadelphia , AR. It is the funniest thing. The picture and sound quality is not great and the accent is a little hard to understand , but stick with it. Trust me, it’s so funny.

video

And finally ......... Do you realize that in about 40 years we'll have millions of old ladies running around with tattoos? (And rap music will be the Golden Oldies!)

Thursday, 13 November 2008

DRESS DOWN DAY

We received the following permission from our marketing department today:

"If desired, you may dress down tomorrow for Children in Need for a fee of £2.00

Please note that this is purely optional."

The question is, would anyone notice if I dressed down? I think not!

And finally….. wrinkled was not one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

ANOTHER FABULOUS 40

Last Sunday was our daughter's 40th birthday. When I say "our" daughter I am referring to her proud "birth" parents (her mum and OG, as pictured below) and her "acquired" parents (James and mygoodself).


We had a great family gathering of 40 men, women, children and OG with our chef grandson rustling up the most wonderful cordon bluer meal that we had ever, ever had in our lives. Thanks a billion Vinnie and sorry for leaving you with the washing up!.
The children had their own "party" room and screechy things to blow (who bought them those? I'll kill them).



The party girl had her own party room. (She's the one that's missing because she took the photograh - bad planning girl)

The remainder of the assembled crew ate in the new kitchen/family room where they had immiediate and instant access to copious amounts of food and drink. (They weren't daft were they?)




This is the unusual cake.




And this is the unusual sight of OG's two wives getting rat assed together.




A pretty good time was had by all, culminating in a few tired bodies draping themselves around the living room to watch Lewis Hamilton win the F1 world title. Good day, or what?!
And finally ..... If you don't have a sense of humor, you probably don't have any sense at all

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

DUMBING DOWN

I love this extract from a book "Dumbing Down our Kids" by educator Charles Sykes in which he talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world. This would be his advice to children.

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2: The world doesn't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you sa ve the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF . Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.If you agree, pass it on.If you can read this -Thank a teacher!

This doesn't only apply to teenagers, I know a few adults that would do well to take note!

And finally ..... give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink all day.

Monday, 3 November 2008

GET MY READING GLASSES OUT FOR ME

There is a news item in the paper today about a Muslim police chief suing for being told to cook pork sausages and bacon. The article failed to mention why such an exaulted person would be expected to cook breakfast for his underlings anyway. I thought "this is a blatant misuse of human resources and typical of the kind of crazyness going on at the moment", or something like that. Then I scratched my head and thought "there must be something that I am not seeing here". There was - it is a story about a Muslim police chef!

As they say, retired? mmm - maybe: crazy? for sure.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

POLITICS AND BANKS - GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

I had lunch with a beautiful young friend this week. We have known each other for many years, in fact for a short while she lived with us and worked in the office.

We got to talking about life in general and the economic climate in particular. She is doing very well, as is her fiancée. A couple of years ago they took out a fixed term mortgage and now it was time to renegotiate.

“Honestly Ann, it’s crazy. Two years ago they we could have borrowed £230,000 but decided to buy a property that wouldn’t stretch the finances so much. Since then both our salaries have more than doubled but they are simply not interested in us”.

Here are a couple that are a cast iron certainty. They have worked hard to gain promotion, paid their mortgage for two years, and they can’t get a good deal. What is going on?

It is all very strange out there at the moment. You hear of the government giving out all this money, but our bank manager said the banks haven’t received anything yet. The spin-doctors would have us believe that the banks are now awash with money, but apparently they aren’t.
But I must say that it couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch of bankers. Unfortunately Joe Public is getting caught in the crossfire.

I hate political spin doctoring and bank double speak. It promotes fear and paranoia and that, I believe, is the reason things have gone so bad. It has been said that you get the politicians (and bankers?) you deserve. I dispute this statement because as a country I don’t believe that we deserve this shower of lying bastards.

As for blaming everything on the global credit crunch - OK that's happening, but if GB hadn't sold off our gold, raided our pension funds and taxed us all into oblivian to fund his inefficient, ineffective public services we would have been in a better position to withstand this economic crises.

Rant, rant, now I’m ready to launch myself at the day and God help anyone that upsets me. Watch out OG, here I come!!

And finally ….... The trouble with life is there's no background music

Thursday, 23 October 2008

WHAT DOES LOVE MEAN?

This was sent to my by my good friend Bernie. A group of professional people posed the question "what does love mean?" to 4 to 8 year-olds. The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

'When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore.So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love.' Rebecca- age 8

'When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.' Billy - age 4

'Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.' Karl - age 5

'Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.' Chrissie - age 6

'Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.' Terri - age 4

'Love is when my mummy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.' Danny - age 7

'Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more.My Mummy and Daddy are like that They look gross when they kiss' Emily - age 8

'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.' Bobby - age 7 (Wow!)

'If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate,' Nikka - age 6(we need a few million more Nikka's on this planet)

'Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.' Noelle - age 7

'Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.' Tommy - age 6

'During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling.He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.' Cindy - age 8

'My mummy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.' Clare - age 6

'Love is when Mummy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.' Elaine-age 5

'Love is when Mummy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.' Chris - age 7

'Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day' Mary Ann - age 4

'I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.' Lauren - age 4

'When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.' (what an image) Karen - age 7

'Love is when Mummy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross.' Mark - age 6

'You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.' Jessica - age 8

And the final one -- Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four-year old child whose next door neighbour was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's garden, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbour, the little boy said, 'Nothing, I just helped him cry'

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

CONSPIRICY OR COINCIDENCE?

Only hours after I posted my last blog who should rear his head above the parapet on the Andrew Marr Show? You got it, the glorious Lord Mandelson! http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00f1w9b.

And yesterday politics got a whole lot dirtier…! Could the fact that the "Auld Alliance" Mandy and Alistair Campbell are back at the heart of things again have anything to do with it? And at the centre of this latest scandle is a Rothschild. Mandy and Campbell are mere amateurs compared to the Rothschilds who have a very interesting history. Watch this space!

And finally …. a little insight into what retired people do all day:

Working people frequently ask retired people what they do to make their days interesting. Well, for example, the other day my wife and I went into town and went into a shop. We were only in there for about 5 minutes. When we came out, there was a cop writing out a parking ticket. We went up to him and said, 'Come on man, how about giving a senior citizen a break?' He ignored us and continued writing the ticket. I called him a Nazi turd. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn tyres. So my wife called him a shit-head. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket. This went on for about 20 minutes. The more we abused him, the more tickets he wrote. Personally, we didn't care. We came into town by bus. We try to have a little fun each day now that we're retired. It's important at our age.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

MMM! SWEET, CRUNCHY CREDIT

Where, oh where has Peter Benjamin Mandelson gone? The “prince of darkness”, former communist party member, founder of “new labour”, twice shamed, removed and about to be shamed again cabinet minister and now (God help us) Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, President of the Board of Trade and newly appointed Baron has been uncharacteristically quiet. (As an aside – not an MP but a cabinet minister? Is that constitutionally sound?)

Apart from his many personal claims to infamy he was the grandson of Herbert Morrison - a bigwig in the post war labour movement and eventually Baron Morrison of Lambeth. These socialists do love their titles don’t they?

I actually have respect for, and fear of, the man. He must be one of the most vilified politicians ever to survive and come back even stronger and I have a sneaking suspicion that he has the madness to turn this whole credit crunch/ recession/ depression (whatever) thing around and make Britain great again. I truly hope so. The alternative being that we are basically all fucked.

OG’s is feeling pretty good at the moment. His recent CT scan shows no obvious signs of cancer, and he will have another scan in 6 weeks to see if there is any change.

And finally …… some people are alive only because it's illegal to kill them.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

BEST BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

Our company (trade names infotel.co.uk, findmeaconference.com and findmeahotelroom.com) was short-listed for the South Lincs Business Awards in the “Best Technology” and “Business of the Year” categories. Last year we were the proud winners of the “Growing Business of the Year Award” and a runner up in the “Best Technology” section.

So …..all glossed up and bushy tailed we attended the "black tie" ceremony alongside the great and the good of the area, including our MP John Haynes. Our main competitor, a great self-publicist and dynamic young entrepreneur, is going places ”big time” (our MP was at his table!) and as we tend to be more self-effacing we doubted that we stood much of a chance against him.

But hey! Guess what? We won the “Best Business of the Year Award” and were again runner up in “Best Technology”. It gave us a great boost in these uncertain times.

To change the subject - did you know that Texans have a word "post-turtle"?. They call Sarah Palin a post-turtle.

It refers to a turtle balanced on a post. "You know she didn't get up there by herself, doesn't belong up there, she doesn't know what to do while she is up there and you just wonder what kinda dumb ass put her up there to begin with". I think that Gordon Brown is a post-turtle too.

And finally …… Don’t walk behind me, for I may not lead. Don’t walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Don’t walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the hell alone

Saturday, 4 October 2008

TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGED

Well, that’s that then. Last week OG and I prepared our Swiss apartment for it’s new owners. An era is over. After spending 8 luxurious years of enjoying our very own Swiss paradise we have come down to earth with a bump. Everything packed and sent back to England. That part of our life is now held together with duck tape and packed in a van.

Now there will be no more standing on our balcony looking at the man in the moon perched on top of the Petit Muvoron (that's the small pointy mountain on the right) gazing back down at US in amazement. No more contemplating the miracle of the night sky with billions of stars displaying their wondrously twinkling light show in the black firmament - just for us.



No more trips to the spa bath http://www.lavey-les-bains.ch/home.php?id=2 to revive my aching limbs in the Turkish bath; subject myself to a pounding aqua massage; drift peacefully on a "float" listening to classical music being piped underwater; allow my poor arthritic body to soak up the therapeutic natural mineral waters being pumped directly from the earth at "bath temperature" with the snow surreally falling on my head in temperatures of –2C (or less!); enjoy a tingly invigorating and spotlessly clean sauna; and finally regain my spirituality whilst relaxing to the soothing sounds of running water, bird songs and wind rustling the trees in the darkened "tranquillity" suite.

No more eating at fabulous Swiss restaurants, where the prices are reasonable, the food is out of this world, the view is to die for and the hospitality is second to none.

But on the upside we have no more daylong journey’s by car, plane, train and finally mountain bus which leave us exhausted and in bad spirits. No more "apartment or Swiss etiquette" to consider, like don’t flush the loo between the hours of 10pm and 7am because it will disturb the co-proprietors, don’t use the washing machine between the hours of 11am and 12am because this is when the Swiss are cooking their midday meal and washing machines may cause a dip in the power supply, don’t "lose it" and start screaming at OG because it may embarrass the neighbours.

So, is it good, is it bad? Now here I sit beside the French doors in my new "Hollywood" bedroom looking across the fens and writing my blog at my beautiful Swiss bureau and I don’t have to travel all day to get here or worry about screaming at OG whenever the mood takes me. We move on.

And finally…Duct tape is like 'The Force'. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGING


Sunday was the inauguration of our new kitchen. Not quite finished, but finished enough to have a big family gathering to celebrate our son-in-law’s 40th birthday. It is sooooo good to be able to spread out again.

We now have our Holywood bedroom with en-suite wet room and dressing room, two finished bedrooms that are waiting to have furniture moved back into them and another bathroom (thank goodness!) Now we can at last have guests without them having to use our en-suite bathroom.

Phase II is to refurbish our lounge (we will use the family area of the kitchen to live in) and convert our existing bedroom into two bedrooms with en-suite wet rooms. Sounds great doesn’t it until you remember that we are in the middle of the scariest economic situation that probably mankind has ever experience!

We have always been famous for buying at the top of the market and selling at the bottom. This could be our biggest boo boo of all times! A wonderfully refurbished home worth zilch! Ah well! At least we will be comfortable.

But back to the “garden party”. The weather behaved impeccably. Horrendous rain and freezing temperatures all week and miraculously on the day of the party it was sunny and warm. The children had a wonderful time together on the swings, slide and trampoline. They laughed and eat until they felt sick and then came back for more. Thankfully no-one was actually sick until the next day! But I think that little boy just wanted to pull a sickie from school!

One of our great grandaughters refused to go home, citing the fact that two of our grandsons were still here. Her sister said she really wanted to stay with OG and me and she shyly admitted that was the case. I was so chuffed. They really love the space in the house and now we have the room they can stay over more often again.

OG enjoyed himself so much he was even tempted back onto the roller blades. Hodavethoughtit!? He is feeling quite good now that the chemo has finished which is quite a relief because we are going to have to take a trip to Switzerland soon to move our stuff out of the apartment.

Here comes the birthday boy.


Don't touch the cake!

I thought I told you not to touch that cake.


The golden oldies.


Clouds can be so interesting

and...........OG in action


And finally …. A Birth Certificate shows that we were born, a Death Certificate shows that we died, pictures show that we lived!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

GOOD FUN

I thought this was good fun. I received it from a friend and was asked to personalise it and send out to my friends with a request to pass it back to me. I got some interesting replies. These are my answers.

1. What time did you get up this morning? 7am
2. Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Mamma Mia
4. What is your favorite TV show? Strictly Come Dancing
5. What do you usually have for breakfast? I never eat breakfast
6. What is your middle name? Valerie
7. What food do you dislike? Fish
8. What is your favorite CD at the moment? Eagles/Fleetwood Mac
9. What kind of car do you drive? Opal (joke,read blog)
10. Favorite sandwich? Spam, beetroot, mayo
11. What characteristic do you despise? Manipulation
12. Favorite item of clothing? Anything comfortable
13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? USA to see our friends
14. Are you an organized person? Sometimes
15. Where would you retire to? Home
16. Favorite birthday? My 100’th!
17. What are you going to do when you finish this? Prepare for a family "garden party"
18. Furthest place you are sending this? USA
19. Person you expect to send it back first? Jean
20. When is your birthday? 11th July
21. Morning person or a night person? Morning
22. What is your shoe size? 5
23. Pets? No (only OG!)
24. Exciting news you'd like to share with us? I’m twice betrothed (read the blog)
25. What did you want to be when you were little? A comptometer operator (they earned most money. That is comptometer, not computer!)
26. How are you today? Fine
27. What is your favorite flower? Rose
28. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? Today
29. What are you listening to right now? Glorious silence
30. What was the last thing you ate? Cheese & tom sandwich
31. Do you wish on stars? Yes, most definitely
32. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Bright pink
33. How is the weather right now? Sunny
4. Last person you spoke to on the phone? The blind man (as in man who fits them)
35. Favorite soft drink? Sprite
36. Favorite restaurant? Vinnie's (read the blog)
37. Hair color? Who knows!
38. What was your favorite toy as a child? A black baby doll
39. Summer or Winter? Summer
41. Chocolate or Vanilla? Both
42. Coffee or tea? Coffee
43. Do you want your friends to email you back? Yes
44. When was the last time you cried? Recently
45. What is under your bed? Carpet!
46. What did you do last night? Was proposed to by Rick Wakeman (read the blog). Actually it wasn't last night, it was Tuesday evening, but I'm still basking in the glory.

And finally…. Appreciate every single thing you have, especially your friends. Life is too short and friends are too few.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A BOOKSIGNING GROUPIE?





Last night Rick Wakeman asked me to marry him. Proof? Here it is.









Our friend Christine, the bookshop owner, was surprised that OG was not with me. I told her he wouldn’t enjoy book signings but she insisted that he would have enjoyed Rick Wakeman. I told her that he didn’t read autobiographies either. Double wammy, but she simply would not listen.

After an excellent evening listening to Rick’s anecdotes she thanked him and said how much she enjoyed the book. In fact she defied anyone NOT to enjoy it. Well, this was challenging. I announced from my front row seat.

“My husband wouldn’t enjoy it” She looked a little nonplussed

“I’m sure he would”

“No he wouldn’t, he’s a grumpy old man” (hence OG – old grumpy)

At this Rick chimes in “is that his empty seat beside you then?”

We were having great banter when up pipes a voice

“Watch her, she’s my mum and tonight she is going to get you to propose to her”

He laughed “Ha ha ha – I don’t think so. I can’t afford another failed marriage”

“Oh that all right, she's rich, she comes with her own money and a safe full of Kugerrands”

I could have throttled her. Any right-minded person would realise that my Kugerrands are not kept in a safe, they are in a safety deposit box in Switzerland!

Well I don’t know if it was the lure of the Kugerrands or my own abundant charms, whatever, he did propose and I have the proof.

I have been the very grateful recipient a new award from Strawberry Jam Anne. Thank you
so much Anne


I would like to pass this on to :-

is that me? how did THAT happen?

Dotty Nana

http://alcoholicdaze.blogspot.com/

Rural Villager

http://sandimcbride.blogspot.com/

Confessions of a rotten correspondent








Monday, 15 September 2008

MANAN’S BLOG BRAG

Our eldest grandson is a chef at The Three Horseshoes in Maddingley, Cambridge. If you are ever in the area call in and say Vinnie’s Nan sent you, I'm sure he would love to see you. It is an amazing restaurant which this weekend received a glowing review from the Weekend Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/sep/13/restaurants.

His boss trained at the River Café and apart from being a highly acclaimed chef himself, is also passionate about passing his skills on to his talented team. All chefs have a few days training at the River Café and then regularly go out with Richard on away day visits to sample the culinary delights of the great restaurants throughout the country.

A couple of weeks ago they went to http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/ in Islington, then on to http://www.lanima.co.uk/pg/contact.html in Old Street via a pub in Farringdon. Next month they go to California for 10 days. Nice work if you can get it.

Now I could go on about Vinnie all day. I may be biased but he is such a great guy and I’m not the only one that thinks so. The ladies go wild for him. He is 28 years old, extremely good-looking, sensitive, caring, not at all arrogant, a wonderful cook and a good housekeeper. In other words ladies a very eligible singleton who loves his Nan.

OK, here is an example of how much he loves me. I have two great passions - bananas and beetroot. Whenever he visits he bring me copious supplies. A couple of months ago I had a dreadful experience. The supermarkets ran out of pickled beetroot because of last year's wet summer. Mon dieu. Vinnie to the rescue. With his own fair hands he pickled beetroot harvested (do you harvest beetroot?) from his own garden and sent it over with my granddaughter this weekend. No greater love hath man than the love he has for his grandma.

And while I’m bragging I have another grandson, Morgan, who is headed for the big time too. He graduated from Edinburgh University with an MA(Hons) in economics, went to work for a year in the City of London, then on to Cambridge University for year where he graduated with an M.Phil, worked as an analyst for another year in the City while he waited for his placement on the RBS graduate programme.

This week he and 20 others on the programme are being flown to Edinburgh for a black tie dinner at which they will be introduced to the Chief Executive. (Wow!) Morgan is also single ladies although he is no good around the house and can’t cook. But one day he should have to where-with-all to “buy in” all the household help any future wife’s pretty little heart should desire. But more important, like Vinnie, he is an all round “Mr Nice Guy”.

I should also say that I am equally as proud of all the other children who are a great credit to the family. They are all caring, wonderful individuals and so good looking every last one of them but this particular blog is especially for the boys.

I sometime have to pinch myself to think that these two talented boys and all the other great children are of my bloodline.

And finally……….I believe that credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.

Monday, 8 September 2008

IS IT MIGRAINE OR MADNESS?

When OG has a migraine coming on he can sometimes become discombobulated and forget words. As soon as he suspects this is happening he tests himself by remembering certain things, like the children’s names, before taking a migraine tablet.

So … in the car on the way to the oncologist he blurts out “What’s the name of this car?”

Drat, I think, he’s got a migraine coming on. “Opal”.

“No it’s not” he said with attitude (bad attitude can be another sign of an impending migraine)

“OK, tone it down. Don’t get shirty with me.”

“I’m not, but I’m just telling you that it’s not an Opal”

“Well what is it then, smart ass?”

“I don’t know”

“Well you don’t know, and I don’t know so get off my case – hang on a minute I’ve just remembered it’s an Audi”

“I knew it wasn’t an Opal”

“Well, I was close. It’s got four letters and starts with a vowel”.

The visit to the oncologist was pretty much a mixed blessing. He said he was not going to continue with the chemo because it was knocking OG about too much for a very limited benefit.

The prognosis is that there was a 50% chance of the cancer returning and as the result of chemo this has been reduced to 45%. If the lymphatic system is affected it could return anywhere including the lungs and if cancer is in the pelvic region it would be inoperable. Pretty bleak news but in fairness this is what he has said all along.

We thought that being told the chemo was over would be a relief, but strangely enough it has left us with feelings of fear again. I guess while the chemo was being administered something was happening but now we are back to the waiting game.

He is having a CT scan on Thursday followed by an appointment with the oncologist on 17th October. We should then know more. Hopefully it will show that there is no cancer present or it maybe that a course of radiotherpay is recommended.

And finally …. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Friday, 5 September 2008

DR NO I PRESUME?

OG and I have been following the development of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN with interest and concern for many years.

So, if you hear a bump in the night between next Wednesday and Christmas it may be that the 10,000 scientists and engineers from 85 countries who have worked on it have been successful in discovering the “God particle”, re-creating the “big bang” or creating a black hole that will tear the Earth apart.

And, 19 years after the www was developed at CERN by Tim Berners Lee, a new super computing grid built to disseminate vast amounts of data to scientist world wide will make the internet obsolete.

So, as they say at CERN …. THE ADVENTURE BEGINS.

So, as I say in Lincolnshire ..... did we learn nothing from the Garden of Eden?

A brave new world? We shall see.

And finally ..... never test the depth of the water with both feet

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES

This time last year I had just returned from spending the summer in Switzerland where my two great granddaughters went to summer school and I was preparing for my Orient Express trip to Istanbul to be followed by a trip to New England in the fall.

OG and I had also been to Stockholm and Northern Ireland in the spring peppered with the odd visit to Scotland and several trips to Switzerland. In the middle of this manic travel schedule June 2007 saw the start of our house renovation project.

OG’s troubles started in July last year. He felt unwell and had a low groin pain. It was diagnosed as prostatitus and treated unsuccessfully with anti-biotic. By the time we went to America he was feeling gruesome and we had to return early.

One year later. OG was eventually diagnosed as having bladder cancer and is now several organs lighter and being treated with chemo, (well, he did say that he wanted to lose weight), travel is temporarily not an option, we are in the process of selling the Swiss apartment, and Phase I of our amazing renovation is nearing completion just as house prices slide.

Moral of the story? Be careful what you wish for and Carpe diem. Have a good day y'll.

And finally ... it's always darkest before dawn, so if you're going to steal your neighbour's newspaper, that's the time to do it.………….

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE TOO FAR?

There is a (denied) rumour that this PC Government has banned the world-famous Red Arrows from appearing at the 2012 London Olympics because they are deemed to be 'too British'? Organisers of the event say that their military background might be 'offensive' to other countries taking part in the Games.

The display team have performed at more than 4000 events worldwide, but the Department of Culture, Media and Sport have decreed that the display team is 'too militaristically British.' Red Arrows pilots were said to be 'outraged', as they had hoped to put on a truly world class display for the Games, something which had never been seen before.

Being axed from a British-based event for being 'too British' is an insult - they are a symbol of Britain and have been excellent ambassadors for British overseas trade, as they display their British-built Hawk aircraft all over the world.

They performed a short flypast in 2005 when the winning bid was announced, but their flypast at the Games was to have been truly spectacular. It is to be hoped that common sense prevails.

If these persistent rumours are true (and I have it on good authority from impeccable sources that they are) and you disagree with this decision, sign the petition on the link http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/RedArrows2012/?ref=redArrows2012 Forward this on to everyone you can. What the hell is this country coming to?

And finally ...............I Believe that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but, we are responsible for who we and our country has become.

Monday, 25 August 2008

GLASSES TO DIE FOR

We went to a classy wedding this weekend involving a stay over at a swish hotel. Unfortunately OG had chemo on Thursday and was feeling so ropey that all he saw of the hotel was the inside of the bedroom. When we got home I asked if he would like me to get him a McDonald meal so that he could get one of the free “to die for” Coca Cola glasses. I thought it might lift his spirits. It doesn’t take a lot to please us!

So off I trot to our local McD

“A double cheeseburger meal with diet coke please”

“We don’t do a cheeseburger meal, but if you order a cheeseburger with fries it’s cheaper anyway”

I couldn’t quite get my head around how a cheeseburger with fries was cheaper than a cheeseburger meal that they didn’t do, but I went along with that one without comment!

“OK, but do I get a glass with that?”

“No we’ve run out of glasses, and anyway they only come with the large meals”

“But I only came for the glass”

“Sorry, we’ve run out”

“So your advert is wrong, I can’t get a glass with a large meal”

“No, we’ve run out”

By this time a queue was forming behind me, people were getting restless.

“But that’s dishonest, I should get a glass as advertised”

“Sorry, we’ve run out, we tried other restaurants but they don’t have any either. We may have some tomorrow though”

“But surely your manager should arrange for anyone that qualifies to come back and pick up the glass tomorrow”

“Yes”

“Yes what?”

“He should have, I sorry”

If the girl had been cheeky or rude I could have got mad, but she was so sweet and there was a crowd gathering so I dropped the subject and ordered a double cheeseburger with fries. I must be getting soft in my old age.

Despite DogLover’s scepticism I attest to the fact that this is a true account, as is everything that I write (well almost everything)

And finally…..money will buy a fine dog but only kindness will make him wag his tail.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

WEIRD, OR WHAT?

From time to time (well, quite often actually) I find myself wondering why I bother to blog. It’s childish, I blab about private stuff, I sometimes cringe at the things I write and make a vow to stop. …and then something strikes me as sad, funny, peculiar, wonderful or just plain daft and there I go again, writing about it.

This morning I was in this mood. Stop it Ann, grow up, behave yourself and then I saw this saw this and here I go again.



I know, it’s only washing on a line. Nothing special or spectacular in that you may say but let me tell you that it’s 7 o’clock on a Sunday morning and what you can’t make out is that it’s pouring with rain. Now know that I could be considered the Queen of Weirdness but my neighbour pips me to post for that particular award. She always pegs her washing on the line very early in the morning, but ONLY if it’s raining. Am I missing something here?


And finally, the nicest thing about the future is it always starts tomorrow.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

A VERBAL VOMIT

I was having a rant in the car on the way to town. OG was sitting beside me very, very silent.

“Sorry, I'm going on a bit aren’t I but I had to get it off of my chest”

“When did you last blog?

“Oh, about a week ago I should think”

“Well for fuck sake get it out of your system on-line, not in this car”

“Fair enough, I’ll take it that you want me to shut up then?”

“You’re damn right I do”

"Well fuck you too"

I think that he would do well to remember that I am betrothed to Francesco!

And finally German beer cans, when finished with, are compressed and made into park benches.

They aren't use as such in Germany, since they are below the standard required by German law.

So the benches are exported to Russia. They go to Irkutsk in Siberia where they are used in public parks and streets.

However the weather is always too cold in Irkutsk for anyone to want to sit out in the open.

Just thought you should know. Roll on global warming, I say.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

A SANDWICH DAY

Yesterday was a strange day of three totally contrasting parts.

Part 1. Two little girls and I set up our new Wii and between us became totally frustrated and confused but in a companionable, amiable sort of way. Then the littlest girl went to the builders merchants with granddad and came back with chocolate. Chocolate = hyperactivity.

Part 2. Pre, during and post lunch was a descent into hell leaving me absolutely brain dead, so much so that granddad offered to take the girls out on another builders merchant run to give me peace.

Part 3. Having re-grouped and re-assembled my poor mind and body I summoned up the energy to go to town to collect the book my French family had bought for my birthday and attend the book signing ceremony and boy am I glad that I made the effort!



I have been a drooling, panting, pathetically adoring fan of this author for some years and the thought of meeting him in the flesh (as it where) was too good to miss. And he didn’t disappoint. He tells a good story and is soooooooo charming.
This is what he wrote in my book.



Can you read it? it says "To Ann, will you marry me? Francesco da Mosto". He then looked at me and with a twinkle in his eyes said "have a good time, ciao" because he knew that I would be lunching out on this inscription for the rest of my life!

And finally - money can't buy happiness - but somehow it's more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes than in a Kia.

Friday, 8 August 2008

EYE SPY

“I spy with my little eye something beginning with ch”

The little one doesn’t quite get the rules of this game, but hey, she is only 5.

“OK, ch – is it a Chair” “No”

Her sister chimes in “Is it in the car?” “No”

“Is it on a tree?” “No but it’s right near you now, now it’s gone”

We drive along a bit further.

“Can you see it now?” “No”

“Wow that’s really hard, I give in”

“So do I” says her sister.

She giggles “Shall I tell you?” “OK” “Chaffic lights”

Talking about traffic a man is stuck in a jam for 4 hours on the M1. Eventually he sees a guy walking along between the lines of cars towards him. "What's the hold-up?", he asks. "A ministerial Jag has been hijacked. They're holding Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and the minister for transport to ransom for £10 million, or they're threatening to set fire to them. We're collecting donations.""OK. How much is everyone else giving?""About a gallon!" Boom! Boom!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW

David McMahon on http://david-mcmahon.blogspot.com/ has asked the question "Which song brings you the best memories?" It has to be "I can see clearly now the rain has gone" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3KwpJUrgN4. My first marriage had broken up and life was pretty bad and then I me OG. The song seemed to say everything that I felt at the time.

FRENCH HEALTH CARE

Compare my “French family’s” health care schedule with OG’s. My SIL has arthritis and was feeling unwell and my daughter suspected that my grandson has a hernia. It was decided that a trip to the doctor was in order and this is how it went:

Thursday 07.45pm - Called doctor’s surgery for two appointments
Friday 10.45am - They both saw a doctor at the same time
Friday 11.30am – The doctor confirmed that my grandson probably does have a hernia and made an appointment for him to see the professor at a top children's hospital.
Friday 12.00pm - SIL had an X-ray taken which was handed to him
Friday 12.15pm - SIL’s bloods taken and results available on website at 4pm
Monday 09.00am – SIL has appointment to see doctor to discuss blood and X-Ray
results

My daughter than commented that although they had to pay, the experience was so different from the UK and she wonders how could we have got it so wrong? I know what she is talking about because it is the same in Switzerland. They don’t have any understanding of waiting lists. They simply don’t exist.

First let me say that although she had to pay she is saving a fortune by NOT having to pay a National Insurance contribution of 11% towards a “free” NHS. To this 11% a similar amount is payable by the employer. As a company the NI portion of our monthly PAYE cheque is higher than the IR contribution The amount that we pay is scandalous and the service that we get for it is 3rd world class.

In Switzerland it‘s compulsory for everyone to pay into a private health insurance scheme of their choice according to their means. People on low income don’t pay but have exactly the same health care as people who have paid into the scheme. There is a “one tier” system free at the point of delivery. You don’t have to “sign on” with a doctor. They work a free market system and you have choice in the practice you attend. For example you may prefer a GP that specialises in diabetes. This keeps the doctors on their toes and they have to give good service otherwise you vote with your feet.

Back to OG’s schedule. He was backward and forward to the GP from mid July to mid October when we had to cut short our visit to America because he was in so much pain. He was referred to a consultant who sodded around until 21st December when he confirmed OG had bladder cancer, referred him to a surgeon who also sodded around until 18th March and finally operated on him. By this time the cancer had travelled into his prostrate and two of the six lymph nodes examined.

Then there was the post-op farce. He was scheduled to see the Uri-Oncological Nurse Practitioner for 6 to 8 consecutive weeks. On week 3 OG was not well enough to travel the 150 mile round trip and we cancelled the appointment. This was on 14th April. The following week another appointment was set for 27th JULY! We tried to get an earlier date but were jerked around so much and finally gave up trying.

Throughout all this OG has been experiencing problems with his bowels and would like to know if this is usual following this operation or is it something that needs attention. The GP wrote to the surgeon to get him an appointment. He didn’t get a reply. The chemo nurse rang the surgeon’s secretary to get him an appointment and he still didn’t reply. The chemo nurse then told the oncologist and he finally got OG an appointment to see the surgeon next Monday. It’s all a total nightmare.

And do you know the scariest thing about this? OG has private health insurance and has probably been treated better than he would if he were a NHS patient!

Friday, 1 August 2008

A DISREPUTABLE HOUSE OF COMMONS

I know that I bang on a bit, but this is what I read on Valleys Mams blog recently http://merchmerthyr.blogspot.com/

"Can you imagine working for a company that has a little more than 600 employees and has the following employee statistics .

29 have been accused of spouse abuse
7 have been arrested for fraud9 have been accused of writing bad cheques
17 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses
3 have done time for assault
71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
14 have been arrested on drug-related charges
8 have been arrested for shoplifting
21 are currently defendants in lawsuits
84 have been arrested for drink driving in the last yearWhich organisation is this ?

It's the 635 members of the House of Commons, the same group that cranks out hundreds of new laws each year designed to keep the rest of us in line.What a bunch we have running our country - it says it all.And just to top all that they probably have the best 'corporate' pension scheme in the country "

And as a direct result of THAT, THIS is what happens, and I quote from my delightful lunch companion:

"Yesterday a Peterborough Council van turns up at my factory. From this small van emerged man mountain in his hi-vis jacket (part of which had been hanging out of the door of the van). He asked to see the blue bin we use for recyclable waste, inspected it, said it needed a micro-chip, got back into his van (again shuting the door with the the hi-vis vest still sticking out !!!) and with a "I need to go and find a drill so I can fit the micro-chip it needs" drove off into the vast blue yonder.

More than 24 hours later he hasn't returned - obviously still driving round trying to find the drill (or another MacDonalds snack???)

My first comment - "I want his job"!!!! Or should it be "Let's look at our council tax bills" 'cos that has just cost us a packet!!!! My next comment "I micro-chip my pets so I can a) find them if they wander off or b)take them abroad with me."

As I don't anticipate that my battered blue bin will go walk about without my permission because I already have it well trained and I sure as hell don't intend taking it with me on holiday (it's hard enough getting an average size suitcase through security let alone a 550k council blue recycling bin and anyway, the bin says it doesn't do sun very well and wants a stayloday this year to count towards its carbon footprint), what the hell was that all about?

So, you criminal morons, sort out the mess before we sort you out.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

SUNDAY ROAST AND LOVE

This is my Sunday. The weather is fine and warm and I am sitting with my French doors open enjoying the sunshine while I blog. The lunch is cooking away in the kitchen and smells wonderful. Today we have chicken, sage and onion stuffing, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and YORKSHIRE PUDDING. I know, Yorkshire pudding doesn’t go with chicken, but hey, we like it so we have it every week. For pudding we have home made rice pudding (for my grandson) and shop bought vanilla and chocolate cheesecake (for our daughter).

On the stroke of 1.00 pm our daughter, SIL and two of our grandsons will arrive, full of stories about the amazing holiday they just had. Because we have such a large family we operate a “Sunday Lunch Rota”. Occasionally we will even have a mass get together, but that takes some organising and can only happen when we are all feeling very energetic. One of the reasons for the big renovation programme was to extend our kitchen so that we could all be together in one room now and again! God is in his heaven and all’s well with the world.


http://sandimcbride.blogspot.com/ has given me this lovely award:







Here are the rules for this: The rules: SHARE THE LOVE!!! Share this award with all those blogs out there that you love. All the people who make you smile. All those that make you laugh. All those that make your day. All those that leave uplifting comments on your blog. **All I ask, is that you include a link to this post with the award and ask your recipient to do the same** Visit (Memoirs of a Mommy)for the awesome story behind this award.


Thank you so much Sandi. I will have to think about this. I have so many people I want to share the love with and during the week I will name them and invite them to come over and pick it up. Now, I have to get on with the cooking otherwise I will not be the one that is loved!

Saturday, 26 July 2008

GORDON THE BARBARIAN

You will be given a scenario, at the end you will be faced with a dilemma. You will be given 2 options, you may NOT make up any 3rd option.

You are in a town where there is a flood of biblical proportions. You are a photographer hoping to take some real career-enhancing pictures to sell to the newspapers.You see a man swept away into the current. He is obviously on the point of drowning. AS you step a bit closer to the edge of the raging torrent and you see that it is Gordon Brown. You have time to either save him, or take a Pulitzer Prize-winning picture of him drowning.Your dilemma:

Should you a) use a high contrast colour film or b) go for the gritty traditionalism of black and white?

I know, this is in very poor taste isn't it, but it made me laugh. Tell me, is Gordon Brown the most unpopular PM we have ever had? I think so! And how much longer can he continue to hang on to his job?

But enough of that. It is an unusually glorious day today and OG has been pottery around clearing up after the builders. Our “holywood bedroom” carpets are being fitted on Monday and our “holywood bedroom” curtains the following Monday. So in just over a week OG and I can rattle around in our posh room, open one or both sets of our posh French doors, shower in our posh wet room or bathe in our posh bath and pretend that we are not the bricklayer or typist that we once were.

All that is left to complete the renovation now is fit the kitcnen units, give the kitchen another coat of paint, fit the stair treads and banister, give the two downstairs bedrooms another coat of paint and bob's your uncle, we are there! Any bets on it not being finished this side of Christmas?

OG is not feeling too bad at the moment. Following the blood transfusion and now that the chemo strength has been reduced by 25% his is beginning to bounce back a bit. However, having said that there are some days when he is totally wiped out because he has overdone things, but “one day at a time” things are on the up.

We had a visit to the oncologist yesterday and he is planning on extending the chemo for at least one, possibly two, months. This would bring us to mid September so no mad parties or extended trips in the foreseeable future!

Thankfully, his eyesight has returned to normal, so that’s a tremendous blessing. Thank you to everyone that is praying for him. I like to believe that it is working, although I know that some of our family and friends prefer to believe that prayer is a pretty useless activity. All I can say is - let’s pray for them!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

THEY WALK AMOUNG US, MANY ARE IN RETAIL, THEY REPRODUCE AND WORSE – THEY VOTE!

“That will be £2.41” She stuck her hand out for the money
I handed over a £5 note and said “I’ll give you the odd 41p in change”
“That’s alright, we’ve got plenty of change”
"But I would rather I gave you the .41p"
"I've rung it up now"
"But I don't want more change"
"I't only £2.59 in change
“No, what I mean is I have a purse full of change that I want to get rid of ”
“Well I've rung it up now” she repeated as she shoved the change at me.

It must have been that woman’s lucky day. She doesn’t know how close I came to leaping over her wretched counter and throttling her. Instead I graciously took the change and smiled. Whatever!

This experience reminded me of something my dear lunch friend emailed me some time ago. These examples of this manic type of behaviour are Americans which proves that this problem is global:-

I was at the checkout of a K-Mart. The clerk rang up $46.64 charge. I gave her a fifty-dollar bill. She gave me back $46.64. I gave the money back to her and told her that she had made a mistake in MY favour. She became indignant and informed me she was educated and knew what she was doing, and returned the money again. I gave her the money back. Same scenario! I departed the store with the $46.64.

They Walk Among Us

I walked into a Starbucks with a buy-one-get- one-free coupon for a GrandeLatte. I handed it to the girl and she looked over at a little chalkboard that said "buy one-get one free." "They're already buy-one- get-one-free, "she said, "so I guess they're both free". She handed me my free Lattes and I walked out the door.

They Walk Among Us!

One day I was walking down the beach with some Friends when one of them shouted, "Look at that dead bird!" Someone looked up at the sky and said,"Where?"

They Walk Among Us!

While looking at a house, my brother asked the real estate agent which direction was north because, he explained, he didn't want the sun waking him up every morning. She asked, "Does the sun rise in the North?" When my brother explained that the sun rises in the East, and has for sometime, she shook her head and said, "Oh I don't keep up with all that stuff."

They Walk Among Us!!

I used to work in technical support for a 24/7 call center. One day I got a call from an individual who asked what hours the call centre was open. I told him, "The number you dialed is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." He responded, "Is that Eastern or Pacific time?" Wanting to end the call quickly, I said, "Uh, Pacific."

They Walk Among Us!

My sister has a life saving tool in her car designed to cut through a seatbelt if she gets trapped. She keeps it in the trunk.

They Walk Among Us!

My friends and I were on a beer run and noticed that the cases were discounted 10%. Since it was a big party, we bought 2 cases. The cashier multiplied 2 times 10% and gave us a 20% discount.

They Walk Among Us!

I couldn't find my luggage at the airport baggage area, so I went to the lost luggage office and told the woman there that my bags never showed up.She smiled and told me not to worry because she was a trained professional and I was in good hands. "Now," she asked me, has your plane arrived yet?"

They Walk Among Us!

While working at a pizza parlor I observed a man ordering a small pizza to go. He appeared to be alone and the cook asked him if he would like it cut into 4 pieces or 6. He thought about it for some time before responding."Just cut it into 4 pieces; I don't think I'm hungry enough to eat 6 pieces."

Yep, They Walk Among Us! They Walk Among Us,and they Reproduce,and Worst of all.....they Vote!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

POLICING THE PROBLEM

Two things struck me this week. First thing was that New York used to be one of the most dangerous and violent cities in the world, not any more though! We were there last autumn and it felt very safe whereas London feels very unsafe. So what happened? I’ll tell you what happened - zero tolerance and good policing is what happened. In NY there is a very, very high police presence. They rule the streets with serious hardware and aren’t going to take prisoners. But, strangely enough, that doesn’t feel threatening in fact it feels safe. In London you are lucky to see a policeman, the nutters rule the streets and it’s all very scary.

The second thing that struck me this week is that there was a time when we had zero tolerance here too. But we did it “our way”, very British but very effective. Now instead of good old-fashioned PC Plod who wasn’t afraid to clip a kid around the ears and send him packing if he stepped out of line we have no-go areas where police don’t patrol in case it incites rioting! OK, times move on, but for goodness sake we should still be able to rule by law not by violence and intimidation.

I have often had conversations with OG about the rowdiness of our local market town where you see mobs of drunken youths, spitting and fighting on a Saturday night. And when you read the local paper it is always the same few scumbags committing the crimes. These characters are habitual offenders, well known to the police and yet they still walk the streets. Why?

Well, halleluiah, guess what? Roger Baker the Chief Constable of Essex thinks the same. At his first press conference three years ago he warned, “If you are planning on committing crime in Essex, bring a toothbrush because you won’t be going home”.

Where other forces are closing 24-hour stations, he is opening more. Instead of simply handing out a crime number he insistes that anyone reporting a crime is visited. In his first year he moved 220 desk-bound officers back on to the beat and has pledged an extra 600 within 5 years. And he is doing this by making savings, it won’t cost the tax payer a penny.

And this is the real genius of the man. In January he launched Operation Leopard on the Three-Four Estate in Vange, near Basildon. The development of Thirties terraces ad Sixties flats was plagued by vandalism, open drug use and marauding youths intimidating the residents (much like our local market town).

The strategy was simple but ingenious. First, police asked residents who was causing the problems and identified a hard core of only 15 troublemakers.

A team of three special surveillance officers with neighbourhood and Community Support Officers then followed these yobs everywhere. They knocked on their doors in the morning to inform them they would be watched that day and stalked them for 16 hours a day for three weeks. They also videoed them. At first the targeted troublemakers thought it a bit of a joke. Then they complained it was intrusive. In the end, they were worn down.

Before Operation Leopard, more than 20 crimes a week were being committed in the Vange area with the Three-Four a hotspot. The police team carried out 60 spot-checks and arrested four people for offences including cocaine possession and assaulting a police officer.
Crime levels went from a spike to zero.

Six months on they are still “incredible low”. One lady on the estate said “it was pure bliss, it was miserable living here before. You were constantly looking out of the window to see if your car was being vandalised. There were youngsters hanging around in groups causing a nuisance. They would think it was really funny to spit at you. There was graffiti and vandalism, kids openly smoking joints or skulking about with their hoods up so you can’t see their faces. It was very intimidating. I wouldn’t walk my dog in the evening by myself and I would think twice about it in the day. But for the whole week that there was this police presence it was wonderful.

Operation Leopard is now being developed for trouble spots throughout the entire country. The problem is that you just know the PC / Health & Safety loony brigade will strongly object, down will descend the fog of lunacy and instead of embracing and expanding something that really works it will be scaled down until it has become totally impotent.
OK, you could wonder if the 15 trouble-makers simply moved the problem to the next town. I’m sure they did, but if we keep chasing them down they will either stop or go to prison. We are not talking about big numbers here. And I would hazard a guess that the numbers are quite small in every community. Lets hunt the buggers down and win back the streets.