Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

Well, it's the last day of 2006 and the New Year is hoving into view. Of course it is, I've just got used to writing 2006 on cheques, etc and now I'll have to make myself remember to write 2007 instead.

Christmas wasn't bad at all although it was much quieter than originally expected. The family gathering on Christmas Eve was cancelled due to family illness, although I saw my mother a couple of days before that. Instead we went to see the Husband's sister and her family and his parents a couple of days after Christmas instead, when everyone was feeling a lot more relaxed, much better.

I think that I've made a rod for my own back as I gave ther Husband an iPod for Christmas. So I've been hardly able to get near the computer as he is having a wonderful time adding music from some of his huge library of CDs. Still, he's enjoying himself and I hope that the iPod soon becomes an everyday item to him.

I hope that all my friends had a wonderful Christmas.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Chrstmas is coming - and I'm running around like a blue***** fly

Like most woment at this time of the year I am incredibly busy at the moment preparing for the festive season to come. The whole thing will start tomorrow when I go to Wales to see my mother. Then Sunday, after all the usual frantic last minute shopping of vegetables and fruit etc, the Husband's family is coming to us for the day. We've just discovered last evening that more of them are coming than we originally thought. So in a few minutes we are off out for more food.

Christmas Day will be the four of us until mid-afternoon, after the Christmas meal, and then the Stepson will be off to his mother for a few days. I hope the Stepdaughter will stay the rest of the day with us but on Boxing Day she will probably be off to see some of her friends. The Husband has also invited all his family over here for New Years Eve but that hasn't been fully agreed yet. Some time between Chrstmas and the New Year I'll probably make another visit to Cardiff.

So, that is what we are up to and why I'm not around much at the moment. Probably most people are doing similar things this time of the year. That's why everyone I see in the town shopping looks so frantic.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Intimate Strangers

There is an absolutely fascinating article on the BBC website (here) talking about how many people you see everyday who you don't know or speak to but recognise and wonder about them. I have to admit that this piece really intrigued me as did the many comments left there, most of which endorsed the whole concept. I see people everyday, some I recognise, fewer I smile at and a couple I say "Hello" to, although I don't know their names or anything about them. Of my neighbours I would recognise two - both of whom I've chatted to when I've been working in my front garden or have been walking past their gardens when they were working in theirs. But I don't know their surnames and very little about either of them. Another neighbour I don't know at all.

The trouble is that we British are not that forthcoming, well especially those living and raised in the South of England anyway. We tend to be reserved and diffident people and talking to complete strangers is considered a real taboo over here. It would be like stepping out of your own National characteristic and my own innate shyness. I was struck by the piece of the person from Nottingham who did start to talk to someone, who then changed their routine so that they never met again.

I am really attracted by the idea of doing something like this. I just wished I had the courage.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Here is a qote from Thursday's Telegraph newspaper:-

US Puzzled by Princes' English
Princes William and Harry were subtitled when a recorded interview with them talking about the concert in memory of their mother was shown on American television because station officials thought viewers would not understand what they were saying.
CBS used subtitles when the princes were asked how people could get tickets. William says: 'They have to be very good and ask Santa nicely.' Harry interrupts: 'Or ring his mobile.'
William responds: 'Harry, shut up!' CBS said: 'They speak so quickly.'

I know I have made comments before about two Nations divided by a single language but both Princes speak received English and if British tv programmes and films are shown in the US without subtitles then I am sure that the lads could be understood.

Flight of the Hamsters.

If you want to waste a few minutes with a bit of fun here is the answer. Funny and daft.... so far I'v got to throw one hamster 90 feet. I am sure I can beat that though. Eventually. and with lots of practice. (grin)

Try it here:

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas Decorations

All the Christmas decorations are up now at home. The Stepdaughter and her brother came over for the tradition of decorating the tree and the house on Sunday. I just sat back and let them get on with it as they really enjoy themselves doing it. The family tradition for the Christmas tree does not follow the elegant, "less is more" and single coloured theory. Instead we go for adding more and more decorations, that we've had since their childhood, and then when every branch and twig has something dangling from it then add lots and lots of tinsel (needless to say all that lot goes on after the three strands of lights). We used to add chocolate decorations in years past but gave up after we discovered that by Christmas Day they were all gone- the Stepson as a boy had an unerring ability to find them.

I wanted to take a photo of the tree but it just wasn't possible to get the impact: either I stood back far enough to get in the whole tree and you couldn't see the decorations other than a coloured blur or too close and it didn't look like a tree at all.

Buffy in her blog here has talked about setting up a new tradition. Instead of sending cards, a tradition that has become to some extent mechanical and without true meaning she plans to write a letter a day to all her family and friends. It sounds an excellent idea in many ways but as far as my personal family is concerned they would think I'd gone bonkers if I tried that. It's just not the way we think or act. But they know where I am and that I am there if I'm needed.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


I learnt something today. That it's not easy taking photos of cats. Pickle was sitting in a pool of sunlight in the sitting room, looking really relaxed. So I dug out my camera. However, as soon as I sat on the floor to take a picture she became intrigued and came over to find out what I was doing. So I ended up with a series of action shots which I hope give some idea of what she looks like.
Unfortunately I haven't any pictures of how interested she was with the Christmas tree we put up in the other corner of the room on Friday. Today the Stepdaughter and Stepson (now back from Cambridge for the Christmas holidays) are coming over to decorate the tree and the room. I hope to take pictures of that in due course.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I took some pictures of our trip around King's and Trinity Colleges. However the sun was already setting and so they were not as bright or as good as I would have liked but at least they give you an idea. The first picture, the one with the people on the bank of the River Cam is the Husband (in the hat), the Stepson (the tallest) and my sister-in-law, her husband and her youngest daughter.
I've had an interesting couple of days recently. Thursday the Husband and I went to London for the day. We started by going to St Thomas' Hospital for my eye clinic. This time they used a new piece of equipment on my eyes which scanned the back of my eye - wonderful because they didn't have to use eye drops to dilate my pupils which make it difficult to see for the rest of the day. From the hospital we popped up to Oxford Street where we braved the crowds Christmas shopping and just generally shopping. That road is always incredibly busy with people no matter what time of year or day. We soon tired of the crowds so after some lunch we walked the few years to Manchester Square to the Wallace Collection. The Husband had never visited it, despite being born a Londoner and I hadn't visited it for at least 20 years but the magic of the place remans. It's fascinating to realise that the building, which is crammed from floor to ceiling with paintings and art treasures of all kinds, was owned by one family which was responsible for putting the collection together. The only problem was that there was so much there you just couldn't take in everything. But then the idea of such a collection is that you go back to it time and again, each time discovering something you missed before. (It's a good thing admission there is free.)

Saturday we made another visit, this time to Cambridge to visit the Stepson, and we took the Husband's sister, brother-in-law and niece. The day was a really good one. They drove up from Whitstable to our place and then we all drove up together. As the city was built before cars were invented parking there is always totally impossible so we used the park and ride which was as efficient as ever. We met up with the Stepson who showed us his room and gave us a guided tour of his College (Pembroke College) including the College chapel, which was built by Wren before he started on St Pauls Cathedral in London. Then we went to Browns, the restaurant parents always take their undergraduate offspring to, to fill; them up. The meal was really good, serving a range of English dishes including their traditional and very famous Steak, Guiness and Mushroom pie. Then we took around the university areas of Cambridge, especially King's College and Trinity Colleges.

After we had said our goodbyes to the Stepson we returned to our home and we had a scratch meal together (fortunately I had made a pot of soup the day before so there was plenty for us all to eat). Then after a good chat John's sister and her family set off back to Whitstable.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Casino Royale

On Wednesday the Husband and I went to the cinema to see the new Bond, James Bond in action and I have to say that Daniel Craig didn't make a bad fist of it at all. With appointing a new Bond the film makers decided to start at the beginning of the series of Ian Fleming books. I haven't read this book in about 30 years but I have to say that the overall "shape" of the film was vaguely familiar, so I assume that the film bears some resemblance to the actual book. However, the character of "M" was played by Judi Dench, as she did in the Pierce Brosnan Bond films, which seems a little perverse to me.

Anyway the film was really quite good and really exciting at places. I am not a lover of violence although I've found with past Bond films that the fights and violence had an almost cartoon quality which made me not take it seriously. However with this film the level of violence seemed much higher and certainly had a much greater impact on me. I felt rather uncomfortable with the fights at times because of this. There were virtually none of the special spy equipment that was so important in the previous Bond films. Generally the film was played seriously with very few quips or puns.

I know that there has been a lot of fuss at giving Daniel Craig the role of Bond but in my opinion he did a very good job. I certainly wasn't worried that he is fair (rather than blond, despite what some commentators have said) or that he is only 5ft 11ins, rather than 6ft, his blue eyes at times have a real impact.

Generally the film was worth going to see and definitely took my mind off the fact that half my face was frozen following another visit to the dentist (one more to go!).