Monday, 31 December 2007

MeMe 2007

As I was saying:

8 things I wish for 2008:
  1. Good health with no health scares for me, my spouse, my family and friends
  2. Improved fitness levels (I intend to return to walking more)
  3. A year free from anxiety and stress
  4. A year full of laughter and funfilled activities
  5. A year free from builders
  6. That the Govt improve the state pension in readiness for my claim in 2009
  7. The Govt bring in zero income tax and place all taxes on as a purchase tax
  8. That we in the SW are able to find out exactly how much our new unelected , secret SW Regional Assembley is costing us on our local Council Tax and why exactly we need yet another layer of beaurocracy.

Last Meme for 2007

Mark Wadsworth posted me a tag a few days ago. I had to go and collect it from his place. It wasn't too onerous a task as I've been having a lazy few days. I wasn't sure what I had to do on this Meme and had to track back to Simon Clark to find out what it was all about. imagine then how exciting it was to find I was in some 'loose way' connected with Iain Dale's blog. I did try to track back via the links to confirm that I was only x links away from Iain's blog but didn't get beyond the Norfolk Blogger, Nich. This wasn't due to not having an interest in the blogs along the way - more that I'm in the middle of cooking a beef curry and have already had a few requests as to 'when exactly will it be ready?'.

Therefore the tag will have to wait until later.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Blogs As A Memorial

I found a lively interesting and diverse blog a few days ago. But I was so sad to see from the final entry the blogger had died. I'm grateful that her daughter had taken the time to post a final entry informing all her mother's blog readers what had happened to 'Daisy'. I'm still trawling through reading some of her earlier entries. She was a very prolific imaginative poster. Beautiful photographs, stories, country and personal facts. Well worth a visit.

There are so many abandoned blogs out there. I can't help wondering what happened to their once keen creators. Hopefully bloggers will think about leave some way of allowing thier exectors to post a final notice when that day does come.

And also thanks to the bloggers such as MerryDaze who leave a postnote if they suddenly stop posting. One final message saves all your readers or friends on the blogosphere from wondering what happened to you.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

What a Muddle - a Modern Tall Story

This has all the elements of a tall story, a mystery. I was just wondering why Alistair Darwin became a cross dresser and went out to Panama City to live as Anne Darling with 'her' dead husband, John Darwin, an ex canoeist from the Seaton Crew. Some people will try anything for some extra money.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Queens Speech

Well fellow bloggers and blurkers welcome this festive day. I've found a Queens Speech for you to read if you want an alternative to listening Queen Elizabeth 2 address the nation this afternoon.

Save the £1 Coin

A few months ago I nominated the £ coin as an Iconic Image of England. I don't know how many votes it has received but I see only 2 comments have been made- if you would like to add it to the list of Icons a Portrait of England then vote for it here.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

A Merry Christmas to all

A Merry Christmas to all who call in here over the seasonal holiday. I would like to send you all greetings of the season and to wish you a happy New Year. All I can do by way of sending you a card is to ask you to have a peer inside here and imagine it was sent to you direct to collect. But if you are a non dog lover and prefer the traditional Christmas tunes then this rendition of the 12 days of Christmas may suit you. You will need Flash Player to view the animated cards and the sound turned on.

If you are interested in finding out more about the designer of these cards then Jacquie Lawson is the lady you need to meet.

Friday, 14 December 2007

The History of the Guest Blog Spot

Teeni recently asked me about the origins of my 'Guest Blog Spot'. Well, it started with a wish to celebrate on reaching my 2000 visitor. Now I know from looking at the stats and the referrals that some of this blog's visitors are transitory fleeting migrants landing briefly after a Google search. They don't even stop long enough for the site to register any amount of time. All that is left on sitemeter is a nano of a second footprint. On the other side of the coin there are visitors who stop and read for 2 to 30+ minutes. Many of them do not leave a comment. They just quietly leave. A few make return visits - silent visits.

I came up with the idea I'd offer a prize of a 'Guest Blog Spot' for the first NEW commenter on the site meter hitting the 2000 visitor. Once I realised some people leave comments as a means of self promotion I then assumed that every reader would be a blogger and would have a site to 'promote'. I've since found there are what is known as 'blurkers' - they only read blogs. Now I only started to read blogs after I'd started one. In fact originally, I'm rather embarrassed to say, that I didn't even know how to leave a comment. I assumed the purpose of comments was to let the blogger know their entry had been read. I admit I would only choose to leave a comment if I found the blog of interest. If it didn't attract me in any way then I would leave silently. I would not return.

My first virginal comment was actually emailed to the blogger. I thought I'd made a mistake by clicking on the little white envelope and not on the comments link. But now looking back at my archived emails I think I may actually have sent her a 'link' to her post. (Blush) Everything was by trial and error. I slowly realised that when leaving a comment the blogger often visited my blog and finally someone left me a comment. An exciting moment. Until that point I had made one or two comments anonymously on my own blog. And persuaded a close friend to visit and leave a short sharp remark. I wanted it to look as if I had readers. I can't quite remember when I found sitemeter and installed it.

I've mostly found out how to blog by the sink or swim method. I've enjoyed jumping into the deep end and finding my way around the system. I sometimes sneak off to use a friends PC or one at the library so that I can check how my blog looks on other page set ups. I've recently read this book which has introduced to me some other ideas on blogging and some blog slang terms such as blurker. There's much to improve on in the future.

Now to return to the initial point I had a great deal of fun choosing the Guest Blogger. I was reluctant to close the slot at the end of the month. I also liked the idea of promoting blogs that I might not have found very easily by just surfing the blogosphere. It also encouraged bloggers who may have been shy of leaving a remark previously. I'm aware of a couple of regular readers who did eventually rise to the bait and leave a comment. I don't want to promote every guest to my blogroll as it would just grow and grow. But if I become a regular reader they do attain that sort sought after position. Lucky people.

The guest bloggers will always be there in the archives. Anyone who is interested in finding out previous guests will only have to click on the tag 'GUEST slot' to see all the previous posts. I hope to figure out if it will be possible to eventually link the tag to the monthly slot in the sidebar. But that will be for the quieter days of the New Year.

Finally, on writing this I have had confirmation of what I long suspected. Regular readers who read an entry via a feed RSS or Atom may not appear in the stats. So to all of my fellow bloggers who allow site feed - you may have more readers than your stat counter shows.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Famous Flowerpot on West Country TV

While I was away I found out that Flowerpot had been on a local television programme. I was sorry to have missed it as I feel that fellow bloggers are rather like PenPals and I'm always curious as what they look like. So when I found out I could watch the TV programme on the web I did so. Flowerpot is the lady who speaks out on SEX and Mary Wesley.

Thanks Flower - it's been good to meet you.

Update: to get it to load properly you must allow cookies other wise it tells you rather rudely that cookies are not enabled and then refuses to load.

Kate & Gerry McCann

Am I being overly suspicious about the McCanns meeting up secretly with their friends at a hotel to talk about the night the child Madeleine went missing? I still feel that the parents are very much to blame for leaving all the children each night in the way they did. I also question the wisdom of the making of such a public display of the Find Madeleine posters with particular attention being drawn to her very distinctive eye. If I had snatched a child that was so easily recognisable then I would fear the consequences even more of holding on to her - alive.

I really don't understand why it is that Kate McCann is the one who is regularly seen as maybe being responsible for causing harm to her child. Kate was the one who raised the alarm at finding Madeleine 'missing'. But according to the reports I read Gerry was the one who had been checking on their children, several times, through most of the evening. Why has no-one wondered whether he had something to do with her disappearance but allowed his wife to discover the loss later in the evening? I know the Portuguese police have come in for a great deal of criticism about their handling of the case but maybe the fact that the McCanns were insistent she had been snatched rather than she had wandered away raised their suspicions in the first place?

Whatever the truth behind it all the sad fact is that Madeleine is still missing with none of us any the wiser as to what happened to her. If she didn't just wander off into the night then one person at least does know.

Monday, 10 December 2007

A Change is as Good as a Rest

They say a Change is as Good as a Rest and 'they' are so right. The change of scene has given my eyes a rest and home now looks twice as beautiful. Memories from this trip will be:

  1. Lil sister and me giggling like teens over a glass [or three] of red wine.
  2. Tasting a Krispy Kreme doughnut for the first time - they are good - nearest stockist from Devon is 96 miles, therefore unlikely to become a regular treat.
  3. The friendliness of Croydonians. So many people made friendly comments as I explored the Croydon shops with wonder. It was all so big and bewildering I didn't have time or energy left to actually spend money. So I now have an excuse to head into Exeter for a spending spree.
  4. Staying with my sister in the Surrey green belt, with no internet access due to the falling trees interfering with the BT lines in the gales the previous weekend, I found I can survive the withdrawal symptoms of a blog free week.
  5. Complete change of routine - staying up till 2.00 a.m. and still rising at 7.00 a.m for a week means I am now trying to play catch up on lost sleep.

Home Sweet Home

Yes - after just a few short days away it feels good to be back. 'Home Sweet Home' it is. London and Surrey were crowded, grey, polluted, noisy, with graffiti everywhere and was full of 'buzz'. It was exciting for a while. I goggled bug eyed at all the goodies in the stores, like the country yokel I am. I smiled at every foreigner I saw in the hope that if they were a terroist they would choose not to explode while standing next to me. I bought a copy of the Big Issue at £1.50. Last time I did that it cost a £1. We don't get many Big Issue sellers in east Devon. On Saturday I drove through crowds of Christmas shoppers to get home before the threatend gales forecast for Sunday. The rain was so heavy I rarely managed more than 50 mph. I started to enjoy the drive after Stonehenge. The traffic was less dense the more I drove west. The journey took 2 hours longer than usual, 6 hours on the road. I drove through gusting winds and floods, the roads were like rivers. The biggest deepest flood to ford was on the brow of a hill! But oh the greenery and the wide open spaces. I could feel the fresh air and my eyes widened at the sight of so much 'well kept' green space. In the south east the green spaces appear ungrazed and unkempt. Scrub land. Give me farmland anytime. It's good to be back.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Normal Service Will Be Disrupted ......

Normal Service Will Be Disrupted for a week as I am about to head 'ooop North'. Well, not quite the north. But north east from here. I'm intending to travel up to the big city again to visit my 'lil sister'. I'll be away till 10th December. Unless I get to find an internet cafe I'll not be posting for a week. You all take care now and I'll look forward to reading all your posts on my return.

Friday, 30 November 2007

December Guest Bloggers Will Be .....

For December the new visiting bloggers to leave comments have been many. Thank you all for visiting and leaving your footprints. I haven't had chance to visit each blog to read all your works. So this month - as it's the month of 'Christmas and Good Cheer' to all men and all that, here are a few bloggers - not already on my blogroll - who left comment(s) during November: -
  1. Eurodog training

  2. Iota - experience of Brit woman living in Mid West USA

  3. I Am the Diva

  4. Kami's place
  5. Kaylee's blog - a teenager who recently had a heart transplant

  6. Robert - his wife has agoraphobia

  7. Diane - a blogging mother

  8. The Swearing Mother - don't all mothers swear?

I am sure you will find some interesting reading here - do explore them.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

I'm Willing to Support the Labour Party

I'd be willing to support the Labour party with a donation. If any rich donor should read this and wishes to make a donation anonymously then just send a few hundred thousands pounds to me care of my bank at .....

Monday, 26 November 2007

Charity Begins at Home

I see that there are a few newspaper reports that the Royal College of Nursing is about to sell the homes of elderly ex-nurses living in the Brighton area. I thought that all tenants were under some form of protection from eviction. I hope that if the estate is sold the cottages are sold as with 'sitting tenants'. I don't like to think of the RCN as being money grabbing property developers. They obviously don't want to be seen this way either.

It's Elementary that I'm a High Achiever

I recently found a new blogger I like the look of. This time I followed a link from the comments left on St Billy's blog. Almost American (AA) recently talked about how were the Blogs Reading Levels determined. I've also picked up this little widget recently from Mark Wadsworth's site. Like AA I input various favourite blogs in to assess their reading level. I can only assume that it is measured on the number of long complicated, unusual or erudite words used in posts. One of my favourite well written blogs has an Elementary school reading level. I was initially rather ashamed that my blog only scraped in at the High School level but to see a high profile writer at 'Elementary level' I was somewhat soothed. I'm still trying to analyse how some bloggers achieve genius level. I did run their URL through the widget to check some of them aren't cheating but no - they are Genius level. I'm obviously a suspicious cow as well as being paranoid.

One interesting strange anomaly I did find is that on this blog I am High School level yet on Careless Carer I only attain elementary level. What do I have to do to attain a higher level so that I can proudly display a :-


Thursday, 22 November 2007

It's Time for A Special One




The Special One is my choice for the post of manager for the England football team. I couldn't care less that England lost yesterday evening. But if the Special One was to return to English football then I just might take an interest. Sigh...

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

HMRC HM Revenue & Customs

HMRC stands for HM Revenue & Customs. What strange customs they must have at HMRC. HMRC obviously don't have to worry about the Data Protection Act. Firewall protection. Fraudulent use of information. Identity theft. Any kind of protection. No kind of protection. Protection rackets.

Now when I was at work and we had an audit the auditor came to our office to inspect the files on site. They were confidential and we were responsible for them. Therefore they were only taken out by the case worker. If any other person within the organisation needed to see them they came to us and sat in our office while they went through our files. Using our computers with us logging on to the files and system with our password.

Don't Auditors do that any more? What is the point of an audit if you can't check the system on site. Surely anyone could pull the wool over an Auditors eyes by selecting what information to send off to the Auditor. Exactly what were they going to audit? Maybe it was an audit testing out the security in connection with the Data Protection Act. Especially after their previous embarrassing lapse in security in September.

Monday, 19 November 2007

In Black and White

I started to take a few photos in Black and White last year. On the basis that colour can detract the eye and fool the brain into believing 'that's a great photo' when in actual fact it is just very colourful and a beautiful scene. A really good photo will be outstanding in black and white. This one taken at a garden show of dahlia exhibit is not really good enough. It needs cropping for a start. But I do like the way that the eye can see each individual petal on the flower head. Maybe in colour I wouldn't have noticed this much.

I prefer this second image of daffodils.

I started to think about the photos I'd attempted in monochrome after seeing a programme on television the other evening. The work of James Ravilious who lived and worked in north Devon. I was hoping that my favourite images would be on a web page so that I could share it with you. But as it is there are some very good samples on the website here: http://www.jamesravilious.com/gallery.asp

Sunday, 18 November 2007

I'm a Thieving ....

I'm a thieving whotstit's ... This was such a fabulous picture of Autumn I looked, I saw, I drew breath (well a gasp) then I pinched it ... and brought it home. Like cat carrying something proudly home through its cat flap. I present it to you to enjoy. I wish I could take the credit for it.

If you want to read the very interesting post that accompanied it then you'll have to nip over to Flowerpots blog. Do so - anyone who can produce an image like this deserves that everyone reads the entry that went with it.


Friday, 16 November 2007

My Thigh Bone's Connected to my ...

My thigh bone is connected to my hip bone which is connected to my back bone which is connected to ...

My' carpal tunnel syndrome' seems to originate from my shoulders and upper back. I think it maybe caused by strained muscles. I recently hauled some heavy furniture around. I know - I shouldn't do it. But I sometimes forget. I think In my mind I'm still young, fit and strong. It appears so easy - well relatively easy - its only that after a few days that the strained muscles start to react by which time I forget what I had been doing a few days previously. Once the pain returned to its original site Ii remembered while moving everything that I felt a slight pull and twist. So basically my problem isn't in my wrists - it's a back problem. I've slightly wrenched and twisted back muscles. I'm now stiff from pelvis to upper back. Which led to shoulder problem with pain which radiated down to my left hand. Once I started on the self massage and found all the sore spots I suddenly remembered what I had been doing! Next time I'll leave it to a strong man. That is If I can find one.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Tale of Woe

My Tale of Woe is that I've had a bout of carpal tunnel syndrome. It crept up on me rather slowly. I've had problems hitting the correct keys when I've been touch typing. It's my left hand that is the problem. It has rather curtailed my blogging posting entries and replies to comments. I've also had to cut back on leaving so many comments around on other blogs. But do be assured that while I am still visiting all my favourite bloggers - I'm just being a little more silent than usual. I am not at all sure what brought this pain on - it isn't as if I've been pruning shrubs recently. But I think I have found the trigger point in a muscle of my forearm which needs regular self massage to try and free up my wrist and thumb. I am relatively free of pain today - so I hope I'm on the road to a cure.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Autumn Glow

I had yet another appointment to attend today. This time over to Axminster. I rarely go there but when I do I normally drive by way of the the Seaton road. It's the shortest route. But I wasn't thinking. Well I was thinking. I was thinking of all manner of things. I mean that I wasn't concentrating. I took the road well travelled. Habit had me travelling towards Sidmouth then turning off to Honiton When I realised I was heading in the wrong direction I considered turning round. But as luck would have it I had plenty of time. There being no hurry I decided to continue with the 'detour', drive through Honiton and up over the Blackdown hills to Axminster along the A35. Beautiful it was too. The sun was shining and the rich burnished colours of the leaves were enough to take my breath away. I wish I'd had my camera with me. Never mind, the vision is indelibly printed on my mind's eye. Which is just as well, it's now very windy and raining. I doubt we'll have any leaves left on the trees by morning.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Apologies

I apologise for not posting an entry for a few days. I've had a bit of a s**t week. Nothing major just minor but time consuming irritaions that have disrupted my days this week. And the week isn't over yet. Even though I no longer work for a living - well go out to work - or paid work (I always seem to be working at some chore or other) the week for me still seems to be Monday to Friday. I still love Friday evenings which always feel full of promise with the weekend ahead. I'm just relieved I no longer have that horrible Monday morning feeling anymore. Retirement does have its good points.

Now since Blogger started to misbehave a few days ago; everything else seems to be following suit. The oven ended up producing a few inedible burnt offerings. I know - I agree, I may not have been concentrating - but it's not all my fault. The cooker clock seems to stop/go without warning and it no longs trills at me when the time is up. I've also had post go missing and been chasing around trying to sort out various minor chores made worse due to expected mail not arriving as promised. I was beginning to disbelieve the sender. Then I arrived home one morning to a polite missive from the local NHS to ask exactly why I had failed to attend for an appointment. I have never ever had an appointment marked down as Did Not Attend. I rang to apologise and explain. They were not surprised. It's happened to many. In fact the staff sat around twiddling their thumbs for many an hour over the last fortnight. Why the NHS continued to post out letters with appointment times in the middle of a week long mail strike, I do not know. Surely it would have been far better use of staff time to ring round and advise everyone of the appointments date and time. But no - that is probably too much like using basic common sense.

If you are expecting a letter and it doesn't arrive you can take action. But when you don't even know it should be arriving then you are 'up the swanny'.

I had been expecting to hear from the Northern Rock Bank. I had Fixed Term Bond reaching maturity. I was keenly anxious to liberate it as soon as possible. I contacted them to ask when I could expect to hear from them. Once again I was impressed with the response. Because of the postal strike and backlog of letters in Royal Mail's system they had extended the deadline for instructions to reach them on maturity. impressed or not I took my money out as soon as possible and am relieved to have done so. But I still feel like a rat deserting a sinking ship. I'm now trying to play safe by forgoing the high interest rates and splitting my savings into a smaller piles and depositing in building societies or National Savings. I'll wait for the troubles to shake down and see which banks are safe. I'd feel far happier with a gold bar under my bed though. Has anyone told Gordon Brown what the price of gold is lately? Just compare this to the price at which he sold off our gold reserves.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Be Prepared

Right, On Your Marks, Get Set and Go !

Blogger Brain Goes AWOL

I really do get quite tired of Blogger sometimes. It usually behaves so well and is quite intuitive then suddenly it goes berserk and changes all the rules. I have been able on previous posts to add an updated comment to an entry - and all is OK. But over the last few days the entry has suddenly been altered to today's date. I fiddled a bit yesterday - 4 times - and it wouldn't let me put the date back to where it belongs; end of October. I tried again this afternoon. Again Blogger updated the entry as if just published post today ! I'm sorry - it must be very confusing to all of you who've read the post on Personal Experience earlier this week. But believe me - I am not wallowing in self pity and have posted a couple of other entries since!

All I was trying to add to that post is:

The light box therapy appears to be having a great beneficial effect. I am less affected by the gloom of early winter. I feel more alert, sleeping better, waking earlier than I've ever managed before in November and feel more positive.

Right now I've said it:

If you care to trawl down the page you'll see a couple of entries that I've posted since writing Personal Experience.

Confused? So am I. Fret not - normal service will be returned next week. (I hope)

A Personal Experience

I started blogging for many reasons. Initially it was a way of finding out how the technical side of blogging worked. I experimented with Yahoo 360 but quickly migrated to Blogger. In the early days I was alarmed at the thought of being identified or 'found out'. So I invented a Pen Name for myself. I had the idea of writing outrageously about the the good people who live in East Devon, my husband, the health services, social services and many other things that I found increasingly irritating in daily life. In short I wanted to Blog as a Grumpy Old Woman.

But once my anonymous blog was set up, the bland postings started and I quickly found that I couldn't quite stick the knife in where I wanted or as I imagined. What I did find, however, was that while I was at a particularly low ebb [with the Winter Blues and general frustration caused by our sudden enforced retirement] I had inadvertently discovered that I could post about some of my feelings. I could let off some steam. Blow my top. Whinge. Luckily, my husband was quite content for me to sound off about how his illness has affected me. After all with a pen name and vague address there is no way of identifying us. Close friends and family recognise my blog when, and if, they find it. But there's no problem with that as we have been quite open with everyone who matters to us.

Some people write because they are born writers. They take the opportunity to write fiction and receive feedback from readers. Others just want to have fun and socialise. Others want to voice political opinions. Some for a way to spread around their sense of humour. And some of us as a means of distraction. To divert our minds from our worries .

Now from my blogroll I usually call in on everyone on a regular basis. Some people once a fortnight, some once a week and others on a daily basis. The bloggers who make me laugh are the ones I call in on daily. My favourites are linked to my home page by the RSS feed so i can quickly see if they've posted very recently - well that's how it's supposed to work but it seems a little unreliable. I've sometimes found a new post is up there when I call in on their blog yet my homepage says 'last posted 3 days ago'.

Besides the writers who make me laugh are one or two who start to feel like 'friends' - rather like old fashioned pen pals. Now one of these cyber friends is Teeni of the Vauguetarian Tearooms. Her place is a general have a cup of coffee and hang out for a while to see what'll happen next kind of place. It's all lighthearted and fun. Imagine my surprise when I found a rather sombre posting from her a few days ago. I admit I read it very quickly and then quietly left. I was low spirited at the time and didn't feel able to comment. But once I was in a better mood I called back to see her. I wanted to explain that I was somewhat aware of how her feelings must be when she was diagnosed and had to undergo treatment for cancer.

I too had cancer diagnosed at a young age. I was lucky in that it was found early and surgery was the only treatment I needed. I was thirty when on a visit to the optician to be assessed for contact lens he quickly identified that I had a malignant tumour in my left eye. He didn't tell me this - he just referred me to see my doctor who had very quickly made an appointment for me to see the local ophthalmic surgeon. My feet barely touched the ground. From seeing the optician I had seen the local specialist, been referred to Moorfields' Eye Hospital for a second opinion and was back in Gloucester Royal Hospital to have my left eye removed - all within less than 3 weeks.

I was 30 years of age and it was a bit of a shock to find that I had malignant melanoma. Luckily the surrounding tissue of the eye was healthy. It had been found and removed in a timely manner. The adjustment to monocular vision took a while. But adjust I did. Although I still find it difficult to walk over rough ground; with no depth of vision it does pose a challenge.

Now having been lucky enough to survive that episode I am rather paranoid about how much time I spend in the sun. I slap on sun protection so thick I look like a greased up channel swimmer. I'm never out in the sun between 11 - 3. But as I don't want rickets or osteoporosis either I do allow 30 minutes a day of sun to get to my skin as often as I can during spring and autumn.

It's for this reason that I believe I need a light box. Ever since I lost my eye 28 years ago today I've experienced a feeling of gloom which descends from October onwards. Initially I used to blame the 'anniversary' for reminding me of my mortality and lack of binocular vision. It was my least short sighted eye - almost normal vision' -too which was the real **** law of life. When I had to rely on my right eye only I was so shortsighted I had to become a permanent specs wearer. I was also told it would help to disguise my artifical eye. So I never did get fitted for that contact lens.

Now if we do indeed rely on needing bright light to keep us cheerful then with my desire to keep a low profile during hot, sunny summers and with only one eye to take in the light it could be why I experience the winter blues. I also read that Gordon Brown may be a depressive s**t too. Maybe that's because he also is blind in one eye. Perhaps I should write and suggest he buys himself a lightbox to go along with his red boxes.

Now some of you'll know why one of my most often used emoticon is a ;-) - it doesn't always represent a wink!

Finally, I would like to suggest that if you haven't had your eyesight checked out for more than a couple of years then do so. You never know what signal of ill health may be lurking there. A quick visit to the optician may save your life.

Sorry - technical hitch - I was trying to write an updated note. However, Blogger suddenly changed the date of the post from original - I wrote this on 29/10 - there is no way it will let me put it back in its rightful place. I'm hoping its back there now - ?

Friday, 2 November 2007

A Sign of the Times

A sign seen in a shop in Sidmouth:

"Yes - the cost of LIVING is rising

but it remains very popular"

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Builders' Mate

On consideration I think I'd like to be a Builder's Mate.

This is the most wonderful time. When the builders have packed up their tools and leave you in the peace and quiet of your home. After a day of banging, drilling, scraping and whistling. To be able to poke and nose around; to explore and see exactly what has been done.

A local builder has been in to supply and fit a new fridge and a freezer, adjust the kitchen units so the doors fit, refurbish and do a 101 small DIY chores. DIY chores that my husband is no longer able to do himself. I'm so thrilled to have a new integrated larder fridge and a freezer. I'm so pleased that I'll no longer have to kick the door on the fridge to get it to close properly. It is quieter and taller than the old one. It is taller than I. It is huge. It is beautiful. It also has a wine rack. It feels very decadent. The freezer is the same size as the old one but the door now fits snugly. It runs so quietly I have to keep checking it is actually freezing down. The builder will return tomorrow for some more carpentry work to be completed and he's going to re-seal a leaking shower. Bliss. This is the next best thing to moving house. I feel as if I have a new kitchen. And tomorrow once it's water tight and I've scrubbed it out I'll feel as if I have a new shower room.

I think next time round I might choose to marry a builder and become his mate.

Cherie Blair Pussy Trainer.

I thought this looked rather like Cherie Blair. It makes me wonder whether she has taken on a new role as a cat trainer.

Guest Blog Spot for November

It's Guest Blog Spot announcement time again:

It's really amazing how quickly it's time to wipe St Billy and Mark Wadsworth off their position at the top of my Blog side bar. But I've enjoyed having them around so have promoted them to my regularly read links list. I really should get on and sort this list into some kind of order soon.

My choice of Bloggers to take on the now vacant Guest Spot are:-

  1. Toby - he has 2 blogs available [a] and [b] which is a work of fiction. I know that [a] may also be entirely fictional account as well but I preferred [a] to [b] ! Please go on over and check them out for yourselves.

  2. Winchester Whisperer's blog which is called Winchester Whisperer.

I hope you'll find them interesting and enjoy reading their work.

For readers who are unaware of how to join in the lottery of guest blog spot then all you need to do is leave a comment on a 'And - Who Cares' posting during November. Following a visit for me to inspect your blog - on the proviso it is not too vulgar or blush making I'll choose to link you the Top Slot for the month. After that if I become a regular reader you'll be added to my links list otherwise it will be 'farewell and nice meeting you' kind of thing. Do join in it can be quite fun and interesting for other bloggers to get to meet you.

Meanwhile thanks to everyone for thier comments on entry Personal Experience. I will be replying and posting later but may not be today - as we have the builders in again.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Planning for Retirement

I thought we would enjoy retirement. My husband used to run 'Preparing and Planning for Retirement' training courses. He had all the answers and all the different viewpoints. He trained many people but he failed to train me. Unfortunately retirement planning wasn't even on our horizon. We thought we had at least a further 10 years of working life. But then retirement found us and found us unprepared.

To have a successful and happy retirement you need several things:
  1. Money: Once that pot of money, pension, annuity, savings or whatever is all you have i.e. fixed income then finances take on a whole different meaning. Suddenly you are aware that every penny that goes out of the house has gone for good. That unless you go out to earn some more 'this is it'. Men in particular seem to be much exercised by this when they retire.
  2. Interests: If you want to enjoy retirement to the full there are many clubs, social events , hobbies and activities that you can join in. Once you are no longer committed to a working life you can fill your daily routine with swimming, walking, cruising, bird watching, investment clubs, travelling, wining and dining, study, bowls, bridge, blogging, holidays. The list is endless. What may not be endless is the pot of gold - the money to finance all these possible interests and new hobbies. But once you are retired then many of them don't take up much cash and a great deal of enjoyment can be had for very little outlay. The U3A is one example. The University of the 3rd Age, unlike the Open University, runs on a very small budget. It is very popular. This group is for older people where some members with a perceived level of expertise then educate others to the same level of incompetence. A bit like 'Sit by Nellie' training at work. A bit like a real world interactive social version of an inaccurate Wikipeadia.
  3. Health: You need good health to enjoy all of the above interests. You need good health to get out and about and away from your spouse for a few hours. This is advisable. For the both of you. For your mental health. This is the first time in ** years you have ever spent more than a couple of weeks together 24 hours a day. And do you remember just how stressful holidays can be when you spend so much time together? Well retirement is just like that for 12 months of the year. I'm not talking about holidays away from home - you both have distractions then - no I'm talking about holidays at home; Christmas, Easter etc.
  4. Tolerance: You need a bucket load of this. Suddenly the housekeeper (usually the wife) has lost 'her space'. The spouse is no longer out of the house 9-5 but hanging around and getting under her feet as she tries to do all the 101 household chores. Querying whether this is the best or most efficient way of doing the task.Querying the amount of water being used and how often the washing machine is put on. Offers of help e.g. dusting/hoovering if taken up are considered only to be necessary once every 3 months. "But I did that last week - it can't need doing again, surely". Supermarkets during the week are full of retired men assisting their wives with the weekly shop. Every time you go by a couple you can hear the same type of conversation going on. She's usually looking harrassed and he's usually saying somethin along the lines of: "do we really need foil again, can't you wash and re-use the roll you bought last month?" - " it's HOW MUCH?!" - "I think you use too much detergent - lets try a cheaper brand" - "lets buy whisky in bulk - think of the saving we'd make" - "lets have steak and kidney pie - you've not made one of those for ages" - "let's buy the small pack - I'm sure we could use less toilet paper". Men like 'manly' jobs to do e.g. car maintenance, gardening, decorating. Tasks that are done once in a while not several times a week.

When alone at home I used to enjoy whizzing through the house tidying, cleaning, polishing everything and then sitting with a mug of coffee to admire my efforts. Now I clean one room and then move on to another. But on returning to the first it's no longer a spotless oasis. I didn't get one minute to admire and revel in its sparkly cleanliness. How I long for the days as they used to be: to to rush through tidy the kitchen, make the beds put the laundry away and then come home 7 hours later and find it all as I'd left it. TIDY. When two of you are home all the time each and every day there are calls on the household budget that didn't occur while you were out at work. Electricity, water, gas consumption goes up. As does coffee, tea, food stuffs and toilet rolls. Towels, tea towels and light bulbs wear out faster than they ever did while you were out at work. Not to mention the various bits n bobs connected with plumbing. Whereas I used to call in a plumber to change a ball cock in the toilet cistern once every 4 or 5 years now it seems to be every other year. Therefore these budget items need to be re-addressed and re-assessed. On the other side of the coin: you can wear your clothes till they fall apart, specs, shoes, handbags and other accessories can be several years out of style. You also have time to shop at charity shops and try and dress on the cheap.

Finally a little anecdote as I was trying to clean in readiness for a tea party.

He: "I'll help you to clean the bathroom and cloakroom"

Me: "There's not room for us to both do it at the same time"

He: "No problem - I'll clean the basin in one room while you do the toilet and the floor in the other and then we can change rooms and I'll clean the second basin"

Me: "Thanks - a lot"

Friday, 26 October 2007

Thursday, 25 October 2007

A View For Teeni

This is Budleigh Salterton beach. Now of all the beaches available to us folk who live in East Devon - this is my favourite. The bay is wider and more open than at Sidmouth. It lacks the horrible rock groins which were erected over the last 10 years off Sidmouth beach in an attempt to prevent coastal erosion. It hasn't - the seas just come from a different direction nowadays. The town of Budleigh Salterton is smaller than Sidmouth and a short walk from this viewpoint. Sidmouth has everything we need from banks and shops to medical services and is nearest to where we live. But Budleigh is where I go for pleasure and leisurely walks.

The second photo taken is from the same spot but looking east.The River Otter forms a meandering exit to the sea. It varies from week to week as the shingle bank moves with the tides. It is a particularly good area for bird watching. There is a lovely riverside walk to Otterton Mill where a good cup of coffee along with a range of organic savouries or cake can be enjoyed.

SAD

I'm SAD. I'm affected by Seasonal Affected Disorder. The Winter Blues. I've usually not been affected this much until December. Usually the symptoms start in October and then increase until peak at end of the year. If I manage to live long enough to see February out then in March I start to think "I'll live another year". But this year I just didn't feel the lift that sunnier summer weather usually brings along.

I ordered a small compact lightbox on Monday. It arrived yesterday and as I write it is sitting in front of me. I'm aiming for an hour a day and will see if there is any improvement over the next couple of weeks. The company that sent the light box also enclosed a leaflet on SAD - along with their other light products! I was interested to see that along with the usual depression, over sleeping, feeling tired, craving sugar, sweet things and carbohydrates that some of the other symptoms could be 'flu like symptoms' and 'pains in muscles'. YES - I have both of these too. In fact have had these problems for most of this year. It may be that if light therapy does work then I could end up feeling better than I have for many a year. I'm pleased to have it this morning as it is still very dark and grey even though it is now 8.40 am.

There is another health reason that affects me which may have some bearing on my need for light therapy. But that I will share with you all on another day towards the end of the month.

Fascinating Web Surfers

How interesting I see that my final visitor last night was a stranger who fell in here after undertaking a Google Search on "Private Dentists". S/He remained here for nearly 8 minutes viewing 4 pages and then left me to go and visit Stinking Billy's place. Perhaps reading us took away her/his toothache ?

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

By Gum ..

It isn't half sore. I went to the dentist earlier as I've had some tooth ache. Well not some - all of them ache and also inflamed gums. Thankfully it's not toothache and it's not the usual over sensitive teeth. I've sinusitis again and a sensitivity/virus that has affected my mouth. Not one to miss an opportunity I was then sent in to see the hygienist- who had a half hour spare - it was £50 this time - how's that for inflation? I'm sure she knew just how much I enjoy using those little itty bitty tooth brushes (which she called bottle brush!). When I told her I just could not get it between my back most teeth she upped and found me another to add to my collection. This is a little green right angled job. So I now have a wide, varied and colourful range of toothbrushes. It takes me simply ages just to brush my teeth - it's a good job I'm retired. At least now I wont have to see the dentist, or his toothbrush seller, for another 6 months. Meanwhile I'll have to start saving - who knows how much it'll cost by the time my next visit is due.

Bright October Morning



I had to be up and out early for a dental appointment in Sidmouth. I took my camera with me as it was such a bright Autumn morning. The sea looked beautiful and there was hardly anyone else around so early. I love cold crisp bright winter mornings like this.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Save Us From Global Warming

Rather than all of us being forced into vegetarianism or drinking Utterly Horrible Milk - does anyone know whether the levels of methane [and/or any other gaseous substances] that emit from Parliaments have ever been measured? Maybe we should all propose a cull of MP's.

Now I wouldn't tar all MP's with the same brush and like Phoenix the cow I would wish to reprieve a few. I may not agree with their political point of view but I do admire their integrity, their independence and their honesty [ignoring whether they are/are not faithfull to their spouse].

  1. Frank Field
  2. David Drew
  3. William Hague
  4. David Davis
  5. Mingie Campbell
  6. Malcolm Riffkind
  7. Boris Johnson

The last one is only on the list because he makes me laugh - he may be a good MP - I wouldn't know. I can also think of a few more who are now retired and for the record would like to add:

Betty Boothroyd

Tony Benn

David Owen

Shirley Williams

Margaret Thatcher

Are there any others you think should be added to the list for reprieve?

Update on 30th October - how embarrassing I saw Malcolm Riffkind on TV yesterday and it wan't the man I had in mind. My man was a wee bit smaller and neater - did I mean Norman Fowler - maybe?


Friday, 19 October 2007

Life's Blessings

  1. Good friends - who support and cheer you through the ups and downs of life; through thick and thin; in sickness and in health; for richer for poorer.
  2. A sharp frosty start to the day, bright blue sky and warm sunshine which beckoned me to partake of lunch out in the garden. A mug of coffee, toast and marmite with a small nugget of cheese and a home grown apple. Serenaded by a young robin.
  3. The smell of rich dark heavily fruited and brandy soaked Christmas cake baking in a slow, slow oven. This recipe is very similar to my old family recipe. I like a moist fruit cake so add a glass of brandy to the mix before it is cooked. I'll still feed it with more brandy over the next few weeks. Do use SR flour instead of plain - I think it makes for a lighter cake and use dark brown soft sugar, the spices and the black treacle - they will all enhance that deeply rich flavour and make it far more special than an 'ordinary' rich fruit cake.

Monday, 15 October 2007

UHT Milk

I hear the latest clever thought out of DEFRA is that besides wanting us all to go vegetarian to save us all from the dreadful threat of Global Warming they also now want us to forgo fresh milk and only drink the awful sterilised UHT milk. YUK.

Do you think this is a Govt ploy? Perhaps Gordon Brown believes if we are all busily intent on saving our British Fresh Milk Pinta and the nation's dairy herds; that we wont notice when he signs up to the new EU Constitution. The same renamed and 'revised' constitution on which the Govt promised us a referendum. Another broken promise. The one in which Cyclops has drawn red lines which are non negotiable?! Ha. Pull the other one - it's got bells on it!

This sounds very like an episode of 'Yes Minister' where Jim Hacker saves us from the peril of an EEC Ruling where we would lose our British Banger.

Little Voice

Well - I've just waved off an old friend from from Exeter airport this afternoon. She flew down from Norwich for a flying weekend visit. It may have been a brief visit but we talked out socks off. I am now hoarse, tired and worn out. I'll sleep like a log tonight.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Will the Real Richard Madeley Stand Up?

Well, Clever Dick seems to have a competitor. I don't know if he has seen this posting on the Celeb's Blog Spot. They can't have both been written by Richard Madeley - surely? One of them must surely be an imposter.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Quick Quiz

Now this landed in my inbox today. I'm not sure if I can format it to get it to work on Blogger format but here I go. You'll need to keep on scrawling down the page a bit as you work through it>>

It's a quick quiz to find out if you have a 'normal brain' or are a bit 'off centre'. Worth a try ... it's not at all hard to do - a few minutes concentration to get the answer - it may interest you..


At the end of this message, you are asked a question. Answer it immediately. Don't stop and think about it. Just say the first thing that pops into your mind. This is a fun "test"... AND kind of spooky at the same time! Give it a try. Now, just follow the instructions as quickly as possible. Do not go to the next calculation before you have finished the previous one. You do not ever need to write or remember the answers, just do it using your mind.

You'll be surprised.

Start:


How much is:
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15 + 6
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3 + 56
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89 + 2
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12 + 53
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75 + 26
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25 + 52
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63 + 32
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I know! Calculations are hard work, but it's nearly over..
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Come on, one more!
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123 + 5
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QUICK! THINK ABOUT A COLOUR AND A TOOL!
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Scroll further ! to the bottom....
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A bit more...
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You just thought about a red hammer ! - didn't you?
If this is not your answer, you are among 2% of people who have a different, if not abnormal, mind. 98% of the folks would answer a red hammer while doing this exercise. If you do not believe this, pass it around and you'll see.

Monday, 8 October 2007

3 Good Things

1. The fruit scones I suddenly threw together for yesterdays tea. I've not made scones for years and had to haul the recipe book off the shelf. Rushed job but delicious. I think I'm getting back my interest in cooking which seems to have deserted me over the last few months.

2. The amelanchier which has been a beautiful colour this last week or so. We don't often enjoy autumnal tints here abouts as the climate is damp and mild - usually the leaves fall suddenly without turning colour first. [Updated 10/10/07 for photo see this post : but the leaves have fallen now]

3. I was planning to learn how to play bridge. I was looking forward to it. A new challenge and a social occasion too. But the lessons were suddenly cancelled the day before we were due to start. I now hear they are thinking of re-instating them. I don't know if I'm coming or going.... But if the lessons fail to start I have bought 2 books on 'Teach Yourself Bridge' and have been invited to watch a game. So a start on a new interest.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Pornographic Shakespeare Plays

For pornographic versions of Shakespeare plays titles nip and look over on "This is This" at this post.

Liberal Dems

You may have noticed that although I've had a go at the Gordon Brown and David Cameron's Conservatives over the last couple of days that I did not mention anything about the Lib Dems during their conference week. Well no. I didn't. What is there to say?
Menzies 'Ming' Campbell seems a nice enough old codger but he looks far, far older than My Man who is only 3 years younger. My man is in appalling health and really unfit. So how fit is Ming who looks about 15 years older than MyMan? Who else is there in the party with any real standing since Shirley Williams and David Owen retired? Nuff said.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

A Bolt from the Blue

Two years ago at the Conservative Party Conference David Cameron made one electrifying speech.

Steady calm intelligent David Davis had appeared to be the front runner in the Tory party leadership contest. He was a popular and dependable choice. But he delivered one poor speech. He was damned from that moment. Then like a Bolt from the Blue David Cameron made that one thrilling speech and it propelled him to the top of the leader board for the Tory leadership contest. But as my old Grandma would have said "he's all mouth and no trousers". She would have been right on that point. Dave Cameron has been a really big disappointment.

I'm really still not at all sure what his views and intentions are. He gives me the impression of blowing in the wind and sitting on the fence. William Hague and David Davis have still made a good showing from time to time on radio and TV but Dave boy keeps letting them down. He reminds me too much of a slighter 'posher' version of Tony Blair.

Now, during this conference unless Dave boy can perform some kind of magical trick and produce e.g. Margaret Thatcher dressed in a bunny girl costume from his top hat - then I don't think he has said anything which would make me decide to give my vote for 'his' party.

I rather liked William Hague's barnstorming speech today :-

" And now we know also, according to pension fund experts, that the total amount removed by Gordon Brown from Britain's pension funds in the last ten years stands at one hundred thousand million pounds - all of it spent, and most of it, as recent reports on the health service show, tragically and stupidly squandered. It makes Robert Maxwell look like an amateur. To me it is as simple as this: I do not believe that a politician who does such violence to the lifetime savings of millions of hardworking British people can be the right Prime Minister for our future."

He called Gordon Brown a calculating politician rather than a conviction politician. That could get me fired up but .... it still wouldn't persuade me to vote for 'em. I need some definite promise of re-instating my lost pension, and dignity for the elderly in hospitals and care homes etc.. I know what it is like - I worked for Social Services until I became so disheartened I threw in the towel and quit.

English Country View in Summer



As Autumn takes hold and the evenings are drawing in I thought I'd celebrate our brief summer with this photo. It is a view over some of our glorious east Devon countryside snapped from Burrow Farm Gardens, Near Axminster.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Dear Gordon

Dear Gordon Brown,

I understand, from the gossip that is flying around everywhere, that this weekend you are giving serious thought to whether or not you should call a 'snap' election. I thought you might like to take into consideration the views of Mrs Almost A Pensioner, of East Devon.


I like the fact that you appear a straightforward kind of man. Plain speaking; boringly so. You don't keep flashing your dentistry at us all the time. You don't have charisma. You appear to be a man of conviction. These are good points. These are what make you so popular in comparison to the bumbling naive boy David.


The polls look good. More people would "trust you in a crisis" than they would Dave Cameron. This sounds like the YouGov question I had which asked who I would like to cover my back if I was fighting for my life in a trench. I ticked the box for you Gordon. But as I'm unlikely to be in a trench fighting for my life in the near future - then be assured that this answer doesn't mean I would vote for you come polling day.


I still can't get out of my mind that for such a 'clever' Chancellor you sold off this country's Gold reserves at it's lowest price for years. Have you seen the price of gold this week? It doesn't appear to me to have been at all prudent. In fact it appears to me rather as short-termism. Much has been quoted of your clever management of the economy. But do you think we have all forgotten all the Nation's goods you sold off to finance the public spending? We also remember all the 3G mobile phone airwaves made available and sold for billions - regardless of whether or not mobile phone signals are a health hazard or not. Then there is the fact that you robbed so many thousands of people of their pension savings by lifting £5billion every year for the Treasury. From inheriting a wealthy pension savings culture to ruin within less than 2 years - that is some kind of record, I suppose.


Now you are making everyone turn to digital TV. This despite the fact that LCD and Plasma TV's would add to the global warming effect you all appear to be so worried about. But really what makes you so keen on his new technology is the profit you can gain from selling off the redundant analogue airwaves.


We also don't forget that your 'word is your bond', but only until the next election has been secured. For example giving pensioners an extra £200 assistance towards council tax then removing it in the next budget following election. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the recent grand announcement for help reduce council tax bills for our armed forces serving abroad isn't rescinded once the forthcoming election is over. It looks very much as if you are buying votes from the armed forces this time rather than the pensioners. Probably because you know you have squandered the trust of pensioners.


I also think that just as you no longer think we should be allowed to have the promised referendum on the New European Treaty I also wouldn't be at all surprised if suddenly you announce that your famous 5 economic tests now show that it is right for Britain to join the Euro. It may be that only England are taken into the the Euro. The Scots and the Welsh seem to be developing as entirely different nations now - they just want to continue to be funded by the English.


It may be, by now Gordon, that you are beginning to think that, although I am thankful that Tony Blair has disappeared from our sight - for which I do heartily thank you - you may be getting an inkling that there is no way I would trust you and therefore will not be voting for you. You're right. I wont. Regardless of how truthfully I answer any YouGov Poll question.


If I was fighting for my life I would want a mugger like you protecting my back. But rather than a man of conviction I just think you are another con man. You wont get my vote.

Goodbye.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Guest Blog Spot October

Now back in August I posted an entry after had I made a grand gesture of promising to award a guest blog spot. Originally I thought of it as a one off event. I enjoyed the power so much I decided it should become a regular feature of my homepage.

So from the people who have left me a comment during September I have taken a peek, or two or three or more.

And have chosen. The October guests blog spot goes to : - (drum roll)

and
Do pop on over and take a look if you've not met them before.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

How Old Am I?

Well you can tell it's full moon time again - here I am playing around with online quizzes as I can't sleep. At least this night I did sleep for 4 hours then woke at 4 a.m. I gave in and got up at 5 a.m. But as we have visitors calling in on their way from Essex to Cornwall this evening I'm wont be able to get an early night and catch up on lost sleep. I just hope I don't end up stiffling yawns all evening or they'll think they are boring me!

How I wish I was 32 but my body know's that I am not ....

You Are 32 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

I'm Mahogany Orange

I found this over at Teeni's place - this is so me...!


You are Mahogany

Stable and decisive, you lack the hyper energy of most orange colors.
You're still energetic, but you tend to project a peaceful, relaxed vibe.
You love to feel cozy. You often rather wrap up in a blanket than go out for the night.

Autumnal Chores

The days are definitely chilly and damp. The nights even more so - very autumnal. Today I pulled in the pots of pelargoniums (bedding geraniums) in readiness to remove them from their pots - dry them off and place in store in the garage over winter. It's not been a very good year for them - far too wet. But they are so beautiful. Such vivid colours. Such perfection when you look at each individual flower. I have one huge terracotta pot which is in a sheltered position near the house - all the pelargoniums in that may well continue to flower well into November. Unless we have a very severe winter I expect to cut them back hard in March, then start watering and feeding copiously in readiness for another fine show to start again in May next year.

Second Lifers

I see that the virtual reality world of Second Life is about to be sued in the real world. After I mentioned Second Life in a July posting I did join this virtual world. I created an avatar and provided a name. Although I had the chance to be wildly exciting and different to my real self I found that I was choosing something plain and simple (the girl next door look) - just as I've been in real life. So having joined I never got to go any further. Now that I hear this virtual world is becoming dominated by money launderers, politicians, paedophiles, and sex toy salesmen then I begin to ask myself what could it possibly provide that we don't have in real life? If it cannot provide something different then what is the point of it all?

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Friendly Visitor


This is a neighbour's cat that seems to have adopted us. He often wanders in and loudly announces his presence. I like cats that talk with you. Sometimes - like today I just found he had entered the open kitchen door and was fast asleep in the middle of the kitchen. Once he was shut in for a couple of hours as I didn't realise he'd stealthily crept into the bedroom and made himself very comfortable on the bed. It's nice to have a cat around but although he strops around my ankles scent marking me he's not a 'sit on your lap for a cuddle' kind of cat. He's a bit aloof. Maybe that's because he's a posh cat and knows his status.

Autumn Equinox


A lovely sunny late summer day. Today I took a short trip to Exmouth to walk along the Exe estuary. A fine late summer day and the crowds of visitors have left. The beaches once again free to be enjoyed by the residents. The best time of year. When you can go out for a walk and remind yourself why it is so lovely to live in East Devon. Tomorrow is the first day of autumn.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Northern Rock Debacle

I just cannot believe what I am seeing on the news. The queues at Northern Rock Banks of hundreds of people patiently waiting to get access to their money. The whole tribe of leaders, bankers, experts, politicians wheeled out to tell us all that our money is SAFE in Northern Rock. No problems. Don't panic. The website is running as normal - it 'maybe a bit slow' as so many people are trying to get online to transfer their money out. Does anyone know of anyone who has managed to log on to even look at their balance? You can't even get online to open an account - if you should wish to do so - if you wanted to show your faith in the bank.

I am so sorry for all the staff at Northern Rock. From staff at HQ, to the IT Dept, and all the counter staff. I expect they are getting a lot of flack and aggro from anxious savers. At the same time they will be worried about their own jobs. The standard of staff and paperwork at Northern Rock has been exemplary. Far superior to any other bank I've had dealings with. That's why it is such a sad ending to a fine institution. It's the bosses who are to blame - and the shareholders along with the FSA and Govt.

Now I'm a saver and so is my husband. We can't afford to lose money. But as our accounts are postal and have penalties attached for cashing in early - then there is no easy access to our money however much I would like to panic and take it out. Unless the bank and its obligations are taken over we are likely to lose some of our savings. The FSCS scheme only pays 100% on the first £2k and then drops to 90% for the subsequent amount to a maximum of £33k. This sum was set up with the scheme a few years ago. I don't know whether it will ever be reviewed. Some people have had far more than £35k invested - perhaps they weren't told of the maximum re the FSCScheme as a last resort if a bank fails - perhaps banks should be required to do so in future.

Now - I also have a smallish sum - my ready cash savings in the Silver Saver On-line. There is no way I can access that at the moment. I did try at 3.30 a.m. But I am reluctant to anyway because what would happen if I arranged a BACS transfer and while my money was out there in that mysterious world of the etherbank - that strange place where I get no interest on it - while it has left one bank and takes 3-4 days to arrive at the destination bank - what would happen if the Northen Rock bank suddenly ceased trading? Would I be covered then by the FSCS scheme? Or if the NR Bank sent my money to me as a cheue through the post. My money in a cheque. But before it was paid in and cleared as cash in my current account - would I be then be an unfortuante creditor only or would I still be covered under the FSCS scheme?

Knowing how this Govt. has refused to help out pensioners with collapsed pension schemes and the Equitable Life customers; also the FSA seems very toothless when dealing with this - then are any of these schemes worth the paper they are written on? At our age we can't afford to wait xx years to find out if we will get compensation should a bank collapse and cease trading.

This latest panic on the high street just shows how none of us trust our leaders when they tell us we have nothing to worry about. They have squandered our trust over the last 10 years and are now being hoist by the petards [whatever they are!]. I hope it's painful for them all.

18/09/07 - Well said Libby Purvis : http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/libby_purves/article2477756.ece