Monday 31 May 2010

Top Droppers for May

I haven't acknowledged my most loyal EC droppers for too long. I'm always impressed by those who can find time to drop consistently through the month. Thank you all so much. Your loyalty is really appreciated. I will return the favour as often as I can, and am only sorry it can't be every single like, like some of you.

If you're not in this list, you are more like me and just can't do it every day. But be assured I appreciate your visits just as much. If you are not familiar with any of the blogs in my list, I encourage you to check them out. Each one is fascinating in its own way.

Isn't blogging a great way to learn things you didn't already know?

The Third Uncle
Photography by KML
Computer Aid
Ask Ms Recipe
Secret forest
Laane on the World
Gadget World
Wood Burning Art Creations By Lucy

Saturday 29 May 2010

Quinta das Cruzes, Funchal, Madeira

I was looking for inspiration to find something to post about and decide to skim through my blog archive. It looks like I haven't posted anything about our holiday in Madeira, which was actually a wonderful break. You can actually read my article about it here.

One day we found the museum of Quinta das Cruzes in an 18th century mansion built on the site of the home of Zarco, who discovered the island in the 15th century and was its first Portuguese governor. It was surrounded by a beautiful garden, part of which was enhanced by stone ornaments and crosses. Perhaps that's how it got its name, which translates as the Mansion of the Crosses. Here's one of the ornaments, which looks like a royal coat of arms.

The mini-pic of me in the sidebar was taken in this garden. When we were there in October 2007, we were suffering from the heat and we found some lovely cool spots in the garden, like the one below.

I wonder how it fared in the February floods. The news pictures of water rushing down from the mountains were horrendous, as were the reports of loss of life. Tourism is the main industry there and the survivors must still be struggling to restore the beauty of Funchal and the rest of their enchanting island.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Dealing with Mobility Problems

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of NMEDA. All opinions are 100% mine.

I have cousins living in Memphis. Like me, they are getting on in years, so could well have mobility problems looming. I wonder if they know about NMEDA, the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association.

This is a not-for-profit organisation of members who work together to enhance the lives of people with disabilities with equipment to help them get around. Members can be mobility equipment dealers, driver rehabilitation specialists or others whose work finds and provides better transport solutions for those with impaired mobility. The members have to follow the NMEDA guidelines that detail recommended practices on equipment installation and modification, and are updated every year.

This national association developed in 1989 from an earlier one limited to Florida. It now has more than 600 members spread across the US and even over the border in Canada.

The laudable raison d’etre of NMEDA is the belief that transportation is the key to freedom. I must say I heartily agree as I rest my creaking leg joints. And I guess if you live in North America and need mobility solutions for yourself or a loved one, it would be sensible to choose a dealer that is a member.

I’m off to write to my cousins to let them know I found a dealer member on Summer Avenue in Memphis. You can find one near you if you visit the NMEDA website, click on locate a dealer and type in your zip code.

Visit my sponsor: NMEDA

Monday 24 May 2010

Pansies - Home and Away

My rows of pansies are filling out nicely and giving me a very colourful display I can view from the kitchen window. They weren't enough to fill the bed so I've added some other plants to keep them company - still have some holes to fill though. Here's a close up of a particularly beautiful one.

When I was in Bournemouth last week I took some photos in the Lower Gardens. One of them was the award winning display of pansies below. I don't think mine compare too badly, do you?

Friday 21 May 2010

The Readathon

Bournemouth is celebrating 200 years of existence this year and all sorts of things are going on there. I took a bus there this morning and headed for the foyer of the Pavilion where the local Literary Luncheon Society was holding a Readathon that included as a guest reader, Michael Dobbs, who read extracts from All Quiet on the Western Front (by H M Remarque) and his own recent novel, The Reluctant Hero.

I timed it well as a group of them were outside with a local press photographer when I arrived. Some of them were unaware of my taking the first photo when they were still talking to her. You can see her hand and camera on the left but I managed to crop the rest of her out, and you can see those group members who were all dressed up in the costume of the period of the books they read from. Then some of them dispersed and the rest of them posed beautifully for me, with Michael Dobbs play-acting in the centre.

I only stayed for the next part of the programme, which did include the author himself, because there were other things I wanted to do in Bournemouth - more of that in another post.

It was a very pleasant interlude, and wasn't I lucky to get those photos? I have to print some off and send them to my friends.

Thursday 20 May 2010

Quote Contest

photo: Wikimedia-Commons User Túrelio, Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0-de

I'm getting plenty of inspiration for blogposts from fellow bloggers at the moment. Today it's the turn of Fullet at Secret Forest, who is actually running a really interesting contest. To celebrate a full year of his blog, which comes up on May 29th, he's inviting bloggers to join his Weekly Quotes and put a quote in a blog post. And for one lucky participant, to be randomly selected, he generously offers a $35 Amazon voucher.

If that comes my way, I'll be buying books for writers. If not, I've been having great fun looking up different quotes. The one I've selected is this one from a very wise, and wonderfully giving, Mother Teresa.

Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.

Tuesday 18 May 2010

The 8th Photo Tag

I've picked up Sunday's tag from Poetic Shutterbug, to post the 8th photo in my 8th picture folder. It was taken last November when I went for a walk with my camera looking for some cheery winter colour in my local neighbourhood. I thought this really did fit the bill.

I will copy her and say to all of you: please pick up this tag, post your photo and tell us something about it. Then, if you feel inclined, pass it on to 8 specific bloggers, or just do as I have and let anyone pick it up.

Sunday 16 May 2010

Nile Views Again

It doesn't look as though we'll get a holiday this year. Not to worry, half the world is coming to me instead, I have so many visitors booked in.

But I have been thinking back rather wistfully to our last holiday at the end of March 2009 when we had two blissful weeks based in Luxor. So I thought I'd share some more photos I took during our day cruise on the Nile.

To see an explanation of half finished buildings, click here.

Friday 14 May 2010

Feast and Famine

I’m feeling cranky today and up to now, I haven’t written a thing. That’s bad. I like to write something every day when I’m at home. At least I will get this blog post written and posted.

Earlier I was about to start responding to a request in the Helium Marketplace. In fact I started a bit of research and then went back to copy the assignment guidelines. That’s when I noticed it was just for people with Premium Marketplace Writer status. Ok. I thought I had that, but I hadn’t posted anything there for a while and my star ratings are still going up and down.

So I decided to check. And what do I find? My status has dropped to Marketplace Approved Writer. I can’t write to that title for Helium. I’d wasted about half an hour plus lots of thinking time while I’d been doing household chores. It could have been worse though. I could have written the whole damn thing and not been able to submit it.

The reason I had planned to go for it in the first place was because I had already written something similar for a client, although it would have to be translated for an American readership, whereas my earlier piece had referred to UK law. It’s always good to be able to double up my use of research and cut down what’s needed for the next job.

Last month I was especially busy with sub contracted work, and didn’t have time for much else. It was a trial month and I’d hoped it would be regular work, but that’s not happening. Although I discounted it heavily, it proved too expensive to be repeated, especially as it had felt like working for even smaller peanuts than my freelance writing usually yields, so I wanted to reduce the discount a bit.

So while I had a feast of work last month, I am now in famine time. This is when I really have to motivate myself to hunt for work and even write on spec. I haven’t posted much at Constant Content either and my sales there are down. They always seem to go up when I can submit regularly, so I guess that’s the next thing I must get on with.

Monday 10 May 2010

The Butterfly House

On my usual route when walking to Holes Bay, I pass the side of this house, which is wildly decorating with masses of butterflies.

Saturday 8 May 2010

Sad Story; Happy Ending?

pic by Keven Law at Wikimedia

Recently my son came back to live with me. He and his girlfriend had shared a flat in a rural area. She had some low paid work but he couldn’t get any work. They couldn’t pay their rent and got evicted. She’s now living with her mother and he is with me, an hour’s drive away. But of course they have no cars. That’s the first sad bit.

The day after he arrived here, he started job hunting and signed on with various agencies. The following week he started working on a building site not far from here. This work will only last until it is finished, but hopefully then the agency can send him somewhere else. He’s just had his first pay cheque. That’s the first happy bit.

The construction company is building an extension to a school and my son is helping to fit windows. One day he came home and said he had found a robin’s nest full of baby birds inside the area being built. The parent birds were very agitated because of the building work getting closer and closer to them, but they did come in now and then to feed their young, who were of course screaming for food all the time. He thought if the nest wasn’t moved the babies would not survive. He told the site manager but didn’t know what was going to happen. That’s the next sad bit.

The next day when he came home he said that the young birds had jumped down out of the nest. The lads on the site joined forces to catch them and put them outside where their frantic parents soon shepherded them out of harm’s way. Sadly one didn’t make it because it went into a hole in the brickwork and they couldn’t get it out. This all happened at the end of the day just before everyone left; perhaps the parent birds would have found it and coaxed it out before morning. So hopefully, that’s the happy ending.

Wednesday 5 May 2010

The World Cup in South Africa

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of WorldCupCompanions. All opinions are 100% mine.

Banner-250x250 World Cup 2010

On June 12th, The USA meet England in the first round of the FIFA (The International Federation of World Football) World Cup in Rustenburg, South Africa. The odds of the USA soccer team winning this game or getting through the first round are pretty slim. As I write, the odds of them winning the cup are 75/1, while England is third favourite with odds of 11/2. You can see up to date World Cup odds by clicking the link.

Fans have needed some grit and determination to get tickets for the games. Less than 10% of available tickets are reported to have been allocated to fans of the individual teams, although Americans might find it easier than the English because of the latter’s fans having a bad reputation overseas.

Wherever you need to come from, it’s an expensive business, so it makes sense to spend some more time in South Africa, if you can. Rustenburg, in the North West Province, is located in the beautiful veld below the Magaliesburg Mountains. The town was named Rustenburg by Dutch farmers who settled in the area – it means a place of rest. It is close to the Sun City holiday resort, on the edge of the Pilanesburg National Park, which is one of Africa’s top destinations for fun lovers.

While staying there, you could take a ride in a hot air balloon, try out the Gary Player Golf Course, and experience the Valley of the Waves – a water park with five flume rides, one with an exciting 17 metre drop. The more serious minded might like to check out the local history at the Paul Kruger Museum in Rustenburg or visit the Platinum Mines.

The other two games for the USA in the World Cup group round are at the famous South African towns of Johannesburg and Pretoria. For the England team, they are at beautiful Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. If you are lucky enough to be following your team, there are many more wonderful sights and experiences awaiting you in these areas.

In the meantime, or if you are stuck at home watching on the small screen, use the sponsor link below to keep up with all the World Cup information and gossip.

Visit my sponsor: USA's World Cup Chances against England

Monday 3 May 2010

Living History at Lulworth

Pic by Chris Downer

Yesterday we went off to see our friends at the Living History event at Lulworth Castle. They were fortunate to have comfy seats in a window alcove on the ground floor of the castle close to the stairs going down to the kitchens and up to the top of one of the towers.

The castle is just four walls and a roof with a tower at each corner. It was most likely built as a hunting lodge, certainly not as a defensive structure. First built early in the 1600s, most of the changes in the intervening centuries were stripped from the interior by a fire that took hold in 1929. Much restoration work has been done since then but the walls inside have been left as the original stonework. Yesterday it was filled with Living History personnel who brought along many fascinating 17th century objects and the genteel crafts that would have been practised by the aristocracy of the time and their servants.

Outside was a tented village where we could see the rougher occupations practised by the commoners of the time. A battle demo was scheduled for 4 pm, but we missed that. The weather was showery, blustery and very cold. After we'd seen everything available, we left them to it and headed back to await our friends' return in the comfort of home.

Saturday 1 May 2010

Living History at My House

My weekend guests are members of a Living History English civil war regiment. In fact, David, who has been involved over many years, is the regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief. He has been twice widowed and his third wife, Betty, has been my friend since I was in my first, rather unhappy, marriage, when my children were small.

After breakfast this morning they went off in all their 17th century finery to a regimental wedding at the Guildhall in Poole. Tomorrow they are attending a Living History event at Lulworth Castle, which is not far from here. They very kindly agreed to me posting the photos of them posing for me in my garden this morning.

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