Wednesday 28 May 2014

My New Bistro Set

I'm very excited about  my new acquisition. I wanted a bistro set for my terrace last year but couldn't find one I liked at a price I could afford. I tried again this spring and ordered this one from Dun Elm a couple of weeks ago. (Jade is not very impressed, as you can see.)

I must say the delivery service was excellent. I could have tracked it on line if I wanted, and I received no less than three phone calls about when to expect it, each one reinforcing the last. It arrived yesterday morning and hubby set it up while I was working. After we came back from our afternoon walk, I had my cup of tea out there, but I shivered. Today it's even colder, and I won't be using it again until the weather warms up.

We need to get a cover for it now. We expected  rain last night so covered each piece with a green rubbish sack weighted down with a brick, and that doesn't look as pretty. But I'm still happy that I have it at last.

Monday 26 May 2014

A Famous Garden

It was around twenty years ago that I visited the famous garden of Monet, the Impressionist artist, at Giverny in France. I went with a friend  as part of a short coach holiday that we both thoroughly enjoyed. But Monet’s Garden was the undoubted highlight of the trip. It was August and the lilies in the water garden area were in full bloom, while outside the house across the road the flower beds were a riot of colour. We both said we wanted to visit again at different times of the year.

I haven’t made it yet, and it’s looking less and less likely that I will. But yesterday I received an email with this photo of those water gardens with just a few lily buds beginning to show colour. My friend was there again, this time with the husband not yet in the picture all those years ago. I am envious, but grateful that she thought of me while she was there and was thoughtful enough to communicate that with me.

I don’t believe she will mind me sharing her photo of the place from which so much inspiration was drawn, producing paintings revered the world over. I have some old photos of it somewhere myself, but I'm not sure where to put my hands on them. 

Friday 23 May 2014

In the Garden Again

The pansies in the hanging baskets are starting to flower.
And, although I neglected to prune them this year,
we have a few of the deep purple clematis flowering as well.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Summer's on the Way

After the horrendously wet winter, we've had some sun and warm days. The garden is responding. This scrumptious mass of flowers is what I see now from my kitchen window - such a brilliant white.

And we'll soon have an abundance of strawberries.

Monday 19 May 2014

A Senior's Lament

You may have seen this before as it's been going the internet rounds for a while. I first saw it in 2012 and someone has sent it to me again now. It's an interesting slant on environmental issues.

A very green area of the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall

"Checking out at the supermarket,the young cashier suggested to the much older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because Plastic bags weren't good for the environment. The woman apologised and explained, "We didn't have this 'green thing' back in my earlier days."

The young cashier responded, "That's our problem today - your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations." She was right -- our generation didn't have the 'green thing' in its

Back then, we returned milk bottles, lemonade bottles and beer bottles to the shop. The shop sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilised and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.

Grocery shops bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we re-used for numerous things, most memorable besides household bags for rubbish, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our
schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school), was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalise our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn't do the "green thing" back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have a lift in every supermarket, shop and office building. We walked to the local shop and didn't climb into a 300 horsepower machine every time we had to go half a mile.

But she was right. We didn't have the "green thing" in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's Terry Towel nappies because we didn't have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 3 kilowatts – wind and solar power really did
dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids had hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day.

Back then, we had one radio or TV in the house - not a TV in every room and the TV had a small screen the size of a big handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of Scotland In the kitchen. We blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We pushed the mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the "green thing" back then.

We drank from a tap or fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the "green thing" back then.

Back then, people took the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their Mums into a 24-hour taxi service in the family's £5
0,000 ‘People Carrier’ which cost the same as a whole house
did before the "green thing." We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances and we didn't need a computerised gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites
23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest Pub!

But isn't it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the "green thing" back then?"

Friday 16 May 2014

Grand Central

Still on the theme of New York and my wrongly set up camera, I rather like this fuzzy photo of Grand Central Station. I don't know if you could get the effect deliberately.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Manhattan from the Empire State Building, July 2005

I went to New York for the first ( and only, so far) time in 2005 for a friend's 40th birthday party. Can't believe she'll be 50 next year. Wonder what she'll arrange for that. The 40th was celebrated on a boat going around Manhattan, which was great and, of course, unmissable.

I stayed a day or so either side to do the tourist stuff. You'll notice in the photo that the metal safeguarding barrier is in perfect focus, rather than the actual view. The camera was new and I hadn't quite got the hang of it. I'd set it up all wrong. But I'm still keeping my pics to help me remember it all.

Monday 12 May 2014

Holidays on the Way

It’s nearly time to pay the balance on the cottage we’re renting in Galmpton this summer, so that has got me thinking about it. By coincidence the week we’ve chosen is the same one as when we took a caravan in Brixham three years ago. So we’ll be there for Torbay Carnival Week again. Last time we had a good view of the carnival procession from the window of the pub where my nephew was working. He’s not working there any more so I’m not sure what vantage point we’ll have this year, but we’ll certainly be watching it in Paignton somewhere. It starts on the green near the pier.

pic by  Derek Harper

Here are some of the carnival floats from last time.

You'll probably note that none of the themes are UK west country ones.

Friday 9 May 2014

A Change of Mind

When I’m writing for work, I learn much more about things that normally wouldn’t interest me very much. Sometimes I find that it changes the way I think about the topics. This morning I was writing about health and safety laws and evacuation chairs. I was reminded of when, many years ago, I started a teaching job at a further education college.
On the first day I had to join several other new employees for induction training. Part of it covered safe manual handling and using evacuation chairs. I now know it was woefully inadequate, really just paying lip service to what the law required. We didn’t take any of it seriously. Even the tutors seemed to operate with tongue in cheek.

When it came to operating the evacuation chairs, volunteers were required to sit in the chair at the top of a flight of stairs so that each of us could have a go at moving them down. I didn’t volunteer as I was afraid of being tipped out. And the short session came to an end before it was my turn to handle the chair, for which I breathed a sigh of relief. We were not advised about techniques for  getting a person from a wheelchair into the evac chair, and I wouldn’t expect that any of us felt really capable of taking charge in an emergency. Thank goodness it was never necessary in my time and I didn’t have any vulnerable people in my classes when the fire drill was tested.

Many of us still find health and safety regulations a joke, but I had to check out the news items on the Health and Safety Executive’s website. I was horrified at some of the incidents that were reported, and at what organisations had been prosecuted for. Of course, it does become a joke when companies take it too far out of ignorance about how to comply – it really isn’t necessary to carry out a risk assessment on using a tape measure or put guidelines on how to walk upstairs on the staff noticeboard. Still, I’m not going to be so dismissive of health and safety considerations in future.

Monday 5 May 2014

Venice Is in the Mists of Time

It seems such a long time since we were there. It's now just a lovely, fuzzy memory. This is a photo looking down the Grand Canal from the Accademia Bridge.

The Grand Canal is one of the places that always gets a mention in every book set in Venice, and in every article I read about it. Although I say my memories are growing fuzzy, I will definitely have a clearer picture of what is being referred to when I'm reading.

Thursday 1 May 2014

The Joys of Car Ownership

this photo of a moving car is by SteGrifo27 at Wikimedia Commons

Each year at the end of April it's time for the car to be MOTed. After it reaches three years' old, no car is allowed on UK roads without passing an annual MOT test to ensure it is safe to drive.

Now my car is an ancient Ford Focus that was born in 1999. It has served me well over the last ten years, until last year romping through the annual MOT test with no trouble. In between it's only let us down once, when hubby was driving it home after dropping me off for my caravan holiday in Seaton. That time the AA took him home and we got our mechanic to find a good fuel pump from another Focus that was being scrapped so getting it fixed only cost about £500 rather than nearly a thousand. Another time we had to get a new battery for it and after that the radio wouldn't work because the person who had it before us hadn't given us the code for it. Now we have a new radio in it but have only managed to tune it into Radio 2 and can't find any other programme. It also plays CDs but I keep forgetting to take any out of the house.

Getting back to the MOT, over the years I've been lucky that the testers haven't found anything wrong with it. But like me and hubby, it's getting on in years. Time is catching up with all of us and in the twilight years we get various ailments. Last year was the first time my Focus failed the test and I had to fork out for work to be done to bring it up to standard. The covers on the joints of the anti-roll bar needed to be renewed to stop dirt and muck impairing the joints. This year it failed the test again and I needed a new tyre on the front and a new number plate at the back before they would pass it.

With your MOT certificate, you also get advice on things you should get around to fixing. Two years ago this said I should get the front brake pads renewed within a few months. I worried about it for a while and then forgot all about it. Last year brakes were not mentioned. This year I asked if all the brakes were ok and they said yes. So I generally take the advice with a pinch of salt. What it did say this year was that there was some play on the ball joints of the anti-roll bar. I spoke to one of the mechanics about this and told him what was done last year. He said it was probably damage done before those covers were renewed but it's not urgent to get it fixed (which will cost in the region of £114). "Come back in six months and we'll check it for you."

Do you trust your car mechanic not to fleece you?

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