Wednesday 26 November 2014

The Spanish Riding School Stallions from Vienna

This is just a tiny bit of what I went to see during my recent break. Sorry about the quality. As you can see we were seated quite high up in the Wembley Arena and the video was taken on my daughter's i-phone.

Monday 24 November 2014

A Very Moving Story

I've been catching up with the blogs I follow and when I was reading the posts on My Quality Day I found that Sharkbytes has been really unwell, but is hopefully recovering now. Wishing you well, Joan. She normally posts daily after deciding on the day's 'redeeming quality', but has missed a few days recently, so she must have been really ill.

One of her earlier posts pointed me to the wonderful story of her adopted sons from Vietnam, and how one of them was rescued by a US combatant. It was so moving, and an article that I think everyone should read. Find it at

Saturday 22 November 2014

Visiting Friends

Before I went away last week, I sent off all the work that was due before I came home again. It hadn’t been too difficult to get ahead because I had drastically cut down the monthly workload when I resumed working after my bereavement. However, because there are likely to be big changes to my domestic circumstances next year, I have a great deal to do in the house to get ready for that. I decided that, on the same email, I would warn my client that the start of 1915 would be time for me to take more time off and perhaps retire. I came back to a heart-warming reply wishing me well and saying that the door would always be open if I wanted assignments. I do feel loved and lucky.

My first destination last Wednesday was the home of some old friends who had invited me to stay with them. My old school friend’s house is a real oasis of peace, despite the fact that she and her husband are busy pensioners heavily into village community life. The first morning they went off to volunteer activities at a popular lunch club. Early afternoons were taken up by dog walks as they have a rescued dog called Ginger, who gets on well with Jade. 

 One evening I was treated to a complete run through rehearsal of Jack and the Beanstalk as my friend is in the chorus of the village panto. She also showed me a number of costumes she had been making for it. Great fun was had by all.

Unfortunately almost as soon as I came home I went down with an unpleasant bug that is wearing me out. I’ll tell you about the rest of my travels in another post.

Monday 10 November 2014

Walking at Sandbanks

pic by Nigel Mykura

We went to Sandbanks this afternoon and did a loop from the car to walk the beach past the ocean facing backs of the multi-million pound dwellings and then back to the car on the harbour side of the peninsular. It was windy and the tide was quite high; there wasn't much beach to negotiate in places. The photo above showing some of the luxury houses was clearly taken in warmer weather.

Jade had her usual fun with the pebbles and we met a few other dog walkers. Lots of kite surfers were out on the waves adding bright blobs of colour to the greyness of the sea and sky.

pic by Tony Hisgett

Walking was tougher for me coming back with the wind in my face, but not as bad as the last time we did this. Then we were with George and he had to grab me a couple of times to stop me being blown back. I don't think it affected Jade at all as she is so close to the ground.

pic by Mike Faherty

It's going to be a week or so before I can post again as Jade and I are off on our travels once more. I'll report on that when I'm back next week.

Friday 7 November 2014

Jade and Friend

No, this not Jade. It's ceramic. Someone gave it to me. Lifelike, isn't it?

Here they are together.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Our Ham Common Walk

This year arsonists ensured that much of Ham Common was denuded of vegetation. Only bare earth and the blackened skeletons of destroyed bushes were left after the spring. Now though, the ground is covered by new life with plants pushing up and even disguising those sad skeletons.

Jade and I had the paths of the common to ourselves this afternoon. Only once we had descended to steps to Rockley Beach did we see other people enjoying the autumn sun and the long stretches of sand and mud pools exposed by a very low tide.

By the time we got back to the car park, the sun was obscured by a dark cloud, so we were happy to make for home, where I got some cleaning jobs done before settling back to work in my office. 

I can't seem to write more than one article a day at the moment, so I have to be careful how much commissioned work I take on. I'll be working this weekend so I can meet all the deadlines due to fall while I'm away again next week.

Monday 3 November 2014

Weekend in Wales

I’ve just had a great 24 hours in the Cardiff area. The weekend  was booked months ago. It was one of those annual outings to meet old friends that George usually declined to attend. But he always provided a chauffeur service either to the area we chose, or to and from a convenient railway station. I hadn’t thought that I’d have to make my own arrangements this time, and it took some thought and organisation.

Cardiff is north-west from here. Going from my nearest railway station, though, would involve travelling directly east to Southampton before going north to Salisbury and changing to the line that heads westwards. It would be very expensive and take so long I wouldn’t have the time I wanted at my destination unless I went the day before.  Driving all the way would wear me out and I’d be so nervous about finding the hotel and parking etc. it would spoil my enjoyment of the reunion.

In the end I decided to drive to Salisbury – a bit under an hour away by road - and paid for a private parking space with, thinking it would be safer than leaving the car overnight in the station car park. That should have been a perfect solution if I hadn’t found someone else parked in the space allocated to me. And if the owner of it had not been working all night in a hotel and had to be woken by my urgent phone calls so he could get up to sort it out. I had to double park behind his car and leave him my key. But he would be at work when I returned for the car the next evening, so we also had to agree a hiding place where I could find it.

That sorted, the rest of the journey was a straightforward train journey.  Coming back was another story that involved a bus journey between two stations because of work being done on the railway line. I determined to avoid thinking about that while I was with my friends - and abut whether I’d be able to get my car and drive home through the Dorset countryside in the dark.

Isn’t it great when you can get together with people you only see about once a year and find you are just picking up where you left off? We met in a pub at noon and spent some time there, then went off by bus to Cardiff Bay to see how it has been developed.  

We were quite impressed. It was heaving with people who were not all from the UK. We took a look at the Norwegian Church where Roald Dahl was baptised. That was a little disappointing since, although it has a perfect black and white exterior and some stained glass windows, the inside has been turned into a café. (The pristine toilets were appreciated though.)

photo by Pauline Eccles 

Months ago I had booked us all into the Mount Sorrel Hotel in Barry, a few miles from Cardiff. Hotels in Cardiff were either far too expensive or full up, probably because Cardiff were playing Leeds (at football/soccer) in the city that afternoon. We timed our travels to avoid meeting up with fans and were in Barry for the evening. The hotel was a gem, inexpensive so we weren’t expecting any frills, and didn’t need them. Full English breakfast was included and the rooms were comfortable. £30 is very reasonable for all that.

The next morning we took the 10 am train back to Cardiff to visit the castle. 

photo by Wolfgang Sauber

When I’d been in Cardiff before, it had been for work and I’d never had time for sightseeing. I had walked past the castle many times with no time to visit, so I had looked forward to that. And I wasn’t disappointed. I think a description of it will need to be covered in another post as I’m now running out of time.

I was on the 2.40 train for the first leg of my journey home, which all went to plan despite my anxieties. At about 6.50 I was welcomed back by Jade who had been collected by my son from the dog minder. He had also undertaken to cook a roast dinner for us before going back to the flat he shares with his girlfriend, so they could get ready for work on Monday morning. They said they thought it was better for me than coming back to an empty house. 

I must count my blessings.

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