Sunday 31 May 2009

Who Is Influencing Who?

We often have Amber and Millie for a Friday night "sleepover" and its always a pleasure to have them stay.
However, one Saturday morning, I was tidying the table for breakfast, when I noticed the word Millie had been written across the plastic tablecloth in large children's writing. The problem was it had been written in biro.

Obviously I was not very pleased and confronted Millie.
"How did this writing get on my plastic cloth?" I demanded in a stern voice.
Millie gulped and said, "It was put there by accident."
Well....... I ask you! The pen jumped up and wrote Millie's name by itself!

Shortly afterwards, I noticed a piece of china on the draining board. Problem was, it was a broken piece of china and the mug that it was broken from was nowhere to be seen.

"Does anyone know anything about this broken piece of china?" I asked.
It was obvious that the children had nothing to do with it. I could tell by their reactions that consisted of complete lack of interest and no trace of guilt.

Harry ambled in. "Oh that," He said. "It just sort of fell off the mug."
Now who is he kidding? Telling me a large chunk of china just fell off a mug by itself!

Is he learning from the children do you think? Or are they learning from him? Thats what I'd like to know.

Thursday 28 May 2009

Two Dogs Meet

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGee

While on a day trip recently, I came across this dog made of pieces of metal, nuts and bolts that were skillfully put together to look as though they had been made of junk, I think.
Any way, I thought it would make a really good photo so I snapped it straight away.
Imagine my surprise when I transferred the photo onto the computer and I saw the real dog in the corner!
At the time I took this photo, I honestly didn't notice it at all. I guess it was moving quite quickly.
Do you think I could have been quick enough to capture this scene if it had been engineered? No way!

Photostory Friday is hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek. Why not join in this week?

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Lonely Beach

There is not much to say about this outlet of fresh water bubbling out into the sea. All the beaches along the Bristol Channel have beaches where the tide goes out a long way. However it does move fairly rapidly.
Not sure what that little black blob was though. Any ideas?

Watery Wednesday is hosted by 2sweetnsaxy. Why not look her up?

Sunday 24 May 2009

Medical Research

Foxgloves (Digitalis) were used to treat heart conditions, years ago.

Not long ago, I had my DNA taken and stored on file.
No, I hadn't been arrested and neither was I a suspect for a crime, nor was it needed for elimination purposes.

My Family Practitioners (Doctors), got in touch to say that thousands of people were needed to help with medical research and Harry and I were asked if we'd take part.
Those of you who know me (if it is possible to know some one from a blog) might well be shocked.

"What! Maggie May, the elusive grannie who won't even have her photo printed on the net! Giving DNA!"
Yes, that's right. After doing quite a bit of research into the company and asking quite a few questions about what they would do with the information and samples, we decided it was pretty safe to do this. There are some pesky diseases in our family. Prostrate cancer, breast cancer and the tendency towards depression. Wouldn't it be good to find a way to halt these illnesses and to even eliminate them in the future?
We will not be told anything about what they find from the blood and urine samples. It might be years before they are processed and we gave permission for the samples to be stored and used after our deaths. That's it....... curtains! Forget about it.

We had to have medical checkups and to answer questions on a computer. It took one and a half hours. Some of the questions made me go a bit hot, but there was an option to say that I'd rather not answer. However, I didn't take that option.

The man who took my blood asked me, "Do you normally faint when you have blood taken?"
I quipped back, "It depends how much you are going to take!"
I had to climb up onto the huge leather chair, which had a reclining back and I thought, "Blimey! They are well prepared if I do pass out."
Anyway, I didn't, but he filled up 5 phials and made a massive bruise on my arm. Looked like I had been injecting for years by the time he'd finished. (Not that I'd know, of course, but I can imagine!) Never mind.... this was for the future good of mankind, I reminded myself.

I had to be weighed....... Grief- the moment of truth! They didn't put me down as obese, but I was definitely overweight. Oh and my Body Mass Index is high!
Right, that does it. I am dieting from tomorrow. We eat too much. I blame Harry for that as he always seems to bring back little treats from his shopping sprees and he says, "A little treat now and then never hurt anybody."
Well, the treats seem to be everyday now. It has to stop.

Harry told me that my lung capacity was good! What a cheek! So I was looking forward to a good result. Something positive. However, because of an eye condition that I have, they wouldn't do the lung capacity test as they thought it was too risky. I have managed to blow up balloons without any ill effect ( for the granddaughters, that is, not for me.) Oh well......
I had to stick my heel into a little box and I am pleased to report from that test that my bone density is good! Why am I telling you all this stuff?
Any way, that was that. Our little bit to help the future generations.

The clinic was full of people doing the same and we were offered tea/coffee and biscuits for our trouble. They would have paid our bus fares too but we used our free bus passes.
It all made a change from the things I normally do on my day off!
What would you have done? Gone for the research or not?

Thursday 21 May 2009

Are You Squeamish?

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

My garden has been taken over by scaffolding. Most of you know that we have had renovations here on our kitchen roof.
This is the point that I put a warning on this post. If you are squeamish do not go any further.

This is the roof that has held a terrible secret for six years. The roof that has caused me so much misery, often to the point of making me despair. The cause of all the noises, the smells and the frustration of not being able to get to the source of the problem because a pitched roof was built over a flat one, making it impossible to investigate let alone do anything. The cause of rows between Harry and me. The roof that has been the reason for my feeling trapped and not even having the option of moving away from the problem. The roof that has made me feel like running away. The roof that I have blamed for ruining my life over and over again.

And this is the start of the discovery of just what it was that was making my life such a misery. This is the hole that was revealed once the fascia board was taken off the side of the roof, on my neighbour's side. There was no sign of the hole until that moment. This is only one of the holes that was found.
This is my last warning for the squeamish not to look any further.

The men had decided to cleanse the roof from the outside in and took off the tiles and felt and also the flat roof, leaving the kitchen ceiling directly under the scene above. This is what met our eyes..... rat runs. You can see the way that they have chewed up the insulation and they had also started on the wiring and had stripped several wires of their plastic outer casing. Fortunately, the wires were not touching. I hate to think what might have happened if they had been.

This was number one body that was found amongst the chewed up insulation that had obviously been used as bedding. There were five of the pesky rodent bodies hidden away at various points in the roof. No need to show them all, as after you have seen one, they all look the same!

Photostory Friday is hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek where you will find some great entries.

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Fancy a Shower Anyone?

I have passed this fountain at Weston Super Mare, Somerset, so many times without thinking. However, on the last visit I suddenly thought of Watery Wednesday! Just as well I had my camera handy! I got a bit splashed taking it as sometimes I get carried away and get too close.

Watery Wednesday is hosted by 2sweetnsaxy. Why not enter this week?

Monday 18 May 2009

The Big Decision

This is the time of the month to write a fictional story for the May issue of Portrait of Words, on Jeff B's blog. All the rules are there if you'd like to look them up.
This time he asked us to write about any of the following things. Eccentric middle aged man, large bridge, grapes, blue VW Beetle and a Motel. My story is short this month, as I almost forgot to do it! Why don't you have a go?

All Sean had to do was to go over that bridge, to make some effort and to try to put some of the wrongs he'd done, right.
Something was holding him back.

He was sitting outside the pub next to the Motel where he'd stayed the night and was drinking a small beer.
His blue Beetle was parked nearby. Ready for off.

Ellie -Mae was waiting for him. She'd been waiting for him for three years.
The trouble was, he was a rover, unable to settle down and he couldn't commit himself to anyone. He'd never been one for the conventional life. He liked to travel and that is what he had been doing these last few years. Grape picking in Italy and taking what work he could find. But mostly just bumming around and enjoying his freedom.
He admitted to himself that he'd let Ellie- Mae down badly and he felt guilty now that he'd found out he'd left her pregnant and he hadn't known that at the time.

Just by chance he'd heard about this from some one he'd bumped into on his travels.
She wanted him back and his little girl, Elouise, was nearly three years old now. He had missed her baby days. He was afraid though.... afraid of the responsibility.
He knew that he was fortunate that Ellie- Mae wanted him back after the way he'd treated her and he wasn't sure whether he felt the same way about her or not. That was the truth of the matter.

So what should he do? Turn round and head back to the country and forget the pair of them? Or get back onto the Motorway and cross that bridge and find them both in the town where he knew Ellie- Mae would be waiting?

Sean drained his glass, stretched and sighed. He would do neither of those two things.
He'd head back to Motel.
Tomorrow was a new day. The decision could wait until then.

Thursday 14 May 2009

Dunster Castle

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Some time ago my son, Sam, asked me if I'd like to go on a trip with him to Dunster and of course, I said I would love to.
I like to think that he asks me to come out with him because I'm such good company but it is probably because I help to keep the children in check and it is easier to have some extra help! Kaiko, his wife works long hours in another town, so when I go out with the family, it is only ever with Sam and the girls. Otherwise he is happy for them to all go off as a family.

Sam belongs to the National Trust and so he gets in free. Well not really free because he pays an annual subscription but he can go to as many places as often as he likes.

Dunster is situated in Somerset and is near Minehead on the Bristol Channel. The town is famous for it's castle, but because we went before the castle was officially open, not yet being Spring, we could only walk through the grounds. However these were really beautiful and we took a picnic with us and found a lovely place to eat. Squirrels and a robin came to join us and shared our crumbs and it was then that I knew I'd have to get a better camera. The creatures were too fast for mine.

There are lots of little doorways and archways in the grounds of Dunster. It seems that every turning there was something lovely to see.

The castle ruin at the top of this picture seems to haunt many of the scenes wherever we looked.

There were many lovely little *old world* cottages with thatched roofs. We went on to Minehead after that and had a lovely time. However, I will save that for another post!

Photostory Friday is hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek. Why not join in?

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Guard Dog.

We are lucky to be close by all sorts of water ways and we regularly stroll along the harbour water front that has been modernised with very lovely renovated flats and other buildings. The area used to look an eyesore.
There are many different kinds of boats going along the harbour. Ferry boats, sailing boats and motor boats as well as larger ships and some famous ones at that.
This was a very small house boat and the dog moved to sit by the occupants' bicycles just as we were passing.
Thought it made a good picture.

Watery Wednesday is hosted by 2sweetnsaxy. Why not join in?

Sunday 10 May 2009

No Smoke Without Fire

Orange Blossom from a neighbour's garden. It has a lovely perfume.

This is the time of the year when we really need to make the most of our gardens. The winter seemed long and now the days are opening up it is pleasant to be able to sit out there with a cup of tea and to hang the washing out. There's nothing more lovely than the smell of freshly laundered washing that has been dried outside.
Just before I set off for work the other day, I put out a whole rotary full of washing, thinking that it would be dry when I got back!
I looked out of the window and to my horror, saw thick acrid smoke belching everywhere. The smell was even seeping into the house.
I ran upstairs and looked through the back bedroom window, just after I had taken all my washing in.
What a cheek! The workmen from two doors away had lit a huge bonfire. My pet hate!
Just before Christmas our elderly neighbour died and his house has just been sold to a builder, who is gutting it and the garden.

Now I can get feisty when I need to, so off I rushed to the offending builder up the road.
"Excuse me," I said. "Do you know this is a smokeless zone? The people round here will not be pleased with that bonfire and several of us have just put clean washing on the line and some people like to sit out in their own gardens for a bit of lunch and you have spoilt that option now."
"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know it was a smokeless zone. What a silly idea that is."
I was by then quite verbal, so I explained that I thought it was a very good idea to have a smokeless zone in a city where the gardens are so small and the environment is not always as fresh as it could be and I went on to say, "and what's more there are birds nesting!"

That's when he lost his nerve with me, thinking I was either a raving lunatic or too overbearing to cope with.
He said he would ask his boss to put it out.

Later that day, I noticed that the men had a small lorry in the back lane and they were putting the rubbish in it, probably having to pay at the City tip when they could have burnt it for free.

I was saying to Sam, my son that I was going to blog about it.
"How can I illustrate that post?" I asked him and he suggested that I set fire to some rubbish in a plant pot and take photos.
At first that sounded like a good idea and then I realized that it meant making my own mini bonfire! Did I really want to be seen to be making one, however small just so I could illustrate my post?
Bonfires are my pet hate, don't forget!
So I started experimenting with smoke from incense sticks!

A bit pathetic and not very effective, is it?! Still, I did save the environment from another bonfire!

Thursday 7 May 2009

Traditional English May Day

PhotoStory Friday

Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

May Day traditionally, is steeped in history and celebrations go back before the middle ages, probably even before then.

Isn't the chap below a strapping young lad? He plays the melodion, which is like a miniature accordion, very well.

I was recently following the above group, Jack in the Green, together with a good few Morris Dancers, who had walked right across the city. They do this every year come rain or shine, on the first Saturday following May 1st. This year because my son, Sam was involved, I decided to go with them, though not the whole distance, as I thought it was too far for Millie to walk, though Amber did manage the complete route, being a bit older.

Here they are, my family, flowers in hair. Not Sam!

The tall Christmas tree like object that is moving in front of the procession is called a Jack! Anyone who gets too close to him has a dab of green daubed onto their nose! I got caught, as did most people!

Amber had borrowed another child's outfit for a while. She will have her own next year. A pity about her ear poking that I have only just noticed! Oh well, don't they say, never work with children or animals!

I was talking to a member of this group, who said that in early Victorian times, chimney sweeps were quite poor and it was against the law to beg or busk. On May Day, they coloured their faces green and dressed up and collected a lot of money through dancing, that helped them through hard times. Nobody recognized them, so that was how this particular group was started. You can see that the fiddler is dressed in a chimney sweep outfit, to carry on the tradition. You can read more about Jack in the Green here. There are so many legends attached to it and I have only scraped the surface.

When we had walked through a very busy main road and risked the Saturday traffic, which often ground to a halt because of us all, we eventually arrived in a lovely green park, where more dancing took place and then suddenly, the Jack was set upon and smashed up by all the bystanders and everyone rushed forward to take flowers and ivy off the framework. Fortunately, the group let the man who was operating the Jack, out first!

It was a lovely warm, sunny day and we had a very pleasant time and I will definitely go again next year.

Photostory Friday is hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Mud-bath Anyone?

Or Sandie Shaw?

Meet the local seagulls preening themselves and bathing in the sea! The water isn't dirty. It's just a very muddy area. It's always brown.

I remember when I went to the former Yugoslavia for a holiday, where the Adriatic Sea was so crystal clear and blue, feeling almost despair when I came home to our muddy sea. Everything looked a mess.
Funny how easy it is to get used to things again.