Tuesday 29 September 2009

The Sunday Roast

Most people who know David Mcmahon from authorblog will have been shocked and disappointed to learn that he decided to close his blog in order to promote more time to writing his novels.
Although this was an exciting thing for him to move on to, we will all certainly miss not only his photography and excellent journalistic writing, his sense of humour and his comments, but Verse and Worse (his funny rhymes), Post Of The Day, that made us all compete in a friendly way for recognition, and The Sunday Roast.

Whilst the Post Of The Day helped many people, myself included, to receive new comments and in turn, good blogging friends, similarly The Sunday Roast helped to introduce us to bloggers who were unknown to us.

Well I have got good news for you. David has recommended someone to take over the Sunday Roast and he is the Bristol Blogger, Eddie Bluelights who has agreed to do this and hopes to take over mid October.
Eddie wants to keep David's interviews in the same tradition and style and if ever David came back to blogging, he would hand everything back to him. So he is looking after it for him until such a day that this might happen.

There are quite a few people trapped on David's draft folder, who should have been appearing on his Sunday Roast. These people might have never seen the light of day if Eddie hadn't agreed to free them. It would be good to see who they are, if they are new people or whether they are good friends, whom we already know.

Some of you might well be thinking, "Whatever is this Sunday Roast?"
So for those who have never heard of it, I will explain quickly that David invited people to be interviewed via email, to use on his post every Sunday together with their picture.
Some of his questions were Why Do You Blog? What Is The Reason Behind The Blog Name? What Advice Would You Give To A New Blogger? He also asked what they thought was their most significant post on their own blog and why. Also what other blog had influenced or made the most impact on them and why.
These posts have always been really interesting to read and I have made some good blogging friends this way.
I was Roasted last December just after Christmas. It was good fun, if not a little hot!
Eddie also wants these back numbers linked to his blog for others to see but if this is not possible, then you can always check them out at David's place.

Well Eddie hasn't as many followers as David has (getting on for 1000). Who could compete with that? Therefore, it has been decided that some of his followers would spread the word around so that readers will know that the Sunday Roast is still in operation. That is why I am writing this post that I will leave on my blog for a week or so, before I post anything else.

So my dear readers, if you enjoyed David's Sunday Roast, please would you post a similar notice on your blog to help promote the fact that it is still in operation and point them to Eddie Bluelights?
I wouldn't be a bit surprised if David didn't come over and have a peek from time to time.
Let's give him something to be really proud of....... a tradition that was started by him and that lives on.
Righty ho then, over to you, as he would say.

Sunday 27 September 2009

The Visitor

Photos copyright : Maggie May.

Something made me go to the window.
He looked up. Our eyes met. Something passed between us. We had definitely made a connection. I must have looked surprised to see him, but he seemed a little wary and uncertain of how I would receive him.

The scrawny fox turned his back on me, lapped some water from the mini pond, turned over some earth in a pot of newly planted young salad leaves with his paw and his nose. Then, slinking down the garden quietly and carefully, picking his way carefully through the obstacles that confronted him, he leapt over the wall into my neighbour's garden before my eyes could focus on him, using a metal chair to reach the height of it.
Its not as though we live in the country. This is a city garden with high walls and trellis on the top for added security. This was an urban fox who probably lives on allotments, but could just as easily live under a shed in someone else's property.

Was this the fox who brought hens' eggs into my garden on three occasions? Hens' eggs that had the little lion stamped on the side? He had put his first one in gravel and I had broken that one in my efforts to get it out. The second one had been left in a pot of chives and the latest one had been half buried in a small pot of earth. Maybe there were bulbs in that pot. I really can't recall, but the egg is still there waiting for him to collect it. Is he saving it for a time of famine? Or maybe he has forgotten about it altogether. Popping eggs into the the ground like a squirrel does with nuts.
Is this the ferocious animal that kills all the chickens for the sake of it, when he really only needs to eat one? Is it the same creature who takes childrens' pet rabbits and guinea pigs when he can?

My fox looked dainty and walked carefully round my garden pots. He would need to have a delicate mouth to carry the eggs while jumping walls and digging in pots. That same animal with a reputation for slyness and killing?

I felt it was a privilege to have him come into my garden and use my belongings and to have witnessed him doing this.
So come back, my scrawny, dainty fox. Share some more moments with me. I want to see you again but please do not leave your shells everywhere and dig up my plants!

Thursday 24 September 2009

Wings and Things

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Sports Mama

When Harry and I recently went to stay with our daughter on the east coast, she took us for an outing to Colchester Zoo. This was a very big zoo and was divided into different sections for example Africa and Australia etc. There they had very big animals in very large compounds and they all seemed very happy and well cared for. In fact, some of the compounds were so big that we had a job to find the animals.
We really did enjoy that visit very much and would definitely recommend anyone going there.

Funnily enough, when we arrived back home, my son asked us a few days later if we'd like to go to Bristol Zoo with him and the girls.
When I was young, I can remember going to this zoo and finding large animals in small cages and it did seem quite cruel and I can remember that the polar bears had to be put down because they went mad in their tiny environment.

Anyway, I am pleased to report that there are now hardly any large animals in that zoo and the ones we saw were very happy in their environment. The zoo seems to now specialize in small animals, insects and fish. With some animals there are walkthrough compounds of fairly large and natural looking surroundings.
The highlight for me was walking through a forest of small parrots. The girls each clutched a small cup of food for the birds (bought from a stall as we were about to go in). This looked like some kind of nectar. Well when they saw the parrots racing over to get their meal, the girls chickened out and gave their cups to me and before I knew what was happening, I had an armful of small parrots waiting to take the nectar and several sitting on my shoulder. I was hoping none would poop on my light coloured jacket and I was lucky on that occasion as none did. However another lady was not so lucky and had her face and hair covered in bird's mess.

Equally enjoyable was the walk through the heated butterfly enclosure and I was able to snap some unusual species and watch them going onto the small tables of nectar and the colourful flowers that were provided for them.

I even walked through the compound where the bats were sunning themselves in the Autumn sunshine. ( Yes we are beginning Autumn now.) I didn't mind the thought of bats flying around me as they weren't vampires. They were quite large though, measuring around a foot in length and a couple of feet or more from one wing tip to another.
It is so much better to see these animals and insects in a small zoo rather than the larger caged animals of yesteryear. I was very impressed with both visits to very different zoos on the east and the west coasts.

Photostory Friday is hosted by Cecily. For more stories with photos, why not click the link.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

After the Shower

Photos are copyright of Maggie May.

There is always plenty of rain in England and it is a common sight to see the plants in my garden covered in rain drops.
It is quite refreshing though and saves me having to water the pot plants too often.
The Agapanthus has now died back and the ornamental grass is looking rather tatty before it too, disappears.
I can't believe that it is Autumn already. Seems like we haven't had much of a summer at all.

Watery Wednesday is hosted by 2sweetnsaxy. For lovely photos, pop over for a visit.

Sunday 20 September 2009

Through Children's Eyes

Photos copyright of Maggie May.

I always encourage my grandchildren to draw and paint, having an artistic flair myself. They have an artistic auntie back in Japan, so if they do end up being good at art in the future, then I cannot claim all the credit. Their dad also has an artistic eye, but then he might take after me!
I usually end up putting their offerings onto the fridge door. Seems a good place to display it. Sometimes I get too much artwork given to me and I have to surreptitiously recycle something and hope it won't be missed.
The top picture was painted by Amber who was six when she did it. Notice the way the merman is ogling the mermaid! Little girls of this age love mermaids and horses, but horses are more difficult to draw, so I am told.

Now this one was drawn and painted by Millie who is four. She called it *the owl and the ghost.* I am not sure what she was thinking about at the time or where she got her idea from. If I had asked her she probably wouldn't have a clue, as her little brain moves on fairly quickly and I have a job to catch up. I think she might well be the one who has the most talent as she used to spend so long painting, though sadly, the desire to paint does seem to be waning slightly these days.

Working in an After School Club, I do get presented with a fair bit of art work from various children and I don't usually keep it because of lack of space. However the picture below was produced by a friend of Amber's and presented to me, so I put it on the fridge door in a place of honour. The look of pleasure on the child's face when I told her it would go in a special place with the granddaughter's artwork, was a real pleasure to see. I always pretend that I will keep their work, but this time I actually did.
Its a happy little picture, isn't it?

Thursday 17 September 2009

The Birds!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Izzy 'N Emmy

All photos are copyright of Maggie May

Wherever I seem to go there is a beady eye staring at me. In fact we are never very far away from seagulls or pigeons where I live.
I went for a day trip by the sea not long ago and a woman I got talking to on the way home, told me that she had had to go and buy a new top because a seagull had pooped all over the one she had on, as she said it was impossible to clean herself up with tissues or wet wipes.
I have often been pooped on by these birds and felt this splat of warm nastiness on the top of my head. Now that IS a horrible experience.

Once when visiting St Ives in Cornwall....... a beautiful seaside town, Harry had a seagull poop down his glasses and it was like thick mud that couldn't be wiped off properly. He ended up going to the gents and the assistant made him pay to go in. "I only want to wash off this mess from my glasses," He complained.
She had no sympathy whatsoever and insisted that he payed his money even though he didn't want to use the toilet. He was quite peeved about that.
While we were on that same visit, we saw seagulls snatching ice creams from children and terrorising them. Aggression in seagulls is not uncommon.

Pigeons are often fed and this encourages them to flock into the cities. So it's no wonder that they are everywhere because we humans throw down so much food.
Isn't it strange that it is completely frowned on to feed the common variety of feral pigeons but quite acceptable to feed the wood pigeons that frequent our gardens? They seem so much more respectable somehow.

Some people are really afraid of fluttering birds and will go right out of their way to avoid them. I know someone who is absolutely phobic about birds of any kind and she avoids them at all costs because to walk through a group of pigeons would cause her absolute panic. She is a very brave lady in every other respect though.

The pigeon in the picture below, even made a plant pot into a nest and the owners were using the pot as a window box. Cheeky thing staring into the front room, like that!

Photostory Friday is hosted by Cecily. Do look her up to see some really good photos and stories.

Sunday 13 September 2009

The Red Arrows

Photos are copyright of Maggie May

One Saturday in August Harry and I were feeling a bit lost as Sam had taken the children to Japan for a month and our lives had suddenly changed from being ridiculously busy, to being rather empty and aimless. (This is how we felt at the time, but we soon got over it.)

We decided to go for a very long walk across The Downs which is quite a spectacular place in one of the highest points of Bristol, so I don't know why it is called The Downs.
When we got to the Sea Walls and looked down at the Avon Gorge many feet below us, we began to hear other children asking their parents, "When are the Red Arrows coming?"
I am not sure if there is anyone reading this who has never heard of the Red Arrows but if so they are a group of tiny planes, painted red, who do daring stunts at air shows! You can get more information here.
Anyway Harry and I decided to wait as quite a few people had started to mill around who were mentioning 5 o'clock. On asking different people, it was confirmed that yes, the Red Arrows were visiting The Harbour Festival, not far away, so they would probably be seen by us from where we were standing.

Sure enough at the stroke of five, there was a huge roar as they swooped over the horizon. I had my camera with me and I noticed quite a few people had long angled lens that they had fitted to their cameras.
I did not have such equipment and I knew my little digital camera would struggle with these planes. Even though there is a good zoom, it was surely not meant for this kind of display so far away.
The Arrows whizzed across the sky so fast that it was difficult to catch them at all and sometimes all I got was a trail of red, white and blue smoke which the planes had released, the planes being long gone by the time the photo was taken.
Well this is the best I could do with my camera and if you click on the photos, the tiny planes might show up better.
It did lift our spirits as we walked the long trek home. The Red Arrows are always exciting no matter what your age and we were as excited as any child there.

Thursday 10 September 2009

Home On The Canals.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Photos are copyright of Maggie May.

A few weeks ago when my daughter and the two grandsons were staying with us, we decided to go to Birmingham to meet the boys' other grannie and we ended up at the Black Country Living Museum.
This was a lovely place to go and there were many houses and shops depicting life as it would have been in late Victorian times. In fact there was a little village with several streets. All these buildings had been dismantled from somewhere else and had been reconstructed just how they used to be in this little village. There were actors on the streets and we listened to little disputes mostly between mouthy women. I really felt that I had been transported back in time.
In the streets there were skipping ropes, metal hoops and hopscotch games to try out.

There was even a canal and we came across this authentic house boat complete with lady dressed as she would have done when these long boats frequented English canals.

I love the art on these traditional metal coal scuttles that were used to store the coal that lit the tiny stove in the minute living space. The houseboats were pulled by horses along the tow path and when they had to go through tunnels, the horse was taken over land, probably by a child and some strong fellow had to lie on his back and walk along the top of the tunnel to propel the boat through. I expect everyone had to join in as the boat would be heavy.

In the photo below, I managed to get a picture of the living conditions below deck and how it would have looked years ago, when families of many children had to live in such cramped conditions as in this tiny bedsit.
I sometimes think I am badly done to, but realize how lucky I am having so much space in my ordinary terrace home. How could any family manage to bring up a family in such a small place?

Photostory Friday is hosted by Cecily. For more interesting stories and photos why not visit the link?

Monday 7 September 2009

A Touchy "T"issue

Photo is copyright of Maggie May.

If you are about to have a meal or have just had one, then I suggest you come back later. If you haven't had close contact with children, then you mightn't like this post.
However, I feel this subject has to be written about.......... the very awkward subject of wiping children's bottoms.

When I worked in a Special School, this was just automatically done, alongside nappy changing and nobody thought anything about it. The children were very little and dependent and the job just had to be done. There was always somebody about, near the changing tables. Of course, that was ten years ago and things might well have changed since I left that job.

Its perfectly normal to help small grandchildren when they call out for assistance. Their little arms are just not long enough to reach their bottoms and even the nearly seven year old still calls out for assistance, usually while we are eating. Why do children always want to go right in the middle of a meal?

My son, Sam, moans to the girls, "How long do you think I am going to carry on doing this for?"
Amber replied, "Until I go away and get married."
That would make the perfect thing to say in a speech at her wedding (if there are still such things in operation, by then.)

No, I really meant that things can get tricky when you are not around and the children are at school.
Playworkers and school staff are not allowed to wipe bottoms, let alone go into the toilets, unless there is some really terrible mishap, in which case the parents are sent for.
So it is with with some apprehension that we will be sending Millie for full days in a Reception Class very soon, with no one to help her with wiping if she needs it.

As I work in an After School Club (as well as the school), I have found out from experience that some small children often smell and I don't mean because they are needy and neglected children. The vast majority come from really good homes. They smell the unmistakable stale smell of dirty bottoms that have not been wiped properly and now they have to wait a further two hours or more before they are collected and put in a probably, longed for bath or shower.
This is all because the staff are too afraid to help children with toileting, (in case their intentions are misinterpreted), and also because the Learning Support Assistants at school have busy schedules that do not allow for them to leave the children they are helping while they go to the toilets. There simply wouldn't be time, even if they were allowed to do it.

My other older grandchildren say they never do a poo in school (even though they have been wiping their own bottoms for years.) So it seems that children learn from an early age to save it for home time and that is why during meal times, there seems to be a tremendous urgency. They have held in all day.

I'd be interested to hear what other parents and grand parents (or anyone else) has to say about the children whose arms are simply not long enough to wipe a bottom successfully!

Thursday 3 September 2009

Visiting Jill's Garden

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Chris

All photos are copyright of Maggie May.

Practically everyone in Britain will remember Jill Dando, the journalist and TV presenter who was famous for programmes like Crimewatch and Holiday, Breakfast News and Six O'clock News. She was gunned down and murdered outside her home in April 1999.
This caused a wave of shock throughout the country as she was a very popular person.

There was a team of make over gardeners on BBC TV around that time, called Ground Force, led by Alan Titchmarsh. Some time after her death, they televised one such programme changing an old rose garden in Weston Super Mare to a beautiful garden in memory of Jill, for she was from that town and had spent her childhood there with her family.

This is a general view of one side of the garden. The blue pagoda type trellises and obelisks provide support for plants and give colour when there isn't much in flower. There are fish in the pond and some lovely water lilies.

And this is the other side of the garden. Luckily there were no other visitors at the time I chose to take photos, as it can get rather crowded.

This was a specially made plaque depicting Forget-me-nots, for obvious reasons. There were shadows of leaves falling across the plaque that obscured the picture a bit, but I liked the effect of this so did not change it for a clearer one.

There were Alliums peeping out from behind a pagoda and it was so difficult choosing just a few pictures for this post. I took many more than I needed.
I think the garden is very special and often go there and sit and reflect. A place of tranquillity and beauty, though it has many visitors and Weston is very proud of it, as they were proud of Jill. Rightly so.

Photostory Friday is hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek. Well worth a visit.