Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday PhotoHunt - Birds

If you want to joint in the PhotoHunt, please go here.

 I realised that if I had to choose, I would rather have birds that airplanes - Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974)

There aren't too many exotic birds aroung where we live, with the exception of the flocks of parakeets that have made the South of England their home; and they don't stay still long enough to get a decent photograph.  Also, having a cat who prowls around the garden doesn't encourage many of the smaller birds to stay, although I do have a robin who frequently visits, especially if I'm digging.

So, here's my offering for this week's Hunt, from last year's holiday in the Gambia  - the first a very friendly chap who used to wake us up by banging on the bathroom window in the morning and the other one of the many little birds scratching amoung the very colourful flowers and bushes in the gardens.

Red-billed Hornbill

Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Signs of the times

 It is a place that gives concrete jungles a bad name, an urban nightmare famed for its tram system and some of the ugliest architecture outside the old Soviet bloc - London Evening Standard (2007)

Yesterday we went to Croydon, which used to be a large town in Surrey but is now a 'major metropolitan centre' since it merged with Greater London in the '60s.

The last time we had any dealings with Croydon (apart from frequent visits to Ikea, which I'll come to later) was 40-odd years ago when we were returning from Southend on Sea on a very cold and sleety-rain-lashed Sunday night, in a small car, with a small baby in the back, who happened to be very hungry.  This was in the days before motorways and big major roads and our route took us home via Croydon. (It was also in the days before computers were in common use, or sat nav, or route planners.  All you had was a not-very-good map).  This experience made us rather reluctant to view this town in anything other than a pessimistic light.

All was well until we neared Croydon; we followed road signs pointing to that place but then all signs stopped and we were hopelessly lost!!  We circled Croydon several times, went along a one-way street the wrong way - followed by several other vehicles - got stopped by a policeman; which turned out to be a stroke of luck because he pointed us in the right direction, with our backs to Croydon and heading home where places were signposted and we rarely got lost.

Ikea, Croydon

Ever since we have avoided Croydon......... that is, apart from Ikea.  But this Scandanavian paradise (or hell, depending on your point of view!) is on the ourskirts.  Still a hellish journey BUT it's on major roads and very straightforward.

Anyway, as part of our family history research we had a need to visit the library in Croydon so bearing in mind our last journey in this region and the fact that we would have no idea where to park, we thought we'd take advantage of one of the advantages of getting old i.e. our cheap train travel.  Getting to Croydon by train is a bit of a faff - drive to Guildford, train to Redhill, another to East Croydon - but at least you can relax and watch the countryside, read or chat and arrive at your destination in a relatively good mood.

Guildford Station

Except that Guildford station has lots of platforms but no obvious signs of which train arrives at which platform.  They have very nice manned information booths but they are individually located on the platforms, only reached by loads of stairs or steep ramps.  We managed to nab a passing official-looking bloke who confidently informed us that we needed Platform 8.  Super.  Off we went only to find that the trains using that particular platform were going the wrong way.  Made our way to the information booth.  The only one not manned.  Getting grumpy now.  Then we spotted another official-looking bloke on the other side of the track and following a conversation in extremely loud voices (because of the noise, you understand, and not 'cos we were grumpy), we made our way to Platform 3.  You'll be pleased to know the rest of the journey was uneventful.

We arrived in Croydon.  Apparently, Croydon still has an issue with signs - not necessarily road signs - they looked ok on their very busy and congested roads - but we wanted to find the library.  I have to say that there were plenty of little blue signs on lamposts pointing to a large, ornate building which told us that that was the direction for Council Offices/Library, but after doing a circuit of this building, with its many doors, we found not one sign that said 'Library'.  We found lots of locked, unnamed doors and the main entrance to the council offices (unmanned), but it was only after asking the third passer-by (the other two didn't speak English) that we were directed down the stairs, through some very modern, unsigned glass doors into the bowels of the building.  Eureka..... home of the library, amongst other things.

I'm not going to bore you further.  We did eventually find the required department, although it wasn't exactly straightforward and the lady we spoke to was extremely nice and helpful.  Making our way home was easy; we knew where we going!

We have to go back, at some stage, because the records we want to see are original and very old and have to be pre-ordered, and I'm sure we'll find it a piece of cake.  We're considering using one of these:

Which used to be like this: 

But, I'm sorry, Croydon - you'll never be a place that I think of with fond memories

Monday, November 16, 2009


"Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy." ~ Eskimo Legend

Shortly after my Mother-in-Law died, a few years ago, her grandson, my Pete, started to do some research into the Moore family history.  M-in-L was actually David's (Pete's Dad) stepmother as his Mum (Ethel) was run over and killed by a police car during a black-out during the Second World War and buried in Surbiton Cemetery.  Tom (David's Dad, Pete's Grandad) remarried after the war (to M-in-L) and they had a baby boy (Desmond) who, sadly, died at only a few months old.  He was laid to rest in the same grave as Ethel.

We already knew all of this but had never visited the cemetery and after my brother-in-law (who still lived in he family home) died earlier this year Pete, together with his Lovely Young Wife, traced the site of the grave and found that it was just a bare patch of grass.  Because money was very tight in those days the grave was never marked in any way.

The family home was put up for sale after B-in-L's death and some of the more worthwhile contents were sold on ebay, raising a couple of hundred pounds.  Pete made the brilliant suggestion of putting the money towards a memorial stone and set about gaining permission from the rest of the family.  He also took on ownership of the grave as, legally, it still belonged to his Grandad, even though he'd been dead for getting on for 40 years!   All of this has taken a while but, finally, a couple of weeks ago we were informed that the stone was in place. 

Today, it being a bright, sunny and uplifting day, David, Jo, Thomas and I went to visit those family members, so long gone. Although we'd been before, somehow, having a solid form of acknowledgement that it was a resting place made all the difference.

So, Ethel and Baby Desmond, most of us didn't meet you and David only had his Mum until he was nearly 3 and his baby half-brother for 3 short months, but you have been in our thoughts over the years and are certainly not forgotten.

  Ethel, David and Johnnie (B-in-Law)

Surbiton Cemetery

Friday, November 13, 2009

Saturday Photo Hunt - music

To join in Photo Hunt please go here.

I had a bit of a brain freeze with this one and this is the best I can up with:

These are the main sources of my music.  My ipod is with me, usually, wherever I go and is indispensable for keeping me company when I'm walking, gardening, shopping, etc. and I'm on my own.  I love music of all kinds and can't imagine my life without it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A walk in the park

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns George Eliot

Yesterday, still feeling vaguely unwell and grumpy from my bout of 'flu, I couldn't face another day of sitting about with no inclination to do anything except watch TV.  I felt that if I didn't break the chain then this is how I would spend my days for the rest of my life. No thank you!  So, at around 11.30, I forced myself off of the sofa and decided that, despite the weather which was cold, drizzly and dull, I would use the membership I took out a few months ago to visit Savill Garden, set in Windsor Great Park and beautiful to see any time of year.  Added to that, there's a decent cafe attached so it seemed the sensible thing to do.

But first:  what did I do with the ubiquitous piece of plastic that I needed to get me in the car park and garden?  Wasn't in the obvious places (my purse or the little wallet where I keep all of the other 10,000 pieces of plastic that seem to be necessary to live our lives these days).  So I looked in the less obvious places - in a file marked 'miscellaneous', in the heap of stuff on the desk, in drawers, everywhere.  Well, obviously not everywhere because eventually I found it in a bag not used since about May which I though was empty.  This whole episode had taken about 45 minutes but I persevered with my slowly diminishing resolution to get fresh air and, at last, set out in the direction of Virginia Water another great place for a walk on another day.

I drove about 100 yds then got caught up in roadworks.  This wasn't doing my grumpy mood any good at all!  But I managed to turn around and took the less pretty route (which was also twice as long).

Once the dog/toddler walkers in the Great Park were left behind I had the whole of the garden to myself; I saw 3 other people and they were all gardeners.  How many flowers would I find still in bloom? - Loads. Had the dampness and drizzle spoiled the colours? - Definitely not. Would I be bored? - You kidding?  
The delicious soup and crusty bread was a welcome finale to my visit and I headed home looking forward now to my evening out, planned some weeks ago, to see Chicago at our local theatre.  Had  to sort the damp hair out first, though ;o)

Well worth all of the effort and here are some pictures to prove it: 

Murky start


But these cornus (Dogwood) soon cheered it up.

     physalis (Chinese Lanterns)

and, finally, begonia

 More pictures on the flickr link in the side panel

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Makeover magic

Cosmetics are a boon to every woman, but a girl's best friend is still a nearsighted man - Yoko Ono

After deciding yesterday that I really had to force myself back into the outside world, one look in the mirror confirmed that some sort of renovation must take place.  That crumbling old ediface looking out at me really did need some sort of attention to make it suitable for public viewing.  The skin was pale and wan, a sort of beigey colour, the eye sockets a sort of brown/purple bruised-looking shade, the lips shiny with vaseline.  Yuck.

So, to work:  fill the cracks with very expensive, magic cream which doesn't work, but I kid myself it does because I don't want to have wasted my money.  Then on goes the stuff to give me-good looking skin, a sort of beigey colour.  Check: yes, that looks ok.  Eyes next - my favourite eye shadow, a sort of brown/purple bruised-looking shade.  Check: yes, that looks ok.   Better do the lips, a touch of shiny lipgloss will do.  Check: yes, that looks ok.   Overall double check:  not bad for an old bird and I don't think anyone will ask me if I'd like them to call for an ambulance when they see me.

So, see, Mother Nature.  You don't have to make people look so awful when they're poorly.  After all, we both used the same colours!

Friday, November 06, 2009

When I'm Sixty-Four

When I was young I was called a rugged individualist. When I was in my fifties I was considered eccentric. Here I am doing and saying the same things I did then and I'm labeled senile - George Burns

The charity I work for on Fridays (Help the Aged) has recently merged with another (Age Concern) and early next year will be rebranded as Age UK.  Today I read through the notes sent to each shop manager and was interested to note that good old political correctness was at the heart of the information.  When addressing anyone over the age of ?? (when is old? -  50? 60? 70?) the term 'aged' is a complete no-no as are: 'senior/senior citizen', 'pensioner', 'old person', 'wrinkly' and 'old git'.  The team organising this marketing excersise polled a number of these, erm, whatever they're called who promptly told them that they didn't want to be categorised at all.  So now, staff and volunteers working for Age UK have to use the term 'those of later life'.  Sounds vaguely like a slimming club to me.

What a lot of nonsense!  Why can't we call them 'people', which is what they are?  I know 'cos I'm five of them.  I'm a person, I'm old, I'm a pensioner, I'm wrinkly and, very often, I'm a git.   But I'm still the basically the same as I've ever been.  So treat me accordingly.  So there.

PS:  I knew I'd reached the age of no return when the lady in the Post Office said to me in a very patronising tone:  And what can I do for you today, young lady?   I'M OLD BUT NOT STUPID

PPS:  Perhaps I'm not over the 'flu yet - I'm very grumpy anfd I can't find the words I want

Saturday Photo Hunt - Veterans/Military

To participate in the Hunt, please go here.

In the United Kingdom Remembrance Sunday is the second Sunday of November, the one nearest to November 11th, which is the anniversary of the end of the hostilities of the First World War at 11am in 1918.  The day is to remember all war dead and will be especially poignant here this year with 5 British soldiers being shot and killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday.

Some of the bloodiest fighting of World War One took place in the Flanders and Picardy regions of Belgium and Northern France. The poppy was the only thing which grew in the aftermath of the complete devastation. John McCrae, a doctor serving there with the Canadian Armed Forces, deeply inspired and moved by what he saw, wrote these verses:
In Flanders' Fields
John McCrae, 1915
In Flanders' fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders' fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders' Fields.

Since 1921 single poppies and wreaths have been made by disabled ex-servicemen for people to buy and therefore contribute to the Royal British Legion charity. The wreaths are laid on the memorials and two-minutes' silence is held at 11 a.m.

The photo above shows the poppy that I'm wearing this week, together with the Military Medal for 'Bravery in the Field' awarded to my Uncle Ben for rescuing his commanding officer, despite his own injuries.

Sincere apologies

It has come to my notice that there are some grammatical errors scattered around my last few posts; some of the commas are in the wrong places!!  I don't know how this could have happened but please blame whichever you like out of some (or all) of the following:
  • old age (most likely)
  • influences of flu
  • carelessness (unforgiveable)
  • not good at grammar in the first place (but I usually am!)
  • don't give a stuff
I'm making this apology because I know how upset some of you get about this sort of thing.  Please stay my friends.  I'll try very hard not to do it again.  (sob, sob).

OK - grovelling over - have a good day.

Crash, bang, wallop - what a banger !!**!!

Now, on the whole I'm pretty much a 'live and let live' kinda gal.  Except where 'consideration for other people' interferes with my bonhomie and that's when my aptitude for moaning springs to the fore.  So, I have no objection whatsoever to people standing out in the cold firing up their very expensive and very noisy fireworks (they seem to get louder every year), if that's what makes them happy but ........... WHY do they do it at 11pm when people are thinking about retiring for the night???   Eh??  Grrrrrrrr.....

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Grandma v. t'internet

Sorry about the language but this made me laugh because it's oh so true!! ;o)

Plasticine Pals

Can't let this day go past without recognition of this historic event:

Happy 20th Birthday

Burn the guy (already burnt the bra!)


Please to remember 
The fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot
I see no reason
Why gunpowder season
Should ever be forgot

Guy Fawkes - now he and his friends had a plan.  Thoroughly disillusioned with their current rulers, who weren't at all friendly towards Catholics, they planned to blow up parliament with gunpowder and start again; some people might think that this plan could work well with today's politicians.  In those days, the reigning sovereign attended parliament so when this plot was foiled on November 5th 1603, bonfires were lit in towns and villages to celebrate the safety of the king and became a firm tradition.

The pictures above show how it used to work;  kids would build a 'guy' out of old clothes, stuffing it with newspaper, straw or suchlike and usually stand in the street pleading for 'a penny for the guy'.  The pennies collected were then used to buy fireworks, which were freely available in newsagents, general stores, etc.  The big bonfires were built by the children, usually, on any convenient piece of waste ground.  Smaller fires would be found in someone's back garden, if big enough, or, sometimes, even in the street.  There was usually keen competition to see which gang could build the biggest fire and it was not unknown for the whole thing to be stolen on November 4th.

Of course, this was in the days before 'Health and Safety' and paranoia took over;  these days fireworks are hard to get and expensive so the alternative is to attend organised events which are hard to get to and expensive.  And when you get there, if you live in Ilfracombe in Devon, the bonfire will be on a giant TV screen.

And talking of pennies: 

Britannia is to disappear from Britain's coinage.  Used since the 17th century as a symbol of democracy and patriotism, it is to go and another piece of our history is swept aside.

And finally:  apparently the Sweater Girl is coming back!  Dig out all of those circular stitched bras from the back of the drawer, girls (or boys, if you're that way inclined).  We're all going to be walking around with two dangerous missiles leading the way, sharp enough to stab a block of ice.  As shoulder pads are also making a comeback, a very strange fashion picture is being conjured up by my brain  ;o)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Thanks for the memories (if only I could remember them)

Well..... some 20 months since my last post has flown past. Some 20 months of humdrum everyday living (with a few bright spots) so I won't be using too much space reporting on exotic holidays, how I won the lottery and that fantastic tete a tete I had with Johnny Depp/Gareth Malone!

I'm sure that many interesting things HAVE happened but lately my brain seems to work in a bit of a random fashion; sometimes it recalls things instantly and at others the memories come at unexpected times, usually days later. As a comfort I watch The Weakest Link, which makes me feel like a genius.

So....... I'm going to try to post on a regular, or probably semi-regular basis, and no doubt some of my adventures and misadventures will come to light.

One of the major changes to my life has been my retirement from The Ottershaw Players which has been of huge benefit to me. My interest in amateur drama will continue with my ongoing involvement with the Woking Drama Association, an organisation whose main function currently is to produce an annual drama festival lasting 2 weeks in October, although there are plans afoot to expand their commitment to local groups.

Today I've been:

Taking pills
Drinking tea
Watching daytime TV
Reading the daily newspaper
Listening to A Simple Act of Violence by RJ Ellory
Feeding the cat (often)
Checking emails and Facebook (frequently)

Wow - didn't realise I'd been so busy. Will try to be more interesting next time.
Cooking dinner (but not for me)