musings (201) fun Monday (76) friendship (64) K9 (13)

Saturday 31 December 2011

Gate of the Year

I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,
"Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown."
And he replied, "Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way."
May that Almighty Hand guide and uphold us all.

“He'll be coming and going" he had said. "One day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down--and of course he has other countries to attend to. It's quite all right. He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” 

Quotations from C.S.Lewis
“Safe?" said Mr. Beaver."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”

Dark days dwindle into the past; taking with them friends who are no more...
Each year Christmas and birthday cards become fewer...tempus fugit. But I shall not turn this post into maudlin memories. Far better to concentrate on new beginnings...

That is what I wrote last year, and it's unfortunately even more appropriate now. 
As the Christmas card list shortens and the memories (tristesse) are summoned by the turn of the year. 
Farewell my dear friends, I cherish memories of times that can be no more. 
How long will it be, I wonder, before the folk missing from the list exceed the list itself?

Monday 26 December 2011

an homage to the season

Christmas Day has been and gone, lovely, peaceful just 'being'. With the warm weather the Lenten roses (hellebores) are coming into flower. So fragile looking yet promising of Spring.  

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Saturday 10 December 2011


Today was M(1)s birthday (65), so M(2) decided she must not spend it alone. She hatched a plan, getting M(1) to take her to the library before it closed at noon, and asking me to play chauffeur.
I collected them at 12.30 and we headed for a pub lunch. This was followed by a trip to a nearby garden centre for refreshments. We had a good look round and found a craft outlet. So yours truly purchased a crochet hook to do Tunisian crochet (something I've wanted to learn for a while).
Everyone was in typical silly mood as is out wont so much fun was had by all.
M(2) still does not like the Christmas fracas, and announced triumphantly that she'd bought stamps to send her cards and they were ordinary, not the special grumble-time ones. I bought a couple of calendars, one of the Snowdon area for Dutch friends who live in Belgium and another for our 'twitcher' neighbour. 
Then I was berated (jokingly) for having a birthday on a Bank holiday, making celebration on that precise day problematic. As I said, I was well aware of it having got used to a birthday that is always a Bank holiday with no chance of anything arriving by post on the day. So, it was resolved we'd agree to go for a meal some time later next month.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

the Gas man cometh

Flanders and Swann sang comical ditties of their own composition and this is one of my favourites.
So, what has got me remembering this?
On one of his intermittent visits 'north' our neighbour arrived last weekend to find no power in the house. He arrived at our door, torch in hand to ask for help. OH dutifully went with him to see what could be done. Result? Power back on but no heating. Next day a shivering H was huddled by a log fire but his house remained cold.

OH suggested he:

  • head back south to his (warmer) other house 
  • phone the gas people
  • arrange for them to visit
  • give them our details and OH would do the necessary when they arrived.

Neighbour has a repair.maintenance contract with them and emailed us the details.
So, this morning I want shopping for groceries whilst OH waited in for the gas man. What a pleasant surprise when I returned to find their van parked outside. OH soon returned with good news, gas supply checked and approved, boiler and pump inspected. Pump declared faulty and replaced. Central heating checked out and fully functioning once more. Success!

Monday 5 December 2011

First Monday DECEMBER 5TH

Sayre says "It seems like everyone celebrates something in December. 
For the next FIRST MONDAY, tell me about what you celebrate, how you celebrate, and what your favorite tradition is during your holiday season."

"Lighten our darkness we beseech Thee oh Lord!" 
Counting down not just to Christmas, but to the shortest day...and looking forward to days lengthening once more.  
I'm looking forward to seeing M's nativity figures which will soon be on display. Note...the crib always remains empty until Christmas Day. Today, this is my favourite tradition, also seeing the Nativity scene that is on display in a nearby shopping centre.

Sadly, the Clitheroe Nativity scene I remember as a child and which was always a Christmas Delight has been targeted regularly since 2007 by mindless morons...figures have been stolen...It is doubtful whether the display will be put on in future...

On a brighter note...
Carols! Particularly Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols...

Sunday 4 December 2011

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Those were the days

The media is alive with comment about strike action today. 'Public service workers' withdrew their labour. Just who are 'public service workers'?
Health service, customs n excise, border agency, toll booth operators at river crossings, not forgetting education al.
Yet, for whom is all the bad press and vilification reserved...the teachers.

Plus ca la meme chose...

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday 27 November 2011

Loyal toast...the Queen, Duke of Lancaster!

Lancashire Day allows us the opportunity to declare that we are proud to be Lancastrians.

The Lancashire Day proclamation will be read out by town criers throughout the county on 27th November. 

Lancashire Day commemorates the day in 1295 when Lancashire sent its first representatives to Parliament by King Edward I of England to attend what later became known as The Model Parliament.

Saturday 26 November 2011

Friday 25 November 2011

knitting Santa and the Frosties

Santa close-up
Santa and his sack complete with toy soldier and his companions Mr n Mrs Frosty
The knitting is finished for 2011.
Next week these characters will go to be part of the fund raising at the hospital.

Thursday 24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving...

∩ │◥███◣ ╱◥███◣
╱◥◣ ◥████◣▓∩▓│∩ ║
│╱◥█◣║∩∩∩ ║◥█▓ ▓█◣
││∩│ ▓ ║∩田│║▓ ▓ ▓∩ ║

•°*”˜˜”*°• From my house to your house •°*”˜˜”*°•
•°*”˜˜”*°•Happy Thanksgiving to All My American friends•°*”˜˜”*°• ♥ ♥

Borrowed from one of my click of the mouse friends...

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Tis that time again...

Three Paddingtons

One Santa and Mr n Mrs Frosty ready for raffling/sale for charity.
Santa has already been to the library and was much admired. One Paddington has already gone to be raffled.
Christmas 'ends' on Monday when the knitted toys are collected and we begin to plan for Easter. I've found a pattern for Little Bo-Peep to try out.

Sunday 20 November 2011

My friend's daughter

lives an adventurous life...
I remember her a as little toddler...she's grown up to become a mountain skills instructor and member of a Mountain rescue team. The collies are and rescue dogs.
Today there was a story about a rescue by the team. This sparked my curiosity. Last time I talked with her mother, she said her daughter had left teaching to go into outdoor pursuits full-time. So a quick search led me to seeing how her life has changed. I'm so proud of her.

Friday 11 November 2011

Armistice day, Armistice day

that's all I really wanted to say....
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country'.

Tuesday 8 November 2011


Until something happens it's all to easy to take reading for granted. How fortunate was I to grow up in a world of books and stories. Bedtime stories in particular were a rare treat. I heard folk tales such as 'why the sea is salt' and stories by the brothers Grimm. At Junior school we began with the now none pc Janet and John.
My favourite time of the school day was reading hour. Then came the day when I was so deep in a book that a board duster landed on my desk and broke my concentration! It was a teacher I liked, but somehow I could never forgive that rude awakening.
Moving on the grammar school when the head was our English teacher. Her oft repeated phrase..."First, we shall have bread and butter, then we shall have cake".
Meaning? Parsing nouns, pronouns adverbs and adjectives...English grammar...
That was the 'bread and butter.'
So, what was the 'cake'? Homer's Odyssey...And how old were we? 11
We had library time and I worked my way thro' legends of Greece and Rome. Then a friend mentioned some books by Tolkien and I was as they say 'hooked'. I saved up week after week. Went to a book-store miles away to purchase the books one after another.

Grammar school introduced me to Latin. I stood no chance with it as my mother decided it was 'useless'.
Then we got a new male teacher and my friend showed me how to write very, very tiny writing. Success! We noted the words for the spelling test on postage-stamp size pieces of paper. And, when asked our score loudly proclaimed 'SEX'. That being the Latin for six.

Moving on many years towards the end of my career... Stress and anxiety, such innocent sounding words. But, their toll lasted many years. How distressing to be unable to read and take in what you are reading... Reading phrases and sentences time after time without taking anything in. To a bibliophile that's a 'death knell'. 

It's taken years, but reading is a skill I'm so happy to have regained once more. Having an e-reader is a delicious treat...

Monday 7 November 2011


As Sayre says, "November is a month to recognize the things you are thankful for in your life - including the people who are serving our country. Tell us what you are thankful for!"

One of my favourite hymns from long ago...
"Thank you for every for every new good morning
Thank you for every fresh new day"

November is the month to be thankful for those who made the ultimate sacrifice. 

Another verse says
"Thank you, oh Lord, I want to thank you, that I'm free to thank"

This resonates in these troubled times; having just read "The bookseller of Kabul" by Agne Seirstad and "My forbidden face" by Latifa.

Canine companions say nothing, yet speak volumes...
OH drives me mad; yet keeps me sane...
The two Ms and our coffee afternoons...
Long time friends from school days.
Not forgetting my click of the mouse friends.

Learning and education...particularly the Open University and the friends I have made thro' my studies and on-line meetings.

To read more please pop over to Sayre smiles...

Sunday 6 November 2011


A long-time friend has recently returned from holiday in China. Hoping she won't mind if I share some of her photos with you.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

open wide

Once every six months a visit to the dentist is scheduled. Today was the day. A short walk up the road, a signature on a form, wait to be called into the surgery. Our new dentist is from Romania, her name is Indian. She told OH she loves her job having spent lots of time in her dad's surgery since she was about four years old.
An x-ray later, the news is 'receding gums' and gel on a particular tooth with instructions not to eat/drink anything for half an hour.
Then memories stir as I think back to my experiences over the years. 
1950s the one size fits all solution was extraction. It was commonplace for women to have all their teeth removed during pregnancy. My mother had dentures.
There was no notion of regular visits to the dentist. People went when in pain. One time I went and mother was told my front (milk) teeth were full of abscesses. So, no anaesthetic and I had them removed. Because I had been 'good' the dentist gave me sweets on the way out.
So for what seemed like forever I had speech problems, 's' in particular.
1950s - 1960s and the school dentist gave me nightmares! Extractions under gas and a rubber mask forced over nose and mouth; but I couldn't hold my breath long enough and the sickly gas rushed into my lungs. That's when I learnt to intercept the appointment card as it came thro' the letterbox and after a while they ceased.
1970s and at long last a good dentist recommended by a friend who had been at Leeds Uni with him. Mr Cross had come first in his year, his wife was nurse/receptionist. Both were gentle friendly souls. So now I visited the surgery regularly and the ravages of previous years were undone. 
1970s away from home and still returned to visit Mr Cross.
1980s and another dentist this time in Woolton, another lovely person, so reassuring. But, without warning he sold up and retired. The guy that took over came as a nasty shock, rude and impersonal, he only wanted private patients. I lost patience with him and left.
So, no dentist...and I'd noticed a surgery a few minutes walk away. I've been with them ever since. But since the original partner left, there have been a series of other dentists one after another. African, Polish and now Indian/Romanian. It's gone from Mr W and Mr B to being part of another company. Mr B remains, but sees only private patients. 

Saturday 29 October 2011


One of the M's has been planning replacements for some of her rosebushes. She phoned local garden centres and was dismayed by the lack of variety coupled with high prices.
A web search later and I discovered a specialist rose grower in Cheshire. 
Yesterday was wall-to-wall sunshine, so we took her to the rose-grower and their garden centre.
We sat in the café and discussed roses with the help of a catalogue. This time of year they supply bare rooted plants. Then we strolled round the garden centre, where OH found a variegated azalea M wanted. Next we went to the order department and put in two separate orders. We ought to be able to collect them mid to late November.
M and I love highly scented roses, M chose floribundas, a couple of hybrid teas and a climber. We went for Hybrid teas and a climber.

Wednesday 26 October 2011


I ought to have gone with B to see Top Hat, but OU studies got in the way. She phoned to say it had not been a memorable performance and could we have a day out together soon? I wanted to go to Culcheth to Black Sheep Wools to see what I could find. One way and another it meant Tuesday is the best day for B to go out. 
Typically I got lost time and again and before you GPS and no navigation system apart from map reading.
As B said 'We have a tongue in our heads, let's ask someone' who did we find? the local postie, best route finder there is.
So we found and investigated the place, decided it was a one-off but at least I got a pattern I'd been seeking. Then we had lunch in a local was delicious and a bargain price.

Saturday 22 October 2011

sunny day but...

One of the M's has been what we've dubbed 'Orkneyed' for the past fortnight. People she's known a long, long time who live in Orkney. They tend to stay in this area a couple of times a year and insist upon taking M with them for days out. It means she has little time to herself apart from continuing visits to hospital consultants, doctor and chemist. The 'Orkneys' have headed North, first to Durham and onwards from there. 
However, no sooner had they gone than M was told to expect a visit from I'n'J (yesterday). Our phone rang earlier on too early for M, yet it was her. All the to-ing and fro-ing is taking its toll especially as I'n'J failed to turn up. So she's fit for nothing today.

Friday 21 October 2011


Friday, bin day and this week it's all of them; red. blue and grey. So, one of the M's does her own and M next door. And, when our dogs remind us the bins have been emptied one or both OH and I return the emptied bins.  
Today I went and met one of the M's so we had a nice chat. Another part of the routine and a most welcome one. She's tired out as visitors from Orkney have been staying locally and insisting on taking her hither and thither. They're northward-bound today and M was looking forward to her weekly visit by the hairdresser followed by peace, quiet and time to herself...
However, there's been a phone-call and two other people have 'promised' to descend on her! 

As for me? The delivery man has dropped off sacks of dog food and a sack of sunflower seed hearts (bird food). I've settled back in my chair with a cappuccino waiting for the last of the bins to be emptied and to return them to their rightful properties. 
Just one little niggle...shingles pain has returned as it does now and again. It was summer 2006 when shingles attacked yet the shingles neuralgia...has continued spasmodically ever since. 

Tuesday 18 October 2011


On reading Diary of a teacher, I noted that she made soup from roasted tomatoes and onions, so I followed her example.
Out came the halogen oven, perfect for roasting veg when only doing a fairly small quantity. The result with addition of potatoes, water and Worcester sauce was very moreish. One to remember for the future.
Sadly, the tomato plants are coming to an end, even in the greenhouse. 

Before the month ends, my friend has her three score years birthday! Problem...what to buy?  The weather is dreadful, squalls of wind and rain, not the sort to venture out in, so I took recourse online...perused Debenhams and made my choice. Now it's fingers crossed it arrive in time. 

Monday 17 October 2011

In March

I relaxed and enjoyed the craic in Dublin.
This last weekend my dearest friends spent a long weekend there. 

They celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary (a short while ago)...and now she has a new wedding ring.

Sunday 16 October 2011

it's all in the words

I love crochet and knitting and have collected far more patterns than anyone could make up in a number of lifetimes! One of my click of the mouse friends in the US has posted a photo of her crochet and someone has asked her for the pattern.
So why my title 'it's all in the words'?
Let me attempt to explain...

When I knit I work right-handed as this was the way I was taught as a young child. I used to go across the 'backs' from our terraced house to the one opposite where a neighbour showed me how to knit and purl. The needles were short and the wool red. From then on I taught myself over the years, and by my teens was doing Aran patterns. Later I tried Fair Isle and Intarsia. Kaffe Fassett, Rowan patterns.

Crochet was something I discovered in my teens and as most do became good at making 'grannie squares'. However, this time I was self-taught and did everything left-handed. Working my way thro' the various stitches and combinations...

Now there are numerous patterns on the Internet, and this is where confusion arises... abbreviations are many and varied enough in English patterns, try some with US conventions and...??? Suddenly it's a new language especially in crochet...

This is when symbols mean more than words and are much clearer.

Sizing? UK modern is in mm, traditional UK is different and so too the US. 
Size 3mm aka 11 aka? no not at all in the US.
Yarn? double knitting aka worsted; Aran aka fisherman/medium... 

Monday 10 October 2011