Thursday, 8 October 2009

My little grandchildren

During the year two new grandchildren were born. In June the Wren had a little girl called Helena:

This is Helena with Joe.

In August Jack and Miki had another little boy, called Owen:

This is Owen and Allan together.

And lastly:

That naughty little Allan having a cuddle and a story with Grandma Jill!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Eggs, Chickens, Creation, Evolution

I think I have found the perfect answer for Halfmom and Maalie. I am reading a wonderful book by Alice Thomas Ellis, one of my favourite authors. This one is called 'The 27th Kingdom'. I now quote from it:

'I was trying to think of excuses for the sea' said Aunt Irene.

'I don't think it needs any' said Kyril. 'It's much older than us. We all came out of it - funny little see-through things with monocular vision and whiskers'.

'It's a theory' explained Aunt Irene. 'Some people seem to imagine we all crawled out of the ocean some time ago as teeny little maritime bugs and then evolved into us'.

'I thought it was monkeys' said Victor.

'It was probably monkeys next' said Aunt Irene. 'After the reptiles and so on. The little squishy things turned into fish, the fish into reptiles, the reptiles into birds, the birds into ...'

'Monkeys' said Victor derisively. 'I suppose that's why they hang about in trees'.

Aunt Irene really inclined to that simplest of all views: the one expressed so cogently in the book of Genesis, which explained everything with appealing clarity. This was the only view that explained, for instance, mayonnaise. It was patently absurd to suppose that mayonnaise had come about through random chance, that anyone could ever have been silly or brilliant enough to predict what would happen if he slowly trickled oil on to egg yolks and then gone ahead and tried it.

An angel must have divulged that recipe and then explained what to do with the left-over whites. Meringues - there was another instance of the exercise of superhuman intelligence.

As the angel had left in his fiery chariot he must have added, 'And don't forget omelettes, and cake and custard and souffles and poaching and frying and boiling and baking. Oh, and they're frightfully good with anchovies. And you can use the shells to clarify soup - and don't forget to dig them in round the roots of your roses', the angelic tones fading into the ethereal distance.

It was obvious therefore that the egg had come first. There was something dignified about a silent passive egg, whereas Aunt Irene found it difficult to envisage an angel bearing a hen. The concatenation of chickens' wings and angels wings would have had about it an element of parody which would have greatly lessened the impact of the message.

There. That's that question solved!

Unfortunately I couldn't find a photo of an angel carrying either an egg or a hen so perhaps that question isn't solved after all.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Thoughts on the 65th Anniversary of D-Day.

When I was a little girl Shredded Wheat was one of my favourite breakfast cereals. I had noticed that my father never ate it, and one day I asked him why. This was the tale he told me:

It all started early in June 1944. The ship's cat had recently had kittens, and my father had just found out that the cook had drowned them. He was furious. Sailors are notoriously superstitious, and to kill a cat on board a ship was a definite no-no.

The next day they set sail for Normandy with troops, ready for the invasion.

They safely delivered the troops and started the journey back to port to pick up the next soldiers, waiting to get to France.

It was morning, and my father was eating his breakfast. It was Shredded Wheat. While he was innocently chewing away, there was a huge explosion, and the boat literally split in two. His ship had hit a mine. The next moment he was floundering in the North Sea.

After about half an hour, he was picked up by a life boat and hauled on board. As he sat shivering, he realised he had something in his mouth. It was his last mouthful of shredded wheat! From that day onwards, he never touched it again.

The ship's cook drowned. He was the only casualty.

Monday, 1 June 2009

New Baby

My little Wren had a little baby girl this morning! She is called Helena Rose and weighed 7lbs 1oz. I have just had a photo through from my son-in-law and would like to share it with you.

Aren't they beautiful!

I'm off to see them tomorrow, and then at the end of next week will be going down to stay for longer. I couldn't wait until then though.

Thursday, 21 May 2009


I've been really lax recently as far as blogging is concerned. One of the reasons is that I have been involved with Facebook. To be more specific, Lexulous on Facebook. This can become obsessive! Just ask Kiwi Nomad who seems to be beavering away at the game when she should have her head down and be fast asleep!

This is a game I am having with Jemima at the moment. I think it's stalemate!

Since I put this post up, Maalie pointed out that my comments were being moderated. I had no idea, but fiddled about on the settings, and lo and behold, there appeared 19 comments waiting to be moderated, all from my last post. I do apologise for not answering these comments. Until today, I had no idea they were there waiting for me. Especially the one that asked me whether I had run away with Martin. Actually, well ... er ... MARTIN ...?? where are you ..??

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Late Winter Apathy!

I don't know what it is about this time of year but I don't seem to be bothered much about doing anything, but at long last, after a few hints and nudges, I have finally managed to get myself into gear. Last month I had six days away with Maalie, and when I saw him earlier today he looked a bit mournful and asked why I hadn't blogged it yet. So hear goes.

On a cold and snowy evening we flew out of East Midlands airport (which I think was the only airport open in Britain) only four hours late. We had arrived at the airport five hours too early (Maalie rather likes to be on time and doesn't leave anything to chance). We had a delightful nine hours wait sipping tea, coffee, beer, wine and anything else we could get our hands on. Eventually we landed in Slovakia, dead of night and not a soul around! I won't dwell on the next few hours.

Perhaps February isn't the best time to visit Central Europe unless you are skiing, which we weren't, although we did have a morning on the Municipal ice rink. This was a wonderful affair. Two large ice rinks joined together by a network of small ice pathways. Maalie's not too bad at skating. He only fell once and spectacularly scattered half a dozen little children while doing so, much to the chagrin of their mothers. I'm a rubbish skater and luckily Maalie only caught me on camera in the upright position. I splatted on the ice too many times to count and ended up soaked through to the skin, with bruises all over my knees, bottom and back. My knees are still bruised three weeks later!

Posing on ice in front of the Rathaus.

Some of the frozen scenery was spectacular. Although it was wet and rainy in the towns, in the countryside there was a lot of snow.

The snowy countryside gave many opportunities for arty pictures.

The wind had blown the snow off branches, and then it froze. Amazing!

In Vienna, Maalie and I feasted on cake and coffee:

Hasn't he got nice hands!

I must say the blue Danube is grey, but it was beautiful, half frozen. Beavers live along the banks, and although we didn't see any, we saw plenty of evidence of their activity.

Birds taking off from the frozen Danube.

On one of our trips into the countryside, we visited the town of Melk. The monastry there was used in the film 'The Name of the Rose'. Mmmm .. Sean Connery.

The highlight of the week of a visit one evening to the Vienna State Opera where we saw Manon Lascaut by Pucini. This was the first time I have ever actually seen an opera in one of the grand opera houses. The word 'grand' just doesn't begin to describe it. I was so overcome by the beauty and the sadness of the final act, Maalie had to take me off to a bar for a couple of brandies to recover.

Vienna State Opera House.

And that was our week away. Maalie was the perfect host. It is so nice to travel with someone who knows what they are doing, doesn't bumble around with a confused look on their face and knows where to go for the best cake, coffee and wine! Thank you Maalie for my holiday.

On Thursday I am off to Japan for two and a half weeks, but I shall keep my eye on you all via Jack's computer. And so, to finish with, one of my heroes! Thank you Maalie for taking this photo for me. My camera had ran out of battery!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

New Year in Spain

At the crack of half past three on Boxing Day morning, we staggered out of bed and made our way to Manchester Airport to catch the plane to Gibraltar. Meanwhile the Wren and her husband were flying out from Gatwick to Malaga. We were all meeting up in Vejer de la Frontera to spend some time with Jemima and Cody. That night we all met up to swap Christmas presents and catch up on each other's news.

Since I last went to Vejer, Jemima and Cody have acquired a dog, Eva.

Peter with Eva by the fountain in the main square. Some joker had put shampoo in the water and it was bubbling all over the place.

This is Flossie, Eva's best mate. Flossie belongs to Caroline, Cody's mother.
We had great fun taking the dogs to the beach for a scamper.

One evening we went for a walk in the pine forests above Cape Trafalgar. These are the pine trees that produce pine nuts. On the way back, just as it was getting dark, we saw an Eagle Own sitting on a branch. I texted Maalie excidedly. He was somewhat envious. He's never seen one.

Eagle Owl Woods.

Eagle Owl. I didn't take this picture, by the way.

Cape Trafalgar from Eagle Owl Woods.

One day we all went into Cadiz, the nearest large town. I hadn't been there before. It is a strange place, built on a spit of land, and the highest point is only seven metres above sea level. Cadiz was beautiful, very old. Some say that it is the oldest European town. There were some huge Rubber Trees. The original seeds were brought back when the Spanish first discovered the Americas, so must be over five hundred years old.

Wren and Jemima admiring the Rubber Tree.

On New Year's Day, a gathering of Jemima, Cody's and Caroline's friends met up on the beach. It was cold. Really cold. The Atlantic waves were huge. People were wearing wet suits and surfing. Jemima got very excited and suggested we all went in. "No cozzy" said I. "Go in wearing undies" she replied. So we did! My it was cold. Once you got to knee-level, you were knocked over by the pounding surf. We didn't stay in long, but I surprised myself by having a swim in the Atlantic on New Year's Day wearing my undies! Luckily I have no photos to prove it. You'll just have to take my word!

Another silly thing we did was to clamber up a gigantic sand dune and then turned round and ran down again. That was hard work actually!

Peter and me at the top.

The week went by so quickly. It seemed like no time at all, and we were back in Gibraltar. We sat on the roof of the airport waiting until it was time to board. This cheeky little fellow wouldn't leave us alone. He was obviously after my croissant and coffee. I thought it was a Herring Gull, but Maalie assures me it's a Yellow Legged Gull. Well, he should know.

In the plane waiting to take off on the rather scarey runway. The Rock on our right, sea on our left, ahead and behind.

Looking forward to going back soon.