Sunday, April 30, 2006

Mallorca trip

Yes, we’re back from Mallorca ..lovely scenery,
food and warmth. We saw some great places..
I’ll show you a few photos of them this coming
week. Wonderful flowers, two to three months
ahead of us … gorgeous smelling roses, white
honeysuckle and orange blossom, and an array
of other garden plants in bloom … pelargoniums,
nasturtiums, and osteospermums. There was lots
of bird song too.
We stayed near Cala d’Or on the south coast,
about an hour’s drive from Palma, so we saw a
lot of tarmac also, driving around the island,
plus rather arid-looking terrain and somewhat
impoverished towns away from the main tourist
The tap-water was horrible to drink – I took
one mouthful of it and spat it straight out ..
it tasted soapy, but the bottled water was
The quality of the food was variable depending
on what you could afford, but most days we had
excellent fish dishes (and we also had a lovely
vegetarian meal at a restaurant in Palma, the
Bon Lloc on Sant Feliu Street ... one of two
vegetarian restaurants in Palma that were
recommended in our guide book).

It’s great to get back home too... to better
drinking water, our softened water (for having
showers), comfortable beds (with impression
mattresses), and seeing our cats again, Miss D
and Slayer, who (or “which” if you prefer) were
very pleased to see us. I get a lot of aches
and pains sleeping on a harder mattress when
we’re away from home, as does Mrs C.. I wake up
feeling as if I’ve been kicked in the ribs and

Here are a couple of photos of the marina near
to where we were staying. I imagine that some
lottery winners must hang out here, judging by
the opulence of the boats. Sailing in boats is
not really my cup of tea. If I were wealthy, I’d
spend my money on other things, such as a Renoir
or two, buying houses for our girls, and a few
holiday homes here and abroad.

(Click on the photos to enlarge them.)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

More friends

Well, what one thing would I like, which would
improve my life?

My first brief thought was to have more money
– but then I dismissed that idea as I’ve got
just about enough. Still winning a million
pounds on the Premium Bonds would be very nice.

Nope – I decided very quickly that a lot more
money wasn’t what I really wanted. What I
would really like is to have more friends ....
people I could talk with and confide in, and
have fun with.

I have achieved this to some extent with
getting out the house more, and meeting new
people through my local branch of the U3A – a
very friendly bunch of people, who are keen to
learn something new and share what they know,
and at the same time have some fun. There are
a few with whom I think I could develop a
deeper friendship, but I tend to be cautious
about who I would confide in, and tend to keep
my distance, in that I don’t wish to “smother”
them (with talking excessively or being around
them too much) or to appear patronising.

Over the years I’ve found that some friendships
don’t last very long – about 5-10 years at the
most – mainly due to relocation or boredom with
each other. I’ve lowered my expectations about
how long a friendship is likely to last, as I’ve
felt disappointed and hurt at times in the past,
when the someone I’ve grown to like, just
stopped keeping in touch or rejected me.

Mrs C and I are flying to Majorca (Cala d’Or)
this Saturday for a week, so I’ll be back to
blogging on 30 April.
Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Thanks for your comments

My thanks to everyone who commented on the
question I posed in Monday's blog. I will
widen the question to ask you what would you
most like to do, or most like to have, that
would make a big difference to the quality of
your life at present?

I've posted a photo of Highfields Lake, which
is next to Nottingham University campus. The
Trent Building, where the VC and his entourage
hang out, is on the skyline. The land was
formerly owned by Jesse Boot (of Boots The
Chemist), who donated it to the University. He
adopted the title of Lord Trent, when he was

I took the photo when Mrs C and I went to the
theatre at the Lakeside Arts Centre last week,
to see "Krapp's Last Tape", which was an
excellent production. I saw it last on the TV
a few decades ago, and it was good to see it
again. Kenneth Alan Taylor gave a brilliant
performance of an old man looking back at the
wasted years of his life.

Monday, April 17, 2006

A question for you

One of our daughters visited us last weekend
(she lives in London, BTW), and presented us
with a challenge.
The challenge is as follows: "Think of one
thing that would greatly enrich your life
right now." Perhaps the word “challenge” is a
bit over the top, but I’ll leave it in, as
it’s meant to be psychologically challenging.

She asked us this question during our evening
meal. I couldn't answer straight away, except
to say that I'd think about it for a few
I'll let you know what I said, later this week.
In the meantime, I'd be interested to hear what
you think?

Sunday, April 16, 2006


We've had fabulous, warm Spring sunshine here
in the Midlands, and all the leaves on the
trees are coming out. I'm feeling great.

We've had more family gatherings today - all
on Mrs C's side of the family, plus our girls
and their partners. My side of the family are
somewhat distant - we meet up two to three
times a year - I've got an older brother
living in Bingley, a sister in Strasbourg and
another sister in Forest Fields in Nottingham
(about 20 minutes walk away). I rarely see my
brother's children.
Going back a generation, my father was the
eldest of 5 children, but he only kept in touch
with his sister and her kids (based in York).
I'm in contact with one of my cousins, as he's
the main family historian, but I hardly know
any of my other cousins.
Mrs C's family is more close-knit, which has
always impressed me - helped a lot by Mrs C's
mum who lives near us and who is very sociable.
My side of the family were fairly inept as
regards social skills, as I am to some extent.
I find it difficult to approach strangers at a
party and to get a conversation going, but I
do enjoy going out to meet people I get to know.
My friends are much better company than any
member of my family of origin - much more
friendly, and more interested in me as a person
(as I am with them).
I think one of the main turning points in my
life ....(in my early forties, when I was going
through a mid-life crisis)... was when I went
along to Transactional Analysis classes in
Nottingham and Derby, which gave me huge
insights into how people interact and behave.
There I met a great crowd of people who were
able to talk freely about their problems with
other people. Later on I read several of
Dorothy Rowe's books on depression, anxiety
and ageing - if you're interested in finding
out more about yourself and how other people
tick, I recommend you read her books.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

keeping busy

We're having a busy weekend - a big family get-together to celebrate our second daughter's 30th birthday and also the birth of our great nephew (born a couple of days ago). We all went round to see him in the afternoon - he looked fine, but his mum & dad looked tired with lack of sleep.
I've attached a photo of him, and one of a gorgeous hazelnut & chocolate birthday cake, that Mrs C made ..... MMMMmmmmm.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

living wills

I'm giving a talk in July to a group of retired
folk (like myself), on euthanasia, making a
living will and related topics, and have been
doing some background research on the net. On
the subject of making a living will, I've found
a couple of sites that might be of interest to
you or a relative.
The first one is the Alzheimer's Society's site,
which has a lot of info on the subject and a
will template (in PDF format) that you could
print off.
The second one is the Dying In Dignity site,
which has similar info on it, and more about

I’ve sometimes wondered about what I’d do if
I were diagnosed with terminal cancer, and only
had a few weeks left to live. I would certainly
wish to tell my family and say goodbye to
everyone, and I would also wish to enjoy each
day left to the full, even if I were doped up
with morphine. I would listen to my favourite
music, re-watch some old films (of a lightweight,
cheerful nature), perhaps asked someone to read
a funny/serious book to me, and if I were fit
enough, re-visit some lovely beauty spots in
the countryside.

One thing that the medical profession doesn’t
talk about is that they’ve been practising a
kind of euthanasia for years, especially for
patients with terminal cancer. Why they don’t
talk about it is obvious – no individual doctor
wishes to be imprisoned and lose everything,
for committing an illegal act – assisting
someone to die.

Someone with terminal cancer on morphine or
diamorphine (heroin) will require increasing
doses of the drug, partly to alleviate worsening
pain and ease anxiety, but also due to the fact
that an individual will develop “tolerance” to
the drug ... with time the body requires more
of the drug to get the same pain-killing effect.
So a lot of cancer deaths are morphine-assisted,
and rightly so, I think. Who would wish to die
in agony? I would prefer to die peacefully in a
morphine haze.

A common cause of death in terminally ill
individuals is pneumonia, which can set in
when you are unconscious /semi-conscious with
a terminal illness, lying in bed all day. In
that situation, I would prefer doctors not to
give me any antibiotic to prolong my life, as
I would die not long afterwards (and perhaps
have a worse death). I would hope the doctors
looking after me would let me die there and
then. This is the sort of thing you could
insist on when you come to make your living
will, which would assist doctors in their
decision-making (and would allow them to carry
out your wishes without any come-back/litigation
from relatives or the General Medical Council).

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Forbidden fruit

"Hey, listen to this, Adam," said Eve, " the
Book of Gillian says we must eat five portions
of fruit and veg each day!"

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

hot pants suit

I passed by this shop window with retro outfits
for sale/hire (opposite St Andrew's Church on
Mansfield Road). It was there I spotted this
stunning outfit, which may have originated in
the late 60s. Perhaps some of you may have worn
hot pants?
Back in the 60s, I looked more nerdish than I
do now ... I used to wear quite chunky black/
brown spectacles and rather formal clothes,
though in my student days I improved my image
somewhat with a pair of salmon pink jeans/cords
(and was into Jimi Hendrix, smoking cigarettes
and partying). Nevertheless, anyone wearing sexy
clothes like the above hot pants never showed
any interest in a guy like me ... not
I was always envious of people like Sean Connery
with their charm and good looks, fast cars and
fast women. Are they happy now, I wonder?

Monday, April 10, 2006


There's a fabulous display of camelia flowers
on Chestnut Grove in Nottingham, at present -
just like a rambling rose, but without the
lovely scent.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

the little blue vase

This little vase is on my study window-ledge,
just alongside a scented geranium, which has
pretty white flowers. I've just worked out
that I've been looking after this plant/its
ancestors on and off for about 42 years. Well
when I say looking after it, I should be more
honest and say that I've neglected it most of
the time, as it's withstood long periods of
drought and still survived - it's an ideal
house-plant. If I water and feed it well, it
just goes rampant and very leggy. It's got a
lovely smell when you touch its leaves.
The photo looked very nice on my computer
screen, so I thought I'd share it with you.

I’ve often thought that friendships with other
people are like delicate plants ... they need
a lot of TLC. If you don't look after them
properly, then they just wither away and die.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Salts Mill in Saltaire, Yorkshire

I've found a couple of photos of Salts Mill,
that I took on our visit there, last November.
The mill and the surrounding town of Saltaire
was created by Titus Salt in the 1800s.
I took the first photo of the top floor in the
early afternoon, while we were waiting for a
free table in the restaurant. You will see the
glorious light, that floods in through all the
The second photo was taken at twilight, towards
the end of our visit.

A lily photo

Here is a photo of a couple of lilies in our
house at the moment. The lilies remind me of
past visits to the wonderful Salts Mill in
Saltaire near Bradford, which has a permanent
exhibltion of paintings and drawings by David
Hockney. The gallery is full of artists'
materials and books on fine art and literature
... like an Aladdin's Cave.
The art gallery area smells heavenly with lots
of fresh white lilies. The mill has an
excellent restaurant on the top floor which is
always busy. Somewhere nice to go to at any
time of year.
Another wonderful place is the tropical house
at Canal Gardens in Roundhay Park, in Leeds.
It's full of exotic plants and butterflies. The
park itself is lovely to walk around too.

My late parents lived nearby for many years,
as I did before I got married, and we used to
visit them a lot when our kids were little.
There was a huge cherry tree in their garden,
with masses of white blossom on it, like a
snow storm ... the blossom will be appearing
about now. The tree was just outside my
bedroom window, so I would gaze at it from
time to time, while I was studying.
Another magical experience for me in my
student days, was seeing a performance of
Vivaldi's "Four Seasons", for the first time.
It was performed on TV by a small chamber
orchestra, and was set in a large conservatory,
surrounded by parkland. They staged it so that
you could see the seasons changing as they
played through each movement. Fabulous music
in a fabulous setting.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I'll be a granddad soon

Yes, I can now reveal that our third daughter,
B, is expecting a baby in early October. She
had her 12 week scan last week, and everything
is fine. Hurrah!
Amazingly, B has had no sickness at all so far
in the pregnancy. Mrs C had dreadful sickness
with our first, but less trouble in successive
All B has had is a hugely increased appetite –
she’s taking double the quantity of butties
into work, for example, but so far she’s put
on only a small amount of weight, and still
looks very slim.
Mrs C and I are very much looking forward to
having a grandchild to see and look after from
time to time. I reckon it will be a bit like
becoming parents again - a lot of fun but
without all the hard work of being a full-time

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How about changing your name?

I've thought from time to time that I'd like
a peerage (like some of Tony Blair's cronies).
How nice to have a name/title like "Lord Alfred
Tennyson" - sounds very grand to me and
sounds good to hear the name spoken.
I sometimes think my parents could have chosen
perhaps a middle name for me, like
Lord/Viscount/Earl ...they would have made me
a man of distinction instantly.
Well, my mum said (with laughter) some years
ago, that I could always change my name by
deed poll, and so I could.
Thinking back to my schooldays, I would have
been pilloried by the other kids, if they'd
found out I had such a fancy name (unless I'd
been sent to Eton/Harrow of course).
One of my daughters suddenly announced a few
months ago that she'd changed her name by
deed poll. I was shocked initially, but all
she'd done was to create a middle name for
herself, which is now her stage name (as a
harpist). She was having problems finding a
bank which would allow her to open an account
with a stage name.
I wonder how pop stars like Sting and The Edge
sorted that one out?
So, there's no need to pay huge sums of money
to a political party (unless you wish to sit
in the House of Lords and use the dining room
there) ... just change your name by deed poll
or more simply, change your blog name
... eg to Countesse Milady de Winter.

Monday, April 03, 2006

How good are women at reading maps?

I took this photo early this morning, for
a bit of fun ... I wanted to capture the
glorious morning sunlight as it came
streaming through our dining room window.
The postcard was from the art exhibition we
went to yesterday, showing a painting by
J W Tucker, called “Hikers”, painted in 1936.
It was said to promote the idea of young women
being independent and adventurous – doing
things without men in charge/taking control of
their lives.
You will see that they are reading a map, which
brings me onto the question of how well can
women read maps?
Well, according to present-day notions put
about by people like John Gray in “Men are
from Mars,“, women are said to be poor at
map-reading compared to men, their brains
being wired up differently from men as regards
spatial awareness. However, when they get lost,
they are better than men at asking someone for
help/directions.... I reckon it’s a question
of male pride really. (I don’t fit in with
the latter, as I’m usually the first to suggest
that we ask for directions if Mrs C and I get

When it comes to sex, women’s brains appear to
be wired up differently from men.

I’ve heard that women are not interested in
sex, unless they are feeling OK emotionally
in a relationship. So, if a couple have just
had a row, a woman is unlikely to feel like
having sex with her bloke ... well that seems
reasonable, doesn’t it?
Whereas men’s brains are hot-wired to their
penises – ready for sex at anytime, supposedly.
I don’t think I fit in with this theory either,
as if I’m feeling angry/sad after a row, I
don’t feel sexy at all.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Djanogly Art Gallery

Today, Mrs C and I went to Nottm University's
art gallery to see an exhibition of paintings
all about recreational activities in the 1930s.
Overall, I was very impressed - there were some
fine paintings, and in the background the
gallery played some 1930's popular music to
create some atmosphere.
The exhibition closes on April 9th, by the way.
Harold Williamson painted the above picture,
entitled "Spray", in 1940. The original picture
is more brightly coloured as you'd expect, with
more natural skin tones.
You might be able to see the Renoir-like nude
in the distance on my photo below - it was
painted by Dod Proctor in 1934, who named it
"The Orchard". Initially I thought the artist
had used pastels, (in the style of Renoir), but
she created that effect with oil paints thinly
applied to the canvas. A fabulous painting.
(Click on this photo to enlarge it, and click
also on the next photo, on the small square
button that might appear at the bottom right
hand corner of it).

Wildlife chez nous

We had an unusual visitor in our garden two
days ago. I put the camera on an automatic
setting and took about 30 shots of this
pheasant (it's a male Common Pheasant, BTW).
This is one of my better ones, though it's
overexposed. The bird was fairly tame - it
didn't fly off when I opened the patio door
to get some better quality photos of it, and
it was very keen to get inside our house.
Luckily, our cats were nowhere to be seen.
Here's another shot of it, to show you its
brilliant plumage.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Nottingham Theatre Royal Stop

Here is where the tram stops off at the
Theatre Royal - the ticket inspector is the
Terminator you can see standing alongside.

The Bolshoi Ballet are coming to Nottingham
soon (£25-65 a seat - modest compared with
London prices).