Friday, October 31, 2008

A couple of stories about Little A and Baby J

A few days ago, our granddaughter Little A was poorly with a cold
and a cough. She's used to having a set menu for her breakfast,
served up asap.. This particular morning she was looking ill and
her mum R. carried her downstairs.
On her way downstairs, Little A called out in a quiet, plaintive
"Yes" said her mum, "You can have some juice."
"Yes, you can have some toast."
"Yes, you can have some butter."
"Chocolate cake."
Her dad commented: "Well, she slipped that one in very

Another funny incident ... Little A was calling out her baby
brother's name a few times while R was in the kitchen.
R. nipped in to the sitting room to see what was going on, and
she noticed that Little A was lightly dotting Baby J's face
with her spout cup (which was full of apple juice). At the
same time, J was licking up the apple juice with his tongue
avidly. He's only 4 weeks old.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bloody freezing

Yes, it's bloody cold outside tonight ~ temps dropping down
to minus 3 in parts of England, which is unusually early.
Brass monkey weather.

We've had our central heating only on for short periods of time
in the past few weeks, partly to save on some dosh (energy
bills have soared up in the past year), and also to do our
bit to save the planet. We've also drastically cut down the
number of car journeys to use less fuel too ~ I think the
general public must be doing the same, as the price of petrol
has dropped (and the oil producers are having to cut production
to force up the price) ~ it all sounds rather daft, but if
this helps to conserve the stuff, & reduce the level of carbon
dioxide, then so much the better.

So here I am, wrapped up in umpteen layers of clothing including
my thick cotton dressing gown (looking like a Dickensian figure),
typing this while also thinking about heating some water soon
for my hot water bottle. My middle name is Ebenezer, by the way.

All I need now to complete the picture, is a dingy white nightcap.
and a pair of fingerless woollen gloves. Oh, and we've started to
have porridge for breakfast ~ well, I was getting bored with
eating toast and marmalade all the time.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Catch-up on the last week or so

Sorry about my delay in posting this, but I’ve given two talks on
computer-related topics this week (one on researching your ancestors
online, which I ended up giving twice), the other on showing beginners
how to surf the internet and what a ULR was all about. Scintillating
news for you.

The other highlights of the past week or so include seeing two films:
Burn After Reading with George Clooney and John Malkovich ~ a black
comedy which I found funny in parts but shocking in others. I have to
admit that I fell asleep for 10 minutes or so a short while into the
film, so I spent the rest of the time trying to work out who was
bedding whom. I don’t think I could have been a professional film
reviewer: “Sorry folks, but I found it so dull that I slept through
10 minutes of it”. So, sorry to the Coen brothers, but I give the
film 6 out of 10. I wouldn’t pay to see it again.

The other big film Mrs C and I watched was Brideshead Revisited ~
absolutely fabulous ~ brilliant acting, especially Emma Thompson
as the manipulative and steely-hearted matriarch of the posh family,
and utterly gorgeous scenery ...Oxford, the River Thames,
Castle Howard in Yorkshire, Venice and Marrakech.

The lead actor, Matthew Goode (who played Charles) sounded just like
the actor, Jeremy Irons, who was in the 1981 BBC dramatisation. The
Times Book Group columnist, Alyson Rudd, didn’t like the film though:
“The film is so starved of dialogue that you need to have the book to
hand to understand the characters” and she thought the production
wasn’t good in other respects too. Sebastian wasn’t sexy enough for

I haven’t read the book, but I would pay to see this film again, to see
it on the big screen ~ I give it 10 out of 10.

Last weekend, on a cold, cloudy and windy day (the sort of day
when you’d prefer to stay at home and keep warm), Mrs C and I went
to one of our local historic houses, Calke Abbey, which is run by
the National Trust.

I would place it as number 3 on my list of favourite places to see
in the Midlands, after Chatsworth and Hardwick Hall. It was owned
by the Harpur-Crewe family who owned 30,000 acres of land around
the big house. However after paying 3 lots of death duty within
25 years, the estate shrank to 3,000 acres and the owner had to
give it over to the National Trust (in lieu of IHT). The HCs were
keen collectors and the house is full of stuff – too many stuffed
animals for me, but all the original furniture is there ~ and on
the second floor, all the original junk. The National Trust has
left this floor in the state they found it, back in 1984, so the
rooms and corridors look dull and dingy, with peeling wallpaper
and cracked plasterwork.

After walking around the top floor, room after room of junk mainly,
you then enter a small room at the far end of the house containing
an absolutely stunning four poster state bed. It’s sealed within a
plate glass partition and it’s well lit. The fabric draped over
this, is a fabulous dark blue Chinese silk covered in embroidered
peacocks, flowers and oriental figures. It's thought to be a wedding
gift from the Royal family back in 1734, which was boxed up and which
has not seen the light of day until 1984 – it’s in pristine condition,
as if it’s just been bought from Liberty’s in London. This photo is
a pale copy of it.

Some of you may have been following the TV series called Lost. We
watched a bit of the first episode and we didn’t think it was our
cup of tea. However some young relatives persuaded us to give it a
go (and loaned us two boxed sets of DVDs). Well we were hooked,
often watching 2-3 episodes at a time, and now we’re just finished
the second series (apart from seeing the out-takes / take-outs).
Never a dull moment. It a bit like reading a brilliant novel like
Pride and Prejudice ~ you never want it to end.

I’ve just been looking at this Wikipedia article on Lost, and I
think we’ve reached the end of Series 3, where something dreadful
happens to Charlie. I won’t say any more, in case you’re catching
up too. I’m feeling a bit lost as regards where we are.

We saw two of our little grandchildren mid-week, when R came over
to see us ~ it was lovely to see them all as ever. Little J’s face
is changing, as baby faces do ~ well he’s on full cream breast milk,
so he will fill out a bit. Little A’s speech is coming on very well,
and her phone conversation is becoming more meaningful ~ it’s very
touching when she says: Bye-bye, Gr-Ma (or Gr-Ga), on the phone,
as if she’s really missing us. But perhaps it’s us who are really
missing her?

To end on, here is a photo of one of our cats, Miss D, cuddling up
to our teddy bears (mine is the one on your left, which I've had
since the age of 5).

Monday, October 20, 2008

A bit of autumn colour

I've just been looking at the glorious autumn colour in a couple
of Jo's photos, and felt inspired to add two of my own, taken
one lovely sunny morning last weekend.

This tree-lined avenue is very close to the spot where I took my banner
photo above, and as you can see, it's very pleasant to walk down here
into Nottm city centre ~ makes a great change from walking alongside the
noisy & smelly traffic on the busy Mansfield Road into town.

The weather's been showery and blustery today, with lots of leaves pouring
off from the horse-chestnut trees on our road. I spent a bit of time this
morning raking and brushing piles of leaves from the pavement into the
gutter outside our house. Half an hour later, the pavement was strewn
with leaves again. Oh well, I needed the exercise.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Baby news and nerd news

Mrs C and I have had some great news ... a new grandson, Baby J, born
three weeks ago ~ both mum and babe are doing very well. Not only that
but another daughter of ours is now nearly 14 weeks pregnant (expecting
her second child in mid April). This little soul had been in the freezer
for the previous year or so, and was thawed out and implanted by the
brilliant Mr Taranissi (& his team).

(Little J has got my crinkly ears ~ how spooky / Spocky is that?)

I've been taking lots of photos of the little ones in the past few
months, as you'll see on my Flickr site. Little A has just celebrated
her second birthday, for which Mrs C made a delicious chocolate cake --
which got A. very excited ... she ran around shouting: "Chocolate cake!
Chocolate cake!" when we arrived with it, and again when she got up the
following morning (by which time there was none left).

Some of you will know that I do a bit of IT teaching for seniors for
the U3A in Nottingham ~ it's an educational charity, so the work is unpaid
and entirely voluntary ~ but I get a buzz from doing it and enjoy the
intellectual challenge of sorting out other folks' problems, as well as
meeting people.

I've spent the last 2 months revamping my photo-editing talks, creating
five Powerpoint presentations ~ I'm giving the third one this week.
I've also just completed a Ppt presentation all about researching your
family history using the internet (looking at over 40 websites), and I'm
over half-way through revamping a talk on how to organise, look at and
print your digital photos. I've also got roped in to helping out at a
computer class for beginners ... my colleagues who set it up have
realised how difficult it is to run this course, teaching people of
differing abilities and experience (some of whom have yet to buy a
computer ~ oh dear!).

My computer use when I was a GP was for typing out prescriptions for
this and that, and for typing up my own "research" work into asthma
& other areas of GP practice I was interested in. My daughters and
one of my good friends helped me get going with computing after I
retired ~ and all this fitted in very well with my developing interest
in digital photography, doing my family history, and building a few

I'm a nerd, basically.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

About to make a come-back

Hi folks,

Yes, that's right. I'm thinking of making a come-back
fairly soon -- to inflict myself on you again. I've just
been reading Scary Duck's blog, and realise how much fun
I'm missing out on.

I'm mainly right-handed, in response to Scary's query
(October 15), and am fairly even-handed too.