Saturday, July 31, 2010

A request from our granddaughter, Mini

Mrs C received a text from our daughter L, the day after L and her
children went back home to London. Mini had asked her: "Can we go back
to Nottyham today?"

It's cool hazy sunshine outside at the moment. I'm doing a few emails,
plus a little website work, prior to going downstairs to make a cuppa
and to feed the cats.

Later today, Mrs C and I will go out to see the French film, "Gainsbourg"
at the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham ... some of you who are old enough
will remember his sexy song with Jane Birkin in the '60s called "Je t'aime",
which was banned from being broadcast by the Beeb I recall, as the content
was deemed to be too lurid (and might corrupt innocent minds). However,
banning anything is great for publicity and for sales.

Here's a version I've just seen on YouTube, with film footage of Serge
singing with Jane, who was said to be the main love in his life ...

I think the person who put this onto YouTube has edited out a lot of
the heavy breathing, etc., that was on towards the end of the song...
though perhaps I'm wrong about this?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's so-oo quiet

Our daughter L went home yesterday evening with her two girls, after
spending 5-6 days with us ... very busy days for us, helping L out
with the child-care, and extra shopping, cooking, making extra drinks,
and generally clearing up all the mess from day to day. It's really
lovely to have them here, and somewhat sad to see them go. But then,
it's great to have some time to ourselves / oneselves, and to get back
to normal life.

In addition to our visitors, we had Little A and J staying with us all
day last Friday. Their mum drops them off on her way to work, at 7.45am
on Fridays, and usually by 11am, both Mrs C and myself are already
tiring, and feeling it's time for lunch. On top of all this, we hosted
a large party for Mrs C's mum's 90th birthday party at the weekend ...
it was a large family get-together for her ... photos of which you'll
see on my Flickr site including this one, featuring a lemon drizzle cake
which my sister-in-law made for us all.


As usual with events like this, we tend to buy in / prepare too much food,
so we're still eating up some of the left-overs. I haven't yet opened a
ripe French Brie, partly as I'm going for some blood tests tomorrow, which
include testing my blood cholesterol level (which was minimally raised when
it was last tested 2 years ago). I'll have a nibble of the cheese straight
after the test. :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I can't find my car keys!

I wonder how often this phrase is said in a lot of households first thing
in the morning. An underlying message behind this could be trying to shift
the blame onto someone else: “Who's moved them from my usual place?”, or
perhaps a cry for help: “Help me find them, as I'm late for work, as it

Well two days ago, the question/statement from me was: “I can't find
the theatre tickets!” I'd bought them a few months ago, as a treat for
Mrs C and me, and instead of asking Mrs C to look after them, I'd put
them in a “safe” place.

I thought I'd pinned them onto one of our notice-boards, inside an
envelope provided by The Theatre Royal… an envelope which I thought
would stand out well.

I must have spent about 4 hours searching most nooks and crannies in
our house, much to Mrs C's annoyance as she was very busy with two
of our grandchildren, as well as doing food preparation, and could have
done with an extra pair of hands. Eventually I found the tickets on the
very notice-board I thought I'd pinned them … the envelope was partially
hidden by some notices I'd pinned over it. What relief I felt when I found
them! That evening we went to see “The Quartet”, which we thought was
brilliant... we were sitting four rows from the front, so we were very
absorbed in what was going on. The performance got mixed reviews here.

Yet another lost & found situation occurred today … I'd lost not only my
over-60s free bus pass, but also my favourite credit card. I spent a good
part of the day looking for them, searching all my usual places – pockets,
bags and surfaces. I also spent time trying to recall when I last used them,
and where I might have put them. I needed them for a food shopping trip
I'd planned to do today, for a large family gathering we're hosting
tomorrow. I did the food shopping without them.

At tea-time, I admitted the loss of my cards to Mrs C, whereupon she
made a few sensible suggestions including searching our dining room bay
window-ledge, which is festooned with her birthday cards plus several
pot plants.

Lo & behold, I found my lost cards hidden behind them all and underneath
an opened packet of biscuits of mine … I must have put them there for
safe-keeping. So I had mixed feelings about all this … huge relief as
regards finding them, but then feeling very annoyed with myself for
wasting so much time.

Now where did I put those bloody car keys!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Our visit to Bruges

Hi everyone,
We got back from Bruges late Sunday afternoon, after a lovely break there.
The weather was a mixture of warm sunshine and cloud, with the occasional
shower. Bruges is small enough to walk around in a couple of days, and it
was really lovely to see all the old buildings there, brilliantly
preserved/ restored. If we’d had an extra day or two, we would have visited
more of the art galleries / museums there (which we’ll do on a future visit,
perhaps at a less expensive time of year).

The main downside of Bruges is the high cost of eating out there … 12 euros
for some cheese-cum-ham on toast, and main meals in the region of 20-25 euros
per person. You could eat more cheaply at some restaurants if all you wanted
were some pizzas, pasta or filled pitta breads. Prior to our visit, I looked
up some veggie restaurants on the internet and found a good one which we
visited … the Royal Frituur Veggie Eetboetiek, where we had more reasonably
priced food. It’s situated towards the far eastern end of Landstraat, not far
from the hotel where we were staying, The Flanders Hotel.

I’ve put up about 50 photos of Bruges up on my Flickr site … here are two of
them as a “taster” for you …


This is one of my canal photos with the Belfrey / Belforte tower in the
distance … this is one of the most photographed views of Bruges you’ll see
on the internet.


I took this one evening, looking towards the Jan Van Eyck Square, with the
Burghers’ Lodge tower in the distance.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

We're setting off to Bruges this morning

Yes, we're going by Eurostar to Brussels, and then catching another train to
Bruges. Bruges has been on our "to do" list for a long time. The other Bs
we'd like to do are Barcelona and Berlin, but we chose Bruges out of the
three cities for ease of getting there and back for a long weekend.

So we're off to Bruges for the sightseeing, the chocolates, and the beer ...
well, I'm still teetotal at the mo owing to ongoing dyspepsia, but I'll
have a sip of Mrs C's pint. She's fond of Belgian beer, but I'm not so fond
of it, as I think it's got an off-flavour.

I've found out from our guide book that people in the northern part of Begium
speak Dutch, much to my surprise. The southerners speak French, which stands
to reason, considering Belgium's location. So I'll be able to brush up my
almost fluent Dutch, over the next few days ... as if.

Anyway, I hope to be able to show you some lovely pics of the place early
next week.

Tot ziens!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Raoul Moat

If you live in the UK, you will have heard about the gunman called Raoul Moat,
who shot his girlfriend after she dumped him, killed her boyfriend and who
also shot a policeman at a motorway junction. He went to ground for a few days
in Rothbury, a village just north of Newcastle, and eventually when cornered
by the police, he killed himself after hours of police negotiation.

The whole incident and the Police’s hunt for him, have been the top news story
for days.

Here’s an article in the Daily Telegraph about him, giving more about his
background and his violent behaviour.

We had visited Rothbury briefly the week before all this happened, while we
were on holiday in Morpeth nearby, so the street scenes were familiar to us.

On the Today Programme on Radio 4, yesterday, they interviewed a psychologist
who thought that RM was a “paranoid narcissicist”, and who talked about the
typical behaviour of such a person. I've read up on this online ... at times,
such people can be aggressive/violent towards others, but at other times they
can be very charming. Sometimes they adopt the role of being victimised …
“nobody loves me” or “it’s all her/your fault”. They lack any empathy towards
others and are totally lacking in self-awareness as regards the effect of
their behaviour has on other people.

I gather that some men had left comments on Raoul’s Facebook site, supporting
his violent actions towards his ex-girlfriend, after she’d ditched him … which
I find worrying.

I’ve come across a couple of people like RM, both of whom were like Jekyll and
Hyde … very angry at times about a whole range of issues (and towards me at
times), but at other times they were really charming and chatty. They played
games such as “Oh poor me!” and “Now I’ve got you, you son of a bitch”,
flitting around Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle, changing from being the
victim to the persecutor. So, it’s not surprising that I avoided them like
the plague.

The psychologist on Radio 4 said that one of their greatest fears is losing
people, but in fact their behaviour drives people away, and they usually end
up being sad and lonely.

Mrs C found an interesting article on a Google search, if you’d like to read

Perhaps, bloggers are a bit narcissicist, don't you think?

By the way, I'm just going downstairs to check that I've locked all the doors.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

I don't believe it!

Can you believe that the North of England, and especially the Lake District,
which is usually the wettest part of the country, is suffering from a drought?
Hosepipe bans have been imposed, which I think is a good thing generally ...
it will encourage folk to buy a water butt to catch their own rainwater, as
we did a few years ago.

If you don't believe me, have a look at a photo of one of the reservoirs in
the Lakes.

To think of how bloody awful the weather's been in the past 6 months or so, and
of the serious flooding we had in Cockermouth last November ... which was called
Britain's heaviest rainfall ever.

Well, the Met Office has confirmed on the radio this morning, that we've had the
driest past 6 months since 1927. I gather that there is a large amount of granite rock up North, which doesn't retain any rainwater, compared with the porous chalky
rocks which are more down South. Still, the recent history of water shortages has
been the complete reverse, with plenty of water available up North and drought
conditons in the East and in the South, especially around Kent. So what's going

One of my readers, EDT, reports that it's cold and damp in New Zealand at the mo,
so I guess that NZ is not prone to any water shortages there?

Monday, July 05, 2010

We're back from Northumbria

Yes, we got back home after a long drive from Morpeth to Nottingham, travelling
for about 180 miles along the A1, M18 and then the M1. We stopped off at one of
our favourite National Trust properties, Hardwick Hall, for lunch (well, it's up
North, it's called dinner) and a stroll around the gardens.

The weather in Northumbria couldn't have been better, a mixture of sunshine and
cloud (with only a short spell of light rain one morning) ... temperatures around
21 deg C, really lovely, whereas it was much hotter in London: 29 deg C for a good
part of the second Wimbledon week.... I would have wilted on the tennis court, if
I were playing in that heat.

We stayed in an old castle, Morpeth Castle, which is now being looked after by the
the Landmark Trust (and which offers self-catering accommodation at its properties). I've never stayed in such an old building before ... a very interesting
experience, especially with having the run of the place without lots of tourists milling around.

We visited some of the local sites of interest and the fairly deserted beaches
along the nearby coast ... very unspoilt, if you prefer a quieter type of holiday.

I've put onto my Flickr site a selection of my holiday snaps, including photos of
several family members (on Mrs C's side of the family).

The only downside of the holiday was being without a TV, a microwave oven, and
internet access ... not that I particularly missed all the footie and tennis
which was on that week, or the other two. We has plenty of time to catch up on
some of the action when we got back.

I've spent the past two or three days catching up on emails, doing website stuff,
seeing our family in Nottingham, and doing some work for my local U3A. This
afternoon, I went along to an interesting illustrated talk all about Dorneywood,
the country residence of the top aides of successive prime ministers. Our new
Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne, is due to be the next occupant.
The talk was given by Ken Clarke's wife, Gillian, both of whom stayed there
from time to time, over a four year period. Very posh living, paid for by the
Dorneywood Trust (and not by the tax-payer).

There's more info about Dorneywood on Wikipedia, but the history of the house
is inaccurate / incomplete. (It was renovated in 1920, not built in that year).

I'll end this post with a few holiday snaps (more info about them on my
Flickr site) ....