A Wannabe Green


Today, being at home I felt it my opportunity to do my bit for the environment. The recent air pollution drama on mainland UK, having practically taken over BBC/ITV news coverage has clearly exercised lots of folk into consideration of the wider issue of our air quality and the impending disastrous side effects of the continued use of diesel fuels. London pea-soupers are headline news again! Shortened lifespans are predicted to be a long term effect (worse than increased use of hard drugs, alcohol, tobacco??) Apparently Saharan sand barely rates a mention – as a once every few years event, the impact is deemed negligible (unless, like me, you happen to be asthmatic and feel the need to breathe sometime before the dunes are blown back home). But it has been the catalyst for an outburst of interest in alternative energy sources and, more particularly, transport options. All more or less expensive. All well beyond my budget. All ok if you happen to be living life in the fast lane, earning mega money and more or less self-employed (ie – having lots of time to explore/indulge the range of experimental technologies).

As for myself – well I’m bound by tight financial constraints but (heroically!!) am still trying to do my bit. Ruling out investments in electric cars. Today, I had to take the usual journey to town, despite being off work. I was aware/happy that a lift home was easily available. Mindful of that air pollution – (and, not to be hypocritical – wishing to avoid having an extra car in town) I decided to use the environmentally responsible vehicle most easily available to me. I decided to travel by bus.

Now this is not a means I have recourse to very often. My job requires that I have daily use of a car. However, I look forward to being the proud possessor of a bus pass in the foreseeable future. So – now is the time to start practising for that auspicious Day, when I will announce to my employers that I will only travel to places easily accessible by bus route!

Anyway. Back to today. I am required to be at my destination in town by 19.00. The bus leaves from (almost) my front door at 18.05. And doesn’t get to town until 19.08. Now – I am not even going to comment on why a forty minute journey should take 63 minutes – but would you believe that the bus before the 18.05 leaves that same stop at my front door at 15.05????? Which would leave me wandering/shopping aimlessly for too long to contemplate!

Some might wonder whether I live in a remote tribal area of Outer Mongolia. Or whether I have chosen the seclusion of a Himalayan hideaway. But as you might guess – I live in a pretty (some might say up-and-coming) seaside town with good minor road connections to all the big local arterial routes. But which is particularly badly served by public transport.

I just wonder….. Could there be some mileage (see what I did there?) in our government investing in an affordable public transport system which actually serves the public? One which allows people the flexibility to travel when they wish – or need – to? Surely this – a do-able, immediate plan – should suggest itself to government as a good place to start to redress our current toxic fuel emissions problems?

Well. Too late for me today. you’ve guessed it. I’m going to drive.

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Weather conditions. Abroad.


As you now all know, I listen to Radio 4 news on the way to work (and on the way home. Or eating breakfast. Lunch. Tea. Dinner. Middle of the night – world service). So I’m abreast of current affairs. Most notably, the recent Typhoon Haiyan which has wreaked devastation across Tacloban and a large swathe of the Philippines. Given the magnitude of the catastrophe I felt compelled to inform myself further on the event. Perhaps this is vicariously feeding off someone else’s misery, perhaps it is intrusive upon the grief and despair of others. But, yesterday, I watched TV news coverage of the disaster. The content of the news reports was already known to me. But the pictures have managed to scorch a vision of a post apocalypitc hell into my mind. I often find that language – as via radio – equals TV in it’s capacity to convey the context/environment/essence of any report or issue. This is one event where the immediacy of the pictures can have no equal. 

Apart from being staggered by the scale of the destruction and the harrowing pictures of bewildered survivors digging graves for their less fortunate loved ones, scavenging for food, picking through the wreckage, searching for parents, children, siblings, I witnessed the apparent disarray within the aid agencies, unprepared for an emergency of such unprecedented dimensions. And, indeed, where should they start? There are no buildings in the area wherein survivors may find refuge. There is no passable road structure through which to bring aid to starving people. There is little in the way of air transportation, given the destruction of the airport. I listened to an aid worker today, tellling of her first impressions after having arrived in Tacloban – she was aghast at what she was witnessing, overwhelmed by the level of need and very ambivalent about what shape support could take at this stage.

I have, however, been appalled that starving communities, having nothing but their lives to call their own, have been accused of ‘looting’ food from places which, just last weekend, were shops/supermarkets/storerooms. They are no longer such establishments. There is no longer an operational infrastructure and there are no workplaces in the areas from which this food has been retrieved. There are no shop assistants, no office work, no ‘blue collar’ work no possible means by which survivors can now get paid/money to swap for the bare essentials of life. There are only starving people. Who are surely to be allowed to keep together what body and soul they have left?  

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Days to Remember?


I am an avowed and unashamed Radio 4 afficcionado. I have been so since I ate my rice krispies in my grandmothers kitchen and headed off to primary school with the quirky humour of Jack de Manio reading the news ringing in my ears. I will listen to almost anything (apart from Question Time which is just tooooo borrrriiingg even for me!). I am happy to shout at the radio as headbangers talk rubbish as I drive along. I am happy to laugh out loud whilst I listen to the News Quiz or Clare in the Community (still driving  along – a bit of a theme emerging, perhaps?) And if I happen to be nearing my destination before the end of the Archers, I find myself having to find reasons to stay in the car until the closing credits play out. 

I feel I’m a product of a good, classic, Radio 4 education. I’m totally undiscriminating. I listen to Melvin Bragg and his guests on a Thursday morning talking me through the intricacies of quantum physics or the impact of mesolithic engineering upon modern culture. I have been enthralled by Grayson Perry’s exposition of democracy and the art world. I ponder the mysteries unfolded in the history, the science, the consumer affairs, the arts programmes. I am spellbound by the dramas and the poetry programmes at assorted times of the day.

And I’m probably the best informed person you will ever meet in respect of national/international affairs. I will usually know chapter and verse about any natural catastrophe/human rights insult/impending territorial hostilities. Mind you – I have no idea about what is happening locally. Radio four don’t really care much for regional variations.

 

Yes – some may say I just don’t get out enough!

Ssso. To that end I’ve decided to remedy that with three events planned for the one week!!! This week. (Actually – four, if we count tonight’s college craft class. Which, incidentally, has just started to show some signs of progress!) To some people that may sound run-of-the-mill. To me – three events in one week is life changing/affirming/transformational/utterly unheard of!!! Not to mention exhausting. To even think about. 

Tomorrow night is Charity Event night. Town centre. Straight after work. (Oh – where to park? what if it rains? I’m going to have to walk for miles….. Maybe I’ll leave my car at the folks and get a lift?) Already this sounds like a major exercise in planning….

Aaahh well – the next event – well – it’s not exactly going out. It’s bookclub. And it’s at ours! How convenient! No parking problems. No planning – aarrgghh – did I say no planning??? I’ve taken leave of my senses!!! The only thing not to need planned is the book – which at least I’ve read (did you hear that out there – my bookclub/ bloggie readers???)

Friends – it’s fast approaching winter. It’s cold outside, if not actually frosty tonight. It’s undeniably dark. And I spend long days in work……

This new leaf, this leap outside my comfort zone, this event planning – I’m starting to feel the inexorable creep back to the cozy embrace of radio land already!!

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A Few Words


It’s late at night (or early morning). Probably not the best time to be thinking of witty repartee and sharp one-liners to amuse and tantalize bloggers used to a diet of carefully honed prose and poetry. A slow time in anyone’s book but of its very nature a time to reflect. Well – that is, if sleep is not going to thwart such musings.

But as it happens, I have work to do and will have to postpone (indefinitely??) the luxury of slinking into the arms of the sandman.

But I thought I’d like to give an update on hobbyland. As I mentioned the other day, I’m en route to becoming a master craftswoman, a silversmith of note. Well – that is – I’ve attended four jewellery making classes.

But progress is there for all to see.I have managed, at last, to solder the seam of the ring closed! Next week we are to start on designs for pendants. We seem to be forging nimbly ahead towards launching our own brand! All very individual, perforce unreplicable pieces. (As stated – bespoke.) And, naturally, much sought after!

So I just wanted to give you the heads up. Keep your eyes peeled – you wouldn’t want to miss the glittering launch of the next Big Craze in glamour jewels. Now would you??!!

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Autumn 2013


My lifestyle needed revised. Working/slobbing did not appear to be reaching the optimum balance. An activity seemed to be the answer.

Like other friends and blogging buddies, I have now great hopes for my new autumnal project. I have decided not to spend my long evenings sleeping in front of the tv, but rather, to start a new phase of my life and get a hobby! 

So. Since I’m an avid consumer of jewellery and all things glittery, I’ve chosen silversmithing. Jewellery-making to be rather more precise.

And I’m bound for class number four tomorrow night. Already I find I’m playing catch-up (read ‘lagging behind the others!’) I’ll excuse myself by noting that several of the group have had a head start, having been at previous, similar classes and having several jewellery projects already successfully completed. (I’m going to skim quickly over the fact that this group are in the minority and that most of the class is new to these processes!) Nevertheless, tomorrow night I expect I’ll manage to finish project number one, skip number two and join the others on project number three.

The joy I have found, however, is the new opportunities for retail therapy the course offers. This is a pursuit in which I excel. And the range of hardware required is in excess of anything I could have envisaged. From files to drill bits to containers of every sort, to blades and set squares. Not to mention the opportunity to indulge in purchase of power tools (which I’m still researching). and then the actual materials for shaping into jewellery – the silver/copper/semi-precious stones……(which cost a fortune, unimagined at the signing-up stage!) Lots of shiny bits and pieces to catch the eye and empty the purse.

So – you can see that, by chance, I have stumbled upon a hobby of a lifetime. One that I am surely going to have to practice for a lifetime to get my money’s worth from the tool set I have purchased. 

I’m canvassing now for updates on any craft fairs for next year – clearly I’ll have to have honed my skills by then to craftsperson level and to be fit to sell my bespoke silverware to real, honest-to goodness customers willing to pay real honest-to goodness prices. 

As an escape route from the current daily grind, this is a bit of a long shot. But surely worth experimenting with? 

And – now everyone can bear witness to the fact that I’m actually a very optimistic being underneath that hard, cynical exterior!!!

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2012 in a Nutshell


I’ve looked at the stats. As a blogging year goes, it appears my figures did not light up the firmament. There were no blinding flashes as my brilliance/scorching wit/profuse postings landed in the inboxes of my millions of eagerly awaiting followers. In fact – this was not a year of jam-packed catchy or philosophical dispatches. From the evidence of WordPress stats ‘monkeys’ it appears that I’ve only been awake for a very small part of this year. I have been too idle to comment on happenings in the wider world. The Olympics seem to have left me cold. The paralypics have gone by unobserved. And Rory McIlroys’ truimph (Where was that again??) was only golf. Not worth getting out of bed to watch. The figures portray me as a misanthrope.

And yet….and yet…

I have actually been active at different times over the course of the year. Not that you are all that interested. Buuuutttt – and this is the beauty of blogging – I could have pulled at your heart strings, made you thrill at my exploits, made you shudder at my misadventures. I could have had some followers!!!! I could have raised my blogging profile. I could have been a blogging star of 2012!!!!

Instead – I devolved all of this responsibility onto that other, very deserving very radiant blogging virtuouso – Speccy at Me, Mine and Other Bits.

Well. Now I’m going to state my one and only New Year Resolution. I’m going to do better next year!!Watch out, blogging awards 2013!

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Preparations….Underway….


Well it’s fairly final, if not yet confirmed. All of our sock shopping has been done for this trip. Who would ever have thought that a few days away in Cambodia would occasion such specialized shopping opportunities?? Energy bars (probably enough to have fed Hannibal’s troops in their long trek through those snow capped mountains). Socks (chosen with the precision you’d expect of an Olympian rhythmic gymnastics training regime.) First aid kit to supply a small continent. Sun tan lotion/after sun lotion/mossi spray/mossie net/mossie plug-ins (the optimist always sees a need for electrical devices!). Apart from the common, everyday toiletries, hair products, shower goods. Walking poles. Walking boots.

Still to get the extra camera battery. Phone battery? (Do they sell these separately? Should I perhaps have been considering these earlier??)

Choose clothes. Wash clothes. Whittle down clothes choice. Take new luggage out of bag it arrived in (online is sooo wonderful!!).

Gather gear all around. Pack!!! Aaawwww – are there enough energy bars?? They probably won’t sell them over there!

OMG – I feel exhausted already! And still another two days worrying about whether I’ll be able to shift all this gear once it’s finally, (probably irrevocably!) squeezed into this super-duper lightweight (!) wheelable transport system. Well – the description online just about stopped itself short of that term! Anyway – a transport system is clearly what I need to transport what is starting to look alarmingly like all my worldly possessions!

Perhaps it would have just been easier to hire a winnebago for the few days??

Posted in Current affairs, Books, Bookclubs, Grey's Anatomy, Stella, Adventures with friends, Shoes, Food, Wine, Family. And everything in between!!! | 10 Comments

Musings on Stage Two


We don’t know what lies ahead. Perhaps that’s for the best. Whatever happens will be vagrant, will come as epiphany. Or an earthquake. In our own universe.

We shake. We tremble. We look around for the familiar signposts, those intimate markers of our accustomed routines. And we remember that they are dislocated, ever so slightly. Nothing remarkable to those on the outside. Presaging metamorphosis – decline – to soul-mates and confidantes. Preceding anxiety, night watches, furtive monitoring. Thinking the worst, planning for the best. It’s not how it should be.

No. We should be taking our time, not jumping to conclusions. We should not be planning to restrict but rather to push the boundaries, to confound the forecasts. To think positively. To act normally. To play to the abilities rather than the limitations.

For this is the start of a long path. A long journey is ahead and only the first, very tiny step has been taken. A blindfold has been removed  – a eureka moment has occurred. I’ve been given a by-ball until now. I’m wracked with guilt about what I should have been doing, what I ought to do, what I need to do, what I can do. Whatever way the earth settles, the die has been cast. And things change from here.

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Stage Two


Life has moved on from yesterday. There has been a slight tilt to my world and previous, precious, perspectives are askew. Change, which has been creeping slowly, undemandingly, unacknowledged, has screamed from across the realm, shaking me into the present, the future. Swallowing up and spitting out the nonchalence of my cosy, self indulgent cosmos. 

Nothing bizarre has happened. There were no births marriages or deaths within my family circle. Nothing occurred which would be unfamiliar to many fellow bloggers. Some of whom have had to travel much further along the path upon which my family has just embarked.

Last night I was confronted with clear, undeniable, evidence of the deterioration of a loved one’s health. Although we have made some superficial allowances for minor frailty over the past year, the impact on lifestyle has been downplayed. My universe has not been inconvenienced. The implications of the aging process have been purely academic. I don’t have to witness the daily adjustments.

But yesterday my mother disclosed that my father had had a ‘wee turn’. His words were jumbled. His movements were uncontrolled. It was 10.30 in the evening. They were alone. He was frightened. She was frightened. He had his first TIA. Since it, he has been very shaky, unsteady on his feet. Uncertain of himself, feeling loss of confidence. He foresees his future – dependant, housebound, ill. He’s distressed and anxious lest the next time damage is more profound.

Today I’m at the start of the process described so scorchingly by many of you. The sweep of repercussions this will have, the claims on time. I’m recognizing, initially,  how blase I have been in responding to existing signs of debility – affording an aging mother little respite from the burden of her current caring role. And the added imperative to offer support sensitively, possibly covertly.

This is a path well trod by those of you living amidst chronic illness. By those of you who have already had to accept the compromises brought by health impairment. For me – it’s the next stage. Pay back time for care selflessly given. Face to face with the reality of aging and the descent into infirmity.

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Not Another Countdown….


Well, I’m back to the grindstome today. But – as I mentioned to those around me (and I mean ALL those around!!) in two weeks timeI’ll be heading off to Cambodia~!!!!

Now. As everyone knows, I’m reluctant to start into juvenile behaviour like countdowns. I’m far too sensible, adult, responsible to indulge in such frippery. Besides, it never works out. They are the definition of the harbingers of doom. They challenge plans to explode.

Or am I sounding paranoid? Do such scruples sound more like baited breath?

Just this once, for today only and only in the forum of this blog – I can’t wait!!!  We’ve only the vaguest of plans for the period beyond the scheduled trek – ie – that we’ll be staying for a further week. We sort of figure we’ll head down to catch a glimpse of Pnomn Penn. and perhaps we’ll get around to checking out the Foreign Correspondents club, which others who have visited  that far off land report to be unmissable. Or we may get to the shooting range featured on a Sky travel programme this week, which allowed punters to shoot whatever weapon they could name or afford. (Extemes?? They don’t matter to intrepid travellers like us!)

Or maybe  the trek will propel us into our lifelong mystical, spiritual search and we will spend the following week on a reverential odyssey, a sacred pilgrimage around the ancient temples of that inspirational font of devotion. Shangri-La lies ahead of us.

Maybe we will even just find that the beaches are good, the weather hot, the  markets cheap and the local fire water invigorating!

Whatever. I don’t care. Actually I don’t even care if it rains. (Yes – even if it rains!!!!!. Are you getting a hint of my excitement, anticipation, joy at being on leave from that daily grind???)

And with that in mind – did I tell you I’m going away in two weeks time????

Posted in Current affairs, Books, Bookclubs, Grey's Anatomy, Stella, Adventures with friends, Shoes, Food, Wine, Family. And everything in between!!! | 3 Comments