Monday, 10 December 2012

Making a list and checking it twice...

I have a present list - we tend to collect things together for people so they get a few smaller things instead of just one present. This year I have made pickles and chutneys and jams and put them into smaller jars so that I can give them as gifts. To ensure that I don't get muddled about who is getting what I made a list.
Mr M looks after it and keeps it away from seven-year-old eyes. It wouldn't do for those eyes to see what grandma is giving this year would it. I want to see the disappointment when she get a jar of Plum jam..... I am joking honestly.
Turkey dinner
I have never ever made a list of things I would like for Christmas. I was brought up in the post WW2 era when rationing was still on and there simply weren't many treats around, or the money to buy them. My mother explained that even though Father Christmas brought the presents our parents had to contribute money for the cost of making and transporting them. This seemed totally logical to me as my father was making things and the raw materials cost money that his customers paid. Mum said that we didn't have much money because sometimes our customers took a long time to pay and until they did we couldn't buy stuff. This directed any animosity towards unknown debtors - pretty clever eh? So I never asked for anything and whatever I got was a bonus. All I wanted were books and riding lessons and somehow my parents knew this and so that was what I got.

I make shopping lists for groceries for Christmas but that doesn't count. I make a list of things to do - for both of us, but that doesn't really count either.
As I have said before Christmas is very relaxed in this house. It will happen if it happens. Oh, oh, here's a perfect example of what I mean.
Continental lentil toad-in-the-hole
Every year for the last four years at least we have been given a turkey. How and why isn't important. This is a large free-range, organic bird and it arrives on Christmas Eve. We are never told we are getting it so we simply don't know if it is going to arrive this year or not. Last night we somehow got onto the subject of Christmas dinner and Mr M said that he still hadn't heard if there would be a turkey this year. There was a silent pause and I said "Well, we can always have continental lentil toad-in-the-hole, that tastes like Christmas". Mr M agreed that he could happily eat that on Christmas Day, as it is his favourite vegetarian meal and we stopped worrying about whether there would be a turkey this year.

Now that's what I mean about being relaxed

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Journal My Christmas - Day 5

I make Christmas cards for a local cancer charity - TENOVUS - This began in Cardiff about 40 odd years ago, perhaps it may be 50 odd years now... Anyway a group of business men got together to do something in memory of a friend who had died of cancer. They wanted to raise money, a lot of money for research to be done locally for local people. They worked out  the plan and then had to decide on a name for the charity. One of them said "There are ten of us, why not call it that?" and TENOVUS was born.
I am given loads of old Christmas cards for recycling and I cut them up and make tags or matt and layer bits to make new cards and these I sell to raise money for them. I also give a pile of cards to the TENOVUS shop so they can sell them too. I cover the cost of the card blanks and the glue and embellishments by using some of the old cards I am given to make some of my own cards. I love doing it even though I don't like making cards - I know, I am odd like that.

There should be a picture but I took it with my phone and I haven't yet worked out how to get it from the phone to here. I can't put the phone software onto my computer because the computer won't accept it and just stops working. I will have to email the picture to me and then save it and then upload it - sigh. Done that now!!!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Journal MY Christmas - Day 4

I first thought that I had never received a "memorable"present, because I couldn't remember anything like that. I sat a and thought for a while about every Christmas, trying to separate them in my mind. I even dug out a few old diaries to see what I had written. Not a lot it would seem.

Then I remembered.
Christmas 1980.

Mr M and I had met at my cousin's wedding in August. I was divorced with three children and he was young free and single. By September we were looking for somewhere to live because we had asked my children - aged 15, 13 and 12 - what they wanted for Christmas and they said "Somewhere that we can all live together."

We found a house to rent and moved in. The rent was £500 per month so we were struggling. There was no central heating only open fires. We had an ex-ambulance for transport and it did 15 miles to the gallon. Mr M had to drive 20 miles to work and 20 miles home every day. We relied on the fallen trees at my parents home for fuel and we could just afford food.

We asked the children if they wanted a present of a christmas dinner as we couldn't afford both. They chose the turkey dinner because "Dad will bring loads of stuff". He did and then sat outside in his car and ate sandwiches to make us feel guilty. The children ignored this and accepted that he was being his usual self.

My Mother-in-law must have thought hard about what to buy us because on Christmas Eve she had arrived with two 112pound bags of coal. We carefully added a few lumps to our fire and we did our best to make it last for a long time.

I still remember the feeling of relief when she pointed to the sacks in the boot of the car and said "Merry Christmas." We hadn't got off to a good start and she still didn't really think I was suitable for her boy but she had given us a present that made all our lives that much easier. She has dementia now and is fading away, but for that one simple act I loved her then and I love her now more than 30 years on.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Journal MY Christmas - Day 3

I don't plan Christmas. At least I don't think I do.

I do make lists - is that planning? I make a list of the people we are buying presents for. I make a list of those we are sending cards. I make a list of everything I am going to cook. I make a list of everything I need to be able to cook. Is this planning?

I make Christmas cards for TENOVUS a local cancer charity, and take them to the charity shop in October. I also make enough for us and for my three children. My cards are written by the end of October and they have any letters and photographs put in them and are sealed and stamped by the last week in November so they can be posted on December 1st. My cousin and I have been doing this for twenty years.
We buy savings stamps with Morrisons all through the year so that we can do our extra Christmas shopping with those.
I make a list of what we want to eat - find recipes and practice making them as sugar free as possible so that we can enjoy those treats and not have to worry about blood sugar.

WE don't drink alcohol because I am allergic to grain alcohol and Mr M said he lost interest in alcohol when we met. He has also said that he doesn't drink because he needs to have his brain in working order to keep up with me! I think these are both compliments

We don't object to other people having a drink but if they come here for dinner they have to bring their own booze.

Our Christmas just happens. I let everyone else tell me what they are going to do and then let them. The best Christmas is when everyone does their own thing and Mr M and I can stay at home and just be together. 

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Journal MY Christmas - day 2

I remember when we lived in the village - actually it was three miles outside the village but we were still active participants in all village occasions. The Girl Guides and Brownie Guides used to have a Christmas fayre and spent the weeks leading up to it working hard to make things for their parents and friends to buy.

Because the village is small everyone supported such occasions, even if they didn't have children in the organisations involved. The Scouts and Guides had a Church parade once a month. This was not compulsory, but as the Scouting and Guiding movements promote the religious beliefs of the country they are in, and we live in a Christian country, the attendance was usually around 80% of the membership. Not bad when you consider that we had two Guide companies with 18 girls in each one, two Brownie Guide packs with 18 girls in each one, as well as two Scout Troops and two Cub Scout packs. We always had a part to play in the lead up to Christmas within the village church, and fortunately our vicar was very keen to involve the children. The sound of their voices as they sang the carols and hymns and gave the readings was second only to the voice of one of the Davies children singing the first verse of Once in Royal David's City at the midnight service on Christmas Eve.

Living in a village is so very different to living anywhere else. People say that suburbs of big cities are like villages but that's not true, at least not true of my experience. Our village was surrounded by small hamlets and other villages that had a pub and perhaps a church but didn't have a shop or newsagents so everyone came to our village. The Christmas tree would go up on the porch of one of the three pubs in our village. This happened on the first of December and then we knew that "it" was beginning. We didn't do huge things but the Young Wives Group always did a Christmas Entertainment for the elderly residents. The Women's Institute would go to the sheltered housing complex and do a musical entertainment. The Church Choir would go Carol Singing By Appointment. Sometimes we dressed in victorian costume and carried lanterns. Then we would stand beneath the street lamps and sing a selection of carols, conducted by Jack and with his wife's voice soaring above the rest of us into the chill night air.

Usually this would conclude with me and my children going back to the Davies household where we would sit in the kitchen - the five Davies children and my three and we would laugh and talk all at once while drinking hot drinks before we had to drive that three miles home.

Those are the days I would like to recapture for my grandchildren, that's the Christmas spirit I miss so much  since moving to the city. Would I go back? Oh yes, in a heartbeat. Would it be the same? Yes, it is the same. We know this because we have kept contact with friends. More modern and up to date and the new vicar is not universally liked but the feeling is the same. Jack has gone and lots of others have, like us moved on but the village still cherishes Christmas and still manages to get the inhabitants to be involved even if they are newcomers.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Manifesto - Journal MY Christmas

This year my manifesto is simple.

I am going to enjoy this festive season and stop worrying.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Journal MY Christmas

I am never sure whether I am going to try this again. I always think I won't bother and then Shimelle writes something too tempting and I join in.
I never manage to finish the Journal, and after a great deal of thought I realise that it is simply that I get so caught up in the Christmas-ness that I simply forget. I am going to try again this year. I am going to keep it small and simple. I will be starting tomorrow. I have not prepared anything so it will be completely new and surprising for me.

I had hoped to find a picture of a previous journal but no such luck. Hey Ho, and on we go.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

A few Weeding pictures

The Proposal
 Just a few of the pages I did.

The Proposal is told from both points of view. You can see the surnames in one of the pictures so I will simply call them by those.
Andrews has no family. Apparently he told Cooke that if he could choose parents then he would choose Mr M and me - isn't that lovely? We would be his parents of choice. So When Cooke decided to propose to Andrews he seized the opportunity, on a visit to us, to formally ask permission to propose. We were to keep this a secret - Andrews was in the loo when we were asked - so we did.
The Preparation
On New Year's Eve 2010 the proposal happened and we received a phone call just after midnight from a very emotional Andrews, telling us that he had received a proposal and had accepted.

The Ceremony was arranged for the following November and when we arrived at the venue I discovered that I was to be the one to give Andrews away. I was also asked if I would put together the guest book and "put some pictures into an album because you do that scrapbooking stuff"

The sign from the door

The Ceremony

Fire and Light
this is the sign that the hotel put onto the door to show the guests the way to the correct room. When we left the party that evening it was still there so I took it for the album. I also managed to get the little metallic confetti stuff, you know it! The hearts and just-married, and things. and some of the flowers from the tables and the manuscript of the Best Man's speech. I also made a pocket page for one of the table runners that Cooke made so they will have somewhere safe to keep it.
The Party

The ceremony was beautiful, and seeing the pair of them standing and shaking with nerves together set the tears trickling down my face.

Then there was the reception and the cakes. Two cakes one a fruitcake with icing and the other was six or seven layers of cheeses, many different varieties of cheese. After this everyone changed into their Masked Ball costume (Mr M and I were not staying for the party, we were coming home as we don't do parties, I get panic attacks). We watched as more people arrived and marvelled at the masks and costumes. We met up with lots of old friends and managed lots and lots of hugs from some extra special people.

The party moved outside where there was a fire eater and chinese lanterns. We left then for the two hour drive home.

All in all it was a wonderful day.

I wanted the pictures to tell the story so I did not embellish the pages very much. Because the album has 70 pages I used only the right-hand pages. This leaves a lot of room for Andrews to write the story onto the left-hand pages, if he wants to. There are also about pages at the back of the album that are empty - the darned thing was heavy enough before I put the pages in. These empty pages will also serve as pages for journalling.

So there it is The Weeding Album.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Weeding Guestbook 2

A year ago I said that we had been to a weeding (the hotel spelled it wrong on the notice for the guests) in this post I put together a lot of pages and matted and layered the entries for the Guest Book using black cardstock as the base for each page.
I knew that the Best Woman was going to give the happy couple an album for the photographs and was kind of aware that something was going to come to me to be "finished".
WELL. two weeks ago the Best Woman contacted me and said that she had finally managed to surface through all the bad stuff that had happened in her life and she had purchased the album and had the Calfskin cover embossed with the names and date. When the embossing was completed the thing would be sent to me so that "You can do your magic with the pictures and things". She sent me a link to the album so I had a look. A shortness of breath happened when I saw the price of the album AND how many pages there are in the thing. The pages, all 70 of them (that's 140 sides) are heavy quality acid and lignin free and the most beautiful cream cardstock. the pages are 13" x 13and a quarter. I t weighs a ton! without any pictures and I was quite worried that with just a simple matt for each picture the covers would be at right-angles to each other. I mean, I dreamt one night that I was trying to get the thing onto a bookshelf! That's how worried I was.
Anyway, I asked the person who did the photographs if she could send some to me and then I learnt about Dropbox. She sent me 267 pictures. I selected a lot and tentatively began to compose pages. Making the album a chronological story of the day. I will photograph the pages, I promise, and when the album has been given to the even-happier-than-last-year couple I will share some of them with you.
It was very strange at first because I was so scared of making a mistake that I would open the album, stare at a blank and very expensive page then close it again. Today it was like a switch was turned in my head because I suddenly knew exactly what to put on each page and how to transfer the Guestbook pages that are already made to the album and to integrate the rest of the stuff into an overall theme. I am on a roll!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Cartwheel Training

We have a favourite picnic place that we often go to. We don't take sandwiches, oh no that's not the sort of picnic we like. We go out to a place called Black Rock, which is on the Welsh side of the Severn Estuary not far from the Second Severn Crossing.
The Lave Net Fishermen work that part of the estuary and there are only 15 people licensed to fish in this way. One more traditional craft that is dying before our eyes.. That's not why we go there either. What we do is this.

We decide that we cannot be bothered to cook so we text my daughter and see if she wants to come to Black Rock, and stop at Kibby's in Bulwark for fish and chips. They make the best fish and chips in the area and most times my daughter will say yes so we all pile into the car and drive twenty miles to buy fish and chips and then go down to Black Rock to sit at the picnic table and eat them. We are not alone in doing this, although I don't think most people travel twenty mile just to eat fish and chips staring at the tide.
The picnic area is grassy and great for learning to cartwheel when you are seven - even when you have never done it before. Mummy tried and decided that she is the wrong shape now. Grandma? well, I just grinned and then gave clear instruction while trying not to laugh or fall over when taking the pictures.

I used the sketch based on a design by Tiff Firth from the Scrap365 challenge to do this page and even if I say so myself I think it is quite nice

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

What do I need to make a page?

Mr Blue wearing his special cap
Sian asked this question over at From High in the Sky and I tried to answer in a comment but failed so I decided to think about it and write my thoughts here.
I have been scrapbooking for so long I can't remember not doing it. When I had the riding school, way back in 1961 when I was 15, I took photographs of all the ponies and put them in an album with some notes about names and riders and what the event was and the date. Of course it wasn't called scrapbooking then. It was just a photograph album. It had black pages and I had a white pencil to write what we call journalling.
the journalling reads "Some mornings it's just not worth
 chewing through the leather straps!"
It was a very cheap album, from Woolworths I think and it received a lot of attention over the years so that eventually the covers fell to bits and then the pages started to detach from one another so I had to take all the pictures out and then make a new album. I haven't photographed the pages because it seems to have lost a little of its character in the transfer.
I like my pages simple. I am not a great one for embellishments and usually just matt and layer the pictures unless a sketch catches my attention. Then I will try to follow it, although my slavish adherence to the sketch sometimes makes the page seem flat and uninteresting.
The first page here was created because of the title. Mr Blue said exactly that so I took the picture and made the page because of it.
The next page was the Journalling. I saw that somewhere and remembered that I had the perfect picture of Mr M, taken when he had driven up to Northumberland and then he had a little nap. When he woke up he was still tired and needed a cup of tea. I asked how he felt and he pulled that face so I snapped it. The journalling fitted exactly and nothing else was needed.
The third one happened when I was downloading the pictures from the camera and these two were one after the other. We have a thing about "team" photographs. Whenever the family is asked to "Stand still and let me take your picture" they always say loudly "Team Photograph!" and fold their arms across their chests like footballers. It was Mr M who started it and it always makes everyone laugh so then I can get good pictures of them individually. This time we were driving home from somewhere and saw my son and his family walking along the road near where they live. We stopped to talk and I took the first picture, then I walked around the car to try and get my daughter-in-law in the picture and that's when my son said "Team Photograph" and explained what they had to do.
Reading back over this it seems that what I need for inspiration is a title; that the words come first and I can find a picture to fit. That would explain why sometimes I put together a page for a day out and I don't have a title for it.
I seem to prefer the 12 x 12 format for my pages. I tend to go for plain backgrounds for the most part, I like words on my pages most of the time. I sometimes have a lot of journalling, especially for holiday pages, but other times the title is enough. The words usually spring to my mind when I see the picture although sometimes I know I have a picture when I hear a phrase.
But what do I need to make a page? OK, paper, pen, glue, picture and inspiration -that's it!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

My Prize is here!!!

I am so excited! The postman knocked the door this morning and handed me a parcel from Amazon. My mind went into overdrive because I hadn't ordered anything for ages! Mr M watched as I dropped the mail onto the table and rushed to the kettle - it was just beginning to boil - and made him a cup of tea. He could tell by my face that I didn't know what was in the package.
I gave him his mug of tea and made myself a milky coffee - usually on a Tuesday we seem to have a fridge full of milk where there is some left over from the weekend and the Milkman delivered another two days worth in the early hours of the morning.
I sat down and turned the package over in my hands. "Open it," said Mr M, "You know what it is."
"Well, " I replied, "no I don't, I haven't ordered anything, so it must be a mistake." He gave me one of those looks, you know, the one where a small part of his brain thinks you are joking while the big part of his brain is amazed that you can forget such an important thing
"What about your Scavenger Hunt prize?" He asked.
A stunned silence as I stare at him and then at the package............. Of course!
and this is what I received

I started reading it straight away but then realised that I have Things To Do, so I shut it carefully, took a photograph of it and now I am telling you about it. Mr M is off to work at 1pm (I hate afternoon shifts) so I can take the time to read and play for a while until I collect Miss Em from school - and then I will have a willing model. It seems to be written in real language, the sort that ordinary people use and not high-falutin' photographic techie stuff so it might even sink in.
Many, many thanks to Rinda for sending this wonderful gift. I am so thrilled by it and I will read it and play I promise.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Me? a Winner?

This is my keeping cool, not excited face
I won a prize! You have all seen the entries I have done about the photo scavenger hunt and you know that it ended last Friday. Well, what I hadn't realised was that there were going to be prizes. I didn't join in for prizes, I joined in for the fun and believe me it was fun.
Anyhooo, Rinda, the lovely lady who set the challenge told us to go to her end of scavenger hunt entry and leave a comment. I really should learn to take in what I am reading because it says quite clearly that she is going to give two prizes. I simply didn't take that as real, I saw it, but ignored it! So when  I read the next entry it was a big surprise to see my name as the winner from the group that didn't get all the items.
The most difficult thing was making the choice of which book to claim as my prize - sigh - I am a Libra and while I don't read horoscopes I do seem to have a few Libran characteristics. The most important one being that I have difficulty making decisions - being balanced like the scales you see, I can't choose one side over the other.
I did what I usually do, I asked Mr M to choose. He said "It's your prize, you must choose" Then he added a few things that would help me to make a decision. Like eBook or real book? "You like to feel a book in your hands" he said. "You like to have a book where you can pick it up and take it with you" he said. "You love the smell of new books, especially those with illustrations." he said.
I chose my prize.
Now I have the excitement of waiting for it to arrive. I will tell my granddaughter and she will then ask every day if it is here yet and so I won't have to ask that question.
It is so exciting, winning a prize. My thanks to Rinda for organising the Scavenger Hunt and for giving prizes. Such a bonus! I am so pleased to have won it, and yet there were so many others who should have won. We'll have to do it again next year when I mustn't win a prize but can still join in the fun.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

wouldn't you just know it?

with me ol' banjo

The scavenger hunt ended on Friday and one of the items I needed was someone playing a musical instrument. On Saturday we went to our Nephew's 30th birthday party and what did we find there? Well apart from glo-sticks and lollipops that we sneaked into my handbag to bring home for Miss M there were these inflatable instruments. My wonderful husband is proficient in playing any inflatable instrument, as you can see from the pictures.
He also looks good in glo-sticks, although they did scare him on the drive home because he had forgotten all about his glowing bangles and as he changed gear his sleeve moved and bathed the car in an eerie yellow light. Made us both jump, I can tell you.

Oh and for the surprised amongst you who cannot believe that we went to a party. We do try to go every three or four years, just to confirm that we still hate them.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Scavenger Hunt: the end of the chase.

I didn't manage to get all the items listed. I still need four of them.
  7.   A person playing a musical instrument
14.   Someone playing with a ball
16.   A Bride
20.   A swing hanging from a tree (or a hammock)

I knew the bride was going to be difficult and as for the others, well perhaps if I was able to go out on my own I might have seen them. Who knows.

I could invoke the substitute item with this
Mr M is searching for a four-leaved clover. Well that's pretty boring I hear you mutter, a picture of a headless man that she says is searching for a four-leaved clover. What the picture cannot show is the sound of Mr M counting 1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3, as he searches. This made me laugh so much it's a wonder the picture isn't totally blurred by camera shake.

I would like to take this chance to say thank you to Rinda for organising the scavenger hunt. It has given us hours of fun and a good reason to go out for a little ride in the car. I made an album with my pictures and I might just see if I can't get that last for items before Christmas just to make the album complete.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Scavenger Hunting - another success

1. a clothesline
I have been waiting to capture this picture for a while. It is my clothes line as seen from my kitchen window. As you can see I have a tiny back garden - a real back yard - and I have three chickens so there is nothing green in my garden below chicken head height. Their house is on the right of the picture. They are so used to us opening the kitchen window and throwing them a treat that when the window opens they rush from wherever they are to where you can see them and they gaze expectantly up at us. I rewarded them with a few pieces of cocktail sausage each.
This was one of the few days this year that I have been able to put clothes onto the line and it was so nice to smell the fresh air when I was folding the clothes to put them away. I don't know how people manage without a clothesline. I suppose they must have tumble dryers or they put the clothes on radiators in the winter just like me. This year I have found myself using the clothes airer that we bought 20 years ago, I only brought it out occasionally until this year when it has only been put away because we had visitors and needed the bedroom.
Now I only have four more and just a month to do it. Doesn't time fly?

Thursday, 2 August 2012

North Wales and another Scavenger hunt picture

We decided that we would take Eldest son and family on the Welsh Highland Railway as a treat. Having a Kia Sedona meant that we could get all of us - four adults two children - into one vehicle so we packed up the mountain of stuff needed for a three-year-old and a two-year-old and set off from Rhos on Sea to Caernarvon.
I love engines, Steam engines and some of the early oil-fired ones so this was going to be a really good day with my grandsons. As we got to the railway depot the sun disappeared and it was really quite chilly.
The two year old is teething - those dratted canine teeth - so he had the familiar bright red patches on his cheeks and his fingers were continually in his mouth. He fretted. We discovered that we had missed the first train and had a wait of nearly an hour and a half so we took a walk up into the town. we found a cafe with outdoor seating and had a cuppa where those teeth gradually became more painful. we walked along the streets and looked at a really good fountain
A Fountain

 A FOUNTAIN? that's on the list! I took some pictures while the little one fretted. Then it started to rain. By this time both the boys were heartily fed up with just wandering about. We were all cold and now we were getting wet and we still had over half an hour before the train was due to leave.

The thought of sitting in a carriage with no windows all the way to Porth Madog in the rain lost its appeal so we went to Morrisons for lunch and then back home to Rhos-on-Sea where the little one slept for an hour and woke up pain free and happy
Lunch in the smallest Morrison's cafe EVER!

If you want to see other pictures from other people who are joining in the Scavenger Hunt just go to Rinda's blog  and take a look

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

scavenger hunt, more success

We went up to north Wales last Friday, just for a few days with my eldest son, his lovely wife and my two newest grandsons. They are age 3 and nearly two and are just delightful. Hearing two little voices calling "Grandpa, Grandpa" throughout the day was just lovely. I digress.
On the way up - we go up the A49 because we can stop in the OK Diner for a meal on the way - we go through Onibury where the main rail line crosses the road. We were behind an ambulance, not any old ambulance but one you can hire. It was driven by a....... no that's another story. We came to the level crossing and the lights were flashing so the ambulance stopped, we stopped and the three cars behind us stopped. There is always a short time of nothing happening at level crossings and suddenly Mr M said "Have you got the camera ready? We need a train." I switched on and pressed the necessary buttons and pointed the camera at the little bit of crossing gates that we could see from our position behind the ambulance. We had the engine turned off and the windows open so we could hear the rails singing as the train came nearer. With a great whoosh of noise it was speeding past the gates. I managed to press the button as the front of the train reached the gates.

Another one to cross off the list!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Getting better....

Mr M listening to what Gordon is telling us
Gordon telling the man who touched things about the mill leat
 I have already blogged that I was ill, well yesterday Mr M took me out for a little ride to make me feel better. It took a while. For some reason what ever made me ill took away the internal sensor that stops a person feeling car-sick. The light was too bright, the air coming through the window was just full of perfumes and strange smells and quite honestly it was almost overwhelming what with the swoop and glide of the car too. It got better and we went to a lovely place called Talgarth. We have been through it many, many times and alwaysliked the look of it. When the by pass was done it was much easier to go straight past but a couple of years ago there was a TV programme about the old water mill there and how the people had acquired funding and a project manager to restore the mill and make it a tourist place. It is delightful and if you are ever in that area you must go look at Bronlleys Castle and climb the staircase and then go to the town centre and go into the mill.

If you are very lucky you will have Gordon as your volunteer. He knows about mills. He helped restore Gelligroes about five years ago and he has done the volunteer guide thing there too.

a cool place to sit and admire

 We had a cuppa in the cafe there simply to add a little to their coffers. The service was lousy the coffee was good but as the staff are all volunteers it is just something we are supposed to accept. Just as well I don't live there or they would be feeling the benefit of my years of expertise.

for the scavenger hunt
We then went to Brecon and had a late lunch in Morrison's. We had fish and chips and I managed to eat all the fish so that stopped Mr M worrying. When we set off again it was as though I had found the off switch and the queasyness was completely gone. We will go there again with the Bluefunnels. Not much walking and a very interesting man to talk to.

On the way home we saw the outside staircase so we added that to the tally for the scavenger hunt.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

We braved the rain...

We always start with a good breakfast,
this time at Jo's on the A40 northbound at Whitchurch
It wasn't as bad as predicted where we went yesterday. We try go go out once a month with Mr and Mrs Bluefunnel. We all agree that a day out together is the best tonic we can have. They work so darned hard during the week and have so many calls on their time that it is important to get away once in a while, although Mr B can slip into sales mode as easy as taking a breath.
spelling mistakes always catch the eye

Mr M looking for a four leaf clover. What you can't
hear is him counting. 1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3.

For the scavenger hunt
Lower Brockhampton House

A glimpse of the Wye at Monmouth, just not flooding
We had decided to go to the Brockhampton Estate, a National Trust property just outside Bromyard in Herefordshire. It was the B's turn to drive so they picked us up around 8.30 and we headed for Monmouth and places north. We were going to have breakfast at Jo's place. It used to be a little chef many moons ago and then it always looked closed even though it might not have been. Then we noticed that there was a new sign so we stopped to have a cuppa one day and liked how clean it was so we had a breakfast. We are now confirmed customers and we highly recommend it to everyone. We took Pete there when we were going to Coventry for the Weeding last November and he agreed with us. The Bluefunnels love it too and they stop there if ever they are heading up the A40. From there we went to The Hop Pocket near Ledbury. Actually it is Bishop's Frome. We didn't realise until we got there that we had been before. Mrs B likes to shop but not your designer shopping she likes handmade quirky craft stuff and she shops all year to find that special present for people for Christmas. She loves Christmas.
WE noticed the notice outside the Butcher shop at the Hop Pocket. we didn't go in and tell them we just took pictures

The SatNav decided that the place we really wanted to be was Brockhampton Care home so it took us ten miles out of our way and this meant ten extra miles of Mr Blue complaining and telling the lady inside the SatNav to shut up because she didn't know what she was talking about.

One of the first things we saw at Brockhampton wass the sign for the nature trail. The rain was holding off although we had driven through several flooded lanes on our travels. This was fine because Mr and Mrs B have done the Landrover experience with Landrover so driving their Discovery through a flooded bit of lane was a doddle. Because of the saturated nature of the nature trail......... who am I kidding, we don't do walking, Mr M's knees don't allow it and Mr and Mrs Blue both have knees awaiting surgery.

Lower Brockhampton House is a delight. because the owners built themselves a newer, more fashionable house further up the hill in the 1700s the old house was used as a farm house and wasn't modernised or messed with at all so it still retains a lot of the original timber and stuff from when it was built around 1430 something. It has the remains of a moat, a gatehouse that was built in Tudor times lots of red brick outbuildings that were built during Stuart times and later and even though it is small it is well worth a visit.

We then came home because Mrs Blue remembered that she had to get things for dinner that night and I could feel The Cold beginning to take hold. Mr M has suffered with it all week now it seems to have caught me.
I managed one quick snap of the River Wye at Monmouth as we sped along. It is still below the top of the banks but it won't take much more rain in the next day or two to push it up. Fortunately we seem to be having mostly sun today. So that's a relief

Sunday, 1 July 2012

The Thing is....

 This scavenger hunt has made me think. We went out for a little drive around today, pausing at the Carnegie Library on Corporation Road so that I could take a picture. Mr M suggested that I could write about Andrew Carnegie and why he endowed these libraries when I make the album of the scavenger hunt. I think this is s a Good Idea.

We went the pretty way out to Chepstow and discussed what we would do for the "tour" when a friend brings a friend to visit and then because the stupid driver in front of us turned onto the racecourse road we didn't go up the Wye Valley through Tintern as I thought we might but we carried on down the hill and past Chepstow and onto the Gloucester road.

This is where I got to thinking. Mr M slowed down and said "An outside staircase!" I looked and said "Nah, those are steps". He gave me a funny look and carried on driving while I was examining my statement and I realised that I had a picture in my head of most of the things on the list and as long as the image presented in front of me was close to the image in my head I was alright with it. If the image presented did not ..... conform to what I saw in my mind it was "wrong".

We had quite a discussion about it and decided that as I am the one with the camera I get the final choice. Mind you, as Mr M is far more observant than me he will be presenting lots of good images to me during the next several weeks.

By this time we had reached the Silver Fox Cafe at Broad Oak so we just had to stop for a cuppa. On the wall was a framed print of a movie poster! so I took a picture of that.  I can highly recommend their fish and chips and they do a fantastic roast dinner on a Sunday. We had eaten a cheesey bacon baguette as our breakfast so we were full up and could only manage a cuppa.

We then carried on around Gloucester and off towards Tewkesbury before being deflected by yet another Sunday driver who took the road Mr M had planned on so we went a different way and headed towards Bromyard. "Get the map off the back seat and get me to Brockhampton Estate," he said while sitting behind a spackweasel in a Citroen. I did both. We stopped in the New Old Apple Store Tearoom and had a cuppa and a sandwich - and a special treat of a packet of crisps. We are going to Brockhampton with the Bluefunnels next week so we didn't go to the house this time. Then we headed home via Hereford and Abergavenny. I just love our little trips out. Mr M loves to drive and it is just us we can talk to our hearts content about everything and anything and while we are both tired when we get home we can also talk about what we have seen and done. I suppose that one day we might run out of things to talk about, but not for a while yet.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

A pair of shoes for Mr M

Last year we went up to North Wales for the Baptism of my youngest grandchild. While we were there my son had to go to the supermarket for some essentials for the food. Mr M went with him and came back with a new T-shirt and a pair of canvas shoes that he had bought in Asda. He has worn the T-shirt once but the shoes he has worn every day. Now they are paper thin soled and mud coloured even though they were blue when new.
such a cute little stallion

I love the peeling letters

Shadow take one

Shadow take two
We went to Asda "down Duffryn" - people who live in Newport will know exactly what I mean for the rest of you here's an explanation. Duffryn is an area of Newport. We never go up to Duffryn because it is on the levels. We go Up the Gaer, and out Ringland or out Alway but always down Duffryn.

Now where was I? Oh yes, Asda. We found the shoes that was easy but they didn't have the size he needed. They had smaller and larger but not it. I suggested that we could, perhaps go to Cwmbran to the Asda there and Mr M appeared to agree.

We got back in the car and headed up to Cwmbran but we took an unscheduled left turn that put us on a lane that led to the coast road to Cardiff. "Um, why are we going this way?" I asked as we squeezed past a white van coming in the opposite direction. "I thought we could go along the coast road, get a picture of a horse and then go to Penarth and photograph the pier." He said.

So that's what we did. We went to the Asda by Costco so we had a jacket potato for lunch as well as buying his new shoes (he hasn't done the dance yet) and then carried on to Penarth where I photographed the pier. Not a bad picture as I only had to contend with ten miles an hour. A traffic jam in Penarth! then on along the coast for a while before turning right and heading for Pontypridd and then a few more turns and twists brought us home via Machen, Rhiwderin and Basseleg.

I am still undecided about the shadow picture. I was fascinated by the way the shadows flickered across the dashboard but the picture is quite dark and really doesn't show what I want it to show.

The shadow on the rock is pretty good and I do like it but I wanted the dashboard one to work...:( I will have to read the destructions for my camera and see if I can't improve on the dashboard one. I have a while yet.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Busy Sunday

We had to go out on Sunday and while we were out Mr M decided to do a little detour and we stopped at the Visitor Centre for the Transporter Bridge
The Tranny, from the west bank of the river Usk
I don't know if you have heard about our bridge, I'll assume that you haven't and tell you a little about it.
It was designed by a frenchman to carry workmen from the west bank to the east bank of the river. The Council launched a competition because the bridge had to incorporate certain features into the design.
1. Tall sailing ships had to be able to sail under it at high tide (there is a 14.5metre tide on our river, the second highest in the world)
2. Carts and vehicles had to be able to cross using it.
3. It had to be usable at all states of tide and weather.
The design they chose is wonderful - and this was 1904 when the competition closed. A bogie runs on wheels along tracks high above the river. Suspended from this is a platform, called the gondola, the cars and people troop on through the gates. The driver gives the signal, the gates are closed and the bogie high up above our heads begins to move. The cables wind and across we go, suspended above the river by a few strings - they are pretty substantial cables but they look like string.
There are only eight transporter bridges left in the world - there is one in Middlesborough but I don't know if it still works or not. Ours came [pretty darned close to being dismantled not long ago and the council still cannot seem to get their act together and really promote this thing as an exciting tourist attraction. The opening hours change every week. The visitor Centre has four parking spaces in its teeny weeny car park and it is altogether a very uninviting place to try and visit. ~sigh~

After a brief stop at the Transporter Mr M took the pretty way home and surprised me by a sudden left turn into the local cemetery. "Why?" I asked. "We'll surely find an angel or two in here." he muttered and stopped in front of a whole flight of them. I was spoilt for choice!

We went home and I topped and tailed the gooseberries we picked and bought on Saturday and made four pounds of Gooseberry Chutney. We took the little bit of left over, there's always a little bit of left over isn't there? We took it with us when we went to the Bluefunnels for dinner and my Cuz said "Wow, that's got a bit of a kick!"
My sense of smell is off at the moment and the sense of taste is just not reliable. I tasted it and thought it was just like eating the smell of Mr Sheen polish so I have to rely on my taste testers.

So that was Sunday. Two more pictures for the scavenger hunt see here and some Christmas presents made and in the cupboard to mature. I even made pretty labels - oooh, I should take a photograph!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Scavenger hunt - the start

I have already said that We are going to have a go at Rinda's scavenger hunt because Mr M was keen. Today we went out to find a PYO farm to get some gooseberries. There was an advert in the local paper for a place just outside Abergavenny and as it wasn't raining when we set out, we thought we would see if we could find it.
There were detailed directions in the advertisement, but for that to be useful a person has to remember to cut out the advert AND take it with them when they go looking. To spare you the details of our journey through the lanes outside Abergavenny I'll just say that it only took four U-turns before we read the signs correctly and found the farm.
A Pheasant not flying away
 It was kind of useful though, because we got a photograph of a pheasant - yes, I know that isn't on the scavenger hunt but it has long been an ambition of Mr M to get a picture of a pheasant that wasn't a blurred blob disappearing into the distance. 

A heck of a place for a bus stop

We also got a picture of a red, double-decker bus in a field. We don't know why it was there but we just had to slow down and take a picture.
That is quite a key phrase, "we just had to slow down." This is because most of my photography has to be through the windscreen of the car at an average speed of 40 mph. I have been known to hand Mr M a squeegee thingy and tell him that if I am to continue as chief photographer I need clean windows.

The Church of St Brigid, Skenfrith

This is one for the scavenger hunt. A Church, Chapel, Cathedral, Mosque or Temple.
This is The Church of St Brigid, Skenfrith. It is a fabulous little place and well worth a visit if you are ever in the area. The village of Skenfrith clusters around the castle - a magnificent ruin. The church is a short walk along the lane - a hundred yards at most. It has a 14th century cope in a display case within the church, unless they have finally managed to get the funding for the new display case and conservation work on the cope. In which case there will be a space where it used to be.
The other claim to fame for St Brigid's Church is that it featured in an episode of Dr Who. The episode was called "Amy's Choice".

shopping at the roadside
Another for the scavenger hunt: A Roadside stand selling something

This is also in Skenfrith, they sell tea and coffee and crafts and plants and delicious cakes and sandwiches. It is open on Saturday and Sunday during the summer and all profits go to the church and the village hall.

A border.

Mr M slowed right down so that I had time to turn the camera on - the only downside to digital photography - I even managed to take two pictures before we were past it and gaining speed up the hill. He doesn't like to hang around, my husband.
A symbol of my nation

"Give me your camera and hold this!" he said as we went into Oakchurch farm shop. So I gave him my camera and held the leek. The expression on my face says "I am doing this because I love and trust you"...... I do look a bit like a pillow half stuffed into a pillow case don't I? and I seem to be a vision in pink today, not sure why.
Anyway, when he had taken the picture and given me back the camera he then replaced the leek on the shelf and I was still none the wiser so I asked.
"Why did I have to hold a leek?"
The look on his face told me that I was just not paying attention here. "A photograph of you with something that symbolises your nation!" he said, very slowly so that dimbo here could understand. I paused, and then realised that having read the list once or twice now he has it committed to memory. So not a bad day out altogether. We picked gooseberries, bought strawberries from the same place - we are not built for picking strawberries, they are too far down. We bought Rhubarb and apples and lemons from the Oakchurch shop and decided that we really like the stuff they have there but we need to take the cold box and the freezer box with us next time. We had a delightful afternoon out and took a few good pictures.

Four down seventeen to go.