Monday, 26 May 2014

Monday nostalgia.

No slugabed this morning! O, no! Once the alarm rang I was up and about, loading the washing machine and then off for a run round the village. En route I ran into Jack and Rosie. Jack is an old gent in his late seventies who drives most morning to a point up the road from our house where he gets out and walks his little dog Rosie up and down before getting back in his car and heading home for breakfast, usually tea and crumpets with honey. I know this because we usually have a chat about this and that before he gets in the car and I continue my run. 

This morning he was commenting on the ease with which he falls asleep in front of the TV, perhaps because the programmes he was led to believe would be entertaining prove to be less funny than expected. I commiserated; much of the modern comedy on the radio is seriously lacking in funniness in my opinion. Maybe we are getting old and jaded. That was when he said everyone should go back to reading the Beano, the children’s comic my husband swears helped him learn to read. So we reminisced about Dennis the Menace and Gnasher, Lord Snooty, Minnie the Minx and others. This led on to the price: at least £5 nowadays but formerly 3d – that’s three old pence for those too young to remember old money. That’s just over 1p in modern money but then those three old pence bought you a whole lot of things. That was my week’s pocket money and you had to think carefully before deciding what to spend it on. 

And old Jack said that he had to do jobs around the house to earn his pocket money, including turning the mangle. He did a quick check that I knew what a mangle was: a mean device with two rollers that you fed the wet washing through to squeeze the water out, making sure your fingers didn’t get in there as well. From there we went onto the old boilers there used to be for washing towels and such. Did I remember what the gadget was called for swishing the washing around in the boiler? Oh, yes, indeed: a posser, a thing that looked like a small three legged stool with a long stick through what would have been the seat and a handle at the top so you could swirl it around in the hot water. No wonder washing took such a long time back in the day! How nice to be able to pop everything in the washing machine and have it all done for me by the time I got back! 

There’s nothing quite like a good bit of nostalgia! 

I was reading about a group of people looking back with nostalgia to a time when it was easy to take your children out of school for holidays during term time. A group calling themselves “Parents Want a Say” is claiming that the removal of head teachers' discretion to approve absences means that education officials are breaching family life. But why does it breach family life that parents are expected to keep their children in school during term time? Of course, it used to happen less because there was a time when it was less usual for the British to have holidays abroad and so people were not rushing for cut-price flights and bargain offers. 

Maybe I am prejudiced, having worked as a teacher and knowing how disruptive it can be when children are absent from school for 2 weeks at a time so that the family can go to Benidorm or Magaluf off peak. Because, let's face it, most of those who want to take their kids out in term time are not taking them on enriching visits to sites of historical or cultural interest but are taking advantage of cheap flights to sunny climes! I remain flabbergasted!

And anyway, when did having a holiday abroad become a right? Or even an essential part of family life? Somewhere along the way our society has taken a wrong turning and decided that everyone, yes everyone, has the right to a big car, a big house, fancy clothes, the latest gadgets and, this is where I began, expensive holidays in the sun. This regardless of family income. And so companies like Payday Loans, Speedyloans and such like are able to lend money at ridiculous rates of interest to people who then get into financial difficulties. Crazy world! 

No comments today on the success of UKIP and the French Front National and various other right wing parties in the European Elections. Lots of people are commenting everywhere. I’m sticking with remembering a simpler time. 

As I said earlier, there’s nothing like a little nostalgia!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Reflections on this and that.

My alarm rang this morning as usual. I switched it off and put my head back down for two minutes. Almost two hours later I woke up. It’s a good job it’s Sunday, when all I needed the alarm for was to remind me to go for a run, and not Thursday, when it reminds me to go and take the small people (aka the grandchildren) to school. I must have needed the sleep, that’s about all I can say. 

So I forewent (is that the correct past tense of forego?) my run and got up and dressed in normal clothes instead of running gear. And then I set off to walk my running route. It takes a little longer but you don’t get hot and sweaty. I was hoping to catch the tail end of the best of the day. Ever since I commented on the good weather we have been having the rain has returned and the flowers in the garden are almost permanently rain-splattered. 

 However if you get out and about early enough there is often a window of fine weather at the start of the day. I thought I had got away with it: overcast but still fine and fairly bright. On the whole not a bad morning for a walk into the village. 

 The fishermen were out in droves around the old mill pond. Then, just as I was about to snap a picture of said fishermen, the heavens opened and I had to root my umbrella out of my bag instead of my camera. So it goes. But I bought the newspaper and made it home for a late breakfast without getting too wet. 

My newspaper had a report about the little village of Castillo Matajudíos, near Burgos in northern Spain, where they are soon going to vote on changing their name, which means Jew Killers, to something like Mota de Judíos, Hill of the Jews. Political correctness hits Spain. I wonder if the various people called Matamoros (and there are some to this day, not just Santiago Matamoros, Saint James who is supposed to have helped the Spanish Christians defeat the Moorish Muslims) will also think of changing their name. I had heard the story about the little Spanish village some time ago but who would have thought that the story would reach the English newspapers? 

Voting is going on in a number of European countries today. We voted on Thursday, not just for the European parliament but for local government. Unfortunately UKIP has successfully messed up results for all the major parties. Previously sensible people have accepted Nigel Farage’s rants and have voted for his party. Hard to believe but true! One of my daughter’s friends posted on Facebook about how he heard a number of foreign languages spoken in the centre of his town, Oldham, where we live, and how proud he is that people from other countries of Europe have chosen to live there. All is not lost while there are young people expressing ideas like that. 

However, xenophobia is still around in government circles as well. It seems that our Mr Gove, in a moment of wisdom, has said that books like Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mocking Bird” should be removed from the GCSE English Literature syllabus because it is American, not English. As one of my friends pointed out, maybe he also needs to ban T.S. Eliott and Seamus Heaney for the same reason. Mr Gove certainly wouldn’t approve of the list of books read by the SPANISH book club I used to go to at Vigo library. Half of them were translations of English best sellers! 

That’ll do for now. It’s still raining!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Taking care on Wednesday.

Today being Wednesday, I ran to Uppermill so that I could go to the market first thing before the fish man had sold up and moved in. I ran along our local bridle path, the Donkey Line, which is awash with bluebells at the moment. This makes a great change from being awash with muddy puddles which was the case until the recent sunny spell came along and dried them all up - well, most of them; there are still puddly places under the bridges but you have to have a prolonged drought for those to dry up. 

I hadn’t got far along the route when I was warned by another regular Donkey Line user, a young lady who walks her dog and baby, not to frighten the baby owl on the path. 
 There he sat, for all the world like one of the Owl Babies in the children’s book by Martin Waddell and illustrated by Patrick Benson. (I posted his picture on Facebook and my daughter and another FB friend immediately recognised him as Bill or Sarah or Percy. You can tell the people who have small children straight away!) 

The young lady with the baby was already on the case and had sent someone off to get a box so that they could perhaps take him to the RSPCA. Apparently his mother had been around earlier but I saw no sign of her. However, when the box man returned, equipped with gardening gloves to protect his hands, and tried to pick him up, the small owl showed he was probably unharmed by spreading his wings and flapping off into the undergrowth. Taking off seemed to be beyond him though. 

At that point I decided that there were enough people around possibly causing panic in the creature’s life. So I went on my way, did my bit of shopping at the market and was just in time to catch a bus back home for a shower and a late breakfast. I rather like Wednesdays. 

Over breakfast I read bits of the newspaper online. Now, it’s not often I feel sympathy for the trials and tribulations of the royal family but today I found myself for once siding with Prince Charles. He is in Canada at the moment and in conversation with a museum volunteer whose family had fled Nazi Germany he made some comment about Putin acting in the same way as Hitler at the moment. It was a private conversation not a formal interview (consequently Clarence House sees no need to comment on it) but the comment was overheard and reported. Now a British MP is calling for Prince Charles to abdicate. (Is it even possible to abdicate when you’re still not king even though you’re 65?) 

There’s something very sad about the modern world where even private conversations are reported, analysed and criticised. Of course, famous people in the public eye have to be careful not to be too outrageous but pretty soon we’ll all be watching our backs, and our tongues, in case we say the wrong thing in the wrong place and are accused of being disloyal to the state. I’m currently reading “Life and Fate” by Vasily Grossman, a story set in Russia towards the end of the Second World War. There people find themselves under arrest because someone has reported to the authorities an “innocent” comment made in a private conversation. Hmm, why does that sound vaguely familiar? 

Another thing that’s upsetting me at the moment is privatisation, in particular the move to privatise child social services. One of the companies suggested already has a poor record for running prisons, for goodness sake! Private enterprise is intended to make a profit. How do you make a profit out of social services? Or education? Or the health service? Or prisons? Or the probation service? It’s potty!! There have been a couple of stories of dangerous prisoners escaping from open prisons or not returning from a day out of prison. Have these incidents been a consequence of “outsourcing”, as they call it? I’ve even read that some of the “outsourcing” ends up with government money going to foreign companies. So the privatising isn’t even helping UK enterprise. As I said before: potty!

And now for a final rant: language! I’m just a little tired of hearing about “outsourcing”, “inputting”, “uploading”, “downloading” and such like. I find it all more than a little off-putting! 

That’s all!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Things ain’t what they used to be!

I may have mentioned that my grandson has been trying to teach me to play FIFA in the Xbox. My skills remain execrable. At the small boy’s insistence I had to choose a team to play as. He plays as Barcelona as a rule. I decided to be Celta Vigo. Needless to say, Barça usually wins. However, in the real world, last night Celta Vigo defeated Real Madrid. The score was 2:0. A number of my Vigo friends were very excited about it on Facebook. That’s how I heard about it. Other Vigo friends of mine, Real Madrid fans, are no doubt less pleased about it. 

We seem to have watched quite a lot of Italian police drama over the last week and all of it set during, at the end of or just after the Second World War. There was an excellent RAI series about Commissario De Luca, a gentleman who didn’t want to be a fascist or a partisan but just a policeman – sono un poliziotto. The poor thing found himself constantly up against superiors who told him exactly who could or couldn’t be investigated. No wonder he looked so worn down all the time. Then there was a film about Commissario Nardone, who also had bossy superiors but slightly less determined to be politically correct. This film had an Italian soundtrack but at times the actors’ mouths seemed out of sync with the words. When we saw the cast list we found that most of the actors had names ending in ...ic: Serbian. A film which purported to take place in Milan but almost certainly was filmed in Serbia. Presumably it was cheaper that way. All you needed to do was have the occasional panoramic view of Milan and all was well. 

At what point, I wonder, do the Italian actors whose voices were used get credit? I know that there is a whole branch of the Spanish film industry, or perhaps it would be better to say the acting profession, devoted to dubbing. Famous Hollywood actors are always dubbed by the same people so that viewers associate voices with faces. It must be odd when you first hear the true voice of an actor you have admired for years. 

Another thing that struck me was the number of moustaches sported by the Italian policeman in all the TV we have been watching: some fine moustaches and some excellent hats! You don’t see policemen like that any more. 

I read this morning that the king of the gypsies in Spain has been having family problems. Who knew that there was a king of the gypsies? Apparently he lives in Tomiño, Galicia, near the Portuguese border. If anyone had asked me about a possible king of the gypsies, I would have thought that he would live down in the south of Spain somewhere. Anyway, just like the king of Spain he has been having problems with his offspring not behaving as they should. The Guardia Civil in Tui have arrested four of his sons for attacking a lawyer and some policemen at the end of April. Clearly it’s not easy being king these days. 

Earlier today I tried to get in telephone my bank. I wanted to make an appointment for us to see a financial adviser to discuss our ISAs and make sure we are getting the best deal. So I went online and found a phone number. I was a little concerned that the number was one of those 0845 numbers and not an obviously local number but it was all I had so I got dialing. 

First of all an recorded voice asked for my bank card number, assuring me that no-one would ask me for my bank account number or password over the phone. Then they wanted my date of birth. Having jumped through those hoops I was given a series of options. You know the kind of thing: press 1 for this and 2 for that and so on. This gave me a voice telling me how much money I had in my account and how much I could withdraw. Very helpful but not really what I wanted. If I wanted to access other information, the voice told me, I should press 1. So I pressed 1. There then followed four options, none of which were appropriate so I waited. 

Lo and behold, I could hear a phone ringing. A young man answered, told me his name was Stephen, I think, and that he was in the Sheffield office. Sheffield?!? Well, at least it was in this country. He asked how he could help me. I duly told him. He was fully aware that there are two branches of the bank within a few hundred yards of each other in our town centre (how very well informed!) and tried to connect me to the one I selected. Gentle music played for a while but eventually Stephen from Sheffield came back on line and told me that he was having difficulty getting through. The lines were busy. Could I call back later? I remonstrated with him, pointing out the paraphernalia I had had to go through to get as far as I had. Then I relented. After all, it’s not really his fault. 

Time was, I could have found the local branch number in the phone book and got straight through without all that fuss. Oh, yes, I know all about the security measures and I’m all in favour but a system that takes me through 10 to 15 minutes of rigmarole and then can’t connect me isn’t all that good. 

Tomorrow, on my way to my Italian class, I shall detour through the centre of town and call in at my local branch in person to make an appointment. So it goes.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

This and that.

The early bird catches the worm or so they say. It would seem to be the case as regards weather at the moment. I go out first thing and it is generally fine, with occasionally even a bit of blue sky. However, by the time I get back from running round the block, there has often been a turn for the worse and the last couple of days this has turned into torrential rain by lunchtime. All my favourite walks and running routes had dried out nicely when we got back from Spain but now the impassable puddles and squelchy mud patches are back with a vengeance. Friday was a bit of an exception, starting with torrential rain and turning into sunshine, causing me to leave my umbrella on the tram. Fortunately I had been travelling with a friend who was getting off a few stops further down the line and so was able to phone her and ask her to take it with her. The wonders of modern technology! 

Most of my friends assume that the cost of living in Spain is lower than here in the UK. My gut feeling is that this is so but it may be that there are things I buy here that I don’t in Spain. So I have been making a comparison of prices. Fruit and vegetables tend to be cheaper in Spain: 2 grapefruit cost me €0.84 in Mercadona while they cost me £1.10 at Tesco. The other difference as regards fruit is that just about everything is sold by weight in Spain whereas here you pay per item, which tends to push the price up. Surprisingly, however, I paid £0.45 for an iceberg lettuce here while I paid €0.85 in Vigo. Some things cost much the same: Weetabix, yoghurts and margarine. Milk is a bit more expensive in Spain: €0.85 for a litre and £0.85 for two pints. But there’s not a lot of difference. So far my price comparisons have been rather inconclusive but I will persevere. What still remains cheaper in Spain is eating out and drinking out. And then, you don’t get free food when you drink out in the UK. 

I have also been amusing myself by recording howlers produced by autocorrect. Typing anything on the iPhone or iPad leads to a wealth of amusing things. My granddaughter rarely checks her messages before hitting “send”. Consequently, the other day I received this message: “Plaited bread”. She meant to say. “okiedokie” in response to a suggestion of mine but somehow the letters were changed by the little tyrant who lives inside her phone. Some of my collection arise from trying to type foreign words. Here are a few examples: 

chicos goes to chicks;

besos goes to best, or even besoms;

chupito goes to chump into (whatever that is supposed to mean!) and, just now suggested, chariot;

pinchos goes to ponchos.

It works from French too: 

matériellement becomes material lament;

plaisirs becomes plagiarism;

souvent becomes solvent.

This is what I get up to instead of watching Eurovision on TV!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Food for thought.

Our middle grandchild’s junior school class is apparently studying Spain as a topic. I suspect it may go a little wider than just Spain as she keeps playing on her iPad a very annoying song which is supposed to help her learn the countries of Europe. However, I have been told that Spain is the topic and in connection with that my culinary expertise has been sought. My daughter has asked me to make some food that the children can try. So I’ll be making tortilla española, set enough to be cut into cubes for tasting, and possibly some sort of chickpea and chorizo dish that can be served cold. This is taking me back to when I used to make tortillas whenever we had an open evening for prospective students at the college I worked at. A tortilla, some brie cheese and whatever we could come up with that was remotely German provided a “taste of Europe” for interested teenagers thinking of studying A-Level foreign languages. 

As well as cooking for my granddaughter’s school, I have been asked to come up with a list of tapas that the children can prepare themselves in one of their lessons. Now, this is a little more demanding because the school, like most primary establishments, does not have a fully equipped Home Economics (what we used to call Domestic Science) suite. So I have produced a list of things that can be chopped and stuck on cocktail sticks or on rounds of bread. A nice bit of group work is in the offing I think. 

As I planned all this, I reflected on how much fun it can be to prepare food. There’s little I like better than inviting a group of family or friends round for a meal, sorting out the menu and getting a bit of a feast on the table. Christmas and birthday meals are great but it doesn’t have to be a special occasion. Just making a good meal and then sitting down with people whose company you enjoy is one of the best things in life. Well, that’s my opinion anyway. 

I thought about this when I came across an article headlined: “Could ‘Soylent’ replace food?” ‘Soylent’ is a drink that claims to have all the nutrients the body needs. It’s the brainchild of a 25 year old called Rob Rhinehart who invented the stuff and has been living on it for a year now. He even jokes that he’s entirely made up of Soylent because by now all his body cells have regenerated from the nutrients absorbed from this stuff. By all accounts it’s going to make him rich because he’s had tens of thousands of orders for his potion and there are reports that the US military plans to test it. 

One of his clients is a San Francisco playwright who talks about “the efficiency of getting everything you need for your body without the time consuming hassles of shopping and planning for, and preparing meals.” She continues, “It’s frustrating how much time is spent on dealing with food.” 

 Well, I ask you, why bother with proper meals when you could just drink a sort of chalky milk-shake-like substance? No need to bother going to restaurants and trying new dishes, or repeating some of your favourite choices. When you travel abroad, you don’t have to waste time eating local delicacies. Your cookery books can go to charity shops. Ah, but no-one will buy them because they too will live on Soylent. It sounds like a nightmare to me. 

And experts, well some of them, seem to agree with me. Firstly, this concoction misses out a few things that the body really needs such as sulphur and something called lycopene, both of which prevent certain diseases. And then there are professors who say that control of appetite is more complex than just filling up the stomach. Moving your mouth when you chew releases hormones, or so I read, which contribute to the body’s well-being. So there you go. 

I heard something else about chewing today. According to a friend of mine, children need to learn to chew and swallow more complicated and lumpy food because the process helps the development of the mouth in preparation for learning to speak. So you shouldn’t blend absolutely everything a child is eating as it progresses onto solid food. This is the kind of stuff you learn when you go out for lunch with friends. 

Yes, today a couple of friends and I became, not for the first time, ladies who lunch. We do this about once a month when we all manage to be in the UK at the same time. Today we went Italian in the centre of Manchester. The food was good, the service friendly and the owner of the place kept popping over to check that everything was in order. Each time he nodded approvingly, whether at our choice of food, our impeccable manners, our stylish dress or our bright and breezy chat I have no idea. 

Maybe it was just the fact that we were there, eating proper food and not sitting at home drinking food substitutes!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014


If I leave my Italian class promptly on a Tuesday afternoon I can get to the bus stop just in time to catch one of the rare buses that goes all the way from the city centre to Delph village. Today, thinking I was in plenty of time, I headed for my usual shortcut to the bus stop, only to find it was cordoned off with police tape. I tried to go round via Piccadilly Gardens. That route too was cordoned off. In fact the whole of Piccadilly gardens seemed to be under some kind of siege. So I asked some of the people who were simply standing and staring, not trying to get anywhere and in some cases recording everything that seemed not be happening on their mobile phones. 

It transpired that someone was perched in the middle of the Ferris wheel that currently adorns the square, right in the middle on the central spindle, as it were. Whether he was protesting about something or was just a random person sufficiently depressed to make his cry for help by bringing the centre of the city to a standstill was not clear. 

I backtracked, still trying to make my way to the bus stop but becoming more optimistic by the minute. At that point I saw where that the buses were making a diversion, omitting from their route the corner of Piccadilly Gardens. Amongst these diverting buses was the one I wanted to catch. Of course, there was no obvious bus stop near at hand where I could stop the bus and get of. Besides, it was steaming ahead at full speed so I had no chance at all. Goodbye bus. 

My next choice of transport was the tram which, amazingly, seemed not to be affected by the city centre chaos. Not only that, but MY tram was approaching. With luck I would be in time to catch the 5.20 connecting bus from Oldham to Delph. That did not happen, as you might expect. The tram was held up as it approached a single-track bit of line and had to wait for a couple of other trams to come through. 

This meant that I arrived in Oldham some five minutes after my bus had left. I filled in some of the 25 minute wait by going to a cash machine but any other possible strolls were ruled out by the heavens opening and a huge downpour soaking anyone who was not in a bus shelter. You will be pleased to know I got home safe and sound eventually and managed to avoid the rain. I waited so long in the bus shelter (the bus was at least 5 minutes late) that the rain had given up and gone away! 

 Life could be worse! I could be one of the poor souls on job-seekers allowance who will be forced to accept zero-hours contracts if jobs with such conditions are offered. Until now they have been able to turn down such contracts which make them keep themselves "on call" for work but do not oblige the employer to actually provide regular employment. And the pay is usually pretty poor too. Loads of students work on such contracts but they are not good for long-term employment. They prevent people going on training courses or even looking for better work in many cases. Now, under the new ruling, if a job-seeker turns down such a contract he may find himself without benefit for 13 weeks. If he turns down a second offer he could lose 26 weeks of benefit. Someone in government has decided this is a good idea. I think it's supposed to "incentivise" (horrible word) the job seekers. However, it seems to me that the people being "incentivised" are the employers who are being given carte blanche to carry on with this semi-slavery system! 

OK. Rant over.Let's move on.

I have known for a while that the Tour de France is going to start this year in Yorkshire. A friend of mine says they should change the name to Tour de Yorkshire. Today I read that the Giro d'Italia, another very prestigious cycle race is going to start, next week I think, in Northern Ireland. People there are painting tractors pink to match the leader's pink jersey. 

Some are even dying their sheep pink. Astounding stuff! 

But can you really call these races by their national names if they start in places which are clearly NOT France or Italy?

Monday, 5 May 2014

Back in the UK.

So here we are, a week back in the UK and I don’t seem to have stopped. Between sorting out things in the house, celebrating three (or was it four?) missed birthdays, going out for tea for one of them and inviting the birthday girl around for another, I don’t seem to have stopped. 

In between times I have rejoined my Italian class and we have been to a concert at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. The latter cost us twice what it cost is to go to concerts in Vigo, but we did see Vladimir Ashkenazy conduct, and it was a splendid concert, so it was worth it. 

That evening we ate, in haste, at an Italian restaurant in Manchester. This cost us half as much again as eating out in Vigo. Mind you, I am comparing eating out in the evening with eating out at lunchtime so it’s not really fair. The food was nice but we did suspect that as we only ordered one course each (we were, as I mentioned, eating in haste as we needed to meet friends at the Bridgewater Hall), they possibly judged us as cheapskates and spiced Phil’s arrabbiata sauce accordingly. It was VERY arrabbiata: extra chilli pepper, we thought! But he survived and we got to the concert on time. 

During our just over a month in Vigo, I watched a fig tree on one of our short-cut-down-to-Travesía de Vigo routes change from this: 

  to this: 

to this: 

Quite spectacular! 

I also watched the progress of a vegetable plot behind out block of flats. Most days, when I went out for a morning run, I saw a chap weeding and hoeing and digging, gradually clearing what started off as a bit of a field, with chickens running around in it, into a well organised little allotment. By the time we left he had finished the plot and had festooned it with bird-scarers. There were plastic bottles hung from sticks, a hub cap, presumably picked up from the roadside somewhere, and, most spectacular of all, a brightly coloured dead umbrella, also hanging from a stick and clacking around in the wind. I have to admit to being very impressed. 

I spent one of the days since we returned baby-sitting my daughter’s two younger offspring as they had a day off school while staff were doing training of some kind. My grandson took me off to the park to improve my football skills: still quite lamentable apparently. Later he persuaded me to watch him playing a FIFA game on the Xbox. This seems to involve his controlling the players of a football team during a match. When he managed to make one of his players score in the final minute of extra time, thus winning the match, he was so excited that he leaped over to hug me, wanting me to share his enthusiasm, and proceeded to make me slide off the bench we were sitting on. Both of us ended in a laughing heap on the floor. 

Even better was his attempt to teach me to play this game. Despite my protestations that I don’t play electronic games of this kind he was most insistent. And I suppose I made progress, of sorts. In the end I could make my players run around with the ball and even scored one goal. I am not at all sure how. However, I never managed to make my goalkeeper throw the ball back into play properly. If he kicked it, all was well, but whenever I tried to make him do an effective throw-in, he turned to one side and threw the ball off-side. I swear the system was rigged against me! 

Yesterday I took my recreation in a calmer fashion, walking around one of our local beauty spots, Dovestone reservoir, one of my favourite places around here. The sun shone for me very nicely. 

Then I returned home and found that my normal route into posting my blog wasn’t working and, even worse, my computer expert was away from home. But he’s back now and all is well. Normal service can be resumed.