Friday, August 29, 2014

The things we do for grandchildren

The tide goes out a long way in Swansea Bay and, if you walk far enough out, you find that, in patches, the sand turns to a slimy sticky sinky mud; I hate the feel of it on my feet it and I always have.

Bracelet Bay can, on occasions, depending on the weather and sea conditions, be covered by a deep layer of slippery squelchy seaweed. While I don't actually hate it I would rather not walk through it.

In the last few days, while GrandSon1 was staying, I've walked through both with him. He didn't blink an eye, in fact we walked back and for several times through the mud he enjoyed it so much (and I wanted to be close to grab him in case he slipped). And he chose not to walk across the path I'd made through the seaweed but straight up and down it. 

The mud, as I said, is very sticky so I had to scrub it off when I got home. Husband made some sort of rude remark about Welsh girls and old habits but it made more sense to wash my foot in the kitchen sink than to trail the mud upstairs. Though probably would have failed a kitchen hygiene check.

But I drew the line when he came into the house carrying first a worm and then a spider.
'Look, Nini! Do you want to hold it?'
'Oh, lovely. Why don't you ask Grandad. I'm sure he'd love to hold the worm/spider.'

The eye of David Cassidy

First jigsaw for ages. Real one that is as opposed to

Amazingly I found an eye and knew without doubt it was David Cassidy's. And the teeth had to be Donny's. Ah Jackie, I did so love my weekly fix. Romantic stories, make-up advice, latest fashions and even - if you look closely at the left corner of the jigsaw you'll see it - guides to kissing. Not forgetting Cathy and Claire, resident agony sisters.

I was a very backward teenager, never going out - certainly not with boys - and not wearing make-up or fashionable clothes. I had to live life vicariously through the pages of Jackie. And how I dreamed of being one of those long-legged exotic creatures that graced its pages or even of being a hard-done-by girlfriend who could seek the advice of Cathy and Claire. 

Where have the years gone?

For the first time in 61 and a half years

I was born in Mumbles and have lived for most of my life in Swansea but never once had I walked out to the lighthouse. Never until yesterday.
Once a manned station where families lived - and at times a troop of soldiers - it's now on automatic and is maintained by Trinity House. It can be accessed only when the tide is out and, although it's not far, you have to keep an eye out for the tide coming in. 
'You must have gone out there when you were a child,' Husband said.
'No, we wouldn't go there because of the rats.'
'What made you think there were rats there?'
'Auntie Gay told me.' 
Like she told me, when I was scared to go on the pier, that it was strong enough to carry the Queen Mary. Although it wasn't the strength of it that concerned me as much as being able to see the sea through the planks.
Not looking quite so strong these days but now the new lifeboat station has been built at the end I'm assuming there will be some rebuilding going on. You usually have to pay to go on the pier but currently it's free, probably because of the danger you put yourself in walking on some very dubious looking planks.
Then, as we were walking that way and it was past lunchtime,
we had to stop at Verdi's for an ice cream - my second in two days!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hang on to your dreams

An excellent evening at Zac's on Tuesday. We've just finished a series on Paul's letter to the church at Colosse (and a quick look at his letter to Philemon too) so we took a break and had a ... Korean meal.

We're all delighted that Rowland, who's spent his life in mission work, considers Zac's to be his regular church (in as far as Zac's is regular) and comes every week unless he's off lecturing or travelling, and he usually brings with him at least two of the Korean students based at Nations in Llanelli. And two of those students were recruited to prepare the meal. 
I'm told Down (on the left) is the cook and Saerom the helper, and together they produced a delicious chicken and rice dish (with a choice of spicy or not so - spicy proving to be most popular).
While I was eating I was grumbling about the fact that my dream of reaching out in friendship to the girls in the massage parlours in Swansea (particularly the one at the end of the road Zac's is in) seemed to be taking forever to progress. Each step forward is followed by a leap back - or so it seems. But more of this later.

Sean had asked Rowland, as our tribal elder, to 'write' a letter to the church at Zac's to present after the meal. Rowland began it by passing around a box covered in a cloth. We were told to look in the box but to make no comment. Then he told an old story from a Kalahari tribes people about a man who married a beautiful but mysterious woman. The only condition the woman put on the marriage was that the man was never to look in the box she kept with her; if he did she would leave. Needless to say the day came when the woman was absent from the house and the man could resist no longer; he opened the box to find it empty. When she returned he laughed at her for keeping an empty box. Sadly she replied, 'That box held my dreams,' and, as she had promised, she left him.   

The message from this story was, 'Hang on to your dreams. Never give up on them.God, who put the dream in your heart, will fulfil it. '

At the end of the evening Mark came up to me and said, 'Will you come outside for a minute? I want you to meet someone.'
The person he wanted me to meet was one of the girls from the massage parlour at the end of the road. We chatted for about half an hour and she is keen to come to Zac's and bring another one of the girls too.

God works in mysterious ways. Whoopie doo!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Being happy is very tiring

I am well behind on my #100happydays challenge as I've been too busy being happy with the grandchildren for the last few days. My children have asked me not to post photos of the grandchildren (big sigh) so you'll have to take my word for it that they're growing and we all had a lovely time. 

Before Elder Son and family left today we had to pay a visit to Verdi's. I don't think 10.30 in the morning is too early for ice cream, do you?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sneezy Central

I could have had a week's holiday in a (ropey) Tenerife hotel for what I spent in Sainsburys this morning. That will teach me to let the cupboard get so bare.

So bare that last night the only option available to us was fish fingers, chips and peas - tinned mushy in Husband's case and frozen in mine, as I have to live up to my PoshBird status. And it would have been quite nice if I hadn't burned the fish fingers. 

Never mind, my pantry and fridge are bulging now, which is just as well as Elder Son and family are down for a few days and Daughter and family will also be here for the weekend. By Monday I'll have to go to Sainsburys again. In fact, I need to go back there now as I forgot fizzy water for Husband (I don't know what's wrong with tap water) and 50-50 bread for the grandbabies.

Right, I've just put brownies in to cook before evacuating the kitchen: Husband is making chilli jam and it's Sneezerama in there.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My brilliant children

An article on the BBC website reports that now they reckon grown-up intelligence can be guesstimated from a 4-year-old child's drawings. Score is based on things like number of legs, eyes etc in the drawing of a person. 

I always knew my children were brilliant and this drawing by Elder Son aged 2 years and 7 months confirms it. Please note correct number of legs, arms, eyes and mouth. 
Ten out of ten for accuracy but four out of ten for observation: that's far too much hair for Daddy.

I don't have a comparative drawing from Daughter but I do have a story written when she was five years and eight months.
Once upon a time there was a little boy and he did not like the sun he likede the rain but not the sun and he likede the wind but he was naughty one day he decided to fight it so he went in a air balloon up up he went up to the sun but the sun had a crystal ball and the sun won and the little boy was sizzleed up lik a sausage

Party, party, party

So that was Friday. Saturday we were off again, this time to Rhoose Point near Cardiff for a family barbecue.
I used to think my cousin Jim (in lilac shirt) was tall at 6'3" but he's small next to his son, Corin (back left as you look at it) who's 6'9".

We had a lovely time catching up with family - and ate too much but still the fun wasn't over. On Sunday we'd been invited to Andrew and Carol's for a party lunch to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. (They're actually going to New England as a celebration but they couldn't let the day pass without a get-together.) Again we ate too much.
And as if that wasn't enough Monday saw us off again! To the dentist. Where I discovered/remembered that our appointment had been cancelled and that I'd actually made another one for September but had forgotten to delete this one from the calendar. The girl was most apologetic assuming I hadn't received the letter but I assured her it was my fault. And, as Husband said as we left, 'It's always nice not to have to go to the dentist.'

Then the fun really did stop and it's been a busy cleaning week for me: the children are down for the weekend and with the last few hectic weeks I'd got behind with things. (Again who am I trying to kid? Who's going to believe that I regularly do the cleaning?)

'You're not really going out like that, are you?'

And I'd just spent ages showering and getting ready.

But, glancing down at my falling-apart walking boots and Eric Morecambe shorts, I had to admit Husband had a point. I still went out like it.

Inspired by the BBC programme Countryfile that featured it recently, we were going to the north west corner of Gower, a part with which I am unfamiliar. I've stayed at St. Madoc camp and explored that side but had never ventured around Whiteford Point so that was our planned destination.

It's off the usual tourist map and the only parking is a farmer's field with an honesty box. (Apparently it was broken into recently and was ripe for breaking into again as it was ram-jammed full of coins.) Our walk took us along the beach,
 through the dunes, 
across the marsh, 

and into the woods,

 carefully avoiding potential unexploded bombs.

Who am I trying to kid? Of course we didn't avoid it; we went out of our way to inspect this round metal object. I didn't go so far as to kick it though. Just in case.

Whiteford Point is home to the last remaining iron lighthouse in Europe.
And the marsh is home to a herd of Welsh mountain ponies.

After three hours walking we felt we deserved a piece of cake and a cup of tea on our way home so we stopped at Siop y Bobl (literally shop of the people - community shop run by volunteers). You just know the cake is going to be good when you see a white-haired and slightly trembly granny figure in a pinny clearing tables. And it was. Carrot cake for Husband and rhubarb and custard cake for me.

Having enjoyed a good day out we once again resolved to spend more time enjoying ourselves in future!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Kissing a man without a moustache

As I said, Husband has a new-found passion for Facebook and this has led him to rummage in the attic for old photos. One he came across records the only time in our married life that he was without a moustache.

It was the Christmas season, some time in the 90s, and, as he was on holiday, he decided to shave it off. As he'd been moustachioed when I met him this was going to be the first time ever for me to see him clean-shaven.
I hated it, made him grow it back and have fought strenuously against his frequent suggestions that he should shave it off again. (He thinks he looks younger without.)

When I was searching just now for the quote, 'Kissing a man without a moustache is like eating an egg without salt,' I discovered that back in 2006 I blogged about Husband and his moustache. It seems the original quote is often wrongly attributed to Rudyard Kipling but most sources suggest it's an old Spanish proverb. Mr Kipling wrote a variation on it (allegedly) when he said, 'Kissing a man who doesn't wax his moustache is like eating an egg without salt.'

The rest of what I wrote in 2006 is here: 

Guy de Maupassant describes it thus in The Mustache.

... he has shaved off his mustache. You cannot imagine, my dear Lucy, how it changes him! I no longer recognize him-by day or at night. If he did not let it grow again I think I should no longer love him; he looks so horrid like this.
In fact, a man without a mustache is no longer a man. I do not care much for a beard; it almost always makes a man look untidy. But a mustache, oh, a mustache is indispensable to a manly face. No, you would never believe how these little hair bristles on the upper lip are a relief to the eye and good in other ways. I have thought over the matter a great deal but hardly dare to write my thoughts. Words look so different on paper and the subject is so difficult, so delicate, so dangerous that it requires infinite skill to tackle it.
Well, when my husband appeared, shaven, I understood at once that I never could fall in love with a strolling actor nor a preacher, even if it were Father Didon, the most charming of all! Later when I was alone with him (my husband) it was worse still. Oh, my dear Lucy, never let yourself be kissed by a man without a mustache; their kisses have no flavor, none whatever! They no longer have the charm, the mellowness and the snap- yes, the snap--of a real kiss. The mustache is the spice.
Imagine placing to your lips a piece of dry--or moist--parchment. That is the kiss of the man without a mustache. It is not worth while.
Whence comes this charm of the mustache, will you tell me? Do I know myself? It tickles your face, you feel it approaching your mouth and it sends a little shiver through you down to the tips of your toes.
And on your neck! Have you ever felt a mustache on your neck? It intoxicates you, makes you feel creepy, goes to the tips of your fingers. You wriggle, shake your shoulders, toss back your head. You wish to get away and at the same time to remain there; it is delightful, but irritating. But how good it is!
A lip without a mustache is like a body without clothing; and one must wear clothes, very few, if you like, but still some clothing.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Today I accompanied a pregnant young woman to hospital for the heart of her unborn baby to be checked by a foetal heart specialist. Two previous scans had shown it to have three instead of the four chambers.

I prayed for a miracle today, that the fourth chamber would be seen and normal. Even as I prayed I knew in my heart that, although I know God can and does perform miracles, I didn't expect this one.

Today's very thorough, very detailed scan showed the heart to be quite normal.

I'm sorry, God, and thank you.

And, yes, I know it's possible to explain this away medically but my prayer was answered either way.