Saturday 31 July 2021

The lad himself

 Having a little snooze...look at the length of those fingers!

Thursday 29 July 2021

Home at last

My tenth grandchild arrived a couple of weeks ago and it has been a roller-coaster of emotions. He was about two weeks early but a good weight, but his lungs weren´t working which meant he wasn´t breathing unassisted  and this put a strain on his heart. He was intubated and spent days in intensive care, and also caught a generalised infection. He was in intensive care for about a week but slowly overcame all the problems and finally went to the nursery and eventually was discharged yesterday. I shall be seeing him tomorrow. His name, which is highly appropriate, is Victor.

Monday 26 July 2021

Beware glass balls!

I read somewhere the other day about someone who had a crystal ball which caused a fire when the sun´s rays struck it. This reminded me of a similar thing which happened here at home a few years ago.

I don´t have a crystal ball but I do have a glass one with air bubbles trapped inside it which I bought on my travels. It is quite heavy and I use it as a door stop. Anyway, at that time I had a cleaner who helped look after my father. She was doing my room and put the ball on the bed while she did the floor, then went off to see to lunch for my dad. A couple of hours later when she returned to my room the ball, which had been sitting in direct sunlight, had concentrated the rays and actually burnt a hole right through my duvet cover. Thank goodness she found it when she did otherwise my bed might have caught fire. I was at work at the time. 

Ever since then I have been extremely careful not to leave anything, including eyeglasses, where the sun shines through the windows.

The culprit!

Friday 23 July 2021

Tom Cat

The following is one of my favourites from many years ago when we had to memorise a poem every week at school and then recite it in front of the class (excruciating experience!). I believe this is no longer in the curriculum and if so I think it is a shame as we developed an appreciation of poetry despite ourselves.

Anyway, The Tom Cat really struck me and I can still recite it from memory to this day. For some reason it popped into my mind last night as I was drifting off to sleep. I think it is very expressive and captures the essence of a cat.

The Tom-Cat

At midnight in the alley
A Tom-cat comes to wail,
And he chants the hate of a million years
As he swings his snaky tail.

Malevolent, bony, brindled,
Tiger and devil and bard,
His eyes are coals from the middle of Hell
And his heart is black and hard.

He twists and crouches and capers
And bares his curved sharp claws,
And he sings to the stars of the jungle nights,
Ere cities were, or laws.

Beast from a world primeval,
He and his leaping clan;
When the blotched red moon leers over the roofs
Give voice to their scorn of man.

He will lie on a rug to-morrow
And lick his silky fur,
And veil the brute in his yellow eyes
And play he's tame, and purr.

But at midnight in the alley
He will crouch again and wail,
And beat the time for his demon's song
With the swing of his demon's tail.

Tuesday 20 July 2021

How many!

I´ve just eaten 8 vegetables for my lunch...just as well I'm vegetarian! I haven´t made this meal for ages, I don´t know why because it is absolutely delicious, as well as simple to make and healthy.

I know, I know, shouldn´t eat in front of the computer but there you go. There´s a bit missing as I´d already started eating when I thought to take a photo.

So, what do we have...potato, broccoli, celery, carrot, cassava, courgettes, green beans and pumpkin, covered in chopped hard-boiled egg and smothered in a cheese sauce. All the veg are steamed together so no mess and no fuss. I actually forgot to add mushrooms and peas but since I feel stuffed it is just as well.

Monday 19 July 2021

Freedom Day...

I don´t live in the UK so I suppose really I shouldn´t be commenting on what goes on, but being English and having family there I do have a vested interest. All I really wanted to say is that I wish commonsense would prevail, that people would continue to take sensible precautions regardless of what the government say you can or can´t do. Just because you are allowed to do something doesn´t mean you have to. You don´t have to stop wearing a mask and keeping your distance, or avoiding crowded venues. Commonsense unfortunately seems to be in short supply nowadays.

Friday 16 July 2021

Good news site

Wouldn´t it be lovely if someone started a good news site. Whether you read the news online, watch it on TV or listen to the radio it consists mainly of doom and gloom items which is very depressing. The last thing we need nowadays is a constant stream of negative information.

Imagine a site which only contained good news and positive stories. You could sit down with a cup of tea  and read about things that would restore your faith in humanity - like the man who planted 20,000 trees in his lifetime, the selfless work of volunteers, heroic sacrifices or random acts of kindness by strangers, or just ordinary people getting on with things the best they can. There are a lot of good things happened out there, but we just don´t get to hear about them because it is bad news and shock-horror stories which grab the headlines.

I suppose the answer could be not to watch the news at all but in the current situation there is also the need to remain informed for our own safety. Hobson´s choice.

Wednesday 14 July 2021

Difficult memory

When my brother and I were in our teens we each had our own friends, although there was also some joint socialising. One of his pals, whom I shall call J, was a pleasant lad who frequented our house, had the occasional sleepover and brought his American girlfriend round from time to time. We also visited his house once and I remember his mum was very warm and welcoming. The family were Portuguese, originally from Mozambique and I think J had a younger sister. They weren´t particularly well-off but didn´t appear to be struggling financially. They had a little 'sitio', a small farm a few kilometres out of São Paulo. I´d never been there although my brother visited it for bbqs several times. J and I were much of an age and I remember he used to come to me sometimes for advice on his love life when he had a row with his girlfriend. 

Anyway, around this time I moved to England to study nursing and this being before the days of cellphones and computers, when contact was by letter and international phone calls for emergencies only, I lost touch with what was going on back home. My brother later told me the following story.

J´s girlfriend had a younger brother, still a schoolboy at the time. One day the boy disappeared on his way home from school and it turned out he´d been kidnapped when his parents, wealthy Americans, received a ransom demand. The family were frantic with worry and friends rallied round to help in any way they could, with J naturally supporting his girlfriend. After a week or so of telephone negotiation a payment was agreed and arrangements made to hand over the money. After all this time I can´t remember the details but I believe the kidnappers made some sort of stupid mistake and they were caught in the act of picking up the money.

Imagine everyone´s shock and horror when it turned out the kidnappers were none other than J and his father. Not only had they kidnapped the poor boy but they murdered him as obviously he knew who they were, and although he was dead they still went on to demand a ransom. The body was buried at the little 'sitio' and my horrified brother said he had visited there only a couple of weeks beforehand. It is hard to believe someone you thought you knew could be capable of such a mercenary and cruel act. I believe they wanted the money to pay off gambling debts.

J and his father both went to prison to serve long sentences. The father died within a few years of cancer and J was killed not long after in a fight with a fellow prisoner. He had become one of the gang leaders in there and was being challenged by the other prisoner. I believe J´s mother returned to Mozambique with her daughter. I was told that she had been completely unaware of what had happened and it is impossible to imagine what a terrible awakening she must have had.

This all happened over fifty years ago. All in all not a good memory, and I hadn´t thought about it for a long time. I was reminded of it when watching a programme on Netflix about a crime in Brazil, recommended to me a couple of days ago by blogger Rachel.


Monday 12 July 2021

Not so quiet anymore

The above photo is the view from my bedroom window, two fields for five a side football and there is actually a third field out of shot. There have been no games played for about a year but now that the Covid 19 rules are easing they have started again. The matches go on until about midnight and the players are very vocal which means it is difficult to get to sleep some nights. Arguments among them are frequent and their language "would make a sailor blush" as Professor Higgins famously said in 'My Fair Lady'.

I wouldn´t wish for lockdown to return but it did have its positive side.

Saturday 10 July 2021

Third attempt!

I haven´t done any knitting for several years and really struggled to make these booties. My knitting skills were pretty basic anyway as I´m self-taught and trying to decipher the pattern for these took some doing. My first attempt, once I´d mastered the instructions, was absolutely tiny, doll-size in fact! Second attempt with larger needles was a bit bigger but still too small and I decided I had to increase the number of stitches...which really tested my numerical skills and brain cells. Anyway, the end result doesn´t look too bad and hopefully they´ll fit grandchild number 10 when he arrives.

Wednesday 7 July 2021

Golden syrup


Golden syrup is unavailable here which I have found frustrating as it is one of the ingredients in several recipes I like to make. Whenever I visited the UK I brought some Tate and Lyle syrup back, but eventually I would run out and now of course travel is out of the question. I was delighted to come across a video on YouTube the other day which showed how to make golden syrup and amazed to find it basically consists of boiling down sugar and water with a wedge of lemon. Although you simmer it for a long time for some reason it doesn´t burn or caramelize and the end result tastes just like the bought syrup. Who knew it was so simple!

Tuesday 6 July 2021


It is winter here now and we are going through a cold spell. I really dislike the cold and feel like hibernating. Just imagine reading all day under a cosy duvet, sheer heaven!

The problem with the cold here is that houses and flats are built to be cool in the hot weather, not to keep warm in winter. There are no draught excluders, double glazing or central heating so when the temperature drops the only way to keep warm is to wear loads of layers. The temperature has been dropping to 8C overnight and rising to 11 or 12C during the day. In my book that is COLD, especially with no heating.

I must admit it is not always this bad but even a week or so of these temperatures from time to time is more than enough for me.

Sunday 4 July 2021

Odd behaviour

Toby has acted strangely a couple of times recently and I am wondering if he is going deaf or becoming a bit senile.

I have a baby´s safety gate to keep him out of the kitchen as he follows me everywhere and in there gets under my feet hoping I´ll drop something edible. He stands at the gate waiting for me to come through when it is time for his dinner. I had just fed him and gone to do something when I headed back to the kitchen. Toby had eaten his food and was standing staring fixedly at the gate as if I were still in the kitchen and he was waiting to be fed. I spoke to him to let him know I was actually in the room with him and he completely ignored me, even when I touched him. I had to go in and out of the gate before he seemed to realise I was in the room with him. I know he can´t really see although I believe he can perceive movement, and he mostly follows me by sound and smell, but I can´t really understand this behaviour..

There was another incident a few days ago. I was sat at my computer, where Toby usually lies on his cushion beside me. I heard him crying and found that he was sitting behind me, with his back towards me, staring at the wall and whining. I tried to distract him but he would not stop staring or crying and in the end I had to pick him up and take him through to another room. I shall keep him under observation but I hope it doesn´t mean a trip to the vet as he really hates that