Friday, June 30, 2006

Of Coffee, Grapes and Damselflies

A bright and early start to the day, at least by Sinna Luvva’s standards and, into the shower shortly after 9.30AM, a deed which I’m sure will be marked down in the annals of history. Post shower, the relaxation began; a lazy application of emollient cream to the lower limbs and, a bit of browsing of a technical manual, more than sufficed for the first hour of entry into the day-people’s realm.

By 11.00AM, lightweight clothes and sandals donned, I sauntered down to Open Church at St Marks for coffee, biscuits and a generous helping of conversation. Some forty minutes later, as I sauntered back from this venue, I met our friend Brian’s mum and was able to catch up on how he was coping as a guest of Her Majesty. It appears now, that the earliest opportunity for his release will be April 2007. I share her wish and concern that he will be able to find adequate support, and companionship, when the time comes. Having spent a few years alcohol free, the same temptations will be there on his return to the wider world.

As we talk, we both express our gratitude that we are able to enjoy the delights of fermented grapes as a sociable activity; there but for fortune ….

On return home, and after a little rest, my first port of call was the garden pond to distribute a few floating food-sticks. The goldfish swiftly acknowledged my arrival, and quickly devoured their feast. Both Water Boatmen and Pondskaters were in evidence on the pond’s surface and, after a few minutes a couple of iridescent red Damselflies caught my attention; so ignorant am I in the field of entomology that I’m unable to tell you whether they were the Large Red (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) or the small red (Ceriagrion tenellum) variety. To be quite honest, they could well be a species whose name I’ve not seen in a textbook; forgive my lack of expertise but, unfortunately, I’m not endowed with perfect knowledge.

After this period of distraction, there was further work to be done, removing and folding the first batch of today’s laundry from the line and, replenishing the vacant spaces with the second (smaller) machine load of washing. Once again, I have managed to remove a little of my halo’s tarnish.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Who knows where ...

Having marginally overstayed my allotted period of bed rest, I boldly ventured into the getting dressed arena, without an intervening dressing gown only period. Perhaps, the fact that I couldn’t even contemplate taking a shower made this transition a little easier.

As the atmosphere was rather muggy, swift visits to the pond, to provide some additional nourishment for the piscine residents, replaced my more sustained periods of relaxation on the garden bench.

Most of the day seems to have gone in slow motion, but not discomfortingly so, and I had to keep reminding myself what day of the week it was. I suspect that this confusion, of the days, stems from my beloved’s change of working pattern this week. Apart from putting up a new page on one of my websites and, taking a brief (almost) brisk walk with my beloved in the late afternoon, I find myself wondering what happened to this apparently lingering day.

All in all, a gratefully received relatively pain-free day; for this I give thanks.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Contentment and Complacency

Over recent days my contentment quotient seems to have become beautifully excessive. This is not to say that everything’s fine, I still have my pet peeves, anxieties and nagging dis-ease but, I have re-discovered the virtue of acceptance and accepting.

Of course, the little grey cells send out warning signals; “acceptance and accepting … sounds like complacency to me”.
So, are complacency and contentment really that alike; I certainly hope not!

Contentment is to do with (almost unconsciously) counting one’s blessings, despite one’s limitations; complacency is being so content with, and possessive of, one’s own lot that, you can let all the rest go hang.

Contentment is being at peace with the world but, it does not entail indifference to the gross ills and injustices that surround us. Complacency is when I am the world.

When one is truly content the capsule of self dissolves into the oneness of being.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

And this is Sapphire ...

... one of our neighbours cats, who likes to keep me company in the garden. At the same time, she can't understand why all the birds have flown and, the goldfish have all darted into cover.

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Bobbing Sea of Sparrows

Sections of our lawn are currently abob with sparrows. Our policy of allowing and encouraging swathes of the garden to be a ‘wildlife area’ seems to be reaping its rewards. Simultaneously, there are at least a dozen young sparrows joyfully inhabiting the garden bench. It is indeed a privilege to have the time to stand and stare.

For a short time yesterday afternoon, my beloved and I occupied ourselves in removing, once more, some of the ground elder and yellow loosestrife which seems to delight in making it’s presence felt in the more cultivated area of the garden. At the same time, we observe with great pleasure the multifarious varieties of grasses and a range of wildflowers at the gardens wilder end. Even the blossoming wild brambles are a source of delight.

A Surfeit of Chirrups

This morning, it seems as if all the shrubbery and foliage in our garden, of which there is an abundant supply, is alive with the chirruping of sparrows, fledglings and adult birds alike. Some of the young birds are still being fed by the adults, a wonderful sight. By the time I’ve sat beside the pond for a few minutes, several fledglings perch themselves on the bench which I’m occupying and, come and drink from the birdbath, three feet away from where I’ve situated myself. I just wish I had my camera with me but, I have this sneaking feeling that they’re going to prove camera-shy should I make the effort to retrieve my camera from the house.

I content myself, just listening to the sounds and observing their activity and, even find a moment to feed the goldfish and enjoy their frenetic response to my charitable act. For these valuable moments, I become oblivious to all the world’s woes! For such moments I give thanks.  

Making Peace is a long hard road!

Three items from Ekklesia caught my attention this morning.

Firstly in the Balkans Mennonites work with soldiers who turn their backs on war

Second - USA Combat fear, fundamentalism and Fox News, says church leader

Third - Scottish church leaders denounce Trident nuclear weapons

Sunday, June 25, 2006

When Is A Message Not?

When it’s a sequence of numbers left on our telephone answering machine. The sequence definitely sounded like a mobile ‘phone number but, the voice uttering this sequence didn’t sound at all familiar to either my beloved or myself.

The outgoing message on the machine specifically states, “if you would like to leave a message, please speak after the tone”. We do not request a random sequence of numbers, nor do we make any promise to get back to the caller but, it seems common-sense to us that a message should communicate something. We do not have a caller's name, no hint of what they wanted to speak about nor, did they say whether the sequence of numbers was some sort of a code, a telephone number to be avoided at all costs, a new theory of everything, or a number which they wished us to call.

We are always reluctant to call mobile ‘phone numbers, because of the expense involved; the same goes for any premium or ‘special’ rate numbers, so we trust that Mr Anonymous will not be too disappointed if he was expecting a call back!

When is a message not a message? When it fails to communicate anything!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

A Visit, An Anniversary and, Chefly Delights

Rather unusually, I felt quite alert when I retrieved myself from duvet land and, within fifteen minutes had made my way to the shower room. Stranger still, this occurred after I had my acupuncture session yesterday afternoon whereas, recently, my usual morning after response has been to feel (not unpleasantly) floatingly zonked out.

A degree of tiredness overwhelmed me during Kazim’s late morning visit; I’m afraid that rapid fire talking, by a guest, tends to have a head-swimmingly soporific effect. It really is rather sad that some people, desperately seeking friendship, tend to become over loquacious, in their attempt to demonstrate / display their friendly qualities and an over-preparedness to oblige. Unfortunately, the reality is that friendships take time to develop, unlike acquaintanceship which is more instantaneous. We’re happy to extend our hospitality but, we don’t rush into committed friendship; that takes time and effort. It is one thing to befriend, something quite different to become bosom buddies!

I recovered sufficiently by mid-afternoon, to visit the 75th Anniversary Exhibition of the Methodist Church in Starbeck, where my father was a Supernumerary Minister for twenty years. It was good to see a photo of my Mother, with a small group from Women’s Network which I’d never come across before. The twelve floral displays, on the theme of Christian Heroes, was quite impressive and, it was encouraging to see that some of the displays had been prepared by members of their neighbouring Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches.

Whilst listening to the Jazz on Radio 3, I adopted my Cheffish persona to devise a main course for Sunday Dinner. The resulting creation has been christened as ‘Spiced Chicken & Pineapple Casserole’ and, it smells far more enticing than you can possibly imagine. .As usual, most of the initial cooking was of the griddle pan variety; I started by coating a few chicken breast fillets in a concoction of ground black pepper, coriander, turmeric, garlic and ginger before griddle pan frying them along with onions, peppers, mushrooms and some freshly diced pineapple, with generous lashings of basil and thyme infused olive oil. I diced the chicken in situ, partway through this preliminary cooking, before tossing all the griddle pan contents into a casserole dish. To this I added 750ml of a garam masala laced chicken gravy. The casserole dish, complete with contents was then popped into a pre-heated oven for twenty-five minutes.

Next came the par-boiling of my spice and herb imbued roast potatoes. Come tomorrow, all that remains is the roasting of the potatoes and heating through of the casserole.

I rejoice and am glad in this day the Lord has made.

The Test Bed: Kodak gaff encourages photographing of kids in school - computer product reviews and news


The Test Bed: Kodak gaff encourages photographing of kids in school - computer product reviews and news

Friday, June 23, 2006

Modest Chap

Just thought you deserved to see yours truly being all overcome with modesty!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Unpredictability Factor

After being abed for ten and a half hours, managed a swifter than usual arising and dressing routine; what a refreshing change! Took a swift stroll down to Open Church at St Marks and, spent a full 40 minutes in conversation, from which exertion, I’m trusting there will be no ill effects. Certainly, so far, I have felt rather more alert than for the past few days*; perhaps I’m just now recovering from the busier week surrounding my birthday but, I’ve not yet devised a way of ascertaining how I’m going to be from one day to the next.

Predictability has always had its limitations but, somehow, ME/CFS seems to cause swings away from the anticipated norm in an erratically unpredictable manner. I suppose that the goal of ‘Pacing’ is to produce a new median expectation, thus restoring normality on a new plane. Whilst ‘listening to the body’ is always important, an equal value must be placed on routine relating to rest periods etc., (You will rest whether or not you want to!). Much of my present lifestyle is so sedentary that it becomes difficult to know when I am resting. At the same time, I’m all too frequently afraid of taking forty winks as its far too easy to outstay my welcome in the realm of snoozedom. The habit, albeit unwitting, of napping for protracted periods during the day has been hard to kick but, I do often manage to set aside a few minutes of rest following a period of 7/11 breathing.

It seems almost paradoxical that one can sit and do very little yet, simultaneously, get no rest! Now there’s something to ponder. On second thoughts, if I ponder upon it I most certainly will not rest.

* see A Modest Regression (on Mal’s Murmurings) and Fatigue on this blog.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


How do we get our impressions of a Church (I refer here to the building, not the body of believers)? This evening, as I passed St. Marks Church on Leeds Road in Harrogate, the first things to catch my attention were two huge posters, one occupying each of the road facing windows of the churches main entrance porch. The posters were for ‘KUMON’ a commercially franchised system for teaching Maths and English to children, as a supplement to their school education.

The size of the posters made the church look like an industrial unit rather than a house of prayer. According to the ‘Kumon’ website, enrolment costs £15 per child and the fees are £45 per child per subject per month. So much for the churches outreach to the poor and, its not as if this particular church needs the hiring fee to sustain themselves.

The message it gave out for me was quite simple; “THIS IS A COSY MIDDLE CLASS UTILITY”!


Everything seems to be going in slow motion today, at times excruciatingly so; even the eyelids weigh heavily as they seek repose and, words come very slowly. Even had to give up on writing a couple of belated thank-you cards; it’s not everyday that I suffer from ‘writers block’ when working on such a minimal scale but, c’est la vie!

Why is exhaustion such a tiring experience? An overwhelming heaviness seems to have taken control of arms, legs and torso; staying awake seems the most gargantuan of tasks. I recognize that tiredness can, on occasion, be a pleasant velvety experience but, when it wraps all moving and breathing components of one’s body in a lead-cored blanket, only the born-again masochist can rejoice.

Today I understand the word fatigue and, I’ve achieved that state without even trying!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I Can See Clearly Now

After the prolonged and repeated treatment of the pond with ‘BlanketOut’ and ‘SludgeBuster’, the effort is now being rewarded as the water has cleared dramatically in the past few days. Perhaps the recent rain has played its part too!

Sitting by the pond is so much more rewarding as, I’m now able to observe so much more activity; admittedly, I haven’t quite managed a tally of how many fish are now resident. Perhaps, early next spring, I’ll manage a stocktake. Because of the baby fish, at feeding time I’m now using flake as well as floating sticks. The tadpoles, by sheer weight of numbers, trap the odd food stick either against the side of the pond or in a kind of ambush whereas, the tiny goldfish lack both the numbers and cunning to manage this feat. By the time the tiddlers have struggled to grasp the end of a stick, it’s so frequently snatched away by their larger brethren, or even the more street-wise amphibians; for the young goldfish, the flake food, normally reserved for the aquarium inhabitants, proves much more manageable.

The larger, more mature, fish find that tadpoles make for a handy snack between (and even alongside) their Sinna Luvva imposed feeding times; I suppose that fresh food is preferable to processed although, in this case the fresh food is also fast food.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Few Words About.t.t...t

Weather-wise, the atmosphere remains quite heavy, even though the temperature is several degrees lower; result - energy levels aren’t that brilliant. Nonetheless, I’ve managed to enjoy a day of little activity together with my beloved (between her preaching appointment this morning and church attendance this evening) and we even managed to get a walk in after a rain shower had freshened the air a little. Re-energized by the walk, we then managed to trim back some of the shrubs which had rather obstructed the pathway around the side of the house.

On a few occasions I’ve found myself going into a kind of, non-drug induced, amphetamine stutter whereby, I forget mid-sentence what I intended to say to my beloved. I’m trusting that this is simply an effect of the cloying atmosphere and a busier (than usual) week but, that remains to be seen!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Can't stand the heat but end up in the kitchen

The cloying heat returns and, I feel like crap. Don’t get me wrong, there are several moments when I still feel almost human; being the bold creature that I am, I even managed to rinse out the pond filters, yesterday afternoon, and topped up and treated the pond water for the benefit of its inhabitants. Mind you, this isn’t all selfless devotion to duty; if the piscine inhabitants weren’t healthy, it would deprive me of the pleasure that I receive as I watch them dart out from, and between, their lily pad shelters. After this, there was no way I had sufficient energy in reserve to take my brief walk.

This morning Kazim called round to visit; he is from India and has only been in this country for a couple of months and is feeling quite lonely. He has worked previously in Dubai, Qatar and Iraq but, still finds it important to maintain regular contact with his parents in India and, he’s currently on a two year work permit, in the UK, working as a Restaurant Manager. I always enjoy meeting new people but, I still have a bit of struggle entertaining company for any length of time.

This afternoon, my beloved drove me into town to see if there was anything I wanted to spend my gift card on but, the clammy heat hindered me in coming to any decision at this point. [The plus side, to the town visit, was that the combination of a sunshiny day and World Cup football on the telly ensured it was reasonably quiet for a Saturday. That’s one of the few benefits that football coverage has for me.]

I set to preparing Sunday’s dinner almost immediately on our return home, a spontaneously invented moussaka variant. By the time I’d slaved, creatively over a hot stove, rest became the evening’s imperative.

It has been a good day, especially considering that only a few months ago a trip into the town centre was far beyond the scope of my physical and emotional stamina.

I rejoice and am glad in this day the Lord has made.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Happy Birthday for Me

Visited Julie at the Chronic Fatigue Unit yesterday and, she was quick to spot that I wasn’t my usual self, in response to which I swiftly examined my armpits. What she actually meant was that I seemed more tense and, not so spontaneous with my humorous remarks; I hadn’t realized that some of the recent tensions were still manifest in my general demeanour but, perhaps I’m still suffering from the earlier cloying heat. As usual, she was able to offer a few valuable markers as to how I should work on my ‘pacing’.

This morning, I started my birthday anniversary in my usual lazy daily manner but, the knowledge that my beloved would be with me all day made it very special! Beth arrived, shortly before my emergence into the world of the day people, bearing gifts and, whilst she was still here, the postman arrived bearing further gifts from my brother and sister-in-law. At lunchtime, ma belle et moi walked down to the local Brewer’s Fayre and, idly digested our meal with a Pinot Grigio lubricant.
Unfortunately, alcohol and lunchtime didn’t prove too auspicious a combination; as a result, a goodly portion of the later afternoon was spent in a shattered state, requiring more than my twenty minutes allocated rest.

In the evening, Cathy and Ken called round bearing gifts and, we shared a bottle of Taittinger which proved a wonderful tummy settler, enabling me to indulge in a generous portion of a fresh-cream filled sponge cake.

I rejoice in this day the Lord has made.  

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Tidings of comfort and joy

A sense of excitement on the garden fence, this morning, as a couple of fledgling bluetits, previous known address our garden nest box, vigorously tweeted and twittered until mummy (or daddy) arrived with sustenance for them. Chirrups filled the air as they watched the mature bird eagerly feeding at the bird table and, when the adult bird grovelled for insects in the shrubbery, they moved to adjacent shrubs. After a few minutes they flew across to the greenhouse door frame and, once again, hollered for food, feathers and residual fluff all aflutter. The faithful parent soon returned with goodies for the duo before they all flew of to the top of the garden.

It may just be a matter of survival but, scenes like these are so uplifting to one’s spirits. It's rather like watching the face of a young child as he/she opens his/her presents on Christmas Day morning!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Idling away the hours

To a large extent my hope was fulfilled; today I could breathe more freely in the cooler air. Strange thing was, I found myself feeling wide awake and alert by 4.30AM but then, from a sense of relief fell back into a deeper sleep. I was nonetheless vaguely aware of my beloved readying herself to drive off to work and, to take a ‘phone call (on the bedside ‘phone) around 9.00AM. Next thing I knew, I’d spent eleven hours in bed so it was time to don dressing gown and adopt a more upright posture.

Within half-an-hour, felt sufficiently energized to take a shower and, revelled in a sense of refreshment. Next thing, applied emollients to lower limbs and, dozed off once more for about half-an-hour. It was one of those days when I just couldn’t get motivated at all; the cloying heat of the last few days had taken its toll. Eventually, by mid-afternoon, I ventured out into the garden to do a little more clearing up of the ground elder and yellow loosestrife, managing to uncover a few plants that had almost been choked by the weed cover.

Once more, this little effort in the garden served as a substitute for my walk. Relaxed briefly by the pond, watched the rippling water whilst being scrutinised by a couple of amphibians, before returning to the house for a renewed bout of inactivity.

Monday, June 12, 2006

A Sign of Hope

I bade the distant peals of thunder welcome and, rejoiced as they rumbled into middle and near distance. My rejoicing was strengthened, and hope reared its head once more, at commencement of the rains down pouring. Each drop of water, as it struck the ground, resonated through my mind; a portent of release from the cloying heat of recent days.

This first and heavy fall didn’t sustain itself sufficiently to fulfil all my requirements but, at least, I manage to rejoice in this day the Lord has made and live in hope!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Best Years of Your Life

This posting was prompted by reading an 8th Grade Meme on Martyn’s Blog.

School, at least of the Secondary variety, was always something to be forgotten about as frequently as possible and, PE / Sports teachers were totally anathema. Perhaps I was a little unfortunate in changing schools at the end of my first year, when my parents moved from a little village in North Yorkshire to Sunderland (then County Durham, now Tyne and Wear I think).

Only two people from the C of E village school (catering for pupils aged 5 to 15), that I had attended for the previous couple of years, passed the eleven plus exam, so when I went to the small grammar school at Thirsk it was a case of getting to know people all over again. That in itself wasn’t too bad but, after one year, to move to a Grammar School where there were as many boys in each year as the total male & female school population at Thirsk did prove a little traumatic.

My loathing of PE teachers is one of my most enduring memories of that new environment. At Thirsk we had no access to a swimming pool whereas, in Sunderland, all the pupils had learned how to swim in the first year. When I said that I couldn’t swim, the nice Loughborough trained teacher took me to the deep end of the pool and held me under. You can be sure I found excuses to avoid going to the swimming baths and, the bastards gave me a fear of even walking close to water which I didn’t overcome until I was in my thirties. At Thirsk, a games lesson involved kicking a football around but, at the Bede Grammar School in Sunderland, the school game was Rugby Union and everyone was supposed to partake in that game. No one took the trouble to explain the rules or objectives of the game and, I was given the position of hooker. I never had any idea what I was supposed to do apart from allowing myself to be kneed and pushed around in the middle of a “scrum”. To this day I don’t understand what a “scrum” is!

In lieu of PE / PT at the village school we did things like country dancing, now that was both exercise and enjoyable; at the Bede, PE was circuit training involving, benches, beams, ropes and all the the most alienating devices of torture one can imagine. The two highlights of time at Secondary School were being in hospital with appendicitis and, having my leg in plaster, from groin to ankle for twelve weeks. What joy, not having to forge a letter exempting me from the punishment (called Rugby or PE) around these periods of time and, I played it to the maximum. I’m sure that the worst Nazi Kommandant had nothing on those hearty fellows called PE teachers!

I wasn’t by any means averse to exercise, enjoying walking, cycling, jiving and other such joyous pursuits but, I never have had much desire to yield to the whims of sadists.

Another happier memory, of those days, was the extra-curricular activity (with my friend Wally) of going down to the docks and buying Polish, East German and American cigarettes from crew members of the Polish fishing fleet; 1 shilling (5p) per twenty pack of the East European ones, 2 shillings (10p) or half-a-crown (12 and a half pence) for the American variety. They made themselves some spending money and, we had a ready market amongst fellow pupils.

With all my enjoyment of the schooling experience, it was even difficult getting any assistance with my self-directed “library” project – a sympathetic study of the Bolshevik revolution, I managed to attain two whole GCE ‘O’ levels from this ‘academic’ school, thus necessitating my having to take entrance examinations to enter my Nursing training and, later, for entrance to the Civil Service.

Only when I went to University, at the age of twenty-eight, was it discovered that I had an examination-phobia and, I definitely wasn’t the idle irredeemable pupil that many of the masters thought. The phobia related to the crowded hives of activity called exam rooms and, having walked out half-way through each of my first year exams (still passing all but one of them), I was subsequently allowed to take examinations on my own, or with one other person, and went on to obtain an excellent honours degree. It was only at this later date that I was able to recognize the high standard of the general education I had received from the grammar school but, quite simply it was the wrong environment for me; unbearably too middle-class and reactionary (the League of Empire Loyalists were allowed a candidate in the school’s mock election, the Communists weren’t) for my taste both then and now.

Chronicles Of A Utopian Writer - Zarqawi, Terrorism, and the Modern Guillotine

A stimulating article, from this Jordanian blogger, on the paradox of "solving terrorism through terrorizing the terrorist".

Chronicles Of A Utopian Writer � Blog Archive � Zarqawi, Terrorism, and the Modern Guillotine

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Here Comes The Sun ... yet again!

Last evening, when the temperature had dropped a tad, I ventured out to mow a goodly portion of the lawn. After twenty minutes of this exertion, I felt like the mad dog who stepped out with the Englishman into the noonday sun! This exercise served in lieu of a walk but, unfortunately the return to the living room felt as if I was passing from Turkish Bath to Sauna. In the last few minutes of the mowing exercise, it seemed as if I’d lost more fluid than I’d partaken of in the course of the past week.

You may have already gathered that I’m far from being a sun-worshipper as, on top of my resident low energy levels, it certainly doesn’t do a lot for me. Once again, today, the sun also shone, so apart from the odd couple of minutes spent by the garden pond, I’ve been housebound once more and, for the sake of my health failed to take a walk once again.

It doesn’t seem long since I was bemoaning the persistent rain but, at least I could venture out for a little stroll and, return home far less of a wet blanket than seems possible under current conditions. Tomorrow we’re promised another warm day; sounds more like a threat to me.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Day In The Life

Woke up, got of bed and … after a shower … dragged a comb down the hair at the back of my head … The duvet escape manoeuvre left me feeling not too bright but, it was reasonably early. By way of contrast, the day was definitely bright but also too warm (23C by 10.00am BST) for me! Bundled myself into the car with my beloved chauffeuse and, I was on the way to have my bits frozen off!

No, it’s not what you’re thinking, just a couple of warts on chest and back. I seem to be quite proficient at breeding these things, perhaps it goes back to my student days, that glorious era when, in my vacation as a gardener, I managed to get sunstroke and the beginnings of a tan on my fair skin (a potentially lethal combination). These days, my sole desire is to steer clear of really warm sunshiny days, although I do appreciate the occasional stroll in the cool of the evening.

On return home, I rested and supped a few cups of Earl Grey before preparing a fresh salmon, peppers, tomato and mushroom topping for some jacket potatoes,  all griddled on an olive oil (infused with turmeric, ginger, coriander, paprika and garlic) lubricated pan. The heat, whilst slaving over a hot stove, proved almost unbearable, to the point that it was difficult to fully appreciate the coolness of the dining room. Despite a perspiration laden exterior, the palate remained sufficiently alert to appreciate each morsel of lunch.

And now, I idly switch the radio from Jeremy Vine (BBC Radio 2), the Afternoon Play (BBC Radio 4), to a little music on BBC Radio 3. How I love the wonderful world of the Wireless and how grateful I am to the BBC.

Monday, June 05, 2006

From Computer Watch to Spring Watch

After a mid-morning visit to the garden pond, to clear out some blanket weed and apply a further treatment of ‘BlanketOut’, much of the afternoon found me housebound. Firstly I re-installed XP Pro (Upgrade rather than Clean Install) on my beloved’s machine and, activated the same. I updated Windows Installer and Anti-Spyware and then awaited the download and installation of 42 updates.

It seemed a good idea to make an image backup of the freshly installed system, having done a back-up of everything before the re-install, so that there would be no corrupt or modified system files in the image. Clicked on Acronis True Image and, received the strange message that it couldn’t find a hard drive to back-up! Duly removed, then reinstalled Acronis and, the back-up was then plain sailing.

Shortly after 5.00pm, it was time to add a little stock to a casserole dish of the curry prepared on Saturday evening and popped it into the oven in readiness for ma belle’s return home. Yesterday lunchtime, we both enjoyed the extra spicy Jalfrezi – Dopiaza hybrid curry, served straightforwardly with my lovingly prepared savoury rice. Today, the slightly diluted variant was served with new potatoes, sprouts, carrots, broccoli and cabbage. My beloved enjoys her vegetables but, the copious quantities she is able to devour would have a disastrous effect on my constitution!

After our meal we enjoyed a brief walk around the neighbourhood before returning, in time to catch some of the Mario Lanza documentary on BBC2 which preceded the currently showing ‘Springwatch’ which we find quite compulsive viewing.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Garden Daze

It really is quite wonderful to observe the bobbing trajectory of the blue tits from food source to nest box! As well as the bobbing flight path, it sometimes presents a diversionary route; seemingly endless variants on a well-flown flight path, presumably to befuddle any potential predators.

We are indeed privileged in having clear views of their flight path from both living-room and kitchen windows. Even when I was stood at the top end of the garden, within a couple of feet of the nest box, I was quizzically eyed by the bird sat on a twig adjacent to the box before he popped in to feed the brood!

Despite the bobbing, and sometimes circuitous flight path, it’s remarkable how swiftly and accurately they pass through the small diameter entrance hole. I suspect these avians know very little about pacing and, thankfully accept they have little need for it!


At least a couple of the goldfish, in the pond, were demonstrating a little frenetic activity today. The first giveaway sign was the twitching of lily pads, prior to the Pentecostal flames dancing close to the water’s surface. Thankfully, I’d already taken a twenty-five minute walk with ma belle before lunch, so I was able to just sit with my beloved on the garden bench and, enjoy the spring like activity around us, without any pangs of guilt.

BBC NEWS | Business | Britain's streets of debt: Whistleblower

Surprise, surprise; big business preys on the vulnerable! And I'd never expected less of our banking institutions! Who would ever have suspected that they put profits before their customers? Surprise, surprise; banks are capitalists ... whoever would have thought it?

Interesting to get an insider view though.

BBC NEWS | Business | Britain's streets of debt: Whistleblower

Saturday, June 03, 2006

What's Cooking?

After a leisurely start to the morning, arising gently from the duvet realm after ten and a half hours bed-rest, within an hour I felt sufficiently energized to face the shower routine. In the remnant of the morning I applied a further blanket weed treatment to the pond and, quickly returned to the house to grab some headgear as the baldpate quickly felt the full force of the sun’s rays.

During the afternoon, we called around to Helen’s chapel, to drop off some flowers and the weekly notices that my beloved had prepared but, decided it was too warm to endeavour a walk. In any case, I was getting a bit hungry by this time, having only had a bowl of breakfast cereal at lunchtime.

Having eaten a delicious ciabatta based sweet chilli chicken pizza, it was nearing the time for me to prepare tomorrow’s lunch. First, I prepared the griddle pan with liberal sprinklings of ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, a little chilli and paprika. After preheating the spices to release the aromas, I added a generous amount of olive oil to sautée a couple of sliced onions before adding the lean minced beef. A generous sprinkling of garam masala intensified the already wonderful aromas. Next, I threw in a liberal amount of chopped peppers, a few sliced mushrooms and, after a while, added a tin of plum tomatoes. To finalize the preparation, added a little crushed garlic and some chopped chilli, before pouring in a jar of spicy Jalfrezi sauce for good measure.

All that remains, tomorrow lunchtime, is to pop a casserole dish full of this wonderful concoction into the oven and prepare the saffron rice. Et voila!

Cooking complete, ma belle et moi settled down to watch the latest episode of ‘Doctor Who’ (BBC1) and, a behind the scenes programme on BBC3, before venturing out to do a little more clearing up in the garden. By this time, around 8.30pm, the temperature seemed ideal for such pursuits.

Apart from the occasional bout of hollowness, a non-specific sense of despondency and frustration, it has still proved possible to rejoice in this day the Lord has made.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Verbal Trespassers will be Blacklisted

It’s happening again, the invasion of the disembodied vampires. Yesterday, mid-afternoon, the telephone rings and the hypnotic voice asks to speak to my beloved. I’m quite happy to inform him that she’s not here, in response to which he enquires, “when would it be convenient?” Now comes the moment of testing, as I cautiously enquire as to the identity of the caller.

My suspicion aroused that they may be out to suck money from us, for a service which we have neither requested nor require; the voice intones “Yorkshire Water – Home Services”, to which I reply that no time would be convenient, don’t they realize how ignorant it is to intrude on our time, our home and, utilizing the phone line for which we pay rental, for their commercial purposes.

The disembodied one explains that they have previously contacted my wife and, at this point, I’m struggling to prevent my language from becoming too colourful. I tell them that if my wife wished to contact them she would but, we are not in the habit of doing business over the ‘phone, or perhaps they’d be willing to permanently pay our line rental for the inconvenience they’re putting us through. I reminded him, in no uncertain terms, that they had indeed spoken to me and, that I told them then, that no time was convenient for them to phone. On that occasion, someone else from the same company ‘phoned at just the moment my wife had come through the door from work. My beloved tried to get rid of the nagging female vampire at the time but, out of frustration said that they could send us a quote!

We have no intention of changing our direct debits for the particular service (?) they were trying to coerce us into subscribing to, as we are quite happy with the current provider.

I’m afraid that their persistent telephonic irritations ensure that the quote they provided will never be viewed and, as far as I’m concerned, the less we have to do with Yorkshire Water – Home Services, the happier my life will be!

What had been a reasonable, though marginally de-energised, day was transformed by these trespassers into an evening of despondent irritability. Today, whilst Helen is out, the telephone has been left to switch to answering machine mode after a minimal ring. I’d like to be able to follow the maxim “Don’t let the buggers grind you down” but, unfortunately they do just that!