Tuesday, 28 June 2016

A collection of random thoughts which may or may not be very interesting......

First, please don't ask me why my blog has huge gaps between the paragraphs because I have no idea. I'm guessing that I had an image in that space at one time and now it will not disappear. I can't even get another image to fill the space, so there you are, stuck with it! How sad that I can write after a fashion but cannot control the page set-up etc.  However, I won't let that stop me.....

I think too much. I think about all sorts of trivial things with the inevitable, "I wonder why" scenario that comes with it. I think about deeper things too like fracking and saving our planet. I like to think, but sometimes I am happy not to think of anything much at all and then my brain jumps from one subject to another with reckless abandon.  It is moments like this that I usually have my best thoughts, and which I forget the instant that I recognise they are good enough for my Facebook group page (Life Changes And You) and quote book that I keep. How infuriating is that?  I also have my best thoughts when I am just about to fall asleep or wake up during the night with some good idea or another. Of course, many people have told me to keep a pad and pencil by my bed but, I am pretty sure that would wake me completely and I would then lay awake for hours.  This might mean that I lose some prize winning idea or super quote but I'm afraid that I value my sleep too much.

If I was a philosopher I could say that I do my best thinking whilst walking the grounds of The London Temple (my home from home for the last two years and definitely the next one and hopefully two years of my life), but that wouldn't be true either. Rene Descartes wrote, "I think, therefore I am".  To be accurate he didn't write it in English.  It was originally in Latin and he translated it into French which was then translated into English. I say this because I know that somebody (probably more than one in fact) will pick me up on that, but going back to my original idea about best thinking.....

Why does it rain when you want to go out and stop the minute you are either back indoors or nearly home, having got soaked in the process? I say this only because it is raining and I want to see if I have any post (a bit like the Americans who have their mail boxes at the end of the drive, I have to go to reception to check if I have any) and put my rubbish out.  I could go further and say why does it always rain on a Bank Holiday but the sun comes out when back at work?  This, as often happens, makes me wonder why we no longer call them Bank Holidays? Even this hallowed institution is no longer sacred and the shops and banks are now open and we call it a Public Holiday.

Talking of holidays, I am off to Gloucester for a few days (maybe just over a week) to stay with a friend.  My two year service in The London Temple has come to an end :( and before I start  over again (vis a vis my previous comment), I have been encouraged to take a short break away from the temple.  Thus I am heading to Gloucester for chat, relaxation, shopping and a visit to Bath. :)  I have never been to Bath but I am a great Jane Austen fan so I want to be able to see the beautiful white buildings, the architecture and just soak up the atmosphere of the place.

I went to Gloucester and lived to tell the tale; didn't have to go to the Doctor and fostered good relationships with the tailors shop. Sorry, that was not very good but I couldn't think of anything better! Bath (which everyone should know is not in Gloucestershire but in Somerset) was lovely but there were too many tourists for my liking! We did take the two tour buses which gave us history lessons as well as fantastic views and showed places that we wouldn't have seen if we had merely walked around the town. Glad I went. Not quite so sure about Bath Abbey; the outside was definitely better than the inside and in my opinion Gloucester cathedral is much better both inside and out. I was taken to a place called Bourton on the Water which is in the Cotswolds. I fell in love with the picture postcard village and all the houses made with Cotswold ragstone which reminded me of Kent and the house I had which was made with Kentish ragstone.  You know, as much as I love Kent, I think I could love Gloucester and the surrounding area too. A beautiful part of the country.

I am now (which you are guessing correctly is a while later) going to insert a post that I put on Facebook the day after the country decided to pull out of the European Union. Apologies to any who actually read it the first time around.

I rarely write anything on Facebook, let alone anything contentious, but I feel quite strongly about this.
Politics bore me rigid but I do vote. I voted out. I did not vote for UKIP or any other party. I voted with my heart.
This country has drained enough money away to faceless and corrupt officials who think they are God. The result doesn't mean that we cannot do the things we used to do yesterday. We are still a caring nation and will continue to help refugees and countries in need. People can still study or work abroad. They can still go on holiday in Europe. And even if they can't, surely this country has great educational facilities and beautiful locations?
The money that the country will save can be spent on the NHS, education and the armed forces to make them great again.
There will always be something to moan about, that's just human nature, but I am proud to be British and know that if we all pull together wonderful things can happen.
I seem to recall that France didn't want us in the "Common Market", as it was then, in the first place.
Let's be grown up and positive about all of this. We certainly can't do any worse than what Brussels etc. have done, and who knows? We might just surprise all the doomsayers.
This is merely my opinion, I am not wanting a debate or anything else. I just feel sad that people are assuming the worst instead of expecting the good.

Since I wrote that, the whole of the country has gone completely mad! Those that voted to remain want a second referendum because of the lies (surely not?) that some politicians told us.  I can't be certain, but I'm pretty sure that many people voted against remaining simply because the EU is trying to take away our teeth i.e. telling us that we can't do this, that or the other; grabbing money from us because we are more wealthy than some of the other countries in the EU, and generally saying that are laws are not right. I could go on but I think you all have the gist. To presume that we voted because we listened to politicians is laughable. Who has ever listened and believed a word that any M.P. or prospective M.P. has said? And a second referendum. Really? Come on; are we going to have a best of three vote, or five, or more?

Following on from that, the newspapers have a lot to answer for too, telling us one minute that this is how it is and the next telling us something different.  This is why I rarely buy a paper or listen to the news. Everything nowadays has a spin on it, some sort of ulterior motive that we, the masses, are not privy to.  I must add one more thing  to my little rant and that is that we must NEVER forget that men and women died to keep this country free.

My brain now hurts!  I was going to write something that I thought was intelligent..... instead I suddenly thought of something else whilst typing the first bit and then promptly forget what the second thing was. I am not organised nor particularly coherent in my thoughts and writings, but the people who know me hopefully understand my waffling. And yes, I know that I said something similar at the very beginning of this piece, just in case you thought I was repeating myself.  Talking of repeating oneself - have you noticed that authors nowadays have a tendency to not only repeat the same word within a sentence or very soon after, but when they write a second book, they use the same phrases for a different character?  Drives me nuts, especially when you read them one after the other in a reading frenzy.

Do you like the way that I change subjects with such consummate ease? It is a real skill and one of which I am inordinately proud. I defy anyone to make a mish-mash of comments even ever so slightly interesting or entertaining. I certainly can't do it, so beg your forgiveness for the oddity which is my blog.

Now I am getting to the next thing which has irritated me somewhat over the last day or so (not sure when you will be reading this, so it could all be really old news...). Not only did we vote to leave the European Union, but we lost to Iceland in the European Cup and are therefore sent home in disgrace. The manager has apparently resigned and the whole of England (well the ones on my Facebook page) is ranting and raving over such dismal failure against such low opposition. Get a grip people! It's a football match! A game! You would think that all the money that is spent on players salaries would account for something. It obviously doesn't. Maybe if they had to take a pay cut for every game they lose it would give them some sort of incentive to win. Perhaps they should all take a pay cut; I have just read that one football star is getting paid up to three hundred thousand pounds per week. That is obscene. Especially as he was on the losing England squad.  As I heard about our demise yesterday (which would be the 27th June if anyone is even remotely interested), a thought occurred to me that it might be nice for all those (not just footballers) that earn ridiculous salaries to donate a percentage to e.g. the homeless, the starving, the refugee, the NHS on a regular basis.  I'm sure that some high earning footballers do give to charities etc. and some might even do it in secret, but at the end of the day, people are being paid silly money for a game that takes less than two hours of playing time and a couple of days training. And they don't even play all year! The funny thing is that this morning as I was checking my Facebook account, I saw someone mention the same thing - that it would be good for the footballers to give up some of their wages to help others in need. Enough said!

I have always maintained that there are two things that I will never talk about (there used to be three but that's another story), that is politics and football. What have I rambled on about ad nauseam about for the last few paragraphs? I'm really sorry. Well not so much because if I didn't write about those topics my blog post would be very short.

Got to leave this here because if I don't it will never get posted. I am always happy to receive comments, either on the actual blog site or on my Facebook page, but I won't tolerate anything that makes me cry - so please be gentle.

Thanks for reading and indulging my idiosyncrasies. Love to you all.  Until the next time I am bitten by the bug to write.

Friday, 4 March 2016

A long absence......

I started to write this post several months ago and for some reason just left it half finished. Being determined that I would complete and post it, I started to make amendments so that it was more up to date (see the first sentence).That was a big mistake because it just doesn't work without rehashing the entire thing; although I have time on my hands, I don't have that much, so here's the plan. If you care to read this, I am going to pretend that it is written in the present (which it was when I started it) and then I will mention when I am really up to date and hopefully it will still be a rather boring read, but will make much more sense. Read on if you dare.... 

Can you believe that I have been away from a computer for more than a year and that my blog has been ignored for nearly two?  Have you actually missed me? My last blog post was rather prophetic, I think, inasmuch that I wrote saying that I might not even be able to use a computer whilst living at the temple - and sadly I was completely correct.  However, I am now back and raring to go so I guess I need to update you all on what has been happening.  Nothing very exciting, but I'm sure that I can find a few things to talk about and while away a few minutes of your time.

First, I came to the temple fully expecting to be able to access the Wi-Fi from my room. This was not the case and although I could use the reading room in the Accommodation Centre I did not have my phone up and running properly.  For several weeks I had minimal contact with the outside world (namely Facebook and my emails) and I spent many an hour trying to work out how to get the internet on my phone.  Perseverance paid off in the end and I finally felt human (and contactable) again.  This did give me cause for concern as I wondered how I ever lived before the technical gadgetry that is the internet and computers.  The down side to all this wizardry was simply that, not only could I not get half the things I needed, but I discovered (to my chagrin) that I just cannot type on a keyboard that is the size of a postage stamp!  Even worse than not being able to type, I was finding that I couldn't send an email more than a couple of lines long.  How could I possibly live without writing a screed of some sort?  My life was joyous in so many other ways, but my ability to communicate was severely curtailed and I felt the loss immensely.  Fast forward one year and I have finally been given some sort of modem or hub (or maybe even both - who knows?) thing that allows me to have Wi-Fi in my room.  Hip, Hip, Hooray!! As you can see, my technical know-how is extremely limited, but I get by and now I am very happy.

I would love to tell you all about my temple experiences, but sadly I cannot. The temple ordinances are sacred (rather than secret), so although I work five days a week doing something that I absolutely love, I can't tell you much about it. However, I can say that I have grown stronger in a spiritual sense as I have opportunities to help members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who come to the temple and perform vicarious work for their families. 

Changing the subject (as I usually do), I have had some wonderful days out with other temple workers. We don't work Mondays as the temple is closed, so twice a month we can, should the desire take us, go out to visit places in and around Surrey (and a bit further afield).  I think that this day out was originally intended for the foreign (mainly American) workers who come to serve a mission here.  We English tag along for the ride and have a great time.  Now these experiences I can tell you about, along with the friends that I have made whilst being here.

I haven't been to many historic places simply because I don't have a National Trust or English heritage card (which means you get in free). Most of the missionaries have one, but then again, most (but not all) are couples and it has always been cheaper to buy a couples ticket rather than a single one.  Do those trusts think that we can easily afford to pay more?  Very unfair, but not a lot I can do about it other than not go. I did go to one Palace (because it was free) but it was so unforgettable that I have forgotten the name of it! It wasn't even a palace either, not after the Courtauld family had got hold of it. That's no slur, simply my opinion - my friend loved it all.  To me, the d├ęcor was a mish-mash of beautiful old and art deco/art nouveau (which is not my favourite era in respect of furnishing etc.). It ruined what could have been a beautiful building.  One of the funniest things I saw was a "secret door" that went from the husbands bedroom, to the wife's. Their bedrooms were next door to each other and if he wanted to be with his wife, why didn't they share a room? Bizarre and stupid, but hey, each to their own.

During the summer months (remember how beautiful it was last year), we have been to various coastal places.  I love the seaside and have made most trips.  Lewes (although not on the coast) was very hilly as I recall but pretty nevertheless. Hastings has changed so much since I was last there but at least the fishermen's huts are still around.  They have a lot more now for children to play on, including trampolines at the cost of over a pound for ten minutes. The sad part is that children hold their parents to ransom over these things and in order to keep the peace, are forced to hand over exorbitant amounts of money.  Even an ice cream in most seaside towns is over two pounds. 

Last year and this year I have been to Brighton.  As far as I can recollect, I had never been there before.  The first time I went, my friend and I, after having fish and chips in Harry Ramsden's  (a restaurant which is famous for its fish and  chip dinners and the place to go for my non Brit readers who have never heard of it), we walked along the pier and then got a deckchair to sit on the pebble beach with an ice cream.  A seagull (although not really called such, but everyone knows exactly what I am talking about) came and stood by my friends feet and stared at her the whole time she was eating her ice cream.  It was standing sideways so it just had one beady eye on her and her cone, and had its beak open as if it was waiting for a tit bit or an opportunity to help itself. She was terrified and I was in hysterics; I'm sorry to say that I wasn't much help, but this gull obviously took a shine to her.


Having got over my fright of last night, where I went to grab a beaker to fill with water, only to find a HUGE thing with more than two legs lurking in it, I have decided that I really need to finish this blog post.

Today, being our one day off as the temple is closed, I decided that whilst waiting for my washing to finish drying (at the absurdly late hour of gone seven o'clock - in the morning), I would walk around the temple. It was drizzling first thing when I went out, but it had turned into a more heavy shower by the time I was ready to go for the walk. Being very brave (or stupid depending on your point of view) I decided that I could go without my glasses. Having walked the paths for over a year now, I felt confident enough to walk without fear of falling down a hole or over a wayward duck.  The pleasure of walking in the rain was intensified as I didn't have to worry about my street credibility  (who else thinks rain splashes on your glasses looks stupid?) or even anyone likely to see me.   I didn't realise how much I missed it.  It might only be a little thing to some of you, but it felt wonderful to lift my face to the sky and feel the rain splatter on my face, catching my eyelashes and making me almost squeal with delight. Call me whatever you like, but there is nothing better than being able to walk out in the rain without glasses on.  Walking out in the rain however without an umbrella when you hair turns curly (instead of the almost dead straight after I have finished attacking it with my straighteners) is foolish indeed and if I was not, 1) washing it this evening, and 2) planning on seeing anyone for the whole day, I would have never had contemplated it. Why should I care about what I look like to others?  Now there is another blog post all on its own....

I don't know why I can't settle to do one thing for more than five minutes, but barely had I started on the continuation of this, than I was up and out with my gardening gloves, pulling the bindweed that was choking to death one of the plants that I can see out of my window.

I am now back in the real present of March 2016....

I live in the Manor House in the grounds of the temple and my flat actually overlooks a car parking area and the main road rather than the more beautiful temple.  However there are some distinct advantages to being out the back. The Manor House is mock Tudor and used to be the missionary training centre until it was turned into apartments for the ordinance workers. Those living at the front of the building have visitors staring into their windows (thinking they will see beautiful things inside) as the path is so close, whereas I have some small shrubs and conifers in front of my windows to deter them. Not many people venture around the back side of the house either so it is much quieter than the front, notwithstanding that I am that much closer to the main road.

This winter has been so cold compared to 2014/2015 that it's a wonder that I haven't frozen to death. For those of you that know me well, I really don't do cold. But even as I think about that, it has had it moments when it has been mild - mild enough for the daffodils to appear in December on a roundabout on the way to Crawley! Of course when the frosts came (and are still here some nights and even days) the poor daffodils have suffered badly.  I don't suppose that I have mentioned before that I LOVE SPRING!?  Thought not. call me names if you like but when I see daffodils I cry. I am so lucky to be able to walk around the temple and see huge clumps of daffodils under the trees and throughout the grass and the woodlands to the side of the temple. I can cry at the crocus and snowdrops too, but daffs will always hold a special place in my heart.  Silly woman that I am, I am crying even as I write this. Sniff. Sniff. Because the daffodils are all planted at the back of the temple, those living on the front side of the Manor House miss the miniature daffs that are growing in abundance out at the back of it - and right in front of my window.

All through the year I have little birds singing their hearts out in the trees that surround the Manor House and my special favourite is the robin (only because I don't know what the other birds are!). There are blackbirds but I don't see them very often, and of course there are crows and jackdaws in abundance, not to mention a few pigeons. Last summer a heron appeared at the pond, but after eating all the fish, he disappeared. It was lovely to be able to stand there and watch him until he realised that he had company and flew off.

Having served and worked in the temple for almost two years, my time here is almost up.  Almost but not quite as I have decided to extend for at least another year and possibly two (that depending upon whether my health continues to be good and if the temple president still wants me).  I have learnt much but know I still have lots more to learn. "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God" is so true here.

Well, I need to bring this post to a conclusion and so without further ado, I hope I can assure you that I will write on a more regular basis although perhaps assure is a bit too strong a word. I love writing, even though others might not get much from it, and it is really beyond my ken to understand why I left it so long. If you have enjoyed this little snapshot of my daily life I am happy for you to comment (I'm not silly and can monitor the comments before they get published! Haha) either here or on my Facebook page.

Stay healthy, stay happy and stay loving life.  Until I write again. :)

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Nearly, almost, done....

If only my title line was true.  I have emptied boxes to fill another, sent numerous bags to the charity shop and given the dustman something to complain about by filling up the bins to the top (not over mind you as they get very touchy about such things and give you a warning sticker).  Am I any further forward than when I started?  Well of course I am but you wouldn't believe how much I have accumulated over the years - and how much one can actually cram into a little flat.  The irony of all this packing is that my flat is getting smaller as I have boxes strewn around the room rather than all the contents of them in their rightful places of drawers, shelves and cupboards.

One of the biggest problems that I have come up against is not being able to just discard things without looking at them first or cooing over them, reading them or wondering just how long I have had them.  I think I am being strong when I just say to myself "rubbish, charity, rubbish, keep" but then spoil the momentum by finding a newspaper page that is of the full solar eclipse that was seen in this country in 1998 (not completely sure that is the correct date). Beautiful pictures of the eclipse sent me down remembrance road as I thought about what I was doing that day (actually I was working and the boss wouldn't let us go outside to see it - or not as the case may be but we were near enough to the windows and doors to see the effect) and I can remember that as the darkness fell (I seem to recall that it was around mid morning) the whole place stopped and went eerily silent. The traffic came to a halt and everyone suddenly stopped talking.  It was a special experience and one that I am grateful to have been around to see.  Then as suddenly as it begun, the event passed and the sun came back out and everyone went on as though absolutely nothing had happened. We are a heathen lot I think! Mind you a heathen would have probably taken the time to pray to their gods...

The charity shop that is just around the corner from me (how handy) has closed for six weeks for refurbishment (how not so handy) so now I have to plan everything like a military manoeuvre to get the things (for things read junk - good quality junk in my opinion, but you know what they say about one mans junk...) from the flat to the car to the nearest or certainly most convenient next one.

Today was going to be a good day, but it turned into a bit of a non event when my luncheon date cancelled due to ill health and when I should have been celebrating that I had acquired an extra packing day, I developed a fit of melancholy and decided to do nothing at all.  This will come back to haunt me no doubt when I run out of time and have to resort to just packing everything up and hoping that my friends loft is strong enough to support all my worldly goods.  We shall see.

Two days later....and I should be packing but I have the re-scheduled lunch date to look forward to and although I could have done some packing this morning, and some more this afternoon when I get back home, today will probably, in all likelihood, most definitely, will be another day of inactively on the packing front. But I did go out for a walk this morning as if that makes up for it!  As of today I have eighteen more days to go before it will be forever too late for the packing up...somebody motivate me PLEASE.

When all is said and done, I should be able to motivate myself but you know the saying, "Don't do as I do, do as I say"?  That perfectly sums me up right at this moment in time.  Not going to dwell on it though as it doesn't achieve anything, so I am just going to try and get this blog post finished, if my nails, which are beginning to get too long for typing -  and I don't go in for the false nails that are as hard as concrete (I was going to write nails but thought better of it) will permit me to type fast and accurate enough for me to have it all completed before I go out.  Really, fast has never been the problem, but the accuracy has, even though I took a typing course at school (never wanted to be a secretary but needed something to get out of the humiliation that was a whole afternoon of games). 

My next blog posts will probably be written when I am at the temple, so they may well be full of anecdotes of life "at work".  I am mindful of those that read my blogs are not all of the same religion as me, but as I will hardly be doing anything else (one can't just pop to the shops because I don't think there are any - or certainly not close by) the content could be short if I didn't write about the beautiful temple that I shall be working and serving in.  But never say never and all that. Who knows  - I might not have time to write a blog at all.

Must go now so that I can enjoy a lovely lunch with a wonderful friend.

And I still haven't discovered why I can't put pictures on here anymore....

Take care people, and I will try and write soon.

Susan x

P.S.  how ironic that the blog spell checker doesn't recognise the word "blog".  Doh!!

P.P.S.  And don't even get me started as to why I have huge gaps in my post. Bring back paper and pen I say.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Way too exciting news....!

As promised in my previous post, I have some exciting news.  Well, let's just clarify that, it is exciting news for me and I hope you can share in my rejoicing.

I will shortly be off  and away from the hallowed County of Kent and go to reside in Surrey.  I am taking two years out to serve in the London Temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For those that don't know may I suggest you take a little peep at this link lds.org/temples, which will show you more about temples and what we do there.

I am so excited that I am finally doing something to more fully serve the Lord.  Way,way back when I was a fairly new convert, I asked to serve a mission and was told (for reasons that I don't need to explain) that it was not the right time. I abided by that decision until two years ago.  My wonderful Bishop pulled me aside one Sunday and told me that he felt prompted to ask me to consider serving a mission. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that what he asked was right for me, but the timing couldn't have been more wrong.  My father had just been diagnosed as terminally ill with only weeks to live and to compound things even further, I was joint executor of the estate.  It took nearly a year for the estate to be finally settled (goodness knows how long it would have taken if the estate was actually worth anything more, and I have total empathy for those that just pass off all the hard work to solicitors) and then I knew that I could start plotting and planning for my mission.

That didn't quite work out exactly as planned either. Once the estate was finalised,  I fasted and prayed to know that I was doing the right thing.  Once I had established that, I needed a couple of chats with my Bishop to make sure I was on the right track and then I was all ready to complete all the paperwork and see what happened.  My life has never, ever, been simple. I had often wondered if someone "up there" didn't like me.  Once I was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I had my answer.  It has nothing at all to do with my Heavenly Father not liking me.  In fact it is the complete opposite.  I know that despite everything I get wrong, my Heavenly Father loves me unconditionally. Many of my trials and challenges that have beset my life have actually made me stronger - and I hope a better person. However, I was still struggling with seemingly little things that were determined to trip me up. Here is just one example. I had to have a medical (which because it had to be done privately cost me an arm and a leg) and that included a blood test. Did the doctor take the required blood?  No, she didn't and I then had to make yet another appointment to go back and see the nurse.  After getting the medical completed I still had to have a vaccination for Tuberculosis which meant that I not only had to make another appointment but it had to be done at the hospital. That took weeks when it should have taken days and even then they told me that I had never been given a BCG vaccination when I know that I had one. And here is an interesting piece of information that I didn't know about; your vaccination that many of you probably had when you were in your teens (well in the UK anyway - I have no idea about the rest of the world ) does not protect you for life, so of instead of having perhaps just a booster shot, I had to have the whole lot done again - which meant more time delays.  Honestly if you had said that it sounded like I had someone determined to stop me, I would have totally agreed with you.

Fast forward a few months and I was still nowhere near ready to go anywhere and the frustration was beginning to show. I had two health scares that frightened me and had to be investigated (happily nothing too serious was found in either instance) and that set me back weeks too. And then, when I thought I was almost there -  I knew where I was going, and it was just a question of waiting for an appointment with the Temple President (I am beginning to have a bit of a dislike for appointments), the temple actually had to close for ten weeks whist it had some major works carried out. Are you beginning to see a pattern here? 
Finally, finally, after months or being patient (or trying to be) I have been interviewed, set apart (given a blessing to officially serve) and know that I can start in May.  Sadly, as yet I have not been given a exact date  (the person that was dealing with my accommodation had to go home because of a sudden bereavement and I was told that it would be dealt with on her return - and then the temple promptly shut for its twice yearly two week cleaning break).  Honestly, I don't think I could have made any of this up. I have had nothing but delays and illness since I first started it all off, but I know that I should be there at the temple and I guess so does Satan, which is why I have had so much challenge.  I can only assume that he thinks that I am going to be so wonderful that he needs to try and stop me before I can do any good.  Sadly for him, he has failed and with the wind prevailing in the right direction I shall soon be gone  to much more exciting pastures.

I do seem to be going on a little bit but I can't help it; although I am probably more frightened than excited, I am very excited to be able to serve in The House of the Lord for a while.  All good things and all that, it does mean that I have to sell up completely and thus I have started the onerous task of sorting out my belongings. I have to confess that I haven't done that much but I am quite enjoying the really serious de-cluttering that I am doing.  Basically I have four or five options for all my worldly good and chattels - in the bin, to the charity shop, sell to the very handy second hand shop just opposite me, give to anyone who wants or needs something  or take it with me.  I haven't seen the accommodation but I am told that it is not very big.  If the person had ever seen my flat, they might well have changed their minds as I have two rooms that are less than twelve foot square and have two windows, four doors, a built in wardrobe (I use the term loosely) and a chimney breast to contend with, plus two radiators, all taking up valuable floor and wall space.  Anything will probably feel like a castle in comparison!  I do recognise that I can take very little with me but I don't need much as the accommodation is fully furnished and equipped.  Of course one has to take essentials like my jigsaw puzzles (two newly bought in a sale to get me through the loss of a television), my Jane Austin and my writing paper and pens. I can probably live without much else.  My scriptures will be constant companions too, just in case some wag makes mention of the fact that I did not consider them essential!

I have just heard the fantastic news that I shall be beginning my service on 3rd June!  That gives me another four weeks at home (as I knew it would be either the beginning of May or the end) and it will be just after my birthday.  What a lovely present.  So now it really is all systems go as I contact the utilities et al and start the process. Must remember to tell the landlord too. I think I need a list and practise what I preach.

I must go as I have so much to do and so little time....

See you all soon.

Susan x

Monday, 3 March 2014

Sometimes I wonder.

This blog is probably not going to make much sense as I started writing it weeks ago and now it is the beginning of another month and it is still not finished.  Apologies if it is not up to scratch but I do have much more exciting news to tell in my next post.

I sometimes wonder because I haven't got anything better to do.  Sometimes I wonder when I read or hear something that sets me off.  Wondering is strange and fascinating in equal measure. I wonder if I am sane. Would one wonder if one was insane?  I wonder if things would be different if done in another way. I wonder how planes fly (and even then when I am told how, I still do not understand). I wonder if flowers know when it is spring.  I guess that wondering is a little like the two year old who constantly asks "why?".

The other day I wondered about diversification in industry.  I know it is a bit deep, but I think that I must have heard something on the radio that triggered it off. All these places (whether large multi nationals or small individual companies/shops/home industries) seem to either have to diversify or want to do so.  Now, let's take for an example the banking industry (something that I know a little about as I have spent most of my career working in finance). In the good old days when banks were banks and building societies were building societies, they all got along with each other. One "sold " one thing and the other sold another and never the twain would meet.  The banks had current and savings accounts, foreign currency and they lodged huge sums of money (for the corporate customers) overnight and made lots more money for them.  Building societies gave us savings accounts and mortgages.  Suddenly everyone wanted a piece of the others pie and diversification became the name of the game.  Why did they do this?  I bet if I asked an economist I would be told that it was for healthy competition and to drive prices down.  Although that is the sensible answer, I am not entirely convinced it is the correct one.  I wonder about greed, not only in the actual industry but in the shareholders who want a bigger slice of the pie for their investment.  Investment is great and managing stock markets is a bit of a risky business and we have to speculate to accumulate as the saying goes.  But what happened to sheer hard work and determination?

Something I saw on the television the other day really showed how diversification (or in my opinion, how companies want to make as much money as possible) is working. A big frozen food company is now into the gambling business with on line bingo. Just what is going on?

Diversification is fine and I am not totally against it, but just sometimes I wonder where we have all gone wrong....

Saturday, 11 January 2014

First walk of the year.

It is already moved past the time when I can legitimately say Happy New Year but I have managed my first walk of 2014.    I think I remember telling you that I had a really bad cold before Christmas and that has sadly hung on, like a drunken man to a lamp post, with tenacity and strength until I almost begun to believe that it wasn't a cold at all.  My cough has, over the last couple of days, suddenly diminished from something that almost stopped me breathing into a much more comfortable (but nevertheless annoying) irritant, so in that respect I am feeling so much better.

I decided to go out for the walk after being challenged as to how I am going to motivate myself when my personal trainer decamps these shores for warmer climes for the next three weeks.  Apparently off working in the UAE and all I can see there is desert!  How wicked.....

But I took up the challenge and decided that a walk is what I need and as the sky was blue and the sun was actually shining, I took courage in both hands, threw my scarf around my neck, zipped up my coat, pulled on my gloves and then I was away.  My walk has been completed in around 45 minutes previously, but as I have not been well - it was a very respectable 50 minutes.  As I walked I could actually feel the weak heat from the sun on my back and although it made me feel ridiculously hot in my gear, I felt a deep sense of joy that I could actually appreciate some form of heat at this time of the year.  In fact I would go so far as to say that I took my gloves off about half way round as I was feeling a little uncomfortable and then undid my coat.  Unheard of from me  which  I guess means that I was either working effectively to get rid of some calories or I am sickening for something.  I am hoping for the former....

As I walked I had the opportunity to look at the gardens, the hedgerows and the houses.  One of the things that I haven't noticed before is the beautiful ridge tiles on the roofs on some of the older, much bigger properties. They sit like rows of scalloped shells and one can imagine (well I certainly can imagine) the beauty of the "big house" as it once was.  For many of the houses that stood majestically and belonged to the more well to do, they are now forlorn scraps of their former glory and are resigned to bed sit land occupancy, peeling paintwork and grubby windows.  Such a shame.

The trees and hedgerows are another matter entirely.  Because we had such a harsh winter, late spring and  a glorious summer, this has all conspired to make the trees and bushes positively drip with berries. The berries range in size from smaller than a pea to great globules the size of raspberries. The colours go from the palest orange to the deepest red and as I walked along the road there was an abundance of berries in nearly every house and the splash of colour in otherwise bleak looking front gardens was spectacular and lifted my spirits just by looking at them.  People have said before now that lots of berries mean that we are in for a harsh winter; I have no idea whether that is true or not, but I have relished the colour at this time of year when everything seems so dull and lifeless. 

The other thing that I have really noticed on my travels (I would like to say up hills and down dales  but the reality isn't half so idyllic) around the roads close to where I live  is that whilst some trees are completely devoid of their leaves (and I am not talking about evergreen versus deciduous trees here either) others are still hanging tenaciously to a few green leaves and some more decidedly brown dead ones too.  The result of this desire to not shed their leaves at the right time has resulted in a sticky mulch of leaves fallen in the recent gales that have got wet in the persistent and often pouring rain and now stick like discarded chewing gum to the bottom of your boots; this in turn means that you are in danger of walking into your nice home all the dirt, sludge and grit that forms a clay in the ridges of said boots and shoes and then dries and deposits itself all over your house.

The Next Day.....today the sun is shining and the sky is blue again with barely a trace of cloud, there is very little wind, but it is cold. Looks can be deceiving and whilst it looks nice from inside the fact that I am sitting writing this with the heating on full blast and still feeling a chill, I can probably assume that it is not very warm out.  But I am already beginning to count day the days again until spring.  Seven weeks....I can't wait and hope that the spring comes on time this year, rather than what happened last year when it was dreadfully late and only stayed for a couple of weeks (well that is what it seemed like to me).

Only a short and hopefully sweet little blog post this time as I have run out of things to say (very unlike me I admit, but I am sure that it won't last long and I shall perhaps have something more interesting to say next time).  Until then, be good and if you can't be good, be sorry.

P.S.  For some reason it won't allow me to add any pictures so this will have to be a little more boring than usual. Sorry......

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Twas the day before Christmas.......

......and I still have a hacking cough and cold!   I can't believe that I have not been right for nigh on three weeks now, but I guess that I have been a little stressed for a while and that probably accounts for it. 
However, it is Christmas Eve and my turkey crown is in the oven, the gammon is on the hob and a little later I shall be preparing the jelly for my trifle and making the sausage rolls.  I would like to say that there is a wonderful aroma of turkey wafting through the flat, but as I still have no sense of smell, I can only assume there is.  In fact, I have been extremely industrious this morning although I didn't actually get up until half past nine.  That is almost the middle of the day for me, but I woke with a headache so took tablets and went back to sleep.  Not sure that it worked completely, but the hideous pain has gone and is now replaced by a back burner nagging that threatens to get worse later.  But I haven't sat and bemoaned my fate. No Sirree! I have tided the flat (a.k.a. throwing everything into cupboards, shelves and under the throw in the corner) and now you can actually see my floor.  Should I have any guests, I would be (almost) happy to let them in.
I am writing this as I wait for the turkey et al to cook; I know that if I made the phone calls that I want to make I would forget about the meats and that would be the end of my Christmas dinner.  Don't know about you, but the only time I eat sprouts is with my Christmas dinner, but this year I was thwarted in my plans because the ones I wanted would have been out of date before Christmas day and the loose ones meant that I had to walk for what seemed like miles to find a bag to put them in. If I hadn't been feeling poorly I wouldn't have minded, but surely the supermarket should have thought of the little things like if they put loose things at the front of the shop and not where they normally lived, they did need a bag or two to go with them.  It's not rocket science is it?  Actually don't answer that because it might well be...  Whilst I am talking about my supermarket shopping, I will just mention that I thought I was going to do so well by going on my regular Friday and thus miss out on all the queues and people filling their trolleys as if they were not going to be able to shop for at least another month rather than one day, but alas I was mistaken in my endeavours as lots of items had shelf life dates way before Christmas Day let alone for Boxing DayHowever, I didn't miss much and I am absolutely certain that I can live without the sprouts with my Christmas dinner. Talking about food is beginning to make me feel hungry so I had best change the subject.
Christmas should be such a wonderful time of the year, but for some it brings home all the hopelessness and sadness to the fore, and they are never more alone than now.  In a world that is intrinsically good, they is still so much suffering and heartache and I am sure that we could do so much better.  But for others, and especially the children, it is a time of magic and wonder, of oohs and aahs, of celebration and love.  Many view this special time of year as an opportunity to over-indulge and do everything to excess, but wouldn't it be wonderful if all took a minute or two to remember the true meaning of Christmas? 
Christmas to me is a time to reflect on the birth of the Saviour Jesus Christ and the wonderful moments that made it all possible.  We have Mary visited by an angel to tell her that she would carry the Son of God; her visit to (her cousin) Elisabeth and the fluttering in the womb of the child that would become known as John the Baptist and the beautiful yet humbling story of Mary and Joseph and their trek to Bethlehem.  Whilst some may say "Bah Humbug", I love singing the carols that tell of the Saviours birth.  Sadly this year I haven't been able to sing a note because of my cold which included losing my voice. A bitter disappointment when it is only once a year that I can sing Silent Night or Away In A Manger. Nothing to stop me listening though and I have been regaled by carols all morning on the radio.
On Christmas Day I shall wake up and open my presents (twice as many as I received last year and I am so overwhelmed with people's kindness) then have breakfast (not sure what that shall be yet - I usually have a bit of a fry up!).  After that I have absolutely no idea what I shall do other than as little as possible.  I have just carved both the turkey and the gammon; the sausage rolls would have been ready to go into the oven if it wasn't for the little matter of me forgetting to take the sausage meat out of the freezer and I have still to do the jelly. Bearing in mind that my fridge is almost as cold as my freezer (long story which I am sure I have told before) I am sure that it will set easily in time for tomorrow afternoon when I shall be assembling my trifle.
All I really have to say now is that I hope everyone has a great Christmas and that through all the excitement we actually remember what it is all about.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS and I will see you all again in the New Year.  May 2014 be all that you want it to be and more.