Friday, 22 May 2009

Song Of The Week

I tend to have these weeks where I don't share songs, because I'm both forgetful and busy. Sometimes at the same time, which isn't productive at all.

Anyway, tomorrow one of my best friends is getting married. It's going to be a small ceremony, followed by a picnic by the lake which stands to be absolutely delightful.
This afternoon I've been putting together her wedding music on a CD for her and it's left me feeling rather sentimental, as we ladies are prone to be on occasion.
Left in this mood I decided to go with songs that have been dedicated to me in the past.
How very slushy.

Song LIX
Teddy Pendergrass - It Should Have Been You:

Song LX
Bob Dylan - Lay Lady Lay:

Song LXI
Aqualung - Strange & Beautiful:

Doesn't it just make you all warm and mushy?
Just me then!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Jumble's A Dog

I went to see my friend Harriet today, she was ready to leave when I arrived but I resisted and urged her to chop my hair before we left. After a brief panic and my assurances I was sure it would be fine, she dutifully trimmed the back of my hair, I just can't do that part myself, no matter how I try.
I asked for the dustpan to clear it up and she refused, assuring me she was coming home to hoover the whole downstairs and she'd just do it then.
So off we went, when I returned her home, she went off to collect her son from school.
Apparently on returning home from school, her son wandered into the house, pointed at the remnants of my hair on the floor and said "What happened? It looks like Jumble ate Stephanie!"

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Walking The Wolds

The Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival is on again and I did the first walk of a few planned for this year yesterday. I headed out with Rachael for a 10am start at Binbrook with fingers crossed that the weather would hold.
It was just a 6 mile walk, nothing too strenuous but there were a few hills, the majority of them of the steep variety, but one was of the long and winding variety that went on and on and on. There's something disheartening about climbing a hill that has no visible end.
We toured round deserted medieval villages, of which little remains but small mounds, but it's still fascinating to think of people living in these places, especially as evidence suggests that we were tramping along the exact same paths that they would have travelled.
The walk leader, a retired history teacher, was relating her feelings that it was a shame that none of this area had been subject to any excavation. She then went on to say that as far as she was able to ascertain no excavation had ever been done of any nunneries. Apparently it was believed we had 153 nunneries and of those, the exact location of 100 are known. But out of that 100 absolutely none have been excavated. It would seem that the archaeological/scientific worlds see no interest in sites which relate only to women.
I'm actually a little appalled that this is the case.

The records of those years aren't even able to state how many nuns were living in the nunneries, it would seem the same is not true for the monks.
What a great shame.

We stopped off at a couple of the small churches along the way, in the second one it was decided to have a snack. I'd eaten most of my flask of soup at lunch, when I'd realised most of my lentils appeared to have jammed themselves immovably into the flask, but when we stopped in the church I thought I'd have a go and shaking them loose. Rachael held the mug and I shook the flask. Result! Lentil evacuation!
I started upon my lentils and promptly started to choke. I was in a church, I was down a pew, there was no swift exit to go cough quietly outside. I tried to cough quietly but realised this was not dislodging damn lentil. I motioned to Rachael and only managed to utter the word "water" whilst waving my hand to try and indicate my water bottle was empty. She dove into my bad, held up my bottle and told me it was empty. I nodded furiously, coughing copiously and the gentleman in the pew behind said "easy, love". Which didn't help.

Rachael finally handed me water, my eyes were streaming, my throat burning. After a swallow of water I managed to say that I needed to get out of the church so I could really cough.
I might be an atheist, but a coughing fit still seems really inappropriate in a church!
It's safe to say I did not need the heimlich, but my goodness my throat was sore right through till when I went to bed!

This morning Rachael and I headed out to Wragby to walk another 6 miles around the Lincolnshire Limewoods and out to Goltho which is the site of another medieval village - in fact in the overhead photo in the link, you can clearly see the outlines of the village near the chapel in the centre of the picture.
I somehow managed to hurt my back yesterday, the ground was uneven and I think I twisted it, so it was really nice to have a walk on the flat today, although I hadn't anticipated the level of mud! At one point my feet were cloaked in it!
This was another walk with plenty of stops for information on the area. The Limewoods project is working with ancient woodlands and has actually purchased land and planted enormous numbers of trees in an effort to join the patches of woodland together. They are planting only native species and also making sure they are native to the area as well as the country.

There is something gratifying in seeing so much green land and not just that, but green land which is solely for the growth of trees. When it seems that so much land is being taken over by the need for housing I'm awed to see acre upon acre given totally to nature. Absolutely wonderful!

Less wonderful is the sunkissed neck I am currently sporting. It was windy so I tied up my hair, neglecting to realise this would leave my neck mighty naked and now it is a shade that matches the scarlet of my hair.

Speaking of which, I discovered that my car, Jeff, had a flat tyre this morning, so after the walk, I rang for the breakdown fellow to come and help me. It's not that I'm not capable of changing a tyre, but I was parked right up against the kerb and I actually had no idea how I was supposed to release the spare tyre from underneath the car as I'm completely without a manual! Anyway, the lovely man from the RAC arrived, rang me to say he was outside and I popped out to meet him. He climbed out of his van, pointed at me and said "Fantastic hair!" How very kind! Naturally he's right of course!

Whilst I was wandering around the woodlands I got a call from Dad to say he was being readmitted to the hospital, bless him. His sister, Rosemary, is staying at the moment and was able to sit with him as I was out in the middle of a field/wood, so once Jeff had a new wheel and the old tyre was declared ruined by the nail within it, I headed up to the hospital. Dad seems to be doing ok, but mightily fed up. I can't say I blame him, I'd hate the constant toing and froing, so hopefully, hopefully, hopefully this will be the last trip and they'll finally establish what is causing him to live with pain every day...

Small Pleasures

Look what I got!
Times have been a bit tough these past weeks, being so tired and run down whilst being really worried and stressed about my Dad, which I haven't really mentioned here, but he's not doing so well and I think I've been coming here and rattling on about nonsense so as not to dwell on it.
Anyway, I can't tell you how it made me really smile to find that Sleepydumpling had nominated me for this. It properly made my day.
I'm still doing a joyful jig in my chair.
No really, I am.
Luckily my computer/craft room is on the first floor and I cannot be viewed from the window, or else there would be the sirens of men in white coats.
Do they have sirens actually? Or do they approach with stealth to take you unawares into their straitjacket?

Anyway, the fact remains I'm chuffed to bits!

So, it's hard to choose who I'd like to share with you as I have a list of my favourites over there on the right, but I have to say that I always really enjoy what Carrie has to say over at Carrie's Musings.
I shall be over there to nag her to give an update now, because whatever she's writing about I feel as if I know exactly where she's coming from.

I've lurked over at Pretty Gingham for a long time, I feel like every one of the pictures she posts are works of art and I'm jealous of how the camera behaves in her hands.

I've only recently discovered A Smile A Day but it turns out we're very close neighbours and I'm looking forward to being a regular reader.

So, thank you Kath, if we're ever in the same hemisphere we should totally have cupcakes! I'd love that!


I've spoken before here and some where in here about the effort it takes to obtain tickets to the Cambridge Folk Festival, so knowing that the box office was due to open at 9am this morning, I set my alarm and readied myself for the inevitable online queue.
At 8.40am I went to the site, where it told me I could buy tickets from 9am. But there was no button to click!
Mum rang to make sure I was awake and ready to book.
I assured her I was and went back to relentlessly refreshing the page to see if a "Buy Tickets" button would appear.

I rang the BT clock to see if their time was the same as mine.
I might be a little anal.
9am rolled around, I refreshed the page, the button for tickets had magically appeared. I hurried to click it and was sent to a page advising that the box office didn't open until 9am! It was 9am, I'd damn well set my clock to Greenwich Mean Time!
I refreshed and clicked again, waiting for it to drop me into a holding queue or for the site to crash completely.

But no, I was directed to the page to buy tickets, I selected all the right options, entered credit card details and was done. All within a couple of minutes. I hadn't even made it to 9.05am. it was a real anti-climax.
Mum rang again and made conversation briefly before asking how I was getting on. I told her it was done and dusted, there was an almost splutter of disbelief. It was by far and away the easiest booking ever.

The only down-side is that I'm not even slightly thrilled by the line-up this year. Sure I like Bellowhead, Cara Dillon, Jim Moray, Blazin' Fiddles and Edward II but these are all acts I've seen many times, have regular opportunities to see or am seeing at other times this year. It's the first time I can ever remember not being at all excited by the idea of Cambridge.

Conversely, I am also booked for The Big Session and the line-up for that does have me buzzing. John Jones & The Reluctant Ramblers, Kathryn Tickell, Karine Polwart, Peatbog Faeries, Eliza Carthy, Oysterband, Levellers and Edward II. So you see, Edward II are playing both this and Cambridge - so whilst that's brilliant, I always hope to see something new at Cambridge. My hopes are that I will find new, unknown bands to fall in love with.

I've spent time looking at the line-ups at other festivals Beautiful Days has the brilliance that is The Imagined Village, as well as The Pogues and Hawkwind!
Trowbridge Village Pump Festival has Loudon Wainwright III - which made my heart jump when I saw that on the list, it made me desperately wish I could be there and then start to hope and pray he'd do some other dates whilst here, nothing has been announced, but I'll keep my fingers crossed. Trowbridge also have 3 Daft Monkeys, Luka Bloom, Seth Lakeman and Steve Knightley but the presence of Loudon is enough to excite me!
Larmer Tree will have Jools Holland, Ash Grunwald, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, The Imagined Village and Oi Va Voi all playing which is just an awesome line-up.
And playing at Wychwood are Oysterband, The Men They Couldn't Hang and The Dhol Foundation!

To taunt me further The Dhol Foundation, Shooglenifty and Seth Lakeman are playing at Solfest. It's a mean world out there.
However, I do have a ticket for Southwell Folk Festival, but only for the Friday. Damn financial constraints.

Eurovision 2009 - The Photos

I'm a little disappointed I couldn't get all the photos from the actual performances, something is lost in the backstage shots!

Lithuania (23rd Place)
Israel (16th place)- you totally should check out the video, well the beginning of it.
France (8th place)

Sweden (21st place) - tell me she doesn't give you the fear a bit too...

Croatia (18th place) - she's really not into that embrace is she?

Portugal (15th place) - tell me that's not an acid trip.

Iceland (2nd place)

Greece (7th place)

Armenia (10th place)

Russia (11th place)

Azerbaijan (3rd place)

Bosnia & Herzegovina (9th place)

Moldova (14th place)

Malta (22nd place)

Estonia (6th place)

Denmark (13th place) - he kept that I've-had-an-accident-in-my-pants stance for almost the whole performance

Germany (20th place)

Turkey (4th place)

Albania (17th place)

Norway (1st place)
Ukraine (12th place) - how on earth did I previously fail to mention the gladiator figures in micro mini-skirts? I like to think of it as Eurovision blindness - not unlike snow blindness.
Romania (19th place) - don't the dancers at the back look like amputees here? That's an unfortunate stance.
United Kingdom (5th place)
Finland (25th place)
Spain (23rd place)
And finally, a couple of shots of those lovely suspended pool things:

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Eurovision 2009

I feel like a real traitor even contemplating watching Eurovision this year. I don’t remember a time that Terry Wogan didn't do the narration. Graham did amuse me though at the opening with his words “I know, I miss Terry too, I’m sorry”. He might have started to win me over.

I like that it’s coming from Moscow, having been there and I envisage spending the evening talking to myself going “Ooh I've been there!”
I also like circus acts and the dude swirling fire has some fine tattoo work.
Maybe I want to be in the Cirque Du Soleil. Or at least doing the trampoline bouncing.

Is it wrong that I laughed a lot that last years winner flew down and flung off his coat and it got caught in his flying wires? I bet he hated that and was mighty embarrassed, all the better for my entertainment. Why is he running through walls? Why does anything happen in Eurovision?

Good lord, what is the hostess wearing? I think she might be imitating a wedding cake decoration.
There’s a new way of voting, this should be interesting, I wonder if it will make any difference to the block voting that always occurs. 50% of the votes go to the voting public and 50% to a panel of some sort of musical experts.

First up is Lithuania, I normally like a fedora on a man, but I’m not so sure in this instance. I don’t think I hate it, which surprises me. His sideburns concern me though. Whilst it’s not a bad song I have started to wonder about maybe making a hot chocolate and having a nap. To wake me up he swaps languages, just to make sure I’m paying attention. I am, really I am. I wish I had some nutella though; a spoonful of nutella in your hot chocolate makes it extra special. And naughty.

Israel is second. Graham says to look out for the clever use of biscuit tins. The first singer reminds me of a character from CSI:Miami, although combined with the second, I am led to wonder if the rest of their coven knows where they are tonight. There’s a lot of mutual stroking going on. Is the guy, right at the front of the stage, proud that the only reason he’s there is to use a tambourine? Oooh there are the biscuit tins. A bit of drumming, well I think that’s what it’s meant to be.
Graham informs me, and the rest of the audience they’re olive oil tins, not biscuit. Shame I like a good biscuit.

France comes on third. She has been assaulted and looks ready to cry judging by those eyes, sadly they didn't have time to finish her dress either. Oh well. For a while they even had translations of what she’s singing on many of the screens, sadly I didn't get to see what she sang prior to the line “in my hair”. I wonder what was in her hair. I’m totally imagining the scene from There’s something about Mary. Which might not be what they intended. Apparently she’s very famous. Who knew?

Fourth is Sweden with a dress that reportedly cost 37,000 Euros. I hope the intention was to distract us from the song. Oh it’s a world of bad. I’m also making the assumption that most of those Euros went on paying to take the life of the birds whose corpses seem to cover the bottom half of her dress. I’m not sure what this song is, it could be dance, it could be opera, it could be a woman having a breakdown in public. I’m a little afraid of her. She also reminds me of a fembot. I’m not alone, Graham declares her to be “properly terrifying”. I concur.

Croatia are fifth on stage, with a promised dramatic costume change. Is he dancing or snake charming? He’s quite a pretty little fellow. I think all his backing singers/dancers are clones of Mischa Barton. And there she is, from black flowing cape affair to virginal white meringue dress. I bet all those jewels on the bust are really itchy. I've just realised, they’re singing. It hadn't really invaded my consciousness. Not a winner. I hope.

Graham professes to like the sixth entry, Portugal. I like all the Russian words in between the acts, although I wish they’d do some I don’t already know, then I’d feel like I’m getting an education too. The stage looks not unlike an acid trip, but I can see why he likes it, they look so happy. The drummer might actually be on a trip. I feel like I wish I’d turned on the song translation for this one. I actually feel like I just watched some wholesome kids cartoon.
Apparently Portugal have competed 43 times and never won. That really sucks!

Number seven is Iceland and this time I learnt the Russian word for snow. I like her eyeliner. It’s a nice song. Thought to be a contender. Does little for me though, I’m back to thinking about hot chocolate. I think she has bells hanging from her right boob.

Greece are eighth and he’s dancing like he means it. And he means you to see his navel. I’ll admit I’m drawn to watching him and whilst it’s not a great song, it’s painfully catchy and damn my toes for tapping. It has nothing to do with his navel either. Ooh I hope he doesn't slide off that thing on stage…it’s opening up like Tower Bridge and yet looks like a stapler to me.

Ninth is Armenia. I appear to be lost for words. That’s a lot of braiding. Wow. Am too distracted by writhing and outfits to be able to concentrate.

Russia is tenth. She’s ageing in the video, that’s not too attractive. Why did they think that would be a good idea? She’s wearing a sheet. I don’t think Russia will be winning again.

Azerbaijan are eleventh, what in god’s name are they wearing. Is she wearing one legging? One gold legging? There must be some sort of a law against that. How can she hold her arm up with all those bracelets? She’ll give herself a strain. I can’t talk about the song. There’s just nothing to talk about for me!

Twelfth are Bosnia & Herzegovina. Must. Not. Snort. With. Laughter. I think they might have time travelled. Although I’m sure this era usually wore those white dusted wigs. Why are they holding up a pink sheet? I don’t understand.

Who’s in unlucky thirteenth place? Moldova. I think she has the words to this song on the palm of her hand, which might rub off on that outfit if she’s not careful. I’m hoping that is some sort of traditional dress, because there can be no other excuse for it. But those boots. I might be a bit odd, because, outfit excepted, I sort of like the song. I am still concerned the repetitive use of the wind machine is going to cause her (short) skirt to take this to an X-rated affair.

Malta are fourteenth and singing is someone who has sung for Malta twice before, you’d think if she hadn't won for them yet, they’d have dumped her. Maybe they don’t have anyone else? Have I watched too much Eurovision if I think I recognise her? I’m wondering if she’s wearing the same dress. A good old fashioned power ballad.

Fifteenth are Estonia. She’s really pretty, I like her fringe. I know she’s singing, but I can’t stop thinking about how I might want my hair just like that. There’s a lot of strings on stage, I feel like a band with a Cellist will always go far.

Denmark come on Sixteenth. I think that’s a neckerchief. I also think that’s a bad song. Oh dear, help me, I’m fading.

Germany are Seventeenth. If I were Dita Von Teese, I’d be upset that he wore those trousers. He’s tap dancing in trousers made from tin foil and she has a waist with a diameter the same as my wrist. It’s not at all good.

Eighteenth are Turkey and I think she wants to be Shakira. Her hips don’t seem to be lying, that’s for sure. This is just superb Eurovision, they clearly feel they have a winning song when what they’re singing is just dreadful. There’s a pretty man in a skirt with clearly a fetish for bondage.

Graham promises us a “WHAT?!” moment for number nineteen, Albania. I’m actually having a “Holy Shit” moment whilst also fearing for my bladder control. Why is the man blue? Why is he blue AND shiny? Imagine the scene in their Eurovision meeting “so I was totally thinking we should have a guy on stage, behind the singer, who is totally blue and has his face covered in sequins”. At this point everyone else in the room cheered at the brilliance of this idea, then someone else said, “let’s also have two other guys dressed like the joker from batman”. “Let’s also make sure the singer is a child with no responsible adult to prevent this shame.”

Twenty is the bookies favourite from Norway. Graham liked it originally, but after three days appears to have developed a deep loathing. Ooh there’s fiddle. I like fiddle. He has big eyebrows. My goodness. I do have a thing for waistcoats. I've been watching The Mentalist on TV recently and Simon Baker’s character is always in his waistcoat and this has led me to develop a bit of a crush on Mr Baker. Now Mr Big Eyebrows is singing that he’s in love with a fairytale, how sweet, I only like the fiddle part though. I’m not sure about the accompanying acrobatics.

Holy crap that’s a big bow Miss Hostess is wearing!

Ukraine are twenty-first. Graham tells us that she mortgaged her flat in order to pay for the stage set-up, however it looks as though she might actually be practicing pole-dancing. Or considering becoming a lady of the night. I;’m sure I just saw enough to do a gynae exam. And now she’s drumming, whilst wanting to be your valentine.

Romania is twenty-second and the stage is infested with wood nymphs. I’m not sure what that’s supposed to be in the background. A tree? A piece of stone? I’m not sure. Typical Eurovision fare for sure!

United Kingdom are finally on, twenty-third. I know I’m likely to be biased but I do quite like her dress, even if her boobs are a little squished. I haven’t followed any of the preliminary stuff for Eurovision so I hadn't heard the song or even really seen who was singing, I didn't even realise that Andrew Lloyd Webber would be there too on piano. It wasn't a bad song at all, and it was leagues ahead of some of the others.

Twenty-fourth are Finland with they swinging fire-men and bad singing. I’m ready for the end. Or the end of baseball caps worn backwards. Eugh.

Spain are last. A very dramatic beginning. I think Nicky Clarke is one of the backing dancers. She’s wearing illusion bodice, I believe only ice dancers are allowed to wear that – by law. There’s acrobatics again, there's a lot of that this year. And now there’s magic, she has vanished, but the singing continues. Which is a shame. She reappears! I totally thought she’d have had a costume change when she vanished. I am disappointed.

There are cosmonauts opening the voting lines. What the hell?
So now, 15 minutes till we start the nil points.
There’s some kind of perverse fun in watching the last minute tick down whilst the presenters try and fill that minute without it seeming to be scripted. It was painful and entertaining because of that.

I’m entirely unsure of what to say about the interval act. I've seen that before on TV I think, when I accidentally watched America’s Next Top Model, where they were sprawling around on suspended polythene in water.

The voting begins.
Spain starts and give us 10 points. I don’t believe it! We got points!
Belgium don’t give us a single point. Miserable devils.
Belarus have deigned to give us 3 which I’m happy for!
Malta give us 10 points, this is the best we've done in years!

Already Norway have taken an early lead. See if it stays that way. It’d be nice not to be at the bottom! We’re in third place.

Germany give us 8 points. Hurrah! It’s not going badly at all! We’re in second place.
Czech Republic give us 6 and Graham starts to moan, when he realises that last year we’d have been thrilled to have got a single point! We’re still in second place. I can’t believe it
Sweden don’t give us a single point. Damn them. Now we have 37 points and are still in second place. Norway are first with 69 points.
Iceland ignore us and don’t give us any points either. We’re still in second but a fair way behind the leaders.
France give us 4 points. Could be better but it could be zero, we slip to third place.
Israel give us another 4 points. At least we’re actually registering this year, but have slipped now into 4th place and Norway have almost double the second place.
Russia hand us 6 points. I realise we’re actually in joint second.
Latvia give us a measly 2 points. We move up and are in third place on the board.
Montenegro don’t vote for us and we end up slipping to fifth place.
Andorra give us 4 points and we’re in third again.
Finland didn't like us and with zero points from them we’re back to fifth.
Switzerland didn't like us either but we don’t move from fifth. What’s funny is that i predicted we’d be in the bottom 5, not the top 5!
Bulgaria kindly give us 7 points and we stay in fifth. Maybe this is going to be where we finish but we’re only 17 of 42 voting countries down.
Lithuania give us three points and bring our total to 67 although Norway is now up to 175.
United Kingdom pop up next, it’s a damn shame we didn't get to vote for ourselves. We gave 12 points to Turkey, oh the shame. And 7 to Germany, we've lost our minds.
F.Y.R. Macedonia kindly give us 6 points. We’re still in 5th place.
Slovakia are the 21st country to vote and they give us 7 points.
Greece give us our first 12. I love Greece!
Bosnia & Herzegovina disagree with Greece and give us 4 points. We’re in 4th place.
Ukraine quite liked us and gave us 6 points and we share our 4th place score of 102 with Azerbaijan.
Turkey don’t give us a single point but move Azerbaijan above us. Damn it.
Albania give us 8 points. We’re in 5th place again, we haven’t slipped lower than that, I really am stunned.
Serbia give us another 8 points. We have 118 points, Turkey is second and has just 7 points more than us but Norway is on 255.
Cyprus give us 7 points and we’re in joint 4th. I’m really quite happy!
Poland is the 29th voting country and give us 4 points and we’re in joint third.
The Netherlands handed over 3 points to the UK and down we slide to 5th place.
Estonia don’t give us any points, we stick at 132 points.
Croatia give us 4 points and move us up to 136 points and 4th place.
Portugal give us 10 points. I mentally high five you Portugal.
Romania don’t give us a single point. Buggers.
Ireland kindly give us 12, we’re in 4th place.
Denmark vote to give us 3 points, our total is 159.
Moldova give us a miserable single point, but I will be grateful.
Slovenia are the 38th voting country, we’re nearly finished and they give us 3 points.
Armenia vote to give us 7 points, we have a total of 170, it looks as though we’ll be finishing in 4th place.
Hungary are mean and only give us one point, we deserved more than that obviously!
Azerbaijan are the penultimate voting country and they don’t hand over a single point, that’ll teach me to complain about one point!
Norway are last to hand over their scores and give us just 2 points which moves us finally into 5th place. That has to be the best we've done in years! In fact the best since 2002 when we were third!

Norway win with 387 points, the highest score in the history of Eurovision, in fact almost 100 points higher than the previous record holder.

The fun is over for another year. It was refreshing to see it all be so much fairer, I'm not sure if that was down to the new voting style or if it has become about the music and not about the politics. I'm a little sorry that Terry didn't stay for one more year, it might have cheered him to be there to see us do well. I shall be looking forward to see what he has to say about it, for I'm sure they'll be rushing to interview him.
Anyway, Graham did a pretty fine job, he didn't sound like he was getting remotely drunk, how disappointing!
Also, not many shots of Moscow itself, I was a little disappointed, I had memories to relive damn it.

Friday, 15 May 2009

B12 & Bidding

I had an injection of the lovely vitamin B12 on Tuesday. That sucker might sting a bit on the way in but when it starts to work I am eternally grateful.
For the past couple of weeks I've been operating like a kids toy in which the batteries are on the verge of dying. The entirety of my motivation has gone on attempting to stay awake in daylight hours. Yesterday though, I realised at lunchtime that I had no urge to curl up and sleep for a decade. It's amazing the effect that one little jab has and I am grateful to be back to 'normal'.

Last weekend I went to an auction.
I've mentioned my love of auctions a number of times. I just can't help it, maybe it's the love of a bargain, maybe it's the thrill of bidding against someone unknown. Will the other bidder give in before you do? Will you be able to stop yourself from going over your mental budget?
I'm surprisingly good at giving in, this part of myself surprises me.
Anyway, as I stood in the main auction hall, deciding whether I had the energy to hang around or not this lot came up:

The catalogue described it as "a rare XIX century lignum vitae coffee grinder, the turned body with a screw off knop* to apply the folding iron handle, 28cm high".
The auctioneer said it was a fine item, that you'd be unlikely to see many like it. I glanced at it, my heart didn't skip a beat and I started to drift off to other thoughts. Like why was the other auctioneer standing on the phone almost pressed against the selling auctioneer. It seemed a little rude.
Then the selling auctioneer announced there was a phone bidder for this item, that the bidding would have to open at £500, as commission bids had clearly been left.
My attention was grabbed.
The price kept raising and raising, the phone bidder clearly not prepared to give in easily.
To my right, a lady stood, her back to the rostrum where the selling was taking place, with each increasing bid she giggled a little.
When items sell for reasonable amounts of money you notice that the room gets progressively quieter. Everyone becomes intent on the bidders.
The lady to my right holds a handkerchief in her hand and laughs quietly to herself, disbelieving of the sum.
A man in the room has the current winning bid.
It's gone to the phone bidder.
The room waits to see if that phone bidder will go again, or bow out.
£1250 is announced.
The bidder in the room, stamps a foot and turns his back on the rostrum in a pique of temper.
He turns back.
I'm sure the room collectively holds its breath.
£1350 says the phone bidder.
The room bidder gives in, he stomps from the room, clearly angry.
The gavel is dropped. The phone bidder has now purchased a coffee grinder for £1350.

The lady to my right seems to barely believe it.
I catch her eye and express my surprise at the price it fetched.
There are tears in her eyes as she looks at me and tell me it was her coffee grinder. It belonged to her mother.
I move and give her a big hug.
She tells me that her mother died last year and her husband just died in February.
I tell her that I firmly believe sometimes, after a run of life being unpleasant, the world will send something along to buoy you up a bit.
She tells me that her mother used to tell her that a pair of oil paintings she owned should be treated with care for they were very valuable. They sold for £10. It would seem that her mother never really rated the coffee grinder, but not only that, she'd had the coffee grinder valued, they'd told her maybe £200.
I sent her off for a cup of tea, for that is the English way.

It just makes you smile to see good karma visited upon someone.
Or I'm just soft.

*I totally didn't believe knop was a real word. I was wrong!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

In The Past Week

I have:

* Repeatedly banged the finger I slashed in the blender - the finger has healed, but the nail? You don't want to know.
* Fallen out of my front door.
* Given myself a splinter. From a decorative basket.
* Cut the knuckle of my forefinger on the back of my left hand. Goodness knows how.
* Bruised the palm of my left hand. Goodness knows how.
* Cut my right forearm on a pallet.
* Cut open my right hand on the back door of my new car, Jeff.
* Impaled my middle finger of my right hand on a 2 inch screw.

Am I the definition of accident prone?

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

I Used To Believe

I spend time over on I Used To Believe now and then.
It entertains me to know I wasn't the only one that believed in things that only seem odd now I'm an adult.

I used to believe that Dr Dolittle was true. I wanted Rex Harrison to be able to talk to the animals.
When his parrot, Polynesia, told him that you shook your leg at a pig to say hello, I believed. I shook my leg at pigs. Although, I don't ever remember telling anyone I was doing that. I either wasn't entirely sure it was true or was aiming for a private conversation. Either way, I was very upset to realise it wasn't true.

A friend of mine was told by her parents that if she waved at a plane flying overhead and the lights on it blinked, it meant that they had seen her and were waving back in their own way.

Thanks to the X-Files, I believed that the bogeyman would inhabit your teddy bear if it fell to the floor in the night, then if you were to lean out of bed to bring your bear back into bed, the bogeyman would grab you and be off with you.
As a result, I still can't sleep with any of my limbs hanging over the edge of the bed. Damn bogeyman.

So, you know you have to... what did you once believe?

Monday, 4 May 2009

Lincoln County Hospital

I got a call from my Dad yesterday to say he'd been having chest pains, had rung the Out of Hours service who had in turn rung an ambulance for him.
Unsure of what was going to happen and assured he didn't want me to meet him at the hospital, I waited a while and rang the hospital.
They'd decided to keep him overnight and do some tests, getting ill on a weekend is one thing, but getting ill on a Bank Holiday weekend is a different adventure. Doctors? Few and far between.

Everything slows to a halt.
Dad informed me today that the pharmacy was closed. In a hospital. Where they never need any kind of pharmaceuticals. I'm lost for words.
Anyway, I popped in to see Dad, find out what had been said and just keep him company for a little while.

We sat and chatted and after a little a strange noise started from behind the curtains of the patient across the ward.
It was like two glasses touching and the table on which they were sitting was being repeatedly shaken. After a few minutes I started to become concerned, the noise wasn't abating and there were no nurses heading in his direction.
I squinted across the ward, trying to see through the small gap in the curtain, becoming concerned that whoever was in there was convulsing or something.
Eventually I made out that they were sitting upright, but still the shaking noise continued.
Several minutes later a voice came from behind the curtain "Nurse!"
It was clear something was wrong.
His bed was maybe 12 feet from the nurses station. They were all standing and talking, they had to have heard him, but no-one responded.
Half a minute later he shouted again.

Still no-one responded.
At this point I'm wondering if I should interfere, does this make me a nosy old bat?
He shouted again for a nurse.
He was ignored again.
Finally, after another minute he shouted for the fourth time for help.

This time he got a response. A barely concealed angry response of "You'll have to bear with us for a minute!"
At this point it's probably a good ten minutes since the noise of shaking started.
No-one has been anywhere near him.
Minutes pass. At what point, do you interfere?
He shouts again and someone new has entered the ward, she pulls back the curtain in response to his shout.
The gentleman is leaning against the table, his whole body shaking violently as if frozen to the bone.
A shout goes out for help, another shout goes out for an ECG, they ask him if he's had a heart attack before. Maybe he's having a heart attack. The only word he can get out is "cold".
So there he has been, shouting for help, for at least ten minutes, and now they're worried he's having a heart attack.

When they're helping him, finally, it's not an appropriate time to go and smash their heads together, but damn they need it.
This was the Emergency Assessment Unit, which means they have been admitted, as emergencies to be assessed as to what the cause of their complaint is. As such, when you don't know what's wrong, is it appropriate to ignore not one, or two, but four pleas for help?

After the abysmal care I witnessed in the weeks I spent in hospital, working my way round, seemingly, most of the wards there, I don't know how I manage to remain surprised. But I am. Sometimes I just don't understand the choice of career.
I can honestly say, that in all the time, in all the wards, I can count on one hand the number of good nurses I came across. And I don't even need to use all the fingers on that hand.

I spent time on a ward where the nurses kept patients waiting up to 80 minutes for morphine. Morphine, not paracetamol. Morphine. People dealing with serious pain, barely able to move or speak and denied pain relief because nurses had a bed to make.

I'm grateful that the NHS exists, I truly am, but the standard of care saddens me more often than I'd like.

Hopefully I'll get to take Dad home tomorrow, once the Bank Holiday is over and the world returns to normal, he'll be able to get some answers and get out of there and finally make a full recovery.
I just hope his biggest concern tonight is whether there's a snorer on his ward or not.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Song Of The Week LVIII

It's been a good week this week.
I pulled up outside my house just as our postlady, Pearl, was about to deliver my mail, she paused and said how jealous she was of my Sylvac collection. No-one is ever jealous of my Sylvac, I'm the only person I know that really likes it. But Pearl said she always wanted to break my window and steal the items on my windowsill. So at least I'll have a prime suspect if that ever happens!

Also, my Dad went for some surgery on Tuesday, it all went really well so that's a worry off the mind. I got a call on Wednesday morning to say he was ready to come home. I wasn't expecting him till the afternoon and had gone out on some chores, so I set off with only a couple of road numbers as directions, to a hospital I'd never been to before. I'll have you know, I drove straight there with nary a wrong turn. My sense of direction must finally be coming to life.
So, I find the hospital, go into the car park and savour the feeling of being in a car where the windows wind down and enable me to reach my arm out and get a ticket, instead of having to get out of the car!

I stride my way across the car park when I suddenly hear a shout and turn towards the voice. A gentleman is yelling that he loves my hair. It's been this shade of scarlet for such a long time I almost forget, in fact it never really feels very red to me. He catches up with me and joins me as we walk into the hotel, continuing to compliment me on my hair, which was very sweet really, particularly as it really could have done with a wash. He then says that he wishes he had a camera so he could photograph me.
At this point I'm not sure if it's still a compliment or not, or just a little odd.
I'm going to believe it to be a compliment.

Wednesday night I went to a gig. I'd been really looking forward to it and am no longer even slightly nervous about going on my own. I'd never have believed that possible.
With the exception of the elderly couple to my left it was excellent. They were a little hard of hearing and their whispered conversation was a rather shouted. And they weren't fragrant in a good way. Oh well, they didn't stay till the end, which I wasn't wholly sorry about.

This leads me to this weeks song, this is who I went to see:

Eliza Carthy - Like I Care:

In this video she is pretty heavily pregnant and still jumping about, she just seems to love the music.
Her new baby girl was there at the gig, born on Christmas Eve and christened Florence Daisy, which I think is a really lovely name.
My niece was doing the lighting for the gig so I'd offered her a lift home afterwards, knowing I'd have to wait for her to sort out all the equipment and stuff first.
So, when the gig ended, I went back out to the foyer, sat at a table and drifted off into my own thoughts. Until some people sat down immediately behind me, they were Eliza's friends, then Eliza arrived. So they all sat in this big jolly, chatty group and I was sitting there like a billy-no-mates. Some sort of stalkery hanger on. So I decided to nonchalantly wander off and read the posters on the wall (after having already read them all thoroughly several times already).
Slowly the place emptied and all that was left were the venue staff and the band.
I hung around in the foyer still. I watched the sound guy huff and puff his way around, if you look up asshole, there will be a picture of this guy. I swear it. I don't know what was wrong with him, but I swear he tried to run me down with a double bass.
It was some time later and it was clear the band were almost ready to go, when Eliza reappeared, with little Florence.

I am still hanging around. At this point I start to feel like she thinks I'm some desperate hanger on.
My internal monologue is telling me to be quiet, go read the posters again, take out my book and read it, but for goodness sakes to keep my mouth shut.

"She's a really beautiful baby" I say. I just can't keep my mouth shut.
My internal monologue is screaming at me to shut up, don't say anything else.

Eliza smiles and says she thinks so.
"By the way, I'm totally not a stalker hanging around here, my niece did the lighting and I'm waiting to take her home". My internal monologue never wins, I always feel the need to explain my behaviour, except instead of people thinking I'm NOT crazy, the opening of my mouth has the opposite effect.
Eliza looked unconvinced and left very soon after.
Way to go, me.

Whilst I was hanging around in that foyer I noticed that The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain were playing on Friday 1st May in Lincoln - I couldn't believe I hadn't known and was cursing my serious lack of funds.
However, I have tickets and am going this evening, thanks to Dad! Hurrah.

There was a sad moment this week. I decided that it would be best if Beastie went to the autobreakers. She had a few more problems than I realised after a friend came to look at her and I realised I was going to have difficulties selling her on. Thursday afternoon rolled around and in rolled the autobreaker truck.
"Will she start?" he asked me?
"Most definitely" I replied. Of course she'll start, first time too, she's a very good girl and I love her with all my heart.
As the autobreaker dude blocked the drive, a man with a delivery of very long planks of wood suddenly appeared. We looked at each other and I said I didn't think he was in luck.
"I'll have to pole vault over" he suggested.
"Do it, do it" I encouraged.
"You'd be impressed if I made it, wouldn't you?"
"Hell, that's my car on the back of the truck, even if you don't make it, I'll be entertained and cheered."
"It's going to be scrapped?"
"Don't you say the S word!!!!"
"Sorry, she's going to the place for cars in the sky?"
"Yes, to a better place"
I'm sorry to say that I just closed the door of autobreaker man's truck, there was no pole vaulting.
Beastie was carried away on the back of a truck and I was overwhelmed with guilt, I admit I had to sit down and have a big cry.

At least the sun is shining, I got more veg planted in the garden and I also started myself a little gardening blog. Mostly for my own benefit, I wanted to keep notes of what I liked and what I didn't. It's also really interesting to be able to note how long things took to germinate, how long it was before I was harvesting some crops.
I'm also hoping to be able to get some notes on any foraging I get to do this year. When I mentioned that I was planning on making Elderflower cordial this year I was asked if I would be selling it, by two separate people. So I'm definitely going to have to try and get that made well. Although I don't think I'll be selling it!

So, has it been a good week for you too?