Thursday, 22 December 2011

Merry Christmas everyone!

I'm getting ready to set off to spend Christmas with my granddaughter so fully expect to be up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning with one excited little girl.

Christmas is that time of year when it is delightful for children and just as wonderful for adults who get the chance to be a bit giddy (and not because of the morning buck fizz to start the celebrations I hasten to say).

Here are a couple of my photos taken on my travels which I use as Christmas cards and so wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Peace on Earth

Helping hands

Carols at Christmas

Monday, 12 December 2011

Waiting for the post to arrive

Why is it that when you have to wait in for a package the day becomes little snapshots of activity to fill the space of waiting - or is that just me?

  • Paper re-cycling
  • Paying bills online
  • Tempted to shop online but resisting
  • Checking to see if post van has arrived x3
  • Wrote some Christmas cards to people I'd forgotten to send to - shame on me!
  • Tidying up my inner sanctum (bedroom) and finding odd socks - after I already re-cycled the other lone socks.   Lesson keep bedroom tidy or perhaps start wearing odd socks like someone else I know!
  • Baking - see lemon drizzle cake below.   Visiting my brother tomorrow for lunch so will share.
  • Blogging - always good to pass the time.
....and YES the post has arrived.  

lemon drizzle cake

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Storm tossed Scotland

I'm at home and have sensibly cancelled my eyebrow waxing appointment and taken advice to stay put.  

As I look out my kitchen window at the River Clyde estuary I see the river in a way I've not seen before.   I was thinking how to describe it when the phrase 'boiling sea' came to mind.   Probably dragged from my memory of reading such epics as Moby Dick and the Cruel Sea.  
Opted not to venure on to balcony (I am four floors up) what I won't do to get that photograph!  

Conversations on a train

I've been using the train quite a lot lately not least because there is a very good offer by Scotrail for over 55's which means I can travel anywhere in Scotland for £19 rtn or if I push the boat out £26 first class.   I've used this to venture up to Inverness on my theatre jaunts which means a journey of around 3.5 hours.

On these journeys I met some lovely people and had conversations which passed the time nicely.    It made me think how easy it is sometimes to get into conversations where you find yourself sharing stories of being a grandma; work, living and travels.   You might not share names but the conversation flows as if you had been friends for ages and not strangers on a train.

Sometimes though there are sad experiences and I remember many years ago travelling to Edinburgh for one of the international rugby games - this was in the days before the stand was built at Murrayfield.   I found myself sitting next to a very well dressed older lady who was travelling with her husband who was sitting opposite.   I was with a friend who sat in the seat opposite me.    They were off to the rugby as well although joining friends in one of the corporate tents.   I got into conversation with this lady and it soon became apparent that there was a very limited range to her conversation skills; it was as if she was speaking in a loop which went round and round the same few points.    I now know that the woman had alzheimers but did not then.    My friend was deep in conversation with this womans husband who shared this with him.   Although it felt like a long hours journey I couldn't help but admire this woman's husband for carrying on and doing all the things they must have done before she became ill. 

That's the beauty of train travel you can choose to be open to conversations or if your not inclined you can get the book out; stick the headphones on or doze as is your want.   I would however make a plea for smiling at the stranger opposite you on your next train journey to see if a conversation opens up.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Yorkshire Sculpture Park - Jaume Plensa Exhibition

On my recent visit to Yorkshire my friend Sue suggested we go to the Jaume Plensa Exhibition   Having lived in Yorkshire I knew the reputation of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and knew it would be good and just how good.

I did not know the artist Jaume Plensa except that he is Spanish (Annie if you can manage it you must see his work)!

I took lots of pictures and I'll share them as I recall my sense of the exhibition itself.   
The artist used language and words to develop a curtain of poetry of language which visitors were encouraged to read and caress.   This reminded me of tibetan prayer wheels where if you turn the wheel the prayer is said.   This curtain allowed you to caress the words creating a tinkling sound of whispers.

 It was a glorious bright sunny day and the curtain was reflected on the opposite wall.  A range of world languages were use.

The exhibition was separated into internal and external exhibits.   One room housed a number of gongs which visitors were encouraged to hit with a mallet and listen to and feel the sound being made.   Each of the gongs made a different sound in the room and if you stood in front of one after giving it a hefty hit the sound reverbrated in your ribcage - very powerful.   The gongs had text written in the centre not readily seen on this picture.

Another of the internal exhibits was a room full of heads and again there were differences in terms of race but also of expression.   What were they thinking??????

Moving outside I was struck by two large see through head sculptures which were placed on top of the exhibition centre.  

There was something about being able to see through them and take in the landscape of the YSP that made it feel as if they belonged and in a surreal way made me think of Alan Bennett's - 'talking heads' series especially as they had rather a Churchillian look about them.

and I'll finish with a last piece a scuplture of a figure which you could walk inside of and made me feel that I was being hugged and wrapped in words.

This was the best exhibition I've been to in a while - if any of my readers get the chance to see Jaume Plensa's work grab it with both hands - you won't be disappointed.

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Hot Toddy cure all

Apologies for my absence readers.   I've been off to Yorkshire catching up with friends and neighbours before the season of goodwill - now there's a thought does goodwill only happen at Christmastime?   I think not but it is nice to dedicate a season as a reminder for us.

Anyway the joys of catching up caught up with me in the form of 'dreaded lurgy' or cold/chest infection.

I am now surfacing from the duvet and looking out of my window onto a sunny interspersed with snow showers winter scene - brrrrr.  

I don't know about you but I hate being ill.   Thankfully I only catch a cold about 1/2 times a year which is just about the number I can cope with.

My tips for coping - a strong hot toddy before sleep.   Whilst I'm not recommending this as medication it somehow makes the feeling of being unwell bearable.

This set me thinking where does the 'hot toddy' idea come from.   Google searches turned up ideas such as:
  • it comes from India (toddy being a palm from which wine is made) and so like a lot of language did it come over to Scotland as part of our colonial past?
  • it comes from Tod's Well in Edinburgh - which used to supply water to the good people of that fair city
  • before the cocktail there was 'the toddy'
Does this matter - not a jot I say all I know is that when I'm feeling grumpy with a cold a 'hot toddy' eases my discomfort.   Here is my version:

A good slug of whisky (you might choose rum or brandy - your preference)
Add a dollop of honey and tsp. of fresh lemon juice (your preference might be sugar)
Add hot water to fill your mug
A sprinkle off nutmeg to finish and voila!