Christmas Eve

December 24th, 2014

Children everywhere will be getting excited waiting for Father Christmas to visit them and leave lots of presents.

My Christmas tree is looking pretty covered in multi-coloured baubles and lights and the house smells gorgeous because I’m steaming a home made Christmas pudding.

I’ve just got some presents to wrap up and then I’m ready for Christmas Day to arrive!

1914 – 2014

November 11th, 2014

Today is Remembrance Day – the day when we remember those who lost their lives in past and current wars.

It’s now one hundred years ago that a generation of young men was wiped out in WW1.

When I was young it was very common for people to have several maiden aunts, the young women whose fianc├ęs didn’t come back and who never got married. There just weren’t enough young men to go around. They were lying under gravestones in France and other places.

11th November

When everything comes to a standstill

January 26th, 2013

A winter scene

It’s just over a week now since we had a heavy fall of snow.

The local Council does a good of job keeping the main roads clear with it’s gritting lorries, but I live in a cul-de-sac which ends up like a skating rink with compacted snow on it and not enough traffic to clear it.

My car was hiding under a coat of about six inches of snow, so I’ve stayed in for most of the week. I haven’t needed to go out anyway because most of the things I usually do were cancelled due to the weather.

It’s been quite nice having a break, and the snow makes the countryside look so pretty, but it’s very cold. I think I’ve had enough of it now and will be glad when the snow finally melts and the temperature improves and things get back to normal.

Useful inventions

December 14th, 2012

There are so many inventions that make our lives easier and more comfortable.

After asking me how I had cut my finger, a friend told me about a tin opener that curled over the edges so that they weren’t sharp. I went straight out and bought one, and it amazes me! I don’t know how it does it. It looks like an ordinary tin opener, but you can run your fingers over the edges without any chance of cutting yourself.

A remote control allows channel hopping on the television. I can sit comfortably on the settee, and quickly scroll through all the channels my Freeview box gives me to see if there’s anything I fancy watching. I wouldn’t want to do that if I had to use a button on the TV. I’d get backache bending down and a headache from watching it to closely.

But the gadget I’m always thankful for when it’s pouring with rain is the power lock on my car. I can jump out of the car, run under the porch and click the button when I’m standing in the dry. I haven’t got to fiddle with a key and a keyhole with cold fingers while rain is pouring down on me.

What’s your favourite gadget or invention?

Texting

December 3rd, 2012

The first text message was sent 20 years ago today. That makes it quite old doesn’t it?

Most people wouldn’t be able to imagine a time when text messages didn’t exist and certainly wouldn’t be able to manage without them.

According to Ofcom, the average number of texts that each of us sends in a week in the UK is 50, but 12-15 year olds send an average of 193 texts every week!

I don’t send anything like that many, so someone else must be using mine!

I find them useful as I can send one late at night when a phone call is out of the question or contact someone who’s out when I can’t get them on their landline.

It’s nice when I feel my bag vibrate and hear the beep-beep, beep-beep and I know I’ve got a message.

The only problem with them is that sometimes they take hours – or even days – to arrive so you can’t rely on them for urgent messages. I wonder where they go in the meantime?!

Olympic Gold

October 30th, 2012

Wasn’t it wonderful having the London 2012 Olympic Games here in the UK!

I cleared my diary and treated myself to a seat in front of the TV for all of the Olympics and Paralympics. After all, it won’t happen again here in my life time, will it?

I watched British swimmers, cyclists, althetes, horseriders and other sports men and women who I had never heard of but who are now household names.

It was wonderful to see the support given to them as they were cheered on by the crowd. That must have helped them to win their medals.

The Post Office has celebrated each UK Gold Medal winner by painting a Post Box gold in their honour.

Here’s the one in Cheltenham that was painted gold for Alex Gregory and his Olympic gold medal winning performance in the Men’s Four Rowing. The box is in the Upper High Street.

Gold postbox for Olympian Alex Gregory

Growing nectarines

September 29th, 2012

I’m not very good at gardening. I don’t seem to have enough strength or energy, but I do what I can.

I’d been managing to keep up with it until I went on holiday. When I came home, it looked like a jungle!

I was at the front of the house pruning and tidying up the flower bed by the lounge window when I saw a little shrubby tree with pointed spear like leaves. I was wondering what it was when I noticed with surprise some big red things on it.

My first thought was that a child’s red rubber ball had got caught in the branches, but as I looked more closely, I found nectarines growing! I was amazed!

How did a nectarine tree manage to grow here in the Midlands of the UK when we’ve had such a cold, wet summer? And how did it manage to produce beautiful full sized nectarines?

They were gorgeous – sweet and juicy and much nicer than any I’ve ever bought from a supermarket. I’m looking forward to next year’s crop already!

Being careful when you mow the lawn

July 24th, 2012

On the second really sunny day this summer I was sitting out in the garden reading and relaxing when I noticed that the lawn needed cutting. Although it’s not my favourite job and I do find it hard work, the garden looks so much better when it’s done so I decided to have a go.

I’m always very careful. I make sure I never put my fingers or feet near the blade and I always use a circuit breaker so that I’d be safe if I did accidentally cut the electric cord.

My garden chair had my book and the bag containing my camera on it and I was just thinking I must move that in a minute when there was a terrible noise in the mower similar to when a stone gets caught up in the blades.

I stopped the mower and lifted it away. There in the still long grass was something electronic looking. Whatever was it? What have I done?

Looking more closely I could see it was a lithium battery. Oh no!! My camera? My phone?

Trying not to panic and feeling a bit sick, I picked it up. It was my mobile phone battery. Where was the phone? I found it lying in the grass a bit further away. It was covered in bits of grass and the back cover was missing.

I got the rake and pulled it through the grass until I found the cover. It was bent and cut into 2 pieces and the little glass cover over the camera lens had gone.

But incredibly the rest of the phone looked ok!

I blew the grass out of it. I know you’re not supposed to turn a phone on without the cover on, but I had to find out if it was working. I pressed the button. The screen lit up and it beeped and came on! How amazing! It had been hit by the whizzing blades of a hover mower and only the back cover was mangled up. I think that’s a miracle!

I went straight inside, turned on the computer, Googled, found and ordered a back cover from Amazon. I hope it gets here quickly so I can check out all the phone’s functions and see if it’s ok. I need it’s calendar reminders so that I remember what I need to do!

The art of selling

June 3rd, 2012

I love going to Craft Fairs and other sorts of markets. There are so many talented people around who make the most beautiful jewellery, textile art, hand knitted and crocheted items, woodwork, photography, hand crafted cards, cakes, biscuits and other foods. There is always something special to buy, and some new ideas to pick up.

But unfortunately I often find that these events aren’t as enjoyable as they should be because the majority of the craftspeople and market stallholders don’t know how to sell.

When a prospective customer approaches a stall, the seller should greet them by standing up, smiling, saying hello and having eye contact. That tells the customer that they are welcomed and that it’s ok to look at the goods, pick them up and to ask questions. Unless a customer feels welcomed and at ease touching the goods and asking questions, they will never turn from a looker into a buyer.

I cannot understand the mentality of stallholders who don’t do this. I’ve looked at so many stalls where I would have liked to have picked something up and ask a question but haven’t been able to because the stallholder has chosen not to acknowledge my presence.

When I’ve tried to catch a sellers eye, I’ve had them sitting down texting or playing with their phone, reading, deep in conversation with the person on the next stall, with their back towards me or just ignoring me.

What’s my reacton to this? I don’t pick up the item I’m interested in. I don’t ask my question. I don’t turn from a looker into a buyer and I move on to the next stall.

I’m left disappointed because I haven’t been able to buy what I was interested in, and the seller has lost a sale.

Surely it’s common courtesy to smile and say hello to someone who comes into your ’space’ even if that space is in front of a market stall. When a craftsperson has spent time, money and effort making something beautiful and gone to the trouble of paying for a market stall and travelling to the market, I would have thought that they would be really enthusiastic about talking to prospective customers. But they don’t seem to be.

Yesterday I went into a local hall where there was a Craft and Food Market. It was lunchtime and I’d been out all morning and wanted to buy something to eat.

I found a stall that was covered in delicious looking homemade cakes and scones. I love cheese scones and thought I would buy a couple. I couldn’t see a price on them, so I looked up to ask the stallholder.

She had her back to me, and was engrossed in converstion with the lady on the next stall. I waited, thinking ’she’ll notice me in a minute’. But she didn’t. I waited a bit longer thinking ‘the other lady will tell her she’s got a customer in a minute’. But she didn’t.

There was a small boy sitting behind the stall. He looked at me without smiling. I nearly asked him how much the scones were, but decided at around 5 he was too young to be expected to sell things when his mother couldn’t be bothered to. I wondered if he might tell her that she had a customer, but he didn’t.

I waited a little longer looking longingly at the scones, and then moved on disappointed and hungry. I could have interrupted her, but I would have had to shout and really why should I?

I wish people would learn how to sell if they don’t have that natural ability. It frustrates and upsets me when I see people with wonderful products that they not only don’t try to sell but actively put off their customers.

Unseasonable weather

March 31st, 2012

We’ve just had the most amazing hot summer weather – at the end of March!

People got out their T shirts, shorts and sunglasses. But it’s also meant that we’ve had clear night skies. I think this month is the first time I have even seen the Moon in it’s new phase on the first day that it’s visible as well as for the next few nights. I love seeing it when it’s a tiny thin sliver that’s not even a crescent and then watching it gradually grow.

Crescent Moon with craters