Monday, 17 November 2014

Nativity Fast

Wishing all my friends on the New Calendar a blessed and fruitful Nativity Fast, 
and for those on the Old Calendar, enjoy these last days before the Fast begins! 

This picture made me giggle, but it is so appropriate for those of us who follow the western custom of lighting candles on an Advent wreath each weekend :-)

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Kyrie de l'exaltation de la Croix

St John of Shanghai and SF served here, the Cathedral of St Irenaus in France in the 1960s.

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, 2014

Friday, 31 October 2014

A Grand Day Out

DD3 and I went on a day out on Weds. We caught the train into The Big City, with two main objectives in mind: mine was to attend a book signing by one of my favourite authors and  DD3's was to go to a wonderful shop which sells very upmarket natural toiletries, which she loves.  She has not been on a shopping trip to The Big City for a whole year due to her ongoing health problems and she was keen to come with me to see if her new combination of medications is helping as much as we think it is....

As soon as we got off the train and left the station, we were surprised to see a very visible uniformed police presence - certainly the first time I have ever seen this. It gave us something to discuss over a delicious hot chocolate at our favourite coffee house before we made our way into the centre of the City. I kept a watchful eye on her in case she seemed at all breathless, but she was coping well :-) Our visit to her shop was expensive (ouch) but as she reminded me, it was the first time she had been able to go there in a year to replenish her supplies, which was a fair observation and put the expenditure into perspective. I bought some things we both wanted and then left her happily shopping with the aid of a very helpful assistant while I headed for the  bookshop to join the queue.

To my surprise, there was no queue. I did look around and could see several other people clutching copies of the new book, but no queue. I spoke to one of the staff who assured me I was in the right place and I put myself firmly in the front of the table and chair at the side of the store, prepared to wait patiently for the next hour and a half till the author appeared. Once I queued up, others joined me and soon there were approximately fifty people, most of us with multiple copies of The Book. There was a great deal of banter, especially with the security staff who were hilarious and very nice indeed.

DD3 joined me, having shopped to her heart's (and wallet's) content and I was glad of the company. She is not a particular fan of this author, unlike her mother, sister and brother-in-law, but was happy to accompany me and was keen to see the secretive author in real life. When he strode in, I was nervous and a little tongue-tied, but he was absolutely lovely to us and willingly signed all four books, despite the queue behind us. We left, chattering about how nice he was and went off in search of a much-needed lunch and a sit down after the lengthy stand.

We were making our way back to the train station when we saw a charity magazine seller. (I have always made a point of buying one of these magazines each time I go to a town or city; generally I buy one early on in the day but today I had not, even though I had seen a seller in the morning. I simply did not feel that was the person I was supposed to support today.) The seller this afternoon was about my age, wearing a hat against the cold and the rain which had just started to fall as the afternoon light faded fast.  I asked how much the magazine was as I had not bought one for ages and was conscious of the fact I only had about £4 in my purse. He looked at me sadly and said he wished he could say to me it was £XX as that would be the cost of getting a night's cheap accommodation, but the magazine cost £2.50. We chatted to him for a while and he said he had not had a good day's revenue from selling the magazine and certainly did not have enough to get a roof over his head that night. He had been sleeping outdoors for a month. What was worse was because he was not a drunkard or a drug abuser, there was very limited charitable help available to him, which I do know to be a fact from other sources too, which seems manifestly unfair. I gave him the little cash I had and he thanked us and wished us well.

As we walked down the street, I looked at my wonderful sixteen year old daughter and she looked at me, and we were both thinking the same thing. She even offered to get money out of her bank account to help me, but she was looking tired so  I found her a seat and I dashed back to the nearest ATM cashpoint to withdraw the sum he needed to be able to spent that night safe and warm indoors. He was looking cold and so sad as person after person walked past him and looked at the floor rather than make eye contact with him. I walked up and handed him the cash, saying simply "Please spend tonight in the warm." He looked at the money, wild hope sparked in his eyes and his whole face lit up in shocked but delighted disbelief. He was very obviously on the verge of tears and kept repeating "God bless you, God bless you." I told him to take care of himself and   DD and I walked back to the station.

There were lots of delays and it was only when we were actually on the train home that we opened the bags containing the toiletries.  There was one item I knew I had not purchased and DD3 had not purchased, though she had asked the assistant if she could have  a tiny trial sample of it to take home. There was no tiny sample pot of it, but a full sized pot instead and tucked at the bottom the bag was a small printed card which said that the assistant had chosen to give us a free gift as an act of kindness and please would we pay it forward to someone else who might need an act of kindness. I checked my receipt and we had not been charged for the item, which was worth about £9. She was absolutely delighted with the gift as she felt it was something she could not justify buying on top of what we had already spent, and we were so happy that we had already been able to pay it forward by helping the homeless man get a warm bed for the night. I wish we could have helped him more, but at least that was one wet night he would not have been sleeping rough.

 We spent a great deal of time talking about almsgiving and acts of charity and it was a truly blessed day for us both. All the more so as she had managed an eight hour day walking and shopping with minimal problems, which is something she had not been able to do for a whole year. These new medications are definitely helping her a lot and we have a huge amount to thank God for, especially having a safe, warm roof over our heads when so many people do not.

Monday, 6 October 2014

New Toy

I have a shiny new camera, which sports an optical X30 zoom lens. I am slowly learning the camera's capabilities, but here are some of the shots I have taken over the last few days:

The lampada in the icon corner

Moonrise in the late afternoon/early evening

The lych-gate of the parish church decorated for Harvest Festival

Close up of the preaching cross 
which you can see in the previous picture...

Shot through the locked gates of the church 
as the light was failing.

Look at the con-trail of the plane

And playing with the zoom lens to actually see the plane :-)

And a rather nice sunset to round it off

Friday, 3 October 2014

A Stroll Involving A Sunset and Sheep

A curious sheep, wondering why I was leaning over the wall
 which separates the field from a busy road.

I can hear these sheep if I leave my bedroom window open ....

The land in the far distance is Somerset, England.

And further over again is the Devon coastline.

There are currently sheep in another nearby field 
too - I was spoilt for choice on this walk!

And the sky walking back to my home.....

Monday, 29 September 2014


DD3 has had the results of her heart monitor. 

As we thought, she has indeed been having repeated episodes of rapid tachycardia even when simply walking downstairs etc, and the Cardiologist has recommended her starting a drug to slow her heart rate down,  which will hopefully make her feel much more comfortable and enable her to lead a more normal life than she has been over the last few months. 

All medication carries some degree of risk but he is happy that for her, the benefits will far outstrip the small theoretical risk, and she is also keen to give it a try. Hopefully she will be starting on it sometime next week.

Thursday, 25 September 2014


Life is whizzing by at a relentless pace.  

DD3 is now in Sixth Form and despite her ongoing quite major health problems, is coping pretty well. She had a 48 hour Holter heart monitor test done last week and we are awaiting the results from the Cardiologist; she may need her medications adjusted and new medications added to keep her heart rate and blood pressure at more normal levels. DD4 is shooting up and developing a huge interest and talent in creating her own Manga artwork. She is currently spending a considerable amount of her spare time planning out the story line of her Manga book and also the play she is writing for the school's Young Playwright competition.

We have a family member still in hospital being assessed due to  much-worsened dementia related problems, so my DH  is staying at that house for at least 18 hours a day to care for this person's much loved but high maintenance pets. We are very much hoping that she will be able to return home fairly soon, but we have been told that an extensive package of professional carers will need to be involved in order for this to be done safely. It may not prove to be possible, in which case we as a family will be faced with dealing with some hard decisions which will be made by the hospital medical and nursing team in what is called a "Best Interests" meeting. DH and I will be asked for our opinions and wishes, but in the final analysis, the decision as to where she should live will be made by the Consultant Psycho-geriatrician because of the problems that are likely to develop as her moderately severe dementia worsens. Sigh.

We are having some essential remedial work done on our house; due to its age, the wall ties are corroding and need to be replaced. As we speak, the workmen are busily drilling out the render over old ties  and the noise and vibrations have to be heard to be believed! Poor Prince Vasyl is curled up on the sofa next to me as I type, and if he could crawl onto my lap, I think he would....

Thursday, 14 August 2014


Today I am **profoundly** thankful for the kindness shown to us by a member of the nursing staff at the major teaching hospital we visit pretty much weekly - she very kindly sent a prescription down to the hospital pharmacy well before our appointment, so that we would not have to wait two hours to collect extra supplies of routine medication for DD3 :-)

Monday, 4 August 2014

Another Walk With The Dog

This is another compilation of  photos taken at Margam Park when we have walked the dog there - I hope you enjoy them!

The  mediaeval ruins of the old church on the hill.

A  glimpse of Margam Castle through the trees..

And again.

The park has a huge number and variety of ancient trees.
                           Here is DH  - and the dog, who is deciding to roll in the grass....

Swans on the lake.


A  closer view of the Victorian rebuilt Castle.

Even the drain pipes are ornamented!

The central tower, surrounded by chimneys.

Everything is elaborate....

...and rather lovely. 
This is a period where craftsmen took enormous pride in their work
 and money was no object when commissioning things to be made.

Coats-of-arms and blank niches.

Elaborate stone garden fences.

Formal gardens....

And surprising secret corners.

Ornamental buttresses to help support
 substantial weight-bearing garden walls....

And a final view of Yr Hen Eglwys, The Old Church,
 high up on the hill.

I Blinked And Almost Missed Today...

Between making sure DD3 gets all her medication on time and stays well-hydrated, cooking food for everyone, cleaning the house, washing dishes, fielding three phone calls from an incapacitated elderly family member, buying food and delivering it to the same person and dropping off a full weekly shop to our dear elderly friend John, today has simply flown by :-)

It is of course also the anniversary of the outbreak of The Great War of 1914-18.  In many homes, churches, cathedrals and museums across Britain, there will be a candle-lit vigil from 10 pm tonight to 11 pm to mark the solemn and sad occasion. Westminster Abbey is broadcasting a live service and has also published the text of the service to their web pages -  it can be found here.  I shall be watching the service and also lighting our lampada in memory of those who lost their lives in that conflict and for those caught up in conflict  at this present time.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Evening Chores

Having just finished cleaning out our three hamsters' big cages this evening, I opened the cupboard under the sink to get out some things I needed to re-stock the cages with food, bedding etc, and I was assailed by a smell of damp :-(

The drain pipe from the sink has been quietly leaking over the last few days and destroyed lots of stuff which we had stored under the sink. Luckily more or less under the leak was a large metal bowl which was now full of water and had saved us from worse damage. The cupboard has been emptied, cleaned out and a bowl placed under the leak, and everyone given instructions *not* to use the taps until DH can fix it tomorrow in the daylight.

The hamsters are all now back in their nice clean cages and ready to play all night :-)

In Bloom In My Garden

If I sit in the living room and look, out, this is what I see :-)
The flowers on the bottom right  are part of this bush, pictured below:

In the back garden, we have two varieties of honeysuckle. 
A yellow and cream one....

And this glorious fuchsia coloured one, 
which smells much nicer!

......and is my favourite!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Wash Day

DD3 loves scarves, and was keen to have my mother's collection of scarves 
when we were clearing out Mum's house. 
We were looking at them last week
 and I decided the scarves all needed freshening up. 
Of course, they were all labelled "hand wash only", 
so over a period of a few days,
 I washed and rinsed each one individually
 and then put them on the line to dry in the sunshine and fresh air.

This was one day's washing :-)

A Tale Of Woe

This is my poorly cooker. 
After 13 years of sterling service, the door latch on the fan oven gave up the ghost. 
Given the age of the cooker, sourcing a replacement part proved to be an exceedingly difficult task, 
one which took me a whole morning of phone calls. 
Eventually, I found a supplier who could get the part and would post it to me. 
That was the Good News.

The Bad News was that it would take a whole week to arrive.
It was a very long week, given how much I use my fan oven. 
(The left oven is a roasting oven and is hopeless at cooking pizzas, bread, cakes, pastries etc.)

Today, in the midst of utter mayhem, the part arrived 
and my DH  used his ninja skills to strip the whole oven door down to component bits,
 replace the door latch mechanism and rebuild the oven door
 before fixing it back on to the oven frame.

Ta-da!! The oven LIVES!!!

Thursday, 24 July 2014


Somebody is enjoying his ride in the car!

This is part of the trail  through the trees. 

It was lovely and shady on a hot day.

A glorious stand of very poisonous foxgloves - shades of Ellis Peters' book, Monk's Hood!

The sound of the  water was lovely.

Amongst the trees were lots of carvings.

Some were very hard to photograph well.

A hidden and somewhat tumbledown- seeming cottage, 
which is in fact a set of toilets accessible from the other side. 

I rather liked this one :-) 

Even the fallen trees had been carved with patterns and designs.

We were surprised to see the deer so close, and were glad our dog was safely on his lead.

They would not let us get very close, which was just as well. I would not have wanted either them or our dear Basil to be scared.

 The entrance to the rare breeds farm trail.

A very fine cockerel.

We saw lots of sheep......

And a super, very friendly turkey!

Edited to add these photos were taken on two separate visits to Margam Park - one day was very sunny, one was a bit cloudy :-) 
More to follow!