The view from my window

The view from my window
The view from my window

Friday, 15 June 2018

This and that!

Oh it's been a really busy couple of weeks here so I haven't had time to blog or even read my favourites blogs - still got a lot of catching up to do!

So where to start? Oh yes, last Saturday we had our latest board game evening at my neighbour's house. Although it threatened rain all day (all spring frankly!!!) we really lucked out and had a lovely afternoon and evening. We ended up simply splitting into two groups this time and playing card games all evening, which made a nice change. D has loads (and I mean loads) of plants, pots, decorations, ornaments and so on in her garden and it all takes an awful lot of work, but like I commented to her, just occasionally all that hard work comes together and you get a snapshot of just what a stunning garden she has created!

Jordan and M playing rummy!

Then the next day we had our annual "clean up the neighbourhood" get together, where our small group of (around) 24 houses all spend an hour cleaning up the area around our homes - to be followed by the annual  "let's all get together to eat and chinwag for the next eight hours" - so that's what we did! I must admit, for the little bit of effort that we all put in our little neighbourhood really does look lovely afterwards.  


Jumping on to totally different news, there seems to be some kind of "push" from the powers-that-be in the UK at the moment to promote weight loss in a bid to cut levels of diabetes II - or at least, that's what it seems like to me as there have been a few, very interesting documentaries on lately promoting pretty harsh calorie-restricted diets in a bid to achieve rapid weight loss and lower the risk of diabetes. The one programme, which I think was called The Fast Fix, took a group of volunteers who showed a higher risk of developing type II, and relocated them for four weeks in a test programme on a strict diet of 800 calories a day in a bid to lower their risk factors. Now a couple of them weren't even fat, which just goes to show that heredity can also be a big risk factor. It was a tough diet to follow but they all succeeded in significantly lowering their blood markers (I can't remember the "proper" names for half this stuff) in addition to dropping weight. One thing though, that kind of diet might be feasible in a control situation like they were in but I, personally, couldn't see me sticking to it if I had also to be looking after kids and a family and going to work. However, the guinea pigs were then asked to follow the same diet once they left the control centre. It was difficult, of course, but they all did it and the results, from a diabetes standpoint alone, were amazing. It was a diet along the lines of the eight-week blood sugar diet or indeed the "Fixing Dad" diet I mentioned in a previous post. All very interesting, to me at least. They mentioned that if you wanted to find out what your own markers/risk factor looked like you should measure your waist at its narrowest point (just above the belly button) then divide that measurement by your hip measurement. Guess who did it! For a woman your result should be below 0.85 (mine was 0.97) in order to be out of the "risk" category, particularly if you have a BMI of 30 or more (I just come under that but "yikes" all the same!)

I can understand why the government would want to push this as the UK is now, justifiably in my opinion, the fat man of Europe and type II diabetes treatment is apparently costing the National Health Service millions! Makes sense doesn't it!  So with that in mind, I have been browsing through pinterest looking at different fitness regimes (well that and the cake recipes and patchwork patterns!!!) and I stumbled across some amazing pictures of older women bodybuilders. Just wow.  Take a look at this lady!

The lady on the left is the amazing Ernestine Shepherd - now 82 years old!
Ernestine in her younger days!

Quite the inspiration, isn't she!

Since I have been really busy (I don't mind at all) I didn't exercise last week and you know what, I missed it. I only managed to walk the last 30 minutes to work three times this week but hope to get back to the gym also next week. Oh, and did I mention that in a bid to get rid of my bingo wings I have been lifting a few (rather puny) weights!  Nothing to write home about but you've got to start somewhere haven't you.  

Image by Shutterstock

Anyway, last weekend I went to the local sports shop to buy some weights. The nearest weights to the ones I wanted were 5 kg each so I bought a box of two - and almost fell over when I picked the bloody box up! I see there is work to do then!  Ernestine can rest on her laurels just a little longer!

Only slightly linked to the above, I wrote a recent blog post on the sudden death of my friend, Ian, and what a shock it was, so with the uncertainty of the future brought home so abruptly to me I started taking a look at the maths and have come up with the notion that I could, if I wanted to, actually retire at Christmas! That's quite an amazing thought after 40 years of work, I can tell you! It would mean I would have to take a lump sum from my pension in order to pay my house off and thus have a smaller pension but it certainly is feasible. In all honesty I am looking at going in two years time at the age of 62 because although my house will be paid off it does need work doing and I want to save up for that first (complete replacement of the heating system to start with). So knowing that I could leave the rat race at Christmas if I wanted to is a very nice feeling. As I said, I'm pretty sure I won't go then but .... Add to that that I want to help out with my son's wedding next year (we booked the château in the village last night - it is beautiful) and that his contract as an apprentice expires end July I will be staying on for a bit, although in reality an unemployed plumber has got to be an oxymoron hasn't it!

"Kick me" (to leave the rat race) - image by Jonathan Marsh
That being said, my sister-in-law's sudden death two years ago knocked my brother for a six and I think brought home to him that life is moving inexorably on. He now has a very dynamic lady friend, also a widow, who seems to be a little ball of energy dragging him (well he's going along willingly) here, there and everywhere! There is such a change in my brother it is amazing. And it's no disrespect to my sister-in-law - she was the dynamo/the doer in that relationship - but, like I say, I think losing her brought home to Phil that life was for living now because you never know!


Phil and M at Rockley Park

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

A different kind of happy memory!

Thank you all for your lovely comments in reply to my last post. I have to admit learning of Ian's death knocked the stuffing out of me but it has also brought home to me the urgency of living life in the "now" rather than for one day in the future. Of course, all that has to be within reason, but if Ian hadn't taken the plunge and gone to Bulgaria in 2011 he might still have been waiting for "the day when" .... which of course, in his case, never came!

I remember years ago at college our shorthand teacher gave us all a round disk with the word "TUIT" on it. When someone asked what it was she said it was to be used on those occasions when you were putting things off until you got a "round tuit"! Clever huh! So with that in mind, I went ahead and booked my 60th birthday trip for September. I do not want to be at work for my 60th if only because I can't stand the fuss so had planned to book a holiday in Spain that week. Unfortunately, as I hadn't got a "round TUIT", when I came to booking it that particular trip was fully booked so I had to "settle" for Sicily, although going to Sicily doesn't actually involve "settling" at all does it. It is another one of my solos trips and does therefore mean having to fly back to the UK and then back out to Sicily but I don't mind spending the night before in London. Then for my next winter break I finally cracked and have booked a trip to Sri Lanka at the beginning of March. This trip is with the company I went to Costa Rica with and since I can book my own flights and do not have to go via London I managed to get a pretty good deal with Edelweiss Air from Zurich. Oh how I love my trips! That being said, I can't wait to have more time (i.e. retirement, God willing) so that I can spend more time rediscovering the UK and maybe more locally in France, but all in good time I guess.

And on the basis of "don't wait until you get a round tuit" I booked myself on another vegan cookery course for next Tuesday. Hopefully it will be better than the last one, but I reckon it should be as it is with an up-and-coming vegan restaurant here in Geneva. I am neither vegetarian nor vegan but am interested in both, so last night I thought I would try out a vegan recipe from Deliciously Ella. It wasn't bad but I certainly hope the whole vegan experience is worth all that washing up! Crikey, I don't think I have made such a mess in the kitchen in a long while! Anyway, while I was crashing around in the kitchen I missed a call from U, an old friend who retired back to England five years ago. When I had finished cleaning up Armaggedon (a.k.a. the kitchen) I called her back for a natter, as we hadn't had a good chinwag in ages!

I worked for HR for 20 years and many of those years overlapped with U being the Chief of Personnel's secretary and man did we have a laugh. I obviously can't go into too much detail here but some of things we saw had us in stitches.  Such as:

-  we had a Norwegian chappie who applied repeatedly but unsuccessfully for various vacancies. He was obviously a keen fisherman because every time he applied to us he attached a photo of himself, and in it he was holding a fish he had just caught! Only thing was, with every fresh application the fish got bigger and bigger! Sadly we never recruited him but we both liked his style!

-  then there was the guy who attached a photo (which was pretty usual in those days) but obviously didn't have time to get a professional head shot done. When we looked at his photo he had obviously just taken an old photo of himself at a party or somewhere or other and had cropped the other people out of it - all, that is, except for the hand of whoever was standing next to him with his arm draped mysteriously over his shoulder like something out of the Addams family!

- in "the good old days" every single application got a reply - a "no, sorry", a "let's give this one some further thought" or a "let's take this one a step further". It was a tremendous amount of work and eventually we had to put a disclaimer on vacancy announcements just saying "if you don't hear from us .... sorry"! Anyway, one time U's boss was sifting through the mountains of applications and had put one guy on the "no, sorry" file. Now looking at his photo U decided that he was pretty cute, so she put his application back on the "maybe" file. After which the boss put it back on the "no" file. Rinse and repeat a few times and eventually the boss just had to tell her "nice try, but it's still a no"! Oh well, you can't say she didn't try! Sorry mate!

Now in our company we work in English (mainly), French and Spanish so applicants can apply in any of those three languages. Sometimes, though, you would get letters in purporting to be in English but which had obviously been run through some kind of  "google translate" (had it existed at the time - it didn't) and which was completely undecipherable in any language, so U would put on her best "foreign" accent and read it out to us. Politically correct? Probably not but you have to laugh sometimes don't you!  And then there was the guy who "desperately wanted to work for your organization because he had always wanted to work with mentally disabled people"!!!! Say what! I mean, if this were Doctors Without Borders or something just maybe but really!!! In the end, looking at some colleagues who were around at the time maybe that wasn't so far fetched. Another time we had a lady apply who had no relevant qualifications whatsoever - in fact she had a long-term career as a midwife. Very laudable career of course but not something that would have been particularly relevant to a United Nations-type organization (we're not the UN, but you get the idea).

I remember one time I took a call from a lady in France who worked for XXXX Mairie in France. She spoke so quickly that I didn't really get the gist of what she was saying, but assuming it was a staff member who needed some administrative paper for France I let her continue. Turns out she had a son who "wanted to go on mission". So I asked what kind of qualifications he had - "he just wants to go on mission"! "So is he an economist?" "No, he just wants to go on mission!" "Is he a lawyer specialized in X?" "No he just wants to go on mission!" "Well could he work as a translator?" "No he just wants to go on mission!" In the end, I had to tell her I didn't hold out much hope for her son but he should fill out an online application and we would see. Oh, and by the way lady, assuming your son is over 13 years old, it doesn't really look that good to have mommy phoning trying to get him a job (I didn't say that last bit but I was very tempted! Ever polite me!)!

And finally, at one point I shared an office with an Australian colleague who handled the main input for applications for various vacancies. We would always have a laugh and a joke but she would never tell me anything about who had applied for what - and for that I respect her. It was confidential after all! Buuuut one time she burst out laughing and said "oh the poor sod". When I asked her what she was on about she said that this same person had applied for two vacancies in our company - one as Chief Economist and the other as a delivery driver!!! You know, a bit like "can I apply for the position of Governor of the Bank of England, but failing that are there any openings in the mailing room?"

Happy days indeed. I didn't know until last night but U told me that she reads my blog so in case you're there "hallo matey, good to chat again"!

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

RIP my partner in crime!

I had my patchwork lesson last night and (seemingly as usual nowadays) there was an accident on the way there so it took me 2 1/2 hours instead of one to get there and then the heavens opened on the way back so I didn't get home till 11.30 p.m. When you leave home at 7 in the morning and don't get home until 11.30 it takes its toll I can tell you, and as I can never go straight to sleep (I guess patchwork is just that exciting - adrenaline rush and all that), I decided to play a couple of games of Words With Friends on Facebook. So you can imagine the shock I got when I happened to click on an old friend's page to learn that he had died suddenly on 7 May at the young age of 58!!! He hadn't been on FB very much lately but since he had mentioned that he was going to give it a rest for a while I didn't think anything of it, but there in front of my eyes were pages and pages of posts from friends sending their condolences to the family!

Ian and I grew up on the same council estate in Birmingham, about 100 yards away from each other. Right from really little we hit it off and by the time we went to infants school we had become "best buddies". I guess he really liked "older women" because I was a whole, oh I don't know, 10 months older than him so we used to walk to school together and then play together after school.

One time, I remember, we decided we were going to set up a snail hospital "to help all these poor snails that we kept finding in my back garden". So we gathered as many snails as we could, lined them all up on our back fence and then dipped them all in a washing up bowl full of soapy water to "get rid of all that gunky stuff". We never could figure out why they all kept dying!!

His dad died when he was 40 leaving his mom a young widow with five young children to feed. Times were tough for everyone but particularly for her, as I'm sure you can imagine. I found out many years later that she worked four jobs just trying to keep those children fed! She later found happiness with a Polish man who I understand was very good to her and the kids, but for many years it was tough going indeed! I remember Ian told me one time you always knew what you were getting for Christmas because his mom would be knitting away and all of a sudden she would say "stand up and put your arm out"! Many years later he also told me the story of how she must have bought a second hand scout's outfit from some old dear so that he could go to scouts - problem was the legs were waaaaay too wide for his scrawny legs and he ended up looking like Eric Morecambe!

The outfit was also the wrong shade of green so when time came for a general inspection all the other scouts closed ranks around him! Another time I happened to mention that one of the older ladies in our local area had a beard (I was a little kid and I was fascinated) and had he ever spotted her, when he said "oh that would be Mrs. Skull who lived in the flats opposite us". I almost fell off my chair laughing and asked if her late husband had been Mr. Crossbones, but Ian said he thought she must have liked her beers somewhat as he used to go round to her house to collect the empties in order to get the 1p back on each bottle and give it to his mom!

As I say, Ian and I were great buddies up until the end of junior school (so from ages 3 to 10) when it was no longer "cool" to be friends with a girl - or at least not until a few years later when being "best buddies" with a girl was probably all you could think about! I left school at 16 and went to college, eventually emigrating to Switzerland at age 21 and Ian joined the army, absolutely hated it (said it was worse than school) so went into the construction industry as a labourer and worked his way up. We lost touch until one day, 36 years later, I spotted his name on Friends Reunited and contacted him. It was great to get back in touch again after so long!  He told me that he was sick to death of England, the rat race and chasing after the eternal ££££££ so taking his courage in both hands he rented his house out, bought himself a Postman Pat van and headed off to Bulgaria with a couple of mattresses in the back and his tool box, for no better reason than "because he heard it was cheap". He wasn't interested in chasing money out there either - he wanted to make just enough to "live" so that's what he did. As a builder it would have been pretty easy and he could have had more work than he could handle had he so wished. But he didn't want that - he wanted to live a little!

Anyway, we chatted back and forth for a while and in 2011 he asked what I was doing that summer. When I said "nothing" he said "why don't you come out to Bulgaria so we can catch up"! My husband had not long left me so taking my own courage in both hands I thought "what the hell" - and that's what I did! Now my elderly mom rightly said "you knew the boy but you don't know the man" so I booked myself into a hotel on Sunny Beach and flew out to join him. But oh my goodness, you wouldn't know it had been 36 years since we had last seen each other! We laughed so much I thought I was going to get lockjaw!!!!

Anyway, we got along so well that we decided to set off and explore Bulgaria in his Postman Pat van for a couple of weeks, and it was a blast! You know when you have grown up with someone and you know all the people in their past - well we had so much catching up to do! We had both learned Russian at school so could decipher some Bulgarian words - and on that basis we decided we had to go to "Cозопол" because we loved the sound of it - that's Sozopol to you and me! You see even then we both had the same sense of humour!

Out and about in the Postman Pat van!
Now we both have strong personalities and just as when we were young we clashed a couple of times, but I have to say that while nothing further came out of our travels we remained friends until the end.

Not politically correct now but Ian is 4th from right at the back and I'm 2nd from the right at the back!

Both members of future Team GB! - 1969

I knew Ian had always liked me and one night he told me that under the wallpaper back in their old house was written "Ian C loves Anna T"! I told him "I know, I saw it"! And that makes me want to cry! I'm so glad that your final years were happy ones. RIP my old mate!

Monday, 28 May 2018

Another lovely (but exhausting) weekend!

Just as I was getting into town on  Friday night my friend sent me a message to say that one of our neighbours was organizing an impromptu get together in support of the neighbours' fête. Now this is an artificial fête (of course) but I happen to think it's a great invention as it gives people an opportunity/excuse to get outside and meet up with their neighbours. It may sound silly but I do believe from what people have told me that many people don't actually even know their neighbours or rarely - if ever - speak to them, and I think that is so sad. I remember my friend Steve telling me that he always says good morning to a couple of his neighbours when he is out and about but that's about the extent of it - and Steve is about as sociable an animal as you could ever wish to meet! I think that's a sad state of affairs really. OK no-one wants to get that involved with their neighbours and end up living in each other's pockets, but it's nice when people are friendly and look out for each other. Goodness knows, that was the way it was in my neighbourhood when I was growing up. My mom pretty much never had to take us kids grocery shopping with her because there was always another mom around to keep an eye on us!

Anyway, C very kindly set up a table on our little island and bought out drinks and snacks, with about 10 of us quickly following suit. I only found out about it 10 minutes before arriving home so I had to take along whatever I had in the house - which turned out to be a few beers and some peanuts. Still, we stayed outside and chatted for a couple of hours and had what turned out to be a rather nice time. In a few days we have our annual "clean up the neighbourhood" Sunday in any case, where we all spend an hour or so cutting grass, weeding and so on and then all eat together, but hats off to C for going that one step further.

I had intended to get so much done that evening too, but that went by the way. I had to be up at 4 a.m. as my friend and I were going on our (now annual) trip to the market in Turin, and while I hate getting up at the crack of dawn we both agree we really do enjoy this trip! We made it to Turin around 10.30 a.m. and had until 3.30 p.m. to wander around and fill our little wheelie bags with lots of goodies. Since it is Jordan's birthday on Thursday I was able to pick up a few extras for him too, in addition to the wonderful fruit and veg. Just perfect. It was very hot - up to about 30° - but thankfully it remained relatively overcast so we didn't feel the full power of the sun. Around mid-day we headed off to a little restaurant we had spotted and had the most excellent lunch of (fresh) tuna salad in my case and grilled salmon in D's case. It was stuff to drool over, I can tell you. Looking at the prices I actually commented to D how rich we would be if we took our pensions and moved to Italy as it is so much cheaper than the region of France where we live - which is expensive because of it's proximity to Geneva!

All in all it was a lovely (if very tiring day) - well that is until we neared the French border on the way back. Just before the Mont Blanc tunnel we stopped at the lovely ski resort of Courmayeur but the heavens opened and it absolutely pelted down - but just for about 15 minutes and "poof" it was gone! Really weird but it does go to show how you can't trust the weather in the mountains.

From this ......

to this in the space of about 10 minutes!

The Mont Blanc tunnel is quite the piece of engineering, I tell you. 11.5 km long cut through the Mont Blanc it took us 16 minutes to drive from one end to the other - so you enter in France and exit in Italy!

The next day we were up and at it again - this time down to our local little town where for the first time they were hosting the "foire aux tissus" - a fabric fair! This was a pretty big fair with such a choice of materials I just couldn't make my mind up. The traders come down from Holland and Belgium to sell their goods and it was just eye watering for me! You could easily spend a small fortune in that place! I think the powers that be have realized that our little town is the perfect venue for something like this given the exhibition facilities and its proximity to Geneva and all the money there!

After that it was back up to our little village, which was hosting its annual vide-grenier. They changed the date from September to May in order to take advantage of the marquee that had been set up for the village fête the other week. Very often we get bad weather in September so I think changing the date might well be a plus. Apparently it wasn't such a roaring success though because Sunday was also Mother's Day here in France and I guess a lot of families were eating together rather than going out.

And finally, I saw a rather lovely video this morning of a young man risking life and limb to save a little boy who had managed to get himself hanging over a fourth floor balcony in Paris!! The young man is a recently arrived immigrant from Mali who was hoping to make a better life for himself in France. Judging from his heroism he is just the kind of immigrant that France needs don't you think!

Anyway, President Macron was so impressed with his bravery that he had him over to the Elysée Palace to meet him, and I believe his request for French citizenship will be expedited. And it turns out he has been offered a job in the fire department! It's nice to see something good coming about for such a brave young man isn't it!

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Busy weekend!

Well that was a busy (long) weekend and for once the weather actually cooperated. It doesn't always in May but this one was lovely. We had Whit Monday off, which is always nice because my little village always has it's village fête on Whit Sunday, so you get to recuperate a little the next day. As I had plenty of plans for the long weekend I tend to look up all the vide-greniers (car boots/garage sales) that I might be interested in, plus anything else that's going on, and write it all down in my diary. I don't use my phone as a diary as I still prefer to use a paper one but it does get pretty messy! When I looked at Whit Monday I had written down "nosewing" and I thought what the hell is that. Any which way I looked at it it still read "nosewing", until I realized it actually said "no sewing". Ha! And here's me thinking I'm going mad!

Over the past couple of weeks my friend and I got to fit in a few vide-greniers, what with the season being in full swing. It's quite a nice way to spend an afternoon pottering and even though I am trying to declutter (and am succeeding believe it or not) I have picked up a few treasures too.

The pretty green flowery plates plus the serving dish were a total of €2 (I couldn't believe it but she really wanted to get rid of them) and then there were 11 of those red glass ice cream dishes for €3 - not bad huh! I can use them all at the next board game evening at my place (well that's my excuse anyway)!  I also picked up the pretty tulip picture for €2 and if nothing else I can use the frame for one of my "Peru" pictures that I still haven't gotten round to putting up.

It's also a good excuse to get out in the fresh air (and snaffle a bag of chips from the concession stand)!

It was just as well we ran up the mountain to the one vide-grenier on the Saturday because on Sunday that particular mountain pass was blocked by a landslide! Yikes, well I guess it is the season!

On Satuday, of course, I watched the royal wedding. Not all of it though - that's like watching paint dry - but I made sure to come in from gardening in time to watch the actual service and I have to say it was lovely. Very inclusive, wonderful music and for once the weather cooperated! And weren't they handsome!

And talking of handsome, just take a look at the photographer! Alexi Lubomirski - just wow! Or "down girl, down" as my sister would say!!!

Being the classy kind of person that I am, I thought sitting there for an hour watching the ceremony would be a good opportunity to give myself a pedicure. Well after soaking my feet in the "mouthwash" mixture again, look at the bloody results!  We were going out later so I had to spend a good 10 minutes scrubbing the red stuff off my feet. Oh well, at least it wasn't green this time!

Then on Sunday, after a couple more vide-greniers, we decided to take a trip out to check out some of the local landmarks. I stopped exploring many years ago and it really is a shame as there is so much to see round this area. We decided to take a scenic route back rather than the motorway and check out a small waterfall which you routinely see from the motorway but I had never stopped there before.

This was the upper part of the waterfall

And the lower part - I couldn't get it all in the picture at once because of the trees!

There were a couple of families picnicking near the waterfall but to be honest, only five minutes drive away were a couple of lakes which I think might have been nicer but then who am I to judge.

After that we stopped in at our village fête. I always love our fête because it really is rural - kinda back of beyond-ish. I was lucky enough to bump into Jordan and Jen who had come over for a drink, as well as my neighbours - heck the whole village shows up at some point during the day. I have a great video of the accordion players and people dancing but I'll be buggered if I can get the thing to post here!

Dancing the conga - although in French you dance the "caterpillar"!
On the weight front I'm all over the shop. At one point I was down 10 lbs but now I think it is only about 6! So it's back in the saddle for me. I managed to walk in to work this morning and went to the gym at lunchtime and I always feel so good afterwards I wonder why I ever stop! Then yesterday I went for my annual check-up with the dermatologist - I usually get a few bits and bobs burned off as I am fair skinned. He looked at my arms and asked where I got that burn from (I'm not burned, I'm just red) so I told him it was from gardening the day before, at which point he told me to stay out of the sun because "you can't take it"! Fat chance - we're off to Turin for the day on Saturday to "do" the market, and they've forecast 30° and glorious sunshine! Can't wait. I've got my granny bag/wheelie bag all ready! Turin here I come!

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

A different post to the one I had planned!

I had a really busy but lovely weekend. Our local village always holds its village fête on Whit Sunday, but very often it rains, which tends to put a damper on all that hard work. Not so this weekend - it was glorious and the weekend turned out to be superb. I meant to write about our adventures but that will have to wait for another day. You see, I have just read of the death of a lovely lady called Barbara Wragg, who recently passed away at the age of 77. You probably don't know her name (neither did I) but for some reason her story has always stuck with me. You see, in 2000, she and her husband Ray won £7.6 million on the UK lottery - and that same evening decided to give most of it away! They simply decided that they had little need for that amount of money in their 50s and 60s so decided to give most of it away!

Of course they treated themselves to a nicer home and so on but they decided that their pleasure was going to be in donating most of it to good (local) causes. The reason their story rang a bell from years ago was I remember them hiring a coach to take deprived inner city kids to the annual panto in Sheffield, but not only did they hire the coach they went along with the kids to watch the show!

Anyway, of the £7.6 million they gave away a staggering £5.5 million to (amongst others) family and friends of course, 17 local charities. a local hospital to buy a bladder scanner, they bought 30 television sets for a local hospice so that all the children could watch their own TV, they gave money to a local breast cancer unit, they paid for a group of veterans to go on a trip to honour fallen heroes, they paid for 50 war heroes to go to Italy for the 60th anniversary of the battle of Monte Cassino, and so on and so on! To my mind that is how lottery money should be spent! I'm pretty sure we've all had dreams about winning the lottery (I know I have) but I feel the same way these people did and while I would obviously take care of my family, my greatest pleasure would be in giving most of it away. In fact, I already know the names of the first five charities that would benefit! Now all I have to do is win! Still, I suppose you can dream can't you. Anyway, RIP Barbara Wragg - you and your husband did a wonderful thing!

Barbara and Ray Wragg

Thursday, 17 May 2018

It could be a strange wedding!

As I mentioned the other day, Jordan and Jen announced that they are now engaged and are planning to get married in July 2019. Jordan and his brother, André, have very different characters and styles so while André and Lily's wedding was indeed beautiful, Jordan and Jen will be wanting something different. At the restaurant the other night Jen was saying that they wanted a "dandy-like" theme. I didn't hear her properly and thought she said a "Ghandi-like" theme - I have to admit I was a bit shocked!  Can you imagine me showing up something like this:

Anyway, Jen started laughing and said "no, dandy!" Actually I can see that quite suiting Jordan. He has very long hair which he ties back in a "man bun" for work and when he is all dolled out in braces (suspenders in the US) and a dickie bow I think he looks rather good. I'll be intrigued to see what he will actually look like on the day!

Anyway, this morning I bumped into K on the bus going into work and was telling her about the engagement and the theme they were hoping for for the wedding. Trouble is, K understood me to say "candy"! Lordy, lordy, with this severe case of Chinese whispers the potential for screwing up is pretty high don't you think!

On a slightly different note, as I have mentioned before I am an avid reader and since I have at least a 90 minute daily bus commute I do get a lot of reading done. A colleague just lent me Jodi Picoult's book "Small Great Things" and I loved it! It is a book about racism and loosely based on a true incident in Michigan some time ago. Again, I just loved it! I like Jodi Picoult anyway, although she is the kind of writer I cannot read one book after another continuously. But she builds such wonderful suspense into her writing and has written what I think is a a very soul-searching story about the iniquities of racism. I plan to buy it in French for my neighbour as she also loved the last Jodi Picoult book I got for her. Isn't it great when you find a writer whose work you adore!