Monday, 4 July 2011

Inside out!

Went with mum to an al fresco music event on Sunday. A few local bands were playing inside St Luke's at the top of Bold Street, Liverpool. 'But how can they be inside if it's al fresco?' I hear you ask, well...

St Luke's is also known hereabouts as 'The Bombed Out Church'!

My mum actually remembers the blitz and the church being hit by the bomb that reduced it to the shell it is today. She lived in Liverpool at the time. Hard to imagine how frightening it must have been as she was only 9 years old.

We had to sign a waver absolving the organisers of the event of any responsibilty should a piece of loose masonry fall on our heads! If they were concerned then maybe having bands playing there might not have been the best idea in the circumstances! I'm sure it was just a bit of health and safety nonsense though. Hitler couldn't knock it down so a bit of folk music couldn't do much damage surely!?

We went to try and sell a few of my poetry cards as I hoped the St Luke's one might at least sell a few. We ended up selling 3, one each of the other 3 designs! Oh well, we had a nice time, sitting in the sun and listening to the music and we got in free because we were sellers. The entrance fee would have been £10 otherwise.

It was the first time either me or mum had ever been inside the church. I think she really appreciated the experience, it must have brought back some memories for her.

It was pretty overgrown and unkempt inside, but there were some lovely red poppies amongst the weeds. I wondered if someone had scattered the seeds there on purpose...

What also struck me (no, not falling gargoyles thank goodness) was how everyone seemed to know everyone else. They were all greeting each other with hugs and kisses and the atmosphere was lovely. Have we British finally embraced (scuse the pun) the idea of the European greeting? Or, do I not get out enough? I felt like I was missing out so, when Ian came to pick us up a few hours later, I gave him a big hug and a kiss!

It felt nice that there was so much love in a place that so much hate had once tried to destroy.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

The Mind is willing...

...but the flesh is weak!

Never was a saying more apposite than applied to Marfan Syndrome. Just google 'Marfan Syndrome and high IQ' and you'll see I'm not just idly boasting.

I have a VERY active mind, I can achieve so much in my head, it's just getting my body to follow through on those plans that I find impossible.

Someone of no consequence at all said about me recently " still amazes me how someone can be so active and still be signed off sick". I didn't realise I was supposed to switch my brain off when I became too affected by my Marfan's to work. But, I'm flattered that they give my health so much consideration :0)

One of my favourite quotes, by TH White from The Once and Future King, really sums up my attitude to life...

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

I've recently learnt something new, it's something I can do sitting down (I have to sit down a lot!), I can do it whenever and wherever I like (not that!!!) and pick it up and put it down when I get tired. I've learned to crochet! :0)

Now, not satisfied with just making things for myself and my family, I felt inspired to try and make some 'pocket money' from this newfound hobby. Being on a restricted income, it's not often we can treat ourselves these days. I've got my mum involved too, she's 79 and widowed so it gives her a focus and a purpose too and she enjoys it.

We made a few pieces and did a craft fair and I set up a web site. We didn't make any money at the craft fair and, so far, our outlay has exceeded our income but we enjoy it and hopefully it might lead to a few pennies so that we can treat ourselves to the odd fish and chip supper! :0)

Now, you'd think people would be happy for me? Maybe even applaud my efforts. Well, most are and do I think, but there's always going to be someone who wants to piss on your parade.

Some spiteful person reported me to the benefits office for running my own business. They asked me to come in for a chat, it turns out that not only is what I'm doing perfectly acceptable to them, they also advised me that I'm allowed to earn up to £96 per week under the category of "permitted work".
I had to laugh because not only has this malevolent presence in my life been frustrated in their attempt to bring unhappiness into my world, but they've also facilitated the passing of this little nugget of info!

Now, as much as I'd love to have an extra £96 a week in the coffers, unless I suddenly start to crochet at the speed of light (which is unlikely given my joint problems, and I don't mean marijuana!) then I can't see that ever happening. But I really must thank the anonymous arsehole out there for bringing this to my attention! Never has the phrase 'pissing myself laughing' been more appropriate! :0)

I'm reminded of a verse from 'Desiderata' by Max Ehrmann, which is another piece of writng I derive great comfort and inspiration from...

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

So, I shall continue to be myself and strive for my ideals and, though this may not be worthy of someone with a high IQ (tongue firmly in cheek there!), I dedicate the following to the knobber who trampled my honour in the sewer of their baser mind! :0)

Friday, 24 June 2011

My little secret...

I love food but I can't stand all the snobbery that can go with it. I much prefer substance over style, I'd rather eat excellent fish and chips sitting on a park bench than have a mediocre meal in some flashy restaurant. So, I wracked my brains about where to go for my birthday this year and then remembered a lovely little place we'd been to once before.

It's a small pub with lovely decor, located next to a lake on the edge of a forest and, more importantly, the food is excellent and the staff are really welcoming and friendly. The kind of place you want to keep all to yourself...but also tell everyone about!

I asked for a cocktail as an aperitif, namely a 'Cosmopolitan' but, being a country pub, I guess they don't get asked for cocktails very often so they didn't know how to make it. They asked me what was in it but I didn't know either! I said "you know, that cocktail they drink all the time on 'Sex and The City'", as if that would make them suddenly know!

They went to look it up on the internet and then this arrived at the table...apparently they didn't have any cocktail glasses so they used the nearest fish bowl!

Less 'Sex and The City' and more 'Benidorm', it was crying out for a mini umbrella and a sparkler! Still, it gave us all a good giggle and we had a lovely meal and evening.

And this is the view from the restaurant, over the lake. I just realised I forgot to tell you the name of the pub... ;0)

Saturday, 14 May 2011

quackers about the locals...

Had a very productive afternoon despite the rain! Bought some live mealworms for our OAP (old aged poultry), we have a raggedy little ex battery hen who we think is on her last legs so we're spoiling her with tasty grub, or should I say tasty grubs!

Collected 9 unopened copies (still with the wool in them) with a binder of 'the art of crochet' from a freecycle user, then headed into rural Cheshire. Passed several farms/farm shops and bought local asparagus and home grown Hereford rump steaks, mince and burgers.

Then on to a friend of ours, who runs her own cake-making business, and swapped some of her ducks' eggs and some of her yummy cake for 2 dozen of our quail eggs, and a spare egg skelter I had for some of her rhubarb plants.

On the way home we went to the Co-op for lottery tickets and a birthday card for my sis and Ian managed to get some lovely french bread reduced from 80p to 10p. Looking forward to steamed asparagus with poached duck eggs for tea :0)

steak, mince and burgers from 'Brosters beef' clay lane farm cw7 2qh
asparagus from 'cherry orchard farm' CW8 2HN
duck eggs from a friend's ducks

While driving around Cheshire today it was great to see so many producers selling direct from their farms.

and that, my friends, is un oeuf! :0)

Friday, 6 May 2011

there's no such thing as a free lunch...

...but there are other free things you can get if you keep your eyes and ears open!

Our local authority reward residents who recycle glass, paper and plastic via the 'recyclebank' scheme. Every time your special bin containing recycleable stuff is emptied you are awarded points, which you can exchange for vouchers to use locally.
I've just got 30 litres of peat free compost for free from the local garden centre. I've also got a voucher for a tea room in frodsham for a 'buy one get one free' cream tea and a voucher for a local cafe for a 'buy one get one free' breakfast. Mum and i will use those at some point during the week while Ian is at work, sorry Ian!

My mum also changed her bank to mine recently and as a reward the bank gave her and me (for recommending her) some 'airmiles'. I used some of my allocation to get 20 x 500ml bottles of speciality ales and bitters via virgin wines. They arrived today and if they are nice I'm going to use mum's allocation to get some more. You can also choose to exchange them for wine, amongst lots of other treats.

I've also started to use a web site called 'readitswapit' where you can exchange unwanted books with other readers. You choose a book from their list and if they like any of the books on your list, you just send them to each other and all you pay is the postage. As a voracious reader I find it very useful and have swapped several books so far.

Then there's the 'freecycle' network where people ask for things thry'd like and offer things they no longer need. Recently, for example, I've responded to someone offering lots of copies of a magazine called 'the art of crochet'. And, while i don't really agree with freecycle being used to give animals away, we did get 5 free quail from there too. We've also given away several items; a cast iron chimnea, an old set of garden furniture, a couple of guitars, a couple of bird cages, a dog kennel and even chicken poo from our chickens for fertiliser!

I've also recently been on the 'Twinings' web site to register for free tea samples.

And, the elderflowers are almost ready around here so we'll be helping ourselves to the local umbels to produce some lovely elderflower cordial in the near future!

Oh, I almost forgot, I got 2 free tickets to a comedy club in Liverpool recently just by keeping an eye on their facebook page and entering a competition! The tickets were worth about £30!

So, while I might not have been able to get a free lunch as yet, I've not done badly getting other free stuff!

If you'd like to share any other tips for garnering gratis goodies, feel free to leave a comment! :0)

Sunday, 24 April 2011

To The Lighthouse...

A lovely Good Friday walk to Hale Lighthouse/beach. It nearly killed me and is taking 2 days to recover from but it was worth it!

Had a lovely medicinal drinkie at The Childe of Hale pub too before heading home...

John Middleton (1578–1623) was an English giant commonly known as the Childe of
Hale. Most of what is known about him is based on oral tradition and legends.
Legend tells that he slept with his feet out of the window of his small house.
Tales also credit him with great strength

the long walk down to the beach....

there's just something mesmorising about sunlight on water....

the house next to the lighthouse is private and i assume they own the lighthouse too as it's all gated off. Their little outcrop would make a smashing spot for a tea room. I reckon they're missing a trick there! :0)

Frodsham hill in the background...

happy wind blown pooch...

gorgeous house in Hale village...

gorgeous cottage in Hale village...

Can't decide which I prefer...probably the cottage :0)

Click on the photos to make them bigger and get the full effect.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


I'm really getting into this crochet lark. Just finished a poncho and matching hat for myself. I'm rather pleased with it :0)

Monday, 7 March 2011

Capital show!

For Ian's birthday this year we got the train from Liverpool Lime St. to Euston and the whole trip only cost £20 booking with virgin trains via It would have only cost 50p by bus but we didn't fancy the 5 hour trip and you can't really complain at £20 return for 2 people!

We stayed at The MIC hotel which was a stone's throw from Euston and opposite a really nice pub, and a plethora of eateries around the corner.

We dined at one of the plethora on the first night, The African Kitchen Gallery. We had the place to ourselves so had to make conversation with the owner. I wouldn't normally complain about a bit of banter but I was tired and just wanted to eat. Consequently, I ended up with terrible indigestion and couldn't sleep that night!

Still felt dodgy the next morning so couldn't do justice to the breakfast buffet and then Ian dragged me off to get the tube to the East end so he could walk in the footsteps of The Krays!

He wanted to see The Blind Beggar pub which apparently was made infamous by the dodgy twins!? Despite it saying it was open on t'internet, it was shut!

Very multicultural is The East end and there were several Sari shops, I wanted one of those pants and top ensembles but there mustn't be very many size 20, 6 foot 1" Asian ladies around cos none of them would go anywhere near fitting me!

So, we got the tube to South Kensington and had lunch at Harrods! £60 for 2 milkshakes, burgers and chips!!! Harrods, in my opinion, is totally overrated and I dooubt we'll be lunching there again any time soon!

not a $5 shake but an £8 one!!!!

The escalator at South Kensington was really steep and I have a bit of a phobia about escalators. I managed with great difficulty to go up it but there was no way I could go back down, so we had to get a taxi back to the hotel.

Back at the hotel we had a nap and then got ready to go to the West end this time! We went to see 'We Will Rock You' and it was awesome! £4 for a bucket of popcorn but we'd brought our own drinks and sweets and I'd recommend you do the same as a can of coke was about £2! After the show, we got a rickshaw back to the hotel, bloody freezing but a lot of fun!

Best part of the trip and if we go again I'd just want to see a show and come home, bugger the rest of it! :0)

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out - James Bryant Conant

I've always wanted to be able to either knit, sew or crochet. It's always looked like such a satisfying thing to do and some of the things I've seen people create are just so much nicer than anything commercially available.

My mother has been knitting/crocheting/sewing for over 50 years and is an expert at all things to do with fabric and wool. She doesn't, however, possess a great deal of patience. I remember her trying to show me how to knit when I was little and because I'm left handed and she's not, coupled with the fact that she was going too fast, we both got frustrated and that was the end of that!

I don't think the way my brain works helps either. I tend to look at instructions as a whole, instead of breaking them down into manageable chunks, get freaked out by how complicated things can seem, and don't bother going any further! That and the fact I have a limited attention span has always been a big handicap. I also tend to think I can't do something if I fail at the first hurdle, 'practice makes perfect' never seemed to make sense to me. I could either do something first time round or I'd never be able to master it, or that's how my brain always used to work.

This time though I was determined!

I bought a mgazine earlier last year 'The Art of Crochet' which was on offer for 99p. I practiced with the sample of wool and hook that came with the magazine, found it tricky and put it in the cupboard where it stayed for a few months. then I discovered a friend of mine, who had also bought the mag at the same time, had actually perservered and managed to create some lovely items! That was it, I HAD to try again. Not only am I impatient BUT I am also competetive to some extent and yes, maybe I was a bit envious of her new found skill and annoyed with myself for yet another tried and failed project.

Anyway, to cut a long story slightly less long, I practiced, failed, unravelled, stomped my feet, tried again and gradually began to 'get it', allelujah!!! An epiphany, practice DOES make perfect, well maybe not perfect but a damned sight better then when I started!

I have just finished making myself a scarf with some crocheted flowers at each end. I am very proud of myself for not only creating something that looks quite pretty but also for finishing what I start for a change!

So, next time this turtle sticks her neck out, she has a nice scarf to keep it warm! :0)