A chance to make a difference

With the excitement of an extended trip to Cambodia I have had barely any time to write my blog. I am finding finishing my latest novel, before I leave, a task all of its own. But, as always I am led back to here and thought I would post some more photos on my photo page so do check those out.
Meanwhile, I will be back later this week with some new posts. You can’t control your excitement right? The big news though is that in July I will be going back to Cambodia. A long heart to heart chat with Andrew and an emotional application made to the Angkor Children’s Hospital in Siem Reap has brought about massive changes to my life. I was accepted to work for them as a voluntary writer in a bid to expose their needs and highlight their staff and patients to the world. After much negotiation I was able to talk them down from a six month stay to a five-six week one, which Andrew is reasonably happy about. It will be difficult for us both as we have not been apart for some time. At the beginning of our life together Andrew often travelled to Hong Kong for a month at a time but of late we have not been apart for long periods and neither of us is looking forward to it. But Cambodia is a country dear to both our hearts and something we cannot bring ourselves to refuse. Meanwhile, my stepson who currently nurses there, has set up a wonderful organisation called ‘Medical Cambodia’ check it out and I hopefully will be taking medical equipment with me on their behalf.
Every so often in life we get the chance to make a difference and this is mine. If anyone living or working in Cambodia reads this please do contact me. I would love to acquaint myself with you while I am in Siem Reap.
Now without further ado over to the photos, enjoy and all comments welcome.

The girl did good

Whenever another blogger gives me an award it never fails to move me. It really is terribly exciting to open your emails and see you have been awarded. I am very thrilled to be awarded the Kreativ blogger award by one of the finest bloggers I know. I may well write for part of my living but I cannot blog half as well as Jaqueline maturestudenthanginginthere So it is a veritable thrill to be awarded this by her. I look forward to her posts and she never disappoints. As always there are rules to accepting the award and I always get nervous when having to read what they are, and am shaking in my boots and so will you be, when you hear that I have to empty my brain and reveal a list of things you don’t know about me. This is going to be very hard as I’m an open book, or so you thought… Just when it was safe.
Best of all though I get to promote other blogs that I read and love. So, having thanked Jacqueline, let us crack on without further ado. 10 things I can reveal about me and don’t say you weren’t warned.
1) I eat raw potato (yes I do)
2) I put sugar on tomatoes to bring out the flavour
3) I walk around barefoot all the time, Winter or Summer
4) I read magazines backwards
5) I’m night blind and need a night-light to see my way to the loo
6) My favourite phrase is ‘I’ll start my diet tomorrow’
7) I had a poverty-stricken childhood and remember often running out of loo roll (don’t go there) and Thursday before pay-day was scrape the butter off the wrapping. I now buy food and toilet for an army…
8) I’ve been married twice (so far)
9) I can’t have children
10) I can’t live without music (Never mind Mahler)
Aren’t you relieved that’s over?
Now to the bloggers I want to award and this is always hard. I am still very new to blogging and have very few blogging pals sob sob, so come on sign up to follow me…
My chosen bloggers for this wonderful award of creativity are as follows.

Nuggets and Pearls, the lovely Marcia who I know has currently hung up her boots, to my sadness. It was Marcia who rekindled my love for blogging and her creative and inspirational posts always sent me to bang away my own posts. She showed me there was a whole new world out there. So, thank you Marcia, you deserve the award and I hope you don’t already have it.

I also want to give this to The Dribbling Pensioner whose posts over the months have been the most creative I have read. Every time it has been something new and always something to make me think. A brilliant blogger who never ceases to amaze me with his ideas.

Finally Eric Algan whose brilliant writing makes me go green with envy. I hate him. No, of course, I don’t really. His wonderful flowing prose sometimes makes me want to weep for it is so perfect. I love reading his words on ‘Life of Mechanic Leigh’ I adore this journal so
very much. It is a place I go when I want to indulge myself. Thank you for that Eric. I know he has this award already but a second awarding of it does not seem so bad.

Please check out the blogs above if you have time. Congratulations to those of you who I’ve nominated. For those of you do accept your award then just follow the instructions on this post and I look forward to reading who you nominate and what you choose to tell us about yourself.

A builder, a builder, my kingdom for a builder

Now I’m not a difficult person. I don’t ask for very much. I don’t want diamonds or extravagant holidays. I try to see the positive in everything and have vision. However if anyone had told me what was in store for me at Marlborough Cottage after we purchased it I think I would have been a touch nervous. We moved in over ten years ago and we were very aware that the kitchen and downstairs bathroom would need to be replaced at some point and that the whole cottage needed renovating. At the time I had such vision and really imagined that three years on we would have a beautiful cottage but as usually happens life takes over. Money was not available and everything seemed to cost more than we could ever have imagined. After decorating the whole house we felt that other things could wait and we could live adequately in Marlborough cottage as it was. This was not always a happy state of affairs. Our first winter was like something out of the film ‘Ethan Frome’ and if you haven’t seen that film, then you really must.’My hands cold as ice’ (Mattie from ‘Ethan Frome’) In our bathroom my hands tits and bum ‘cold as ice’ I kid you not. I swear if you do not pee quickly it will turn to ice mid-stream. My shower gel has iced up in the can before now. I see you shaking your head. It is true. The only heating in the bathroom is a little fan thing on the wall and that has to go on at least forty minutes before a shower. After a few weeks I devise the perfect routine.  First put bath towel in tumble dryer for thirty minutes before shower and fan heater on about twenty minutes before shower and then quick dive into bathroom and under the hot water where skin tingles from going to one extreme to the other. Jump from shower, wrap hot towel around oneself and dive into warm living room. What a palaver. But we managed to survive. The other problem in the winter became the night time wee. The bedroom is also freezing and the only saving grace is the electric blanket which I assure you has stayed on number one all night this winter. Andrew and I must have more cuddles than any couple I know.

Our bedroom, quaint if not cold.
A horrified friend warned me this could be dangerous, not the cuddling, of course, but the blanket. Andrew is not that electrifying in bed, well he might be, but I wouldn’t tell you now, would I? There is a risk of electrocution she advised. I assured her the risk of frost bite was even higher. Having once braved the loo in the night and returning to bed like an ice cube I decided drastic action was needed. Let’s say I devised a little loo for us upstairs. I won’t go into more detail. Then, of course there is the kitchen. I don’t have a kitchen in the winter. I have just one big freezer. The olive oil in my cupboard is currently frozen as is the peanut butter and honey. Oh, it is not a joke. On Sunday I convinced Andrew to help me prepare dinner because more than fifteen minutes in the kitchen means you cannot chop carrots or onions, especially if they have been in the fridge. I got as far as the garlic and could no longer feel my fingers. We almost collided with each other in our rush to dive back into the warm living room. Oh, you are pitying me, I can feel it. The waves of pity are just penetrating through the virtual world of the internet.  But I get to be very close to my lovely hubby if nothing else. At least the cold is better than the rain which floods in under the back door. In the winter at least the bathroom is not plagued by wood lice. You see, one can always find the positive. In an attempt to keep warm I light lots of candles. Perhaps not the most sensible thing seeing as this house has a history of fires. It’s okay it is safe to read on but only just.  About 89 years ago poor Miss Marshall lit a candle in her bedroom, the same bedroom which is now ours. Our neighbour now 92 remembers it well.

‘Smoke was billowing from the window and we rushed to get in. The next thing I remember was Miss Marshalls charred body falling through the ceiling and landing on your living room floor.’

Now that does make you shiver? and I won’t lie and say we have not heard noises from upstairs because sometimes we have.

The lounge where Miss Marshall fell to her death
Another blog posting I think. Then, of course there is the odd case of the house deeds which were strangely lost in a fire at the solicitors. Our predecessor’s Molly and Clifford had two fires in the freezing lean to which I referred to earlier. Then there was the day that yours truly nearly went up in flames. Andrew was upstairs working. I had just showered and quickly grabbed my flowery flowing skirt that tied at the waist. It was a bit chilly so I decided to light some candles to warm the place up. I only meant to warm the place up, you understand, but someone else obviously had other intentions of warming me up. I had already lit those on the fireplace and was lighting the few I had put on the coffee table when I had a strange hot sensation in my leg. I ignored it, as you do. I then went to rub it only to find my skirt was on fire. Of course I can write calmly about this now. I frantically tried to untie the knot of the tie-up that held my skirt while repeatedly calling Andrew. God help me the damn thing was knotted. I began to frantically tug at it to get it over my hips, while the flames were licking further and further up my skirt.
‘Andrew,’ I screamed hysterically. No response. ‘Andrew, help me, please.’
No response. Oh my god I was going to burn alive like Miss Marshall. I ran dramatically towards the wall almost knocking myself out. Smoke was everywhere along with floating pieces of my skirt as Andrew opened the door at the bottom of the stairs. He did not rush, it seems, because he thought I had seen a spider or a dead mouse. I ask you! Trust me I do not scream hysterically when I see a mouse or even a spider. When I am burning to death I may have a tendency to scream hysterically, justified I think.
I swore never to have candles in the house again. But of course I lapsed. A few years went by and they were no more fire incidents so I put it down to bad luck. Then only a few months ago when Andrew was in Taiwan, Bendy and I were sitting cosily on the couch when there was a strange bang from upstairs. Bendy jumped onto the coffee table almost knocking over a vase of flowers. I jumped up to catch them, throwing the cushion I was using to lean my net book upon, straight onto the candles on the table.
Gently stroking Bendy I realised there was a burning smell. I looked behind me to see the cushion on fire. I quickly doused it with water and sighed when I saw the large hole. Was this Miss Marshall striking again? We never did find out what the bang was. But we are brave here and do not give in to ghosts and still light candles. Full blog posting on this here. Are you over your trembling, shall I continue. Okay, Onto less frightening house complications.

Last summer we replaced the front and back doors. Ten years on and we started thinking we really should do more. The past few years we got side tracked with family weddings, trips abroad, Andrew’s studies which seemed to go on forever but yay he finally graduated to Dr Cook in August

Andrew's graduation
and there was a sigh of relief all round. So, this year is the year of the builder or at least so we thought. We phoned the builder who had built a new home for our neighbours and he seemed very keen.

‘I’ll pop to see you,’ he said.

Three weeks later we phoned again to see if he was still interested.

‘Oh, yes, I’ll pop round on Friday.’

And he did and he advised us of an architect whom we contacted.

‘I’ll pop a quote in the post for you this week.’

A week later we went on holiday for two weeks. We returned, still no quote. We phoned, no answer, we left a message, no response. Perhaps he is sick or something, I said sympathetically. Oh, I am so innocent.

Andrew not so innocent phoned several other builders to get as many quotes as possible.  Meanwhile, we had the plans drawn up and applied for planning permission. Still no quote. Then the lovely Julian came. He was very impressive and spent a long time with us.

‘I’ll put a quote in the post. You should have it before Christmas.’

We got planning permission. Christmas came, Christmas went. We flew to Cambodia and flew home to NO QUOTES. I was in tears.

‘We will never get a builder.’

‘Things take time,’ Andrew advises ‘It may take a few weeks.’

A few weeks! I am beginning to think these builders work on years. Three months later we ask more builders for quotes, we ask our friends if they know builders. Andrew begins to talk of doing it himself.

‘I’ll take a week off work,’ he says with a grin.

Not funny!

Another builder visits. He doesn’t even ask to see where the extension will go but from the plans assures us it will not be a problem.

‘I’ll pop the quote in the post.’

Haven’t we heard that before?

Another visits and thinks we want an extension to cover the whole garden… We explain the plans and tell him we want a new kitchen/living area to go onto the existing lounge and a downstairs loo plus a bathroom upstairs and another small bedroom. He says he will have to ask his mates who couldn’t make it today. At the word mates, we look at each other suspiciously. He also happily advises us that if he can’t do it he knows someone who throws these things up really fast and cheap. Yes, right…

Three months on we get a quote from the first builder for 60,000 pounds, minus fittings and decorating. I pick Andrew up off the floor and ask can he take two weeks off work to do it himself. He scoffs. Then nice Julian’s quote pops through the door. Oh, at last. Except it isn’t a quote. It is Julian telling us he now can’t do it. Basically he has been offered bigger jobs. Charming.

We wait for ‘It’s not a problem’ builder quote.  Meanwhile another one visits and seems very unassuming.

‘I’ll get the quote to you in a week’ and HE DOES. Impressed we are.

Andrew looks into the price of scaffolding and I start to worry that he is serious about doing it himself. Oh, good lord.

The builder who got the quote back on time phones to say he would like to discuss it with us. He wants to come and see us again without us asking. Ooh, we get very excited. Meanwhile, another comes and Bendy runs and hides again. I begin to wonder how he will cope with all the work when it starts. Then on Wednesday the prompt builder arrives and guess what? Bendy is all over him, at one point putting his paw onto his knee so he is sure to see him and give him a stroke. It’s a sign. I tell Andrew this later and he just scoffs but he agrees this is the guy for us and his quote is reasonable. I can’t believe it. In just eighteen weeks he will start work with his team.

I so hope I can post good things…

Pictorial memory

My hobby as an amateur photographer has very much taken a step into the background. There seems to be only so much in life that I can do. However, today I was glancing through my photography folder on my computer. Mainly because I turned a year older yesterday and I felt it was time for the yearly computer clear out. Of course, clear out is not what happens. Instead, similar to sorting through old boxes of memorabilia, one gets carried away and all sorts of ideas present themselves. So instead of shelving photography, I have decided to get involved again. As soon as I get time I will set up a new page on my Blog for photos. I am getting quite excited. I first got involved in photography in the late seventies and then acquired a Praktica single lens reflex. I thought it was the bees knees. I did so much with that. Finally I was given a Pentax which became the love of my life for many years. I updated it only once. Then along came digital and I bought myself a simple Fuji single lens reflex. I was quite content with this but my dream was to own a Nikon. A wonderful director friend, impressed with some of my photos offered me a Nikon he had no more use of. He kindly bought me a lens to go with it. This camera has been my companion for some time and I love it. See for yourself. In the meantime, enjoy and all constructive criticism is welcome.

Turin, in the moutains

School girls on their way to school. Phillipines;

Andrew and his daughter in Oxford


A wedding guest

First pregnancy

In Scotland





Horses, near home

Andrew (in Oxford)

A friend with child


Wedding dress

Rose in our garden

Taken near our village






Capturing the bride



Horse near our our home

You is well funny!

Klik hier voor meer gratis plaatjes
I have always looked on the bright side of things. My sense of humour is wacky and I have been called eccentric, nicely mad and well funny. One memorable comment from a student I was teaching many years ago was.
‘You is well funny, you should be on the telly.’
Yes, well… There have been times that it could seriously have gotten me into trouble.
I have already recounted many funny episodes in my life but believe me for every one that I have told you there are a million others. So, here we go, sit down, get comfy and those cheeky ones can bugger off now. It all began with this morning, well, in theory on Thursday when my friend Marie, and yes Marie, this is your entire fault, gave me an early birthday card. She asked me to open it right away and of course I did. There is always the vague hope that there might be a cheque inside. There wasn’t, just in case you wondered. I think she must have forgotten to put it in. Hopefully when she reads this, she’ll pop it in the post. On arrival home, I showed Andrew my card which was a lovely lookalike picture of my cat Bendy. Where she is going with this, you are asking. Don’t deny it, because I heard you. The card was then placed on the book shelf. I did notice Andrew’s newly purchased tax disc but that is really the only time I recall seeing it. It is at this point that I have to claim total ignorance at whatever followed because I honestly cannot remember. I blame hormones myself, mine that is, not Andrew’s. It is a miracle of nature that I am still having periods actually but that is probably another post altogether. But while we are on the subject of periods I would just like to raise the question, why are sanitary towels not free? Did I ask for periods? More importantly did I ask for them to go on forever? Did I ask to make history? No. I spent over nine pounds on sanitary protection the other day. I think the NHS should supply them; after all they supply condoms don’t they? It’s all one and the same thing surely? But I transgress as usual. The next day he asks have I seen his tax disc. I admitted I had but that was the night before. He insists I have lost it, I insist I haven’t. Andrew finally finds it in the recycle bin, folded neatly and inside the envelope clearly marked Lynda which originally housed my card. I mean, honestly what is going on? How did I do that? More importantly when did I do that? And most importantly of all, why did I do it?
My question to you is this. Am I clearly mad, or can this all be blamed on hormones?

I have been known to trudge round Marks and Spencer for over an hour, pack my shopping, ask for the collect by car option, accept my number disc and then drive all the way home, get indoors and then realise I am still holding the disc and my shopping is still at the store.

I’m the part medical receptionist who politely argues with the patient who comes to collect a prescription.
Patient, mumbling:

‘I’ve come to collect my prescription.’


What’s your name?

Patient: Whispers

‘Joe Smith’

Me, looks for prescription can’t find it. Ten minutes of me asking when was it requested and trying to trace it, I suddenly come to the realisation that it must be a controlled drug and the script is somewhere safe. I search in the relevant place but no prescription. Joe Smith, mumbles his name again and fidgets uncomfortably. I again ask him what it was for in the hope it will give me an idea where to look. He shifts about again and whispers something I don’t catch. He finally reveals it is a private script. Ah, why didn’t he say that in the beginning? With a flourish I produce his prescription which he grabs and quickly exits.

‘What was that all about?’

asks my fellow worker.

‘Oh, nothing,’

I respond.
Well, how was I know his prescription was for Viagra?

I really hate to hurt people’s feelings and that can go as far as our local milkman. Rather than telling him we didn’t want him anymore, I said I now had lactose intolerance and couldn’t drink milk. He was so sympathetic and helpful that I found myself accepting his offer of lactose free milk and yoghurt. Andrew’s face when seeing them in the fridge was quite a picture.

I am even polite to obscene phone callers. One once phoned and asked if I wasn’t too busy would I talk to him while he w***ed himself off. I apologised, saying I was in the middle of the ironing. I mean, who does that?

I have left my handbag in a shopping trolley and driven home.

Left the house, locked the front door while leaving the back door wide open.

Slept in the summer-house when Andrew was away working because there was a spider in the bedroom. Because we do not have a back entrance I had to leave the backdoor unlocked all night, so I could get back into the house in the morning… (shush) don’t tell Andrew.

I have unbuttoned my skirt while travelling on a coach only to forget to button up again. Yes, you’ve guessed it. While running along Oxford Street to catch a connecting bus I ended up with my skirt around my ankles.

I’m the woman who gets a tampon stuck and has to have it surgically removed, oh yes, that’s me…

I have also attempted to get into a car that looks very like mine for about ten minutes until I finally spot the baby seat and remember I don’t have a baby. Thank god, the car wasn’t alarmed.

I find I am out of control whenever I hear Irish music. When walking through the grounds of Blenheim palace and hearing ‘Lord of the dance’ I break into an Irish jig. Klik hier voor meer gratis plaatjes

Like a good wife I prepare dinner early and put everything in the slow cooker and then potter off to write. It is only when Andrew arrives home at 6.30 that I realise I had plugged in the toaster instead of the slow cooker. No dinner!

I have handed over my NHS employee smart code to policeman when stopped in my car, thinking it is my driving licence (well they are both pink!) and been told I can go. (Obviously they mistake me for a Doctor. Understandable.)
I send text message to the wrong people… Seriously, this can be quite dire.

Now, you are all going to tell me how similar things happen to you every day aren’t you? Or are you just going to tell me.
‘You is well funny!’