Monday, 29 August 2011

Autumn's Too Soon

I love autumn, for many reasons; it's a lovely time of the year. But it's still summer. Someone should tell Mother Nature because last night was bitterly cold with a chill wind and today, the lawn was full of leaves - at least a month early by my reckoning.

Looking down the street at the hundreds of trees, there's a distinct tinge of orange to the green here and there. There are a couple of beeches that are turning in their lower branches, a sycamore that is nearly empty of leaves and the chestnuts are definitely turning and looking threadbare.

While the rest of the world is working and beavering away on the dreadful Monday, today in England, it's a Bank Holiday. It feels of course like a Sunday. It'll put me out for the rest of the week, believe you me. I'm only at work for three days, then I'm away in Manchester for a long weekend on a psychic development course. So I'm looking forward to a three day working week.

My thoughts are with the ordinary people of Libya this last couple of days and I've been sending distance healing to the country to protect the innocent and I hope that a peaceful conclusion comes to this awful conflict at the earliest opportunity. My thoughts are also with the people on the eastern seaboard of the United States of America who have suffered from the after effects of tropical storm 'Irene'. The loss of life is shocking. I experienced a tropical storm when I was in America, 'Ernesto' a few years ago, but that was mainly torrential heavy rain and the most amazing thunderstorms. And we whinge about a bit of a chilly breeze!

Chat soon

Ta ra

Thursday, 25 August 2011

400 Not Out - Celebration at Sledmere

Welcome to my 400th blog. I never knew if I had enough stamina to keep it going, I mean how much can one write about your life or how many opinions can you express? I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing life with bloggers far and wide. 

As a fitting subject, today I visited another country house in our fair and green land. Sledmere House is situated in the north of the East Riding of Yorkshire in beautiful rolling hills. This Georgian house, partly destroyed by fire in 1911 was rebuilt sympathetically between 1912 and 1917 and it is a magnificent edifice, the home of the Sykes family, more accurately Sir Tatton Sykes, 8th Baronet. Regrettably, there was no photography allowed in the house so forgive the photograph overload.

The day started badly in that the rain forecast duly arrived in the early hours of the morning and the journey up there was through heavy persistent rain. On arrival, as if by an order, the rain stopped and the sun started to peep through. The house is in a lovely little village, mostly estate houses belonging to the Sledmere estate and is approached along a long high brick wall adjoining the main road. 

Even before we got there, you can see the most wonderful war memorial for the village on the road side - the detail is phenomenal.

The car park is under trees and the house is approached through the shop which charges £8 for full access to the house and gardens for an adult. Family and child tickets as well as concessions are cheaper. The grounds are extensive wide open spaces and immaculately kept. 

Walking past the imposing house along the pea gravel drive among huge mature trees, the walled garden was the first port of call.  

This is a superb garden full of colour from the moment you walk through the gate. Every imaginable cottage and flower garden species graced long paths, intermixed with a large variety of fruit trees. The second part of the walled garden is a more formal garden including vegetables. This was a real pleasure and I could have spent all day in there.

Back to the house and we were welcomed by a guide and throughout the house there were several guides, 'older' ladies who were very helpful and hugely knowledgeable. I estimate you can see around half of the house in total - the family live in another part of the house; none-the-less, it is a lived in house and is very much loved. There were many rooms to visit on the ground floor, paintings from the 16th century through to modern day, exciting furniture and there is nothing old or decrepit about it, neither is it jaded or faded. Floor coverings, beautifully decorated ceilings; it is a joy to see.  This is the view out of the living room window - deer graze peacefully on the far field!

The guide book is very helpful (£4) and takes you through the house giving history and stories of reconstruction in some places. The first floor however is an absolutely shockingly and unexpectedly marvelous place. The bedrooms are wonderful and the bathroom quaint. Here's the thing, the library is the best room I've been in in my whole life. It has a hugely high vaulted ceiling lined with books, a parquet floor and sensational to see extending the full length of the house . I can't adequately describe it and it's a shame I couldn't bring you a photograph, but I am going to cheat - here's a scan from the guide book, courtesy of Sledmere House:

After the house, a short walk led us to the church within the grounds; St Mary's a lovely smallish church used by the family and the estate. It was dark inside but a half hours meditation was lovely, the silence was deafening.  

This is a house I would heartily recommend and I will go so far as to say that this is definitely worth travelling to even a good old distance, you will not be disappointed.

On the way back home, you pass the Gothic style Sir Tatton Sykes (the 4th Baronet) Memorial Monument by the road side on Garton Hill. This can be seen for many miles around, like a beacon, even from the Humber Bridge on a good day. Built in 1865, it is over 100 feet high and at one time you could climb up inside it to give unparallelled views of the country, but it is no longer open to the public.

The weekend beckons and for us in the UK, it's a Bank Holiday on Monday giving us an extra day at home. The last Bank Holiday of the year before Christmas.

Chat soon


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

I thought I'd share this picture with you. The label comes from my underpants (photographed when clean of course), sold by Sainsburys under their TU label. Good advice Mr Sainsbury, particularly when I'm in them. 

Decorating starts today in our main living room. Now I can hear some moans and normally I would moan too except I don't decorate. This is done by my other half who is an expert decorator. I leave her with it. Now here's the thing: some 30 odd years ago when we moved into our then new house, my wife was putting up wallpaper having been taught by my uncle Les who is also an exceptionally talented decorator. I walked in to the room with a cup of tea admiring her work when I noticed that there was something not quite right somehow.

I couldn't work it out. The wallpaper was patterned, small roses if I remember and eventually I worked it out: in the corner, she had put a piece upside down. I complimented her on her work and told her that she'd put a piece upside down. I never thought about it. Needless to say, following her reaction, since that day  when she decorates, I make my self scarce.

Should I have not said anything and wait for her to find out herself? Then she would have accused me of being blind and not admiring her work! Looking back, it was one of those situations where (I was) damned if I did and damned if I didn't.

Anyway, talking about domestic things which I know is dreadfully exciting, our washing machine has packed up and of course, Sod's Law, it was full of water and washing. We managed to get the door open and retrieve the clothes which consisted of a few items belonging to her ladyship. Wringing them out in the garden before putting them on the line to dry out brought back some memories of when I was at home with my parents, wringing out clothes after they'd come out of the tub.

My new mobile phone is really good. It even makes phone calls! There's so much else it does apart from making a phone call and it's so clever, it's frightening. I can use hip new language like 'Apps' (applications). As soon as the youngsters know us older ones can use their language, they'll change it again.

I do hope you've had a great weekend, wherever you are.

Chat soon


Saturday, 20 August 2011

Night at the Pictures - Planet of the Apes

I can't get the photographs back for the blog, they seemed to have disappeared for good. I'm manually putting the pictures back and I've done 75 out of nearly 400 blogs by re-posting them from my computer files. What a pain in the neck!

I'm pretty good at deciding which film to go and see, a) because it's expensive; and b) I like to be entertained. I went to see The Rise of the Planet of the Apes last night (Friday) and frankly I was a little disappointed. I'm not sure what I was going to see on this occasion because I had only seen a couple of brief trailers and they looked okay and indeed the hype seemed pretty positive.

The storyline was okay although it did move along quite slowly in the early stages. The CGI animated chimpanzees is what let it down for me. Ironically, the rubber masks the actors wore in the 'Planet of the Apes' television series and films years ago were more convincing!

If ever there was a film which sets the scene for subsequent sequels, this was it. It sets the scene for future films; the end of this film was very much left 'in the air.' 

The acting was fine and most of the special effects were fine too - except some of the animals. Harry Potter star Tom Feltham (Draco Malfoy) is very good as the sadistic keeper of chimpanzees - I really liked his performance and American star John Lithgow was superb as the father of the main character who is suffering from debilitating Alzheimer's - a brave and moving performance. It is good to see British stars appearing in the film which was set in San Francisco - Feltham, Brian Cox and David Oyelowo.

The Internet Movie Database shows the rating for the film from fans as 8 out of 10 which is quite high. The age rating is an appropriate 12A and I saw it in 2D (normal!)

I'm afraid I can't recommend this one as a top film and I'm not sure it was worth £7.30.

Chat soon


What, no Pictures?

I don't know if you've noticed, but all my pictures on my blog have disappeared. Slowly but surely over the last week, now to be left with large black squares where pictures should be. I have no idea why this has happened, so forgive me for the time being while I try to work out why and hopefully I will be able to restore them.

I do back up all my blog pages and perhaps it might be something to do with a new mobile phone which seems to be bringing information in from all over the place by itself.
Chat soon


Saturday, 13 August 2011

Hugs or Handshake?

I was having an interesting conversation with a good friend the other day and we were talking about hugging and kissing between friends when you first greet them or to say goodbye. I need hugging. I enjoy hugging. Hugging is a very important part of my relationship with friends. A peck on the cheek normally to accompany the hug is quite usual. 

Even at work, if I meet someone of the opposite gender whom I know very well indeed and I haven't seen them for a long time, I greet them with a kiss on the cheek. Men - I shake hands - no discrimination. This is accepted practice - no-one cares or wonders; that's what (some) friends do.

I'm not sure what it is about a hug without over analysing, but I guess it's a sense of sealing and recognising a friendship at a step up from being an acquaintance. I hug and kiss my mother and my mother-in-law when we meet as well as assorted aunties and cousins. That's what we do as a family - always have done. 
Now this wasn't part of the conversation at all, but by sheer co-incidence did you read the article about kissing in the workplace in Germany? The  Knigge Society wants workplace kissing to be banned. Of course we must understand that culture is different in every country and it may be that kissing is not the done thing in some sections of the community in Germany. They say it's an import practice from other countries. 

In some countries they don't like shaking hands for instance. However the weird thing is that the Knigge Society (named after a manual of good manners) spoke to the BBC and admitted that they couldn't ban it from the work place but people who don't mind being kissed should "...announce it with a little paper message placed on their desk." Right. They say it's just an excuse for men to get close to women.

What do you do to greet an old friend?

For the first time in three weeks, I've managed to get into the garden and cut the grass this afternoon, the rain has been fairly persistent in the form of heavy summer showers and longer spells of unseasonable wet weather. Some of the grass hasn't grown at all, other sections of grass were quite long. What is truly amazing is the number of berries that are already out; in my garden alone there are red berries on the cotoneaster, hypericum, early and late honeysuckle, pyracantha (two varieties), rose hips, mountain ash berries, yew and holly.

The day today is cloudy but quite hot and humid so the insects are having a feast on the flowers and the amazing number of different varieties of flying things is stunning.

There haven't been many butterflies for us this year since the hot spring, but today a magnificent and large Red Admiral has been fluttering around the garden. I just couldn't get a picture of it before it fluttered to the next bush.

I was sorry to read today of the death of Robert Robinson, former BBC Broadcaster. His CV included Ask the Family, Stop the Week, Brain of Britain and Call My Bluff. He also had a stint presenting BBC Radio 4's Today programme. Although he was 83 when he died, he was working until last year. When I was younger and there was only three channels on the television, for me, he was the man firmly in charge of quiz programmes.

Tonight, I'm hoping for clear skies to watch the Perseids meteor showers. Although the full moon was peeking mysteriously through the scudding clouds last night, the cloud was too thick and I didn't see anything. We can see the meteors right through until the 22nd August although the peak was last night.

Chat soon

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Berry Picking Already

Two out of three projects went to the wall today. 

Firstly I got up unreasonably early today, on my day off  (Saturday) and trundled into town to upgrade my mobile phone as it is now within three months of the contract coming to an end. Or so I thought.

My other half and I have renewed our contract for many years at the same time, together and in the same shop. We've stuck to our provider because I've never had cause to complain either about prices or signal coverage and the choice of phones are okay.

However whilst hers indoors was due for renewal, mine wasn't until next month. Apparently years ago, when we changed our mobiles, I had an extra month left on my contract, so that carried forward and has done for a long time. So no new phones today which is a shame for the company because I am going to pay more for the contract. Just seems overly bureaucratic and stands in the way of progress and moreover, them gaining extra income. 'Because the computer says so, I can't do it Sir.'

The second project that went belly up is that I've had a panoramic picture I took in San Francisco in 2010 waiting the be framed. My middle son wanted a picture framing and I had another photograph of his I've had blown up and I wanted framing. The shop only works nine to five, Monday to Friday so that will now have to wait a little longer.

The third project went without a hitch. Shopping. Oh joy.

I don't know if you've noticed, but all the berries are out already. I passed a couple yesterday picking brambles from a hedgerow and they had ice cream boxes full of berries. The elderberries have turned and my honeysuckle and pyracantha are jammed with berries. 

I know I've exploded the myth already in a past blog that an abundance of berries mean a bad winter to come (it actually means we had a good spring past,) but I believe that they are about a month early. My benchmark is that I used to pick elderberries with my kids to make wine in the first week of September before they went back to school and even then, some weren't ready.  

Chat soon


Monday, 1 August 2011

Lucy Locket

Now here's a story and a half.

Part of my Reiki exam for my third Master's degree yesterday (Sunday) was to do a heart attunement for someone, in this case, a friend who gave up her Sunday afternoon to help me out as a 'client.' I don't know her very well, but we meet at groups and she is a lovely, lovely person. I won't identify her of course; she's been going through a fairly rough time at home through one thing and another so when I asked her if she would be a client for my exam which is mainly practical based, she agreed readily.

I gave her a 'heart attunement.' Fellow blogger MorningAJ asked what on earth that is, it sounds terrifying. Yes it does but in truth using the power of Reiki healing energy I used the Reiki symbols during a meditation to give her a healing boost. No surgery, just me channeling Universal Life Force energy. Now this lady is a big believer in angels. She needed a boost remember because of the things she's been experiencing.

Now, the story she told my other friend who also volunteered to help me in my exam by phone last night is that she went home and yesterday afternoon, refreshed by the heart attunement and feeling a reconnection to the angels, she started to read about an archangel called Chamuel. In a meditation, she asked Chamuel to help her find a lost rose gold locket her husband had bought her. It had cost a lot of money and losing it had devastated her. In the past, despite looking everywhere she had failed to find it.

Half way through her meditation, she rushed up (never a good idea to do that during a meditation - can make you dizzy) and found a screwdriver and went into her bedroom which has bedside cabinets fitted and screwed to the wall.

She pulled the cabinet to pieces and there, behind the cabinet, covered in dust but nevertheless undamaged was the locket.

What a wonderful true story I thought I'd share with you. Thanks to the three special ladies who helped out at the exam yesterday - they know who they are.

Lucy Locket lost her pocket,
Kitty Fisher found it;
Not a penny was there in it,
Only ribbon round it.

Well what a warm, close day today, really stuffy and hot. We are lucky to have air conditioning in our office because the hot water pipes go through the office and although they are lagged it makes it unbearably hot, even in a winter. The humidity has returned and I think they've forecast some thunderstorms tomorrow. The forecasts have not been so good at predicting them lately, so I'll believe it when I see it.

Did you say your lucky 'white rabbit, white rabbit, white rabbit' this morning as good luck for the month? You can still say it - go on, give it a go.

Congratulations this afternoon to England for winning the second test match at Trent Bridge. Magnificent achievement.

Have a great week

Chat soon