Support a new kid on the blogging block

Some of us have been blogging for ages – I started in 2009 OOOH! I’ve just realised I passed my 10 years’ Blogiversary on 24th August. What a shame I didn’t realise on the day. It would have made for a blog post!!

Anyway…some of us have been blogging for a long time, some of us not so long.

My nephew-in-law has started his blog “The Stay Abroad Dad” He & my niece, Ruth, and their two Littlies are living in Malaysia at the moment. Ruth is working in a new school, and Dave is the Stay At Home Abroad Dad. He writes quite engagingly, so please trot over to say Hello and encourage him in his blogging efforts. I look forward to reading more about their adventures.

13 months ago…

…I had just finished radiotherapy, and had been on holiday to Italy with Mr FD.

My sister and mum came to stay, and this is a photo Judy took of me, sitting in the courtyard at Ambierle. The hair was just starting to grow back.

It was not something I would have chosen, but the cancer was, I think, something to be grateful for in many ways. Surprisingly. I’m still a bit bewildered by that statement, but I believe it to be true.

Eating, drinking and celebrating.

So as I mentioned a few posts back, I went over to the UK to celebrate mum’s 90th birthday. I had a great time.

Of course, I got over anxious about the journey, but it went very smoothly: Friend Cathy took me to Roanne station, for the 10.15 train to Lyon. I then took the express tram to the airport, arriving just after 12.00. My flight was at 17.25!!! Well, I knew I had plenty of time! No need to panic. So, I treated myself to a meal in a restaurant – tapenade and breadsticks, followed by a very nice gratin de raviolis. Washed down by a very nice glass of beer, I was perfectly happy. I spent another hour drawing a zentangle, with a quotation about travelling on it, which I then left for someone to find, and then I went through security. I sat in the departure lounge and drew another zentangle and then strolled in a leisurely manner to the gate. As I didn’t know what time the trains from Manchester airport to Liverpool were, I didn’t panic or have to run. I just made my way to the station, and found there was one leaving in 10 minutes – perfect timing…but I’d’ve been panicking about whether I’d catch it or not if I’d known what time it was! At Liverpool, I picked up a taxi, and got to mum’s at just after 9.00 pm. A long day, but one that actually was less worry-filled than I’d expected.

The following day we did some food shopping, went for a walk, read and chatted. Mum was itching to garden, but the weather wasn’t great.

A view of (part of) mum’s garden

In fact, we got a little damp on our walk, but it didn’t really matter.

I think there’s some water birds on the picture somewhere! These are the flood plains near mum, which are used to regulate water levels. We disturbed a lapwing who did the distraction technique that I’d heard about but never seen. Crying piteously it flew in one direction, low to the ground, trying to lure us away from its baby (which we’d already clocked running around in the long grass) So it didn’t need to panic any more, we walked back along the path, in the direction we’d come from, upon which it stopped calling and flew back to its nest. Fascinating.

In the evening, we went to some of Mum’s friends, who had laid on a birthday meal for her, together with a cake.

Surprise, surprise!

On Friday I went into Liverpool to do a bit of shopping, and to meet up with an old school friend. We had a meal in the Pen Factory bar & brasserie,

and then went to The Everyman theatre, to see Sondheim’s “Sweeny Todd”. while it wouldn’t have been my first choice of Sondheim musical, it was a great performance, which I really enjoyed. Very minimal set, but very effective. It was good to catch up with Tracy too, and to hear her news.

On Saturday, we went out to lunch with mum – this was the “proper” celebration. There was me, my sister & her husband, my brother, one of my nephews, and one of my nieces, with her husband and baby Bill. And mum, of course. We went to Moor Hall, “The Barn” – Moor Hall is a michelin starred restaurant, but The Barn is on the same site, but a less formal experience. Mum felt more comfortable with that – and it was delicious!! I meant to take photos but forgot! I had a duck terrine, with an apple compote, followed by chicken, with a leek and potato layer and wild mushrooms, then a fantastic dessert: a light choux bun, filled with rhubarb and custard, with a blood orange ice cream. Lush!!

This is The Barn

and this is the posh restaurant part

My niece, Rose, her husband, Dave, and Bill the baby

Bill enjoyed his chicken goujons with garlic-and-pesto mayonnaise

When we got home after lunch, we had coffee and cake (my photos were very blurry and not very good.) and then we all felt the need for “a little zizz”!! Afterwards, we sat around the table with a few glasses of wine and reminisced and talked. It was all very sociable.

On Sunday it was mum’s actual birthday: Rose left Bill at home with Dave, and came over from Manchester. We all went to church – possibly the worst sermon ever. I think God or Jesus was mentioned about twice, whereas Cilla Black got several mentions!! Never mind. There was coffee and cake (more cake!) after the service, and everyone wished mum happy birthday.

Here are just some of her cards, arranged around the fireplace.

We went out for a late lunch to the Scarisbrick Arms

where we had another delicious meal…I had a steak with chips, and onion rings and other delicious trimmings! I’d ordered the sirloin, which had a £2.50 extra charge (it was a set price menu) but the waiter came and said that they didn’t have any sirloin left. So I said I’d have to have the rump, which was the same price – “unless”, I said,”I could have the fillet steak (which was £¨4 extra) at the same price as the sirloin – to make up for my disappointment…” Yes, that’s fine, the waiter said!!! And it was lovely.

We got back, and another zizz was in order! The evening was spent reading, and trying to work out how the TV works! Mum has two, one which she uses most frequently, in her kitchen/sitting room, and a larger one in the main sitting room. This one is more complicated and she always forgets which remote to use and how they work. None of us are very technically minded, so it was a bit of a shambles – but we finally managed it!

On Monday Mum and Judy went to buy Judy’s gift for her – a bird table – before Judy set off for home. Mike, mum and I went over to see Rose in Manchester, and had lunch there. Then we went out to a park in the afternoon – Bill enjoyed playing on the play equipment

and seeing the animals, but then got a bit grizzly as he hadn’t had a nap

.

Mike & mum, in the sunshine

A Manchester Bee

So we left a little earlier than planned. Mike cooked us an enjoyable meal of pasta and salmon and asparagus, after which we just relaxed (again!) and watched a bit of TV.

On Tuesday, it was time for the journey home. Mike took me to the airport on his way back home to Yorkshire – I was only 4 hours early for the flight this time!! I did start to worry on the plane about having time to get through the airport to catch the last possible express tram to make sure I caught my train home. I was thinking “Will it take me an hour and a half to get through security? Will I have enough time?” (Yes, honestly, I thought it might take that long to get processed through immigration. Sigh) As it was, it took me all of 15 minutes to disembark, go through seciurity AND get to the tram station! I had plenty of time – in fact, enough time to have a coffee at the train station before catching my train home – where Mr FD was waiting for me.

A lovely trip home, to celebrate a very special Mum.

 

 

 

59 years on…

This is a quick post to say I’m back. I had a great time in Liverpool celebrating my mum’s 90th birthday. I got back yesterday evening, and today I’m back at work!

My brother found this photo of the three of us when we were young:

I was probably between 6 months and a year, making Mike about 3 and a half and Judy about 6.

Mike decided it would be a good idea to try to recreate the picture…So we did.

One of those mad ideas you get…

Two cards – one birthday!

It’s coming up to my mum’s 90th birthday! Hard to believe – here are pictures of her when she and my sister visited us in September. We went for several walks of 5 km or more, and mum was fitter than I was!! (Though to be fair, it was only three months after my chemo had finished!!)

I’m going over on Wednesday, and we have a big family lunch on 11th at a restaurant. It’s her birthday on 12th May. I have a picture that I bought in Strasbourg for her present: it was going to be her Christmas present, but sending it became so complicated I decided to keep it for her birthday. It means I can buy a frame too. I’m there for almost a week, which will be lovely – I hope to maybe catch up with an old friend from school while I’m there too.

So today I sat down to make a card. The first one I made was this:

 

I used papers from a papercrafting magazine plus various Noz embellishments. I quite like it, but it’s a bit boring for a 90th birthday card. So I went a bit more OTT and created this one:

It’s a three-fold card (which is a bit difficult to photograph) so it’s already a bit more “special” than the first one. Here it is, standing upright:

and in the second fold there’s another butterfly hidden away:

I think this one is a bit more joyous, and appropriate for such a landmark birthday. What do you think?

40ACTS2019 :: 37 :: Seek out

PROMPT: If we’re honest, as Christians it’s easy to develop blind spots for people who don’t fit our categories. One example is people who’ve left the faith. How often do we find ourselves being generous to those who don’t share in our beliefs any more? Find a way to make someone feel loved without holding back the truth of what we believe.

REFLECTION: Link here

ACTS: Green: Get coffee with an old friend who isn’t in church any more – and hang out with no strings attached.

Amber: Ask that person to tell their story, and just sit and listen.

Red: Don’t shy away from talking about Jesus, even if it’s awkward.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)

If I’m honest, I think this is an odd one… The reflection seems to suggest that many Christians drop friends like hot potatoes if they lose their faith. What a bizarre suggestion! The reflection also seems to suggest that for most Christians the majority of their friends will also be Christian. Which, apart from when I was at College, has never been the case for me.

Yes, I have friends who are Christian – but that’s not the reason I’m friends with them! I’m friends because I like them and they (I assume!) like me. We have things in common, but we have other things that are not in common. In fact, of the 4 friends that I would say are closest, two are and two aren’t Christian. I would never stop talking to, or seeing someone just because they lost their faith!

I feel I can’t really fulfil this Challenge because I only have one friend that I know of who has lost her faith – and she lives a long way from here! I won’t be meeting her for coffee any time soon. I can send her a letter, I suppose…I have a long list of people I should be sending letters to! I have a friend who doesn’t come to Christ Church any longer, he goes to another church (he’s an organ player and afficianado. Our little keyboard did nothing for him!!) I guess I could try to get in contact with himù too, although he is in-and-out of the country with work… I’m meeting someone I don’t know well for coffee later this week – maybe I can fulfill the Amber act by just listening to her story.

I’m a bit “meh” about this Act, both for the initial assumptions that it seems to make, and for the challenges themselves.

OK, this is as far as I got with my blog post before I read the reflection again.

This time a certain paragraph leapt out at me: We don’t know what God’s great plan for our lives is and that goes for our friends too. We can pray, love and support, knowing that while we can’t make those we love fall in love with Jesus, we can show them his love by continually sharing “the hope that [we] have… with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15) and continually praying that they will return home to the Father.

I know what I’ve got to know. God knows what I’ve got to do.

 

Not saying any more, but I’ll admit to feeling less “meh.”  Just a tad overwhelmed instead.

 

40ACTS2019 :: 13,14 :: Green & Leg Up

Hello! So here we are again, playing a little bit of catch up. Today I work from home, preparing for next week, and (as we’re coming to the end of the month) sorting out my bills. As we’re coming to the end of March I also have a nasty little form to fill in giving details of teaching through the year…It’s really complicated, and I hate doing it – partly because I forget each year what I need to do!! Hey ho, a day (and possibly more) of administrative tasks. Shudder!! There are also several household tasks requiring completion (Joyful, Joyful!!) so I have a day to look forward to.

But I start with the joy and challenge of my 40 Acts blog.

Yesterday’s Act was “The Green One”

PROMPT: It’s far from the token green day. As we act to protect our environment, we’re acting generously for those not even born yet, helping to create a world that can keep on giving and sustaining people, beyond the limit of our own lifetimes

LINK: HERE

ACTS:Green: Ever had an environmental charity stop you in the streets, only for you to breeze right past them? Look up their website. See what they actually do.

Amber: See how many times you can use one plastic bag this week. Once you’re done, pass it on to someone and ask if they want to continue the challenge!

Red: Go meat-free at least one day a week. Skipping meat and dairy is the single biggest way you can personally cut your environmental impact. (Vegans and vegetarians get an amber day!)

“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4 NKJV)

Well, of course I’m concerned for the environment. Isn’t everyone?! I do loads of things.

I pat myself on the back.

But actually, when I consider, I don’t do much, except lament “Oh, there’s so much plastic!” as I add more to our bin. Our biggest plastic users are the cats: they are fussy eaters and really only eat food that comes in pouches. Four cats = 8 pouches. We’ve tried tins, but the food just gets wasted, as they refuse to eat it. So I’m at a bit of an impasse there. I could write to Felix (the preferred brand. Other cat food brands are available) asking them to explore other ways of packaging whatever they put in pouches – be it aluminium, recyclable barquettes or into tins. But I’m sure I’ll get fobbed off with an anodyne reply. If I had a sewing machine I could make natty bags out of them…but I haven’t. So I can’t.

So…Well…I have bought little fabric bags to put loose veg in at the supermarket – but we’re not very good at using them (we forget to take them to the supermarket) So we could try to increase the use of these… We use Bags for Life, or fabric bags for the shopping, and I carry a reusable bag in my handbag, so the Amber option isn’t really suitable.

As we are on a budget we do tend to shop more at Lidl – the meat and cheese comes wrapped in plastic. As do a lot of the vegatables – but I’m not sure it’s feasible to start buying everything loose…it’s a monetary cost I don’t think we could stand – although I’m aware that the environmental cost needs to be thought about!!

I’ve already introduced “Fishy Monday” and “Vegetarian Tuesday” into our meal planning, as well as trying to have a reduced meat meal too. And while Mr FD is tolerant of these efforts he does have a habit of saying “That was OK, but it would have been nicer with some meat in it…”

Maybe Helen’s suggestion of reducing water consumption would be appropriate…I’m really a bit stumped here. For now, I may try investing in a few beeswax wrappings – someone on 40 Acts FB page said she makes them, which would reduce our (fairly minimal) use of clingfilm. Mr FD puts his sandwiches in plastic bags, which get washed and reused, but do eventually wear out. Perhaps I should get some sandwich wrapping pouches too. Any other ideas, anyone?

And then we get to today’s Challenge…

ACT 15

LEG UP

PROMPT: Real generosity leaps into action to bless others, even when it comes at a cost to us. Give away something that you could charge real money for. You may not think you’re particularly great with technology, but if your granny really needs to know how to use a computer, then you can do as good a job as any at showing her. Teach a beginner some guitar chords. Do bike maintenance for kids on your street. Share your skills, at a cost to yourself.

ACTS: Green: Look over your teachable skills. If you can, schedule a lesson with a newbie today.

Amber: If you usually charge for teaching a skill, today do it for free.

Red: Take on a new client or student, long-term, for free.

“Wealth and honour come from you… In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all… [W]ho am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given only what comes from your hand.”
(1 Chronicles 29:12–14

I am a teacher. It’s my job. Sorry, 40 Acts I’m not doing it for free today, or anyother day. Admittedly today I’ve only got one lesson, so it wouldn’t be too much hardship, but it’s too confusing to try to explain in French what I’m doing.

BUT

The 21€ that I earn today will not go in my pocket. Tonight I will give a 21€ donation to Phone Credit for Refugees on their Friday Conga. This is where people all over the world donate money, one after another, and post on the PC4R FB page, to encourage others to give. Maybe you could do the same? You need to become a member of the group, but it’s a great charity to support. And even if you can’t donate, by posting on the “Conga” you still help the charity (something to do with algorithms, I believe) So I am (sort of) sharing my skills…

ALSO

Regular readers know that I enjoy zentangling. New readers may have no idea what that is. Here is an example or two

 

(click on the pictures to see them in more detail)

I’m not fast, and I am forgetful, but if you’d like me to do you a zentangle picture, then leave a comment in the comment section, telling me what you’d like me to zentangle for you (I do mostly animals, but have also drawn a Beatles inspired zentangle, a knitting zentangle, several crosses, a tree, a Doctor Who tardis, and other things too.) I will try, eventually, to get round to it, but it may take some time…

Or, if you’d prefer a “Celtic” initial, I could do that:

Happy to share my skills. It’s a pleasure, but it does take time!

Is this what 40 Acts meant by “Leg Up”??