Cats and Dogs

This was originally a letter to Goldfinch…

Have you and I ever discussed which is a better pet?  I only wonder because I feel as if I have had discussions with scores of friends and workmates.  It is not a topic I raise, but I am happy to throw my pennies worth of opinion in… not that I have a strong opinion really.  I can only relate my past experiences.  You might not want to bother reading all about the cats and dogs in my life….but I have added my conclusion to the end of this e-mail….which you may or may not agree, but I would be grateful if you would glance over my conclusion when you have a couple of minutes to humour me.

Cats and Dogs

Cats:

When I was a kiddo living under the care and protection of my very lovely parents, of course we would have loved to have numerous pets running around the house.  But with seven hungry children to provide for, mum and dad could not oblige our repeated pleas. Before my living memory apparently there were some birds*, in a cage in my brother’s room.  Apparently, our pet cat got in my brother’s room and although she could not get into the cage, she terrorised the birds so much that they dropped off their perches and were found lifeless on the floor of the cage. But that was way before my conscious memories.

tabby.jpgI remember being very fond of the first cat we have within my living memory.  Our next-door neighbours moved and left their cat behind, so we took her in.  She was a very tiny tabby named Tamara. I adored her. One of my younger sisters used to dress her in dolls clothes…which I am sure Tamara did not particularly enjoy.  She was a naughty cat…she has eaten sandwiches left on the kitchen side and jumped onto the dinner table and started to tuck in to as much roast chicken as she could before my parents would react. I was always horrified when Tamara had killed a bird… she killed a lot of birds*.  She was tiny but clearly a very successful hunter. I was devastated when Tamara died. I did not want another cat because I thought it was like trying to replace Tamara.  But my sister said she could not live without a cat.

So, we ended up with two tiny kittens, which we thought were both toms… we named them Tiggles and Giggles. Giggles turned out to be a female.  After a few weeks she disappeared. We never found her. Dad said she might have found another home because cats sometimes just go wherever they are fed.  One of my sisters became rather obsessive with Tiggles. She liked to keep him in her room.  She went through a stage of saying he was her best friend and the only one who understand her, the only one she liked.  The first time Tiggles caught a bird* and brought it into the house my dad and I were horrified, and we chased Tiggles out of the house. That seemed to be enough discouragement.  We never saw Tiggles catching birds again.

Tiggles ended up becoming a big lollopy cat.  He was not fat, but he was a magnificent tom who seemed to enjoy being adored.  He would bathe in the sunshine.  I remember whenever we had guests, he liked to parade in front of them as if he was to be worshipped.  We had some rather important dignitaries at our house once, they came to interview me when I was a teenager about something apparently remarkable I had done and later had me up in front of thousands of people as an example for other teenagers. Tiggles jumped up on their knees and started waving his behind in their faces.  Goodness…he was one arrogant kitty.  I also remember a friend of my mum’s (a very Welsh lady) gave Tiggles some cat-nip. How embarrassing to watch Tiggles under the influence of some cat-mind altering substance…it was so bizarre to see his behaviour. One night our next-door neighbours knocked on the door to say they saw a cat by the side of the road and they thought it might be Tiggles….it was! Now… don’t tell my sister but my Dad and I strongly suspected that it was our next-door neighbour that hit Tiggles. His driving was furious, and we often saw him tearing around the corner at very high speeds… plus they were not the type to be concerned unless they were in the car that hit Tiggles.

I remember the homes of friends who had cats. Jan had eight cats and had turned her entire back yard into a giant cat cage. It was the same size as the ground floor of her house but surrounded by wooden posts and chicken wire. Some of her cats were gigantic, Jan was tiny, so frankly,  it was odd to see her pick one of her massive cats up and see that she was most definitely the boss lady. They all loved Jan….and she was an expert on cats. They were all beautifully kept and she used to give out a lot of advice to other cat owners when she was unsatisfied about their condition. She only stopped collecting when she married Paul who was allergic to cats!

Cat, Cats, Animals, Handsome, PetMy good friend Lauren lived in the countryside with her husband and the two youngest of her five children. She had two cats. One a ginger tom who seemed generally was the one who preferred to be made a fuss of. Both cats were pretty hot hunters, but the female the better. One time I had just arrived after a three-and-a-half-hour drive. Lauren would always insist on my sitting down and having a cuppa and some of the cake she had baked before I took my things up to their guest room. But on this occasion Lauren and her daughter Patricia seemed a bit uneasy when I sat on the sofa on my arrival. They seemed to want me to go and talk to Pete who never desired anyone else’s company. I obeyed. Later they confessed, their female cat had just dragged in a rabbit and was sitting behind the sofa I had first sat on tearing it to pieces. Yuck!

Mary and her husband, the older couple I lodged with when I first left home had a cat….it was 17 years old.  Jan had a 17 year old cat. Ethel who was 93 had a 17 year old cat. Louisa who was 96 had a 17 year old cat.  Ruth who was 94 had a 17 year old cat. Donna had 4 cats…one of her cars was 17 years old. I wondered if there was something in the water in West Berkshire for there to be so many ancient cats (and amazing women in their nineties).

Dogs:

We never had a dog at home. We wanted one, but Mum and Dad told us it would be too much hard work and it would not be fair to a dog.  The cats we had were so independent and not much trouble at all. We fed them, they would come when they wanted and leave when they wanted. They liked affection from us, but they also seemed to have a secret life of their own and a gang of playmates and enemy cats that occupied most of their time. But when they saw we were home, they appeared pawing at the door wanting to come in for some warmth, or food or affection. Mum and Dad told us how dogs need to be walked regularly and how much mess they can make and how lonely they can get when we were all out at school or work. I think we all accepted that it would be cruel to have a dog in our household, and we didn’t want to be cruel.

So, my experience with dogs is limited to looking after other people’s dogs when they were on holiday. Usually I also had to move into the home of the dog-owners, so I would be there to feed, walk and provide company for their beloved canines. I remember a lovely sheepdog named Jess… what a joy she was. Then there was Queenie. The house that Queenie lived in was extended. They built a huge kitchen and a pool house with an indoor swimming pool. During the time the work was done there was a lot of noise and disturbance and it completely spooked Queenie. Queenie would howl all night when she was alone, so the owners had to move her basket upstairs to their bedroom for her to sleep near them. So, when they went away and I moved in, I had to have the dog basket with me in the guest room for Queenie to sleep. Only would she sleep? I remember finding any time a part of me was too near to the edge of the bed, a foot, a hand, my face…Queenie would find it and a moment later she would have bestowed a heap of dog slobber all over me.  She snored, she would march around the bed tirelessly breathing heavily. Every now and then she would heave herself on to the bed beside me and wake me up by licking my face. She was very smelly, ate enormous quantities of food which resulted in enormous steaming heaps which we had to scoop up when we were out taking her for a walk. Her owners always told me that whenever the front door rang I must shut Queenie in the kitchen otherwise she might bolt out of the front door and into the road. Well one day, she managed to run out of the front door and galloped down the road. I telephoned home and Dad and two of my sisters came down and we all searched the surrounding area until eventually we found Queenie.

Then there was Toby… I really liked Toby. He was very handsome miniature schnauzer who did not slobber and was very well behaved. His owner loved him as did the whole family. I remember going for walks with Toby in stunning parts of the Berkshire countryside. Toby was the perfect dog to walk…he seemed to think he had won Crufts the way he paraded when we were out walking. He never reacted to other dogs, he had an air of superiority about him. Toby was probably the best behaved canine I ever spent time with. He had a regal air about him.

Sparticus and China were both springer spaniels… I loved them both. I knew Sparticus as an elderly dog….Sparticus seemed very fond of me. China I knew as a puppy… I saw him destroy everything he could reach… I had a fright when he escaped somehow and went running up the lane…which was notoriously dangerous… just why a narrow windy lane had a 60mph speed limit I never understood. Then there was the time he managed to get into the cellar and chewed threw a tub of rat poison… poor China would have died if not for the vet coming out so quickly with an anti-dote.  But he did suffer!

There are many other dogs I have walked and cared for while their owners were not around… too many to mention. One smoky grey Great Dane I remember was a joy and a bundle of energy and slobber….but one day I left a book on the table which his teeth destroyed including two post cards which were well over 100 years old which an older man I care for had given me as a momento. I loved had been treasuring them.  That brute chomped them with his teeth!!!

Dog, Girl, Fence, Pet, Owner, CompanionI have always loved going for walks in the countryside with the dogs I cared for and I kind of like the constant companionship dogs seem to want and to offer in return… but Mum and Dad were right… dogs seem to be a bigger responsibility. They seem to need more than cats. The seem to be more dependant on their owners. However, they seem to give a lot too. It is nice to see a dog’s reaction when you walk in the door because they have missed you. No matter what else a dog finds entertaining, the highlight of a dog’s life seems to be stimulation and affection from their owner. Dogs are renowned for their loyalty to their owners. Whereas a cat seems to come and go enjoy food wherever it feels it is best quality. A cat seems to choose if and when it wants company and affection and although seeming to enjoy it, is equally capable of being very cool and secretive about where it disappears to when it leaves the house. You cannot ask a cat “just where have you been?”

* Birds:

Cat, Bird, Cage, Hunt, Hunting, Pet

Dadda often rescued birds that Tamara was trying to get her claws into. He also rescued birds that had flown into our patio door and fallen to the ground stunned. He has massaged the chest until their hearts seemed to start beating again and they could flutter away. I think maybe my Dad had a love of birds more than cats or dogs… but Dad especially liked them to be free, out in the wild, not at all in a cage.

Conclusion:

I am starting to think that with regards to the connection you and I have… you resemble the feline and I the canine!!! And I have to admit, I don’t think I have ever been involved with a cat before!

dog with ball.jpgI feel like a puppy who is so excited to see her master and wants to be pleasing…rather disappointed when I feel I might not have been pleasing. I long for a little reassuring pat and to hear “good girl!” I only have eyes for one. When you leave me, I am a little sulky and forlorn while you are absent. If you threw a ball or a stick I would play with you with loving adoration. I reap so much inner joy from all the contact and playtimes I have with you. And am hopelessly loyal to you. I have scores of close friends I am finding it hard to keep up with, but you have become the highlight of each day.

Whereas…you my lovely rogue… are more like the independent kitty…who comes and goes with an air of mysteriousness and I am left to wonder what you have been up to… but I have a feeling that is what you want. I long for moments snuggling up close to you. When you do come…and I feed you (and I enjoy doing so) you are wonderfully tactile and seductive, and I feel as intimate with you as any other man I have had a relationship with after years of prior friendship. I just have to live with the idea that there is a good chance you are being fed equally well elsewhere and there are others who like to curl up with you and enjoy your cool confident touch. And that it suits you to come and enjoy being the object of affection and infatuation and then go and retain your independence… leaving your lover bewildered as to who else is making a fuss of you elsewhere. Maybe I should start buying smoked salmon or something more alluring?

But ultimately… the way I am going to regard you is as a magnificent and beautiful bird who I do not want to in anyway restrict or encage… I want you to be able to feel free to fly but hope you will return to someone who is inspired and elated by you. One day you will fly away… and I will remember you as a man who made my spirits soar.

It’s strange for me though Goldfinch…

…still I can tell I am falling for you.

The Two Williams Who Made The News This Week

He has always seemed like a sensible man, and today the media brought attention to HRH Prince William saying one of the most sensible things anyone has said this week.

While it was cute to see William Shatner looking moved by his opportunity to compare the dark of outer space with the incredible beauty of the earth below, I do wonder what it will take to make it clear that the gift is the earth – our planet. Yes, the earth is being grossly mismanaged and abused, but our earth is intended to be the perfect home.

time lapse photography of waterfalls

The “space-race”, although pushing science and technology, has also shown a spotlight on motives. During the advancements cold war – it seemed to be all about an effort to outdo the opposition, get there first. Nowadays, motives are even more dubious. (“Space-tourism” sounds like someone sees a lot of fat zeros on a bank balance – do you think we will need to take a covid test three days before flights?)

I have heard people say on television that “we” (I would like to be excused from that collective phrase) need to find another planet with conditions we could survive on when the earth is no longer habitable.

Therefore they think it is morally acceptable to spend millions, or billions, forgive me I am not up to date with expenditure (not to mention the carbon footprint) on hurtling ninety year old actors up through the atmosphere so they can know they feeling of weightlessness and landing them in Texas safely.

Oh – don’t get me started!

Seljalandsfoss, Waterfalls, Iceland

I do wonder at the presumptuousness of it all though. If you built a luxury house, breathtakingly beautiful, with every possible comfort and delight, a state-of-the-art heating and cooling system, ideally designed to enhance life and help you thrive….and then….then you let it out to tenants who came in and did not take care of it, did not appreciate it, but ruined it – what would you think of them house-hunting for another home? Would you be happy to allow them to move into another of your properties?

On the other hand, how would you feel about tenants who cared for the beautiful property you had designed and built? Tenants who were proud to call it their home.

Mountains, Alps, Meadow, Tree, Flowers

The earth is extraordinary – I could write endlessly about the factors that make this planet exceptional – and we live on the best real estate in the known universe. It is designed for not just an existence. It is not, absolutely not, intended to be a testing ground. It is very concerning that so many religions have painted life on earth to be a temporary deciding ground for an eternal future. The scriptures state that the earth is a beautiful perfect gift – meant as a home, a home where we should be able to thrive.

Humans were given an assignment – make this entire earth thrive like the sample of paradise provided at the outset. Care for the earth and all of it’s creatures. That is our assignment. Once we have fulfilled that rewarding assignment, then perhaps we might be entrusted with the other responsibilities.

Shirking our responsibility here and thinking “we” can jet off elsewhere, it could be said that is bombastically irresponsible. But I think it would be more relevant to also point out it is also futile.

Thank you Prince William for pointing out what ought to be obvious. You always did seem fairly sensible. I truly hope that you and your family, and all those who love life on this beautiful planet are able to enjoy living on it forever, happy and healthy and rewarded in the knowledge that all of earth’s inhabitants are thriving.

Newsworthy?

I was watching the BBC news a few weeks ago when a journalist pointed out that an article which had landed itself on the front page of a UK newspaper (about turkeys being imported from Poland to meet the demand during the holidays) was hardly “newsworthy” in view of all that was going on in the world at the time.

I felt the same way today. Hours of discussion about the possibility that toys might be effected by the issues facing the logistics network in the UK – effecting the contents of containers sitting at ports making their way to retail shelves. Really? Who in their right mind is worried about children in this country not having the flashiest new toys….when hello….we are worried about millions facing the prospect of winter without power, without income?

Indian, Child, Barbed Wire, Barrier

I have always found it very uncomfortable that so much is wasted during the festival to commercialism that Christmas has been in my lifetime.

Please….it is actually disturbing to think of the fuss made on this story. Here would be a wonderful newsworthy story: children in western lands say “no to wasting money on unnecessary toys” (perpetuating the lie that possessions mean happiness) and “please send your excess wages to keep people who have been plummeted into dire poverty alive over these winter months ahead”.

My Belated Galaktoboureko Recipe

Do you remember I made the rather wonderful Greek dessert to bring an even bigger smile to Jack’s already smiley face. Well, as promised, this is the recipe I followed. It is actually a Rick Stein recipe (no pressure Caramel!) and it was so much fun to make!

The concept – a set custard in filo pastry smothered with syrup – is extravagant and delicious – and Jack loved it!!!

Ingredients

For the custard pastry

  • 100g unsalted butter, melted
  • 3  eggs, separated
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 90g semolina
  • 1 litre pint full-fat milk, warmed
  • 7 sheets filo pastry

For the oranges in syrup

  • 3 oranges
  • 440g caster sugar (which is a lot of sugar)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Method

Preheat the oven to 180˚C/160˚C Fan/Gas 4. Lightly grease a 20cm springform cake tin.

Use an electric whisk to beat together the egg yolks, golden caster sugar and vanilla extract until you have a pale and creamy mix. Then gradually beat in the semolina and the warmed milk. Put this mixture into a clean pan and stir constantly over a low heat for up to ten minutes until thickened.

In a clean bowl, use the electric whisk to beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry peaks form when the whisk is removed. Loosen the semolina custard with a spoonful of the beaten egg whites, and then fold in the rest.

Brush each sheet of filo pastry with the melted butter. Then and lay six sheets, one at a time, in the springform tin, alternating the direction. (This will make sense when you do it!) The excess will drape over the sides (don’t trim it off).

Pour the custard mixture into the pastry-lined tin and fold the overhanging sheets over the top, tucking in the ends. Place the final sheet of filo, buttered and folded in half, on top. Tuck in the sides and butter the top.

Bake for fifty minutes until the custard mixture has set. Check after half an hour and cover with foil if the top is getting too brown.

To make the orange syrup, first zest the oranges. Then peel them and cut the fruit across into thin slices, removing excess pith.

Heat the caster sugar and 190ml water in a pan. When the sugar has dissolved, add the orange zest and lemon juice. Simmer for ten minutes until you have a thick syrup. (It took more like half an hour for my syrup to thicken!) Remove from the heat and add the orange slices. Leave to cool before putting into a serving jug or dish.

Allow the pie to cool to room temperature before releasing from the tin. Cut into slices using a serrated knife and serve with the oranges in syrup.

Look What The Tide Brought In

So now I know what I have to do. I have to keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide will bring in?

Chuck Noland – CASTAWAY

I love Jack, and I feel at peace about out past. But for some reason, sometimes I feel a wave of panic as a recollection of the past overwhelms me. I think that is partly to do with the sense of belonging and purpose at the heart of our relationship. It was so obvious from very early on that we were perfect for each other. The dramatic twists and dark descents our connection endured was confusing and challenging and crushing.

The sense of loss when I had to flee from London was immense, profound. The physical injuries, the traumatic memories of being attacked – they were one thing – but what was worse was the separation, the estrangement from the man who had made such an impact on me.

Jack was in my veins. I don’t remember a day passing when he was not in my thoughts. But with those thoughts, came tears. The situation seemed so impossible. Yet I could not see beyond him. Goldfinch was a blessing. Perhaps if Goldfinch had wanted to share a life with me, eventually I would have been able to see beyond Jack. But Goldfinch’s plans did not involve me. We are still in touch. We were emailing just last night.

What I did not dare to dream about is that one day the sun would rise….and the tide would bring Jack back into my life. Those years of hope being attacked on all sides, family and friends criticising him, telling me to forget him, cut him off, people telling me to accept “destiny”….I was so relieved when their words dried up.

Jack is still ideal for me….and he tells me he has never met with anyone he has clicked with on every level like me. It is astonishing that we survived the storm. The nightmare passed.

Filey, Beach, Yorkshire, Seascape

As Long As There Are Stars Above You

Earlier today, I featured my SONG LYRIC SUNDAY choice for today. If you saw my post, you may recall I featured The Waterboys. Well, they were behind another amazing track, which I adore, absolutely adore.

Milky Way, Sky, Stars, Cosmos, Night

It is a love song, with lyrics as simple, yet as poignant as ever I did hear. It is a song that has been covered by others, but the voice that I love singing these lyrics more than any other is that of Kristina Train.

Originally by The Waterboys, this is the wonderful “How Long Will I Love You?” recorded by the sensational Kristina Train.

How long will I love you?
As long as there are stars above you
And longer if I can

How long will I need you?
As long as the seasons need to
Follow their plan

How long will I be with you?
As long as the sea is bound to
Wash upon the sand

How long will I want you?
As long as you want me to
And longer by far

How long will I hold you?
As long as your father told you
As long as you are

How long will I give to you?
As long as I live through you
However long you say

How long will I love you?
As long as stars are above you
And longer if I may

Writer: Mike Scott

You Stretched For The Stars

Jim Adams, aka Newepicauthor, the creator of A Unique Title For Me, is hosting SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY and this week he has chosen the theme: HEAVENLY BODIES/PLANETS/MOON/SUN/STARS

Moon, Star, Boy, Fishing, Dream, Dreamy, Clouds

I was torn between two songs for today. Oh……I am almost considering until the end of the day to see if my second song choice has been chosen by anyone else. If it has not….you can expect to see another post from me later. In the end, I picked the first song that came into my head….which is a fair way to decide.

The first time I ever heard this song….I just thought it was amazing….and it has stayed with me always. There is something about it….something quite special. I love it. Why do I love it so much? I don’t know, if you listen and you get it – the slight tingly breath-taking feeling that this song captures something, something, something that you wish you were able to express creatively. Somehow this is a spectacular song – please don’t ask me what on earth it is about – it speaks at a level I find hard to describe.

What an intro!! This is The Waterboys with the stunning….”The Whole Of The Moon”!!!

I pictured a rainbow
You held it in your hands
I had flashes
But you saw the plan
I wandered out in the world for years
While you just stayed in your room
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon

You were there at the turnstiles
With the wind at your heels
You stretched for the stars
And you know how it feels
To reach too high
Too far
Too soon
You saw the whole of the moon

I was grounded
While you filled the skies
I was dumbfounded by truths
You cut through lies
I saw the rain-dirty valley
You saw Brigadoon
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon

I spoke about wings
You just flew
I wondered, I guessed and I tried
You just knew
I sighed
But you swooned
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon

With a torch in your pocket
And the wind at your heels
You climbed on the ladder
And you know how it feels
To get too high
Too far
Too soon
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon

Unicorns and cannonballs
Palaces and piers
Trumpets, towers, and tenements
Wide oceans full of tears
Flags, rags, ferry boats
Scimitars and scarves
Every precious dream and vision
Underneath the stars

Yes, you climbed on the ladder
With the wind in your sails
You came like a comet
Blazing your trail
Too high
Too far
Too soon
You saw the whole of the moon

Written by: Micheal Scott

A Gem Amongst Men

I have seen a picture crop up on Pixabay. It is a hard picture to see. A young boy sits looking the absolute picture of misery. He has injuries- his knee, his mouth, his eye. He looked lonely and unloved – neglected.

It is a hard picture to see….

Outdoors, Grass, Summer, Field, Sunset, Clouds, Bench

Years ago….around twenty years ago, I used to work closely with a man who had been a champion sportsman – winning many titles and awards and championships. He was a remarkable man – but it was not his career in sport that made him one of the most adored men I knew – it was his career as a full-time volunteer for charities he was passionate about that made him a very very loved man.

I was sixteen when I met him, and I went on to have the privilege of working closely with him for around ten years. I remember asking him what had motivated him to make the decision to turn his back on his career in sport at the height of his success.

He told me that he felt deeply moved by the state of many of the people he had met in his work as a volunteer. He said when he got to know some people, and the way they felt about their existence, it was like a little boy sitting on a bench, shivering in the cold, mucky face, malnourished, injuries from accidents, showing all of the signs of neglect. He told me that when he spoke to these people, getting to know their stories, it was like asking a little boy, “Where do you live? Where are your parents?”…and the answer from the little boy, “I don’t have a home. I was told that my parents abandoned me. I am all alone in this world.”

He told me he was deeply moved by his experiences. Realizing how many people felt neglected, abandoned, uncared for….he just knew he could not turn away from the desperate situation of people. Where did this all occur? In England – one of the “wealthiest” nations. People were impoverished of hope and purpose.

Heart, Leaf, Autumn, Maple, Bokeh Lights

I thought of him today as I saw the autumn leaves all over the pavement. He used to rise early, and sweep the leaves from the pavements that had gathered overnight around the building where he lived to prevent anyone from slipping. The local council realized what he was doing. So they decided to show their appreciation by erecting beautiful hanging baskets all around the lampposts that surrounded that building. They would come and water them every day. It was one of the ways they expressed their thanks for all that he did in his role as a volunteer to benefit and inspire people in his community.

In the course of my career, I have met thousands of volunteers. When I have got to know them, so many of them have told me that they were so moved, and had so much appreciation for the personal interest, the extraordinary kindness and sincere love that they saw in this wonderful man. He has been such an inspiration to so many volunteers for decades.

I am so grateful that I met and worked with and was a close friend of one of the most lovely men to walk the streets of London. He is a gem amongst men.

Heart, Wood, Love, Sunset, Romantic

I met someone the other day who told me about all of their accomplishments in education, and the career it has led to, and the value of the house they bought, and their car, and the cost of their wedding, and the yacht, oh yes, of course there was going to be a yacht!….and whilst outwardly saying “how admirable that you have been able to stick to one field for so long” (lol – can you tell I was completely not impressed) inwardly I rolled my eyes. What a complete and utter pathetic waste! I don’t call this success – I call this a monstrous failure of an education – for someone to leave thinking that is all about what they can acquire….rather than all that they can give….from the heart…to touch the hearts of the many millions of people who are impoverished of hope and purpose.

I’m Going Yellow!

I now have it in my possession. My 2022 diary!

Every year I use a diary from Paperchase, with a hardback magnetic fastener. My diary is in and out of my bag every day, so the magnetic cover protects it from being ruined.

I am always intrigued to see what the new diary will look like. Each year, there only seems to be one style of hardback diary with a magnetic clip fastener with two days to a page. However, this year, after checking the Paperchase website almost daily and lurking suspiciously in my local Paperchase branch to check their new deliveries of diaries, it seems that the only choices of magnetic diaries were either an A5 version (bigger than normal) or an A6 version (smaller than usual).

In the end, I opted for an A5 version – Jack told me I will be very busy next year so I need more space, not less space, which means I am now the owner of one very yellow, honeycomb pattern, covered with embellished bumble bees, A5 very yellow diary!

One of the moments that ways makes me smile is writing entries on the blank pages. Glorious!

Where We Imagined Ourselves

nye bevanI have mentioned a few times that my sisters and I were competitive swimmers when we were younger. We swam at least three times a week, straight after school (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Every trip to the local swimming pool lasted for several hours. We would swim up and down, up and down, up and down, length after length, mile after mile. The local swimming pool was a 25 metre long pool.

wigan swimming poolWe also swam regularly in Wigan which had an Olympic sized swimming pool. (Sadly that pool was demolished some years ago.)

There was a problem that was the downfall of a competitive swimming career for the three of us. None of us were competitive. We just loved swimming. My parents would never have fostered a competitive spirit in us. But we were all strong and fast swimmers – especially Milly. Well, Milly was faster than all the other swimmers in her age-group. I probably had the most stamina. I never tired out. I have swam for five hours continually and not wanted to stop, except that the staff blew the whistle to say they were closing soon.

We had a strict swimming coach who used to yell at us with instructions to improve our stroke. I remember her shouting at us to go faster and push harder and kick more firmly. We did what she told us, but none of us had any particular taste for winning. For a long time, we kept on winning races. I upset one of the neighbour’s children when I raced against her and ended up beating the rest of the children by about half the length of the pool. All those hours and hours of practice meant we were very swift through the water. She was so upset she told all the other kids in our street that I cheated – I don’t see how I could have cheated without anyone noticing…but it just contributed to my growing dislike to racing.

swimmingOne by one we all told Mum and Dad we did not want to race anymore. We still loved swimming, but competitions were taking the pleasure out of something very special to us. All three of us little ones were total water babies. My favourite memories are our time playing in the water before and after we were under the charge of our scary swimming coach.

We imagined ourselves to be swimming in the sea. We could all hold our breath for a long time and we swam with our eyes wide open in the chlorinated water. We sometimes pretended we were fish and just wriggled our bodies through the water the way fish move through briny oceans.

Dive, Underwater, Reef, Corals, Anthias

We used to swim along the bottom of the pool normally at the deeper end of the pool pretending to be mermaids. We often played a game with either a coin, a hair bobble or one of locker keys. One of us would drop it on on the floor of the pool and the other two would comb the entire pool in search for the object as if we were diving for treasure.

paradise 1We sometimes used to pretend there was a shark that we had to escape from, or we used to try to jump up out of the water pretending we were dolphins. We danced in the water like synchronised swimmers and we performed all sorts of somersaults and twirls in the water. To us the water was our playground, and we felt totally relaxed within it. We imagined all sorts of watery games that entertained us for hours. I don’t know what the life-guards thought of us three girls.

Even today, I often wish the swimming pool was empty so I could play like I did as a child, diving and dancing to my heart’s content. But instead I have to swim like an adult…up and down, up and down.

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This was in response to THE ELEMENTAL CHALLENGE hosted by Teresa aka The Haunted Wordsmith:

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2019/04/15/elemental-writing-challenge-april-15/

Learner at Love

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