Saturday, December 04, 2010

Teddy bear concert

Another granny and I took our teddies to a concert today. It was rather sad really, because I had invited two grandchildren and their parents to come with me, as it was a special children's concert. But then they realised that my granddaughter's school concert was the same day, and as she had a part to play, she needed her family there to support her, obviously. So I set about trying to find some other children to take, but no luck, so a friend and I decided we would go anyway - AND take our teddies!

These Teddy concerts are given once a year where I live by the Kings Chamber Orchestra. They do a winter tour, and at each stop they give a children's concert in the afternoon, and an adults concert in the evening. I had only been to the evening concerts before and was keen to see what the Teddy Concert was like.

Well, we trod a roughish path to get there: severe weather made us wonder during the week if roads would be passable anyway, but by this morning a thaw was well under way, so driving was OK. We decided to have lunch first at the cafe next to the chapel where the concert was being held, but had been misinformed, and found it closed. Off in the car again to a nearby pub, The Red Cow, only to find a notice: SORRY, OUR KITCHEN IS CLOSED TODAY! Off again to a small shopping complex where we found fish and chips which we ate in the car, followed by takeaway coffees from the Tesco Express across the road. We took our coffees back with us to the chapel, and were in comfortable time to get good seats for the concert, where we surreptitiously sipped our drinks while waiting for the concert to begin, pretending that they were just shopping in plastic bags.

The chapel was soon full of children with their parents and their teddies, and the excitement in their faces was a joy. MY teddy by the way is called Ton-Ton Georges. Ton-ton is French baby-talk for Uncle, and Georges stands for Georges Brassens, the great and unique French singer songwriter. I bought my Georges at a concert given by an English group who give concerts of his songs, and was told that the mother of one of the performers knitted the teddies to raise funds for the group. He has a real take-off jumper and trousers, although his beret is fixed. I gave him his Christmas bell to wear.

Well, the performance was not so much a concert as a musical party. Every piece of music played involved the children and their teddies in some way: actions both strenuous and gentle, singing, shouting, and throwing our teddies in the air. Oh yes, Granny Rosemary and Granny Judith were going it with the best of them, though our gestures were somewhat more muted than those of the children.The orchestra even tried to lull us all to sleep at one point, and gave prizes for those who came nearest to it.

One highlight of the event was when the orchestra leader announced that he was going to show us how to make a cheap musical instrument at home - although mummies and daddies would have to do it of course, as it involved using a knife and a drill. Here is the recipe:

  • Take one large carrot and trim off the ends with a sharp knife.
  • Using a power drill, drill carefully into each end of the carrot, ensuring that the two drillings meet in the middle of the carrot.
  • Then drill eight holes in the sides of the carrot for seven fingers and a thumb.
  • Finally, take a bassoon reed, previously soaked in water, and insert it into one end of the carrot, which is now ready to play.

I kid you not: this talented cellist proceeded to play for us a "Concerto for carrot and orchestra" by Broccolini......! (I know, I was suspicious of that name when I saw it on the programme, although I didn't know then that it was a vegetable.) Now I couldn't swear to whether this was really happening. Maybe he was singing into the darned thing, but it certainly sounded like he got a tune out of it.

The story of the pictures, by the way, is of a little bag made in Ecuador which I bought from a stall on the way out, and of how much Georges liked it, so much so that he eventually insisted on being carried home in it. Maybe I shan't give it away as a Christmas present after all.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Halleluja Chorus for Advent

Wishing all my readers a Happy Advent and a Joyful Christmas.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Instant uplift

A friend who knows how I am feeling today has just come by with this enchanting little posy: a rosebud, a fuschia bud and a primrose, with a fern, some rose leaves, two kinds of herbaceous leaf and two browny sort of palmate ones - I'm no good at botany.

The little cream jug, of green Denby pottery, is barely three and a quarter centimetres high.

Getting back into the swing

I am finding it so difficult to get back into the way of blogging regularly. The truth is I write best when I am well, happy and confident, but not too busy; or, on certain occasions, when I am greatly moved even by unhappy emotions. But if I am depressed, or bored, or not feeling fit, then inspiration simply does not come to me. I am sure I am not alone in this.

Unfortunately I have not been feeling my best over the past three months. [By "my best" I mean coping with the impairments of age, helped by a well-balanced pharmacy, so that I am able to do with enjoyment most of the things I still want to do.] I put this weakness down initially to a heavy fall in July, (my second this year), in which I gave my ribs some severe bruising, which 13 weeks later has still not entirely cleared up.

But around the same time as the fall I had to go onto stronger drops for my glaucoma, and I suddenly began to put a few things together in my mind. The drops contain a beta-blocker, and although the ophthalmologist had said it should not affect my heart medications, the patient information leaflet said it might. So when I attended the Falls Clinic my GP referred me to, I told the consultant about the drops, and he recommended I should change them.

This I am about to do, as soon as my GP can decipher the ophthalmologist's handwriting, and convert the private prescription he gave me into a National Health Service one! Meanwhile, my heart gets rather slow now and then and misses beats, leaving me limp and lethargic. I hope to have a change of medication by Monday latest, and if that doesn't make a better woman of me, I shall have to look around for a good man!

Well, that's my story and I am sticking to it! Complicated, isn't it?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Granny Turismo

Marge, Mary & Doris

I wonder if any of my readers have come across this act in their wanderings. Granny Turismo claim that they are the world's first and only formation shopping trolley dance team, and they are to be seen in the streets and squares and malls of our cities, at theme parks and at festivals, in fact anywhere where people are gathering for relaxation and diversion at holiday times. They carry their own loud music and sound effects around with them, and they are boisterous and not a little disgraceful.

Those of you who know that I belong to an organisation for older women called Growing Old Disgracefully, will not be surprised, therefore, to learn that we sought them out and invited two of the team to attend our Annual Gathering in Harrogate recently. Mary and Betty rolled up the ramp into the Cairn Hotel between tea and supper time on our first evening, and made themselves at home in the spacious reception areas, and later in the Promenade Suite, where there was room for the trolleys to go through their dance routines, enthusiastically accompanied on the floor by some of our members.

Sadly they could not stay with us for long, and we had dinner to eat and a further evening's entertainment ahead of us. So Mary and Betty took their leave of us. I was especially sad to see them go, because Mary is my son Ric and Betty is his partner Tess, and I am a besotted fan of them both and of the act. You might not think so from the picture below, where I appear to be haranguing my son like the worst sort of scold, but I can assure you I wasn't.

And so the Trolleys were put to rest until another occasion, and the Grannies went home.

To get the full effect of this rumbustious act, watch a video film of the team at work in Birmingham in July, and a BBC News interview with Marge and Mary at Alton Towers . Granny Turismo also have a page on Facebook

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Are you a nibbler?

I have just found the perfect answer to my compulsion to nibble throughout the day.

I accidentally ordered fresh peas instead of frozen with my online groceries order yesterday, and my delight at rediscovering the forgotten art of shelling peas knows no bounds. Fresh, uncooked peas are almost as nice as frozen ones, and I have been slitting, popping and guzzling all day. I am sure I shall have added at least one of five veg portions in this way by the time I go to bed.

I do make a lot of silly mistakes in my ordering these days, as my brain slows down and my concentration goes, and my now ungovernable fingers, (for so long the reliable friends of a trained touch typist), yield to arthritis and double click keys or hit the one next to the target key.

I rarely order spirits, but I do like to have a medicinal brandy in the house, and the time came recently to buy a new bottle. So I ordered - I thought - a half bottle of brandy and three small cans of Canada Dry. Imagine my surprise when I unpacked my order to find THREE half bottles of brandy and THREE litre bottles of Canada Dry!!! I have ordered two instead of one of items in the past, but THREE....... It would take me three lifetimes to get through that lot.

I couldn't face trying to return the goods to the store ... I mean, how embarrassing! So I decided the spares would have to be given to a bottle stall on our local Village Day in July. This would give me a comfortable glow of good feeling to set against the involuntary stupidities of old age. But alas, the heatwave was too much for me, and I could only stay indoors on Village Day, blinds closed, all fans blowing, drinking as much water as I could remember to, and doing absolutely nothing.

So these surplus bottles remain in my back kitchen reproaching me for my carelessness - FREE TO ANYONE WHO CARES TO COLLECT!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

My family photos find a new home


This is my father on his 1923 Model 16H Norton motorbike. As it happens I have not posted this picture before, even though a year or two ago I did a feature on my father's 'wheels' - that is to say his motorbikes and cars. Today some of those pictures have found a place on a website which celebrates the Norton motorcycle. John, the website owner, has managed to improve the quality of this picture, and so I have copied it back again from his website to post here.

This is the sort of exchange which really makes the internet, and blogging in particular, worth while for me. My mother and father are honoured again on a new blogsite, and John in Holland has found some more of his beloved Norton motorbikes to add to his blog.

I think I have at least one reader who will enjoy a visit to John's website, somebody else who loves his 'wheels'. Let me know what you think, Avus.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A funny thing happened .....

Not long ago I bought myself a new printer, changing my loyalty of many years from Epson to HP. A different way of operating, and some all singing all dancing features I haven't mastered yet. It wasn't long before I had to get to grips with a paper jam, however. I read the instructions carefully, and found that I had to turn the printer round and open up the back, then proceed to remove the trapped sheet gently but firmly. Careful as I was I lost a corner which tore off and remained in the machine.

Now, I peered into that machine from all directions. I picked it up and shook it. I shone my Anglepoise lamp right into its innards. I looked all round the floor of my workroom; the missing corner failed to reveal itself. With considerable trepidation I tried printing again, fully expecting it to jam up again. It didn't - what luck! But the mystery remains: where did that corner of paper hide itself, and will it pop up again to counfound me on some future occasion?

A month or two later I had a second jam, and without bothering to read the instructions this time, I opened the front of the printer, as I do for changing the ink cartridges. And there, nestling harmlessly in the back of the changing bay for the cartridges, was the missing corner.


Managing a website

I wrote here a while ago about setting up a new website for my women's network Growing Old Disgracefully. When I set out on that journey, I thought that once the website was live I would be able to withdraw and leave it to the team of colleagues who had expressed an interest in looking after it. That was before we opted for a content management system (CMS).

One of the two design companies we asked for an estimate was offering us a contract which included maintaing and updating the website; the others offered us a website which we could run ourselves, with a manual of instructions for making the sort of day to day changes and updates that we should require. This last was going to be a cheaper option for us on an ongoing basis, so we decided to go for it, not without misgivings. Only about half our members are currently on line, and I have the impression that many of those do not use their computers for much beyond emailing. It is time, we thought, to nudge them forward a little into the age of cyberspace.

What I didn't realise was that managing a website goes on all the time - that is if you are going to keep it lively and up-to-date. And that although the manual we were given was very good, and despite my blogging experience, there is still a lot to do and to be learned about editing text, adding pictures, updating the events calendar and responding to enquiries about membership.

Added to which I have invested so much of myself in this project, and it has been so interesting and satisfying to work on, that I now find myself deeply embedded in the fabric (or the wire frame, or whatever), and unable to tear myself away. But a deal will have to be struck somehow, between growing old disgracefully and Not Dead Yet! I am determined to get back to regular blogging here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Still here ......

This is a friendly greeting, believe it or not!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

User UNfriendly

I had my new Yellow Pages delivered last week.
  • First thing I noticed, it now covers a third area, along with the previous two.
  • Second thing I noticed, the book is only two thirds as thick as the previous book.

How did they do it, I asked myself?

  • Third thing I noticed, the print is now so small that it hurts my eyes to read, even with my bifocals on.

They may as well stop delivering it to me, for all the use it will be. My fingers may be able to do the walking for me, but who will do the reading?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

New widget

I've at last fallen for the temptation of the 'Link Within' widget. But hey, what's going on here. The previous posts that it is choosing to offer at the end of each blogpost seem to have no relevance to what is in the new post. I have got the idea for this widget from Lee who writes 'The Curate's Egg', and associated blogs. Now all his thumbnails of previous programmes seem to come up with a high degree of relevance. But his blogs all have pictures, and I guess it is easier for the widget to index and sort posts by picture than by text.

It's annoying though, as I downloaded it deliberately because I have just written about' growing old disgracefully', and I know I have written about it many times before, so I thought I would let the widget do the walking for me, instead of having to add links individually.

I just wonder what old posts it is going to throw up to go with this one. I am not at all sure I am going to keep this!

Why have I been too busy to post?

Because I have been ...

I have written quite often here about growing old disgracefully, a network for older women to which I belong. About a year ago I was asked if I would lead a small working group to look into the practicability and cost of commissioning a professional website, with an interactive members’ section, for our organisation. The small group boiled down to two in the end, and together we began getting estimates from a number of professional designers. We took our findings and recommendations to our committee, and were given approval and a budget to commission the work.

Then began a period of the most intense commitment and focus: a time of forced learning, endless research, and hard, slogging work. Although both of us were competent computer users and knew our way around the web, we knew little about websites except “what we liked” - which is actually a useful basis to work from.

We had to provide a new logo, photographs, and information about the organisation. We also chose to include illustrations from the two books which were the starting point of g.o.d. And it soon became apparent that much of the information we planned to put on the website was out-of-date, and needed checking or rewriting. Bearing in mind that we are an organisation of scattered individuals around the UK and abroad, with no geographical home or centre, and that about half our members are not yet on line, this all took a lot of time.

We were constantly having to ask questions about what the designers were doing - (we had picked a mother and daughter design team by the way - SugarCat Publishing) - and they would patiently explain to us how things worked, and why they were done one way rather than another. The more we learned, the more possibilities we saw in what we were doing, and it wasn’t long before we were expanding the original brief.

It all came together in the end, and the website went live on 29th January. The response has been immediate. Membership enquiries are coming in, as we hoped, and we are also getting enquiries from radio, television and other media, for members to contribute the g.o.d point of view in various ways. So we are being noticed!

[The images in this post are ©]

Saturday, February 13, 2010

All's well...

...back in action soon.

This is a 50-year-old colour slide taken by my husband in the garden of our first home. A friend converted it to a digital picture for me, with his special scanning device. So lovely to see it again. At the time I called it "Son and shade"!