Monthly Archives: August 2011

Chocolate Cake for the Soul

I have not blogged much recently about Hearts. Perhaps I should. Apparently they beat Hibs 2-0 yesterday. Well done them.

But as this blog occasionally does look at some issues to do with heart care (don’t hold your breath on that: I’m no doctor), it is about time I linked to a useful article on keeping one’s heart healthy. In between baking my husband’s chocolate birthday cake, I may add.




Efficiency Drives

Ever get the idea there may be better ways to stop toddlers climbing into bed?

Except in this case my husband or I would be sleeping on the floor (presumably on the left over bits of duvet and covers from the unusual shape) and children would still, somehow, manage to climb on.

I had a restful spa day with my mum yesterday, which was a fabulous way of obtaining new slippers. I needed new slippers so this was good. Also we rested a lot and chatted and read and got our nails painted and heads and necks massages simultaneously. Well, at the same time as each other.

I have another mini-holiday to look forward to as well – bliss! My husband and I are going to go and climb trees without the children (they are far too young for fun like that) and go to National Trust places. I am very excited. Mostly about the climbing trees. And the Segways. Here is a picture of a segway.

Not ideal for scaling trees, but great for horizontal efficiency. Like power steering, but walking. But not power walking. Simple.

I could get used to days off.

Back to the office, and the children. Neither of which I am paid for, so I feel the odd spot of blogging and dreaming about time off will not result in disciplinary action.

No Sirreeee

Dear Mr Cameron,

If you think the problems leading to recent rioting may be resolved with a review and an agenda on morality, you are in the wrong profession. I suggest, if you are serious, that you either consider violent means by getting on your pedestal (historically successful but with all sorts of unfair consequences) or appreciate that we are all to blame and get on your knees.

In the meantime, perhaps we should outlaw any media outlet glorifying theiving and looting, vanity or self-justification. Whatever did we expect, letting our kids watch this?



Try saying stretchy neck.

Then try saying it with a NZ twang: stritchy nick. Now faster. Szczecinek. That’s it. Well done. You can pronounce a town in Poland. Well, according to my esteemed father this is how to say it.  And what is the point of this?

My brother, his wife and children are living in Szczecinek for a month, and you can find out why here.

Riot of Reactions

I am sure you have opinions about the very unsportsmanlike behaviour of some of the folk in our country; I would hope so. Civilisation depends on it.

If a certain social networking site I belong to is anything to go by, the reactions of 400 of my associates indicate that everyone is rather strongly against the rioting taking place in London and elsewhere. But the reasons vary. Some are concerned for friends. Some are grateful for mercies and new addresses. Some want the army to come back from wherever it is they are and show ’em. Some think parents are to blame. Some think society is to blame. Many want to take positive action – a collective 8:30 pm cup of tea or a community street clean up or messages to support the emergency services. Several have found humour in the situation (what – Suffolk Police going down to the capital? Do they know the way?) No one thinks the politicians have the answer.

Sadly, many of us are not all that surprised. Angry teenagers with a grudge, a bit of time and nothing to do don’t need much persuading to do stupid things. And it is not only teenagers who are at fault: among the 32 who’ve already gone through court were: “a graphic designer, college students, a youth worker, a university graduate and a man signed up to join the army. Some gave non-London addresses.” Full story here.

A thought I had – a dangerous one at that – was that in this country we have the freedom to riot. Think what that means. A cost to the economy. Danger to life. Idiocy celebrated. But when push comes to shove and twits turn #aboutface there are things to burn and people to hurt and a case to make to shock the civil. Rioting is an option. We have taught our children to be themselves, to achieve the distinctive, that the sky is the limit and they can have any bargain they can get your hands on. And then we have chained them into a nanny state where these things are not really available unless you comply with the system or are really extraordinary. Unrealistic expectations cause stress and set people up to fail. Or maybe set society up to riot.

Yes, we can make our case using humour, politics, organised rallies, online voting, phone-ins and on walls of public conveniences, but in the UK it is generally a lot safer to riot than in many other places. In Libya, Syria, Burma or China to disagree with the government is really not on. At all. If you appreciate your neck bone’s connection to the head bone. Etc. Please don’t think I support rioting. In this week’s context it is unjustifiable. In previous times we learnt the hard way by not knowing when to react.

There is so much more to say here. The reasons for the rioting. Is something generating each generation in our country to feel so angry they want to hit out. The strength of reaction. The sadness of lost creativity and economy. The confusion of arson. The greed of those with no backbone. The recklessness of disrespect. The price of it all. The perils of technology. The choice of what to damage (any schools, sports venues or religious establishments?)

No doubt we will be adding it all up for some time. We will all have opinions. Some shocked and dissident countries may boycott our Olympics. If it means more medals for us, perhaps some of the looters will be happy. Assuming they were part of the elite or the lucky who got tickets, that is. Trade you in a 50″ plasma screen, no questions asked?


This is how it works.

I have no idea how it works.

With 2 tiles to go dad is 181 points ahead of me and close to beating my all time high score. On his first game. Did I mention his first ever turn on Scrabble was a bingo? Or that bingo is an anagram of boing? (BOING: rebound, making a noise, BINGO: gambling game in which numbers are called out and covered by the players on their individual cards).

I will beat him next time. Or perhaps the time after. (AFTER: at a later time).

I feel like I count again. Here are some ways in which God has enabled me to start looking up and beyond the abyss. After several days avoiding society at home I found that we were needed at a children’s birthday party. Explaining that we couldn’t go would have been pathetic and unfair to Lily, so we went. All four of us. In the end she had her face painted and I chatted with people about some useful topics.

Straight after this I went to a friend’s wedding, because I could not have forgiven myself for missing it. Roger is the most lovely, humble, funny church secretary you could ever hope to meet. He was widowed a few years ago and has grown up children, who are equally lovely, humble and funny. Roger married Gillian who is also a church secretary (at a different church) and a truly wonderful lady. The church was packed (two churchfuls plus extra family, friends, colleagues). It made for amazing singing and a joyful and loud service. I went without my husband and children but felt truly part of something special and that God was loving me through the event, as well as blessing many others. I am so excited for Roger and Gillian. The wedding was a good chance to see some folk who’d moved away or who I hadn’t seen for a while, which also lifted my spirits.

On my walk home I walked part of the way with an elderly lady who invited me to see the garden she’d been working on. Experience has taught me never to refuse these kinds of invitations; they cheer the elderly up enormously and you don’t have to say too much if they can’t hear you. She was lovely and even though I had to look her up in the church book at home (it is a large congregation), I was pleased to have met her and chatted about hollyhocks and moss on the lawn. I learnt when the street was built and that she used to be able to see right through to the ring road from her kitchen. I do hope I cheered her up.

So I had hoped to avoid people and I found my day full of people. All of whom taught me useful things about humility and my value to others.

Today I wasn’t sure if I could manage church, but I went along as we had agreed to go straight on afterwards to mum and dad’s. And what a service. God has been trying to get through to us about stepping out of the boat multiple times in recent years. Again the sermon, by a visiting speaker, was on Peter stepping out of the boat and walking on water.

Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.

It is less of an abyss, more of an atoll. I still ache, but the aching is part of the healing, and tomorrow I get back to responsibility and reality. (REALITY: state of things as they are).

And in reality, I believe that I count. And am counted.

I have no idea how it works.


I started writing this on a dark and stormy night. I felt like a cliche. Then my daughter needed thunder explaining. Then the phone rang with difficult news. It was not conducive to writing. The storm abated. The moment was lost.

I am actually contemplating becoming a recluse. It would fit my INFP personality style. My writing may not be helpful for you, but it is therapy for me. And I need it now. I cannot face people. Real people. In talking situations. In going out of the house situations. In answering the phone situations. Even the children. I am doing the minimum and grateful this is my husband’s week off. Something has snapped. I do not want to be broken, but it feels like I am staring into a large, dark blue hole.

Last night I had a dream about heaven. It was closer to earth than I realised. It was a team effort. It was a wonderful mixture of good textures, purposeful creativity, joy and familiarity. I woke up amazed. There are snatches of heaven all around us. That view. That technology. That laughter. That solution. That selflessness. It is at hand. Some of us may never see it. I see it a bit like visiting a National Trust property. Enjoying the wide green spaces and ancient beautiful architecture without having to own the place. It is a moment of ownership which lifts you. Some people don’t get it and some do: ownership is arbitrary anyway.

Teach me to number my days aright.

I am playing Scrabble with my dad on the computer. When you put all your letters down it is called a Bingo and you get an extra 50 points. I fear Bingo is my dad’s secret middle name. With 35 tiles remaining he has scored three bingos and also played YELK on a triple word score and GAZE on a triple letter (the Z, which was used in both directions). Statistically I have more wins than him as I’ve been playing longer online, but I don’t like my chances on this one. I’m not going to throw the towel in. I see the big picture: sometimes you get good letters, sometimes it is a lot harder. At least over many games it averages out.

In life, often it does not. I was thinking about my children. They are really on loan to us. I have them physically until about 18. In Lily’s case, I calculate we already have had 20% of her living-at-home-with-mum-and-dad time. In Joseph’s, just over 7%. Financially however, as well as we hope to prepare them, they may not be fully independent for a little longer. And apparently they will probably live quite a long time. The BBC says people don’t imagine themselves getting older. I think about it all the time. And the Telegraph has a gadget for telling you your percentage chance of reaching the age of 100, based solely on your age and gender. The chances as you reach your late 90s actually improve.

When I feel particularly down the future seems unrelenting and frightening. Life has been unrelenting recently, despite a number of lovely elements, for which I am grateful. When I see the bigger picture I recognise that the pace I’d been going at with parenting, taking on the toddler group, adapting to new situations and a number of other responsibilities will not always remain. There will be different challenges at different ages. But when you are exhausted and need a holiday, there are some points in life where a holiday is just not an option. Pre-school children do need masses of attention. I was grateful last week that my parents-in-law took a lot of the responsibility for them. But the travelling, planning and being unwell at the same time all took their toll. Nearly a week later I am still shuffling off my cold and trying not to shuffle off my coil. I am trying to fight off panic about the future and my identity. I am struggling to breathe most of the time. A heavy cold on a hot day takes your breath away.

Life seems stormy and dark. It will not always. And if I number my days well I can pace myself better. Holidays where I can forget about everything are a distant memory. But I can still revel in snatches of heaven around me. And maybe find the courage in the coming days to get out and face people again. Or at least do a bit more writing.