Friday Blog Hop:Celebrate the Small Things

Hello and good evening. I hope all of you out there can find something to celebrate today, despite the grim news that has been hitting the headlines every day this week - more hurricanes in the Caribbean, earthquakes, Brexit negotiations, and two political leaders continuing their spat like children via Twitter following the horrifying statement by Donald Trump to the UN. I can't recall a crisis as severe as the current one since the Cuban missile crisis of the 1960s. I guess it's time for believers to start asking for Divine intervention. As I'm not amongst their number I'm simply hoping that common sense will prevail, but it seems a quality sadly lacking in some of the world's movers and shakers.

Those of us so far unaffected by natural and man made disasters can only be grateful, keep calm, and carry on. To paraphrase the concluding thoughts of Voltaire's Candide, who endured and survived all manner of trials and tribulations in a cruel world, we must tend o…

Friday Blog Hop - Celebrating Heroes

The U3A is in full swing again, following the summer recess.  Yesterday I went to an awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, presentation by an ex-army gentleman, Chris Vasper, about his 2016 foray into the Sahara to take part in the Marathon Des Sables, the world's toughest desert race. 

Watching Chris's slide show was a humbling and emotional experience. Some of those undertaking the challenge had disabilities sustained whilst serving in the British forces - one was Private Karl Hinnet who was photographed leaping from the turret of a tank with the back of his head on fire. The image went around the world. He was eighteen years old at the time and sustained 40% burns. Another participant was an amputee who was walking on two prosthetic legs. Chris himself is living with MS.  The participants in the marathon have to carry all of their supplies with them throughout the six day race.These are giants amongst men.

The team of which Chris was a member in 2016 carried the baton , which was craf…

Friday Blog Hop - Celebrating the Not-So-Small Things

Hello, it's Friday already and a grey start to the day here in Robin Hood Land. Oh, for a few days of sunshine! But instead, I'm reminded that the last quarter of 2017 will soon be upon us, and I have already had to make a table reservation for the Bridge Club Christmas lunch. Christmas is months away, but last year I left it a little too late and had difficulty finding a restaurant that was able to accommodate us.

Last weekend we undertook an expedition to visit my sister in rural Wiltshire. Those of you unfamiliar with the roads in England may be bemused by the fact that it takes four and a half hours to travel 160 miles. But I dislike motorway travel and the scenic route involves some roads where it is difficult for two cars to pass without brushing into the hedgerow on the roadside verge. We travelled past Malborough College, Silbury Hill and Avebury, arriving at our final destination at teatime ...

My sister lives in a 18th-century house at the foot of the northern slopes…

The White Horse in Wiltshire

Good morning! I've been in Wiltshire this weekend. During a brief respite from atrocious weather my brother-in-law and I made the steep ascent (by car, I hasten to add!) to the White Horse, which is a mile or so from his home. Very blustery up there and I had to make an undignified scramble over a stile to reach the Iron-Age earthworks but it was so worth it for the spectacular views.

King Alfred defeated the Great Heathen Army of the invading Danes on this site between the 6th and the 12th May AD 878. The White Horse was carved out of the chalk hillside many centuries later, to commemorate the Battle of Ethandun (Old English name for the village of Edington, where my family lives).

Had planned to move on the Dorset coast for a few days but the weather, with storms coming in from the West, has been very unpredictable (it's said that we may be getting the effects of the tail-end of Hurricane Irma later this week). So after getting soaked to the skin on Sunday at Cliveden, on t…

Why Drink Decaf?

What, you may ask, is the point of denuded, decaffeinated coffee? Well, there isn't one. If you don't mind the prospect of a future of addiction, shot nerves, insomnia, high blood pressure and headaches. Ever wondered why some European nations are so excitable? It's the ritual of the early morning espresso, so thick that it may be possible to stand a spoon in it, and so strong that it has to be washed down with a glass of water by the unaccustomed and unwary. OK, I exaggerate. But I do have difficult-to-control high blood pressure; and caffeine doesn't do anything to abate my insomnia. So I have been drinking  decaf for a long time - possibly longer than you have been alive.

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In the Garden and in the Gym

The recent weather has wreaked havoc in my garden. We have had hot days, warm days, cold days and rain, rain, and more rain, here in Robin Hood country. Garden hygiene has been sadly neglected chez moi. Consequently, my hollyhocks are leaning at an angle of forty five degrees (note to self - stake morerobustly next Spring), the rose blooms are soggy and rotting and there is powdery mildew throughout the flower borders - they love warm, humid weather.On top of which the garden is infested with caterpillars. So much for attempts at organic gardening. I've invested in sprays to rid myself of the blighters. But the cabbages are so far gone that I have resorted to pulling them out of the plot. But worst of all, my beloved delphiniums have fallen prey to something unidentified. I had some lovely blooms in June and once they had died back I cut back the growth in hopes of a second show later. The  regrowth was amazingly rapid, but once the flower buds appeared they all died. So yesterday…