Monthly Archives: August 2014

Soaked, Shivering But Still Smiling…..what could I possibly be referring to?


If you’d told me a couple of weeks ago that I would voluntarily stand out in my back garden and pour three buckets of icy cold water over my head in the name of charity I’d have told you where to go. Fact!

However on Saturday I did just that and don’t regret a second – or a drop – of it.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a bucket you can’t have failed to notice the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that is sweeping –or should that be flooding? – the world at present.

If you have missed the story, the idea is that you dowse yourself in icy cold water (usually standing in one bucket, pouring two over your head then stepping out and dumping the third over for good measure) and you nominate friends and family to rise to the challenge within 24/48 hours. If your nominees rise to the challenge they donate £3; if they decline then the forfeit is a £10 donation. ( if you’re in the UK that is- amounts vary per country) Simple.

But how did it all start? We’ve all been doing it or watching others drown and shiver but what was the trigger?

This all began in Florida in mid-July when a Mr Kennedy was nominated by a friend on the golf course to rise to the challenge. At that point it wasn’t connected to a specific charity but Mr Kennedy chose to donate to ALS because a family member suffers from the disease. He then nominated his cousin’s wife to take the challenge and the rest is history.

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a form of Motor Neurone Disease. These incurable illnesses attack the nerves in the body called motor neurones. These are the nerves that control our muscles. It doesn’t affect every sufferer the same way but ultimately there is no cure at present and invariably sufferers pass away from respiratory failure.

Facebook and Twitter have been flooded with short videos of politicians, sports stars, rock stars and celebrities and a whole cast of regular caring humans all willing to suffer a soaking in the name of a good cause and to heighten awareness of ALS/MND. Some of these videos are hilarious, I’ll not deny it, but they also highlight the power of peer pressure beautifully. The vast majority of us who have been nominated or “called out” have succumbed. Age is no barrier here either- everyone from toddlers to pensioners the world over are being drenched of their own free will. Are you really going to the one who was nominated and didn’t partake?

I wasn’t.

And to the family and friends that I nominated shortly before my own icy buckets rained down on me, thank you from the bottom of my heart and proving you’re all good sports by rising to the challenge.

Here’s my #icebucketchallenge. Dammit, it was cold!


Oh Decisions, Decisions……

It’s rapidly approaching that time again when I am faced with an all important decision. This happens roughly every two years and creates a dilemma that rages on for weeks. If I make the wrong choice I have to live with it for the consequences….oh decisions, decisions!

So what is this great dilemma?

It’s time to upgrade my mobile phone.

Yes, I know I don’t have to choose a new model and could quite easily live with the one I have…or could I?

I’m convinced that t mobile phone manufacturers and  phone companies are in cahoots. Mysteriously, after functioning perfectly for 23 months, my phone has  begun to play up. Simple things like part of the touch screen no longer responding, the battery life halving almost overnight and other similar annoying little niggles. All minor faults that when grouped together become serious enough to tempt the user to start shopping around for a new “toy”.

For me a mobile phone has to have two things – a first rate camera and an expandable memory. (Two years ago I opted to go for a fixed amount of memory- poor choice!)

Now I also require the device to come with a suitably large data bundle to allow easy access to social media sites, email, the news, the weather, Google ….I could go on and on but I’m sure you get the picture.

The one feature that holds no interest to me is games. As a reformed Candy Crush addict I no longer play games on my phone.

However the feature of least importance is the device’s ability to actually make phone calls.

Why do we even still call these hand held pc’s phones?

At the risk of sounding “old”, it doesn’t seem so long ago that very few people carried mobile phones and even then these large bulky handsets could only call, text and play Snake. It also doesn’t seem too far back when the phone was something that sat on a table in the hall or the living room and the handset was attached to the body with a short curly wire. None of this push button nonsense either – you actually had to “dial” the number by putting your finger in the appropriate hole and spinning the dial round. You also had to know the number you wanted to dial – none of this “contacts/people” stuff.

The first cordless phone in our house was a luxury – but one that came with a new household rule – “The handset must always be replaced on the base unit as soon as you’ve finished your call.”  (I’m sure this was brought into force after my dad left the handset in the greenhouse or some such place!) The end result was that you ended up making your call standing beside the base unit so there was no real “cordless” benefit after all!

Stepping even further back in time for a moment. I remember around 1976/77 we took delivery of a new slimline trendy “Trim” phone with a very distinctive ring. The novelty of this quickly wore off when the family budgie, Freddie, began to impersonate the “ring” causing great confusion and many needless mad dashes into the hall to answer the silent phone. That phone was soon returned to BT.

And phone boxes- when did anyone last use one? I don’t even know that Boy Child or Girl Child would know where to start with a pay phone. Gone are the days of the emergency reverse charge call home when you had lost (or spent) your bus fare.

Ah happy memories of days gone by when phones were actually just used for talking to each other.

So, back to my current dilemma – to upgrade or not upgrade? That is the question.



A 1970’s Trim phone

(credits to the owner)


How Do You Choose Only Five!







The first quote, spotted on FB recently, reminded me of a photograph I took of the second. It is above a doorway in the New York Public Library- a wonderful place to visit!

Both quotes got me thinking- which five books would I choose if pushed to do so?

As I’ve said before in relation to music, your choices will vary depending on mood and personal circumstance at the time. There’s no right or wrong answer.

Perhaps it’s also time for a confession – I am no lover of the “classics”. Yes, I’ll go and wash my mouth out with soap for admitting that! However, in my defence, I’ve read very few of them and enjoyed those even less. I’m not saying anything against these books- they just don’t appeal to me.

Don’t ever “tell” me to read a book because I won’t do it. This harks back to being told to read novels and classics for school English exams. Recommend a book to me and chances are that I’ll get to it in my own good time

I also tend to select books using a  methodology that I use for choosing music and wine – if I like the cover or the title then I’ll probably check it out further.

So, to try to narrow my eclectic tastes in literature down to five volumes…..

1 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien – the best written book I’ve ever read.

2 Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts –an incredible tale that draws the reader into the heart of the characters.

3 A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving – yes, I bought this one because I liked the armadillo on the cover and opened it to find a fabulous tale inside. One of many John Irving books I own and treasure.

4 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – John Berendt –for its fabulous cast of characters and the fact it reminds me of  my honeymoon in Mauritius a long time ago. Perhaps something Freudian there….

5 The Pilot’s Wife – Anita Shreve – it has the “house” in it. I love the recurring house that appears in several of her novels. It’s also a fabulous story and makes you think about how well you really know your partner.

Right, I knew I couldn’t limit this to five so I’m going to beg your forgiveness and add on another

6 The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho – initially loaned to me by an old friend with whom I’ve long since lost contact sadly, and one I’ve re-read several times. The first of many Paulo Coelho books in my collection. One that set me on the road to follow my own dreams.


So what would be in your top five (or six) and why?



credits to the owner of the Neil Gaiman quote photograph




Word Games- with a hint of menace

I think the recent hot weather has dried up my “well of ideas” a little over the past week or so. Perhaps also it’s because my “real world” has been a bit manic. Who knows!

In an attempt to keep these posts varied and fresh, I’m going to play a game with this post. Using an idea from a tutorial book I downloaded a while ago, I’ve taken ten words and will weave each of them into a short piece of fiction.

At least that’s the plan! Here goes….

The ten words are –

gamble, exact, bow, tower, risen, spin, soil, shame, melt, attack.

Wish me luck!

Grave Misgivings?

The full moon had risen, partially hidden behind a wispy veil of clouds. As the clouds parted its silvery light shone down on the pile of soil that marked the fresh grave.

A few hours earlier, from the sanctuary of the church tower, the dark angel had watched as a small group of mourners had paid their last respects to the old woman. The same old woman on whom she had fed a few days before. At the head of the grave, the old woman’s dog had sat watching as its mistress’ coffin was slowly lowered into the cold damp depths of the earth. Now, hours later the dog still sat in the exact same spot.

It had never been her intention to make the old woman her prey. Her sights had been set on younger richer blood but the risks associated with drinking from her preferred choice had been too great. It had proved to be too big a gamble for her to take that night. A small part of the dark angel felt a sense of shame at her attack on the woman.

Gliding soundlessly down from the church, the angel landed beside the grave. Time to pay her silent last respects. Something in the lunar magic of the full moon was tugging at the remnants of her lost soul. As she landed on the damp grass, the dog looked up. Politely she made a deep bow to the grave and the dog. Mirroring her futile gesture of apology, the dog lowered its head too.

A distant sound caused the angel to spin round and re-focus her attentions on the moonlit road that ran behind the dry stane wall of the graveyard. Thud. Thud. Thud. The steady rhythmic tread of the approaching runner caused the last glimmers of remorse to melt away into the night.

Deep within her the angel could feel her hunger stir, no longer satiated by octogenarian blood. Without a backward glance she spread her wings and took to the air in silent pursuit of her next feast.



Did you find all ten words?

(the start of the angels’ tale can be found above under fiction- short stuff and is titled Silently Watching)