Monday, 5 December 2016

Is it safe to come out?

I’m glad November has gone. It is my least favourite month of the year for a number of reasons. I dread its arrival every year and breathe a sigh of relief when it’s over.

The Norovirus reared its ugly head and felled us like trees. Only one adult (out of eight in the immediate family) escaped unscathed – and it wasn’t me. It seems that bleaching everything in sight and taking every precaution you can just doesn’t help sometimes.

As well as the stomach virus, there are sore throats and chickenpox doing the rounds at school. I’ve still got one home poorly.

And goodness knows what’s happened to Blogger! I have to rummage around now to find the blogs I’m following. Please tell me it’s not just me!

On the plus side I’ve been to visit Santa twice (with different grandchildren). The highlight was meeting the reindeer. They are so friendly and love being made a fuss of, but they have room to get away if they want to which I think is important. Visitors are only allowed to meet them one family at a time and are supervised. My eldest grandson who is 11 came in as an adult, but he still enjoyed meeting the reindeer.

We’re off to visit my youngest son and his family at the weekend and are hoping see Santa with my granddaughters.

Dusty says he doesn’t know what all the fuss is about.

Sunday, 30 October 2016


“Is that white sheen on the grass dew or frost?” I asked when we were walking on the field with Dusty this morning. We were surrounded by it. My phone can only take selfies as there is a fault with the camera, but I managed to get a photo. I should have known it was too warm for frost. And I should have realised that the dew was clinging to webs.

How many spiders must have spun those webs? And where were they all?

It’s amazing to think that every day we walk on the fields completely oblivious to all the webs beneath our feet. We trod a lot more carefully today, mindful of all the little creatures that had worked so hard to spin their webs.

I’m still reading the Last Kingdom series by Bernard Cornwell. I watched a question and answer session with him and was delighted to learn that book 10 is not to be the last and that not only is the second television series scheduled for next spring, but a further two series have been optioned.

One of the many interesting things that he said was that he never plans his books. If you want to watch the Q&A session with him and his editor, you can find it at the top of his Facebook page here.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Can't stop...

I can’t stop reading, that’s what. My eldest son has been on at me for years to read Bernard Cornwell’s books and I have read a couple of his stand alone novels, Azincourt and The Gallows Thief, both excellent books.

A while back I watched The Last Kingdom on TV (based on the first two books in The Last Kingdom series). I liked it a lot and decided to start reading the books. The 10th in the series, The Flame Bearer, is out today.

I have never done this before (usually I like to vary my reading as much as possible), but I have read the first three books one after another and I’m well into the fourth. Can’t put them down! I’ve also read the first of the Sharpe books and I’m likely to get hooked on those too.

It’s a wonderful feeling to discover you like an author and know you have plenty of reading ahead! I am absolutely in awe of Bernard Cornwell and thanks to him I am reading about twice as much as normal. 

You can find his website here and on the home page it features a video about the making of The Last Kingdom which is interesting to watch.

I have mentioned the Fantastic Fiction website before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Just search for the author you are interested in and it will come up with a list of all their books which can be very useful. The page often includes a piece about the author and sometimes books that the author recommends. You can find it here.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

All Quiet

Well it is mostly quiet now, but it wasn’t very quiet when 7 year old granddaughter put her school shoes on and a huge spider leapt out of one and scurried across her foot.

I didn’t know she could scream like that. Apparently I screamed too, but I don’t remember it. All I remember is watching this huge thing bulldozing across the floor at speed before it shoved a couple of dining chairs out of its way and disappeared into the shadows.

I think it even looked over one of its shoulders and let out an evil laugh.

Dusty the Fearless heard the screams and ran into the garden barking at Moggy the Merciless before realising Harley was snoozing in the trampoline and Moggy the Merciless was nowhere to be seen.

He came back in all triumphant anyway and we had to tell him he was a good boy to rush to the rescue, even if no one out there needed rescuing.

Considering the spider had been in her shoe and had run over her foot, my granddaughter took it very well. I would have been a hysterical mess for hours if it had happened to me.

“I don’t want to talk about it ever again,” she said.

And she proceeded to talk about it all the way to school.

She says she’s not an arachnophobe, because she doesn’t mind small spiders, but that she is arachnophobish.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Hot Dogs!

Dusty has found a new way to cool off now he doesn’t swim so often. He runs to the tap and sprawls out underneath it, has a drink, then wriggles round on his stomach until the water is running over his back.

I don’t throw the ball for him to fetch very much as he throws himself into it so hard, I’m afraid he’ll re-injure himself, but we do sit and stay and once I’m a distance away I throw it for him to catch.

He’s invented a game for himself. He runs round me in a wide circle waiting for me to throw the ball for him to catch. So when he does it, I say, “Go round!” Now he goes round when I tell him to, so it looks as if he’s been trained to do it, but in reality he trained me.

I’ve heard of dog ice lollies, but it was seeing them being made on For the Love of Dogs with Paul O’Grady that inspired me to give them a go.

They were a big hit on this very hot day, but I think I put too much food in so perhaps more water next time.

In the car with my daughter and two of her children, I had just stopped when eldest granddaughter looked above my head and said, “There’s a spider…” My daughter said “No!” But too late, I was already out of the car and sprinting down the road.

No I wasn’t really, but I did leap out of the car while my brave daughter knocked it out – well she didn’t knock it out as in hitting it over the head, but she did give the web a poke so it fell out of the car. It tried to climb back in, but I fought it off.

Hope you are keeping cool in summer's last blast.

Saturday, 10 September 2016


On Tuesday walking home with Dusty on a hot humid morning I felt an itch and knew that a mozzie had got me.

I react badly to mosquito bites – the affected part swells up like a balloon so you can’t even tell where the bite is.

So when I went to pick up the kidlets from school I asked, “Guess where I got bitten by a mosquito.” I should have known eldest granddaughter would quip, “On your bum?” Smallest grandson said, “Your ear.” “How did you know?” I asked and he smiled knowingly. By then it was as plain as the nose on my face - and probably three times as big.

I have generous earlobes but an insect turned one of them into a hideous rubbery thing that dangled down under my hair and stuck out from my head. It was the biggest earlobe I’ve ever seen. I had to keep throwing it over my shoulder to stop it smacking me in the eye every time I leaned forward.

Then my neck decided to join the party and I looked as if I’d got mumps.

I tried all the usual; antihistamine tablets, creams, painkillers and tea tree oil. Then I held a bag of ice on my neck and ear and tried a dab of hydrocortisone cream. It helped knowing the bite was somewhere on my massive earlobe so I knew where to put the cream. The next day the swelling had gone down considerably. Thank goodness. I didn’t want my granddaughters waking up and finding Grandma had turned into a barrage balloon overnight.

Otherwise it was a great week. The beaches and parks were empty, we didn’t have to queue for ice creams and I think they had fun.

Finding a jellyfish

Weighing things up

Dusty has had a great summer too. He's loved having the kids here and he goes crazy when they come home from school - I mean really crazy, as if he hasn't seen them for months. Poppy is a black dot in the distance in the photo!

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Selfies Only and Not Spiders

Really wish I’d had my camera with me last week. My phone camera has a fault and only takes selfies, so you have to be a contortionist if you want to take photos of anything not on your face.

So when we passed a giant red teapot driving along the M25 on our way to pick up the girls, I tried to get a photo, but the best I managed was a shot of the wing mirror and another of a red blob which could have been anything.

If you want to see the Pimm’s Giant Travelling Teapot Bar in all its glory (that’s right, I wasn’t seeing things), there is a photo here.

Another day last week I saw a campervan with a Dutch number plate in the car park near where I walk Dusty. It had a handwritten sign in one of the windows, “We are not German”. Intriguing.

I think having taken the girls crabbing last week (it was the first thing they wanted to do), it was probably our last time this year, although I do have some bait left….

My youngest son says crabs are just spiders with armour and weapons so I think he will be pretty impressed at how his eldest daughter (also scared of spiders) was picking up crabs and returning them gently to the sea. They don’t frighten me either – I think they are rather cute and not like spiders at all and let’s face it, you know where you are with a crab!

When she let this one go, he wrapped his legs round her fingers and held on.

The best way to hold the bigger ones is with finger and thumb either side of the shell just behind the nippers.

These two were the biggest we caught as we couldn’t get to our regular spot. We did get loads of smaller ones though with a variety of pretty patterned shells in all shades of green and red. We never keep them in the buckets for more than a few minutes and usually give them some bait to eat while they wait.

Four of my little people are back at school tomorrow (boo!) but I still have the girls here for a few more days and the parks and beaches will be quiet, so we won’t be saying goodbye to summer just yet.