Monday, 28 December 2009

the year comes to an end

The year is coming to its end. We - the Captain, Bea and me - are just back from our trip up North. It was the perfection of Winter on Thursday. We woke up to thick snow, snow on the trees, squirrels, and many birds on the feeders. Even parakeets - who are a new arrival in my Northern hometown.

It was a nice family time. Everyone managed to negotiate the fact that I don't actually celebrate Christmas anymore.

The three little girls seemed to have a good day. Nute has it all well organised. Jen and Kathryn came over the next day - and Helen dropped by to show us the boots she got in the Sales. They were gorgeous - but she does have a model figure and long model legs.

I managed to develop a horror of a cold on the way up so had to miss out on the trip to see Janie and Mrs.Lee, but the Captain went. And I was only able to talk to Willhelm on the phone. But it was lovely to hear her voice.

Sometimes I do wish we could have the days back when we all lived in one town, and our aged parents were with us again, but just try to tell myself that it was wonderful that we did when we did, and be thankful for that.

As long as we all meet up in the restored earthly Paradise.... when the time comes.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Thai curry on a cold night

Jacks came round this evening and we had a Thai curry, followed by coffee and carrot cake. She said she was skidding all over the place as she drove into the flats. I could feel the cold starting to get into the flat as the sun went down. We have to drive over to meet Phil and Laila for lunch tomorrow and I just hope the roads will be OK.

Had a chat with Maggie on the phone this morning, did some studying, and continued the online discussion about the cross, and what it is actually a symbol of.

Otherwise did very little beyond the routine housework.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

There blooms no bud in May...

This is the right time of year for a beautiful poem by Walter de la Mare. It doesn't seem to be anthologised. I only found it because I was reading a book by someone, a short story maybe? - I can't remember now - and they quoted the last verse. I took me years to find the poem, but I did find it. In a De la Mare anothology I found in a second hand bookshop in Brighton. So here it is.


Walter De la Mare

There blooms no bud in May
Can for its white compare
With snow at break of day
On fields forlorn and bare.

For shadow it hath rose.
Azure and amethyst;
And every air that blows
Dies out in beauteous mist.

It hangs the frozen bough
With flowers on which the night
Wheeling its darkness through
Scatters a starry light.

Fearful of its pale glare
In flocks the starling rise
Slide through the frosty air
And perch with plaintive cries.

Only the inky rook,
Hunched cold in ruffled wings,
Its snowy nest forsook
Caws of unnumbered Springs.

What a wonderful world we live in. And how joyful Walter De la Mare will be when he wakes from the sleep of death and finds himself in the restored earthly Paradise.

We will all have 'unnumbered Springs' to look forward to then.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Snowman, Snowman

I think my heading today is the title of a Janet Frame collection of short stories.

Woke up to snow blanketing everything. Louise and I decided to cancel our afternoon return visits, and Maggie rang to cancel the trip to Surrey tomorrow. The snow is much worse inland and there is more on the way tonight.

Captain Butterfly is supplying the Snowman photo to go with today's blog.

Audrey came round for tea this morning.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Winter arrives

Very cold today, snow on the way apparently. Audrey and I managed an hour of return visits and magazine deliveries. We didn't find many in, but at least we tried.

There have been two deaths in the congregation recently - one very sudden. The first funeral today, which I could not get to, but - depending on when Bea arrives Tuesday - we might manage to go to the second one next week.

I hope they are both sleeping safe in 'the everlasting arms', and have a wonderful awakening ahead of them into the restored earthly Paradise.

Captain Butterfly and I have done nothing much for the rest of the day. I have caught up on emails a bit, him on paperwork, but we have been couch potatoeing really.

I have the Dentist tomorrow morning, and a blood test on Thursday.

A lot of retirement time is taken up with these medical things.

I was thinking about our childhood winters - how we loved snow. There seemed to be a lot more of it then - or at least there was in our northern moorland town.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

To a Cathedral town

A lovely evening at Jackie's last night. She made us ham, baked potato and salad, followed by cheesecake. All delicious and a fun evening.

But it was such an effort to get up and get going this morning. I really had to remind myself of how much Jehovah has done and is doing for me, and all of us. And then when I finally did get in a better frame of mind and set off to drive to Sue's for the field service I had trouble with my car - the front screen windscreen - or rather the thing that is supposed to clear it - doesn't seem to be working properly. I nearly turned back, but anyway, I didn't and arrived late.

The maps were for our local Cathedral town today. Sue very kindly drove me and we had nearly two hours out. We finished our territory - placed quite a few magazines - and did a couple of return visits too. It was cold, but quite sunny. And we were working in the shadow of the cathedral - a magnificent and imposing building, but...

I now have to wrestle with cheesecake again. Captain Butterfly is off to the Annual Do of the Treasure Hunters tonight and was asked to bring the dessert. So I have made a giant chocolate cheescake, which we now have to extract from its container, slice, and package for the journey.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Jacks is back!

And should be arriving any minute for a glass of wine and a catch up.

Another rainy day, although the rain held off for an hour or so this morning and me and Audrey and the rest of our Field Service group had sunshine for our morning door to door work. Audrey and I did our part of the map - found very few people in - and then did some of Audrey's RVs. including delivering a Daily Text for 2010 to a lovely lady who seemed really appreciative.

Umbrellas is finished I think.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Still struggling with Umbrellas

And not because of the weather, though its been raining again, and the waves in the Channel are wonderful. Its my short story, it is finished but in rough form. I got Pen's comments in today, so I can start the final polish.

Its nice having Captain Butterfly back - and I hope the exotic creature is going to settle down for a while. He admits to being tired, but i don't know how long that will last.

Phil and Mrs Phil (friends from our expat days) will be over next week, so we hope to meet them for lunch.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

a stormy start to winter

December arrived with cold rain and storms. I feel a bit flat as my visitors have now left. I took No.1 sister to the station on Tuesday, and No.2 sister yesterday. A new bit of driving for me - and I had to reverse into the station car park space - there were plenty of spaces or I could not have attempted it. i ended up parked across two of them, but as it was only for a quick goodbye it didn't matter.

They are both so busy, so I am grateful they came. We had a lovely time and I even cooked. I must get back to cooking actually especially now its winter.

I now have a short story to finish - today!

Plus a blood test, and the meeting at the Hall tonight.

Captain Butterfly has appeared on my computer screen every afternoon, looking brown and happy, very brightly coloured (tropical shirts), and with palms waving in the background. His blog is full of the wonders of the Indian Ocean.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

A Writing Day

No.1 sister has arrived and hopefully we are going to have a Writing Day. I am working on the short story for the project Bea and I have, and she has her next thriller to get written. No.2 sister joins us tomorrow, all being well.
She should have her first thriller published next year.
There is only me letting the side down now.
We went for a walk to on the beach this morning - very cold, very strong wind.
We can't get the DVD Player to work and we were looking forward to evening Couch Potatoeing in front of Men Behaving Badly.
Can Captain Butterfly help us?
He has migrated to warmer climes for a week or so - but if he has his antenna turned towards us at any time he may get my cry for help.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

talking to Bob and Dougal

We are talking to Bob and Dougal at the moment - they are on the computer screen. Everything seems to go on much as it was over there. Our old house has been revamped and somebody is now living there - maybe a local family.

It was a lovely house. One of the oldest houses in camp, lots of big old trees round, and we did have a pool although it has gone now.

Audrey and I were out yesterday - it was very windy and a bit wet. We finished our map and then did a couple of return visits. Then two of my sisters dropped in for coffee - they had come down to the front to look at the sea - highest tide of the year combined with strong winds made a dramatic seascape.

This is the week of our Circuit Overseer visit, so we will have his special talk at the Hall tonight, which I am really looking forward to.

He gave us a short talk on Tuesday - some excellent, clear and simple advice for all us out there on the doors with our Bibles.

We now have to put it into practise.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Monday morning

Monday morning is a very different thing when you are retired. I look forward to it now.

My hands are still bad, which I am trying not to worry about.

The buddleia plants arrived while we were away. They had been left in the hall downstairs. We are going to take Bea's to her the next time we visit, and Jacks is calling in for hers this afternoon. They are a new dwarf variety that the Captain found on the net.

We are looking at some photos Joy and Peter sent us - expat life goes on, enjoyably on the whole.

They are great travellers, so maybe we will see them here one day. There was a time in Saudi (before they left) that we were round at Joy's parents house almost every day.

We both had a good day yesterday - The Captain because he had a good find - see his blog - he had his Captain Metal Detector hat on at the time. And me because I finally found the lady who lives near the KH at home. Audrey had asked me to take over the call, but i could never find anyone in. Anyway, I called again yesterday, on the off chance, and there she was. We had a good chat, she took a 'What Does the Bible Really Teach?", and I am planning to call in again next Sunday.

We also had a wonderful talk at the KH. And Maggie wants to work with me on Tuesday and Audrey on Saturday, so I am all booked up. I can remember this time last year feeling a bit depressed, not just about my health, but also about finding my feet in the cong, and wondering if I would ever be brave enough to attempt driving here...

Saturday, 14 November 2009

A trifling mystery

What a stormy day! Amazing winds, torrential rain, and the channel sounds like a million freight trains roaring outside. Its a good thing we drove back from Eastbourne yesterday.

I didn't get out on the work this morning - not just the weather, but my hand was very bad, I can barely type at the moment.

Had a lovely couple of days with Bea. We went to Heather Small (see the Captain's blog) - great evening - and took Bea to lunch at her local yesterday. Its a short drive over the Downs, and they were all grey and green and wuthering in the build up to the storm.

Bea said i must not say in my blog what she made us for pudding, so all I will say is that plum and raspberry is an inspired trifle combination, but how I happen to know that must remain a mystery.

Haven't been able to do too much today because of the hand, but the Captain has been a tower of strength as usual. He did all the washing, and its neatly hanging up now. I turned all the vegetables into a giant bean and veggie stew, but even then he had to help me with cutting them up.

Bea had bought me a beautiful little china bowl - the pattern is Orchard Ducks, and it is like a companion piece to one of my favourite poems. Its a Glimpse of Paradise poem, and it goes like this:

Four Ducks on a Pond

by William Allingham

Four ducks on a pond,
A grass-bank beyond,
A blue sky of spring,
White clouds on the wing;
What a little thing
To remember for years -
To remember with tears

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

a dramatic day!

A dramatic day. Linda came over and met us for lunch at the local - excellent roast lamb by the way. The house buying had reached a crucial stage. She had to get the mortgage in place by
4 o' clock or the house would be put back on the market.

She came back for coffee and biscuits and spent a tense afternoon on the phone to brokers, agents, boyfriends, you name it. The Captain took her blood pressure at one point and the tension was showing in the figures.

She may not have been helped by my driving us back from the pub, as Captain B had had a couple of pints. She seems more relaxed when he drives (so am I) - and said something about 'a white-knuckle ride'.

A bit worried I checked with Senor Butterfly and he said i did fine...

Anyway we got back safely which is what counts.

She left, after 4, with the thing still unresolved, but phoned us from the train to say that - subject to survey - the mortgage has been agreed.

A great relief - and just one more hurdle!

They only have two more months in their rented flat so we very much hope it will all go through smoothly and quickly.

I did more some driving - and reversing - in the morning with Audrey, as we did return visits.

One of the ladies I have called back on many times, and how is always very nice, but never has much time, a very busy lady, said that she was going to email me and perhaps we could talk that way! I so much hope she will - and must pray to Jah that she will.

She said that she noticed that we came out in all weathers (it was cold and rainy this morning) - and i am not sure that many people really notice that, or think to wonder why we do.

We have been talking about the Trinity, not something that is on many peoples minds these days.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

singing in the rain

We had a quiet weekend. Jacks cooked us dinner on Friday - roast chicken with all the trimmings.

We - my field service group - were in Arundel on Saturday, witnessing near the Cathedral. There are lots of charming (and presumably very expensive) cottages there many with stunning views. I was working with Jean and we had two nice calls.

Col went metal detecting on Sunday, but they were rained off. And so were Audrey and I when went we went out this morning. It was monsooning it down and so we all decided it would be best to do return visits. Audrey and I lasted 30 mins before we were just too wet and cold, so we went back to her place for a coffee.

Lots of driving dilemmas for me, starting with me meeting the dustcart driving in to Audrey's tiny road as I was trying to leave it after picking her up. I had to back up and find a space, which I managed after a fashion and it was able to squeeze past me. Then I had trouble reversing at the Kingdom Hall car park - which was completely empty at the time. Then, as I drove back into Audrey's road to drop her off, there was a gigantic removals van blocking the end. I had to park halfway up and then reverse into someone's dustbin filled drive to get back out again.

But, with a lot of praying, I did it.

I came back via the supermarket so I wouldnt have to go out again.

Its still raining and I can hardly see where sea end and sky begins.

Everything looks wonderfully, miraculously green.

Captain B is busy looking for balcony plants on the internet. He wants us to have a buddlia (spelling?) - the butterfly bush!

Friday, 6 November 2009


bad attack in my hands this week, so have not been doing much.

Captain B and i are off for supper at Jacks tonight.

I have tried to phone Shantha this week but can't find her at home, have emailed to check that I do have the right number. It is some time since i left the company town. We email regularly but it would be nice to have a talk.

Aunt Jo phoned during the week - and Bea. Both have their problems.

We hope to see Bea next week

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Fire works

Its 9 a.m. and the bonfire is still smoking in spite of the pounding rain, and a valiant herd of tidiers are out on the green picking up the litter from last night.

The sea is roaring away. Wonderful waves.

Last night Jacks, the Captain and I watched the fireworks. It was warm because of the bonfire. We had chicken curry and apple crumble, courtesy of Cooks - but i did make the small small things to go with it, and a turnip curry - odd, but seasonal. Jacks bought wine and chocolates.

The fireworks were the best ever - and ended, not with a whimper, but a bang, as a marvelous pair of white starbursts lit up the night.

Hopefully the Captain is going to put some photos up here.

And I must post something about Halloween - the great festival of the dead that is held all over the world on, or about, the day of the Deluge of Noah's day. The point being this: should we be commemorating those who God destroyed because of their badness?

Saturday, 31 October 2009


It was monsooning away this morning and I nearly wimped out from going on the doors, but I am very glad I didn't. I was with Jean, parked up OK, even managed to reverse so she could get out the passenger door. Quite a few people were at home, including a darling labrador puppy, who joyfully covered me with muddy pawprints. And then I delivered my precious cargo, if not exactly to her door, at least to Sainsburys, where she wanted to shop.

Town was busy.

The sun is shining now and the fair on the green is revving up. The big bonfire is all in place for tonight and I now need to go and make the veggie curry as Jacks is joining us for dinner.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

a sea fret

A sea fret came up from nowhere yesterday. Suddenly everything was misty and we couldn't see where the sky ended and the sea began. It was lovely.
Heard from Helen - they are just about to move to Dorset and start their retirement and she sent us the new address.
The Captain signed up for the Gym yesterday, so he will be among the Gym Bunnies! And we are keeping up our swimming.
He made a sign for Audrey's door: NO TRICK OR TREAT THANK YOU.
Halloween has some troubling religious connotations so we try to stay out of it.
I might blog about it.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Perry (not) at Brandy Hole Reserve

I was out today with Captain Butterfly at the Reserve, we were looking for the rare Something Butterfly which has apparently been spotted there. We didn't find it, but at one point the Captain called out 'Its a Perry!", which had me fighting my way through the briars to see if it was himself.

But it wasn't. Not even a Perry. Much too small.

It was a beautiful Autumn afternoon. We sat by the pond for ages, watching the light on the trees and the Autumn colours, thinking how wonderful it is to be retired. And how strange it is that we are both in our sixties now.

We don't feel any different inside - just more and more fascinated by this wonderful world.

We swam this morning, and my day was absolutely made by a wonderful fellow swimmer who stopped to chat and told me that he didn't think I looked old enough to be retired.

'What a smoothie', said the Captain, when I told him.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Nice weather for ducks

Only two of us turned up this morning - it was very rainy. Ron and I managed to do about 40 minutes return visits, but then had to give up as it became too monsoony. You can't really keep people talking on their doorsteps in the pouring rain - also all the literature becomes soggy.

I asked Ron if he would take me to the flat of the young Eastern European girl who has taken some magazines from me this year. This time she was in, but sadly very firm that she wasn't interested any more.

No Butterflying for the Captain today, so we are both at our computers watching the waves thundering away on the Channel.


Maggie and Audrey came round yesterday morning and we watched the David DVD - produced by the Watchtower Society. It was even better than the Noah one (which was great) and left Maggie in tears and me rather misty eyed.

It ends with a depiction of the coming reunion between Jonathan and David in the resurrection into the restored earthly Paradise.

She of course thought of her husband, and I who have Captain Butterfly still with me (thank Goodness), thought of my aged parents, and of seeing them again.

Jacks came round in the evening, we had drinks and nibblies (inlcuding hot sausage rolls as it suddenly seems Wintery). And had a great evening with lots of laughing, which put our current troubles - and we all have them - into perspective.

Its very grey and rainy this morning, I can hardly make out where the Channel ends and the sky begins. And it is all beautiful and glorious and awe-inspiring, reflecting as it does the matchless qualities of its Grand Creator, Jehovah.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Waves on the English Channel

Quite a stormy day - I am looking out at big waves on the Channel. Winter is on the way.

I did some RVs on Sunday, on my way back from the Hall - had a long chat with Tony, and he has lent me a book to read and comment on - the Book of Enoch. And Audrey and I went out this morning - lots of tricky driving, so nervous about it that I dont seem to do too well on the doors - although there was no-one at home today. I did deliver a couple of magazines though, so I do have a tiny tiny magazine round now.

We had a trip to the hospital yesterday to see the Lung Lady. I did some more tests and they were OK apparently - but we now have to get the info about the first attack to her, which we hope to post today.

You never know what will go wrong. As I have never been a smoker, I never expected trouble with my lungs. Although I did grow up in the smokey Fifties, and in a city that was at that time the Steel centre of the world. The stones of the city were black with smoke back then. It was amazing when they began to clean them for the first time, revealing an almost honey colour under the black!

We also went through the aftermath of the Gulf War, when the air was full of smoke from the burning oilfields in Kuwait, so I suppose my poor old lungs have had quite a lot to put up with.

I am really beginning to feel the force of the Biblical warning that 'death reigns as king over us'.

But I also have the wonderful assurance that it will not do for much longer.

"With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: "Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away." And the One seated on the throne said: "Look! I am making all things new." Also, he says: "Write, because these words are faithful and true.""

Faithful and true.

If am sitting watching the waves coming and going on the Channel a million years from now (as I hope to be), will I remember sitting here now, writing today's blog?

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Sultana muffins

Was out on the doors this morning with Sue. Had a real struggle with myself to make myself go, but am very glad i did. We did some return visits and we did our share of the current map.

Captain Butterfly is much better and we managed a walk to the pier and back with him only having to rest once. So he is off for the day tomorrow and for the first time in ages I found myself making a lunch box.

Which is why I had to find a sultana muffin recipe on the net, so he would have some cake with his cheese and chutney sandwich. They have turned out rather well. The recipe I found also used up Bea's soy milk.

He is going to make some more chutney as we have opened the last jar. We do have Linda's on standby though, but it has to wait till next month before we are supposed to open it.

I finished my Ruth Rendell - an early one - 'A Wolf to the Slaughter' - a good read. I did guess how did it, but not all the details and it was fun getting there.

Friday, 16 October 2009

another quiet day in Autumn

A beautiful Autumn day - with the Channel as calm as calm. We swam in the morning, and took Audrey out to buy a heater this afternoon - plus did some shopping ourselves.

I found a Ruth Rendell I hadn't read in the Oxfam shop.

No sign of Perry.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Where is Perry?

No sign of Perry. I hope he hasn't gone and flown out of one of the windows, as its getting a bit cold out there now.

Two things of interest from the lovely Scottish Colourists Exhibition at the Pallant House Gallery

"A Vase of Pink Roses" (my favourite painting in the Exhibition, above) by Samuel John Peploe had this quote from him written underneath:

"There is so much in mere objects, flowers, leaves, jugs, what not - colours, form, relation - I can never see mystery coming to an end."

Yes. Sometimes I come across people on the doors who will say that they wouldn't want to live forever on the earth as they would be bored.

But even with things as they are now - subjected to futility, the 'original serpent' still in the garden - life is endlessly fascinating, full of wonders. The older I get, the more interesting it all is.

So what will it be when Paradise is restored?! Never boring, that is for sure.

Then there was a bust: Eastre, a Hymn to the Sun, by John Duncan Fergusson.

It was described as a "homage to the so-named Saxon goddess of Spring."

Yes. Eastre, Easter - the Saxon goddess of Spring - originally Ishtar, the Babylonian fertility goddess? - who has a festival with the attendant eggs and rabbits.

Is that something a Christian can celebrate? And in any case the Christian Greek Scriptures ask us to memorialise Jesus' death, not his resurrection.

Bea left today - the Captain ran her to the bus stop, and she has emailed to say she has got back safely and settling down to a boiled egg supper. We hope to see her again in November.

We have had a quiet day - I caught up with my ironing and studying.

The Scottish Colourists

We - Bea, the Captain and I - went to the Scottish Colourists exhibition in the Pallant House Gallery yesterday. Well worth a visit. A small and beautiful exhibition that lifts your heart and makes you want to paint, paint, paint.

If only I could.

I took these notes, from the blurb under a painting and a sculpture:

Ah - well I will have to blog them later, as the Captain still has them, and he is still asleep. He had rather a disturbed night and it is only 6 a.m. So I am hoping he will sleep in a bit.

Jacks had us all round for supper - one of her wonderful roast lamb dinners. And we watched her wedding video! All brides are lovely of course, but she was lovelier than most.

And we saw all the children, when young... where does the time go?

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Perry's diet

Perry fluttered down onto the Captain's porridge yesterday morning. I was wondering what he was finding to eat, and hoping it wasn't our new wool carpet. I was even wondering if I would have to go out and buy a ball of the finest wool, cut it up, and leave it out in saucers, to tempt him away from the carpet just in case.

And I was touched to notice that Captain Grumpy has left a little saucer of honey out for him - on the kitchen window ledge, as he is favouring the kitchen window at the moment.

I only hope he doesn't try to fly out as I think it will be too cold for him now, plus there are a lot of birds out there.

The next step is obviously going to be a visit to the local pet shop for a Moth Hutch.

And talking of diets Bea took us out for lunch at the local yesterday. We all had fish and chips - excellent it was too. And in the evening we grazed on the left over puddings from our Sunday lunch, when Jacks came round.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Bea Redux

Bea arrived at lunchtime. We had quiche and leeks, carrots and potatoes. Audrey and I were out on the doors this morning - David gave us some Not Homes and we found quite a few at home. Most unusual. We had a good morning out.
The Captain planted out our winter pansies and heather, and while the balcony looks lovely, his back suffered for it. We are all watching Strictly.
Our verdict so far? Costumes not as good as last year.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Perry returns!

Perry the Plume moth put in a brief appearance yesterday - in the lounge. Hopefully he is tucked away somewhere safe for the Winter. We had a tiny gecko that lived under our kettle when we lived in the Middle East, and an enormous lizard that looked like a little dinosaur that lived under our a/c unit in the garden.

We started our swim regime this morning with an hour at the local pool, then picked up Audrey and took her to Currys so she could order the stuff for her kitchen.

The Captain has gone off to his Metal Detectors Meeting tonight! So he is definitely feeling better, but still far from a hundred per cent.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Sweet Georgie Fame and sons

The Captain, Jacks and I went to see Georgie Fame on Saturday night. He had his two sons playing with him, and they were good. A fun concert. Some lovely jazz and blues, and some old favourites. He is 66 apparently.

It only seems just yesterday... the usual refrain...

We are doing a series of studies about the promise of everlasting life on earth - the prospect that was held out to and rejected by our first parents, but which Jehovah is still offering to us.

So sixty six is really no age at all, if you think that we were originally made to last forever.

It is chilling how the truth has been turned on its head. The Bible speaks clearly of the prospect of living forever on the earth. For example, Jesus told us, simply and clearly enough, that the meek will inherit 'the earth' - not heaven.

And also there is the way hell has been pictured as a place of torment, presided over by Satan, a pantomime figure in red tights. Yet, according to the Bible, hell is simply the ground, the grave, where the dead sleep in complete unconsciousness, awaiting a resurrection into the restored earthly Paradise.

It is a place Satan never was, never is, and never will be.

Its raining today - a gentle rain, the Channel is a bit wavy. And our geraniums are blazing away on the balcony - the grey weather seems to make them shine out. A little glimpse of the Paradise to come.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Captain Cook redux

Jacks came round last night - after a bit of a harrowing day - to a chicken curry cooked by the Captain himself. I did the rice and had provided the chicken. It was leftovers of a rather disappointing chicken stir fry I made last month and froze. He turned it into a splendid old style British chip shop curry. With enough left over for lunch for the two of us today.

We are lunching to Bargain Hunt at the moment.

We had grapes and the choc mints left over from Sunday afterwards - and a glass of two of wine.

Another disturbed night, but he is feeling a lot better. Its sunny day, with a breeze putting tiny ripples on a blue-grey channel.

A lovely clearwing moth has come to live in our kitchen. He sleeps on the side of the oven. The outside of the oven, or we would have been having roast moth last night.

He is a miracle of artistry and engineering, and I would like to invite Richard Dawkin round to take a look at him, and try to explain how he can believe that it is just a random and meaningless event.

That moth tells us of its grand Creator without even speaking.

It may of course be a lady moth. But it seems to have a boyish personality somehow.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Captain Cook

I have been catching up with friends in Manila today via email. They all seem OK, though Lida's house was flooded on the ground floor and some of Dan's family had to be rescued. Worryingly it seems there is more rain on the way.

I know the Watchtower Society will get their helpers there as quickly as possible.

We shopped this morning, as Captain Butterfly is cooking for me and Jacks tonight - one of his bolognese/chile specials. I have just tasted the result so far and we both agree its very tasty but needs tomato puree adding.

We shall find out tonight if Jules was able to set off for Manila or not. Things look very bad over there, according to the News.

Friday, 25 September 2009

The Captain's back on line

A quiet day, which is all we can cope with at the moment. I went with the Captain to his physio this morning, then we shopped, and he chose some food - was quite picky about it, insisting on strawberry blancmange and lemon jelly. So he is feeling much better. He hasn't eaten for days. I did my WT study, and we spoke to Bea and to Audrey on the phone, and I emailed Linda about her house buying. We then went out again! Dizzy excitement. To the Farm Shop, as Captain Fussy wouldn't have supermarket cheese or bread. I also picked up some nice looking pears and we got some pasties. When we got to the checkout, we found all the computers had broken down and they couldn't take credit cards. Thankfully, we just managed to scrape enough cash together.

We are now looking forward to Strictly Come Dancing.

The Captain's personality is definitely coming back on line - which is quite scarey - but also a wonderful relief.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The sadness of Autumn

It has a beautiful sadness about it though - and September is a wonderful month. Adam, our forefather, probably opened his eyes into an Autumn garden. A garden that was Paradise.

When you think what beautiful gardens we, his imperfect and dying children, have created, how beautiful must that garden have been? A garden planted by Jehovah himself.

Anyway, for the moment its lost. And that Horseman of Sickness is riding hard. Everyone seems to be ill, or having accidents. The poor Captain is getting worse - was at the doctors this morning - and is now sleeping. One of my brothers in the congregation has just had a bad fall, another is down with a bad fluey cold, and so it goes.

I only did three quarters of an hour with Audrey this morning, as I wanted to get back to Him Indoors and see how he was. But we got a lot of return visits done. She has given me a DVD produced by the Watchtower Society. Its the Noah and David one. I look forward to seeing it.

A quiet day now - housework after our visitors - I am doing the usual sheet and towel wash and having a general sort and tidy. And I am reading James Herriott to the Captain - it is cheering us both up.

I wrote these little poems about a Sheffield September many years ago.


Warmed in the glow of the afternoon sun
Basil claws at his shaggy brown carpet mum
I write my letters and drink my tea
Basil cleans and preens and purrs at me.

In a sunny September in Sheffield
Basil and I
Sun ourselves under the bluest sky
You could imagine
No summer sun could ever compare
With the Autumn sun , this atmosphere
In which Basil basks, and I purr.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Strictly - the Return

We - Bea, the Captain and me - have been watching the new Strictly Come Dancing and all agree that Martina Hingis should not have been the first voted off.

We liked her, and thought her a great dancer.

It was a pretty quiet day. The Captain overdid it yesterday, but did manage a brief shop with Bea this morning while I was out on the field service.

We worked in a road that was easy to park on! That is always such a relief. And i worked with Jean. We had a lovely conversation with a lady from Zimbabwe - and met a young Polish guy. We did some of Jean's magazine calls. Ron, the brother taking the group, said he will work with me next week, so I hope we can as I think I will learn a lot. He is a very warm, people person, unlike me.

I always learn a lot from working with Jean. She too is very warm and people-centred - and above all God-centred. She said she so much hoped that the Captain would join us one day. And of course that is what I hope so much too.

It might seem impossible sometimes - but we know that love 'hopes all things'.

Had my first nightmare for many many years last night - but it turned out OK because I remembered to call out to Jehovah for help in the middle of it. What a difference that makes.

Yet another of the many many reasons why I wish I could get through to people on the doorsteps.

Friday, 18 September 2009

The Captain at Swanbourne Lake

We all went to Swanbourne Lake for lunch today - a very good lunch too. Bea and I fed the swans, ducks, coots, you name its (in flocks) while the Captain and his walking stick rested on a nearby bench. We then drove into Arundel, and Bea and I shopped while the Captain and his walking stick rested... well, you know the rest.

I bought H.G.Well's 'Love and Mr.Lewisham' at the bookshop at the bottom of the hill, and am enjoying it. Mr.Lewisham and Ethel are just starting out married life with hardly a penny to their name and i only hope it works out well for them.

Wells gives an interesting description of the Thames in winter:

"The Tower Bridge with its crest of snow, huge pendant icicles, and the ice blocks choked in its side arches.... the along either shore, and with drift-ice in the middle reflecting a luminous scarlet from the broad red setting sun..."

Would this be a winter he remembered from his childhood I wonder, or a standard winter at the time?

I am not sure we have even begun to understand the immense patterns of the weather.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Driving Miss Audrey

Went out with Audrey this morning - I turned up very late for the meeting as the entrance to the Kingdom Hall parking was blocked by an enormous removal van. Anyway, we finally met up - Ken kindly ran us back to my car - and off we went. Across the railway line - and back again - with that worrying turn into traffic! And then into the little close opposite the Kingdom Hall, where its so difficult to get back out as its into traffic on a corner. Anyway, with my asking of Jah for his help, we did it. We got Audrey's magazine round done and visited a couple of my not homes - who were Not Home.

The Captain - finally on the mend - has driven Bea back home so she can pick up more stuff and come back here for a few more days rest and recuperation.

They will be back sometime this evening for a salad tea - and I must now go and stuff the eggs.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The bright morning star

I was up at 5.30 this morning and it was only just starting to lighten. The morning star was shining so brightly over the English channel. It made me think of those lovely words in Revelation, when Jesus tells us:

"I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright morning star."

Its easy to see the holiness of the world in the quiet of the early morning - a good time for praying.

Well, I had a couple of driving challenges today. One I flunked, but had to take the other challenge. I took Audrey to the bank, and she directed me into the parking area in front of the shops in the village high street. I have never been in there before. There were some parking spaces opposite the bank but I would have had to back into them, in a very confined area, and would have blocked loads of furious drivers if I had had to do one of my 50 point turns. So I waited outside until I had to move - blocking drivers who wanted to unpark - and so had to drive round the block, i.e. get across the traffic and insert myself into the traffic lights queue.

Anyway, with a lot of praying, I did it, and Audrey was outside the bank waiting for me when I got back round.

She has really helped me with my driving!

She came back to the flat and we had tea and watched the new DVD: The Wonders of Creation Reveal God's Glory.

It was wonderful of course, and even Captain Butterfly (still an Evolutionist, though he is prepared to admit it is still a theory, unproved) watched some of it with us.

Then I took Audrey back and did the shopping.

She has knitted me another beautiful scarf. I am getting quite a designer wardrobe of them now, starting with Bea's handpainted silk Clarice Cliffe style one. And soon I shall be able to start wearing them again, as Winter is on its way.

The Captain is no better but has his next physio session on Friday.

Monday, 7 September 2009

A quiet day

A beautiful day too - the perfection of Autumn. Its 7.30 in the evening and the Channel is fading from blue to grey.

We got the sad news yesterday that a friend of ours in Saudi has cancer. i sent her off a card today and hope to get a letter done this week. Its hard to think of any practical ways to help from here. She is a beautiful American nurse, known to the Captain and his friends as 'the blonde bombshell'.

I got the Captain's painkillers from the Pharmacy, and did some housework and cooked, but that was about it. We had a tofu and veggie stir fry this evening.

We had a lovely afternoon round at Jackie's yesterday, and met all the family, and the corner house friend (at last!).

I long for the time on the earth that Jehovah has promised us - when "no resident will say: 'I am sick'". And I plan to be out with Audrey tomorrow morning, trying to alert others to these promises

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Autumn has landed

Weather changed abruptly - stormy sea - fierce rainshowers - lovely light. Autumn is my favourite season - but how quickly these years are flying by. Is someone shortening them?

The Captain is still hobbling about on his walking stick - and the butterfly season is over.

Jacks is back! She came round for drinks and nibbles last night - and we are invited over for lunch tomorrow.

Linda came over for the day this week, with lots of homemade jam and chutney for us. I am having her Sussex picked blackberry jam with my breakfast toast. She and Nick and looking at houses.

I did go out with Maggie and we did some return visits, but I feel very guilty as I did not go out this morning - I shopped and have dozed and slept all day. I think maybe all the weeks of broken nights have got to me - the poor old Captain has been finding it very hard to sleep.

Pen is signing the three of us up for a writers week in Wales next year. She should have her first thriller published by then .

Sunday, 30 August 2009

What I did in my holidays

We are back from our trip up North - got back very late on Friday night and were exhausted. Lovely to see everyone, but the Captain was so ill he could do very little. Thank goodness the athletics were on telly so he could sit and watch those. I wasnt too well myself by the end of the week.
I have made an apple and plum crumble with some of the sackloads of fruit we brought back with us and am, in theory, going to have a go at Crab Apple Jelly.
I got to the Kingdom Hall this morning for a wonderful talk and Watchtower study. And Maggie and I have made plans to go out on Tuesday and do return visits. I have so many to get to now, as I have been away.
Jacks should be back from Spain this weekend.
Our balcony flowers have survived fine - although there doesnt seem to have been much rain down here. In fact the ivy geraniums are doing so well I only hope they haven't swallowed a window cleaner or two.
Is it safe to leave them unsupervised?!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

harvest time

We are now at the Farm - fruit trees groaning with fruit, Autumn definitely in the air. I am writing this in the study, looking out over a fruit orchard. Captain Butterfly still hobbling about, unable to photograph anything. We go to York tomorrow and then back home to the South Coast. Its a bank holiday weekend coming up - bank holiday weather today, somewhat gray and rainy

Saturday, 22 August 2009

To the North

We are now up in my Northern hometown - north of Watford. We arrived yesterday. The Captain still hobbling painfully around on his walking stick. We hope to visit Hull and York before we go back down South.
I just talked to the lovely West Indian lady who knocked at my door all those years ago with her Bible and her Watchtower and began a Bible study with me. She is old and very sick now and has just lost two members of her family. But she was out on the doors preaching this morning!
I hope i am going to let that be an inspiration for me.
And I hope to see her and all the local family at the Kingdom Hall tomorrow. In the meantime we are sitting out in the bungalow garden - an oasis in the city - with Ollie the dog, innumerable squirrels and two sulky cats (who loathe Ollie as he chases them - he is a rescue dog of many breeds but one of them is certainly terrier). It is a beautiful August afternoon with a touch of Autumn. If I still wrote poems, I would write one now.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Thoughts on a Monday morning

Its a grey old morning too. The Channel outside the window very calm. Bea left yesterday. We have a quiet day ahead of us and the hospital visit tomorrow.
The poor wounded Captain is still having to spend the night in an armchair in the lounge, and can't walk very well.
Janie emailed and rang yesterday - and we had a long talk.
She and her family moved in next door to us when we were both 12. And now we are both pensioners, discussing the joys of having our free bus passes.
How did that happen?
Her sad news was that her brother Robbie - younger than both of us - died this year.
I hope he will remain sleeping safe in 'the everlasting arm' until the time comes for the dead to wake up.
I remember him as a Just William little boy - always tearing about, always in trouble.
It is going to be like this from now on - the older i get the more I feel the force of the Biblical warning that, for the moment 'death reigns as king over us'. Its sad and frightening to feel it working away inside me, as, slowly but surely, bits start to fail.
But not for too much longer as the Rider on the white horse of Revelation has begun his ride - and under his rule 'death will be no more'.
God will wipe out every tear from our eyes then, and we will be able to enjoy this beautiful beautiful world as He always intended we should, with life 'to time indefinite' before us.
This is what we are longing to be able to tell people, as we go door to door with our Bibles and our Watchtower magazines.

I thought I would add a little poem by William Allingham, describing a glimpse of Paradise that stayed with him.

Four ducks on a pond
by William Allingham

Four ducks on a pond
A grass-bank beyond
A blue sky of spring
White clouds on the wing
What a little thing
To remember for years -
To remember with tears!

Friday, 14 August 2009

Bea - and the coming Autumn

Bea is over with us for the weekend, escaping from the noise of the Shoreham airshow. We have had a very quiet day. Our kitchen shelves arrived this morning and they are now up and running and rapidly filling up with STUFF. We need another big clear out I think. A bit of a grey old day, but no rain, just a lovely blue Channel and very green green.

A poem, for the Autumn that is coming.

Autumn in Sheffield (by me)

Leaves so lately green
lie on greener grass
On mossy stones
the squirrels pass
to deeper shades of grey and green
Into woods were Winter waits
and, breathing nearer, shakes the trees
Now we start to feed the birds
The squirrel wears her winter furs.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The strange effect artists have on us ladies

We all went to the Waterhouse Exhibition at the Royal Academy today. I have loved Waterhouse since I was a child with my Golden Treasury book of Art. We saw a lot of the old favourites, like Hylas and the Nymphs, and Echo and Narcissus.

I again noted the strange way us ladies act whenever an artist walks past us. We instantly start taking a bath - or, oops, we fall out of the top of our frocks.

Yet the effect seems to lose its power once we are over 30.

I suppose we must learn how not to do it.

Or could there be some other reason?

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

An invitation

An invitation arrived today for: Two Birthdays and a Wedding - the couple concerned are 140 this year and have been married for 25 years. We hope to go up North for the occasion, though in my case it will only be to celebrate the wedding, as I don't celebrate birthdays.

The invitees understand and are happy with that.

Captain Butterfly had his best day ever - see his blog.

Audrey and I had a strange morning on the doors - we met one lady who went out of her way to be very nasty to us, and another lady who was very pleasant although not interested. We tried a return visit to the lady who took : 'When Someone You Love Dies', but, as usual, could find no-one at home.

a catch up

The last few days... the Thai branch of the family came and went - apparently very much enjoying his new life in Thailand, so I don't know when we shall see him again. Audrey and I have been out on the doors. And last night i cooked the beans from Bea's garden, which we had with a quiche.

Jacks and Julian came round to help us eat the smoked salmon and maple syrup biscuits left by the Canadian branch when it visited. The smoked salmon quite different from the English version - nicer in fact. But it was proper wild Sockeye salmon.

I do think though that it will be wonderful when Paradise is restored and we no longer kill and eat the animal creation.

We will return to the world of Eden.

We are all off to London tomorrow to the pre-Raphaelites at the Royal Academy. The Captain, Jacks and I will meet Bea and Amy in London - at the cheese shop.

Pen, No.2 sister, has been on to me about getting on with the poetry book we are supposed to be producing with me editing - so I do intend to get on with that.

I might put a poem or two into my blog, I don't know.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Twickenham Convention

Back to Twickenham, first time in some years, for the Convention Sunday. The Captain very kindly drove me up and then went off butterflying. I blundered about in the enormous stadium, first getting myself into the Spanish language speaking group, then managed to get myself into the English language section and actually found a seat at the end of a row. I wanted to be be able to leave quickly at the end so that the Captain, who would be waiting for me outside, would not get held up by all the convention traffic. It worked out well too as I had a large witness family on the other side of me and had to keep getting up and down to let the kids come and go from the loo. So that was good for me, given my lung problem.

We had one of the Governing body, brother Barr, doing one of the talks! He is very old now, but bursting with enthusiasm. They are very much emphasing how suddenly the 'great tribulation' will begin - that the attack on the world's religions will come very very quickly when it comes.

They also reminded us that once Jehovah closed the door of the Ark, there was no longer any opportunity for people outside to be saved from the Deluge. It was Jehovah alone who decided when that moment had come.

"On this very day Noah went in, and Shem and Ham and Japheth, Noah's sons, and the wife of Noah and the three wives of his sons with him, into the ark; they and every wild beast according to its kind, and every domestic animal according to its kind... After that Jehovah shut the door behind him." - Genesis 7:13-16

Jehovah shut the door.

So we should have a renewed sense of the urgency of the preaching work. And in harmony with that Audrey and i hope to get out on the doors on Wednesday as well as Tuesday.

It was lovely to get back to Sussex at the end of the day. We love living here, by the sea. And we stopped at Osca's for fish and chips. I went to bed before 10, went straight to sleep and slept right through. Hoping for a quiet recovering day today.

The Thai branch of the family should arrive tomorrow for a visit, IF the work he is having done on his house has gone to plan.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

a medical bulletin

Ill health having disrupted my Brighton plans - I only got to Friday - I hope to get to the Twickenham Convention this weekend.

It is the best ever. I have the new releases - two new publications and a DVD, which the Captain has said he will watch with me. I see he has a picture of Joanna Lumley on his blog and has been gazing at it for most of the day, so I will somehow have to persuade him to tear his eyes away from her.

Had a lovely time out on the doors with Audrey this morning. We both managed two return visits and had a long conversation with Tony, who took a Divine Name brochure and seemed quite keen to read it. I had got it for the Irish lady who I haven't managed to find at home again, but have decided to offer her the 'What Does the Bible Really Teach?" instead, drawing her attention specifically to the chapter: "What is the truth about God?" which includes the question: "Does God have a name?"

IF I can find her at home. Audrey and I are hoping to get out in the afternoon next week, specifically to try to find her.

And i must remind myself to get some treats for the little puppy of the Latvian girl we met.

We are off to East Sussex tomorrow to spend the day with Bea and David. Raymond has postponed his visit till next week - he is still very busy trying to sort the house out for rental.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Driving to Brighton

I drive to Brighton tomorrow... the plan is that I pick up Jean at 6 a.m., then she mapreads me to Maggie, who will then mapread me to Brighton. My first time in a multi-storey carpark. Gulp. And if Sylvia makes it tomorrow I will give her a lift back.

Today was a long day, and I was feeling really shakey as I had been ill all night. Not sure what the matter is with me at the moment, but it is making things difficult. Anyway, the Captain is here tonight which is comforting. He was in Eastbourne yesterday - had a wonderful time at Bea's.

The new release was a DVD - which I hope the Captain and I will watch come Sunday night.

"The Wonders of Creation Reveal God's Glory"

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

From Corot to Monet

Last night at Jacks - I am on the 3 day detox I do before the Brighton Convention so couldn't eat any of the food or drink any of the wine. Have had a pounding headache off and on all day which hopefully means that it is working.
We went to the Corot to Monet Exhibition (see Captain Butterfly's blog). It was good.
Lots going on outside the National Gallery.
The new 'sculpture' - people standing on a podium - was in place. We saw a man playing a guitar and a lady having her lunch. Health and safety had imposed a big net round it which made it look rather unplinth like. They had also placed a hideous notice in the fountain - something about water possibly being dangerous. The glory is being taken out of everything.
I am going from thinking that George Orwell wouldn't be at all surprised if he came back now, to thinking that he would be saying that he hadn't realised the half of it!
When he does wake up from the sleep of death though, he will find himself in the restored earthly Paradise, not in the present system of things.
There was a guy with a megaphone telling all us crowds that we are living in the matrix and spelling out simply and clearly (and with a great deal of humour) how we are losing our liberties.
The police moved in on him quickly.
I very much wanted to have a word with him, but Col wouldn't let me - I suppose on the grounds that I might have got tasered or something, although things seemed calm enough.
Much of what he was saying was right, but its no use just saying it. You need to explain to people why, and tell them what God is going to do about it, and what He requires of us in the meantime.
And one thing Jehovah does require is that we obey the political and civil authorities. Although this has to be a relative obedience in that when their laws conflict with God's, God's law must come first.

Linda emailed and Dorothy rang from New Zealand.

The Thai branch of the family may be visiting next week, we are just waiting to hear from him.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The Canadian Branch

Our visitors from the Canadian branch of the family have been and gone. We said goodbye at the roundabout, as they set off for Oxford and we set off for London and a lunch at a tapas bar with Pen.

We hope they will come again - and maybe we will even get over to Calgary to see them - although not unless my health improves.

Had a good morning out on the door to door preaching work with Jean. We are still distributing invitations to the Convention in Brighton next month. I can't say that we met with any marked enthusiasm. But one of my return visits did accept an Awake magazine along with his invitation and hopefully may accept another one next month. it is the magazine with a helpful and comforting article about Depression, which seems to be an increasing problem.

Jean did have an interesting chat - through the intercom thingy in a block of flats! - with a Catholic lady. She ended up taking an invite and saying she might come.

Its very difficult to work these flats with intercom doors. But it must be done.

Had a brief chat with Malcolm and Jackie about the blood issue of all things! And, happily, they appreciate the Witness refusal of blood transfusions as to them it makes medical sense.

Our refusal is not on medical grounds of course, but simply because Jehovah has forbidden the eating of blood, and has clearly set out in His word how it must be used.

Pen may have found a publisher for her thriller!

Does that make her Pen the Pen?

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

a cottage in the town

Had a coffee morning with Dawn, Richard and Frances, at Dawn and Richard's lovely town centre cottage. We had home made lemon cake... wonderful. Plus Dawn gave me half the cake for our Canadian guests this evening. So our pudding will be home made lemon cake and custard.

The sea is stormy today, the windsurfers are out a'surfing, and we are waiting for our cousins, now on their way from the airport.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Driving lessons

Bea left on Saturday and we have been getting ready for the Canadian branch of the family who arrive tomorrow. We miss Bea, but talk every day, by net and phone.

Went out on the field service this morning - picked up Audrey - and did return visits, as we are still on the East Preston maps which mean too much walking for her.

We didn't find anybody in, but we did leave some invitations for the Brighton Convention. We left one with a husband, who looked a bit dubious, but hopefully will give it to her.

I phoned Maggie when I got back and she told me that she and Jean had the most wonderful morning. They are both suffering at the moment, Maggie from the loss of Don, her husband for 60 years, and Jean because her best friend in the congregation died very suddenly a few days ago. They said this morning was like a present from Jehovah and they came back floating on air.

They met a young Swiss girl who is really interested - talked for half an hour - and are to return next week. She is in the process of moving to the next town along the coast and wants a contact for the Witnesses there.

My own morning wasn't quite like that, as I was feeling very sick for some reason, and we had a lot of complicated driving to do - a lot of backing and filling and some difficult turns. However, I did pray to Jehovah as always, and we got through them safely, so I am deeply grateful for that. And we can only hope that something was achieved by our work this morning.

If it was only to improve my driving that is something, in that the more I can drive, the more use I shall be in the congregation.

The Captain and I are just off to shop for the visitors. I think chicken and ham salad will be the staple foods of the visit.

Dawn has invited me for coffee tomorrow morning and Frances is picking me up as I don't know where she and Richard live. It will be lovely to spend an hour with my brothers and sisters. The cousins don't arrive till the afternoon so it all fits in well, provided we get everything sorted today.

Friday, 10 July 2009

a busy day - and the creation speaks of its Grand Creator

A busy day yesterday. We all went to Cissbury Ring with the Captain, following the butterfly herds. It turned out to be a perfect butterfly morning, sunny, vast flocks of wild flowers, and the air thick with butterflies.

When I see all these miracles of artistry and engineering flying round me, I wonder how I ever believed in evolution. But I suppose we are so brainwashed by the idea that evolution has been 'proved' by minds far far superior to our own that we ignore what the creation is so clearly saying to us.

It does get through though. It was the beauty of a late Autumn afternoon in Sheffield that finally set me on the search for the Creator of it all so that I could thank Him.

There were horned cattle on the hillside, which reminded me rather disturbingly of the Saki story 'The music on the hill'. (And also reminded me that Paradise is not restored yet - the 'original serpent' is still in the garden.)

Lunched at home on tinned soup courtesy of Liddls - shopped in the afternoon and also visited East Beach.

Bea came with me to the Kingdom Hall! It was nice to have someone to go with.

Maggie saved us a couple of seats. The new Thursday night meeting arrangements work so well. The time flies by.

Bea may leave tomorrow or Monday.

We are all going to a concert in Chichester tonight, and Jackie is coming round here first for a supper. Which will be pates from Bairds, some cheese, hot bread, salad and stuffed eggs. And nibbles.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

anniversaries and exhibitions

Bea arrived yesterday and we all celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary round at Jackie's with champagne and chicken pie from Bairds Farm Shop. A lovely evening. It monsooned off and on all day and our green is starting to revive.

We went to the RA Summer Exhibition with Bea and Jacks today. It was fun.

I loved the Elizabeth Blackadders and the Mary Feddens, but my especial overall favourite is

oil, Maurice Sheppard

That would be the one I would have taken home had they let me choose. It had already sold, and was £995, which is very reasonable for a Summer Exhib picture.

Now we are safely back home and settling down after a fish and chip supper.

Monday, 6 July 2009

medical matters

To Worthing today for my routine Arthritis visit - all seems OK - and she is writing to the Lung Lady about the upping of my medication, as it may be that that caused the original lung damage.

Housework afternoon - cleaned out fridge, washed all cleaning cloths and did some general cleaning.

We walked by the sea in the evening.

I also did an urgent bit of Writers Group work - went through a Novella for Nute - it has to go off in 2 days. I picked on a few typos, one inconsistency, and one thing that will have to be changed. But otherwise it is fine. Very fast paced.

On the work with Audrey tomorrow, all being well. We are going to do return visits, not first calls, but also deliver invitations to our returns.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

a quiet sunday and a long tennis match

Sat with Maggie at the Hall this morning. We sang two of Don's favourite songs which was a bit much for her, but she got through it. Than a lazy afternoon in front of the Wimbledon final. Amazing match and sad that one of them had to lose. At one point it looked like they might still be playing at midnight, whereupon they might have called it a draw.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

another coffee morning, garden sculpture and the end of the world

Another sunny day here - loads of people still on the beach and the green outside.

Drove up to Esther's for the field service this morning. Another first, I haven't driven there before. Jean bravely volunteered to work with me and off we went. Parked on the territory no problem.

We are distributing invitations to the July Convention in Brighton, the theme of which is: "HOW CAN YOU SURVIVE THE END OF THE WORLD?" They are being held worldwide.

We met up with a lady who is too sick to leave home but who would like us to call back and talk to her about the subject of the Convention.

And we ended up having tea (Earl Grey at that!) in a beautiful garden, admiring the garden sculptures of the art teacher who lived there.

We also called on a lovely Italian couple who sell organic fruit and vegetables from his allotment. Jean bought gooseberries, beetroot and chard, and I bought potatoes and courgettes, which will become a veggie stew tomorrow. Daphne and her partner who were working alongside us also stocked up.

They accepted an invitation from us.

The Captain and I will probably go there again. He had a lovely day out, butterflying - see his blog.

We have a quiet night in ahead of us which is wonderful, and I now need to go and make his packed lunch for tomorrow.

Friday, 3 July 2009

a coffee morning

A quiet day which was welcome. Cooler too. Apparently there was a short thunderless storm in the night. Maggie, Judy and Audrey came for coffee - and Maggie had got me a name badge for the upcoming convention, and had brought over half her invitations in case I hadn't managed to pick mine up after the meeting.

Which is so thoughtful given what she is going through losing Don.

I have started on my Sheet and Towel marathon so they all ready for the next guest - Bea who arrives next week. Jackie has invited us all round for dinner on the Tuesday night.

I have just watched Supernanny - deeply depressing, although the nanny did a super job (of course).

Thursday, 2 July 2009

the migratory paths

Roger takes flight today, but his pattern of migration has changed and he is heading back to the North Americas. He won't make landfall in Africa until much later in the year.

We went to Petworth House yesterday - it was roasting hot so we only saw a little of the grounds, but had lunch there, went on a talk/tour of the Counting House - amazing and very well ordered. It is all in the process of being restored. Immense amounts of cash came in on the Quarter Days when all the tenant farmers came to pay their rent, and the amount of safety precautions suggest that the Earl did not trust them one bit.

We have not been able to trust each other since that moment in Eden when Adam and Eve made their fatal decision to cut themselves (and us, their future children) off from their Creator, their source of life.

Hopefully Roger will be back in the Autumn migration.

Monday, 29 June 2009

a visitor from The Cape

Not a butterfly, but Roger, en route from America. His migratory path will take him home to the Cape at some stage.

He is here till Thursday.

We just watched Andy Murray win his match, but it went to 5 sets and was touch and go.

and all that jazz

We went to see Chris Barber at the Chichester Festival Theatre last night - see the Captain's blog for details. He was great, and the band were such fun. A wonderful evening. And the theatre was packed.

Give us what we want, and we will turn up.

We were not a young audience though. This was very noticeable at the interval as we all creaked slowly off to the bar, with a clash of zimmer frames and a gnashing of false teeth.

Roger arrives this morning, en route for South Africa, having spent some months in the US.

the maintenance guys are here painting the balconies, so our dining room is full of balcony flowers and watering cans

Saturday, 27 June 2009


Although we started the day off with a sea fret, and I took an umbrella with me on the field service, by the time we left Sue's to go on the work, it was hot, and it got hotter and hotter and HOTTER.

I was working with a young brother from Ghana, and even he found it too hot.

Anyway, we did an hour and a half, which included a couple of Ronald's return visits. He doesn't have a car so he bravely came along with me and we made it. I had to go twice round a very large roundabout, and back out of lots of parking spaces, but we made it.

I did a lot of praying about it first, and very specifically asked Jehovah that I would find parking spaces when I needed them. I asked Ronald to pray about it too.

Which I think he did quite fervently. He wasn't too happy when I said I not only wanted him to direct me to the territory, but also to make sure that I stayed on the left hand side of the road.

"Now I AM nervous", he said, looking for the door handle. But at that moment i lurched away from the kerb and off we went.

I have taken the afternoon off. We have been watching Wimbledon - we are watching the Andy Murray match at the moment. He has just got the first set under his belt and made a great start in the second.

Charles - also from Ghana - told us an experience he had when out with the Circuit Overseer the other week. The householder who opened the door said she was 'Born Again' and did not want Witnesses calling on her.

John, the CO, asked her this. If he did stay at home, how long would it be before a Born Again knocked at his door?

It is something I can only hope she will think about.

Friday, 26 June 2009

threescore years and ten... maybe

Another perfect summer day - lovely skies, and a refreshing breeze. I felt very tired as it has been quite a week. The National Portrait Gallery on Wednesday, and Don's funeral on Thursday. In the morning we went to Warnham, and in the afternoon to the funeral. Then it was the meeting in the evening - very hot in the Kingdom Hall. I felt sorry for the brothers in their jackets.

But it was the best thing I could have done after the funeral. I sat where Don used to sit. And thought about how he won't be there to greet me again until the new system of things.

We (the Captain and I) got to talking about funerals on our way back from Don's. And thought that realistically we had better write down what we would want. Its not a happy thought. But...

Who knows?

Maggie must feel like the bottom has dropped out of her world. After 40 plus years with Captain Butterfly I think I would feel like less than half a person if something was to happen to him.

Tomorrow is Sharon's funeral. She was so young - died very suddenly of a pulmonary embolism.

She didn't come near her threescore years and ten. Whereas Don, despite all his health problems, made it to 82.

I wonder yet again if those young doctors at Chichester A & E didn't save my life that day when Col rushed me in. They had me on Warfarin almost before I could say what was wrong.

I am very grateful.

But of course in a case like Sharon's there is no time, and no warning.

How wonderful it will be to be in perfect health - life 'to time indefinite' stretching before us.

More wonderful than we can imagine.

Got some very good news from Pen today re finding a publisher for her book! Not half bad in a recession. Bea and I talked by email. And I also talked to Linda. I was just saying to Col yesterday that we hadn't heard from her for a while for a while.

We went to Chichester this morning and did a massive Lidl shop and a smaller M & S one, and used up our Jessops and Lakeland vouchers. At least some of them.

We have a lemon squeezer again!

Monday, 22 June 2009

ask a silly question

During the Sammy weekend, Sam often phoned home to speak to her little sister Beth and tell her all about her adventures at the seaside. At one point she handed the phone to Nute, with a: "Would you like to speak to your granny Beth?"

" Hello Granny", piped a tiny voice.

"Hello, Beth" said Nute in her grandma voice "And what are you busy doing?"

"I'm talking on the phone," the voice piped in return.

a quiet Monday

A quiet day today. Talked to Nute - she and Sam had an OK journey back home, all went to time, and Sammy seems to have really enjoyed herself, which was the point of the exercise. At any rate, she wants to come again, as soon as possible.

Her elderly great aunt may need a week or so's recovery time though.

Studied in the morning - lunched at home (omelettes) - and then went to Swanbourne Lake - see Captain Butterfly's blog.

I bought two bags of duckfood (50p each) and fed loads of ducks, geese, coots, moorhens, pigeons, you name its, all sorts of feathered things. And I got pecked by a duck.

When you look at the amazing flipper feet of the Coot they say so clearly 'design' - they witness to their Grand Creator, Jehovah of armies.

Of course the Serpent is still in the garden at the moment. But when I think of how lovely it is even now, I wonder just how lovely it is going to be when Paradise is restored.

We called in at the organic shop-restaurant in Arundel on the way back and picked up some things. And then had a fish and chip supper... well, I suppose that is fairly organic in its way.

I had a long chat with Lilian who phoned from London. The local congregation have invited her to the upcoming District Convention and I am urging her to go and to really listen and pay attention when she does. I believe the theme this year is: 'Keep on the Watch'.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

An early morning swim

Nute and Sam are now heading home - hopefully their journey is going well. We all had a swim this morning. It was cold getting into the water!

The Captain is now off following the Butterfly herds, and I am tackling the mountain of seaweedy towels. Sam had most of us swimming every day.

The dishes are all done, kitchen sorted and I am now going to crash out in front of some afternoon telly.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Detecting Sammy

Sammy is down on the beach with Captain Butterfly and they are metal detecting. I hope she manages to find something interesting. We, her gran and great aunt, are taking some time out.

We all went to Warnham for lunch and a walk round the reserve, which is so beautiful and peaceful. Sammy seemed to enjoy it all and had to be dissuaded from getting too near swans with their cygnets. Her gran and I were chased off a beach in Ireland by an angry swan when we were about her age, and we haven't forgotten the experience.

They leave tomorrow. We are hoping we might all be able to go in for a swim in the morning, but it depends on the weather. If not, we can go over to Arundel and feed the birds in the park there.

Sam may insist on our going in for a swim this afternoon, but I hope not as there is a cold wind blowing.

She is ten now. Its strange to think how much our childhood must seem like pre-history to her. How would the 1890s have seemed to me at her age?

A generation is coming, and a generation is going...

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Driving issues

Driving issues yesterday... when the brother in charge of the field service group asked for someone to work with Manda the Circuit Overseer's wife, I put up my hand without thinking through the parking and driving issues.

Anyway, its all too painful to go into the details, but nevertheless we did get to the territory safely and had a wonderful hour out together. I learnt a lot from her. And we had some great conversations on the doors and I now have a couple of return visits to do.

Sadly I won't be out today as we have Nute and Sami arriving tomorrow and today is a shop cook and prepare day. I should get to the C.O. talk tonight though, but may well miss his talk on Sunday. Jackie and Brian will be joining us for the weekend. And we have just heard from Roger - ex-Aramco - that he will be coming for a few days at the beginning of July, on his way back to SA.

Sami has apparently been looking forward to this visit for months, so I only hope we can live up to her expectations. She is very fond of The Captain, and will hopefully be able to spend a lot of time with him on his butterfly and dragonfly rounds, while Nute and I trail along behind catching up on things.

Monday, 15 June 2009

A quiet day in

A quiet day in today, which was most welcome. No shopping, nothing, apart from a walk along the beach with the Captain in the evening. He is Captain Dragonfly at the moment. I made us lunch by combining the remains of the vegetable soup I made on Saturday with the remains of the chicken curry I made on Sunday, to make a sort of chicken stew. It was very nice.
Tomorrow I have to drive to the Kingdom Hall - park in the car park there - and take myself off to the territory, wherever it may be. Scarey. And on Wednesday, Audrey will be with me, as she and I will work together. She knows the territory so well that she will be my navigator so that will help.
I still have one magazine call to make for Maggie - I did the others on Sunday.
The Circuit Overseer's visit starts tomorrow, so we have a meeting at the Hall tomorrow night.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

A winter sunrise

When Bea was here we were talking about the view from our flat - and I mentioned the winter sunrises, when the sun is so red, and it reflects in all the pools left by the tide. In the winter I try to catch the moment when the sun comes up over the horizon.

Hello Pat, in case you are reading this.


We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
A red wing rose in the darkness.

And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
One of us pointed to it with his hand.

That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,
Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.

O my love, where are they, where are they going
The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.

Czeslaw Milosz
(translated from the Polish by himself and Lillian Vallee)

When 'the red wing' rises out of the darkness, it is one of those moments when you can feel the holiness of the world. The creation speaks of its Creator.

As the Psalmist was inspired to say:

"The heavens are declaring the glory of God
And of the work of his hands the expanse is telling"

And the questions... I am still amazed and grateful to have been given the answers.

One of the things that impelled me to write poems - in my brief poetry writing stage - was this wish to catch the moments as they flew by. As I got to nearly forty (and how young that seems now) I began to realise as never before how short it all is, what little time we have to spend in this beautiful world, and how short a time we have with the people we love.

A new driving feat lies before me today. Can I manage Maggie's magazine rounds? I have her little maps and my own map book... I even have a tiny little magazine route of mine own now. A very nice guy called Tony said he would like Awake magazine every month, so it is time I delivered him his June copy.

I am going up to the Kingdom Hall for the 10 o clock meeting, and then hope to do the rounds afterwards.

It is all so that people can come to know that Jehovah, the God of Abraham, is the Creator of this awe-inspiring universe - and to give them the answers to the questions posed in the poem.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Striking Portraits

To the Constable exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery today with Bea and Captain Butterfly. Constable portraits amazing - although my favourite was the Hampstead Garden painting. If the Czar of the Gallery had said to me: "Sue, because of your general wonderfulness we are going to allow you to take one portrait home with you", then that would be the one.

The tube strike didn't really affect us, except that the train out of Victoria was much fuller than usual,

We had fish and chips from Osca's this evening - and watched some telly - including the Gabon Monkey Expedition. Beautiful, but sad, because the animals are so threatened. They try so hard to live their lives and care for their children, and we are making it just about impossible for them. I had to hang on to the promise made by our Creator, Jehovah, that he will 'bring to ruin those ruining the earth."

I know things will not go on like this for much longer.

And we watched the Sussex episode of the David Dimbleby series: 'A Picture of Britain'. It was very moving.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


We went to Arundel with Bea today (see the Captain's blog). We visited the second hand bookshop at the bottom of the hill and I found some books for the November Maldives trip. An Agatha Christie , and 'The Day of the Triffids' and 'Castaway' to re-read; and 'The Perfect Storm", a Ruth Rendell, a Rona Jaffe and a Nicholas Monsarrat. Should be good solid holiday reading.

I failed to go out on the Field Service this morning!

Bea treated us to a lovely lunch at Butlers in Arundel and we came home to a credit crunch supper - chicken soup from the weekend's chicken, and stewed pears and ice-cream.

We are having a quiet night in, and are off to London in the morning

Monday, 8 June 2009

Rustington with Bea

In the morning I drove us to Rustington - a first for me. We prowled the Rustington shops and Bea bought me a lovely bag for the Field Service work. It needs to be neat, big enough for my books and magazines, and easy to get said books and magazines out of.

I hope to premiere it tomorrow morning. Another first, as I hope to go on my own wheels - which i am nervous about as I don't know which map we will be using - so I dont know where we will be going, whether I will know my way, or be able to park, etc etc.

And will I have to turn right across the traffic coming out of the Kingdom Hall? Or will our map take us left?

Will I be able to park successfully in the tiny Kingdom Hall car park?

Worry worry.

For the rest of our day, see the Captain's blog.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Driving Rain

We escaped the storms ravaging the country today - it was a lovely sunny morning with a bit of rain late afternoon. However, its 9.15 now and we have just heard some thunder. So I think the storms may be about to find our quiet little seaside town. Bea and the Captain had a busy day (see his blog) and are now out on the balcony with their wine. I will join them when I have written this.
I went to the Kingdom Hall this morning. We got the sad news that Don can no longer have visitors so he must be a lot worse, and Maggie had left a package at the Hall for me. I volunteered to do her magazine route for her, so she has left me a package of magazines with addresses and little maps!
Wonderful of her in the middle of all the trauma with Don, her husband, my brother.
So I now have to get more adventurous with my driving. Having spent my driving life on the right hand side of the road, driving round Toytown, I am finding it difficult to start again.
But I must, or I cannot do my field service and return visits properly, let alone do the magazines for Maggie which is the help she needs from me at the moment.
Bea has bravely agreed to come with me to Rustington for a stroll round the shops tomorrow morning. And if we survive that, I will probably blog all about it tomorrow.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Retirement - Anniversary 1

We arrived back in the UK a year ago today - in the early hours of the morning.
Pen left early - I had the morning at the dentists - oh joy.
Linda came over to spend the afternoon with us and we talked a bit about old times in Saudi.
We went for a walk and were watching a mother duck with 8 fluffy little ducklings in tow, and saw them come across a group of teenage ducks from last years batch. One of them started to pick on and chase a little duckling. One of its valiant fluffy siblings roared across the water to attack the whole group of them with its tiny beak.
It was quite harrowing to watch. But all got away safely.
It will be wonderful when the world is restored to Paradise, and nature is no longer 'red in tooth and claw with ravine'.
A very hot day. So a good start to summer.

Mermaids sighted off Littlehampton Beach

Pen left very early this morning, and I have a Dental appointment at 8.30... It was a lovely weekend. She came to the Kingdom Hall with me on Sunday morning for the Public Talk - which was about building a happy family. And then I co-opted her help in doing some return visits. She came with me in the car and waited there with her book while I knocked on the doors. The Captain does not like me to do them on my own, and I couldn't find anyone else going out at that time. Two were not at home sadly. And the third seemed to be in the middle of a big family lunch so I decided not to knock.

It was a very hot day - hotter than Spain! - so Pen and I cooled off in the sea at Littlehampton later.

The Captain had his Metal Detecting hat on and we didn't see him till the evening.

We went to The Silk Road for some Middle Eastern food - a treat from Pen to
celebrate our one year retirement anniversary, which is today.

Linda - ex-Aramco - is coming over later today so we will celebrate it with her too.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

The Proud Duke and the Swineherd

We went to Petworth House today - lovely weather - so we walked and picnicked in the grounds. Which are by Capability Brown. We also went to the talk on the history of the house - and what a history it is. It started as a medieval manor and became a stately home.

One of the ancestors was known as The Proud Duke. He (allegedly) disinherited one of his daughters for sitting down in his presence. Apparently he fell asleep and the poor soul thought she could have a few minutes sit down - but sadly he woke up and caught her.

His carriage was veiled so that no common type could look upon his face. Apparently one swineherd let it be known that he was determined to get to see The Proud Duke. But whether he succeeded or not is lost to history. It would probably have been better for him if he didn't.

But I thought as we wandered round the house and grounds that it is a good thing that the dead 'are conscious of nothing at all' (Ecclesiastes 9:5); because the Proud Duke would likely be outraged to see all us swineherds trampling through his grounds.

Later Pen and I went for a swim off Littlehampton Beach - it was colder and choppier than it looked.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Painted Ladies and Anniversaries

We went to Baird's Farm Shop with Audrey (who has the garden full of Painted Ladies) - and stocked up on ham and chicken pies and Desperate Dan type things.

The Channel is blue and sparkling outside the window. And we are waiting for Pen to arrive. She is staying for the weekend, in between seminars.

We are just coming up to our One Year Retirement Anniversary so hope to share a bottle of champagne with her on the balcony Sunday night in celebration.

I might blog my thoughts about retirement - which has been great so far.

Or I might not.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

a brillo pad

The Captain and I went to the Dulwich Gallery today - see his blog (URL in blogpost below). Lovely gallery, but some of the Sickerts - early ones, in Venice - were a bit disappointing. This was because some seemed (to us) to be in need of a clean. Unless the Venice of his day was permanently covered in a choking smog...

If we had only had Col's mum and a brillo pad along with us, I think she could have done wonders.

Great gallery though - with some wonderful things. I rediscovered Murillo and remembered that i used to love him as a child, looking through my Children's Treasure House Art Book.

Monday, 25 May 2009

A Day out with Captain Butterfly


Young Brian was amused by Jackie's and my struggles on the steep hillside paths, and the Captain's joke about rolling us both down the hillside to save time was very successful too - every single time he told it. We are all off to Monkey World tomorrow, weather permitting.

I am just coming to the end of Stephen G.Esrati's 'The Tenth Prayer'. I have been talking to him about it (via email) for some weeks now. He was held as a hostage in Beirut in 1948. The book is, in part, a fictionalised account of his experiences in the Irgun Zvai Leumi.