Friday, 31 December 2010

Back Home

We got back home on Wednesday afternoon.  The drive back was OK - apart from one hold up caused by a horrendous crash involving at least four cars.  I can only hope that everyone involved  survived it.  There were ambulances, a fire engine, and bits of a car and luggage scattered all over.  A nightmare.

As we drove south, it got foggier and foggier, and we arrived here to find the Channel had disappeared into a thick sea mist.

It was strangely quiet with no cat/cats on the bed.   Col became convinced at one point during our stay in Sheffield that there were three cats in the room (officially there are only two).  However by the morning we were back to our usual one (Miss Scooter herself).  She was still with her tail.  They have signed The Wardrobe Pact, and have formed an uneasy alliance.

I felt a bit flat, but it was wonderful to get to the meeting last night and to find Maggie back again, so she and I could be in our usual seats.  And Col has a dig on Sunday so hopefully we will be back in our routines in no time.   What is still lovely (after two plus years of retirement) is not having to go back to the working 9 to 5 routine as we always used to after our holidays.

I am making a start on replying to all who sent Christmas cards and letters - greatly helped by the fact that Captain B's 2011 butterfly cards have arrived - and lovely they are.  He ordered a set of postcards too.

People sometimes say that they will believe in a Creator if he shows them a miracle.  But we are surrounded by miracles.  Think: caterpillar turning into chrysalis turning into butterfly - just for a start.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Scooter, enraged with her tail

I was putting clothes back in the wardrobe in the guest bedroom yesterday afternoon when there was a fierce low growling from the bed.  When I looked round I saw an angry Scooter facing up to her tail.  It was annoying her by lashing about in her face and she was growling at it.

The tail failed to take the hint and lashed about even faster.

It was turning into a Harry Hill situation.   I like Scooter.  And I like her tail.   But which is best?

There is only one way to find out.   F I G H T !!!

So, before the mother of all civil wars broke out, I tiptoed quietly out of the room.

Monday, 27 December 2010

The Day of the Walking Sticks

Jen, Kathryn and Jo came for lunch at the bungalow.  All three were on walking sticks - and we had quite a confusion on leaving as to whose stick was whose.

How did this happen to us all?

It snowed this morning, but it looks like there might be a bit of a thaw tomorrow.   The Lilac Tree Farm branch of the family are coming over here for lunch, weather permitting.  We are hoping to have a turkey curry cooked by Ken.

I have discovered my "A Few Green Leaves" by Barbara Pym in the Sheffield branch of the family travelling library and am enjoying reading it again.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Encounter - and Ollie - and moments in time

Ollie is taking time out on his walk through the snowy park to pose prettily - and the moment has been caught by Captain B's camera.

I think this is an appropriate time of year for another poem - this one by a Polish poet.


by Czeslaw Milosz
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.

                                                         Wilno, 1936
Translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Lillian Vallee 

I love the "red wing" of the Winter sunrise. 

A poem is another way of  preserving a moment before it gets lost in time.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

North to Alaska

Well, as far as Sheffield as any rate.  We drove up Thursday - no problems at all, although there is a lot of snow about.   I took Maggie to the post office on Tuesday to get all her calendars posted and some last minute shopping done.  Poor Jacks has come down with a terrible cold in time for Christmas.
Col and I went into Derbyshire yesterday. It was so beautiful - snow, freezing cold, blue sky, wonderful sunset - see the photos on his blog.   Big family and friends dinner in process, must now go and help in kitchen.

Monday, 20 December 2010

A snow free oasis?

There is still some snow lying on the ground - and the sky was dark and ominous this morning, but now the sun is starting to come through.  Travel seems to be chaotic in most of the country though, according to the News, so going up North looks more and more unlikely.
Captain Treasure Hunter drove off into the snowy wilds of Hampshire yesterday on a dig, and I hitched the huskies to the sledge and mushed them up to the Kingdom Hall.  Only then did I notice that the pavements there (away from the sea front) were coated with ice.
Now ice is one of the 'terrors in the way' spoken of in Ecclesiastes, in its haunting poetic evocation of the process of getting old and dying.   At least it is for me.  Loved ice when I was a child - and we tried to make it even slippier by making slides (shudder) - but nowadays I am so afraid of falling and breaking something.
I wouldn't have made it up the ice-coated slope to the Kingdom Hall if a gallant young brother hadn't come down to help me.  And then I saw another bro coming to the rescue with shovelfuls of grit. I am very grateful to them both.
And I am so glad I made it - wonderful talk, wonderful Watchtower article, all about the love and respect we owe each other.  The teaching gets better and better and better.
Jackie came to dinner, looking very well and rested after her Channel Island holiday.   We had a roast chicken dinner, with the Captain's help.  He carved and organised the chicken and its trimmings onto the plates while I made the gravy.  For pudding we had a plum crumble I had made earlier, as they say on cookery programmes.
We will probably have a walk on the beach at some stage today - and maybe a twirl or two with Maurice.  I wonder, will the Beeb come and film our rehearsal diary?
Anyway, its 9 a.m., the Channel is a dull (as opposed to glowing) turquoise, and its not snowing - yet.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Spanish dancers

We walked on the beach again yesterday afternoon and the Western wind was icy.  Col clicked and dug for ring pulls, while it seemed that I danced with Maurice. 

What a great Latino dancer that mussel is!   He is not so great on the hip work, as he doesn't actually have any hips, but castanets -  Wow!!

In the morning, when the sun came out,  Col drove us through the icy slush and we did a big shop and also went over to Maggie's, so I could take her  'Examining the Scriptures Daily' and the Calender for 2011, which is rushing up fast.  We had a coffee and a chat in her lovely warm house.

Then the Final of Strictly.   Pamela and James were the first voted off - which was upsetting (especially for the Captain), but we thought that Kara and Artem were worthy winners - she so graceful and him such a brilliant choreographer (as well as dancer).

I hope Maurice can choreograph. 

The James and Pamela showdance was best though (in my opinion).   And I still long for the showdance that could have been - the Ann and Anton showdance - and the judges comments that would have followed.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Maurice the Mussel dances (possibly)

Wonderful weather this morning - one minute there are snow flurries from a dark and ominous sky, then the sun pushes through and the Channel lights up turquoise and blue and gold.  I am not out on the preaching work this morning as with my driving experience having been mainly in The Middle East, I am not used to driving on ice and don't feel safe doing so.

Its been a busy few days with medical appointments and things.  And a lovely lovely meeting at the Kingdom Hall last night.  Quite a few empty chairs though as many of us are sick.

We got the remaining calendars posted, plus the lens for Dan and Gabi, and my letter to Chuck and Mary in Texas.

We had a walk on the beach yesterday.  It was freezing, but sunny, and very beautiful.   The tide was coming back - but there was still an acreage of firm flat sand to walk on - and Col took a strange fish photo.   It should turn up on the Captain's Log sometime today.

A large codfish had washed up and had been picked clean by the seabirds.  I have never known them bother with dead fish before. The gulls round here prefer their fish hot, battered and with chips, and hang round The Street of the Thousand Fish and Chip Shops when they are hungry.

I wondered what had happened to the codfish out at sea that it had died.   And I also wondered if fish die of old age or if something else always happens first.

Once again, I seemed to hear a little clammy voice greeting me - very warmly.  Maurice thinks my new haircut is simply wonderful.   Apparently he is a fan of Strictly Come Dancing too!   And is looking forward to the Final tonight as we are.   We both think that James and Pamela have a very good chance.

I wonder if Maurice and I could enter next year!?   Stranger things have happened.

I think he is just the one to whirl me round his head like a piece of fairy thistledown in a sparkly pink frock.  He is, after all, all mussel.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Ice - and hearts with chips of ice in them

If only I had gone to the beach today who knows what compliments I might have garnered from the charming Maurice?  But I went to the shops instead.  It was so cold. There was ice inside my car.  I have never known that before.   I have not done my studies yet, oh dear.  But i have replied to Chuck and Mary's letter, plus I posted the butterfly calendar to the Bavarian branch of the family, and one to Rob and Judy in Northumberland.  And of course made lunch and dinner for the two of us.
We watched a very powerful documentary by John Pilger on the telly last night about the current crusades in the Middle East.   There is a good review of it in The Guardian today.  
Whoever said: "The first casualty of war is truth" was not wrong.  And of course I was thinking all the way through it how important the Christian preaching work is and how I must must must improve.  Mick has promised me a shepherding call this weekend which is really good of him as I know how busy the elders are.
The documentary was heartbreaking, and it was hard to go to sleep after watching it.  

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


Col is out on the balcony trying to see if he can see the Geminids - they are supposed to be very bright tonight, but the sky is still rather cloudy.  Its very cold out there.  It all reminds me of another Thomas Hardy poem... have i put it in my blog before I wonder...

In case I haven't, here it is.

The Comet at Yell'ham
by Thomas Hardy

It bends far over Yell'ham Plain,
   And we, from Yell'ham Height,
Stand and regard its fiery train,
   So soon to swim from sight.

It will return long years hence, when
   As now its strange swift shine
Will fall on Yell'ham; but not then
   On that sweet form of thine.

What a short time we have to see the beauty and the glory of the world.   And here is the comfort of the Christian message.   It assures us that those who saw that comet will be re-created from 'the ground of dust' and will see it again - only all will be as it should be when they wake up from the sleep of death.  There will be no more wars, no more hatred, and nature will no longer be 'red in tooth and claw'.

Col has just seen a fox, and has rushed out to photograph it. But no meteor shower as yet.

I worked with Jenny this morning. We found quite a lot of people in and placed some copies of the tract about Jesus.  This time of year, with him continually pictured as a helpless baby in a crib, can be a great distraction from what he is doing now.  He is the Rider on the White Horse of the Book of Revelation - riding out to complete his conquest.

Louise has asked me to work with her Thursday afternoon, and i have a dental appointment on Thursday and a doctors appointment on Wednesday.  I just hope we aren't all snowed in instead - the weather forecasts are getting more alarming and it is certainly cold tonight.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Gone Swimming

Although when we got there we found that the swimming pool had gone - closed for 3 weeks for maintenance or some such.  Apparently there have been notices up about it but I don't wear my glasses when at the pool.  Captain B was determined we should get our swim so we went to the next town along the coast and swum there.

Freezing cold day.

Its the Geminid meteor shower tonight but too cloudy here to see them.

I posted Audrey's letter and shopped. talked to Audrey on the phone, and did my studying.  Hope to be out on the field service tomorrow morning.  

Saturday, 11 December 2010

The two Ronnies

I was out with Ron and Ronald on the field service this morning. Most of our group is away on the London Bethel Museum Tour (which I hope the Captain and I will do one day - Bible prophecy brought to life), and, with the permission of El Capitano, we met here.   Ron decided he would take us on his calls, so we had a lovely morning out.  We also called - me with young Ronald - on the lady whose partner I mistook for her son on my last visit!  She was out, which was possibly a good thing.  It will give her more time to get over it.

If I get the chance I will have to explain that it was nothing personal.  I am slightly Aspergery and have very poor face recognition.  I was in a pub in Sheffield some years ago and I said to my husband: "That young man at the bar is talking to me just as if he knew me."   "He probably is" he said dryly, "given that he has been your brother for the last thirty years."

Oh to have a perfectly working brain.  In the meantime, I have to console myself with the thought that none of us children of Adam has that, but, if we put faith in our Creator, we can hope to be perfect in the future.

Otherwise a quiet day - shopping, cooking, housework.

And we watched the semi-finals of Strictly.   We hope that Matt and Pamela will be in the final.

I hope retirement will go on being as lovely as this.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Ice on the windscreen

When I came out of the meeting at the Kingdom Hall last night, I found my front and back windows iced up and requiring the spray.  That ice was not there when I parked the car, so I thought we would wake up to a white world.  However, its been cold and damp today, not frosty.

Went out on return visits with Louise yesterday  afternoon.  It was difficult driving into the low sun, but the light was beautiful.  We only found one person at home, but at least we tried.

It can take a lot of time to find people at home again and sometimes it seems you never do.  I have been looking for one lady for over 2 years now...  we had a long talk about the Lord's prayer - IF I am remembering it right (my remaining brain cells are kept at full stretch trying to remember my own name these days) - and I think I asked her the question that I was asked, all those years ago.

What is she praying for when she asks for God's Kingdom to come?

I popped over to Audrey's for a cup of tea and a chat this morning.

Oh and I got a lovely card from Sharron, one of my sisters, that lifted my heart, especially given that she took the time to write it, with all she is going through at the moment.

The news, showing the rising anger outside is frightening.   There are riots in London, and pictures of Prince Charles and Camilla being attacked.  It must be a terrifying thing to be surrounded by the mob.

Its not that I don't understand  why people are angry.  I do indeed.  And I am so grateful that Ruby and Wilhellmina called at my door with their Bibles and Watchtower magazines all those years ago.

The Christian congregation is a true refuge.

There is a strange new tactic for dealing with rioters now, called 'kettling'.  It definitely does not involve being given a nice hot cup of tea though.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Bright Morning Star

A wonderful winter sunrise over the Channel this morning.   The sun is burning away just below the horizon, sending up a clear red glow, sharply delineating the edge of the Channel, which is a calm dark blue.  The sky has a small line of soft glowing colours as the red shades into the blue of the early hours.

The morning star is sparkling above it all, with a few tiny black clouds very low on the central horizon.  They are like punctuation marks, or musical notes in the song of morning.

And the red glow is reflecting along the beach in the pools left by the tide.

It is so easy to see the holiness of the world in the early morning. And I hope that somewhere along the South coast the beauty of this morning is causing someone to wonder about the Creator of it and begin to search for Him.

And I am thinking of those lovely words in Revelation, where Jesus says:

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

And also  this:

"Consequently we have the prophetic word made more sure; and you are doing well in paying attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and a daystar rises, in your hearts."  (2 Peter1:19)

Its a sunrise full of reassurance.   And a powerful reminder to pay attention to the prophetic word.  Otherwise we might lose hope.  But the dawn will come, and we will have our 'exquisite delight in the abundance of peace' right here on the earth.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Health issues

The Captain harnessed his team of butterflies to the sledge and off we flew to the hospital to see the Lung Lady. She was very nice and reassuring - my tests seems fine - and she doesn't want to see me again for another 6 months.  And there is no reason I shouldn't join the Aramco Shoal on Bandos Island next year.

A very cold day with frost on the ground. But sunny. And the drive was so lovely.  The low Winter sun on the empty trees, the blue sky, everything.  It made me wish I was a painter.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

A Winter Sunday in Retirement

I should have been in deepest darkest Surrey today but the weather has forced them to postpone our assembly. The elders obviously put in a lot of effort behind the scenes and we were able to have a meeting this morning, with Micah giving a very effective (and in my case guilt-making) talk.  And i was able to get the magazines and DVDs for Maggie so we popped round with them this afternoon, and had a cup of tea. She looks very well and is being good about resting her foot as she has been told to.
We had a walk on the beach this afternoon.  The tide was out - the sun was out - a big flock of seabirds were also out shining very white in the Winter sunshine.  It was beautiful, speaking so clearly of its Grand Creator, Jehovah of armies.
Col metal detected a couple of modern coins and I got a wink from Maurice the Mussel as we walked by. (What a charmer he is - and Bea has emailed to say she agrees.)
Anne Skyped this morning with more Bible questions - I have emailed more info - and we hope to talk again on Tuesday or Wednesday.  I hope she will start to go back to the Kingdom Hall. She says she is thinking about it.
We lunched off the chicken from yesterday, plus the apple crumble (thanks to Sue for the windfall apples she brought to the group), and I used up the mushrooms to make a soup.
A lovely day.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Maurice the Mussel speaks!

It was a dark and stormy night last night, and we went to sleep in a white world, but  have woken up to a damp green world and a stormy Channel.  The tide is in and I am watching wonderful waves surging towards me.  The valiant dog walkers are out on the green as always.   I still find myself thinking how much Shadow would have loved being here.

We went for a walk on the beach.   Fantastic waves, with six brave surfers on them, and we were enclosed in mist with a watery sun coming through.    I was wandering about lost in thought while Col took loads of atmospheric photos - which should appear on his blog later - and also I had to return a lost ball to a dog - when suddenly I seemed to hear a tiny voice - with a very charming French accent.

"Hello young miss" it said, " I haven't seen you out with your father for a while."

"Oh Maurice" I said (for it was he), "I'm afraid you've made a mistake.  That isn't my father, its my husband!"

"No!" said the little clammy voice, with its charming accent.  "What a cradle snatcher!".

"Oh, indeed no," I said, all of a flutter, "In fact I am slightly older than he is."

"Impossible my dear.   I simply can't believe it."

I rushed off to tell Captain Butterfly that I had finally spoken to Maurice and what he had said.

"He shoulda gone to Specsavers", was his only comment, as he clicked away.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Thoughts of Chairman Couch Potato

Did I even have any thoughts today?   We were snowbound - and i have requested a picture for my blog to demonstrate - a photo of my poor snow covered car.  While Captain B flew around with his camera - early, while the snow was all fresh and new - I made a gigantic fruit cake.  And I have made our lunch and our tea and done some emails and studying and that is about it.  Louise and I had to cancel the field service.

We are supposed to be going to Haysbridge at the weekend for the two day Assembly - Ken doing the driving.  But we will have to see how the weather turns out. The Assembly Hall is out in the countryside, down winding country lanes, and would almost certainly have been ungettatable today.

Oh and i spoke to Jackie and Audrey and Paul (on the phone) and got a reply done to Kathryn's letter, which is not posted yet.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Five Students

Woke up on the first day of December to find a white world outside with more snow forecast today for the Downland.  This seems a good moment for the December poem, and once again I have decided on a Thomas Hardy favourite.   It might seem an odd choice at first, but not if you get to the end.

by Thomas Hardy

The sparrow dips in his wheel-rut bath,
The sun grows passionate-eyed,
And boils the dew to smoke by the paddock-path;
As strenuously we stride, -
Five of us; dark He, fair He, dark She, fair She, I,
All beating by.

The air is shaken, the high-road hot,
Shadowless swoons the day,
The greens are sobered and cattle at rest; but not
We on our urgent way, -
Four of us; fair She, dark She, fair He, I, are there,
But one--elsewhere.

Autumn moulds the hard fruit mellow,
And forward still we press
Through moors, briar-meshed plantations, clay-pits yellow,
As in the spring hours--yes,
Three of us: fair He, fair She, I, as heretofore,
But--fallen one more.

The leaf drops: earthworms draw it in
At night-time noiselessly,
The fingers of birch and beech are skeleton-thin,
And yet on the beat are we, -
Two of us; fair She, I. But no more left to go
The track we know.

Icicles tag the church-aisle leads,
The flag-rope gibbers hoarse,
The home-bound foot-folk wrap their snow-flaked heads,
Yet I still stalk the course, -
One of us . . . Dark and fair He, dark and fair She, gone:
The rest--anon.

Once you get into your sixties, its hard not to see the metaphor in the seasons - or do I mean 'of the seasons'?

But then I have to remember how quickly time goes and that soon it will be Spring again.  And that likewise, the time will come for the resurrection, when those who are sleeping in death will wake up again.   Their Creator, the God of Abraham, will call them from the dust and re-create, or resurrect, them.

My parents loved the beauty of the world - they used to let every vestige of the winter sunset leave the sky before they would draw the bungalow curtains - and I hope very much they will wake up to see it all again.

Perhaps they will wake up in the middle of a beautiful Autumn in the Paradise earth?

In the meantime I need to use my time as best I can, and enjoy the beauty of whatever season I am in.  I won't be able to go out today, but I still have some questions about Isaiah and Revelation that I can answer via email.  Thank you, Anne from The Cape!

And I have my studies - and more housework than you can shake a duster at.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Launch

"The Doll Makers" was launched succesfully last night - the bottle of champagne broke first time - and off it sailed to the bookshops.  Pen gave us an informative and very funny talk and then took questions from her audience.   As she said, she couldn't have picked a worse day if she had tried - snow sweeping down from the North, a freezing London, and a 24 hour tube strike!

However, she got a good audience and the room was full.   ALCS did her proud - and what a lovely venue it is for a launch.   We met some interesting people, including Sue, a Theatre critic, and a young Polish-American student over here on a semester of studying Brit culture. He is especially enjoying the Brit Comedy module.  And we re-met Janet who made the amazing Lilac Tree Farm wedding cake.  When not making wedding cakes for the children of her friends she has some extraordinary connection with a UN type of organisation.   I would love to have a talk with her about it, but haven't had much of a chance yet.

She has had the sort of life that would make for a fascinating autobiography.

Sue and I were swapping our current reading and I was able to recommend Peter Godwin's 'When a Crocodile Eats the Sun', and she has recommended something called 'Brixton Beach' by Roma Tearne.

It is a brilliant title (and yes, old geography teacher, I do know that Brixton does not have a beach).

Julie wasn't there this year, but she did text Pen from India.

We got back to our seaside home about 9.30.   I am now hoping to get out on the work with Audrey this morning - although it looks awfully cold out there.   And must ring Louise, the young pioneer sister, about our working together this week too.

Monday, 29 November 2010


Captain Butterfly's blog for yesterday - sobs incoherently - sanderling - catching, washing and EATING a mussel... NO!!!!

Was it Maurice?

If so, what a tragic end!  And one that I assured my blog would not occur.

Is it all over?

The problem is that I can't tell one mussel from another and - oh, wait a minute, there is some kind of protest massing on the green outside our balcony.   It seems to be a mob of mussels surging up from the beach, with placards.   Oh dear - they are accusing me of Disrespect for Diversity (as I have failed to note how interestingly diverse mussels are) and are threatening me with the Thought Police.  Gulp. 

I am too old for the Re-Education Camps.  And I haven't got enough brain cells left to be successfully re-educated anyway.  Oh dear.  This is a horror.  They must all have been working away on their little waterproof computers when I put those foolish words on my blog.

The only consolation is that that looks very like Maurice at the head of the demo.

So my plotline can continue as planned, if I ever get back to the beach.  

Maybe I could have a few words from the balcony.  It is a bit of a Romeo and Juliet situation in a way.

Thick frost this morning, but our Gallant Leader Captain Butterfly still plans to get us up to London for the book launch, in spite of flakes of snow falling on rails and a 24 hour tube strike.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

No snow yet

...although I could feel it getting colder as I sat in the Kingdom Hall this morning.  I sat with Christine and Louise today.  The public talk was about why we must not let ourselves be resentful - and a timely reminder from our Creator that love "does NOT keep account of the injury". 

We live in a world that encourages us to memorialise the wrongs done to us, and to hold grudges.  Well on a somewhat selective basis admittedly.  So we need to be sure that 'the spirit of the world' is not affecting us.

But I was so pleased to hear it as I had been agonising over things last night and finding it difficult to sleep.  I heard just what I needed to hear.  Now - can I apply it?

I found Captain Butterfly had gone to the beach when I got back.  He is a hardy soul, especially as he is just back from the tropics.  I asked him to say hello to Maurice (so I can further my plotline) but I think he forgot.

Jackie was round yesterday night for curry - courtesy of my reliable Madhur Jaffrey recipe book - and all went well.   Tandoori chicken plus dahl plus rice and small small things.  

Jean and I only managed half an hour on the doors yesterday morning, but i have been quite busy answering a set of interesting and complex Bible questions from Anne from Capetown.  I still haven't finished answering them all.

But I am so pleased that it is me she asks (on account of my being a Jehovah's Witness).

Penny's book launch tomorrow!   The three of us are going - weather permitting.

And we have been asked up North for the holidays.  And will go, once again - weather permitting.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Winter seems to have arrived

Very very cold today - although also very beautiful.  Blue skies, white clouds, the Autumn light from the low sun lighting up all the remaining colours in the leaves.  We went to Pagham harbour this afternoon.  It was quiet and empty - not many birds around.  The sea in the inlets was an amazing blue.  Col took some photos which should appear on his blog in time.  Audrey and I were out on the door to door preaching work this morning, though not for all that long as it was so cold.   Jacks is coming for dinner tomorrow and I have the chicken in its marinade.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Anyone for toast?

The parking machine at the hospital asked us to drive safely, thanked us for paying, and told us to have a nice day.  In fact it did everything but offer us tea and toast.  Oh and it also lifted its bar and let us out of the carpark once we paid it - which is all we wanted of it really.

Just a routine appointment for the Captain - and all is well.   We then went to browse in Lakeland and bought some teaspoons and a couple of cornish pasties for lunch.  The pasties were from the Cornish pastie shop - and not from Lakeland.  I also browsed in the Heart Foundation shop.   It always seems as if Chichester would be a good catchment area for Barbara Pym books, but there were none.

This is supposed to be an internet diary so I am trying to think what I have been doing since Sunday.

Very little really due to arthritis. Though I did manage to go out on the work with Audrey on Tuesday - with the Captain very kindly chauffering us as I was not able to drive.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Roger at the Hall!

Roger came to the Kingdom Hall with me on Sunday - and we stayed for the whole meeting - which was lovely of him.   The Public Talk was about how to bring up children with a strong Christian faith in spite of the immense peer pressures from 'the world' to go to the other way.   And there was a lovely Watchtower about how Jesus has always helped God's congregation - in his prehuman existence, when he was on the earth, and afterwards.   Very reassuring in the face of all the horrors.

Roger arrived for lunch yesterday and Col got back at teatime.  All the Shoal seem to have got safely back home after a wonderful holiday.  He was very happy and even went on a Metal Detecting outing yesterday morning. So Roger had the choice of treasure hunting in local fields or hunting for spiritual treasures.

And he chose the spiritual treasures.

We all met up for a  Sunday roast dinner at The George and Dragon.   Roger left in the afternoon. We hope to see him again in January.   Anne joined us on Saturday night, by Skype from the Cape. It was just like old times in Expatland.

I managed to get out on the work with Jean Saturday morning, although only for half an hour, and I then took her to Ken's and back so he could photocopy the Watchtower article.

So a busy weekend - in my terms - and I am glad to have a day off today.  Especially since my arthritis is playing up and walking is very painful.   But I have some wonderful brain stretching questions in from Anne about the book of Isaiah that I want to research and answer today.   So must get both brain cells in gear and peruse the wonderful Watchtower Bible commentary.

Bea emailed the cousins group to say that things are happening re her move - and sent the new address.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Another cunning plan bites the dust

Took Audrey to the bank and shopping this morning.  We got to the first shop when I suddenly remembered I hadn't put the parking disc in my car window!  'You'd better hurry' said the lady in the shop, 'they are very fierce in that car park'.  I didn't know i could still move so fast - and I got there in time.

We then did some Not At Homes, and I did a couple of return vists, and found the chap in again.  He says I can call back with the December magazines.

Col Skyped me from the island, looking very brown and relaxed.   On the last day, after his diving is finished, he always has a massage at the very swish Beauty Shop.   Now I thought I had emailed the island this year and ordered a nice sensible motherly masseuse well into her sixties for him.  But judging by all the 'it was wonderfuls' and 'lovely young girls' etc etc ,  my email was shot down somewhere over the Indian Ocean and my cunning plan has failed.

Ah well, back to home and real life tomorrow.  No lovely young girls around here (well apart from myself of course).    I hope I will be too busy to worry about boats sinking and planes crashing etc etc, as Roger will be arriving for lunch and I must get out on the field service in the morning.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Rained off

Two more sleeps before my Captain returns.  I had better get those choc ices eaten up (destroy the evidence).

 He has had problems with 2 cameras, but still has amazing photos on the blog.

I managed a swim this morning, and met Louise at the Hall in the afternoon.  However, we were rained off after 20 minutes. It was pouring down - cats, dogs, the whole works.

Am now getting ready for the meeting - back out in the rain.   I couldn't get by without the teaching though.   What was it that the crowds said of Jesus when he was on the earth?   Never has another man spoken like this.

Same same today.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Captain Camera

A stream of wonderful underwater photos continues to appear in the Captain's Log.  I Skyped him today and we had a brief chat.  He seems tired but happy, but also sad that he only has a few more dives left.
I puffed up and down the slow lane in the swimming pool for 45 minutes or so, but saw no exotic fish.
I also shopped - got the stuff in for the weekend - the return of the Captain plus the return of Roger.
Am just off to Jackie's for dinner.  It is a cold and stormy night.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Back to my diary

I think I'll give up the diving and get back to the day job.  I spoke to Captain Scuba yesterday by Skype and he assures me they haven't seen any scampi yet.

I am not so sure - I know those fabulous Maldivian buffets well.

The curries!

I lunched off crisps and a choc ice.   With my Better Half away I am behaving like a child let loose in a sweet shop.

Audrey and I did half an hour this morning, on her magazine route, plus one my return visits (not at home).  I left a 'Does God really Care?' brochure with this lady many months ago, but have never found her at home since.
We then went on to visit Maggie, who, thank goodness, is doing very well after her op.

Just off for my swim and then its a quiet day in with (hopefully) some studying and a big Kitchen clean up

Sunday, 14 November 2010

My first dive - with lots of fish (and chips)

How can I compete with the Captain's Log!   All those glowing photos from the Indian Ocean. The corals, the feather stars, the fish, the colours...

Has the time come to tell the story of MY first dive?   Maurice the Mussel might like to hear it anyway, so here goes.

As the warm turquoise waters of the English Channel close over my head, I adjust my face mask and swim for the coral reef and all its promised glories.

Then - and this is a dream come true for me dear readers - I find myself part of a strange new world, full of colours and shapes I could only dream about before.   I swim through a vast herd of kippers and marvel at the glistening golden brown of their smoky bodies, as the hot tropic sun plays on them through the blue water.   Then, suddenly, I arrive at the reef itself - that coral castle, a monument to the tireless energy of millions and millions of tiny fish fingers.

Startled, a shoal of whitebait dart away from me like streaks of pale fire, and their attendant lemon slices scatter in panic; while beneath me a shoal of scampi roll majestically by, their orange coats a near perfect camouflage in this sandy underwater world.

Alerted by a panicked wokful of sweet and sour shrimp paddling past, I turn to see a large codfish in hot pursuit.  This is wonderful.  At last I may be able  to solve a marine problem that has baffled the experts for years.   Just how do they keep their batter so crispy with all this water down here?

Fearlessly, I move forward to examine the monstrous creature, and also, truth be told, to have a quick read of its newspaper.   But - with the sinking of heart and sharp intake of breath that only a fellow diver will understand - I realise that there is something bigger and infinitely more menacing lurking in these coral waters.

OH NO...  its my old geography teacher.

Now I am going to have to spend the rest of my day writing out a thousand times that there are no coral reefs in the English Channel.

I hope the nun who taught us biology isn't going to turn up next.

Friday, 12 November 2010


The rain continues during the Circuit Overseer's visit, putting me in mind of a poem/verse that i came across on a trip to South Island New Zealand many years ago.  The Captain and I were young then.  We drove all the way down the West Coast - rain forest to the left of us and beautiful Cornish style beaches to the right.  We hadn't realised how remote and unpopulated it was.  We drove for hours and hours and I think we only saw one other car.  Of course that was many years ago.

RAIN by Anonymous

It rained and rained and rained
The average fall was well maintained
And when the tracks were simply bogs
It started raining cats and dogs
After a drought of half an hour
We had a most refreshing shower
And then most curious thing of all
A gentle rain began to fall
Next day but one was fairly dry
Save for one deluge from the sky
Which wetted the party to the skin
And then at last the rain set in.

Still, after all those years in the desert, i am not complaining.  I love the greenness, and the different moods of the weather and the light on the English Channel.   I drove along the Sea Road with Audrey today and we noticed the wonderful light on the sea. 

An interesting morning out. I found someone in I have been looking to find again for over a year.   He took another publication.   I got a definite: I don't want you to call any more - from someone else.  And then I distinguished myself by mistaking someone's boyfriend for their son...

What can I say - beyond  Sorry?

So a mixed morning.  Then I took Audrey shopping and the rain was just starting as we dashed back to the car.

Jacks is coming over for dinner tonight.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

The light on the Channel

The monsoon has suddenly eased off and the sun is starting to come through - the light on the wild waves of the Channel is so beautiful I wish I could put a video of it up.  It is one of those Paradise earth moments.

Stormy weather

Its as stormy as I've seen it here today.  The Channel is foaming, the tide is staying in, the rain is almost horizontal at times.  The sea road must be well flooded by  now.   I did try to go to the Hall this morning - got all kitted up - but was almost swept off my feet by the wind as I tried to struggle to my car. 

So I gave up and retreated inside.  Its not possible to go door to door in this anyway.

I must struggle out to the meeting tonight though - and the second Circuit Overseer talk.

Spoke to Col this morning on Skype - and we have emailed.  The small island which sits almost on the equator, is in its full blazing sunshine once again, so maybe their monsoon has arrived here.   I set my as yet unpublished Dive thriller on the island. 

If I were younger and my back wasn't hurting - and I was sure i could stay on my feet - I would have gone down to the beach and watched the waves close up for a while.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A migration

Captain Butterfly has migrated to warmer climes - with his Shoal.  I am counting sleeps until the great circle of life turns again and they all swim back home.  Just talked to him on Skype. He seems very happy.

I will be glad when he is back though.

Maggie and were out this morning.  It was very cold and we were on a difficult road (for the two of us) with lots of steps.   Not many good calls.   Went back to Maggie's with Barbara and Beryl afterwards.  Got back feeling very tired - back aches, head aches.   Took paracematol.

Went to meet Louise, a young pioneer sister, as arranged and had a good hour and a half with her which has made me feel much better.  I feel as if Jehovah has very very kindly cheered me up, √©ven though I did not do anything wonderrful on the doors for Him today.

Missed the Mark Twain short story that Captain B had carefully set up a reminder for, but was out.

We had our first Circuit Overseer talk last night.  His theme is basically keep awake, dont get distracted, not at this time in human history when a rescue is so close at hand.

We got a letter from a local Estate Agent today asking if we would like to sell our flat, as they have a client waiting.  Unusual letter to get in today's property climate, but we don't want to sell anyway.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The feathers of the willow

We came across a  'feathers of the willow' corner of Swanbourne Lake (see the poem 'November' in previous blog).  We went there this afternoon as it is probably a last chance to see the tender glowing colours of Autumn in their glory.  High winds are forecast for tomorrow so I think most of the remaining leaves will be blown away.   Already you can see a lot of trees in skeletal shape, with a surviving nest showing up here and there.

What a different feeling the human skeleton evokes - for all that it is a miracle of engineering.  But then the trees were designed to be seen in skeletal form in season, whereas we were not supposed to die.
So when we see a human skeleton, it tells us that something has gone catastrophically wrong.

I took some bread with me which was deeply appreciated by all the waterfowl - and a Hitchcockian swarm of seagulls.  They especially liked the currant bread.

The meeting at the Hall this morning was as wonderful as ever. We were reminded about the importance of listening to our Creator, not to 'the world', and about  Christian unity and how we can play our part in achieving and maintaining it - always remembering that without Jehovah's spirit all our efforts to do so would be futile.

It is a unity based on Jehovah's law of loving-kindness, not the sort of forced uniformity that you would get in an efficient army.

Col was off Metal Detecting this morning.  He found a Roman something that will almost certainly appear in his blog.

Anne skyped me from South Africa and we had a lovely long talk.

It was a cold day - although not where Anne is.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The Laughing Postman

Jean and I entertained a postman this morning.  We couldn't find no.131 and he kept coming across us bumbling around this large estate, lost in a strange mixture of numbers.   "Its between 130 and 132",  he said, laughing heartlessly.

Oddly enough, that did not help.

Captain B is packing up for his dive trip which is making me feel rather melancholy, but I am already filling up next week. Audrey just rang to book me for Friday morning, and Jackie is coming round in the evening.

Its the Circuit Overseer visit, so a busy busy week - hopefully.  I just hope i am not starting a cold. Everyone else seems to be.

Friday, 5 November 2010


John Clare is as good on November as he is on the other months, but I have a specific poem in mind for this month.   So here is:

by R.W. Dixon

The feathers of the willow
Are half of them grown yellow
   Above the swelling stream ;
And ragged are the bushes,
And rusty now the rushes,
   And wild the clouded gleam.

The thistle now is older,
His stalk begins to moulder,
   His head is white as snow ;
The branches all are barer,
The linnet's song is rarer,
   The robin pipeth now.

A lovely evocation that will become truer and truer as the month goes on.
Its a grey and rainy day today.  Captain B has been out helping the Duke of Burgundy (the butterfly, we don't have any aristocratic friends) by toiling away with the working party improving the woodland terrain.  And Maggie and I went out on some calls and then we shopped.  Lots of difficult driving, but a nice morning.  I was exhausted  when I got back - lunched on crisps and yoghurt and fell asleep.
Dinner at Jackie's tonight.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Neglecting Maurice

and everything, as my wings have been severely clipped since our day out in London.  I was confined to the sofa yesterday, trying to keep my swollen ankle higher than my head, every trip to the loo like climbing Everest without oxygen.  I feel about a hundred and seventy five. 

One day out in London!  And I used to be a great walker.

And there is Maurice on the beach. We are supposed to be friends by now - posing for one of those cute animal pictures in The Daily Mail - Me and Maurice, my mussel friend - well there will be some terrible punning headline but a great picture.

He has yet to speak to me. But he will.  And he is going to break my heart.  But not by getting eaten by a seagull.

I had to cancel my field service with Audrey yesterday. Will I be able to go out with Jean today?

I hope so. I am up early just about to take my medication, but it is still painful to set foot to ground.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Paul Gauguin

We went to the Gauguin Exhibition at The Tate Modern today.  Jacks was supposed to come, but she wasn't well.  And I only just made it - I was limping badly by the time we got home.

What can I say about it?

It was more sad than I expected.  I hadn't realised that the Polynesia he found was not the island Paradise he painted it - I hadn't realised how westernised it was by then.   But in any case he seemed to have had some strange ideas about 'savages' versus 'civilised' people.  (He was all for the 'savage'.)  Whereas we are all the imperfect and dying children of disobedient Adam, and if you don't see that, then does it affects what you can paint?

I hadn't realised what a sculptor he was!  Some brilliant things, but I don't like a lot of his subject matter.  His severed head mug for example, is very much not something i would want to drink my coffee out of.

And i think I found an example of contemporary Art Speak.   We had the audio guides, which do help us to get a lot more out of exhibitions, and when discussing the women in Gauguin's Polynesian paintings, the commentator noted that some were "uncomfortably young".

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Comet at Yell'ham

I said I would put another Hardy poem in my blog for Pat.  And here it is:

The Comet at Yell'ham   by Thomas Hardy

It bends far over Yell'ham Plain,
And we, from Yell'ham Height,
Stand and regard its fiery train,
So soon to swim from sight.


It will return long years hence, when
As now its strange swift shine
Will fall on Yell'ham; but not then
On that sweet form of thine.

I think this particular comet - can't remember its name - has been back since - although, as the poet tells us, not in the lifetime of the two watchers here.   Our lives are so short now.  Over before we know it.

It seems the comet was much brighter when they saw it - with a more distinct tail, or train.  Perhaps it was a little nearer the earth then?

Will Pat and I be here to see it next time around?

I hope so.  I hope we will both see it many many times.

Captain Butterfly who had his Metal Detecting head on this morning is fast asleep in the armchair.  He looks exhausted.  I am probably going to sleep too.  I was at the meeting at the KHall this morning - as wonderful as ever.  It looks like I will be going out on the doors with three of my sisters this week, Audrey, Jean and Maggie. 

Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Wedding Orchid

The orchid that Gabi and Dan gave us after their wedding has just started to flower.  Its flowers had been cut for the bouquet and now it has produced 4 tranches (?) of flower stalk - with one beautiful white flower already out.  I will ask Col to photo it for one of our blogs.

Jean and I were out on the doors this morning - doing Not at Homes from last week.  We were rained off after 45 minutes. It was an odd morning - rain clouds, beautiful saturated light shining on the red leaves, and a rainbow in the distance.  We both had two very nice calls we can go back on and hope to call at the other doors during the week.

Mick, who was taking the group, reminded us once again of the vital importance of getting the Bible's message to people.   

Captain B had his fossil head on and was off fossilising.  We are getting ready for Jill, Tom, Linda and Nick for the bonfire and fireworks tonight.   As a JW I don't celebrate the night itself, but the bonfire and fireworks all happen right outside our window so we do share the view.  I shall be providing hot sausage rolls, garlic bread, that sort of thing.

Took Audrey shopping yesterday morning, and also did my marathon shop for the weekend.

Thursday, 28 October 2010


Flitting across the stage like a piece of fairy thistledown  in my sparkly white frock, I leap into the arms of Loys, the disguised Duke.    Ooops... poor chap.    Still, never mind, who comes to see him?    On I dance twirling gracefully across the stage to rapturous applause from an admiring audience.

Yes, we went to see The Welsh Ballet's Giselle last night - every little girl's dream.

Apart from a whole lot of wonderful dancing, it has a good message and a bad message.

The good is that Giselle knows that, as Jehovah has told us, love "does not keep account of the injury" - and she does not revenge herself on her betrayer, but saves his life.

But the bad thing about it is that is is based on the idea that we have an immortal soul.   Giselle lives on after her death and is able to save the Duke from the spirits of other jilted lovers, who too live on in ghostly form.  

So if and when  you go to see it,  please remember that in Eden, Jehovah told Adam and Eve that they would die if they disobeyed him.  In other words, they were not immortal.  

They disobeyed, cut themselves off from their Creator, their source of life,  and from that moment they began to die,  And eventually they stopped existing and returned to the dust of the ground from which they were created.

It was Satan who said that Eve would not die if she disobeyed, who told her that there was something immortal about her.

Her Creator said the exact opposite.

We, as Adam and Eve's children, are all born dying - through no fault of our own.   Jehovah knows that, and he can reclaim us from death.  But, while we are dead, we are, as the Bible assures us 'conscious of nothing at all'.  We aren't hanging round dancing at people who have annoyed us.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Red sky in the morning

The sunrise was so wonderful this morning that I got Captain Butterfly out of bed - and he was out on the balcony in his jim jams photographing it.  It was, as the rhyme says, a 'shepherds' warning', as we have had a rainy and a stormy day.  Very cold too. But lovely, with the Autumn leaves rustling everywhere.

It is easy to see the holiness of the creation in the very early morning.

Audrey and I managed an hour on the doors this morning, trying to tell people about their Creator. We met Jackie, who was driving off to a meeting, and said Hello.

I shopped after dropping off Audrey - and made the food for tomorrow night.

The Gang of Four Plus One are coming by tomorrow morning for another watch of the new DVD : Jehovah's Witnesses, Faith in Action. Part 1 : Out of Darkness.

Monday, 25 October 2010


Retirement Sundays - how are they different from the Sundays of working life, and from schoolday Sundays?

In my schooldays, it was a happy day - church in the morning early (I was a Catholic then), home for a lovely roast dinner courtesy of that brilliant cook, my mother - playing with my siblings and friends after lunch.  In summer the aged parents would often take us out for a picnic on the moors - by bus in the early days.  And on a rainy day daddy would take us to Western Park museum.  In Winter we sometimes used to play Noah's Ark, with our china animal collections and shoeboxes for the Ark.  I kept my collection of animals for years, until they went 'missing' in one our moves.  And for many Winters, Jen and Catherine used to come round after lunch and spend the afternoon with us. We used to huddle round the gas fire in the dining room and make ourselves cheese on toast.

But - and there was a but - I can still remember that dread of school on Monday beginning mid afternoon and getting worse and worse.

When we were a young married couple, both working we often used to visit or entertain family and friends on a Sunday, or go out for the day... I used to cook a roast dinner.

In our Expat days, Sunday was the second day of the working week.
As this is a diary, what happened yesterday, on a retirement Sunday?   Think, think...   Col was off birdwatching all day, with sandwiches.  I was at the Kingdom Hall in the morning, and did some ironing and stuff in the afternoon, and we ate together in the evening.   I made an apple crumble from the cooking apples some kind person at Arundel had left outside their house for anyone passing by.  They were lovely apples - not windfalls.  So it was a good crumble.

Pat emailed to say she loved the Thomas Hardy poem, so I must find more - the ones that aren't usually anthologised - that will fit the blog.

He is very suitable poet for the Autumn of the year - and the Autumn of my life.

Once again I have to ask: How did this happen? Just yesterday we were a young married couple.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Maurice at Sunset

The beautiful home of Maurice the Mussel.

A quiet day - I couldn't go out as I was not well due to having to take painkillers.   I did totter out to Tesco's with Col this afternoon for a brief shop.  I hope I have bought in all the ingredients for our pre-Theatre supper on Wednesday night.

We had a lovely walk by the River Arun yesterday - I sat for ages  watching the castle through the Autumn leaves - it is a fairytale castle - one that looks like it has grown there.   We watched a water rat scurrying about and there were ducks galore.

Jackie cooked us a lovely dinner last night - not roast duck!

Friday, 22 October 2010

The English Channel

is suddenly a sparkling turquoise.  El Capitano is out on the balcony now trying to capture the colour in his camera lens.   For a few moments there we could have been in the Maldive Islands looking out across the Indian Ocean.  Its a bit colder though - them sitting on the Equator as they do, and it being October here.
Its so wonderful to live right by the sea.  Which is now the palest of blues. 
I must get back down to the beach and to Maurice the mussel. I have a plotline for him, so I had better get on with it.   
We swam this morning - remembering too late we should have rung Jacks and see if she wanted to come!
We will apologise tonight as she is cooking for us.  We haven't had much of a routine though, and have tended to swim separately this week.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Its a Right Hand Turn,,,

...not a roundabout!   Captain B solved the puzzle for me by googling Google Earth and showed me exactly what it was.  I have driven along that road the other way with no problem, but my Aspergeriness had obviously clicked in again and a connection failed to be made between the two halves of the road.  Anyway, its all connected up now.

Audrey and I did the rest of my October magazine route yesterday.   I  found three people in, and the guy I usually get out of the shower said he would like me to deliver the magazines every month.   I had to stop myself saying: Fine, but in that case I want you to move somewhere where the parking is easier.  

Col was off on a Butterfly Work Detail all day - with a sandwich lunch - so I had some crisps and an ice lolly, did my studying and took myself off for a swim.

We had a great meeting at the Kingdom Hall tonight - although I am not enjoying having to drive there and back in the dark.  However, the years go racing by and it will probably be Spring again before I know it.

Someone is shortening these years.  They just don't last the way they used to.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The inexplicable roundabout

To my horror when the maps were given out at the group today I found that I was going to have to drive to the territory via the terrifying roundabout/road combined thing that I can't understand.   I can't see how it works and where the cars will be coming from.   I got across it somehow, but chickened out coming back and drove round the houses.   Sheila and I had a lovely morning out though.  She is wonderful on the doors and I was trying to listen and learn.  But she has a very warm personality which, alas, I do not.   She also rescued me from a spider that had got into the car - she got it out efficiently and gently with a tissue and it scuttled off about its business unharmed.
I joined the family at Helen's for coffee afterwards - haven't managed to do that for ages.
Captain B was butterflying and we shopped when we got back.
Audrey and I go out first thing tomorrow morning to finish my magazine route.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Oh dear, what can the matter be?

Bea leaves for her new home in the North next week.  We went over to Eastbourne today to take her for lunch (at the Golden Galleon), and we had a walk round Cuckmere Haven afterwards.  It was cloudy and sunny with a strong wind and beautiful Autumn light.

The next time we see her it will probably be Up North. And hopefully she will still be coming to stay with us, although she is no longer a bus ride away.

We managed to get ourselves stuck in the ladies loo.  We could not find the right door.  First we tried to go in to the Mother and Baby Changing Room, then we found ourselves heading into a broom cupboard.  When we finally got out we found Captain Butterfly waiting outside, his profile of weary patience featuring strongly.   We then found some Fools Gold (pyrites) on the beach.

I feel there is probably a poem in that somewhere, but as I don't write them anymore, I won't be able to find it.

But there is a poem by Thomas Hardy I want to put in here.  Because its not a goodbye to Bea, but its goodbye to Eastbourne and so many memories of her and Brian there.  And I was also thinking of my mother, as a child, evacuated with her convent classmates to a Convent on the South Coast during the war.

THE MARBLE-STREETED  TOWN    by Thomas Hardy (1914?)

I reach the marble-streeted town,
    Whose "Sound" outbreathes its air
        of sharp sea-salts ;
I see the movement up and down
    As when she was there.
Ships of all countries come and go,
    The bandsmen boom in the sun
        A throbbing waltz ;
The schoolgirls laugh along the Hoe
        As when she was one.

I move away as the music rolls:
    The place seems not to mind
        That she - of old
The brightest of its native souls -
        Left it behind!
Over this green aforedays she
    On light treads went and came,
        Yea, times untold ;
Yet none here knows her history -
        Has heard her name.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

The Field

We blackberried this afternoon - at what I shall have to call The Field (Craggy Island style) as I don't know what it is called.   We took a big manly tupperware container and a little girly one.  The Captain soon had the big container filled and then took over the small girly one and filled that too.  I was very hampered by the spiders webs which were everywhere, protecting the berries.
Apparently its the courting season for spiders, and they are all over the place, scurrying about with little boxes of choccies tucked under their arms and bearing bouquets and charming smiles. And then getting eaten for their trouble, poor things.
Which reminds me that, as we haven't been on the beach, I haven't been able to continue my campaign to get to know Maurice the Mussel.  He strikes me as quite a ladies man though, so he might be off doing some courting of his own.
June and I were out on the door to door work this morning.  It was sunny but cold with a touch of ice in the air.
Winter is on its way.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Driving Miss Maggie

We went to some of Maggie's magazine route calls - found quite a few in and had some good conversations. We then went off down by the station to try and find some of my Not At Homes.  Not a one at home...  But we met up with a group of our siblings working on the doors down there, which was lovely.

Lots of Big Boy Grown Up Driving to do - plus a visit to the Big Sainsburys - with the Big Carpark - so I came back exhausted.  But happy.   Put the chicken in marinade for tomorrow, made the crumble from the blackberries we picked - a successful one according to Captain B, but a little too sweet.

Shouted crossly at the Captain (because I was tired and cranky) - but did apologise and made him an extra nice tea.    But talk about not practising what you preach...

Am having an interesting chat with Ari, an internet friend.  He wrote to say how he dislikes this time of year with all the Halloween stuff.  So I sent him this:

The book The Worship of the Dead points to this origin for Halloween:

“The mythologies of all the ancient nations are interwoven with the events of the Deluge . . . The force of this argument is illustrated by the fact of the observance of a great festival of the dead in commemoration of the event, not only by nations more or less in communication with each other, but by others widely separated, both by the ocean and by centuries of time. This festival is, moreover, held by all on or about the very day on which, according to the Mosaic account, the Deluge took place, viz., the seventeenth day of the second month—the month nearly corresponding with our November.” (London, 1904, Colonel J. Garnier, p. 4)

Thus these celebrations actually began with an honoring of people whom God had destroyed because of their badness in Noah’s day.—Gen. 6:5-7; 7:11.

Personally, my decision is to leave it well alone.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Reflections in October

We were at Ferring Rife this afternoon.  It was cloudy, a bit windy, a good walking day really.  We picked two tupperware boxes of blackberries and I must make them into a crumble.  We swam in the morning - in the local swimming pool, not the Rife!  Although we were accosted by a very friendly dog who had been in the Rife, or somewhere like it and he shook muddy water over us with loving enthusiasm.
We also went to Worthing to pick up Wine kits.  Plus I posted a  letter to Jo thanking her for the photo of the young us on honeymoon, and letters to Kathryn and to Margaret (enclosing the invitation from Pen).
My own reflections in October...  I found myself thinking about the Paradise earth ahead and imagining Autumns then.  Adam probably first opened his eyes in an Autumn garden - in the Garden of Eden, the most beautiful garden ever planted,  He was in Paradise.

A blackberry afternoon

Another lovely day yesterday. Audrey and I were out on the work in the morning. We did some of her route calls, which involved a lot of complicated driving (for me, probably not for anyone else), into a small village, and out again.  So many roads round here were not made for cars.  I found a gentleman I had been looking for for some time.  When I first talked to him he had just lost his wife, and we have had a couple of brief conversations since them.  He has been away staying with family, and I said i would call back in the Autumn. However, he does not want to talk to me any more.
Col and I went out to wander round an enormous field that has miraculously survived, so far, all the pressures for development on the South Coast.   Sadly, it looks like we may finally lose it now, in the middle of a housing recession.  People are obviously fighting to keep it as a field.   I don't know what could be more valuable down here, as we are all getting so crowded together.   There were some lovely blackberries we were picking and eating and, if we can find a moment, we will return with some containers this afternoon and have blackberry crumble for tea.

Monday, 11 October 2010

The Admiral and the Wasp

We were back at Brandy Hole on another perfect Autumn afternoon - cloudless blue sky - Autumn colours - lovely to be able to spend a Monday afternoon together - one of the many joys of retirement.

We were looking for a... Duke of Fritillary (all purpose name for a hard to find butterfly - an orange one in this case)... but didn't find it. However I spotted a Speckled Wood and then a pristine new Red Admiral.  It was feeding on the flowers of the ivy, along with a whole load of wasps/bees, which kept bothering it.

I think they thought the Admiral was a flower and would try to keep landing on him.  He would get rid of them with an irritable shake of the wings.

We swam this morning.   Jacks is back - hurray! - and she may join us as we re-establish the swimming routine.

And I heard from Ari - an email friend from New York.  

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Into darkest Surrey

Over the border and into Surrey yesterday to visit Linda and Catherine.  It was such a lovely day - the perfection of Autumn. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the saturated reds and yellows and golds of Autumn were everywhere.   None of the horrors of the last 6,000 years of being cut off from our Creator have been able to stop us seeing the original Paradise.

Catherine was talking about her travels and the experience of looking up into the night sky from the darkness of the jungle.  She said that it did make her wonder - think that there must be Something or Someone. 

I can only hope she will hold that thought and cling to it and try to find that Someone.  I did.  And I get more grateful that i did every single day.

We walked through the park to Richard's flat, which allowed the Captain to get some photos for his blog.

A nice day out - and great to see Linda and Catherine again.  When the mothers were alive, we (the cousins)  used to meet up regularly and naturally at their houses, but now we all have to make more of an effort.

Felt exhausted by the end of the day though - I have so little energy now.

Jean and I were out on the door to door work this morning - visiting our Not at Homes from last week.  We found a lot at home.  They mainly knew exactly who we were and did not want to talk. But we found one young man who was very nice to us and who talked to us for a bit and took the November magazines.

A letter from Jo was waiting for us when we got back yesterday, enclosing a photo that Paul took of the young Captain and Mrs.Butterfly on their honeymoon, in the Lake District, all those years ago.

I might ask if I can have it on the blog.  Although it is quite melancholy to look at old photos sometimes.

A quiet afternoon and evening now lies ahead I hope, so I can re-charge my batteries for tomorrow.  I have the meeting at the Kingdom Hall in the morning, Col has his metal detecting trip, then we both fly off to the Butterfly AGM after a hasty lunch.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Two landmarks

Two seasonal landmarks today.

Autumnwatch started.  I saw the end of it when I got back from the meeting.  The starlings were lovely, as were the otters, but I wish they didn't feel the need to dumb everything down. It ends up being rather like an irritating and loud children's programme.

The second landmark was that I had to drive to the meeting with my lights on tonight.  Winter feels very close when that happens.

What a wonderful meeting it was though - the teaching gets better and better.  When Jesus was on earth, the crowds were astonished by his way of teaching.  Its the same now.

(by me - many years ago - when my parents were alive - they were great bird feeders - and they too loved the beauty and the glory of the world)

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

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Lost dogs

Nute, Pen and I were coming back from our seaside walk last night when we noticed a dog on the green. He was big and black and young and collarless.  It was Nute who noticed the way he was behaving.  He was obviously looking for his person, rushing up full of hope to this person and that, and having his hopes dashed every time.  We were looking round for his owner but couldn't see anyone.
I was beginning to imagine us trying to wrestle a collarless dog back to the flat, getting him some water - and wondering if we had enough cold chicken left to feed him, when we found his owner!  A really nice guy who thanked us for looking out for his dog.
Well I can only hope that if Maurice the Mussel was found wandering disconsolately on the green someone would do the same for him.  ("With some vinegar and a packet of chips, mmm yummy" said Captain Butterfly.)
The siblings left today, we have just taken them to the Station.  Its always melancholy saying goodbye to family, but at least I have plenty to do - all the washing and my studies for a start.  And it was very nice to see them.  We had a good chat about old times and new.   And we took ourselves off for coffee at The Rusty Hulk this morning.
We went swimming yesterday - so hopefully our swim routine is now reinstated.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

John Clare on October

Once again, this is from 'The Shepherd's Calendar'.

John Clare notes all the details of October.  For example:
"The mushroom buttons each moist morning brings
 Like spots of snow in the green tawney rings."

And then he goes beautifully to the bigger picture:

"Like to a painted map the landscape lies
And wild above shine the cloud thronged skies
The flying clouds urged on in swiftest pace
Like living things as if they runned a race
The winds that oer each coming tempest broods
Waking like spirits in their startling moods
Fluttering the sear leaves on the blackning lea
That litters under every fading tree."

The leaves are lying underfoot now - littering under every fading tree.  And how lovely they are.

The four of us went to Brighton for 'An evening with Fay Weldon' last night.   She is a remarkable woman with a wonderful smile.  And we went swimming today - first time for ages.

Fish and chips tonight, with a nectarine crumble which I must just go and get out of the oven.

Monday, 4 October 2010


Col has a photograph of a dog chasing a seagull on his blog today.  It is a picture of happiness.

I was at the Kingdom Hall while he was on the beach - and our public talk was about how we can perceive God through the wonder, complexity and beauty of his creations.   Yes.

It was the perfect calm beauty of an Autumn sky that made me realise.

Nute arrived last night - Captain B chauffered her from the station. We had a roast chicken dinner.   We meet up with Pen in Brighton this evening.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

On the road again

Out with Jean this morning - near our long long road. We got some very definite rejections - people often knew who we were before we even spoke.  But Jean had one good call. And then we had some good return visits.  I found the shaving guy - it has taken me nearly a year to find him at home again!  He said he was just about to get into the shower this time.   Anyway, he and the lady a few doors down were lovely and friendly and both said I could deliver the magazines every month.

There is a wealth of Bible based information in them.

I dropped Jean off and then the rain started.  

Felt very tired and fell asleep.

Can't remember what we did yesterday - which is rather worrying, though I did email Bob and Robert on Biblical matters - and same same for Wit today - which all took a while.  But I probably slept a lot because of the pain from the arthritis.

I tried to Skype Anne on The Cape but could not get through, and Bea phoned. She offered us her and Brian's National Trust publications.

Nute arrives tomorrow.  And Pen the day after.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Maurice and the Seagull

I hope Maurice has remained unSeagulled (unlike my car).  Its raining today and I don't think we will be on the beach.  I am taking Audrey shopping and then we hope to do a call that we didn't manage on Tuesday.  Its very difficult to park at this lady's house - especially for someone like me who can't do things backwards.

Saw my arthritis doctor on Wednesday and I am to remain off my medicine for the moment but am free to make an emergency call to the Arthritis doctor for a steroid injection if necessary.
I was tempted yesterday.

The weather has changed with the Autumn Equinox - and the leaves have noticeably started to turn.  Its very grey and rainy this morning.  There are white horses on the Channel - quite big waves building up, and our balcony flowers are blowing in the wind.

Captain Butterfly is twitching at the thought of the Butterflyless months ahead.

Wonderful wonderful meeting last night.  I must learn to teach better, to reach people better, and to truly cultivate the fruitage of the spirit.  I feel so grateful to the God of Abraham.

Pen is coming to stay next week!

I will shout a 'Good morning' and 'Good evening' to Maurice the Mussel from our balcony to assure him of my continuing goodwill - and then, who knows ? 

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Maurice the Mussel

Leg and back very bad today - complain, moan, grizzle - but managed an hour with Audrey on the doors - and we did find quite a few people in, plus a little interest.  The gentleman we got out of his bath a few weeks ago said that he would like me to call round with the October magazines, so we shall see.

Haven't done much else - arthritis - but we did walk on the beach and watch the sun setting.  A quiet sunset tonight as the West was very cloudy - but all with a reassuring calm beauty.

I am wondering about finding out whether or not it is possible to be friends with a mussel and plan to adopt one on the beach - and say a polite 'Good morning', 'Good evening', as we walk by it and see what happens.

Col says it will get eaten by a seagull and I will have my heart broken (which I think translates as 'Get a life!').

Monday, 27 September 2010

A September sunset

Something to counteract all the horrors - a calm peach and yellow sunset - lots of gulls winging across it, fishing, doing their thing - Captain Butterfly photographing them.  The tide was out a long way, and we waded out and out - and the setting sun was reflecting peach and gold in the water left by the sea.

It was another glimpse of the Paradise the world was intended to be and will be again.  And I so much needed to see it.  At the moment of course the gulls were hunting for mussels.  But when its Paradise again they won't be.   And, if its technically possible to be friends with a mussel, they will be friends.

Pat, Jim, and the dogs left this morning.  We hadn't seen them for 13 years, but it was as if we had only seen them yesterday, as it is with some people.  It took me right back to their house in Expatistan in which we had many happy times - and their little dog Sunny, who was a character and a half.

And Pat remembered Shadow - his picture is beside me as I type.

We didn't talk much about old times though as they, like us, seem to have been very busy with retirement.  Its a whole new world somehow.  In many ways its like being back in our courting days.  Only better.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Not out on the doors

I did not get out on the doors this morning, which makes me feel bad, but as one guest leaves, the next arrives - well they arrive tomorrow.   We attempted to do the last butterfly tetrad this morning and were walking past the river of Sunflowers when a gamekeeper plus dog informed us that we were trespassing!   He didn't set the dog on us, thank goodness.

Things do seem to have improved a bit there as I can remember trespassing on a farmers field when I was tiny - I had followed the big boys - giants of 5 or 6 years old - and we were digging up some root vegetable from the farmer's field and eating it.  

What can it have been?    As I remember it, it tasted lovely.

Anyway, the farmer did set his dog on us.  And who can blame him?   And it would have got me as my little legs couldn't get me away fast enough, had one of the big boys not gallantly risked his life by turning back and hauling me over the fence.

We showed the kindly gamekeeper our tetrad map and he showed us the public footpath to it.  But we didn't do it, owning to my arthritis not being up to tramping up a whole Down today.  Poor Captain Butterfly - tethered to a mate with damaged wings.

So we went to Tesco and shopped for the Pat and Jim visit. 

I forgor to ring Anne yesterday and I am behind with my studies...

Friday, 24 September 2010

Oyster Catchers

Col has rushed off to the beach to try and catch some Oystercatchers while the light is right.  If he has got some good pictures I will request one for this blog, so it should appear in time.

I am suffering from a severe arthritis attack in both knees, so my wings are clipped at the moment - and  I won't be catching any oysters for a while.

Bea left this morning - we hope she is going to find time for another visit before she leaves for the North. She has been a constant in our life here.  The Autumn flowers she bought me remain and brighten up the lounge.  

Lovely roast chicken dinner round at Jacks last night.

I spoke to Audrey today - and we hope to work together on Tuesday.    I have also spoken to the returned Maggie, who I hope to see on Sunday, and managed (before the arthritis struck) to hobble up to the post office and send the wedding photos off to Aunt Jo, a congratulations card to my sister Siwe, and a little card to Ellen, who was a student of mine at one time.

This blog is supposed to be my diary (I can't write one anymore because of my hands) so I need to remember to note who I posted what to - and when.

An evening of couch potatoing lies ahead of me - and quite some moaning and groaning every time I try to get off or on the couch, or even move.  Its not looking too good for my book about my expedition to Everest, although I am planning to do it by couch - so I suppose as long as my team of couchpushers keep me supplied with my painkillers and anti-inflammatories, along with the constant nice cups of tea, I may yet do it.

Watch this space!!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


We - Captain Butterfly himself (my superhero), Bea, and me -went off to do a couple of his butterfly tetrads today. We have to get them finished before the butterfly season ends.   Col and I also did one locally yesterday afternoon.   And Shirley and David, Bea's friends who are staying in Chichester came over to visit Bea yesterday and took us all out for lunch at our local - which was very kind and much appreciated.

At Kitthurst Hill, today, there was a little black calf standing well away from his herd, watching something over the fence.   I went to have a look and it turned out to be a gaggle of pheasants... or whatever the collective noun for pheasants is.  He seemed spellbound by them.   Perhaps the first time he has seen them?

And maybe the last time too, poor little soul.

We lunched at the George and Dragon - NOT off beef - in fact Col and Bea shared a Ploughman's lunch and I had a goatscheese tart with salad.

It was a beautiful sunny day.

Monday, 20 September 2010

The house of three milks

"One soya bean, one goat, and one PROPER milk" said Col glumly as he brought in our mugs of tea.

Bea will only have soya milk, I only have goats milk (arthritis reasons), and Col only has real milk - i.e. from a cow.

We spent the afternoon butterflying and found a whole river of sunflowers.  I have never seen anything like it and have asked for a couple of photos for my blog.

Jackie is back - hurray! - and has asked the three of us round for dinner on Thursday - the only night she has before she goes away again.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Maggie is back!

I heard at the meeting this morning that Maggie comes back today - she thought she would be away for 2 weeks but wasn't sure - we sit together at the meetings, so I have missed her.  We will try to plan at least one morning out on the work together this month.  Lovely meeting this morning - a great public talk about who we can trust in a corrupt world - and the Watchtower study was all about the qualities we need to be able to do the Christian preaching work.

The foremost is humility.

The nice thing this afternoon was a Skype chat with Anne from The Cape. She was all muffled up in wool, dressed for the next ice age, as it is very early Spring there.

It was her birthday.   I don't celebrate them, being a Jehovah's Witness, but I am glad she was having a good day.  And i am certainly very glad she got born.  I just wish she lived down the road, as it used to be when we all lived in our Expat town.

And Col was home all day!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

A busy Saturday

Jean and I toiled up a long long drive to some enormous gates today to find a sort of panel with buzzers and buttons.   We puzzled over it.   Then: "You've pressed the wrong button!" said Jean.   (I had, I usually do.)   I had meant to activate the intercom, but the giant gates swung silently open. We tiptoed in, up another drive, and knocked on the door.   No-one was in.  Not even the staff.  I heard a noise behind us and it was the giant gates silently closing again. 
Thankfully we found another button on the inside and managed to open them and escape.  Otherwise...  We popped a small publication through the letter box so that they would know who had called in case they worried about it.  And also it will show them the way to find true security if they read it.  There won't be any need for locks on our doors, let alone security gates, when Paradise is restored.
We basically got rebuffs this morning, but we were both in a funny mood somehow, neither of us feeling very confident.  However, we did deliver a few magazines and try to find a few of our return visits at home.
Then I dropped Jean off, lunched, shopped, ironed, did the dishes and cooked a roast chicken dinner for the wandering boy who has been off on Metal Detector business all day.
Now i am very tired.  We both are.

Friday, 17 September 2010

A golden thread

Audrey and I watched  "Faith in Action, Part 1: Out of Darkness.   Which was lovely.  It shows a golden thread of faith running down the centuries, as faithful people tried to teach Bible truth in the face of strong opposition from Church and State.   We are very much looking forward to Part 2, which we hope will be released next year.

I also took her to buy her spring bulbs.   Crocus and Narcissi.  And surely each bulb is a miracle, speaking clearly of the qualities of Jehovah, its Grand Creator?

El Capitano B flew off to the Downs near Eastbourne still chasing the Clouded Yellow, and he also called in on Bea.    And he brought some nectar back in the form of two books - from Bea to me.   "Some Tame Gazelle" by Barbara Pym, and Agatha Christie's "The Secret of Chimneys".   So I have a treat in store.  I think that Tame Gazelle is Barbara Pym's funniest book.  And although I have read Chimneys before, I can never remember who did it - or if I do - I can't remember how - and why they have such an apparently watertight alibi.

My library got scattered during our expat years, and I am trying to recreate my Pym and Christie shelves.

The Channel has been calm and blue today, and there is a quiet sunset going on over it as I write.  A touch of cold in the air today  though - a preview of the coming Winter.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Autumn in the Downland

It was a perfect Autumn day on the Downs at Hope Gap.   There was a strong wind blowing and the sun came and went through the clouds - the light was beautiful - the colours of Cuckmere Haven would have made me get out my paint palette and do my best to capture them (were I an artist and had I a paint palette).  There were little mushrooms everywhere, berries galore in shades of red and black, and wildflowers. There was a rabbit basking in the intermittent sunshine - lots of valiant dogwalkers - and butterflies - see The Captain's Log - all in the lovely September light, which was changing by the minute.

We took sandwiches and ate our lunch on one of the many memorial benches - all with stunning views overlooking the Channel.  I hope so much that all those who they memorialise, who all loved the coast there, will have a wonderful awakening when the time comes, and see the downland again.