Tuesday, 31 August 2010


A beautiful sunny day, with a cold wind, ends our summer.  The Channel is blue today and earlier was covered with silvery sparkles.   The Captain has been out butterflying while Audrey and I went out on the door to door work.  We had no problems parking  - and I had one lovely return visit.  I placed a magazine with a very friendly lady who wished us well with our work, and with a young man who we had obviously got out of the bath.  He didn't seem to be wearing much, so we didn't keep him at the door, in the cold wind.   I need to get back to my return visit asap.  Looking forward to a quiet night in, over a cottage pie supper (made with the left over beef chili), and - in another ending - watching the last ever episode of The Bill.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Bank Holiday Weekend

A quiet weekend - a sunny day - lovely light - people out on the green, the playground and the beach.  Captain Metal Detector was out detectoring today, but discovered no Viking hoards.   I hobbled off to the meeting - foot very painful to stand on but I could drive OK thank goodness - have spent the rest of the day on the sofa trying to keep my feet up and reduce the swelling.  Captain MD helped himself to a cold chicken dinner when he came in and made us cups of tea.  So glad I got to the meeting though.  The speaker talked a lot about Bible prophecy - especially the amazing prophecy about the fall of the mighty city of Babylon - the Bible even names Cyrus as the one who would conquer it.  I am hoping for a quiet week - but one in which I can get out on the field service a bit more than usual.  Apparently the supermarkets were very busy on Friday - people stocking up as if the shops were closing for a week.  I forgot all about the Bank Holiday and failed to shop, but we have been living happily enough off the chicken I roasted, along with the pork chipolatas.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

A feeling of Autumn in the air

The last few days of summer.  Its starting to feel like Autumn now, and there is that lovely Autumn light as I look out over the Channel this morning.  

Summers don't last the way they used to.      And they don't make mirrors the way they used to either. They gave me a much better reflection 25 years ago.

Siwe came down for lunch and left at teatime. She looked well and happy and it was lovely to see her - it brought back memories of some very happy times in Saudi Arabia - and she brought news of everyone too.  I spent my last full day in Saudi with Siwe and all my special friends.   We then had supper at Jackie's, but  in the small hours of this morning i was struck down with a painful arthritis attack, and my foot still hasn't recovered, so I am housebound today, or at least till the swelling goes down and I can walk properly again.

I must take a moment to research the John Clare quote for Autumn.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Hello Shantha!

I just heard that Shantha is reading my blog and also enjoying Captain Butterfly's photos.

Shantha and I spent a lot of time together when I was in Expatland. She was often at our house as I was at hers.  And i hope I will see her here one day.

Shantha's was the last house we stopped off at, apart from Bob's, on our last day.   We said we would leave her our bedspread. It was quite new, we had bought it in Oz on one of our trips, but we knew we wouldn't need it here. So we left it in her garden (she was at work).

We were still giving away stuff right up to the last.  Earlier that day Juliano had bought some guys and a pick up and taken what was left of the furniture - we just kept some plastic garden chairs and a plastic table, although we really had no time to sit down.  And Mike (he and Kim drove us over the Causeway later) took the food from our fridge and kitchen cupboards.  

Its frightening how much you collect in 25 years.

Siwe is arriving today. She was supposed to come yesterday but couldn't make it.   We are all going to Jackie's tonight for a Chinese takeaway. 

Monday, 23 August 2010

The sea, the sea - and Siwe

The Channel is wonderful - pearly gray with white frills until the horizon where there is a line of pale turquoise - the sun is shining but I think the storm is returning as everything is blowing and waving about - the little train has just gone along the front - like a clockwork toy train.
Heard from Bob Lamming today (via email) and Siwe rang!  She plans to come down on Thursday and will ring and let us know what time her train arrives so we can pick her up at the Station.  She will stay the night and come with me to the Kingdom Hall on Thursday evening.  So I do hope she makes it. 
Captain B has been out chasing the Brown Hairstreak herds and has captured some lovely images of them which should turn up on his blog today.
I have been doing housework - washing all the sheets and duvet covers from the last visitors, ironing, making a mushroom soup for tonight, studying - and couch potatoeing in front of Come Dine With Me, which was a bit depressing as one of the ladies was so rude and unpleasant.
I have a book in mind to write.  It will be called: "Couch Potatoeing Up Everest" - and it could be a best seller IF I can find the team of super strong guys to push the couch all the way to the top - and keep me supplied with nice hot cups of tea and old episodes of Come Dine with Me while doing so.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Battening down the hatches

Col has moved all the plants to the inner wall of the balcony as a big storm is forecast to hit the South Coast tonight.  It has been grey and rainy all day, with a distant flash of lightning.   And when Ronald and I were out on the door to door work yesterday morning we got rather soggy.  And as I am not a well coordinated person at the best of times, having me, plus Bible plus magazines PLUS umbrella turning up on your doorstep must be rather like an episode of Mr.Bean.  I can't say I am looking forward to the Winter but am hoping for a lovely Autumn.
I am very tired and have only been doing the basic housework, and some preaching and studying, and i got to the Meeting this morning. Sat next to Frances and we compared symptoms.
What did Eve think she was doing when she ate that fruit and cut herself - and all of us, her children - off from her Creator, our Source of life?
El Capitano Butterfly is watching a programme about Rwandan gorillas at the moment - too heartrending for me - but it does remind me of what the animal creation has suffered and is suffering because of that terrible decision our first parents made in Eden.
Not for too much longer though!   Paradise will be restored.

Friday, 20 August 2010


We have had a summer of visitors from our years in Expatland - some now retired like ourselves.  Some not.  Julia and Lorri still work there.  Lorri came over with Linda for a day.  I gave them a trio of pork products with salad for lunch and Lorri took us out for dinner at our Local, which was a great treat as we don't eat out a lot these days.  She is the same as ever, full of energy and never seems to look any older.
Roger has been staying for a couple of days.  He seems to be thriving in retirement, even though he had a horrendous time driving down here - due to roadworks and CONES.   I did make him his fish pie and he repaid me by having 3 helpings.  Us cooks can be sure someone has really liked it if they come back for thirds.  Jackie and Wayne and family came over for dinner last night, so we had 8 at table - the most we have entertained here apart from a couple of family get togethers.
Roger left after breakfast, the washing has been started and it feels very quiet.  I am planning a very quiet day, but El Capitano Butterfly will be off looking for the brown hairstreak if the weather holds up.  Its looking cloudy right now.
There is a definite touch of Autumn in the air.  I must start looking for my John Clare quote for September.
I love Autumn but it also makes me feel sad - but its a transcendent sort of sadness - a pleasant kind of melancholy - I am sure some poet somewhere has put it beautifully - maybe John Clare...?

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Waiting for Roger

Hall cleaning done - me and Ronaldo, plus the wonderful Captain Butterfly who fluttered in just as we were starting.  Took Ronald back home and we dropped the keys off at Mick and June's en route.  Roger rang at lunchtime saying he would be here this evening.  Everything is now done and ready - and there is a large fish pie in the fridge for tomorrow.  We will have cheese and biscuits tonight.

I hope the Kingdom Hall is OK - neither Ronald or I had ever cleaned it unsupervised before.  It took us an age to find the vacuum for a start.

The Captain was out hunting the wild Hairstreak - some seen, none photographed - they wouldn't come down from their tree tops.  However he and Neil did see a Vapourer moth!

Could it be our Vic?

Monday, 16 August 2010

Hall Cleaning...

I realised, with a terrible feeling of guilt that I have never helped with the cleaning of the Kingdom Hall in this group.  When I was with the other group we did it after our Tuesday night meeting at the Hall. The elder in charge would put a duster in my hand and point me at something and that would be it.  No thought required.   Anyway, Ronaldo et moi are doing it on Wednesday - and as there are only 2 of us, Captain Butterfly has very nobly volunteered to come and help which will make such a difference (he has no religious beliefs, but likes the Witnesses and appreciates the good effect the teaching has on me).  We have to remember to drop the key off afterwards.
Will we?   Will have to pray about it, as I remember the days when they used to make hotel keys so big you needed 6 porters to take them to your room, but we still managed to arrive home with the key in our pocket.
An interesting weekend - we went to Jill and Tom's wonderful rambling cottage for dinner for the first time.  We hope they will come to our flat soon - we have to work out a date to coordinate with Jackie.   Captain Butterfly whisked into his cocoon on Saturday night and emerged early Sunday morning as  Captain Metal Detector and found an old farthing.  Lovely meeting at the Hall, of course.  And I managed to put in an hour plus on the field service afterwards.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Mike and Kim

Mike and Kim spent the day with us yesterday, which was very good of them as they were in the UK for less than a week. They look well, seem happy and got me thinking back to us as a young married couple.  They have so much ahead of them.  They took us out for a pub lunch, then we had coffee and pudding back here on the balcony looking out over a calm English Channel.
I often think back to the last night in Bahrain - after 25 years in the Middle East - with Mike and Kim at Senor Paco's, with a pitcher of Margaritas.
I had a troubled night, not able to sleep for worrying about the lung test this morning. I had assumed they would put me on a walking machine and I was worried that they might set it too fast and I would collapse after 2 minutes.  Or, even worse, they would set it on 'Elderly Tortoise' and I would still collapse after 2 minutes. 
However, it was done by the very nice lady who has done all my lung tests so far - and was a matter of being metered up and walking faster and faster up and down the hospital corridor.  So I needn't have got myself in such a state.
Its a special day for Field Service tomorrow, with 2 meetings at the Kingdom Hall. Will I get to both?  Or not? And then to Jill and Tom's in the evening.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

The Kraken Wakes!!

Vic has woken up!  I checked on him this morning and as I carefully and slowly lifted the lid of his box something flew at me.  I hastily put the lid back and rushed off to wake the Captain, who hurtled out of bed, ran to the box, cameras at the ready, opened it, and found nothing there beyond the apparently slumbering cocoon.

'False alarm - never mind, it was time to get up', he said with his profile of weary patience featuring strongly.

'No' I said 'I did see something flying. He IS awake.'

I couldn't understand how he had got out of the box which had only been opened for a second.  But as I looked round I saw Vic the fully formed Vapourer Moth panicking round our ceiling.

He has now settled and the Captain is up a stepladder photographing him.  So in time a photo should appear on this blog.  He ought to have a fine intellectual forehead and an air of competence given he managed to seize the almost impossibly tiny opportunity to get out of the box. 

How strange is must be for them to suddenly be flying - and all this space.  We probably ought not to give him a chance to get out of the flat till much later in the day.  If he has any designs on our carpets, he will at least be able to get a good feed in before he goes.

Or perhaps he has already done that in his caterpillar self?

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

My hometown - and what is 'ponticum'?

Here is a Betjeman poem about my northern hometown - it brings my childhood back vividly - so much of it was spent in Broomhill.  But what is the 'ponticum' that edges the 'driveways of gravel'?
An Edwardian Sunday, Broomhill, Sheffield by John Betjeman
High dormers are rising
So sharp and surprising,
And ponticum edges
The driveways of gravel;
Stone houses from ledges
Look down on ravines.
The vision can travel
From gable to gable,
Italianate mansion
And turretted stable,
A sylvan expansion
So varied and jolly
Where laurel and holly
Commingle their greens.

Serene on a Sunday
The sun glitters hotly
O'er mills that on Monday
With engines will hum.
By tramway excursion
To Dore and to Totley
In search of diversion
The millworkers come;
But in our arboreta
The sounds are discreeter
Of shoes upon stone -
The worshippers wending
To welcoming chapel,
Companioned or lone;
And over a pew there
See loveliness lean,
As Eve shows her apple
Through rich bombazine;
What love is born new there
In blushing eighteen! 
Your prospects will please her,
The iron-king's daughter,
Up here on Broomhill;
Strange Hallamshire, County
Of dearth and of bounty,
Of brown tumbling water
And furnace and mill.
Your own Ebenezer
Looks down from his height
On back street and alley
And chemical valley
Laid out in the light;
On ugly and pretty
Where industry thrives
In this hill-shadowed city
Of razors and knives. 

It is raining today - a good steady drizzle - just what we need.   I was out on the door to door preaching work with Jenny this morning and we had one very good call.  We got a bit soggy round the edges though.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Talking to Anne

Just talked to Anne in South Africa - she sounds so well and happy.  We are going to have an email discussion of Isaiah - a book full of some of the greatest poetry ever written - which it would be, given that it is inspired by the Creator of poetry Himself.   Clody and i had a chat via that little box thing that comes up on the screen, so I caught up with the news from Expatland.
Had a lovely time on the door to door work yesterday with Jean - we met a pretty young girl from Poland who is working over here for the summer to finance her time at Uni back home.  She was very friendly and accepted a 'What Does the Bible Really Teach?' from us.
It made me think of my faraway youth when I used to commute into London, work all day, come back and work all evening in a local restaurant.  It makes me almost cry with tiredness to think about doing something like that now.
Jacks came round for curry and we had a nice evening - lots of laughing about nothing very much.
And Captain Butterfly had his metal detector hat on today and has come back looking very sunburnt and with a silver coin and some buckles - and a moaning minnie!   I thought he was making an accusation when I came into the kitchen and he said 'Moaning Minnie', but he was just holding up this special bullet to show me.
At least that is his story...
Lovely meeting at the Hall this morning - the brother giving the public talk was both funny and upbuilding. And the view on the drive back!   The Channel was a pale blue - like a mirror - it was so still.  The sky was bright blue, with lots of fluffy white August clouds, and there was a long line of yachts perpendicular to the beach - sort of slanted across the sea.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Cissbury Ring

Shopped in the morning - Tesco's with Captain B - and we went to Cissbury Ring this afternoon.  It was overcast and drizzly - not nearly enough rain for what we need - butterflies about - plus the beautiful downland wild flowers - saw harebells for the first time in years - a flower I remember from my childhood - how long the summers were then - made the curry for tomorrow - lamb dopiaza - plan to make a veggie curry to go with it, plus the small small things - chutneys, mint yoghurt, chopped bananas, etc - tomorrow - after going out in the doors - hand bad today though - arthritis - hope will be able to drive tomorrow - finally posted my letters to the New York Times journalist and editor.  Will they reply?

Just remembered - nothing in for pudding!    Will have to rack brains (both braincells) and shop tomorrow after the field service.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

John Clare on August

I forgot to include the John Clare take on July - even though his 'Shepherd's Calendar' contains two poems on July.   His 'August' is all about harvest.

It begins:
"Harvest approaches with its bustling day
The wheat tans brown and barley bleaches grey..."

Interesting that the barley crop bleaches as it ripens.  Jesus, who used many illustrations from the world of the farmer, said:

"Do you  not say that there are yet four months before the harvest comes?  Look! I say to you: Lift up your eyes and view the fields, that they are white for harvesting." 

White for harvesting.

He was of course speaking of a great spiritual harvest.   The gathering in of those who are the first fruits to God, the annointed ones, or the saints - those who would rule from heaven with Jesus.  

Then John Clare gives a touching and troubling picture of how the children of the poor worked alongside their parents in the harvest fields.

"The ruddy child nursed in the lap of care
 In toils rude strife to do his little share
 Beside his mother poddles oer the land
 Sun burnt and stooping with a weary hand
 Picking his tiney glean of corn or wheat
 While crackling stubbles wound his little feet..."

And now we are just off to harvest our lunch from the local chippie.   Oh dear.  How feeble that sounds.

On our afternoon walk - quite local today - we found a field becoming ready for harvest, so I have asked for a photo which should appear on the blog at some stage.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

A new fan for Barbara Pym

Bea borrowed 'Some Tame Gazelle' when she last stayed and said she loved it, didn't want it to end, and wants to buy more Pym.  Gazelle sometimes made me laugh out loud and I think Bea found the same.  I have suggested my other two Pym favourites: 'Excellent Women' and 'Quartet in Autumn'.  

Audrey and I went on the doors this morning - we did half our time on not at homes and the rest on finishing up her July magazine route.  I am still a somewhat nervous and uncertain driver, but I always ask Jehovah to help get us there and back safely.   Col has been out and got some wonderful shots for his blog today - still under production - but see the Captain's log later. 

Monday, 2 August 2010

The new Lidls (and Linda)

We shopped at our new Lidls today with Linda.   She found the lights she wanted there - and she also found the sun shade she wanted for her car in our 10 riyal shop - for only a pound.  We hope to see her in two weeks when she will bring Lori over for lunch.   Lori is visiting from Expatland, so we shall catch up on all the news.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

An ordinary weekend

The Channel is splendid this afternoon - telling us of its Grand Creator.  Its sunny again, after some much needed rain.   A lovely meeting at the Kingdom Hall this morning - the public speaker reminded us of how much Jehovah, the true God, cares for each one of us.   I felt so happy being there, even though I was tired after my latest arthritis attack.  I wasn't able to go out or do anything yesterday - just lay on the couch, keeping my ankle up, sleepy with pain medication.   I read 'The Murder of Roger Ackroyd' (Agatha Christie).  I could remember who did it - I suppose its one of her most startling solutions (a clue, it wasn't the butler) - but not how he/she did it, or why.
Captain B stayed at home with me and we watched the Athletics.
Came back from the Hall, via giving Joyce a lift to her friends for lunch, to find that Col had plates of salad all prepared for us.  Which was a lovely surprise.
I have done very little this afternoon beyond make the rhubarb from Maggie's garden into a crumble. 
Linda is coming over tomorrow.
Its seems as if the older i get, the happier i get.  I hope this is the same for everyone. And I started from a happy childhood too - I didn't like school, ever - but the rest was great.
But growing older does, or should, make us think about how short it all is.  And why.  Now i must look out a John Clare quote for August.  I think I forgot in July.