Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Cough on! Ekatarina, Ashley and the cats.

One step forward and then a step back.
Life is like a dance, particularly when you've got a bug.
Yesterday we got through the day, being reasonably active. During the evening we both realised that our bodies were slumping and coughing fits became more frequent.

Today we have felt quite low.
We did a few routine things - ironing etc. Bill repaired my bedside table lamp and then prepared a brass blow torch for for sale.
After lunch we went to the hospital for my blood test, in preparation for my appointment with the endocrinologist next week.
Little Lisa took my blood - well, she was a little girl once. Well, so was I of course - but a lot longer ago than Lisa. I hadn't seen Lisa for many years (until a recent blood test) and maybe she was last seen in the classroom from my vantage point at the front of the class.
As a supply teacher I wouldn't claim to have had very much influence over my pupils, though I was aware that I was generally liked.
Lisa has grown up into an interesting person with an interesting way at looking at life and a passion for horses. It is always good to see how the pupils from long ago turned out.

A pupil from my first ever class, when I was just 21, appears very regularly on TV and radio as a travel and holiday adviser. Simon Calder landed the plum job of travel editor for The Independent newspaper and has been just about everywhere. He is in his mid 50s now.

Later on Bill and I managed to get 4 items listed on EBay. I will do some more tomorrow.

I played Scrabble again. My opponent had lots of luck. I got rotten letters and she managed to put Quacks on a triple word score. She beat me by 12 in the end.

I am determined that I will attack life again tomorrow - it is far more satisfying that way.

And now just a few more pictures from Wales of Ekatarina and one of Ashley.
Ekatarina has changed since we spent a lot of time with her last August.
That is just how it should be.
She has embraced an interest in the weird and wonderful - vampires and goths, and she likes to make a fashion statement, wearing black.

Here she is ready for school and displaying her new book. I don't think it is one that her teacher would encourage.
Ecky doesn't have much time for the teacher she has at the moment.
I did the plaits - how I love to do that. I would have liked plaits when I was young. I had a friend whose plaits were so long she could sit on the end of them!

Now she is enjoying her leisure wear - still a little pink you see.
She has a new doll bought at a good price in Home Bargains. Everything is a good price in there!

But prices are even better at car boot sales - Ecky bought 5 more of the dolls on the Sunday morning for the price of one in Home Bargains.

Wherever Ashley goes, Isaac is bound to follow and attempt to get as close as he can.
If Ashley sits, Isaac spreads himself all over as you see.
If Ashley comes into the room and stands, then Isaac jumps onto his shoulders and wraps his body round Ashley's neck!
Ashley you are a much loved cat owner.

There is another cat, Jacob.

Silly me - I wasn't going to put this picture on of Jacob; and then I felt guilty about leaving him out.
Jacob is softer really than Isaac and will take his comfort from whoever sits down and provides a lap.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Normal Monday and a look back to Wales.

Life begins to get back to normal.
I wish our voices would do the same!
I have coughed far less today but my voice has gradually faded down to a croaky whisper.
Yes, of course I have been talking more!

But I did spend a while this morning on my own. After 2 weeks away from the shop I felt the area needed freshening up a bit and so I moved everything around.
We have sold well enough in our absence - there has been a small profit for March.
It has felt good to be out and amongst friends and customers - though one (or maybe it was a gang of 2) walked out with a fairly high priced item of Monika's at about 2 o'clock.
It was quite large - and one wonders how they managed it. But determined thieves have their methods and it is almost impossible to stop them.
No doubt in our innocence we were concentrating on somebody intent on advice and help and ignored the "innocent" browser.
We shall be back there on Thursday to cover for Hilary. Normally she does more duties than she needs to and between us Bill and I do less than we should. It normally works out fine - unless Hilary is selling at the Newark Antiques Fair.
This evening I am coughing again - and I look forward to some sleep.

I am of course, still looking back to our Welsh trip and relishing good memories.

On the Saturday morning - after a boot sale and Bill's handwork putting up some shelves in the kitchen, we went with Ashley and Ekatarina to the beach where the River Ogwen flows into the sea.
There is a little nature reserve close by.
This area lies below the imposing Penrhyn Castle only 2 or 3 miles from Ashley's house.

The beach had an eerie feel to it - a wide expanse of pebbles and then sand, for the tide was out.
There were masses of standing wooden posts and old railway sleepers - all well weathered by the constant flow of tides in and out. Once they might have been solid breakwaters, but on that day there was an air of ruin about them and they could have been ruins of some long ago beach dwellers' huts.
Penrhyn Castle stands on the hill on the other side of the river.

Bill created an image which depicts exactly the almost ghostly feel.
He called it The Sentinels.

But there were only a group of very normal 21st century souls there on that day. Ekatarina has a bag for interesting stones and shells.

The Ogwen Estuary.

It is hard to say that the river meets the ocean because it is such a short distance to the land across The Menai Strait.
Bill's telephoto shot shows Beaumaris across the water on Anglesey

Ekatarina and I enjoyed throwing stones into the river - she loved to make a big splash.
The bridge was built in the 1800s for the Penrhyn Estate.
The Castle is a 19th century mock castle - but much admired nevertheless. Perhaps we will visit next time we are in Bangor - it is a National Trust property, so we wouldn't have to pay; and the web site says there are a railway museum, gardens and an adventure playground - so most of us would be happy!

We turned in from the beach to the small nature reserve. We left the serious photographer in the hide which looked out to the estuary and chose to spend a little while in the hide overlooking the ponds and bullrushes.
We didn't see very much really - ducks, coots, moorhens and lots of woodland birds which came to feed on the feeders put out by the warden.
Nobody spotted an elusive kingfisher.

A bullfinch - unless you tell me differently. I think he is a bit big and fat to be a chaffinch.

A mallard duck.

Lots of wild geese overshadowed by Penrhyn.
I think this picture needs clicking on to enlarge it - to see the geese.
Tomorrow I will share with you a few pictures of people just relaxing at home - Ekatarina mostly. She is the most lovely of us!

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Sunday nothing and 1978 adventure.

I hope I am now ready to start living again.
But each time just as I think that I start to cough violently!
I have had enough of nothingness now.
Tomorrow we will be at the shop. We must pack a box with things we would like to display on our shelves.

Today is sort of the first day of summer. The clocks moved forward an hour and we will suddenly start to enjoy lighter evenings.
And today was the first Formula 1 Grand Prix race of the season. Bill has, of course, watched it. Maybe results will turn out differently this year - but the one on pole position at the start also took the chequered flag, as is so usual.
I did a jigsaw puzzle - well 2 actually, whilst I watched the final day of the cycling world championships.
The 2 puzzles are in one box - and show The Houses of Parliament, London and the Sydney harbour Bridge. They date from the 1930s.

I don't know how chilly it has felt outdoors - haven't ventured out.

But we certainly ventured far on an August day in 1978.
We had not really intended to reach the summit of Snowdon.
We were camping near Conwy, having visited friends in Shropshire first. Ashley developed mumps in Shropshire and then Jamie went down with German measles in Conwy.
Surely wise parents would allow a 9 year old and a 7 year old to recover rather than march them to the top of the mountain.
But it seemed like it was their decision - mostly Jamie's, I guess.
Ashley has been to the top several times since - but Bill and I have not.

Here are the pictures which tell the story of that day 31 years ago. The pictures are scans of colour slides that Bill always took when we holidayed. The colours have faded a bit over the years.

We set off along the Miner's Track at about 1 0'clock . We decided to walk a way and then stop for the picnic we were carrying.

The Miner's Track was not such a smooth an easy path in those days.

There were lots of photos of this lake - Llyn Llydaw on the previous 2 blogs.

Our picnic spot. This was a little further along the track than Bill and I walked last week.

As we climbed the summit became shrouded with cloud and we were a little worried that we had been foolish.

But as we reached the top it all cleared to create ethereal, magical views.

Posing at the summit.
We saw the last train go down. We knew then that we would have to complete the walk back to the car. That was a little daunting. But also it was fantastic because the mountain was then almost empty.

We went down the Pig Track. It was rough and rocky.

Looking down on Llyn Llydaw.

A slim young man on the path!

We took pictures from down there last week - the ones with Snowdon reflections.
As we descended we did wonder what might have happened to the car. It was mid summer and we joined the many cars who had parked along the roadside because there was no room in the car park.
We knew that this was not legal but hoped there was safety in numbers - and after all we were not going to be very long.
By this hour - about half past eight we felt sure our car would stand alone; if it was there at all - what if it had been towed away?
Phew! The car was there with a parking ticket tucked under the wipers. We were so relieved to see it that the amount we had to pay seemed as nothing. And so it was compared with 21st century parking fines.
We picked up fish and chips close to the camp site and relaxed our aching legs.

The next morning Bill allowed our walking shoes some glory!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Still barking.... mad or cough? And Snowdonian blue skies

I feel quite cross!
I have an hour or so without coughing and start to believe that it is all over..... and then I start barking non stop again.
I feel so tired.
I know that a time in the fresh air wouldn't hurt - might even be beneficial, but that wind feels so cold. And I am quite sure it would not be beneficial to sit out at the track for about 7 hours tomorrow.
We have pulled out of that commitment.
I have described lots more items and my March EBay box is now empty. I must fill it up again with things for April that will need to be scanned.
Because I felt reasonably OK first thing I prepared dinner for this evening and for tomorrow - a huge meat and vegetable stew or "boeuf et saucisson aux moines" as we now call such hotpots, changing the main ingredient as appropriate. We had left over sausages, so they are in there this time.
It was a relief that all I had to do about half an hour ago was to turn on the oven and put the casserole pot in along with some roasting potatoes (also peeled this morning).
I seem to have watched a lot of skating today. This morning there was a repeat of Dancing on Ice - the Final which we missed last Sunday evening. This afternoon I saw the ice dance world championships. Good to see the skills of the trained skaters after the celebrities.
And so back to Snowdonia.
Was it a dream - a fit and non coughing me walking in the mountains under glorious blue skies?
No - our photos tell the story.
You might think that today's photos are rather like yesterday's - but without the people.
But we love them.

We were on the Miner's Track and in the distance you can see the ruins of some mine buildings - also reflected in the lake.

Now we have reached the ruins of the mine.
Through the window you can just make out a helicopter which was carrying building stone to repair the Pig Track above us.

Here is the helicopter again. Bill loved sharing the experience with a powerful machine - powerful, yet able to manoeuvre delicately along the mountain side.

This is just about the spot where we had our picnic in 1978.

And there is the summit of Snowdon.
I can still hear 9 year old Jamie telling us that it didn't look very far!
Tomorrow there will be pictures of us at the top.

Friday, March 27, 2009


This Friday and last Friday.

There is very little to say about today.
I have been coughing - lots. I thought, for a while, yesterday that I was throwing this bug off - but not so.
I am worn out with coughing.
I have sat and worked a little on EBay things. I have half a dozen books ready to list tomorrow afternoon and I have sold 5 books too.
Bill has not felt any better - we vie with each other to see who is feeling the worst! But he is certainly not coughing as much as me.
He has printed more photographs for our albums.
I have been excused doing a duty in the shop tomorrow - I think Stephen and Judy rapidly decided that they would rather manage without me than have me barking and spluttering all day.
Now we have to see if we might be better pulling out of our commitment to do timekeeping at the Crawley track on Sunday.
It is good to look back to this day last week - a glorious walk in Snowdonia. It was a special day.
I shall be putting pictures of Snowdon on the blog for 3 days! Today I have put together some of the pictures which show us walking and posing. They all convey the wonder and the majesty of the scenery.
Tomorrow I shall put some views on - just because we like them and then the next day I will delve into the archives for the 1978 pictures.

We parked in the car park at the top of Lanberis Pass. And set off along the Miner's Track, just as we did in 1978.
The path climbs little for the first couple of miles and there has been work done on the track since then.

The first little climb away from the car park.

Enjoying the exhilarating air and wide views.

Rocks, wild scenery and blue sky - who could ask for more?

Ashley strides off ahead of us towards the pointed peak of Snowdon - and yes, there is some snow at the top.

We all stopped for a while by Llyn Llydaw - the largest of the lakes beneath the Snowdon summit.

Just how far would we walk? The summit was so tempting.
But we were not equipped and I felt sure I would not be able to manage the very steep final part.

But Ashley decided to walk on - up to the third lake and maybe to join the Pig Track for the descent.
In the end he didn't go that far because he was worried about keeping us waiting - but I envied him the walk round the top lake.

Bill and I strolled back, looking over our shoulders for just one more glimpse.
What a wonderful day - rounded off with a cheap meal in a delightful cafe in Bethesda.

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