Wednesday 24 September 2008


Sunday was the inauguration of our new kitchen. Not quite finished, but finished enough to have a big family gathering to celebrate our son-in-law’s 40th birthday. It is sooooo good to be able to spread out again.

We now have our Holywood bedroom with en-suite wet room and dressing room, two finished bedrooms that are waiting to have furniture moved back into them and another bathroom (thank goodness!) Now we can at last have guests without them having to use our en-suite bathroom.

Phase II is to refurbish our lounge (we will use the family area of the kitchen to live in) and convert our existing bedroom into two bedrooms with en-suite wet rooms. Sounds great doesn’t it until you remember that we are in the middle of the scariest economic situation that probably mankind has ever experience!

We have always been famous for buying at the top of the market and selling at the bottom. This could be our biggest boo boo of all times! A wonderfully refurbished home worth zilch! Ah well! At least we will be comfortable.

But back to the “garden party”. The weather behaved impeccably. Horrendous rain and freezing temperatures all week and miraculously on the day of the party it was sunny and warm. The children had a wonderful time together on the swings, slide and trampoline. They laughed and eat until they felt sick and then came back for more. Thankfully no-one was actually sick until the next day! But I think that little boy just wanted to pull a sickie from school!

One of our great grandaughters refused to go home, citing the fact that two of our grandsons were still here. Her sister said she really wanted to stay with OG and me and she shyly admitted that was the case. I was so chuffed. They really love the space in the house and now we have the room they can stay over more often again.

OG enjoyed himself so much he was even tempted back onto the roller blades. Hodavethoughtit!? He is feeling quite good now that the chemo has finished which is quite a relief because we are going to have to take a trip to Switzerland soon to move our stuff out of the apartment.

Here comes the birthday boy.

Don't touch the cake!

I thought I told you not to touch that cake.

The golden oldies.

Clouds can be so interesting

and...........OG in action

And finally …. A Birth Certificate shows that we were born, a Death Certificate shows that we died, pictures show that we lived!

Sunday 21 September 2008


I thought this was good fun. I received it from a friend and was asked to personalise it and send out to my friends with a request to pass it back to me. I got some interesting replies. These are my answers.

1. What time did you get up this morning? 7am
2. Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Mamma Mia
4. What is your favorite TV show? Strictly Come Dancing
5. What do you usually have for breakfast? I never eat breakfast
6. What is your middle name? Valerie
7. What food do you dislike? Fish
8. What is your favorite CD at the moment? Eagles/Fleetwood Mac
9. What kind of car do you drive? Opal (joke,read blog)
10. Favorite sandwich? Spam, beetroot, mayo
11. What characteristic do you despise? Manipulation
12. Favorite item of clothing? Anything comfortable
13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? USA to see our friends
14. Are you an organized person? Sometimes
15. Where would you retire to? Home
16. Favorite birthday? My 100’th!
17. What are you going to do when you finish this? Prepare for a family "garden party"
18. Furthest place you are sending this? USA
19. Person you expect to send it back first? Jean
20. When is your birthday? 11th July
21. Morning person or a night person? Morning
22. What is your shoe size? 5
23. Pets? No (only OG!)
24. Exciting news you'd like to share with us? I’m twice betrothed (read the blog)
25. What did you want to be when you were little? A comptometer operator (they earned most money. That is comptometer, not computer!)
26. How are you today? Fine
27. What is your favorite flower? Rose
28. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? Today
29. What are you listening to right now? Glorious silence
30. What was the last thing you ate? Cheese & tom sandwich
31. Do you wish on stars? Yes, most definitely
32. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Bright pink
33. How is the weather right now? Sunny
4. Last person you spoke to on the phone? The blind man (as in man who fits them)
35. Favorite soft drink? Sprite
36. Favorite restaurant? Vinnie's (read the blog)
37. Hair color? Who knows!
38. What was your favorite toy as a child? A black baby doll
39. Summer or Winter? Summer
41. Chocolate or Vanilla? Both
42. Coffee or tea? Coffee
43. Do you want your friends to email you back? Yes
44. When was the last time you cried? Recently
45. What is under your bed? Carpet!
46. What did you do last night? Was proposed to by Rick Wakeman (read the blog). Actually it wasn't last night, it was Tuesday evening, but I'm still basking in the glory.

And finally…. Appreciate every single thing you have, especially your friends. Life is too short and friends are too few.

Wednesday 17 September 2008


Last night Rick Wakeman asked me to marry him. Proof? Here it is.

Our friend Christine, the bookshop owner, was surprised that OG was not with me. I told her he wouldn’t enjoy book signings but she insisted that he would have enjoyed Rick Wakeman. I told her that he didn’t read autobiographies either. Double wammy, but she simply would not listen.

After an excellent evening listening to Rick’s anecdotes she thanked him and said how much she enjoyed the book. In fact she defied anyone NOT to enjoy it. Well, this was challenging. I announced from my front row seat.

“My husband wouldn’t enjoy it” She looked a little nonplussed

“I’m sure he would”

“No he wouldn’t, he’s a grumpy old man” (hence OG – old grumpy)

At this Rick chimes in “is that his empty seat beside you then?”

We were having great banter when up pipes a voice

“Watch her, she’s my mum and tonight she is going to get you to propose to her”

He laughed “Ha ha ha – I don’t think so. I can’t afford another failed marriage”

“Oh that all right, she's rich, she comes with her own money and a safe full of Kugerrands”

I could have throttled her. Any right-minded person would realise that my Kugerrands are not kept in a safe, they are in a safety deposit box in Switzerland!

Well I don’t know if it was the lure of the Kugerrands or my own abundant charms, whatever, he did propose and I have the proof.

I have been the very grateful recipient a new award from Strawberry Jam Anne. Thank you
so much Anne

I would like to pass this on to :-

is that me? how did THAT happen?

Dotty Nana

Rural Villager

Confessions of a rotten correspondent

Monday 15 September 2008


Our eldest grandson is a chef at The Three Horseshoes in Maddingley, Cambridge. If you are ever in the area call in and say Vinnie’s Nan sent you, I'm sure he would love to see you. It is an amazing restaurant which this weekend received a glowing review from the Weekend Guardian

His boss trained at the River Café and apart from being a highly acclaimed chef himself, is also passionate about passing his skills on to his talented team. All chefs have a few days training at the River Café and then regularly go out with Richard on away day visits to sample the culinary delights of the great restaurants throughout the country.

A couple of weeks ago they went to in Islington, then on to in Old Street via a pub in Farringdon. Next month they go to California for 10 days. Nice work if you can get it.

Now I could go on about Vinnie all day. I may be biased but he is such a great guy and I’m not the only one that thinks so. The ladies go wild for him. He is 28 years old, extremely good-looking, sensitive, caring, not at all arrogant, a wonderful cook and a good housekeeper. In other words ladies a very eligible singleton who loves his Nan.

OK, here is an example of how much he loves me. I have two great passions - bananas and beetroot. Whenever he visits he bring me copious supplies. A couple of months ago I had a dreadful experience. The supermarkets ran out of pickled beetroot because of last year's wet summer. Mon dieu. Vinnie to the rescue. With his own fair hands he pickled beetroot harvested (do you harvest beetroot?) from his own garden and sent it over with my granddaughter this weekend. No greater love hath man than the love he has for his grandma.

And while I’m bragging I have another grandson, Morgan, who is headed for the big time too. He graduated from Edinburgh University with an MA(Hons) in economics, went to work for a year in the City of London, then on to Cambridge University for year where he graduated with an M.Phil, worked as an analyst for another year in the City while he waited for his placement on the RBS graduate programme.

This week he and 20 others on the programme are being flown to Edinburgh for a black tie dinner at which they will be introduced to the Chief Executive. (Wow!) Morgan is also single ladies although he is no good around the house and can’t cook. But one day he should have to where-with-all to “buy in” all the household help any future wife’s pretty little heart should desire. But more important, like Vinnie, he is an all round “Mr Nice Guy”.

I should also say that I am equally as proud of all the other children who are a great credit to the family. They are all caring, wonderful individuals and so good looking every last one of them but this particular blog is especially for the boys.

I sometime have to pinch myself to think that these two talented boys and all the other great children are of my bloodline.

And finally……….I believe that credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.

Monday 8 September 2008


When OG has a migraine coming on he can sometimes become discombobulated and forget words. As soon as he suspects this is happening he tests himself by remembering certain things, like the children’s names, before taking a migraine tablet.

So … in the car on the way to the oncologist he blurts out “What’s the name of this car?”

Drat, I think, he’s got a migraine coming on. “Opal”.

“No it’s not” he said with attitude (bad attitude can be another sign of an impending migraine)

“OK, tone it down. Don’t get shirty with me.”

“I’m not, but I’m just telling you that it’s not an Opal”

“Well what is it then, smart ass?”

“I don’t know”

“Well you don’t know, and I don’t know so get off my case – hang on a minute I’ve just remembered it’s an Audi”

“I knew it wasn’t an Opal”

“Well, I was close. It’s got four letters and starts with a vowel”.

The visit to the oncologist was pretty much a mixed blessing. He said he was not going to continue with the chemo because it was knocking OG about too much for a very limited benefit.

The prognosis is that there was a 50% chance of the cancer returning and as the result of chemo this has been reduced to 45%. If the lymphatic system is affected it could return anywhere including the lungs and if cancer is in the pelvic region it would be inoperable. Pretty bleak news but in fairness this is what he has said all along.

We thought that being told the chemo was over would be a relief, but strangely enough it has left us with feelings of fear again. I guess while the chemo was being administered something was happening but now we are back to the waiting game.

He is having a CT scan on Thursday followed by an appointment with the oncologist on 17th October. We should then know more. Hopefully it will show that there is no cancer present or it maybe that a course of radiotherpay is recommended.

And finally …. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Friday 5 September 2008


OG and I have been following the development of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN with interest and concern for many years.

So, if you hear a bump in the night between next Wednesday and Christmas it may be that the 10,000 scientists and engineers from 85 countries who have worked on it have been successful in discovering the “God particle”, re-creating the “big bang” or creating a black hole that will tear the Earth apart.

And, 19 years after the www was developed at CERN by Tim Berners Lee, a new super computing grid built to disseminate vast amounts of data to scientist world wide will make the internet obsolete.

So, as they say at CERN …. THE ADVENTURE BEGINS.

So, as I say in Lincolnshire ..... did we learn nothing from the Garden of Eden?

A brave new world? We shall see.

And finally ..... never test the depth of the water with both feet

Wednesday 3 September 2008


This time last year I had just returned from spending the summer in Switzerland where my two great granddaughters went to summer school and I was preparing for my Orient Express trip to Istanbul to be followed by a trip to New England in the fall.

OG and I had also been to Stockholm and Northern Ireland in the spring peppered with the odd visit to Scotland and several trips to Switzerland. In the middle of this manic travel schedule June 2007 saw the start of our house renovation project.

OG’s troubles started in July last year. He felt unwell and had a low groin pain. It was diagnosed as prostatitus and treated unsuccessfully with anti-biotic. By the time we went to America he was feeling gruesome and we had to return early.

One year later. OG was eventually diagnosed as having bladder cancer and is now several organs lighter and being treated with chemo, (well, he did say that he wanted to lose weight), travel is temporarily not an option, we are in the process of selling the Swiss apartment, and Phase I of our amazing renovation is nearing completion just as house prices slide.

Moral of the story? Be careful what you wish for and Carpe diem. Have a good day y'll.

And finally ... it's always darkest before dawn, so if you're going to steal your neighbour's newspaper, that's the time to do it.………….