Tuesday, 8 November 2011

There will come a time...

Love Mumfords, love this.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Alex Cherney's Ocean Sky

In my travels on Twitter - which I love for world news and friendly chatter, I came across a link - from the QI Elves - which led me to Alex Cherney's "Ocean Sky".

This is an award-winning short sequence of time-lapse photography, which he shot from a beach in Southern Australia. It is possibly the most beautiful film I have ever seen.

What an insight for an average star-gazing northern hemisphere dweller like me.
You can actually SEE the Milky Way...
Bravo Alex. And thank you.

Ocean Sky from Alex Cherney on Vimeo.


... How much more remains unseen?

Friday, 17 June 2011

Looking into the Light

Like my sunflower avatar
I'm always looking for the light.
Aren't we all?

Thank God:
for counselling and clarity
for Mum and Dad
for my three independent super hero Sons

Shutting up and
Pressing on..

Saturday, 21 May 2011


The Gipsy Kings - my secret soul brothers.

Volare, cantare nel blu... To fly, to sing in the blue sky...

This song means a lot to me. It's so joyful, it shouts delight in the moment and rejoicing together (and - and - ssh! - it always stirs my secret flamenco dancer ambitions. Yes. Two big left feet though. Sigh.)

For Rob, who means a whole lot more to me, who I miss with all my heart, for him I post this today - his anniversary - with the happiest memories - of
great times together, of being ourselves and of oh - delight!

I find it better to laugh and dance than to cry these days (although sometimes it's bloody difficult).

I do think he would laugh heartily at the irony of today being Rapture Day !

For all who love and miss him and carry him in heart - respect to you.

Robert Chambers
2nd January 1964 - 21st May 2010

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Mothers' Day

Joyful picture!
(from the Daily Telegraph)

With much love to my own Mum - who taught me how to mother. Happy Mothers' Day Mum!

And for my own three sons (Aw, soppy Mum! Sorry lads!) - Just to remind you - each individual one of you - Guess how much I love you! (OK, OK, I'll leave it there -)


Sunday, 20 March 2011


Today I've been flying from Biggin Hill, in a light aircraft, flown by Tom, my eldest son. He's training for a private pilot's licence.

In the back seat I was two things - silent while he did his thing - and terribly proud. Boy to man. His own man.

(And a darn sight more focussed and competent than his mother has ever been!)

Go Tom. Keep being yourself.

And thanks for showing me the world from above and the sun shining above the clouds. It was magic...

Hooray for You!!!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Focus and Balance

Adi Holzer
"Life" (Like Tightrope Walking)

Great picture, great artist. Inspiring. Teaches me that to perform something tricky it's necessary to carry a (balanced) weight. There's no end to learning. At least, I expect not...


Sunday, 9 January 2011

A Flash of Spring

19 Days into Winter and hey, today a Flash of Spring. Hooray.

I've just tidied my garden after the snow and the ice. Leaves from the park mulched the new plantings very well. I had feared that the old hydrangea in deep shade by the garage was a goner. I've been loathe to go near it until today...

You see, I kind of bonded with that hydrangea when I moved in here almost two years ago. It was a cheery and spirited little fellow I thought, with only one flower-head - struggling in poor soil - I top dressed it, staked it, watered it often, chatted to it... As you do... And it took off tremendously. Lush dark leaves and a bloom on every stem.

After the snow I looked at it and it looked at me. Curtains I sniffed. But no! Today up close and personal I see a mass of fat buds on every stem. Nature triumphs.

Soon it'll probably snow once more! But - a day like today will keep me going for some time yet.

I'm resting up till I start working again. Enjoying being a home parent for the kids. Redecorating and taking time to let this last year settle and a New Year begin. I miss Rob constantly. That won't change. But my sense of purpose already has. Life is right here, right now...

Also, on a less serious note. My feet have shrunk. In all respects. I can only put this down to my continued accelerated ageing. To, shiver, what the dentist calls - bone loss - ulp. It became apparent when wearing Christmas present socks (thanks Mum!) - and I looked at these new thin flippers on the end of my normal-sized legs and thought - hello, what happened here? Whose feet are those?...
It's Nature again I guess :-)

Friday, 10 December 2010

International Human Rights Day

Today is International Human Rights Day

For me this means teamwork. Life isn't a competition. It isn't about the survival of the fittest. It's about all of us: weak and strong. Shoulder to shoulder. Living Together.

Speaking and being Heard.
Listening and Empathising.
Going forwards through Education, Information, Understanding and Choice.

I'm not a politician. I'm an average approachable human being that bobs along on the fringe observing - and who likes people. I do. In all shapes and sizes. I like manners too. And humour.

I also need space for silence and reflection. Dignity and respect. Safety and a place to thrive. And be Me.

Looking at the bigger picture of life, aged 46: knowing birth, a life span and death - As I see (I think blindingly) what matters to me: inclusion, listening, information, education - I wonder - hey, what matters to you? In the bigger picture?

It's all about having a voice. And being heard. Isn't it?

Here's to Freedom. Here's to Living the Life we're all Entitled to. Here's to Us...

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Onwards and Upwards

It's too wet to garden at home today. This is a shame as I am not working, have no kids here and have - hmm - approx 40 new plants to plant! My workplace has a half-price sale you see.

Apart from the bargain aspect and the cheering self up aspect - it's hard not to indulge your natural plant-collecting urges when you are surrounded by respectable people of a certain age darting past you clutching armloads of azaleas and mumbling: Ooh, and look over there, I've always wanted a daphne odora...

It's Swoop and Swipe Time!

As a result of my spree on Friday, my van, has developed its own micro-climate, it's misted up on the inside as the plants breathe and grow within it. It's a jungle in there, complete with snails and spiders...!

Raining raining - I mean I don't mind getting wet, naturally, but the ground is very muddy. And I have just had a bath and sparkled myself up. An unusual enough occurence these days, ahem...

Anyway, I've a nice mug of tomato soup! The week's washing is done and drying. I'm snuggled up with a book and awaiting the return of the kids. Tomorrow's another day. Love to all.

Monday, 8 November 2010


I look at my blog this evening and I think - Kate, what are you trying to say? That you live in a comical cheerful yellow world? That everything is light and easy and daft. Hello, what? What bloody nonsense is this?
Well of course I don't. None of us live in our blog worlds do we - most of us live in mundane reality. Blogging is merely a projection of ourselves - an image we can tinker with - airbrush and edit -

My reality is a fair bit dimmer and darker. It has great bits, sure, full of kids, family and friends. There's work, there's chatter. And then there's great long spells like now - spent in a chair in the kitchen, silent, alone and trying to figure it all out. Trying to reconfigure my life.

My man's gone. I'm facing imminent redundancy. I have a lot of stamina but no energy anymore, am generally easily baffled and confused - and I have 3 kids. Who need me. To be strong and ever present.

I've divorced, I've moved - set up a new home from scratch. Found a change of career and full time work after 13 years at home. Found Rob, lost him. All in three years.

I can't keep going I think. I know. It's time to stop.

Then I see my eldest son, who lives with his dad mostly, has sent me this poem. Which he's come across at school and he likes.
It comes out of the blue in an email.
And I remember my reasons to be.
And I send a copy to my own ever present and beloved mum.
And I press on.

(It is Untitled):

Mother, any distance greater than a single span
requires a second pair of hands.
You come to help me measure windows, pelmets, doors,
the acres of the walls, the prairies of the floors.

You at the zero-end, me with the spool of tape, recording
length, reporting metres, centimetres back to base, then leaving
up the stairs, the line still feeding out, unreeling
years between us. Anchor. Kite.

I space-walk through the empty bedrooms, climb
the ladder to the loft, to breaking point, where something
has to give;
two floors below your fingertips still pinch
the last one-hundredth of an inch...I reach
towards a hatch that opens on an endless sky
to fall or fly.

Simon Armitage

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Something to Look Forward to at last!!

But firstly I must mention age. My own -

You see, when I was young, people thought I was older than I was. When I grew older, people took me for younger than I am. Handy that. It's to do with having a calm exterior and a steady face I think. Hmm. Lately, since Rob died, I have unfortunately undergone accelerated ageing. Without and within. Recently in fact a dear little old lady asked me how many grandchildren I had.. Gosh!

Anyway, accelerated ageing has made me very slow, possibly calmer too. I no longer worry much, I no longer bellow at the kids (as much!), I prioritise. I face life on a does it really matter? basis. Good things are small things. Being together. Laughing. Getting organised. Being in the sunlight - enjoying a book. The list is endless...

So, what is there to look forward to though, in my increasingly older age?

Well, at last, I've found something.





My three wheeled epiphany follows a great laugh at work, discussing the best present you ever received as a child. Trikes came top of the list for 40 somethings!

Well, I suggested, why not revert to trikes post 50? Forget bikes and lycra and road rage - Look at all these wide empty cycle lanes on the roads now. Think trike! greater stability, room for a devil-may-care passenger perched on the back, scope for customisation - I was planning winged mudguards for starters - and oh boy, what beats the thrill of cornering on two wheels...


Yes, I know. Big Ears had a trike.

And I know my kids are going to explode with laughter when they read this...

Ah well. I still want one ;-)

Thursday, 12 August 2010


Searching, through books for meaning - as ever. Have a problem? There'll be the answer in a book.
I'm in a dark and lonely place in life. Feeling old.
Anyway. Bibliophile me. Read this first on a Christmas card, heard it in my head lately, pinned it down just now.
This letter was written by Fra Giovanni Giocondo. An Italian priest. He was 80 when he wrote this almost 500 years ago. Imparting a lifetime's wisdom to a friend to give them comfort and inspiration. It's timeless and universal advice. And a pep talk!
I like it very much -

(Typing interrupted by small son asking: "Mum, mum - what are moths afraid of?" Me answering vaguely: " Oh, sunshine?"... Small son doing bored face, me inspired: "Farts?" He chortles. I type on :-)

Written on Christmas Eve in 1513.

A Letter to a Friend

“I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see. And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there. The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.

And so, at this time, I greet you, not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and shadows flee away.”

Fra Giovanni Giocondo

Saturday, 10 July 2010

36 hours of Peace and Quiet

I've finished work for the day. I am quite dirty and very brown - in key areas only though. My legs for example are snow-white. And frankly they are going to stay that way. I am not doing shorts, nope :-)

My kids are at their dad's for the weekend. The older two have just emailed me a cheap but complicated Amazon order for plugs and wires. I believe they are in the middle of an adventurous XBox/laptop project. I'm not too sure, but I'm tremendously proud of them for doing it.

I've been reading a lot about grief this last week. (I did contact Cruse but they were Not Helpful - I spoke to a lady who appeared to have bereavement fatigue. Well, it's lucky I have a sense of humour still! It was almost comical! And in fact, I'm not really very good at opening up anyway, especially about something so painful. So it's probably just as well.)
So, what I read - There are no rules in grief. It is different for everyone, but there is common ground. I expect that is blindingly obvious really but because I'm mixed up and confused it's validating to see it spelt out.
There is commonly:
  • Pain
  • Pining
  • Confusion
  • Numbness
  • Anger
  • Fear of losing anyone else you love
  • A sense of futility
  • Craziness - irrational thinking
  • The need to talk to your lost one
  • A sense of their presence
On that last one, I see Rob everywhere, for a split second, in the distance. Feel him nearby, in the same room, but without seeing him. When I'm happy it's a nice feeling. When I'm down, it bloody hurts. Tricks of the mind.

But, but I remember - Rob had the same experience after his dog (the actual one and only Mutley) died last year. He looked for him, thought he saw him, felt him nearby too. And he cried sometimes when that happened. (I really loved him for that.)

I've also learned :
  1. over time you change - significant personal growth occurs -
  2. It is recommended to express your feelings, be it verbally, creatively or in writing - a journal, letters to your dead loved person
Well I do write a lot. When I can, but, privately. And it isn't all sad, a lot of it is happy and funny. I like to think he can read it. No forget the 'like to think' - I think he can. (See, irrational thinking/craziness) Somehow, somewhere he can read it.
He always read everything I wrote - and I read everything he wrote. He wrote a lot! It was one of our things - writing. Listening to people and collecting their stories came first. There are great tales of discovery and courage and joy in everyone I think, if you're patient. Then there was absorbing facts, history and weaving new tales. Then fantasy, pure imagination - and a lot of laughs.

I miss him so, terribly. I am less than half of what I was. I get these mental exercises going - stop over-thinking - one day at a time - be happy for what you had - And then, I forget and I just want to tell him something, think I see him and all the exercises fold into a small flat heap. He's not here. He's gone.

Right, enough, I'm going out into the garden. Pruning. Big-time :-) There's a jungle down the left-hand side and today is the day...

Love to all family and friends that read this. X

Thursday, 1 July 2010


I found a book of poems Rob gave me ages ago - he used to read a poem a day. Every day. For fun.

'101 Poems To Keep You Sane' by Daisy Goodwin turned up at just the right time. Excellent - A ray of light -

(I wasn't looking for solace - I was actually looking for a Peppa Pig DVD - small son has been sick all night, we are both very tired today although he is chirpy enough to have just eaten a small bowl of pasta and done a little dance along to a song on the radio. After a mere three hours sleep I am beyond dancing unfortunately. My eyes seem to be moving in different directions though...)

'Hope' is the Thing with Feathers

Emily Dickinson

'Hope' is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I've heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of Me.

That's very moving. It actually makes me smile too.

But what am I hoping for? To keep on, I guess. Not get lost.

I am grieving - that is as it should be. Grief is painful, it makes me slow and confused. But I keep busy - I work physically hard in the day on a farm, 45 hours a week. I listen to an iPod, I chatter, I join in socially - Yet, truthfully, there is this pervading sense of futility - I spend a lot of time fighting that one.

I just want him to come back. I want this whole time of emptiness and devastation and crap since 21st May 2010 to have been a giant error.

And he can't come back and it isn't an error. He is gone.

Hello futility.

I'm not signalling distress in saying that. No. I have family and friends who are strong, kind and lovely , I'm very fortunate. And most importantly I have my boys to bring up.

Hope. A little feathered thing. Yes, this poem brings me light. If I can't feel hopeful now I'll just hold onto this poem. Pin it up on the wall. Learn the words of 'Hope' by heart until hope itself is in my heart.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Love and Respect

Robert Chambers - Mutley the Dog

I have put the eulogy I wrote for Rob, that was read out at his funeral, online here:
Mutley the Dog
(the blogspot cheeky monkey chatters is a place where I left him a valentine this year)

Sadly, his blogs have been removed from the net.
Shockingly, I received an email from him last week, stating this.
It was written by his ex-wife. She has also removed him from our shared private blog - In my Dreams - a place where I'd been pouring out grief. Privately.
(Part of sudden death I've discovered is an inability to accept someone's departure. We were still talking, still listening, still joking, still cuddling.)

Rob lived alone these last three years. He died but a few days from Divorce Absolute.

Words fail me entirely.

Well, I will say this - She has done much good for him, there are children involved and I understand that she grieves too.

I do not think that blogging should be controlled. I think that what we write, what we feel, how we connect with each other should remain forever available. Rob was a lifelong champion of human rights and freedom of speech. He reached out to many people here on blogger at dark times as you know and in life he worked for justice and equality, most recently supporting victims of crime. I am certain he'd have disapproved - of anyone being silenced in such a fashion.

Perhaps though, perhaps - he would have understood..

I've nothing more to say, nor will, to his ex-wife. I wish her well. Sincerely.
I have my health and sanity to maintain now. Grief is complex. And I've a family to bring up. Three lively boys. My youngest is 5.

Rob was wonderful, funny, kind and clever. Even better in real life than on the net. In my experience of him these last two years :-
  • he was not in alcoholic decline,
  • he did not die on the brink of organ failure
  • and - he most certainly does not have boring brothers!

He was a cheerful, independent man who liked his beer (real ale only!) and who, as is now known but too damn late, had a bad heart. Sometimes he was very low, aren't we all - "I'm sad about a sad thing" he'd insist. And then, he'd become distracted by something interesting, something worthwhile and his spirits would return to their usual setting of - Happy! - His cause of death is yet to be pinpointed but I comfort myself entirely with this knowledge - having laid on his bed the next morning - he passed on peacefully in his sleep with no suffering, just dignity.

His brothers are much like him, kind, clever and private. I'm kind and private too, but not as clever though! I would have been very proud to have been an honorary member of their family.


Rob - I would like you to be remembered with smiles and affection by all you encountered here on the net, may your mischievous spirit live on forever. Love and respect darling - that's all that matters. And maybe now, like so many creatives before, you may be discovered and published. Posthumously damnit! But published perhaps - who knows.

Grief I'm finding is the most debilitating thing. Confusing, numbing and extremely painful. In brighter moments I imagine Rob making his usual daft comments beside me, pulling faces, cheering me up, spurring me on. At other times I feel that the future is entirely pointless. Futile. Because simply, unbearably, he isn't here.

I have my three beautiful boys thank God.

I press on.

With many thanks to all who have helped me, commented and emailed. And much love to Wife in the North, Ubermouth, Miss Smack and Electro-Kev - who were all true friends to Rob when it mattered most

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Rob (mutley the dog)

2nd January 1964 - 21st May 2010

My best friend and soulmate died last Friday. Tributes have flooded in from blogland. He would have been so touched. He said he loved to make people laugh. Give them a smile. And when they replied with "Thanks Rob, that cheered me up!" he was pleased no end.

I wanted to write him a celebration post. But you know what, I think you guys have already done that, many times over! ( I'm smiling!)

His funeral details are at robert.chambers.gonetoosoon.org
All family and friends know they are very welcome. If any one has any requests, please contact the funeral director and I'll be happy to do whatever is necessary.

I have to say that now, today, after visiting the funeral director, I'm stepping back. It's been a long journey travelled in what, five days, a tour right through Rob's world. (If you thought he was a man of many mysteries, well, yes, he was!) (Smiling again!) I'm basically a kind and sensitive soul and now, unsurprisingly, I'm pretty much overwhelmed.

I've to pick up my life and restructure it.
There won't be a bright red car pulling up outside my house anymore, there won't be a key in the door, a step on the stairs and a big hug and a bag chock full of little goodies - anymore.

I miss him more than I can bear.

Oh don't be so sentimental! he'd say, what, miss an old fart like me?!

Being with Rob gave me a spring in my step, an easy smile and a sense of purpose, of life well-lived. We had a great laugh. And a great love.

Till the next time darling...


Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mother's Day

Today I am celebrating my Mum -

and all the warm hugs from the one who taught us to be kind, not to judge, to look past the broken bits and find the best. Who could always see the new shoots...

The spider catcher!!

The mighty bonfire digger, foot resting on fork, content in the dusk.

Who has always loved our kids dearly. And saved us from insanity, by giving them her full and patient attention - books shared, games played, headaches soothed, tempers calmed, smiles and easy laughter restored - reminding us gently that they were only ever simply being... kids.

Who has sent out a hundred and one timely parcels of books and chocolate, toys and crayons, ski socks and gardening gloves; with a little note in a beautiful card saying - well done, keep going....

Who has always listened thoughtfully to long-winded news of our latest developments, and never judged (but occasionally adopted a special mumsy perplexed expression which is followed by: "So..... what have you actually done?" Eyebrows only slightly betraying alarm).

Who has accepted so much. Who has worn her knees out in church praying some days. Who grows plants, family and serenity.. With grace..

Much love to you Mum, today and all days, from all four of us.

Celebrating our Mum!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Pressing Merrily On

It was an easy mistake to make. Especially at a time like this, Christmas coming, credit crunch munching, hair growing - longer and longer -

I mean anyone with as rambling a hairstyle as mine, anyone as short of time and cash, anyone feeling as unduly accomplished with their pruning shears as me - anyone could have made the very same mistake...

Couldn't they?

Have given themselves a full Milly-Molly-Mandy haircut I mean. 
In their middle years.

One minute I was peering happily into the bathroom mirror, snip, snip, humming softly, feeling pleased, thinking - crikey, I  can't really focus so well up close any more... ah well, never mind, press on.... hum, hum, snip, snip -

and the next minute as I laid down the scissors - ta dah!!  There she was in the mirror, peering back at me, a little older than I recall -

Oh no...




It has taken an eternity
and a magnifying glass
to get it all,
to normal....

Yet I have!!

Ok, I exaggerate a little,
but only, I regret to say,
a tad...

Saturday, 1 November 2008


"In preparing the soil for planting, you will need several tools. Dynamite would be a beautiful thing to use, but it would have a tendency to get the dirt into the front-hall and track up the stairs"
(Robert Benchley)

Exactly! This month, to my great relief, my creaking knees have shaped up nicely after digging out a patio. I'm proud of them. Sadly, my wrists have slightly let the side down and gone all tired and spindly, after carrying away the top soil and bringing in the stone. Ah well.

Still, my mother, bless her, has kitted me out most thoughtfully with knee pads and wrist supports. And so, fork and trowel in hand, I look much like a 44 year old mutant ninja turtle, on my way to work each day... But they are helping, I'm strong again. And I'm not complaining, or muttering... about trusses! I'm grinning!

There is so very little time to blog these days. Right now I really ought to be revising the properties of soil (for an evening class exam), or making a trolley dash in Asda, or tackling the plastic toy mountain that has all but engulfed small son's room, or or cleansing and polishing something...

But... I'm here instead. And soon I will be visiting you dear reader! Er, if I have any readers left that is. (Iota, see, I paid attention!!)

This blogging - this tiny first person broadcast - newsletter - ranting space - corner for a giggle - cyber cat-flap into personal space - who knows what this is. But it's great fun and it works. You make a place, express yourself and find friends all over the world. What could be better!

I'm no good at telling the truth in my blog. I would rather extract my eyeballs than talk about my real daily life. I mean it. Well, everything I have ever said here is true, particularly the chocolate bits, but I have left an awful lot out this last year. It's been busy.

And now, roughly since I started blogging, a year and a half ago -
I, Merry Weather,
have proudly given birth to an elephant...

No, no, of course not!! I have done something else altogether. I have let go of being Mrs No-One and become Myself: independent, happy-hearted, hard-working, one day at a time, devoted mother of three me...

And there've been crappy times, sure. But there's been a lot to be glad about:
I found the right work, I know I can provide for my kids, I'm strong, I've made all sorts of new friends, I bob along surviving - and I'm so happy for that.

Um, seasonal stuff!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Reasons To Be Cheerful!

Ian Dury. A man for all seasons - cheeky, clever, gifted. The world's a poorer place without him. I've been listening to his music again lately. And again! It doesn't date, quite brilliant.

I haven't blogged for a while - real life can get in the way of blogging don't you find? In a good way though. I'm a darn sight more cheerful than I was last October. My mid-life crisis, useful in many ways, has done it's job and is now mentally filed under "completed" in my head. I have emerged from it feeling - younger! Happier! Well, I lie, not counting my knees... my knees are not speaking to me at the moment. They creak horribly... and ache sometimes, a bit. It's working outdoors that does it. Still, I'm hopeful they'll come up to speed with the rest of me early in the New Year... It's that or surgery!!

(I exaggerate Mum... Really!)

Things that make me cheerful now include:
  • the Indian Summer we just had
  • Working hard and earning real Cash
  • my Kids - growing up stronger, getting on together, playing chess and poker (thanks Mum!)
  • Being myself - independent, confident...
  • my beloved Van
  • Having 200% more energy than 10 years ago *
  • Friends - who make me laugh and more besides...

And so on, so forth. Carpe Diem!

* By the way, Merry Weather is powered by Cadbury's Crunchie bars most days... Hey, I wonder if they'd sponsor me?

Friday, 8 August 2008


Off on holiday - all aboard the skylark -

Here is my packing list so far:
30 pairs of socks and underpants
1 full jar of travel sickness pills
1 complete set of Pixar DVDs
Most important of all - 1 in-car DVD player (best money I have ever ever spent)

I've double locked and fondly patted my gardening van at least twenty times and soon we're off on holiday to France. For a grand family reunion. Yippee. Ten days in an historic manoir with all the long-lost, far-flung relations - I can hardly wait!

Well, not quite true, I can wait a bit. It's no good if there's nothing to worry about...I am slightly worried about getting out of England. This is because my dear old dad - the senior organiser - has somehow accidentally nominated middle son, aged 10, as our entire group leader with Brittany Ferries. Yes. Although he is tall and willing, I fear he may have trouble driving the cars into the hold... Hey ho, don't sweat the small stuff I say! Everything will be great.

It'll bear no relation to this journey of course - Doris Day/Calamity Jane - ah - just caught my fancy. En passant, you know :)

Happy Holidays to All!!

Monday, 14 July 2008

Too Many Whys And Not Enough Zzzzs

At work, as a gardener, they call me the land girl. You know, the wartime women workers thing. This is because I look eager, wear boots, trot about smartish and smile a lot. Apparently. Well everyone else has a name and I don't mind - it could be worse! Actually, being called girl is in itself rather charming, I am 44 after all.

And I have two jobs now, one on a farm and the other as a landscaper. I have recently bought my own van! A nice green one to carry a mower and tools. Plus a maximum of two children at any one time. Arguments in the cab strictly forbidden, whilst mother masters six gears and no rear view mirror. And sweats. And swears. A bit.

Buying it has been an experience. Real vans are sold and owned by real men, I've discovered, women are often offered little chi-chi things that are either hugely expensive or just downright embarrassing. I told the man at Ford that I needed space for a large mower and up to 20 bags of green waste. He walked me half a mile round the back of his showroom to show me a hideous little handbag of a van, lined with lurid carpet. A kind of passion wagon for gnomes. He said do you want to test drive it? I said not if you paid me, where do you expect me to put the mower in here then? It's actually bigger than this van... In the end, I bought one from - a woman. Simple really.

I press on cheerfully. I'm happy! Yet there are so many questions to answer when you're new, fresh and confident:

Are you strong enough?
Can you give me a full breakdown of the pesticides used on these potatoes?
Do you think you can make enough money to pay for the van alone?
Exactly how much money have you made?
What are the best plants for a bog? (Errm?)
Are you spending enough time with the kids?
Can I just press that button once Mum, and see what happens?
What a wicked scythe! Could I wave it around a bit in the garage, by myself? (NO)
Will you talk me through a year of caring for this raspberry cane?

And so on. All good fun.

I am tired by evening though. The other night I dropped the boys off at judo and fell fast asleep in the car outside the hall, engine off but still wearing my seatbelt. I woke up later with a start to find the kids tapping on the window and not one but two policemen staring right at me, all chilly and enquiring. Another question? I took the seatbelt off and waved. What now for Chrissakes? Just because I'm grubby and unconscious doesn't mean I'm a lawbreaker or a bad parent now does it. I'm just multi-tasking. Oh or something like that!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

From Hilaire Belloc

Lady Thinker has passed me a book meme post, for fun - to choose a book from my shelf and quote a passage from p123...

Lady T, it has taken me ages, on and off, exploring my page 123's. I could find nothing really interesting on any of them! Most of the good bits were on the other pages, oddly enough.

What I would have liked to do would be to type out a paragraph from PG Wodehouse. Any one of his p123's might have been great I'm sure! I love his writing, so finely crafted and so so funny - laugh out loud, chuckle chuckle stuff.

Unfortunately, I have none of his books here at home - because my parents have a complete set and I always read them when I stay at their place.

(No realistically I collapse at their place)

OK, so in the absence of PG, I found Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Verses (for children) roosting in one of the kids' rooms -

From: About John - Who lost a fortune by Throwing Stones

...As time went on declining Health
Transmogrified this Man of Wealth;
And it was excellently clear
That Uncle Bill's demise was near.

At last his sole idea of fun
Was sitting snoozling in the sun
So once, when he would
Take the air,
They wheeled him in his
Patent chair

(By "They", I mean his Nurse, who came
From Dorchester upon the Thame:
Miss Charming was the Nurse's name.)
To where beside a little wood
A long abandoned green-house stood,
And there he sank into a doze
Of senile and inept repose.

But not for long his drowsy ease!
A stone came whizzing through the trees,
And caught him smartly in the eye.
He woke with an appalling cry,
And shrieked in agonising tones:
"Oh Lord! Whoever's throwing stones!"

Miss Charming,
who was standing near,
Said: "That was
Master John, I fear!"

"Go get my Ink-Pot and my Quill,
My Blotter and my Famous Will."
Miss Charming flew as though on wings
To fetch these necessary things,
And Uncle William ran his pen
Through "well-beloved John", and then
Proceeded, in the place of same,
To substitute Miss Charming's name:

Who now resides in Portman Square
and is accepted everywhere.

Hmm, perfect verse I think!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

A Job at Last!

I found this fallen rose last week and thought I'd leave it here - so many textures, shades and such a scent - well, it's a shame there's no smell feature on Blogger!

I have good news: a job at last! The landscape gardening company I've been with spending time with recently, on work experience, have taken me on full time. I am really really pleased!

This comes in spite of somersaulting spectacularly through a rockery last week, whilst uprooting a giant weed... I don't know what it was called, a kind of hairy rhubarb sort of triffid?? Whatever it was it had very long stubborn roots...

I'm looking forward to much more of this sort of thing - with a happy heart!!

(And a crash helmet - )

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Six Random Things About Me

Thanks to lovely Sandi McBride for this tag -

One: Purple.

Is my favourite colour, all shades, especially into dark inky blue.

I like it in clothes, it offsets the haggard grey rings under my eyes rather well - but I do have to keep reminding myself to be cautious...

A bold purple kaftan for example, looked fabulous in the shop recently, but back home morphed scarily into a stylish archbishop's cassock, shiver!

Two: Marc Chagall

Is an artist I love. He can have a magical dreamlike quality... Haphazard? Naive perhaps? Hmm. I do like his paintings - I've had a picture of this for ever: The Blue Violinist
- Inspiring!

Three: Anglo-Saxon

Is a language I have learnt. It has not come in useful at all so far.
But there's still plenty of time, I'm optimistic!

Four: Playing the Piano

Is something I do, dreadfully - and I mean it's REALLY REALLY AWFUL!! - even my kids are embarrassed - still, I go for it, with enthusiasm -

Five: Cadbury's Chocolate

I eat it... Just adorable...

Six: A Catholic Education

Yes. A character building experience.

I think I would have been left-handed if Sister Marie-Therese hadn't "made" me right-handed, aged four. Fear of an angry nun, as we all know, is a powerful thing...

(This isn't her, obviously.)

I have forgiven you of course SM-T, as a good Catholic should, well, kind of forgiven?!

That's me in 6 daft strokes... I won't tag anyone, but if you would like it, you may have it, with pleasure!

Monday, 19 May 2008

The Constant Gardener

I sometimes have co-ordination problems. I like being challenged to overcome it though, especially in work. I have good stamina. And a sense of humour!

I can do multi-tasking for instance - OK, kind of. Years ago, before kids, it was essential. I worked in the front office of a busy hotel and if you couldn't do three things at once and smile as well, you'd have queues of irate people building up - in person and on the phone... I learned fast.

Yet, yet, the memory of disappearing slowly head first/bottom up into the safe while multi-tasking there, lingers to this day. Well, I was taking a phone call, paging someone, paying wages and having an urgent silent lip-reading conversation with the barman at the time... and of course it is always good to see people really laugh out loud isn't it! Takes the tension out of a crisis I find.

Still, that was a long time ago. Now I continue to work happily as a trainee landscape gardener, learning new practical skills. In some cases like a duck to water and in others slowly - when I find it's like learning to work the clutch in a car, downright confusing! I try hard, I do!

Take last week, I'm bouncing along in the gardening van, wedged in with the rest of the team, after several hours spent learning grass strimming. I say learning... I haven't really mastered it yet in fact. At all. They are very very careful with power tools and spend a lot of time explaining to me how to use them safely. I'm really very fortunate with this work experience - I expected to be left alone a lot with the boring easy tasks, but it's nothing like that.

I sit still quietly imagining the evening news:

"A reckless woman with horticultural pretensions was arrested on a busy road junction in South Croydon this morning. Armed with a petrol-driven strimmer and blinded by protective glasses Merry Weather took out most of a young tree, distressed a lawn and was engaged in damaging a small ornamental fence when apprehended - police described her as flushed with embarrassment and dogged in her determination to finish the job properly..."

"You're thinking about the tree aren't you? Forget it, really, it was nothing!" they insist. And then they swear a bit and grin. One of them is a woman, small but exceedingly strong and very funny. If she was as tall as me she'd be invincible! I relax then amid grimy gloves and jackets, scented with rotting grass, feeling - relieved!

It was a question of co-ordination. A strimmer, I feel, is basically a small helicopter, upside down on the end of a stick. And it's incredibly noisy.

Before I set off with it I had spent a lot of time checking around me that no one was nearby, and nor were my feet...

"Tilt 5 degrees to the left and remember, the rotation is anti-clockwise" they told me. Sure, I can do that, copying exactly I set off. A quarter of a mile later my right forearm was actually bulging with effort. I've never seen it do that before. So I changed hands and was completely bewildered. Which way now 5 degrees? Huh? Cautiously I set off again, in a different direction, on smaller sections of lawn edging where I produced two effects - bald earth to the left and severely quiffed grass to the right. I felt a tap on the shoulder. Another demo ensued.

"Watch out for the long grass, you can get pulled in." said the head gardener and went off round the corner. Luckily. Because moments later I'd taken out a sturdy sapling and was making inroads on cutting down its tree! Wow! Thank God it's a communal garden, attached to a block of flats and not someone's private paradise. I can imagine the wrath of my auntie Margery whose garden is perfect. Reeling I moved on, blushing.

I showed him later and he frowned a bit and then said "that's all right, stop worrying!".

Later in the day, we pull up outside a private garden with an auntie Margery kind of owner... "don't worry we don't strim in small gardens". He detaches the head and refits a hedge trimmer. Oh No! I shuffle my feet anxiously, looking at her manicured shrubs, with fear. "You just need more practise" he says kindly, but hands me the hoe instead - Phew!

Ah well, I'll get it eventually. Even if I've to practise at home and remove my own lawn in the process! It's a beautiful time of year to be outdoors, the new blooms are perfect, so many different shades. My favourites now are the cool blue campanula, in springy drooping clumps and the rock roses with their fragile brilliant petals. Gorgeous.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Work Experience

Life as a trainee gardener is suiting me very well. Often rain-soaked, nails gone to pot, sudden outbreaks of ivy rash, concrete dust and woodchips inside my bra - what the heck, I love it! I'm happy as anything.

Last week I dismantled fourteen sturdy fence panels on my own with a mallet and carried the whole lot out to a skip. It took a little time to get the hang of demolition, but soon the mallet and I were inseparable partners. Every whack a winner. After a while I heard the head gardener chuckling - Die! Die! behind me. I grinned back. Next day he asked after my shoulders. Having a little trouble going forwards actually I said, still where's that mallet?

The owner of the house came out while I was dancing in the skip, compressing the panels. Why are you doing this? he said. He wasn't talking about the dance thing - because I like it, because I can, I said. What I can't do is stay at home thinking about the shopping and the school run anymore. And I don't want to be another colleague locked behind a desk behaving well. I want to be outside, working hard and seeing results. I want every day to be a little bit different...

I could have gone on about the smell of the soil, the damp grass, the quietness, the green shoots, the birdsong, the hum of the world; but that would have made me sound utterly crazy. And it was risky enough to be declaiming like this from inside a skip... But here's the beauty of it, I have nothing to prove, no need to defend myself. I'm just happy being me, doing what I do.

Following a strange exchange with another blogger, Mr Pineapples, comment moderation is on for the time being. It's a shame. Although everyone has a right to express an opinion, I'm not up for abuse. I may be Nice but I'm not Stupid... This is my place. Enough said -

Happy Spring!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Background inspiration

Many thanks to Flick who gave me this desktop tag.

This is my actual desktop, posted with considerable (puny) technical effort from yours truly, involving a lot of face-pulling... click....and umming and erring...click

It suggests I'm concentrating on the bigger picture maybe, which is true, well at least it is this week! When I change the image next week, it'll be for this little treasure:

(...Merry dashes off to the corner shop to buy a creme egg, quite forgetting the clouds, the horizon and the internet beyond...) Yum!! -

A little later - munch, munch - and I'm passing the tag on:

I Beatrice
Crystal Jigsaw
Lady Thinker

Over to you ladies!

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Three Inches of Snow!

Ha! After my careless prediction on the previous post last week - it snows!!! "More snow than we have ever seen before" my boys assured me solemnly before donning their peruvian hats and flying outside to play not snowballs, but frisbee. Ah!

After this forecasting coup, I am turning my attention to the National Lottery. I don't want a million, that would be a burden, I'd have to give most of it away. Just a little win would be good.

They've dropped the frisbee now and are having the snowball fight of the century, refereed by the three year old, anxiously through the window... Sigh, I'll have to go and join them!

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Spring and the Impulsive Snail Moves On

I am a hopeless blogger - a self-confessed snail, but a good reader. I shall post something cheerful when spring is sprung a bit more. Alas, it'll snow now, probably...