The many and various ways I pass the time now has a new addition. Usually it involves drinking coffee whilst sitting at a computer keeping in touch with chums, or sipping wine sitting on our tiny terrace catching the sun, and wondering what else I can do to avoid any cleaning or tidying or putting away of stuff and things that aren't even MINE. And now I am going to type this blog. Provided that doesn't become a chore as well, in which case...

Friday, 24 May 2013


Even though my first marriage effectively ended when I left in November1997 I have until now still been left asking why I had to live through what I did from 1981-1997. What were its root causes, how could it have been prevented, if it were preventable? This is the first explanation for male-on-female domestic violence I have ever read that 100% fits the scenario that I survived.

Finally, I feel I can relax and think aha! so the seeds were sown long before we ever met, The Daughter's father and I. It was never anything to do with what I did. To be a battered wife, being female and married to a man with a deeply-held erroneous and twisted view of what constitutes "true" masculinity was all it took...

I feel at last that I can breathe properly again. Does that make sense?

Two heavy weights have been lifted from my shoulders.  One being a lingering, haunting sense of shared responsibility for some of the worst aspects of my past, and the other being (I now realise) an utterly unfounded fear of or for the future. 

You see, I have discovered today that there is nothing about ME that is a shit-magnet.

I am not doomed to fall back into that nightmare scenario by unwittingly triggering it in someone else. The man I married ten years ago and love to little mint balls doesn't have this skewed masculinity world-view.  He's just NOT "that way out" as we say Up North. Even in our most argumentative moments - and we have a few, occasionally - it can never slip over or morph into what I have experienced before, in marriage number one.

I am in a place of safety, and damaged though I still am and might always be to some extent, I am safe.  The Husband hasn't an ounce of domineering cruelty in him, not one scintilla.  He has not created a false, deluded construct of what it is and means to be a "proper" man.  He is good through and through, solid, safe, dependable, supportive and loving.  I can stop looking for "the signs".  I can finally let the hypervigilance just GO!

Maybe The Daughter's father has mellowed, as I have been told he has many times since I left him.  Maybe he is no longer the man I was married to, but I see little sign that he has changed much in his general attitudes and opinions on the very few occasions we have met socially since the divorce.  But he lives alone now, has retired abroad alone, his second marriage (also in 2003, the same year I remarried) to a much younger woman having collapsed and ended within a year.  So I guess he can think and feel and believe what he likes, as long as no other woman is suffering or wondering what on earth she is doing wrong, why there is no pleasing the man.  No other woman is going quite literally insane because her life makes no sense, because she is being forced to live out a happy lie in public, and being humiliated, subjugated, terrorised and undermined in private.

Long may that situation continue...

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

I Have Been Wondering...

...if being a passenger in the MG is almost a form of healthy exercise. There is the continual bumping up and down, the fresh air, and quite a few calories being expended on trying to keep warm. It's a theory. DISCUSS.

Short update today as the sun is shining in our back garden.  I have an irrational loathing of the use of electronic devices out of doors, apart from digital cameras.  Well, loathing is a strong word.  Scrub that and replace with aversion to or dislike of, to suit. So I don't take the laptop outside and I don't intend to be indoors for a minute longer than I can help today.

So I will leave you with my nascent theory to discuss amongst yourselves and log back on some time after sunset.  Or the temperature dropping below 12c.  Whichever is the sooner.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Days Out and Jollies

The Husband and I are going to take the Little Green Dragon and the Small White Dog to the seaside today, probably to Barmouth where the little furry fellow can have a proper run on the firm pale sands, and then we can lunch in The Last Inn.  Aberystwyth is a bit pebbly for The Dog's taste, and a the sand is a bit grey for mine, but it has other charms, namely The Glengower Hotel with its wonderful sea views. 

Decisions, decisions. Which resort?  Which pub? Such are the vexing daily concerns of early retirement...

In a little less than a fortnight we have two rooms booked at The Glengower, two rooms with sea views, for the night of 1 June.  This is because our tenth wedding anniversary is 31 May.  So why TWO rooms, then?  That's hardy a second honeymoon, sleeping apart!

Well, originally a couple we know were going to come with us, so the second room was for them.  These are very dear friends of ours who actually met at our wedding and have been virtually inseperable ever since, to the extent that they also got married three years later.  So 31 May is our wedding anniversary (and also my birthday) and the anniversary of their meeting so we have often spent it together doing double-date weekends.

However, there has been a major development in their lives.  The wife retired from the police force in December of last year, and now she can be at home much more the time is finally right for them to have a dog.  Just over two weeks ago they got a puppy, a miniature Schnauzer they have named Erik.  So they are in the throes of new parenthood and very understandably cannot make the weekend after all.

So instead The Daughter is coming over to join us for a few days, and to use the room so's not to waste the booking.  One Friday 31 May we are having dinner out in our local town in what is reputed to be the the best restaurant in the area.  Certainly one has to book a long way in advance, so that is an excellent sign, and its reputation precedes it.  We've wanted to eat there for years, but only just got round to it, with this milestone anniversary as a spur.

Then the next day we are off for a weekend at the seaside, to stroll on beaches, paddle, take the furnicular railway up the cliff and view the camera obscura at the top, have a ride on a narrow gauge railway, eat ice cream, all that trad stuff.
  All of which, I have checked in advance, can include The Dog.

I cannot imagine The Husband will be happy to leave the MGB behind, so he will have the intense pleasure of driving The Daughter over to Aberystwyth, and having a pretty young woman in the passenger seat next to him, living out the stereotypical middle-aged male fantasy, while yours truly devotedly follows behind in the Peugeot with the Dog, the bags, the picnic kit and (woohoo!) the heater, the stereo and the power steering!  I am not blind to the charms of the Peugeot so I think it will pan out that he is my car (it's a definite he) and the MGB is the Husband's.  Seems a fair division of spoils.

I have warned The Daughter to bring trousers and a leather jacket and a scarf or a hat as the sensible clothing options for open-topped motoring.  I fully expect her to come downstairs the morning we set off eye-catchingly accoutred wth huge sunspecs and a (cough cough knock-off) Hermes scarf, a latter day Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn.  She is a bit of a stunner, The Daughter, with a fabulous sense of style.

Here she is in Rome, on the weekend of her 30th Birthday, in 2010.

Well, breeding will out... 

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Other Project: A Progress Report

It would be easy to think, from my proud and pleased updates on the topic, that The New Baby was taking up all our time, energy, interest and - let's face it, these hobbies like classic cars ain't cheap - cash. 

However, at one and the same time my dolly house is coming along very nicely, and I have gone a bit eBay-tastic in the process.

There are more characters.  We now have a nursemaid to help with the baby, and a new cook, who is an older neatly capped and aproned lady who looks more far capable than the original slightly fey kitchen doll, so the latter (directly below) has been demoted to general maid, to her slight chagrin.  Lastly we have a visiting playmate for the older child.  These new dollies are tucked away safely in their boxes until we have done more doing-up of the rooms.

I have also acquired far more furniture, a lot more lights, which The Husband has assiduously fitted as they arrive in the post, and the beginnings of the wallpapering and decorating supplies are arriving with every post. 

 The Kitchen floor will be quarry tiled after a large fireplace has been built 
around the range.  Most of the kitchen equipment is still in boxes.

 There are now chairs in the Drawing Room, so grandma has a seat.
They also enjoy the light of a large chandelier and even candles on the piano

 There armchairs, tall bookcases, two pendant oil lamps
and a large Turkish rug in The Study

I have floor boards and parquet flooring (which come printed on paper) and even some actual genuine terracotta mini quarry tiles for the kitchen (3/4" square) that have to be laid on tile cement like real tiles - well they ARE really tiles, just in miniature -  so that will be my particular labour of love as I really enjoy tiling.

But I also have yet to acquire lengths of 1/12th scale skirting board, dado and picture rails and cornicing for the ceilings.  I already have several moulded plaster ceiling roses, so as each main light goes up in a room, a suitably-sized ceiling rose has to be chosen and fitted (see The Drawing Room, above).

Without a doubt this dolly house will be grander and better appointed than any house I have ever lived in, or even stayed in.

So the dollies had better appreciate the time, trouble, effort and expense we are going to, and not trash the place with wild parties, bizarre amateur science experiments or any  other silly shenanigans, when the house front is closed and we are fast asleep.

Or I will line them all up and scold them severely and put them on short commons for a month.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The 2013 Mid Wales MG Owners Dragon Run

It was a bit of an odd day for us, as we have never been on an organised classic car run before. We were impressed at the distance people were prepared to come (from as far away as Surrey, some of them) and only about half of them were Powys residents, so many had put up in B&Bs to make a long weekend of it, meeting up with old friends and fellow enthusiasts they had evidently known for years.

We were the 62nd and most probably last car to register, as the first we heard of it was on Thursday when we got our MG Owners bumf in the post. The oldest two or three cars dated from 1954-6 and had beautiful curves and running boards, and at the other end of the spectrum there were a few MGFs from the late C20th and early C21st (eg left).

We were a little unsure about the percentage of the mileage done on twisting single-track roads and very narrow, remote goat-tracks, as throttling back so much on blind bends, and sticking in second and third for the hills, wasn't suiting our little dragon at times. She was misfiring quite a bit at low speeds. Barty reckons she needs a slight re-tune. I think she might appreciate some Premium Unleaded...or some cough mixture.

The other drivers, and the cyclists and walkers we passed were cheerfully tolerant, thankfully, and we also noticed that the locals milling about in villages and pottering in their gardens (especially if they were of a "certain age" ie 50s, 60s & 70s) seemed genuinely amused and pleased to see us, with lots of encouraging greetings called out and cheery waves.

I didn't expect that, and it almost made up for my misgivings about the car's occasional struggles at low speeds in low gear.
But when the 90 miles were done and we could go back home the twelve or so miles on a smooth, wide A road she was much happier and so were we. The Dog, however, could NOT work out why we went all the way to Machynlleth the long and winding way round and then immediately came all the way back, without thinking to carry on to the coast...

The Seaside is OVER THERE!

Mummy-Daddy - DUR! Sort yourselves OUT!

We think he was spot on, so from now on we will endeavour not to take him so far without including a chance to run on a beach and paddle in the sea.

We'd prefer - we have decided, on balance - to drive out en famille, choosing our own route and our own objective, although we thoroughly appreciated the effort put into the organisation and how welcome we were made to feel, so we will do it again next year, for sure.

But we have a strong independent streak, we have found, so we will strike out on our own, mostly, from now on.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

I Am Not Often Moved To Fantasies of Violence...

...but isn't this the most SLAPPABLE face you ever saw?

And now I am going to enjoy my weekend.  Please also enjoy yours

...until we meet again



PS.  Update - Ghastly Godawful Gove has now received his FOURTH Vote of No Confidence from a teaching union, this time it is the organisation which represents 85% of Primary State School Head Teachers and 40% of Secondary State School Teachers.

Friday, 17 May 2013

In Which The Husband Becomes A Fully Paid-Up Old Fart

That's a rather personal comment, I hear you snort in horror.  I am typing teasingly, and only somewhat advisedly, secure in the knowledge he never ever reads my blog, so what harm can it do?  Anyhow, I would never type anything on here I wouldn't be prepared to say to his lovely daft face (of which I am so very fond) so I feel fine about it.

The Husband has joined the MG Owners Club.  His new member pack has arrived in the post.  He has stickers. 



His MG keyfob is to follow under separate cover (I have the one that came with the car on my set of keys).  Meanwhile, he has a parts catalogue in printed form, to read in bed, no doubt, and on disk for when he is at his pooter. He has worked out where the nearest MG specialist garage is (Macynlleth) for jobs he can't tackle himself AND we are already in touch with the local mid-Wales MG Owners Club. 

We had to move fast on that one.  I rang the secretary just now and had a very useful and helpful chat. The reason we couldn't afford to delay is because their annual run IS ON SUNDAY!

We are going, we are welcome, even The Dog is welcome.  We will be one of 60+ MGs doing a round trip of 90 miles.  The £20 entrance fee goes to the Welsh Air Ambulance.

But there is one final feature of all this that makes it feel like Fate, if such a thing can be said to exist.

The name of the local club is the Mid-Wales Dragons MG Club, and the event on Sunday is The Dragon Run.

The Little Green Dragon is gonna make some friends!!

And so, we hope, are we...

In case I am allowed, or feel inclined, to do any of the driving THIS is the cut of my jib while I am about it:

As we have been "promised" a fine day for Sunday I am hoping to dispense with the cossak hat and affect a jaunty tweed trilby with a bow on the side. And my best shades, my old Raybans.  A girl can dream.  However the sound of me grinding the gears would NOT be very impressive, so I guess I will be in charge of The Dog, the camera, the picnic and the route map, instead.  Which will be quite enough to be going on with.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Leaving The New Baby At Home...

...while we drive over for our big supermarket shop.  The Husband is a little bit pouty about it, but I have insisted we take the Peugeot or

a) The Peugeot will get equally sulky, and rightly so, and

b) we will come back with two bags of shopping instead of the usual five (five bags, £150, every ten days, on average, which includes garden plants, cleaning materials, toiletries, household items and alcoholic indulgences, as well as groceries and non-alcoholic beverages).

The Little Green Dragon can't get much junk in her trunk.  I was warned by the previous owner not to be tempted to take her away on holiday as "all you can get in there is a couple of pairs of clean knickers". 

I haven't seen the boot open yet, so I am not sure how true this is.  Well, obviously it is not a literal truth, but an amusing exaggeration, but I don't even know how justifiable an amusing exaggeration it is.  I think there is a spare tyre and a basic tool kit in there already.  Add a small can of goof juice (as The Husband calls spare petrol) and a litre bottle of tap water for the dog and I reckon only the smallest of weekend bags is possible.

Think of the tiny little vanity case Grace Kelly so charmingly rocks up with in Rear Window (when she comes to stay the night to take care of an injured Jimmy Stewart, see above) which she demonstrates so memorably contains the sexiest, slinkiest of silky nighties. 

I reckon that could be the extent of it.

Not exactly what I pack to go away.  My meds and make-up alone would take up that much space.  Without which no-one would want to be on holiday with me, I promise you!

So a decent supermarket shop cannot be done in the MGB.  Oh, how The Husband's lovely silly daft face has dropped since I had to be firm with him about that. I have been almost moved to pity, but only almost.

As I know fine well he'll get over it when we take her out at tea-time instead...

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Most Extraordinary Thing Has Happened...

...well, maybe even two extraordinary things: After snow fell on the surrounding hills in the night, in mid-Wales, in mid-May (which is not without precedent, but is nevertheless an arresting sight) the slightly revised BBC forecast for today makes No Mention Of Rain.

Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor.

It is a week today since we brought the Little Green Dragon to live with us.  The weekend before had been hot, dry and sunny, and what was especially lovely was that it was a BH holiday weekend so the wage slaves could have some quality time off playing with the kids, tidying the gardens, mowing the grass and sparking up the BBQ.  The showeriness started the day we drove over to North Lincs to get the MGB, last Wednesday, but even that day was mostly very splendid indeed and heart-liftingly beautiful at times as we crossed the Derbyshire Peaks on our way there and back.

The next day the clouds parted for about an hour at teatime.  This was just about long enough to have a quick run through the local lanes and for the MGB's bodywork and other sensitive-to-the-weather bits and bobs to dry off sufficiently for The Husband to put her little coat on, a light-weight all-over cover which was part of the package when we bought her.

And then we waited and waited for some more "nice" weather so we could divest her of her coat and take her out again.  For DAYS we waited.  In the end, on Sunday afternoon,  we gave up and decided NOT to be fair-weather convertible drivers.  We took her up to show her to Perpetua and Perpetua's DH.  This short trip we did with the hood over us and The Dog in the back.

Then on Monday we took her to the seaside, but still under cover of the hood.  It was semi-clear when we got there, but then the sky turned black, and it rained and HAILED, for heaven's sake.  But eventually the pewter grey billows blew inland and we were treated to the sight of the sun sinking into the sea behind her as the MGB sat neatly on the prom at Aberystwyth waiting to take us home again. 

We viewed all this from the safety of indoors, from a large sea-view bay window in the Glengower Hotel.  This is our favourite Aber watering-hole.  Actually we like this place so much we have never been anywhere else in that town for a drink and/or a meal, as we struck so lucky first time we went in search of a dog-friendly pub with a sight of the far horizon.

Then yesterday we wrapped up warm and pootled over to Gregynog Hall to walk The Dog in its spectacularly beautiful and welcoming gardens, woods and park land.  

For the price of an hour or two's parking we sauntered about as though to the manor born. The rain was fine and light, quite tolerable, by the end of our walk so we decided to come back with the hood down.

The thing with a little convertible is that provided you can maintain a speed of over about 25-30mph one really doesn't get all that wet, if one dresses for comfort rather than show.  My leggings were perfectly dry until we had to slow down to go through town when we got home. So later today we will again fling back her hood, settle the dog on his shelf behind the seats, secured in his safety harness, and toddle off "there and back to see how far it is". 

Watch this space to see where we fetch up THIS time...

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Green Ribbon Month

I am not sure what the one-in-three statistic is meant to convey. Just sufferers who seek (or receive compulsory) treatment? Or does it include an extrapolated group of presumed sufferers who never seek treatment, but instead self-medicate with drugs, alcohol, and other risky behaviours to try to feel a bit better?

Like all stats it can never mean what the shorthand version seems to mean.

But as a diagnosed long-term sufferer of a disablingly serious mental illness (Bipolar 1) who takes a handful of prescribed pills every day of my life to try to achieve some peace and balance, I would be delighted if I never bumped up against any more stigma and prejudice in what remains of my life.

So, END THE STIGMA, indeed!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Oh, That Ghastly Godawful GOVE...(contd)

First off, I need to fill in some background for those of my readers and followers who do not now live in the UK, or maybe have never lived in the UK, or if they have it is all so long ago it greatly predates May 2010, when this government, this Coalition Government (not Conservative Government - that party did not win a working majority, remember) was formed and took over the running of the country.

So here is a link to the Wikipedia article about Michael Gove, the present Secretary of State for Education.

And that is the first point I should like to raise, the little matter of a tiny grammatical splitting of hairs; he is Secretary of State FOR Education, not OF Education, a distinction he seems singularly to have lost sight of in the past three years that he has been in the job.

FOR implies service, an immense effort given to a greater cause than oneself.  OF suggests a personal fiefdom, a power base, a launching pad. 

I think few of us now have any illusions how Michael Gove sees it, even after disingenuously claiming earlier this year that he knew his limitations and declaring he would never lead the party or be PM.

Not after yesterday, anyhow, when he was the first to break ranks with the cabinet and voiced his willingness for the UK to leave the EU if the present terms of membership are not renegotiated to his satisfaction.  While the PM is away in the USA.

Of course, a degree in English from Oxford, which Gove has, will make anyone who has undergone one very careful to use the exact right word in the exact right place, and not misquote even by one very short word, as the dons there would be all over it like a rash if one did.  So I doubt Gove has ever used the OF word, but he sure as hell implies it every time he opens his mouth to give an interview or a speech.  His entire demeanour and manner says it loud and proud.  I am in charge.  I know best.  My team of "advisers" at the MforE (especially on Twitter) will stop at little or nothing by way of dirty tricks to discredit critics.  I will be as scathing as I like about any opposition to my plans, views and ideology.  I will undermine my detractors, and abuse and refuse to listen to any teacher who isn't in my camp.  Any teacher active in a union, especially.

Months and months of this has lead to something that has NEVER happened before.  At Easter, when the teaching unions hold their conferences during what could have been (if they weren't union reps and shop stewards) a well-earned rest from the chalk face to recharge their depleted batteries, the three main teaching unions voted in favour of a Vote of No Confidence in Michael Gove as Secretary of State for Education.

One-day strikes have also been voted for to take place this year as well, on the issue of alterations to teachers' terms and conditions (especially changes to pensions), but he has so far refused to talk to anyone from the unions in any meaningful or receptive way in advance of the the strikes taking place.  This year even the slightest moves towards conciliation or compromise seem to be alien concepts in the MforEd, despite his embarrassing u-turns in the past.

I think that's all I want to say.  I don't like his My Way or The Highway approach, his bookish-boy-at-the-front-of-the-class-with-his-hand-up-showing-off-what-he-has-memorised demeanour, and his yadda yadda bad manners in cutting across and not listening to his critics.  I don't like him, and it's unusual for me to dislike people I have never met.  But I will happily make an exception in his case, as I mistrust him even more than I mistrust the average politician.  He has an agenda, and his agenda is the political advancement Michael Gove, and very little else.  All the rest is attracting what he believes and hopes is mass support - not just for his educational "reforms", but for Michael Gove now and in the future.

To stray into the openly ad hominem I also cannot stand his conceited, insufferable, cocky-little-sixth-former, freshly-scrubbed but foolish face. Does his wife wipe it with a damp facecloth and smooth down his hair as he leaves the house of a morning?  The way Sarah Vine writes so revealingly and yet flippantly about their marriage, and how she infantalises him for fun in her column in The Times, I shouldn't be at all surprised.

But he can't help what's been put on the front of his head, I suppose, apart from the expressions he pulls (and there are a fair few unfortunate photos of those if you want to Google them). 

But he sure as hell can help what he is plotting inside his head.  And plotting he is - you mark my words.  Just watch this space...

...his being Scottish, and a graduate of English, I'm moved to assume he has often read Macbeth.  In which case, if I am right, I think he'd be wise to re-read the last act in particular, before he imagines seeing daggers before him and loses his tenuous, overblown, narcissistic and deluded connection with reality altogether.

Now I have got all that off my well-endowed chest, I have been reminded by this brilliantly funny
piece in The Indy-Pendy over the w/e, that the best way to reduce the size of a looming problem or an issue that is bugging you is to laugh heartily at it, shrink it in size through mirthful light-hearted derision, and then go to the pub for a halfway decent lunch with some wonderful friends who make you ROAR;

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Oh, That Ghastly Godawful GOVE...

...will he, can he, EVER SHUT UP?!

And that is all she wrote....

 Gove claims he has no ambitions to be PM because he knows "his limitations"
You are looking at the main one right HERE -
his stupid, silly, always-bloody-talking-never-bloody-listening, FACE

...tomorrow I will write at length about why this particular Tory cabinet minister-monster makes me screw up my toes inside my shoes.  Suffice to say, for now, that I am a highly qualified, moderately experienced, sometime secondary schoolteacher, and even though I am now retired, I still have a few ideas and thoughts about the realities of state school teaching.  Which GOVE singularly does NOT!  And nor will he listen to anyone who has, it would seem.

But today is Sunday, and the veg should be boiling, not my blood, so I am away to make our lunch.

Do join me in a small libation at noon, while I peel the spuds...mine's a Gin Ricky!


Saturday, 11 May 2013

Uneasy Lies The Head...

...that wears the crowning glory.

Oh dear, I hear you cry, what on earth is she on about now?  I can't even refer to myself in the third person any longer as Goldenoldenlady's cover has largely been blown by Google+ since she clicked on something and everything transmuted into her real-life identity.  When I comment on blogs now my actual genuine name shows, under which I registered at Google+ one dozy afternoon when I probably wasn't paying nearly enough attention to what I was signing up for at the time.

Again I digress.  I have a tendency to do that.  In my more generous moments i call it lateral thinking, only I am not entirely sure it really is proper thinking of any type.

Crowning glory = a lady's hair.  You get my drift?  In my case I have never felt that what sprouted out of my scalp was the icing on the cake.  It is plentiful and yet ultra-fine, and as straight as water running out of a tap.  Not a kink, wave or curl is there in it. 

Very little of it even now is grey, perhaps the slightest wisp of a suggestion of white at each temple, but the rest is a dark mouse - very dark ash blonde, a hairdresser might tactfully call it (if she wants to be paid), which in my book is no shade of blonde at all. 

So, ever since I was away from our mother's beady eagle eye, since I hit my twenties, I have coloured my hair in the hopes it would become something somehow more definite and eye-catching.  Which it has been, enough to grab a couple of husbands, in any case, and a few interesting romantic interludes along the way.  It's had blonde streak and highlights, it's been a cheerful golden brown, it's a been a light yet tawny auburn, a right-between-the-eyes day-old-chick buttery yellow, and (latterly) it has been a pale white blonde with hints of mother-of-pearl opalescence.

Sadly though, this last light pastel tint has needed TWO applications of quite serious percentage peroxide per month to achieve the desired silvery white and keep the darker roots at bay.  Did I mention my hair grows fast?  Well it does.  Annoyingly so.  And the nett effect of six months of these harsh treatments has been to turn my silky straight hair to frazzled hay, however much conditioner I lavish upon it.  So something had to change.  Something, even, had to go.

And that something was my hair.  This Sunday last gone I impulsively tried to give myself a home trim, and the end result was horrendous.  So the husband and I put our (in my case freshly shorn) heads together, had a large stiffening drink, and reached for his electric clippers. 

We set them at #4 (1/2" all over), which was OK, but for annoying bits of white and blonde still adhering to my skull in odd random clumps.  So down went the blade guard to #2.  Which is 1/4 " all over.  Think not skinhead, but suedehead.  Think Buddhist nun.  Think fervent 70s feminist.  Think Goldenoldenlady looking like THIS!

And now I will leave you to taken that on board.  I need a new nom de plume. Talk amongst yourselves and see what you can come up with, OK?  By the way, I LOVE it, especially in the hot weather we had earlier this week.  For the first time since I was 49 and prescribed Tamoxifen after breast cancer surgery seven years ago I have not sweated and dripped all round my neck and chest when sitting in a warm room or lying in bed at night.  I feel cool and unencumbered, so much so my new and startling appearance truly doesn't bother me.

And anyway, I have hats for when I go out, so I don't scare the horses!

Friday, 10 May 2013

Let Me Please Introduce You To...

 The Dog Weighs Up The Interloper

 The Dog is Singularly Unimpressed

 Outside Her New Abode

The Husband Gazes Fondly Upon Her

...The Little Green Dragon.

We are hoping she will not be as high-maintenance as a drag(on) queen.  So far she has been quite obliging.  Well, she has started every time she's been asked.

Dragons are keepers of secrets and guardians of treasure, if I recall aright, as well as scaring the locality out of its wits with noisy fire-breathing fly-pasts. 

Seems awfully appropriate name for an old sports car that has come to rest in Wales, which is British Racing Green, and whose registration plate starts LGD.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

An Adventure, and a New Toy

The entire little family of Goldenoldenlady, The Husband and The Dog drove over to North Lincolnshire and back yesterday (a round trip of getting on for 500 miles) and we had us a convoy all the way home, me in the lead in the Peugeot 307 (with The Dog and the satnav) and The Husband in my rear mirror following on behind in his new toy, a 1975 MGB Roadster in British Racing Green, which we went to view and collect yesterday from an old chum of his & her husband who wanted to sell it.

The Brand-New Owners of a 38-year-old-car, photograph courtesy of The Previous Owners

It needs a little TLC on the bodywork (well, who doesn't, at our sort of age?) and will deserve a complete professional respray eventually, but it is tidy enough, has almsot 12 months' MOT, six months' tax and is a very jolly little runner for a nigh-on 40-year-old car.  The aim is to go out in it on high days and holidays, to the coast etc, when it's dry and sunny and we can pootle along with the top down.  The Husband had the roof folded down all the way back from North Lincs yesterday, a journey of over two hundred miles, and passed through two short showers quite happily.  He got home with such a grin on his face.

The Husband will also join the MG Owners Club, to source spare parts, chat on forums and go to any meet-ups nearby.

He has started referring to it as his "rusty old steed", but he will sort that out quite quickly.  He has done up old cars in the past and knows what's involved.  So he has another retirement project.  As we have decided not to go abroad again while we still have The Dog increasingly his dotage, the MGB is our treat to ourselves to make more of an event of our days out or weekends away.  There is a little seat, more a platform really, behind the two leather seats, for The Dog, who has had a test drive and loves it.  He always prefers to have the back windows open in a car so he can keep cool and hang his head out, now he shan't have to, but if he wants a snooze he can lie full length on the seat and nod off in the shelter and shade of the folded back roof, all safely strapped up in his car harness.

So, quite an eventful day, but a very pleasurable drive.  I drove there and back, so I was behind the wheel of the Peugeot for nine hours (!) but the bossy lady in a box picked us a lovely route (over the Derbyshire Peak District at one point) so it was not a chore.

After his huge adventure going to North Lincs and back in a day, and meeting another grumpy ol' doggie, a border collie called Sally, who is fourteen and normally wary of other canines but accepted him quite happily (she even let him drink from her water bowl, so sweet), and also test-driving (or should that be test-passengering?) the MGB for a few miles, The Dog looks set to snooze away recovering today. I may join him...

Meanwhile The Husband is already out the front twiddling with his new toy. Ah well! At least I know where he is, unlike when he goes out for a bike ride. Must remind him to get an extra set of keys cut for it today, 'cos if he loses the one set we have it'll all end in tears!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Up and About and Raring to Go....ish

I did a brief Facebook status update about the mid-Welsh weather at about 8.00am today, and it quickly elicited a comment from a dear old friend who lives in the Dordogne.  She has done for years.  I was not a retirement move, they emigrated there when her son was still primary-school age, and when she was still running a scientific writing business together with her husband.  Her husband and her son are French nationals now, as it is some twenty years ago, almost, since the family embarked on its huge adventure.  She, however, remains resolutely British, although as much of a Francophile as ever.  I digress. 

She quipped;

You're up early, [Goldenoldenlady]!

I said she knew me of old...

I smiled wrily, and replied thus;

Yes, J____, it's because
a) it's almost summer and my SAD has finally lifted

b) if I stay in bed I feel worse, with this bronchitis

c) I only drink alcohol in the afternoons these days, usually, so no more morning hangovers
d) I love having The Husband at home now he has retired and we quite enjoy our morning routines. 

It will be like this until October, unless I have a very late night for some reason I am definitely a girl of two halves these days, there is a Winter version and a Summer one.

Top o' the maaarnin' t'ya!

Then another adorable friend who's known me even longer, since we shared a flat at Manchester University more than three decades ago, chipped in with;

Love it when you are in summer mode, me being an early bird, get to see more of you! Z___ x

To which I rejoindered;

And that is a good thing because...?

Then she clicked that she LIKED my last sentence

And all before I've even changed out of my PJs.  I LOVE Facebook...

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Facebook Funny; Bonus Post

Hello Boys!

Hello Boys!  is what Goldenoldenlady calls out cheerily every time she hears a couple of low-flying RAF fighter jets go over.  They are Our Boys in Airforce Blue (well, that's the dress uniform, they are more likely in khaki all-in-one flying suits, with lots of safety paraphernalia over them) who pass overhead several times a day mid-week in good flying weather, contour-chasing their way up and down the Severn valley.

They have a big nest, these supersonic metal birds, on Anglesey.  And they often fly in pairs, a trainer with trainee.  Earlier in the week we had three pairs go over.  It is like one's very own ceremonial fly-past.

And remarkably reassuring, even though it can be a bit noisy.  The sound is a couple of seconds at least behind the sight, so to spot them one has to guess which way they are going and look ahead of what one just heard.  Often it is just too late.  They are good and GONE.

The fact that we have such skilful pilots, such very brave and clever young men, to defend our national peace and security is comforting.  I am not a pacifist.  I know from my love of history that having to fight sometimes is inevitable, so let's at least do it bloody well, eh?

If The Husband hadn't just gone off on a bike ride and to do some grocery shopping on his way back, I'd ask him which actual fighter aircraft it is we usually hear more than see.  When I find out I'll edit this to tell you and Google a couple of pictures to show you.

Meanwhile, the fact I've just heard them go over and called out Hello Boys! must mean it's a good flying day.  The sun is bright, the sky is blue, with nary a cloud.  Last night I reduced the number of hours the CH comes on for, to mark the First of May.  Today, later on, I think it will be warm enough to sit out on our small south-facing back lawn, even for this convalescing semi-invalid (that bronchitis/flu is/was a doozy and I am still far from fully well).  Well, at least for a few minutes. 

Yesterday afternoon our garden thermometer reached 15c in the shade, and the temperature inside and outside the house were so even that I could leave the back door open without feeling a draught, and The Dog could trot in and out at will for a while without having to bark to be let in and out.  Some of the time he even snoozed in a sunny spot on the lawn.

Now, isn't that VASTLY encouraging, after the winter we've had in Wales?

Addendum; they are either the delta-winged eurofighters, the Typhoons (above)
or Tornadoes (below), though how The Husband can spot the difference at that speed only he can say.  

(Oh, and for Yamini, here is a photo of The Naval Nephew under a Harrier, in Afghanistan.  We SO miss the Harriers in our family...)


Whatever the 'planes that cross the skies above our house are, all I know they are very small, very fast and very loud, and I LOVE them!


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Project is Revealed...da-dah!

A few weeks ago I tantalised my half-dozen regular commentators by mentioning that The Husband had embarked on building a special project for me, but without saying what it was.  I was holding back on you all until the job was sufficiently advanced to have something to show to the group.  Some of you claimed to be all agog (which I sincerely doubted - you are all TOO kind!), but a month has passed so I shan't keep you on tenterhooks any longer.

It is a Dolls' House.

There!  The relief is palpable, right?  You can breathe again...

It is a four-storey eight-roomed Regency-style edifice with "French influences", or so it said on the kit which turned up by courier on 21 March.  The French influence is the roof, which - although not a mansard roof - does have dormer windows with a little barrelled roof over each of them.

The husband set about assembling and gluing the parts, and after little more than three days' hectic activity on his part, on the large table in his study, the building was up;

I asked him not to fit and glue all the flights of stairs, as I wanted to stain the risers and treads, and maybe even add banisters (he thinks this is a little crazy, but I keep saying there is nothing at all sane about a middle-aged woman having a dolls' house in the first place, so let me indulge my whimsy, please!) and also fit carpet runners and paint or paper the walls before they are put in place, as it will be so much easier than trying to do it afterwards.

The week after he reached this point in the construction we had post-Easter visitors staying for a few days in the first week in April, so he put the dolls' house on a blanket box at the top of the stairs where it will eventually live permanently, and filled the rooms with a chain of LED Christmas lights, putting white paper up at the windows as blinds, so that the dolls' house could double as a muted night light on the landing for folks to find their way to the bathroom and loo easily at night.

Since the end of March I have been thoroughly enjoying an orgy of eBaying, buying furniture, appliances, fittings, fixtures and frippery for the family who will "live" in the house.  I have also bought the family itself, several 1/12th-scale dressed dolls with porcelain faces, and wired limbs one can pose, each tipped with porcelain extremities, teeny-tiny china hands and feet.  I have added a cook, and a couple of additional characters.  They still need a housemaid, but they won't have any male servants, I don't think, as they are a bourgeois family in a busy market town, the merchant class or the professional class, not nobility.

The era I originally wanted to re-create was the mid 1830s, the time of William IV, but that turned out to be much too much of a niche market, and what little there was commercially available which is styled to be from then is horrendously expensive, being handmade by cabinet-makers, not mass-produced.  So I have gone for very early Victorian instead.  1840s-ish.  Think the newly-married Victoria and Albert.  Think Mendelssohn and his sister, or Turner and his seaside landlady.  Think of Thomas and Jane Carlyle when they weren't squabbling, or Charles Darwin soon after he wed his cousin Emma Wedgwood.  That decade, but not quite that stratum of society.

Emma Darwin 1840

I even daydream about the characters, especially when I was in bed ill at the weekend, imagining their names and relationships.  There are two very similar young ladies.  They are sisters.  At the moment they are identically dressed, but I intend to re-dress all the dolls in handmade homemade clothes.  One sister is married, her husband is the householder, his widowed mother lives with them.  It is his family home which he has inherited from his late father.  His widowed mother is the children's nanny/governess, with help from a nursery maid.  There is a small daughter and a new baby. 

The wife's unmarried sister also spends her daytime hours with them to help with the children as well.  She often stays on for dinner and has a handsome bearded beau who visits, and plays the piano to accompany her as she sings or plays the violin.  But they are not engaged, so someone has to chaperon his visits, even if it's only the little girl.  The householder is a professional man of some sort, or a man of business, and has a study or library (which it is will depend on how many shelves of how many tiny little books I can afford, or manage to make...) where he relaxes or entertains his male guests after dinner

They are definitely in trade or the professions.  Not landed gentry.  There is work to be done in this house, the middle classes are rising!

On the ground floor we have a kitchen and a dining room, the first floor is the drawing room, a female preserve, and the study for the menfolk.  The third floor has the two largest bedrooms.  The attic rooms are the servants' bedroom and nursery/schoolroom.

Well, all that is the theory!  We shall have to see as the project progresses what is feasible, do-able and affordable.  I have got a lot of the big pieces already, enough to amuse myself with setting up room lay-outs and posing the dolls in little tableaux of domestic bliss.  It is a tremendous outlet for my control-freakery as I have an unprotesting army of underlings to boss about at will and bend to my every whim.  It's brilliant!

Here are the young courting couple making beautiful music together, very properly and decorously, in suitable sepia. I shall add a chaperon when I have an armchair to put her in.  The Husband is going to add candles in holders to the piano either side of the music.

and the here is master of the house at his leisure at the end of his day's work.  His large Turkish rug hasn't arrived yet, but when it does this room will be splendid. He also has a lot of pictures and objets d'art in storage which he got when he took the Grand Tour as a bachelor, after graduating.  Oh, HUMOUR me!

All the rooms need chimney breasts as well, and chimney stacks and pots need to be added to each side of the roof.  The Husband now has the kit to wire the whole place for lighting (and illuminated fire grates) so that's the next big job.  The tiny 12-amp electrical items which will reproduce the effect of candles, gas lights or oil lamps, and fires will all be controlled and dimmed via remote control, so I shan't even keep knocking everything over switching them on.  How good is that?

After that is all wired in, I can buy and lay the flooring, and add skirting boards, dado rails, picture rails, cornicing, moulding and ceiling roses where appropriate.  And paint and paper and pictures.  Oh, what fun we shall have!

Meanwhile, I will leave you with this charming vignette of the young Victorian mother with her second-born, soothing her before her bed time.  The infant is still in a cot in her parents' room, you will note.  It's quite a tough call to find places for everyone to sleep when there are ONLY eight rooms.  Perhaps we need an extension ...

(please no-one tell The Husband I just said that!).