Aug 13, 2015


Hi.... Geri here. Just popped in to survey - and gasp wonderingly - at the new Dashboard - which took around ten minutes to find. The old style has gone - and there are lots of new icons and stuff - reducing my perplexed thoughts to hyphenated chunks. Looks as though I shall have to re-learn how to fly this thing! 
Time out to consider....
Let's see if this post finds its way first.
Baby steps!

Feb 24, 2012


Good grief.... decided to take a peep at the blog and have a little wander down memory lane...and it was gone..! Thought to find it maybe covered in fine dust and a cobweb or two - but in fact none of the other accounts were there either. And a blatant notice at the top informed me that my browser wasn't supported anymore. The cheek of it..!

Stupefying - all the old technology fear came rushing back... shiver..!
Sensations of 'they can't do this to me', stirred within the old Geri bosom and the urge to click buttons reawakened with a roar! (Bit like the old dinosaur in my 8th. Post. 'Holes and Dinosaurs'. Heh!).

Anyway, soon discovered that there are loads of browser update options and something called 'Windows Upgrade Advisor', that could advise me about upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7. However, after being instructed halfway through the process to download something else (?) in order to allow WUA to complete downloading itself (????) it would seem that this old computer is not entirely compatible for the 'jump'!

What to do? Google Chrome kept popping up and insisting it would solve all my woes.....but.
I'm inclined to avoid 'pushy' things. So decided to investigate updating Internet Explorer. No good. It told me to find out how many 'bits' I'm using and how much RAM memory etc., but after searching through My Computer for this golden info', the IE website got deleted and I couldn't remember just how I'd found it in the first place.

Oh well, so in the end Google won. Though not the Chrome. Not entirely. I've now downloaded the Google Frame for I.E. whatever that is - but happily (!) can now access all the old accounts! And there was 'Ageing Ungracefully', resting quietly in a corner and asking: 'Crikey ducky, where on earth have you been these last two years!

I don't think I'm back for good - don't really feel I could give my best yet - but it was lovely to browse through all the old Posts and to re-read all the lovely comments from old blog friends.

So AU, I shall kiss you a fond farewell again for now - and get back to my 'crunches'. No, not 'crunchies' (!) have given up the old chocolate and cake and stuff and am now exercising and trying to get healthy. Have even joined a drawing/painting class to discover other skills and give the Geri hippocampus a boost. Not quite sure how that's going. I forget things.... dipped my paint brush in my coffee the other day - and when the teacher gets to me (she walks around behind us to observe progress and it gives me the shuddering heebiejeebies...ugh) she stops, goes all quiet - and sighs....

O.K. good folk, that's it for now. Take care. Cheers!

Aug 22, 2010


Time for AU to go into permanent hibernation.

Was poised to relate the latest holiday 'airport boarding-pass machine fiasco' - but suddenly realised that this latest technological battle story, is hardly any different to those of previous years - and in all probability (unless scientists can re-grow a new brain for me, from a bit of the old one) the world of technology, in all its wonderfulness, will continue to boggle old Geri forever and ever, ad infinitum....

And anyway, have been thinking deeply and seriously about this computer of mine. Don't really even want it anymore.

The 'search' bar is useful of course, for looking up new stuff - but I can't seem to get animated about anything at all lately. On the other hand, it is also useful for in-depth perusal of News items; but am finding the News more and more depressing and the World more and more unhappy and desperate - and I wish I had a magic wand... but, I haven't.

Going from 'online banking transactions', back to the paper/envelope 'rompslomp', will of course be odd at first; but the radical thought of throwing off as many technological chains as possible and roaming free, both literally and figuratively... is making the old Geri heart feel lighter than it has felt in years!

Visions of walking free through dense woods, filled with beautiful birds and large-eyed night animals; or pottering around cave ridden hills, discovering million year old relics; and dabbling tired feet in babbling streams and quiet woodland ponds; and living quietly with maybe a chicken or two in a little hut or one roomed cottage, tucked away somewhere off the beaten track....(sigh..).
Or maybe I'll just stay here in my little, noisy, smelly (petrol fumes in the kitchen seeping in from adjoining storage rooms of flat dwellers above me) town flat - and sort my head out (!)

So good-bye folks.
And many thanks to all those readers who have followed and hopefully enjoyed AU- and particularly to those who have regularly left comments. Your consistent good natured support has been greatly appreciated!!

Take care, one and all.
Geri Atric.
(AKA - Jean xxx).

Jul 18, 2010


Nestling in the woods above a winding stream the holiday bungalow was comfy and spacious and equipped with all mod cons. The weather was wonderful too - hot-hot-hot(!) with only two rather violent thunderstorms - and the Park amenities were excellent. Swimming, eating, walking, eating, climbing, eating, bowling and eating...!! Well, what the h*ck! Isn't that all part of enjoying a good holiday? Even though lots of normally 'forbidden' snacks and sweeties are now (despite all that activity) lodged for the unforeseeable future around the old hips and tum....

The setting was great; surrounded as we were with numerous different sorts of interesting trees, filled with birds of many lovely colours and inclination (I like birds). Cheeky Tom-Tits; raucous Jays; bossy Magpies; and busy mother ducks with their numerous fluffy offspring, all anxious to share our picnic breakfasts.

We were even treated to an occasional glimpse of two red squirrels, chattering at us from high up in the trees, although too timid to come down whilst we were outside.

All in all, Dutch Mother Nature at her most relaxing, picturesque and charming best....

WOAH... back up for just a moment there Geri!...

AND her worst!!!!!!!!!! *scratch, scratch*

Yup, I got bitten, remorselessly - by creeping, flying, whining, buzzing, horrible buggy things! Have been home two days now, but am still scratching at big red lumps on arms and legs. The one just above the left knee looks suspiciously tick-like too...
Why didn't I use the repellent on offer? Because I'm an idiot, that's why...tsk!

The second week of my summer holiday will be in Scotland, starting at the beginning of August - but since the end of last week the picture of beautiful highlands and the interesting woods and wild life they have there too, is now rapidly giving way to a vision of dozens of ominous clouds of.....midges!! I saw on the UK news recently that these pesky, tiny devils had actually driven hoards of camping tourists away....

Ah well - that's Nature, I guess. Take it or leave it.

I'll take it - but will be smearing myself in with 'anti-bug' from head to toe, the moment I leave the plane. Oh yeah..!

Happy holidays everyone! And take care, wherever you go.

Jun 25, 2010


Have come to the conclusion that old Geri has Royal linage.

Well just look at the facts.

1. There was once a Princess who developed large bruises from a pea hidden under a pile of mattresses. Right? Well biscuit crumbs between the sheets irritate the sensitive Geri skin alarmingly - and crumbs are much smaller than peas!
One point to me.

2. There was once another Princess who pricked her finger on a spinning wheel and fell asleep for one hundred years, until the kiss from a Prince woke her up Right? Well I don't even need to prick my finger to suddenly wake up and realise that I didn't even know I had fallen asleep in the first place! Now that's clever - and it happens at least half a dozen times a day and I don't even need a Prince to kiss me awake!
Two points to me.

3. Talking of Princes, it is my understanding that olden day Princesess did a lot of amphibian snogging, in their attempts to find a husband.
Well strangely enough, I was put in mind of this curious fact a couple of days ago whilst crossing a quiet, leafy road near the park. Was just lifting my foot to step over what looked like a lump of blackish dog poo, when the poo suddenly leapt forward about a foot and almost gave me heart failure...!
Turns out the 'poo' was a frog which I assumed was looking for a Princess to give it a kiss. So cupping my hands, I picked the poor thing up and - *drum roll* -returned it to the edge of the park pond. Ha! Not that it wasn't a nice looking frog or anything - well actually it wasn't - but I didn't want to chance removing its enchantment and turning it back into a handsome toyboy...er.... Prince....I mean Prince!....*sigh*.... Am just too set in the old Geri ways to start sharing my abode with a man again.....even one wearing a crown and tights... Hmm....tights...let me think about that a bit more.....(!)
Anyway, in the meantime, I guess that loses me point three.

Oh well, 2 out of 3 is fair going. So whilst probably not a true-blue Princess or Queen of anybody's heart.... There might just be a bit of the 'Right Honourable' in there...(can women be Honorables?). After all, I did do the honourable thing and return the frog to its natural home... Well 'natural' while it is still in frog form. Don't know where it lived when it was a Prince, before its wicked stepmother enchanted it.... and then asked the mirror on the wall if she was still beautiful, before...yawn... dispatching 7 dwarves down a ravine and.....zzz...having herself imprinted onto a playing card and changing a baby into a pig and chasing.....zzzzz.......Alice up a rabbit hole....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz back through the very same 'looking glass' she was just chatting to !

What on earth am I talking about? This is scary, even for moi. Oh lor', now I'm starting to speak French - must be all those frog's legs (in tights, no less!). Heh!

Jun 19, 2010


The Blog Dashboard informs me that a total of 82 (intermittent) posts have been published - since May 2008. (This will be 83.....).

And while I know that this is small stuff, compared to you true blogging veterans out there with your 100's - and even 1000's - of postings and millions of words (!) *applause and respect*... it is still a surprise to me to realise the extent of the Geri chuntering and mumbling, since those first tentative steps to set up AU and share a bit of the Geri Attric 'AT' (anti-technological) experience.

Of course not every posting has been about a fight with 'new technology' (... !). But the general theme of confusion with the challenges of everyday life, have been and will in all probability continue to be the connecting thread of AU, for as long as it lasts....

I would like to achieve the milestone of 100 postings. However, a member of my family recently asked me to 'print off' AU and make a 'family heirloom' (?) of it, for the amusement of future family generations...... And so, full of good intention, that is what I have been doing these past couple of days. Printing, printing and more printing and running out of ink and A4 paper and having to nip to the shops for more of both....

Was rather clever though (!) Had the ink cartridge refilled at one of those ink-filling places and saved myself quite a bit of cash. The only real fly in the ointment, was that the printer did not seem to recognise the refilled cartridge (?) and wouldn't stay turned 'on'.

A bit of thumping and repeated readjustment of ink cartridge and paper finally got it working though - and the whole blog is now filed neatly away for posterity in a very large plastic folder !!

Only 82 postings, including all comments..... but still quite an impressive manuscript! They say we all have at least one book inside of us. Perhaps this one is mine(?).

I am content. Hope the 'future family generations' enjoy it!!

And now onwards... *drum roll*... to Post number 84 !!!> > > > > >..........????????

May 31, 2010


Oops! The tiny screw just fell out of the side-thingy >>
so am having to balance them lopsidedly on my nose to read and type.

And -
have also just discovered that unless you have a spare pair of specs stashed away, you can't possibly fix your broken ones!!! Unless of course you are good at doing things by touch....? But let me tell you, those screws are itsy-bitsy tiny and can hardly be seen even with the aid of glasses! And this one landed somewhere on the floor....................aargghh.!

Pity I threw that old magnet away.

May 24, 2010


Found some...er... (maybe) useful survival tips on the web this morning - but am left wondering how many people cast away on a desert island and needing to build a fire, would have a brillo pad, toilet roll and 9v battery handy?! (See link below...)

And to ensure continued survival, after being rescued from the island and safely home again:-

Quote: "(Useful) technique to -
test the safety of your microwave oven.
Place your (mobile) phone inside the oven, close the door and then dial your mobile number from your land line.
Your call should go straight to voicemail because the microwaves can't reach the phone. If it rings you have a problem, because if the waves can get in, they can get out, too (!!)"
(Ref: Mail Online).

Another tip on how to combat B.O. (plain old sweat!) with fizzy 'love heart' sweets, is intriguing - if perhaps not a bit sticky(?).. I.E: Crush them up and apply directly to armpits..(!)
Of course, you won't be able to lift your arms whilst 'holding' the sweeties in place - but at least you'll smell nice!

These tips and more @

May 23, 2010


If there is a name meaning the complete opposite of 'hoarder', then on reflection, I might have to lay claim to it.....

That does not mean the Geri dwelling is cleaned from top to bottom every day - on the contrary - but it does mean that I can not save 'stuff'!!!

In fact, clutter in any shape or form, makes me seriously anxious. And anxiety is bad. Starting with a nasty niggling feeling; slowly increasing to a heavy oppression; and quickly followed by the inevitable 'can't take anymore' (!) explosion of frantic clearing out of cupboards, drawers and neatly filed away boxes - boxes that have already been sorted umpteen times throughout the years, but 'need' sorting again. 'Stuff' that past muster a couple of months ago, is rifled through yet again - and thinned out even further..

All old school books and reports (way back to infant times and handed down to me by my mother when I left home) have slowly staged their way to the dustbin. Old dolls; bald teddy.... binned. Come to think of it, I never had any reading or picture books whilst living at the parent's house. The only books I - and as far as I know my brothers too - ever saw in the house, before we bought our own, were borrowed from the school library... Our father was in the Royal Air Force and we moved house within England and overseas, at least once a year. Books were too heavy to pack and transport. Ornaments and pictures too. We never had either of these adorning our 'living quarters' whilst I was growing up.... Hmm, perhaps therein lays a clue......(?)

Anyway, back to the clearing-out phobia. Bank papers older than 3 months; college books; other documents (divorce papers) and old business licence (memory of independent, working days)... all gone. Well why keep them? It's all PAST life.... And it is truly, genuinely perplexing to me, that people 'hang on and hang on' to old memorabilia - stuffed away in old suitcases in attics and cellars etc. and doomed never to see the light of day again until they pass away and other folk have to clear it out....

Photographs: Ah yes. Well those at least, I saved - by giving them all to my children as soon as possible after they were settled into homes of their own. I also gave them their own school reports and drawings and little school made clay pots and animals etc... but unfortunately threw away a lot of their old toys. Things they would like to have now, I am sure.
And I genuinely regret 'clearing' those out, since I feel now that they were not mine to clear.

Don't know when it all started. Don't know why. But the feeling experienced once the clearing out is done (again) is like a huge distressing weight lifted from my mind. Physically too, I literally feel 'light headed' and full. As though I have just eaten a good meal.

But there it is..... And it is amazing to me that I still have any 'stuff' left to throw away. Well, there is always the stray advert or magazine coming through the door. Despite having a NO junk mail/NO local newspaper sticker, above the letterbox!

Okay. I know this is all a bit OTT. Off Key. One sandwich short of a picnic. Ten pence to the shilling, etc..
But at least I will never keep a whole 'clachan (hamlet) in a valley', on a shelf in my garden house, like my eldest daughter does!!!!!! Heh-heh!

May 14, 2010


There is supposed to be a photo' here of a big pile of treasure - but it wouldn't upload or download or whatever it's supposed to do..... (oh well, back to the drawing board).

Anyway, as witnessed in the very first posting on AU, my horror and anxiety when faced with a vending machine is almost phobic(!). But I wouldn't mind having a go at this one!!


May 10, 2010


An email received from family in the UK. (Making sure I'm kept up-to-date with British news)!

A little boy goes to his dad and asks, 'What is Politics?'

Dad says, 'Well son, let me try to explain it this way: I am the head of the family, so call me The Prime Minister. Your mother is the administrator of the money, so we call her the Government. We are here to take care of your needs, so we will call you the People. The nanny, we will consider her the Working Class. And your baby brother, we will call him the Future. Now think about that and see if it makes sense.'

So the little boy goes off to bed thinking about what Dad has said. Later that night, he hears his baby brother crying, so he gets up to check on him. He finds that the baby has severely soiled his nappy. So the little boy goes to his parent's room and finds his mother asleep. Not wanting to wake her, he goes to the nanny's room. Finding the door locked, he peeks in the keyhole and sees his father in bed with the nanny.. He gives up and goes back to bed.

The next morning, the little boy say's to his father, 'Dad, I think I understand the concept of politics now. '

The father says, 'Good, son, tell me in your own words what you think politics is all about.'

The little boy replies, 'The Prime Minister is screwing the Working Class while the Government is sound asleep. The People are being ignored and the Future is in deep shit.'

May 8, 2010


Hooray - worry warting over!!

Grandkids arrived safely back from France yesterday - and daughter's Cairo flight landed safely on Dutch soil this morning.

Eat your firey heart out Eyjafjollajukull!

Although I did read on online news this morning that besides still wafting over parts of Britain and Ireland, there is a new volcanic ash threat to Atlantic flights: i.e., UK-US. So good luck to all those travellers.

It seems this angry Icelandic giant could carry on spewing its guts - without respite - for a couple of years yet.

Meanwhile, youngest daughter has invited me to a small family reunion this afternoon.
Wonder what she's brought me....? Just kidding!

Volcano latest.

May 4, 2010


There is a distinct difference between accepting that you are glimpsing the ghost of a little black cat darting about your house - and of thinking that you are 'imagining things', every time said cat cavorts playfully at the periphery of your vision!

I have no doubt, that the ghost of a little black cat has been living with me for a number of years now; and that she occasionally disappears for weeks at a time, to visit other members of my family in their own houses. (Sort of goes off on her 'holidays'!).

All this came to light of course when I casually, and half jokingly mentioned that I was being 'haunted' by this animal and surprised family members also admitted that they too sometimes 'saw' a little black cat, flitting silently around their houses.

We did have a real, live black cat once. In fact we had five family cats, during the years my children were growing up. All of whom came to us either as young strays, or were born in the house, or from another litter - and all lived to a ripe old age (17, 18, 19 and 20). All except the little black one that is. She was the first cat we ever had - a young stray (found by yours truly) starving and sick in the snow - and who when recovered, became mother to four kittens; two of whom found homes elsewhere and two we kept, because they got too big waiting for homes - and we'd become too soppy about them to want to part with them anyway...

Our little black mama cat was about 14 when she became very ill and had to be 'put to sleep'.

I sobbed all the way back from the vet's on the bus, with her little lifeless body wrapped in a blanket on my knee..... and buried her in the garden - and my heart ached for months. Nay, years!

What the heck, I hear you say. It's just a cat...

Yes, they were all 'just cats'; and they all got ill in the end, with quite serious old-age illnesses (brain tumour; hyperthyroidism/heart problems; kidney failure) and all had to be 'put to sleep' and buried in the garden. Except for the fifth one - a little grey and white cat. She moved with me to my present abode - where there is no garden - and I had to have her cremated and her ashes 'scattered at sea' in The Hague.
Actually, I was a bit bothered by that afterwards, because cats don't like water and it didn't 'feel right'. But there was no other choice (council rules and regulations) so it wouldn't therefore have surprised me, if she hadn't turned up on a few celestial visits - to reproach me for her soggy end...! But no. It's not her.

It's definitely the little black cat.

That's her in the photograph (taken when she was alive)!

On the other hand. For those of you who prefer a more rational explanation for my feline phantom, I have googled up this site:


I came across the phenomenon of 'animal hallucination' during a psychology course.

It's not the worst hallucination in the world! Rather comforting actually. And I don't have problems with my eyes, apart from needing glasses for reading, so am still convinced that in mine and my family's' case, this is not some kind of brain/eye syndrome - but a true haunting! And just so you know, our hearts and minds will remain open to our little black cat ghostie, for as long as she needs us. And that's just purrrrrrfect!!!

May 3, 2010


This is all that is left of a rather large leek I have been chomping on - now and then - throughout the past week. (Finely chopped leek, sprinkled liberally onto a layer of old cheese and enclosed within wholewheat bread. Yummy!).

The only trouble with raw leeks (and old cheese too, for that matter...) is that the memory of them lingers on in the mouth for days....and days....and days..

Not normally a problem - unless your partner complains(!) or, a large piece of enamel breaks off the back of one of your few remaining upper molars - and you have to promptly visit the dentist!

That latter thing has happened (of course!) - and leek addicted Geri has now emailed said dentist for an emergency 'please squeeze-me-in' appointment; and is regularly checking the in/email box for a reply.

In the meantime, toothpaste and mouthwash are being regularly and anxiously employed - and the old gums and tongue are quite sore with all the extra attention!

That'll teach me.

Trouble is, I can still taste and smell that leek! Have heard that parsley helps extinguish the odour of garlic but I don't have any readily available - and anyway, it probably doesn't work on leeks? There are plenty of dandylion leaves along the hedgerows though....so perhaps I'll give those a try. Although, they might not work either - and knowing my luck, will also stain the teeth bright green!

Just imagine the dentist's shock, when I open my mouth and he stares down into that green, evil smelling pit.....! Aarrgghh!!

Meanwhile, the old tongue is being irresistibly and continually drawn to the jagged cavity in the back of that molar - and is poking itself ragged! If this doesn't put me off raw leeks for the rest of my life - don't know what will.


May 1, 2010


I have an unusual craving to see colours today. In fact, I need to see them so much, my head and eyes are aching with the longing of it.

Violet; indigo; shimmering blue; emerald green; bright lemon yellow; passionate orange; firey red! I want them all!

The sky outside the window is a misty, whitey-grey; and every parked car within my line of vision is either dark grey, dark blue or dark green.

People cycling and walking past are hardly noticeable in their beige summer rain coats.

No colours anywhere.

A misty rain is falling - but there are no sunbeams to paint a prism through the clouds.

Hmm.... I see grandson no. 1. has left his coloured chalks behind.... Maybe a spot of self made 'street art' will brighten things up around here?!

Saw two students draw an exact replica of the Mona Lisa on the paving stones in the town center last year. Won't attempt that - but a few rainbow patterned flagstones just outside the front door should brighten things up today!
And unavoidably p**s the neighbours off - although that wouldn't be my intention.
(They are always washing the pavement over here. It's a Dutch compulsion. Stoop washing. Drives me nuts).

Here's to colours! Long may they brighten the eye and lift the spirits!

Apr 22, 2010


I suppose this isn't so much a new Post, as a bit of 'worry warting'.....

1). Youngest daughter flying off (volcanic ash permitting) to warmer climes at the end of next week, for a well earned 7 day break of culture, rest and relaxation - without the kids... First time ever - and mixed feelings... (Hers, not mine. She deserves this).

2). Grandkids motoring off to a holiday park in France with their dad and other grandparents for that same week...

3). Fast forward: Dad and kids return; Mum/daughter is about to fly home - and then that second and much larger 'beast of Eyjafjollajukullamaflip' (next to the one that's spewing up now) blows its gasket (!) and strands daughter in the Middle-East for the unforeseeable future!!

4). Dad goes back to work and other grandparents back home to the other end of Holland - and Grandma Geri packs a bag and nips up 'post haste' to daughter's house, to care for the grandkids.....

5). Not that I mind that, at all. Already help out now two days and one night a week. A few more days will be all the more fun - as long as daughter is safe and the tour company look after her - and bus(?) train(?) or sail(?) her home again, without it costing the earth... and the kids don't put the telly on during the day - 'cus I always fall asleep in front of it!! (And if those two little 'monsters' suss that one out.... oh boy)!

O.M.G.! What am I saying? This isn't like me at all! The old Geri can always seem to find the 'sense of ridiculous' in most of life's situations - so what's with all this panicky stuff....?

Aeroplanes; volcanic ash; looking after two very young kids properly - for lord knows how long? Cleaning, cooking, (their dad can do the shopping) bringing and fetching to school and nursery; not forgetting to fetch their pet cats back from the cat kennels; remembering to take my pills...

You know what... I think it's time for a big mug of morning coffee and a walk in the park - and a fresh psychological reboot to this weirdly foggy day!

Apr 17, 2010


This post was inspired by 'Coffee Helps'. A fascinating blog written by an Irish lass, depicting her frustrating and often comical struggle for 'survival' (and understanding!) in the S. Korean teaching world.

It was whilst reading Hail's latest South Korean adventure (i.e., predicament!) on Coffee Helps this morning, that I was jolted back in time, to the noisy street vendors of long ago British childhood.

Where did he go to? That deliciously scary, scruffy looking fellow - the Rag 'n Bone man! Attired in miss-matched, ill fitting, worn out clothes and (most confusing of all to little girl me) a pair of grey woollen gloves, with the fingers cut off (?!) (What was that all about...?).
Stopping at regular intervals he would cup his weirdly gloved hands to his mouth and yell his time worn mantra:

"Rag 'n Bone! Rag 'n Bone!"

His gigantic old cart-horse, with dinner plate sized hairy hooves, would be pulling a cart filled high with old clothes and metal; and if you were lucky enough, your 'Mam' would give you a broken clock or a few old garments to dispose of, along with a carrot or slice of bread for the horse - and the 'Rag 'n Bone' man would as often as not, give you a tiny goldfish in return! Sadly though, these poor little creatures would almost always die within a week or two. So after about the fourth 'fish burial', complete with dandelion wreath and 'cross' made out of clothes pegs and usual floods of childish tears - Mam's word was law. 'No more goldfish!'

But the comfort of sweetmeats was never far away! I refer of course to that bain of parental life; the 'Ice Cream' van!
What a "*!#@^!" nuisance that was! (And I speak from adult experience too, since it was still around after I grew up and had my own first child). At least four times a day during the Summer months, along our street he would cruise; chiming his wares and sending kids mad with disappointment (and tantrums) if Mam said 'No'! Which was often.

Best of all though, was that one occasion when the 'Gypsies' (can I still say that?) and their ponies came a-calling! Twopence, for a ride down the street; where you would then be yanked off and another child dumped on - and you had to walk back. But who cared! You'd dared to ride a 'Gypsy Pony' in front of everyone. However..... on second thoughts....
Up until this point, as I relive the ride, I had always thought I'd enjoyed it.... I remember being allowed a 'go', because I was three years old and considered big enough to stay on - but even as I think about it, I am wriggling on my stool! The discomfort of tiny legs stretched wide across the pony's neck, small hands clutching in desperation to a flying mane and the actual pain in my rear as the pony's owner (a laughing young woman with gold earrings) thwacked the animal on its rump, making it break into a trot and bumping me mercilessly up and down. Ow! Ow! Ow! And come to think of it, as memory clears, I now remember feeling great panic and being lifted off after just a few trots. Huh! Have never wanted to ride any kind of Equine since - and that's probably why.

And of course, there was the good old Coal Man...!

"Sack-a-coal! Sack-a-coal!"

Trudging from house-to-house with his horse drawn cart loaded with heavy, grimy sacks, which he would lift onto his back and carry up the garden paths to dump into the coal 'holes' or sheds. So delightfully filthy, with his teeth shining white through all the black dust. We kids loved him and Grandad loved his horse, sending us regularly out with bucket and spade to collect manure for the roses! (2008 post).

But on final reflection, perhaps the best Street Vendor of all - was the Indian Peddler. No noisy shouting; no pain; no dead animals; just a gentle tap on the door and there he would be - resplendent in suit and tie and all topped off with a wondrously mystic silk turban. Whilst at his feet, a huge, battered old suitcase would be opened invitingly, to display a myriad of Eastern treasures!
Oh what wonders that suitcase contained (!) and Mam could rarely resist buying just a little something. A brightly coloured, jewelled butterfly hair slide for me and/or some trimming ribbon or nylons for herself.

All things considered, I do prefer the modernity and labour saving devices of contemporary life - but if it ever came to a competition between today's Vending Machines and the Street Vendors of yesteryear - I know which I would vote for! And it would not be the kind that swallow your money and don't give change and then try to snap your hand off whilst you attempt to retrieve your wares from behind a too tightly sprung hatchway door or window!
Well at least they are not noisy, I hear you say.

All right then. What about those street corner Yobs on motorbikes and mopeds, roaring past the house at midnight...grrr...!

P.S. I forgot to mention the Milkman!

.....Empty bottles on the front doorstep, along with an assortment of equally empty jam jars, intended to cover the tops of the full bottles and protect the cream topping from the tom-tits!! Happy days!
(Do they still have door-to-door milkmen in Britain? I've been gone so long..............).

Apr 12, 2010


Harping back to the 'shark nightmares' of a few posts ago, I finally decided that the best way to vanquish these night terrors - and stop getting virtual (but feels like real!) chunks taken out of me now and then - was to confront this particular 'bogey man' head on - and bop him on his virtual nose!!

So with a right old showdown in mind, I put my camera under my pillow, drank my cocoa, went to sleep - and look what I 'caught'!

Laying hidden between fronds of waving seaweed and breathing without tanks *smirk*, I filmed him (er...no.. hang on a second - isn't that a her....?!) all night long, until she eventually swam right out of my sub-conscious for good and all! (I hope....).

Well all right then. The truth of the matter is, I took this photo at the aquarium/zoo, in Rotterdam, with reinforced glass between us. Guess I'll never be a marine biologist!
Except perhaps in dreams...?

Mar 28, 2010


Let's see... what are the Netherlands famous for:

Gouda cheese
Delft pottery
Coffee Shops
Frisian Cows
Raw herrings with onions
Street Organs
and Cycling !

Bicycles! Which (with or without child's seats front and back) seem to be doing wonderfully well in the export market. This time to the Emerald Isle!

This should please the 'EU Greens'. And maybe earn us clog dancers a little dispensation for the ammonia fog from our cows(?) and not to forget the ungodly whiff (something like a mixture of rotting gardinias and landfill) from our coffee shops? No wait - the windmills largely waft that away...

That just leaves the cheese then - but Gouda is rather mild, so no real bother there. And after a few old Genevers (gins), you usually end up reeling off into one of the canals anyway - and don't give a hoot about industrial aromas, one way or the other.
(That's where the Euthanasia bit comes in: I.E. they feed you vast quantaties of gin and joints after sunset - and then rent you a bike)!

There are a lot of bikes in Dutch canals.. But generally speaking, cycling is very good for you - although I haven't attempted it since I got knocked off mine by a car in 1999 and broke my hand.
But cycling is also apparantly good for the environment as well. I mean how can it not be? Unless the 'aroma' from your panting breath after eating a few raw herrings and onions can be counted as pollution.....?

So go to it Ireland! And if you end up with broken bones in a ditch somewhere, we have tulips to brighten the eye and more genever to cheer you up...!


Mar 25, 2010


Is it possible do you think, that computer screens can send out invisible, sinister rays, that surreptitiously drain a users memory?

Either that - because since becoming a computer user the old grey cells are definitely in rapid meltdown - or, I have finally become completely paranoid in imagining the computer is 'out to get me'!

This morning was the clincher. After signing in and finding everything gone - and I do mean everything - starting with the 'gorse bushes in Scotland' desktop background (unfathomably replaced with a blue background with Dell written through it) right down to all files in Documents; all contents of Outlook Express Mail; all contents of Favourites; etc., etc.. In fact, the whole computer looked like a freshly bought one, just waiting to be programmed with all my personal details!

Horrified (you know the sinking feeling in the stomach thing..) I clicked on 'browser choice' - a new icon on the desktop menu - that I vaguely remember presented itself a few days ago and refused to be clicked away - and then choosing Google Chrome, started all over again filling in account details etc.....sob!

Didn't understand a single thing I was being asked... (frustrated tears rolling down soggy cheeks - waaahh!) so returned to the strange Dell desktop picture, clicked on Start - and rebooted.

Wondrously - once everything had started up again the original desktop Scottish gorse picture was back (!) and all the old menu icons...... and lo and behold even O.E. mail was back with all files intact; and all files in Documents and Pictures (with priceless family photos) were present and correct......

The only thing is, I am now scared to turn the computer off, in case everything is gone again, either from my head, or the computer (or both) the next time I log in (?)
Is it my mind - or is it really the computer playing tricks....(ponder, mumble...)?

Know what - I think it's time for a spot of comfort food! Made a Shepherds Pie a few days ago and it's always much nicer the second time around, warmed up in the frying pan with all the ingredients mushing together in one big tasty mass - Yum!

Till later then everyone... It is not polite to type with your mouth full - and besides that, the computer might decide it wants a byte! Hee-hee, ha-ha (mad cackling)!!