Monday, 21 September 2015

How to get off a bus

Simple you may think but you are mistaken. It is a complex business starting with the look on your face as you belatedly realise you are at your stop. (You can practise this expression at the check out of any supermarket when you suddenly accept that you have to pay for your trolley load.) Rise slowly to your feet and then go through all your possessions to make sure you have everything. Women with handbags are at an advantage here as this process can be spun out for minutes. Move in a leisurely fashion down the aisle chatting to anyone you know not forgetting the driver who likes a little conversation. Step gently off and beam happily at the waiting queue who have been standing in the wind and rain admiring your expertise.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Remaining sexist niche

Some inequalities between the sexes have been successfully removed but one that remains is the fault of women as much as men. Females are still regarded as the organisers of social life and main participants: it is acceptable for a male to be aloof or preoccupied but women must be amenable to whatever chumminess is happening. "I want to be alone" - or tinkering with my bike - needs to be understood no matter who says it.

Thursday, 25 June 2015


I confess to a fear of cows and their large bony bottoms. On a walk along the banks of the Wye yesterday, I passed by this lovely little church and on through a field I normally avoid since there is usually a herd eyeing me with dislike. I was perturbed by the extra large pats I saw but only realised their cause on the way back when the cows, which had been clearly hiding in bushes and waiting for me, reappeared and, once again, put their bony bottoms to the use intended for them by Nature. Feebly I accosted a passing ornithologist who clapped his hands and shooed them away, leaving me to realise why parents used to scare their children by warning them that Boney would come and get them.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Activity tracker

I have just bought one of those wristbands that counts steps and tells me how well I've slept. To avoid advertising, I will call it my Fatnot. I sat down to celebrate with a glass before dinner, raising my toast to the Fatnot gadget with the same hand. I am delighted to report that it recorded 30 steps and is therefore clearly ProProsecco!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Saving money

When shopping, it is quite easy to save money - but only if you have more than you need immediately. Bulk buying of loo paper on special offer is possible when you have extra in your purse and those 3 for price of 2 can be a bargain provided there is surplus cash. In my Lancashire youth we had a saying: "Muck flies t'th'midden" meaning that money went where there was already plenty - all too true even now.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Hair products

I recently had my neat bob cut into short layers to achieve that gamine look. Obviously this needs a cupboard full of pots, tubes and sprays to maintain its style and - to be fair - many of these are cheap and effective. Yesterday, however, I sanitised my hands with antibacterial gel and then absent-mindedly ran my fingers through my mop. Result? Choppy, beachy, sexy, urchin, effortless - and very clean!

Monday, 25 May 2015


We are constantly told that exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer and that we should use creams to avoid it. I have found that this vital advice is not easy to follow as the preparations are not always clear in their instructions. For example, one facial brand, even recommended by dermatologists, says it is for 'daily' usage but does not say if that means that it lasts all day (unlikely) or that it can be applied each morning. Also I have wondered if, having rubbed in one colourless version with a SPF of 15 and then another as make-up, that adds up to 30. Surely manufacturers should be forced to be transparent over this.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

BBC reporting

I have long noticed that weather forecasts often tell us what we have just had. In reverse, I found that post-election coverage concentrated on guessing the future rather than giving the facts and films of the night itself.  Please, BBC, think what your viewers need and give us just that.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Grass Routes


Although puns usually make me groan, this title is a good one as the name suits the flexible bus service operating in Monmouthshire where users can phone and book a journey convenient to them, free if they have a bus pass and costing a mere £5:00 to join the scheme for life. The bus can pick passengers up from their door and rambles through lovely countryside to do so. The helpful driver lifts shopping and trolleys on and off and there is a friendly community spirit on board, a particular regular favourite being the one to Abergavenny on market day. I do hope such an institution is preserved despite budget cuts as it is a life-line to many elderly people, providing a socially welcoming morning out to a lively destination and laughs en route. 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Weeping willows

I love these trees in any weather but when they are blown in a wind they are so dramatic that I wonder how they remain upright against the blast.

Friday, 24 April 2015


What is the opposite of "hard-working families"? All real words and phrases have antonyms: hard/soft; hot/cold; early rise/lie in. BUT all I can say in answer to my own question is: "idle celibates". How many of them are there to raise tax revenue?

Sunday, 19 April 2015


A couple of weeks ago I bought a perfectly ordinary bottle of red wine from my local Co-op in my usual perfectly ordinary fashion. A few days later I was asked to complete a survey which went something like this with ratings of 1 to 5 depending on my valuations:
1) How would you rate the wine you bought?
2) How would you rate the experience of buying your wine?
3) Did the experience of buying your wine fill you with radiant warmth?
4) Did the experience of drinking your wine fill you with warm radiance?
5) Was the smile on the face of the assistant who served you your wine warm and radiant?
6) Did the dog often chained outside your shop wag its tail in a radiant and warm manner?
7) Please rate your memories of your wine according to the totality of the satisfaction the whole experience gave you.
8) Would you recommend us to your circle of friends for our warmth and radiance?
9) After you had drunk your wine could you even remember what kind it was and where you had bought it?
10) Will you be returning to our local inquisitive shop for your next fulfilling experience of buying wine?

The answer to the last is that I am turning teetotal as a result of this overall life-changing event but I have one question to put to you.
When can I expect a survey to rate my experience of filling in your survey?

Saturday, 11 April 2015


There is something nostalgic about these walkways over the sea, suggestive of British recreation in the days before Abroad, when people took a train or coach to a resort and paddled, strolled on the promenade, listened to the band or rode on donkeys. Goose pimples, candy floss and fish and chips were the main ingredients of a Grand Day Out after which one felt better for the ozone and slept soundly in one's own bed. You could buy Rover tickets and go somewhere different every day for a week, possibly a post war idea of Holidays at Home.

Thursday, 9 April 2015


I am beginning to nurture a deep dislike of trains: expensive, unpunctual and patronising. When one arrives ten minutes late we congratulate it inwardly for being on time! It costs me four times as much to go to London by nasty moquette-seated train as it does to go on the reliable National Express coach with its leather armchairs and classy wooden floors. What bugs me most is the bossy way the announcer tells you to mind the gap between the step and the platform edge. "Who put the gap there in the first place?", I ask.  Grrr.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Charity shops

I love a good rummage in a charity shop particularly when I emerge with a designer bargain. The sense that I have contributed to a good cause adds to the satisfaction as does the feeling of helping to recycle. I buy books there and, when I have read them. I take them back: a double benefit. Yet most of all it is the thrill of the chase and the satisfaction of returning home with the loot. There's something primitive about it. Our local St. David's Hospice branch is especially tempting because of its up-to-date window displays and keen staff. If Napoleon had lived now he would have called us a nation of charity shop keepers and that would be a compliment.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Radio 4

I am increasingly furious about the way that long wave Radio 4 suddenly starts transmitting cricket commentaries instead of the usual programmes. You can tell the instant you switch on by the background buzz that this will be a tedious day of reportage of wickets and cake. In my area we cannot receive digital radio or good FM and so we are stuck with this boredom until the desired programme goes up on iPlayer. I have spoken harsh words to my poor little analogue device which normally serves me so well but how can I survive a wet Sunday morning without The Archers' Omnibus.

                                         It does look somewhat dejected, don't you think?

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The truth about dogs

My lovely lurcher, Tess, lived before the age of easy digital photos and so this one of her puzzled by a wind-up mouse, is rather clunky.  She had an individual personality (if you can say that about an animal) and was friendly, curious, middle-range intelligent - and did not always do as she was told. I therefore enrolled her at Dog Obedience Class for Beginners where she behaved in exemplary fashion and was swiftly promoted to Intermediate. (I regret to report that she was so over-excited when her name was read out that she created a puddle on the polished floor.) Yet I soon noticed that she was even worse than before when outside the group, wantonly refusing my calls and eating forbidden chocolate biscuits from the table.
Conclusion? Dogs have only a certain amount of obedience inside them and so, if they use it all up in class, there is none left for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


Yesterday I went to a Yoga class. I am an avid believer in exercise and do Pilates and long walks daily. Why am I now aching all over? As the teacher's melliflous voice asked us to twist our bodies into various postures, I thought my only problem was telling my right from left. I am now hobbling round with difficulty and the dark suspicion that one form of exercise does not help with another. Photographs of my suffering muscles would be too traumatic for casual viewing.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Inside magazines

Why is it that, no matter how many sheets of unwanted advertising I take out of a magazine before opening, there are always 3 more when I settle down to read?

Saturday, 21 March 2015


To the painter, safe on shore, there is something romantic about lighthouses and the stories they evoke of life at sea in storms and hazards. Also we may wonder about the solitary keepers in days gone by and how they lived - and kept sane.

Friday, 20 March 2015

International Day of Happiness

As declared by Google, this is today. I will do my best but I do wonder about others in some parts of the world.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Life elsewhere?

Yesterday I heard a lively and informative lecture by Professor Mike Edmunds about when and if we will find life elsewhere in the universe. I had often wondered in vain why it is so vital to discover evidence in just one more place bur he explained it clearly. If such evidence is found, say on Mars, it proves that our planet is not unique in this way and, since we know now there are many, many other planets, we may be sure that life must occur in other places. Scary?

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Knit Henry VIII

I gather from this week's Radio Times that a Welsh grandmother called Denise Salway has knitted Cromwell and the King from Wolf Hall. There are photos of these realistic dolls! When I told my daughter about this and suggested she made them and others also, she replied: "That will be my next project, Mum. But do they have removable heads?"

Saturday, 14 March 2015


What bugs me about my pc is its habit of updating itself and preventing me from using it whilst it does so. "Just wait - I need to clean my teeth," it tells me. I know it's old but does it have to be so boring and annoying? I'm moving on to a Chromebook - I'm told they attend to themselves modestly in the background. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Local Councils

These bodies are frequently criticised but I want to praise Monmouth and Newport. There are real people at the end of the phone who answer questions fully and politely. Customer satisfaction there!