Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What could YOU look at for eternity...?

...because I decided on Monday that one of my favourite things to stare at for an inordinate amount of time was bluebells. The colour of them is just wildly lucious and does things to me that might verge on rudeness. But only verge, cos I ain't THAT weird.

Not being a proper local to these 'ere Welshy parts, I had no clue where to even find a bluebell wood. Now, give me a Spring day in Reading and I could pootle off to any number of places of flowery loveliness, but round here, I am twp on all matters of bluebellness. However, I discovered that the beautiful Clyne Gardens in Swansea was the place to be and so, for Family Night, Celyn and I headed over there, camera in hand, child dressed in complementary colours (oh yes...of COURSE! And don't even ASK me about the bright yellow plastic binoculars she decided she had to bring, because how I managed to withhold wigging out at her is probably down to several deep breaths and a determination not to bring contention into the proceedings - LOL!).

So, here are the fruits of my labour. Clyne truly is a beautiful, beautiful park and worth a visit should you ever be down this way and you like a tree or two. Or indeed a bluebell.

The park also has, amongst many other plants, rhododendron bushes. Celyn posing with one of the petals that had dropped to the floor
Clyne Gardens is on the side of a hill and the sea is only a quick walk away from the bottom end of the park. The view from the top is lovely across Swansea Bay, Port Talbot in the distance.
Celyn loved the freedom of being outdoors. She was hard to keep still for a good photo!! This is her running, running, running!

At the top end of the park, by the entrance, is a little animal cemetery. Seriously. Dogs called Joy and Saucy have been buried there since the 1930s. Celyn enjoyed reading each of their names.

Funny conversation I had with Celyn today:

(additional information you need to know is that in her bedtime prayers, she always asks Heavenly Father to bless her with "no bad dreams" because she hates having nightmares)

Celyn: Mummy, do animals dream?
Me: Yes, I'm sure they do. In fact, I know they do because I've seen dogs twitch and wimper and wag their tails when they've been asleep, because they've been dreaming about something.
Celyn: So...are all their dreams good ones then? Because dogs can't say prayers...
Me: Good question Celyn...good question

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Britain's GOT TALENT!!!

I just had to share this clip (post below) from Saturday's Britain's Got Talent. I just LOVED this act, on so many levels! I think Amanda Holden summed it up perfectly!

Just for starters, the Michael Jackson dancing at the beginning was surprisingly good, although I did think, "Oh no...not ANOTHER Jackson tribute." And then the whole geezer with the broom fitting into the act was just HILARIOUS. Seriously, WHO can keep still with that great Punjabi music playing. So fab! Even Celyn started leaping around the living room to it :D Add Ant and Dec being their usual warm and witty selves, and that wonderful London crowd (they were just SO London! YEY!) thrown into the mix, and you have a winning bit of Saturday night TV for me.
I always get misty-eyed when I see people achieving like this. I tear up EVERY time I watch it. Dappy woman. I'm the same when I watch someone win a great sporting event. Am I alone in this?!

Oh...scoot to the bottom of this page to pause the Newton Faulkner music when you're watching the vid. Obviously.

Suleman (Signature) - Britain's Got Talent 2008 - Episode 3

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Cranford! Cranford! Cranford!

Now, because I've been a bad blogger you lot out there may not know that I was completely, totally and utterly in love with the BBC drama 'Cranford' that was shown at the end of last year. Five one-hour moments of pure, unadulterated TV pleasure. And the last episode?! Well! I could barely contain myself, it was so intense in its emotional attack on my senses. Julia McKenzie's sterling monologue where she describes Miss Mattie's kindness when they were young ladies was truly a work of art. Philip Glenister and Alex What's-his-socks (Etel...that's it) as the estate manager and young boy he takes under his rather manly arm (phwaaa), and Francesca Annis, Judi Dench and Eileen Atkins were all worthy of damehood. Oh, the lovely doctor and the beautiful girl of his dreams...just fabulous. And of course, not to forget one of my very favourite actresses ever, Imelda Staunton and her most hilarious one-liners (she had me roaring with laughter every episode, the best of which was "...and ONE of them had...A HUMP!!" Genius.

I said at the time, 'That Cranford will be up for a slew of BAFTAs, you mark my words' and look, by golly, I'm right. The TV awards are on this very eve, and I am eagerly awaiting them (just LOVE an awards show) (followed by Desperate Housewives...must see TV evening coming up :D). So, in time-honoured tradition, I shall post my guesses for the winners, to see how I do. I expect Rob and Katie-Jane will be doing the calls between Pontardillydoolay and Usstrid Mynachie will ensue...

Before I begin, I would also like to say that I actually DON'T watch THAT much TV (seriously, I really don't) so I haven't watched 80% of the nominations, so a lot of this is pure guesswork. So.

Best Actor: Matthew MacFayden for Secret Life (just because he's a bit yummy really, oh sad lusty woman that I am)

Best Actress: Now, how hard is this? Eileen Atkins AND Judi Dench both up for Cranford. Aaaagh. Eileen Atkins. There. Done. Eeek. Hard one. Or perhaps it'll be Judi...shall I change my mind? No, no...can't decide. Both. There. I can't decide. Both. So there.

Entertainment Performance: Again, this one's hard cos I do like them all except Harry Hill who I NEVER laugh at and I find completely unfunny. Mmmm...I love Stephen Fry but I think it might be Alan Carr & Justin Lee Collins for The Friday Night Project.

Comedy Performance: Mmmm...James Corden for Gavin and Stacey (another hard one. Stephen Merchant and Peter Capaldi I think are both contenders too)

Sky Audience Award: Well, if this isn't Cranford then the viewing public are all asses.

Single Drama: Umm...didn't watch any of them. Right...The Mark of Cain

Drama Series: Life On Mars (another of my absolute favourites...just LOVE this show)

Drama Serial: Cranford. Cranford. Cranford. (um...Cranford)

Continuing Drama: Eastenders

International: Heroes (not seen any of them but heard a lot about this one on the grapevine)

Factual Series: Tribe (cos it's made in Wales!)

Specialist Factual: The Genius of Photography (cos I agree with the title - LOL)

Single Documentary: Beautiful Young Minds

Features: Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares

Current Affairs: China's Stolen Children

News Coverage: ITV Evening News

Sport: Wimbledon (seriously, who knows! LOL I just like tennis)

Interactivity: The X Factor

Entertainment Programme: Britain's Got Talent (another of my favourites)

Comedy Programme: No idea. Haven't watched any of them. Um...Fonejacker

Sit Com: The Thick of It (again, felt vibes about this one)

There we go. Bring it on.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Some days...

We all have them...some days leave us emotionally battered and weary as we skulk off to bed. We might feel unloved, unimportant, lonely, uninspired. Forgotten by heaven. And when we have a run of days such as these, they can leave scars. They test our faith. I know you know what I mean.

So. Yesterday I had one of those days. You know my tether? I'd reached the end of it. And it left me pretty grumpy and blue. Mostly blue. Same when I woke up this morning.

And then...the phone rang at lunchtime and my friend Ros was at the other end of a line of communication. "I was thinking about you. I thought I needed to call," she explained. I told her all my gripes, why life was particularly hard today, and she (it turns out) had the perfect story from her past to help me. Her mother had had a fact, worse...experience to mine and once again I learned that, damn it all, I am NOT unique and I am not special...but in a good way! In realising that we share common experiences, we understand that we are not weird or crazy or stupid. We're normal. Our self-esteem increases...our hope. And thus our faith.

Without judging my less-than-spiritual moaning, Ros was able to explain why she felt things had happened the way they had and suddenly I felt supported and loved. I always marvel at the capacity that women have to do this - we have a great, great gift in the way we connect one with another. Then Ros and I had a good old natter and a laugh about her family's recent holiday to Utah (I was amazed she hadn't bought a KitchenAid that was on sale for $205...that's just over a hundred quid folks. Was she a crazy woman!!!!???) By the end of the call, the little black cloud over the top of my head had floated off to precipitate on some Welsh hill, just leaving an artexed ceiling in its place.

And then. Later today I found a way of spending a weekend in Reading and going to the temple on the Saturday for just £24. My friend Steve is coming to Swansea on business and he's going to throw Celyn and me out at Reading on the way back to London on the Friday. We can catch a train back to Swansea on the Sunday - booked seats, cheap as chips. Cheaper than the petrol anyway (it would currently cost me £70 or more to go to the temple and back by car *cough*). So if you fancy meeting up with me, I shall be in Reading 9-11 May and at the temple on the 10th.

And then Steve sent me this. Reflections of Christ: Reflections Slideshow Seriously, you really must click on that link. And turn on your speakers.

And then I felt and knew that God was watching and caring for me the whole time and that despite feeling judged and belittled by others, despite my rebellious heart, He still loved me and he wanted me to know it. He inspired my friend to ring. He gave me a way to get to the temple that I'd been hoping for for weeks. And he filled my heart with beautiful, inspired thoughts of the Saviour.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it;
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Some days life is good.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Mormon Slattern in Wales

'SWANSEA, S. WALES -- The kitchen sink and surrounding counter inside the home of Chrissie Willicombe are completely full with dirty dishes and have been unattended for cleaning since yesterday afternoon's roast chicken/bread and butter pudding repast. This morning numerous dirty plates, saucepans, roasting tins, and even a container with left-over gravy have been identified in the home of this Swansea County resident. "There's something about doing the dishes at the end of a pleasant Sunday" explained Chrissie. "Desperate Housewives was coming on, and I just didn't want to do them" she whined.

Shocked eyewitnesses to the scene have been taken aback at this lack of homemaking skills in the well known Mormon housewife's home. "What a slattern" one woman commented, who asked not to be named. "She's just a pig and that's all there is to it" she continued.

Almost all would agree that Chrissie has greatly improved in her domestic endeavors recently, particularly in her organisation of cupboards, tidying out the family car and the general order in her livingroom. Her kitchen, however, leaves something greatly to be desired. Visitors stand a large probability they will view the unsightly pile of dishes, utensils, cookware and cups, should they enter the kitchen.

The news of Chrissie's unwillingness to load her dishes in the dishwasher is seen as a major public relations blunder for her hypocrisy. Last week, Chrissie declared "victory over procrastination," when she spent two hours cleaning and vacuuming her car.

Environmental health officers have been alerted, and may be shutting down the property until a full investigation has completed.'

So, back to last weekend, and how freaky was the weather?! On Friday it was beautiful sunshine and we were wandering around Reading in t-shirts enjoying 17 degrees C lovely Spring weather, and this is what we woke up to on Sunday morning...


When Judith heard me stirring on Sunday morning, she knocked on my bedroom door and asked if I'd looked out of the window. There were audible gasps when I drew up the blind. Four inches of snow! Of course, being the record-keeping-pain-in-the-bum mum that I am, I had those children out in the garden before they could say 'frostbite' and got some great shots. It is so weird still to me that it snowed in APRIL, I look at these pictures and think perhaps it was actually movie foam snow and someone tricked us :D

You'd think they were sisters, the way they're dressed so similarly. Or even that I'd planned it for ease of scrapbooking the pics. But no. Complete coincidence (and Judith and I have the same taste in coats :D )

Right. Off to see to the Pen-y-Fan of washing up....

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Right. Enough's Enough

I used to be really good at blogging and then life went...well...boobies vertical, and I didn't want to do anything much of anything any more. I'm starting to get back in the groove but I'm not completely there yet. Having spoken to other women who've been there and done that and bought the fetching t-shirt, even after 15 months it's still early days. Oh joy. I've learnt a lot about dealing with life, about people and about my relationship with God. At the moment there are more good days than bad, although I did have a weep down the phone to my old bishop last Thursday evening. My mum's health has also, on top of it all, deteriorated in the last 6 months. She can't really make it downstairs at all now and is pretty much dependent on me for sustenance, medicine, the odd choccie biscuit, etc. etc. I feel pretty guilty when I feel burdened by it. After all, our mothers look after us for years and years as children. But I can't say I find it easy.


I'm having one of those Saturdays where you don't do much of anything and that's okay because it's Saturday and that's what Saturdays are for. I realised at only about 6pm yesterday that I needed to get 10 writing and 5 reading scripts marked for NFER and emailed off before midnight. I could only start work on them once dinner and child were sorted, so they actually went about 2am or thereabouts, but she (my team leader) was none the wiser. The point was they were in her email box this morning - *phew*. I am doing some work for NFER (National Foundation for Educational Research) as a marker of Year 3 English tests, for which I had to attend a day's training in Slough last weekend. *Insert picture of me doing a litle bit of a happy dance* It was just a complete pleasure to be in the company of teachers as a PEER once more. Made me truly realise how very much I have missed teaching. The other ladies in my group were great, and we had a bit of a laugh as well as working hard.

The other up-side of the training day was that they paid for all my petrol (and some...and then some more), so I was able to go to Reading for the whole General Conference weekend for nowt, and hang out with lots and lots of friends. Gosh I love you all...and you know who you are.

On the Friday I got to Reading by lunchtime (impressive for me, Mrs I-will-leave-at-10.30-and-then-I-don't-actually-leave-till-half-past-1) and met up with my old workmate, John. On Facebook I had mistakenly left the group 'The Sweeney Todd Pie Shop Appreciation Society', naughty naughty girl that I am. Upon seeing this, John had sent me a message basically asking if I hadn't quite lost my mind and "these ARE THE Sweeney Todd pies you do understand that, don't you?!!!" Duly chastised I rejoined toute suite ("Order has been restored to the universe" he quipped) and I suggested we meet up for lunch when I was in Reading. Cor, I had a lovely chicken, broccoli and Stilton pie. Wicked lush it was. And the company was excellent too.

The training got out early so I was able to get back to the Pines where I was staying in time to head up to Saturday's General Conference session. As it was President Monson's first conference since he became President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Solemn Assembly was held to sustain him and the other General Authorities, including a new Apostle, D. Todd Christofferson. Each quorum in their turn had to stand and sustain our leaders by the raising of hands...and it was pretty powerful stuff. I felt proud to stand with the Relief Society and add my vote. My favourite talks over the weekend were Concern for the One by Joseph B. Wirthlin, and Faith of Our Father by Dieter F. Uchtdorf (I just LOVE LOVE LOVE that he's European and it shows...). These talks were inclusive and caring. And both of these men are 'themselves' when they speak (unlike Kenneth Johnson's breathy fakeness...gah! And I know I'm not the only one who noted it. And WHAT is his ACCENT all about?! He's from Norwich for pity's sake!). on the links and read these talks. Do as you're told. Ha ha!

I need to go make dinner but I shall blog more later.

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