Happy St David’s Day!


Welsh Flag(Getty Images)

Welsh Flag
(Getty Images)

1st March is St David’s Day here in Wales. It’s the day when children are allowed to leave school uniform at home and dress in something resembling National Dress. Tradition has it that the ladies wear a daffodil in their lapel and the men wear a leek – not the real thing, just a lapel pin. The daffodil and the leek are National Emblems of Wales, along with the more widely know heraldic symbol of the Red Dragon.

We also tend to eat Welsh Cakes – haven’t a clue why, but they just taste good.

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Cardiff also had Royal visitors today, in honour of St David’s Day

TRH Prince of Wales 7 Duchess of Cornwall

TRH Prince of Wales & The Duchess of Cornwall

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Aaah… just couldn’t resist


If you have been following the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge, you will have seen people from all over the world posting some great photographs on each of the topics.

I had a hectic week last week; work well and truly got in the way of everything else – we had audits, reviews, meetings, blah blah .. anyway the upshot was that I missed the “Flower” challenge.  Then the other day, I saw these beautiful, amazing photographs, from a team in Scotland called Fusion Baby Photography,  they have to be amongst the most gorgeous “flowers” I have ever seen.

Weekly Photo Challenge – ‘Entrance’


This is from our visit to Egypt, the photograph shows the entrance to the Valley of the Kings. We had left the air-conditioned mini-bus and walked with our guide the remaining few hundred yards towards the entrance to the tombs. The temperature was 46C and there was precious little shade.

We stayed at The Mena House hotel for the first two nights of our holiday and this is the entrance to the main hotel from the garden wing where our room was. We arrived late at night and I asked our guide how far away we were from the pyramids, he told me “Wait until morning!” And this is the view we had on opening the curtains, not one, but two pyramids! A sight that will stay with me for ever.

This photograph shows all that remains of the entrance to Wycoller Hall. The Hall was formely the home of the Cunliffe family, several generations of the family have lived there. Wycoller Hall is very famous locally; it is said to be haunted by the ghost of a horseman and it was thought to have been the inspiration for Ferndean Manor in Charlotte Bronte’s novel “Jane Eyre.” The Bronte family lived quite nearby in the village of Haworth and it is quite probable that Charlotte and Emily visited during their walks. The Hall was used to illustrate the cover of the 1898 edition of Jane Eyre.

Dieting, baby Beckham and Twitter…


I have always been a fan of actress Pauline Quirke and so was delighted to see her new look in the paper the other day.  Losing weight is not easy.  I have tried various diets at different times of my life and, like everyone else who has ever dieted, find that some work, some don’t. I have never been a fan of the cabbage soup diet – very anti social, or the banana diet, very binding.  Likewise shakes and snacks, they don’t do it for me either. Pauline followed the LighterLife plan and lost 6 stone in weight, the results speak for themselves.  I think she looks amazing.

                                                                  

The Dukan Diet has also been in the press lately and it does looks interesting; and although health experts say we should eat from each food group each day in moderation, I don’t think foregoing carbs for a few days can do much harm.  As you get older any excess weight becomes difficult to shift, so while I’m not sure about following the programme long-term, for a kick-start it should be ideal.

 I was intrigued by the names of baby Beckham.  Harper, although very different I can at least understand, but Seven…….  It has been explained in different ways but seemingly the baby was born just after 7 in the 7th month of the year and David played at number 7 …… if this catches on then my eldest son will have to change his name to Four, following the same reasoning as above.

 Lastly Twitter – a while ago I wrote a post about Twitter and whether to tweet or not.  Since then I have to say I have become quite hooked.  I exchange tweets with some great people and have found that if you strip away the celebrity chit-chat, underneath there is a seriously free marketing and PR tool.  I have watched as businesses have attracted more and more followers by selective tweeting about what they, grow, sell, produce, make, let, buy etc.  And it has also become a sort of advice directory, just post a tweet asking for help or advice on almost anything and before you know it, replies come flooding in. Charities seem to have benefited too and there are people on twitter who work tirelessly to retweet appeals for help with raising money or to publicise new campaigns.

Amongst other things it has renewed my faith in human nature. People still want to help people.

 

 

Around the UK in 70 Days


 

The journey starts here........

So, we have all had the chance to apply for tickets to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, and are now waiting and watching our bank accounts to see if we  have been lucky and hit this particular ‘jackpot’.

I’m really not sure what I think of this ‘lottery’ for tickets and paying almost a year in advance – great marketing ploy by the way Lord Coe, but I am  really interested to know if the man interviewed on radio yesterday gets all the tickets he has applied for. He has applied for practically every final,  plus the opening and closing ceremonies on the basis that he won’t get everything he has asked for.  Stranger things have happened….. hope he has a few thousand pounds spare.

If you have not been lucky enough to get any tickets, but would still like to savour the ‘Olympic Experience’ , how about following the progress of the Olympic Torch?  It will be arriving at Land’s End on 19 May 2012 and will travel 8,000 miles round various towns, cities and islands of the UK before entering the Olympic Arena in London 70 days later, on Friday 27 July 2012.

The organisers  are now on the look out for 8,000 ‘inspirational torch bearers, who between them will bring the torch to within a one-hour  journey for 95% of the population of the UK. So that ‘s something else you can put your name down for, if you feel that way inclined.

To keep up to date with all the news on this journey round the UK visit the BBC’s website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/

Royal Wedding – THE Dress


The streets were lined with cheering crowds; the problems of recent months seemed forgotten as everyone was swept along by the spectacle of this royal wedding. The crowds were in good humour, people laughed and chatted together while waiting to see the Princes leave Clarence House, the Royal Family leave in procession from Buckingham Palace, but most important of all, waiting for that first glimpse of Catherine Middleton in The Dress.

And she didn’t disappoint!

She looked absolutely stunning in her wedding dress, designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Poised and elegant, she looked radiant; smiling and waving to the crowds of well wishers who cheered her on her way to Westminster Abbey and her marriage to Prince William.

They seemed so happy and relaxed as they left the Abbey after the service and delighted the crowds with not one, but two kisses on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

They look good together and are obviously very much in love, but there is also a sureness and certainty about them that seems somehow very reassuring. I wish them all the happiness in the world as they start their married life together in the full glare of the world’s media.

Revisiting my Dream House


 

This morning for some reason I can’t explain, I took a detour from my usual route into work. Most days I take the same route and my journey passes almost as though the car is on auto-pilot, although I like to think I am still in charge!

Today though, I found myself driving past my dream house.

I first saw this house in the late ‘80’s. The house was everything I had dreamt would be mine one day. The rooms were generous, with high ceilings and large windows, letting  in lots of light.  There was a large lawn with flower beds and trees at the back of the house. Behind a hedge,  there was a vegetable garden and a small greenhouse in the corner with tomatoes and cucumbers growing inside. Beyond that, was a rough area with a compost heap and a huge water-butt to collect the rainwater, for use in the garden.

My boys were quite young then and I could see them playing in the garden with their friends; climbing the trees and running around chasing each other, having lots of fun.

I imagined entertaining our friends there too, with barbecues on lazy summer evenings, relaxing and chatting together, while our children played. There were enough bedrooms for family and friends to stay for weekends or even longer and the hall was the perfect place for the Christmas tree. I could see it, lights twinkling, baubles shining, presents stacked beneath its boughs, waiting to welcome everyone to our home for Christmas.

My husband thought the house was too big; the gardens too time consuming and the work that would be needed on the building, daunting in the least. He couldn’t begin to see the potential that I saw that first day. Yes it would take time and money, and yes we would have to employ a builder, as neither of us is much good at DIY, but it would be worth it. We would have a home we would love.

We made an offer for the house, just below the asking price. “You never give them what they ask for first time,” my husband said when I begged him to give the owners the price they wanted. I was surprised how much I wanted this house.

But this was the time of gazumping. Prices jumped not by hundreds, but in some cases by thousands of pounds. And so it was for us. Our offer was rejected, so we offered the asking price, it was rejected again. We increased our offer and had it rejected yet again. We went as far as we could and after much anger and tears on my part, we realised that the house would not be ours.

We eventually found another house we liked and we have been there ever since. It is quite old and has lots of similar features, a beautiful garden that the family enjoy, but for me it has never had that certain charm that the other house had.

Today, as I stood and looked at the house from across the road, I thought it looked tired. The windows had not been replaced and now were badly in need of a coat of paint. One of the gates had come of its’ hinges and was hanging at an awkward angle. The hedge, once so neatly trimmed, was overgrown and parts of it trailing on the pavement. It had a look of neglect about it that I found upsetting.

As I got back in my car, an elderly man came round the corner with a newspaper under his arm. He walked slowly towards the house. I watched as he stopped and stared at the gate, before going in through the front door. Surely he wasn’t the same, rather dapper professor, who had taken us round his home all those years ago, pointing out his favourite flowers and proudly showing us round his greenhouse?

He was about the right age. But if it was him, what happened 25 years ago? Why did the sale fall through? Did the owners change their mind? I’ll probably never know.

I felt quite sad for a moment, but then very annoyed with myself. I have been very lucky. I have a happy, healthy family, good friends and a very nice home. I drove off hoping that, regardless of whatever had happened all those year ago, the old professor had been happy, living in my dream house.