Skywatch Friday – The Red Arrows

I was thrilled to see this fantastic display by the Red Arrows in the skies over Cardiff, not a cloud to spoil the view.

Red Arrows Cardiff Bay


Posted for Skywatch Friday.  For lots more photos visit Skywatch



Light blue touchpaper…

Happy New Year!  Friday Fictioneers are back, you can read other stories here


photo courtesy of Lora Mitchell

Twenty five cards are lined up on the mantelpiece. My daughter is smiling as she pours drinks for everyone, pleased so many have thought of her today.

The party moves outside where boyfriend Dan is busy lining up rockets, fixing Catherine wheels to posts, balancing Roman candles along the flat bit of the fence. He is grinning. He organised this dual ‘event’.

I stand watching the bonfire being lit, the rockets launched into the night sky, Dan’s big red face. He should take care.

I hadn’t known you could buy ‘Divorce’ cards and on reflection, I preferred Guy.

(100 words)


Christmas traditions, then and now


There are lots of Christmas traditions and I came across a few interesting facts on some of them –

Why do we eat turkey?

Long ago, it was the smell of roast goose or the head of a boar that filled the Christmas air in Britain. Then in 1526, a trader named William Strickland imported six turkeys from the US and sold them in Bristol, for tuppence each. The birds were popular because they were tasty, and practical. Cows were more useful alive, chicken was more expensive than it is now, and other meats were not as popular.

……….. And why mince pies?

Mince pies are the modern descendant of the Christmas Pye, a large dish filled with shredded pigeon, hare, pheasant, rabbit, ox, lamb, or mutton, mixed with fruits and sugar. It had an oblong shape, said to resemble Jesus’s cradle. After 1660, they became more like the pies we eat now.

What about Christmas cards?

The first person ever to think of selling Christmas cards was a civil servant named Henry Cole, who had worked on the introduction of the first postage stamp, the Penny Black, in 1840. He was too busy that year to write to all his friends, so he commissioned a designer named John C. Horsley, of Torquay, to design a card with the words “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year To You”. In 1843, the year that Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol, Cole went a step further, by commissioning 1,000 cards. He used some, and put an advertisement in the press offering the others for sale at 6d each. One card from that batch was sold in December 2005 for £8,500.

( from “What’s Behind Christmas Traditions?” by Andy McSmith, 2008 Independent)


Each year I tell myself that I will be more organised and not leave things to the last minute and each year I do exactly the same as the year before.  I think that for me, all the rush and bustle involved in the run up to Christmas is part of my “tradition”.

I love the carols played in the shops, the fact that people seem more friendly toward each other, the last minute present wrapping, the food that we wouldn’t buy any other time of year, the board games, the falling asleep after lunch, the old films on tv, the presents from relatives who seem to forget our age and size, the list could go on.  But most of all I love spending time with my family and friends, I just love Christmas.

I want to share this card with you, it’s by the brilliant Jacquie Lawson and sums up my memories of happy childhood Christmases

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2013


Weekly photo challenge Winter…… and a Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone, I wish you health and happiness for 2012

At the moment here in Wales, we have a mixture of sleet and hail, it’s bouncing off the hearth as I type, but thankfully no snow as yet. I intended to go out and take photos for the ‘Winter’ photo challenge, but everywhere looks so  drab and miserable I just couldn’t bring myself to take any.  So I decided to post these from 2011 as they say “Winter” but they are not dull and drab.


Murder and Mystery on a Steam Train

I was looking for some inspiration for a gift for my husband’s birthday and whilst searching the web, I came across a company called Charming Events.  I read the list of different events they arrange and the Murder Mystery Evening on a Steam Train practically jumped off the screen! My husband is probably Agatha Christie’s biggest fan and also bemoans the fact that there aren’t any steam trains any more.  So with two of his boxes ticked, I sent off for more details.

We travelled down to Sussex with a couple of friends and arrived at the very impressive Ashdown Park Hotel, where we were to spend the night, at about 3.15pm on Friday afternoon. To add to the atmosphere of a bygone era, already suggested by the brochure, we found the hotel was serving afternoon tea as we arrived! It was divine.

Our itinerary said we should be in reception by 6.15pm in order to check in and meet our fellow sleuths.  We met up and boarded the bus that was to take us to a railway station owned and operated by the volunteers of The Bluebell Railway. The work they have done and continue to do, to keep the railway running is nothing short of miraculous.

Everyone was intrigued as to how they would carry out a murder on a train, (we were thinking Murder on the Orient Express here) but it soon became clear that we were first to watch a play, enacted in the improvised theatre above the waiting room of the station, by the brilliant actors of “The Company Upfront”.  The play ended with a character being murdered and our job was to solve the “crime” with the help of our detective packs, whilst we were served dinner in a Pullman carriage of the Golden Arrow, travelling sedately through the Sussex countryside.

We had a great time. The dinner was delicious; characters from the play travelled with us and went from carriage to carriage, to be interviewed by “the detectives” in the hope that they could help us to solve the crime.  There were some great actors taking part, lots of laughter and also serious concern as each of us rattled our little grey cells in an attempt to solve the clues and find the answers needed to complete our crime sheet.

Unlike the master detective Hercule Poirot, we changed our minds two or three times, before we handed in our crime sheet.  Back at the station the winners were revealed – we weren’t among them. We did have the right murderer but didn’t get all the right clues, so no bottle of wine for us.  We didn’t care. We had a great evening, thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and went back to the hotel for a steaming mug of hot chocolate, just like Miss Marple would have done!

The bride wore something old…a 127 year old wedding dress

There has been a great deal of wedding coverage in the press recently; a certain William and Catherine made headlines round the world, last week it was the turn of Zara and Mike. I oohed and aahed over the wedding dresses like most females I know and made comments on design, fabric, fit etc.

Then, yesterday I saw the story of the bride who had worn a 127 year old wedding dress for her wedding.  The dress was bought in 1884 for her great-great-grandmother and has been worn by several generations of her family down the years.

The bride looks stunning, the dress amazing. The family should congratulate themselves for keeping this heirloom safe all this time. I feel privileged to have seen it.


(click on the photo to read the full article)

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.

Another Girl!

I have been so busy these last few weeks with the birth of my second granddaughter. We were so excited to have one, but to have two girls is just so amazing. They are both coming on really well and the mums are doing fine too.

I haven’t got an answer to my question yet but I’m sure a name will emerge in a little while. Funnily enough my sons have tentatively referred to me as Grandma and Gran, as if they are trying to get used to calling me something other than mum!

I look forward to the coming months and will update the blog from time to time to let you know how they are getting on.

What do I want to be called?

This lovely cartoon is by Pamela
Perry courtesy of

I have recently become a grandmother for the first time and
will soon be a grandmother for the second time – did my sons and
wives get together and plan this? I did have a few
words about the lack of grandchildren, but that was AGES ago!! So
now, I have an adorable granddaughter and am waiting very excitedly
to see what the next baby will be. I have been more
interested in the names that are to be given to my grandchildren,
but it seems that everyone wants to know what name I am to known by
and, to be honest I haven’t got a clue. My granddaughter already
has a Grandma and I’m told that two grandmas would be confusing for
the child, unless of course we are known as Grandma A and Grandma B
which does sound silly and why use grandma again when there are so
many other names I could have. Grandmother Grannie Gran Nan Nannie
G-ma And a few foreign
ones too

  • NaiNai
  • Lola
  • Bomma
  • Grandmere
  • Meme
  • Oma
  • YaYa
  • Tutu
  • Savta
  • Nonna
  • Oba-chan
  • Halmoni
  • Busia
  • VoVo
  • Babushka
  • Abuela
  • Bube

There are some great names there, but I still haven’t chosen mine.
I thought there was no urgency as it will be a while before
either of the babies calls me anything, the parents however, demand
a name! So if any kind person would like to help me with
this, I really would be very grateful