Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca
Sunset

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Mr Fat: thoughts for the day Christmas Eve 2014

I do hope this is not to maudlin for you, it is not intended thus, forgive me if so......

One of my dear cyber friends and Indie Author Brian Meeks sent me a Christmas wish earlier today with his kind thoughts on my condition and hopes for my continued involvement in life.  Well, all I could say to ALL OF YOU out there reading this across cyber space and who continue to be an inspiration to me, taking someone you have never met in life, into your own lives,  and then continually sending messages of support, love and well being.  It is you guys out there, along with my family and British friends who continually pop in to see me, who are the real inspiration to me and my family...........

Dear Brian, my strength and the little success I have had in life, has been down to the fact that most people are good, nice and supportive. I have had that support from family and friends and in the workplace, the latter especially, which allowed me to be known as a very good manager when in reality I was surrounded by a fantastic & supportive workforce.

My family and friends,  both who are here but also like you who are my dear dear cyber friends, give me two things: 1. A pragmatic acceptance of my fate and 2. The energy of the good thoughts and wishes to tell Mr Tumour, ' you are here and you are advancing, but we aren't going to let you take our Husband our Dad, our Grand Dad OUR FRIEND without a fight ' and it is that energy that keeps Me saying, ' get stuffed, mate, I'm  not ready to leave yet ' You and everyone out there, even now are always on my thoughts and I truly wish for a magical holiday season with family and friends for every single one of you,  as mine is and always has been since the birth  of my first child and that magic exploded on the birth of my first grandchild and continues to do so and will keep me here for a long time, being the pain in the ass that I sometimes am.......MERRY XMAS TO ALL MY FRIENDS🎅🎄😍 👪


And then today, one of my best friends turned up bearing Gifts and Flowers and when I asked how he was, as he too has recently been diagnosed with stomach cancer:

My thoughts turned to him as he reports that he has been scheduled for an operation on 20th January, 2015.

He will endure a 5-6 hour operation, they will remove the tumour and everything it touches, left kidney, spleen, pancreas and at least half the colon, as a minimum, intensive care for 2-3 days, hospital, 2-3 weeks, recovery time 3-4 months, he couldn't tell us the prognosis until the surgeons have been in, removed the contaminated bits, and the surgeons can see how good or bad it really is. But what they are sure of is, it must come out and now...

 This type of cancer does not react to chemotherapy or radiotherapy, surgery is the only option.

I have told my Friend, Ricky Everett that like me he is a survivor, think about him in a positive way guys. Like me, he will feel the power of your goodwill. Xxxxx

To everyone out there reading this today, whether you are a regular visitor, and if you are, my sincere apologies for the paucity of posts over the last year, I really shall try to rectify that shortcoming in the new year, it's not as if I don't have the time these days, I wish you and those of you who have just popped in for a wee look,  the very best seasonal wishes to you and to your family and kin.

Don't think sad thoughts for me and Ricky or for anyone else who you might know and who is in a similar situation. Think joyous thoughts and celebrate the lives that we and they have and the life that we and they still have.

For some of us it can be a long road to the end, for others it maybe shorter, but I for one would like to see happy smiling faces and receive happy positive thoughts from anyone, rather than they, you  thinking, 'how sad'.  ENJOY EVERY MINUTE YOU HAVE


Ishbel and me of to the Royal Opera House 

On Holiday Feb 14
(L_R) Jennifer, Lacey Mae, Me, Steve (sil) Shannon, Mollie, Ishbel
 Family Breakfast pre Xmas shopping

(L-R) AJ , Marie, Ishbel, Charlie, Holly, Peter (sil)
Family breakfast pre Xmas shopping




Tom and Ishbel

A very Merry Christmas to you all





Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Mollie has another crisis of conscience ....,

I had been very very ill over a period of a few weeks recently and the last week was not the cancer per say, although no doubt a large contributing factor.  No, rather it started with a little sore appearing on my top lip which, and no evidence to support this, soon developed into what appeared to be a chest infection that left me completely debilitated and in bed for most of the week and left me almost completely helpless.

I had been taken to see the oncologist the previous week by S-i-L Peter who drove all the way down from Northampton and it was really good to see him and it also gave him the chance to come in and listen to what was going on, which is good, saves me remembering to report back to the inquisition that is Marie :).  While there I mentioned the visit to the opticians who had found lesions on my eyeballs and of course this triggered the thought process with little 'Olly' that maybe a brain scan would be in order to check if the cancer was spreading up, I'm sure there was a little voice over my shoulder commenting well if it has, it wont find anything else up there.....

So, on Wednesday, the following week, Jen, S-i-L Steve, Shannon and Lacey May arrived from Woking as I was still in no fit state to do anything for myself and Steve took me to Hospital for my scan to see if there is a brain, sorry, if the cancer has spread up there.....

Mollie, didn't come and was so distraught, why, you ask?  Well she is 11 and we love each other dearly and remember she is the first of our grandchildren so it is fair to say that the bond between her and us and me is a little bit stronger although I do hasten to add I have absolutely no favourites when it comes to the 5 of them but Charlie you are going to get a kick in the bum one of these days if you don't get it.  We are men Charlie, it is one of our roles in life to go shopping with the women in our lives, whether we like it or not, the sooner you realise that the better, so get with the programme kid...... Oh, and cash management Charlie, you either have enough to buy the game you want, or you don't.  If you don't have it this week, you get your allowance the next week as long as you get your chores done.  Save what you have and add to it the following week so that you can buy your game and stop being a tit, leaving it in your pocket contrary to popular folklore, will not make it burn a hole in it, seriously.....

Any-hows, back to Mollie and her crisis. I have tweeted that Mollie, turning 11, has now moved from primary school to high school and Mollie being Mollie has made the transition without flinching or any sort of trepidation and has fitted in so comfortably that she just can not get enough of it.  In fact now that she has settled in and homework being a big part off schooling here she loves that too and while the homework given out is normally not due for a few days or even the following week, thereby giving the pupil plenty of time to study, research and complete, Mollie by all accounts come in each day with her assignments and immediately sets her self up in either her room or at the dining room table and gets stuck in to it immediately, how cool is that.

So, I get a phone call from Jennifer to say that she had just gone up to Mollies room after they had had a family discussion to say that they were all coming over to visit on a school day, so that dad,
S-i-L Steve could take granddad to hospital.  Obviously Shannon and Lacey Mae were delighted at being taken out of school but as it turned out Mollie, while desperate to visit, as she always is, informed her mum, that she had a test the following day and really wanted to take it and didn't know what to do!

My answer was simple, tell her I am ill but I am not yet ready to die and that it was important that she go to school and sit her test and to do the best that she could do and that I would still be here when she came visiting the following week.  It wasn't a problem and we always have face time and Skype to keep in touch with each other as we do.

So, Mollie, dear dear Mollie, this is for you.

We have always encouraged you to be the best that you can be.  Your are small, tiny and petite.  All of your school aged friends tower above you, but you have the heart, brain and intellect of a giant and this is because you are inquisitive and curious about everything, you like your little (big) sister Shannon were always reading well above your age group  and your teachers were forever commenting on this.  I remember you telling me one day that when your teacher asked what you were reading when you were about nine she was amazed to learn that you had just read Beowulf by Seamus Heaney and that you were getting ready to read To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee, you never do go for the easy stuff and you still don't.  I love browsing in the bookshops with you.

It is this willingness to tackle the hard stuff at so early a time in your development and to love the process of learning that you do, that made you feel so sad about not coming to see me when I was so ill, but on the other hand this made me so happy as it shows that you both care so much for me but also in the need to be tested on all the new things and subjects that you are learning in your new school.  You made the right decision and you should know that I and Grandma and your mum and dad support you and love you for being who you are and for being the caring loving daughter and granddaughter and human being that you are and will continue to be for the rest of your long life.

I made you a promise recently; about how long I was going to hang around before popping my cloggs.  I know, that you know, that not all promises made can be kept and you know I will try and keep that promise but that I may not be able to.  You are wise enough to understand that, and I know that you are going to be heart broken when the time comes to say goodbye forever,  But when that day finally comes you will find it incredibly hard to move on and get over it, BUT YOU MUST.  Remember all the good times and there are thousand of photographs of you and your sisters and your cousins (ok, I admit it now, I was and am a pain in the butt with my camera, but I love you all too much not to always be taken snaps of you and I won't stop until, well whenever) and you will have these forever with loads of them with me in them too, to remind  you forever of our special bond.

You will need the support of mum and dad and grandma and aunty Marie and uncle's Peter and Brian and your sisters and cousins will be sad too and you as the eldest will need to be really strong to support and help them through that dark period ahead, as your friends Ewan and Holly and others will help you through it and to move on.

Moving on isn't forgetting and not being sad, you are allowed to be sad, But, it is about coming to terms with the cycle of life, knowing one day that those you love will pass on and no longer be part of your life, but we can still be part of your existence. You can call on and recall the good times and the life lessons, the books and the TV and films and the news that we discussed and talked about. You can recall the first time I gave you a sweet when we were walking back from the shops and you asked me what it was called and I replied it was a 'Big Purple One' and you replied, "I'm in purple heaven granddad". This made me smile and still does as I recall it now.

You can remember when we took Lacey Mae and Shannon to the theatre to see their first musical, The Lion King and Granddad crying like a baby when he saw the absolute look of joy and happiness on Lacey Mae's face when that curtain went up and how she sat there laughing and smiling and clapping for the whole performance and granddad was so happy to be alive to see that joy and happiness on all your faces.

The look on your face when you got your first hot towel on your first visit to an Indian restaurant at the end of the meal, I will never forget these moments Mollie and you should remember them when feeling a bit sad too, they will make you happy and sad again, but I think more happier than sad....

My life has been pretty good Mollie.  I met Grandma in Berlin in 1974 and we got married two years later.  We had three wonderful children in Marie, Jennifer and Brian.  Aunty Marie and your mummy Jennifer gave us you and your sisters and Charlie and Holly and we have been blessed having you all in our lives along with your dad Steve and Uncle Peter.

So, the whole point of this Mollie Ing is tell you that I will always support you in your decisions and your decision to stay at home and go to school was the right one.  Your education is the most important thing right now.  You should never stop the learning process.  Some people will tell you that a good education isn't the be all and end all and that you can get on in life without education. that may be true for a small minority in the world but what they don't tell you is that while they might not have the academic qualifications because they do possess an intellect and drive that propels them to be successful in their endeavours and their lack of educational qualifications was probably due to boredom brought about by poor teaching methods, that does happen, or they just weren't getting challenged enough in the learning process.  You on the other hand don't seem to get bored with any of the new subjects that you are learning at your new school and you have always enjoyed the schooling process and you always seem to benefit from having good teachers willing to impart their knowledge to you, helping and encouraging you through the various curriculum's.  Stay on that road Mollie learn, learn learn, be the smartest and brightest star in the school and you will be able with your drive and ambition to achieve anything you want to in the future and I will be somewhere looking down and smiling and enjoying your successes for all time  

Love you chuckles xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


Thursday, 7 August 2014

Book & Film Reviews: RE-POST - The Kydd Club Bulletin

I never asked , but I'm sure Julian wont mind me reproducing his latest Bulletin here on my blog especially as I don't have much to say for myself these days ....... :)

And all I can say is if you haven't read any of Julians' Kydd novels you really are missing out on a great read, check out some of my reviews too, but bear in mind, I am slightly biased as I haven't picked up one that I couldn't put down until I finished it ........


I'm thrilled with the covers of my two books due out later this year, Pasha and The Silk Tree.

Pasha
Pasha, as I mentioned in my last Kydd Club bulletin, is the next book in the series and finds Captain Kydd involved in a critical sphere of interest: the Dardanelles, strategic gateway to the Levant. I think I can promise you a few surprises in this book... Advance readers have voted it my best yet!

Here's what two of them said:

'I just finished my advance copy of Pasha and all I can say is WOW!! So many twists and turns. So many questions answered. So many things set to rights, and then it's all a whole new set up!! Totally unexpected and totally enjoyable.'

'I have enjoyed the Kydd series immensely, but Pasha is my favourite. I love the new developments in Renzi's life. I will say no more!'

The Silk Tree
The Silk Tree is somewhat of a departure for me, a standalone historical adventure set in the sixth century. Forced to flee Rome from the barbaric rampages of the Ostrogoths, merchant Nicander meets an unlikely ally in the form of Marius, a fierce Roman legionary. Escaping to a new life in Constantinople, the two land upon its shores lonely and penniless. Needing to make money fast, they plot and plan a number of outrageous money-making schemes, until they chance upon their greatest idea yet. Armed with a wicked plan to steal precious silk seeds from the faraway land of Seres, Nicander and Marius must embark upon a terrifyingly treacherous journey across unknown lands, never before completed. But first they must deceive the powerful emperor Justinian and the rest of his formidable Byzantine Empire in order to begin their journey into the unknown...An adventurous tale of mischief, humour and deception, Nicander and Marius face danger of the highest order, where nothing in the land of the Roman Empire is quite what it seems.
Collectors Sets
This year I am offering TWO Collectors Sets but don't delay if you're interested. They are in strictly limited numbers. First come, first served...
PASHA Collectors Set
SILK TREE Collectors Set

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

EDF Energy, I just can't stop myself .....

 Especially when they are being DICKHEADS 


22nd July 2014



Steve Hayfield
Customer Services Director
EDF Energy
Freepost RRYZ BGYC JCXR
334 Outland Road
Plymouth
OL3 5TU




Dear Mr Hayfield,

CONTRACT ACCOUNT NUMBER 

Thank you for your letter of 16th July informing me that my direct debit has been cancelled and as a result you are going to charge me a higher tariff for both gas and electric. I’ll wager, as a ‘director’ that you sometimes wish that your organisation was efficient but then you wake up each day to the reality of the situation, groan and head off for another depressing day in customer services!

Ah, well, never mind.  If they were efficient they might well have recorded on your systems that on the day I cancelled the direct debit with my bank, 15th July, I immediately called EDF giving my details to Chris informing him that I was changing to another supplier and that I wished to cancel my DD.  He also confirmed that my account was also in credit to the sum of £311.62 at that precise moment in time.  I also informed him that I was changing over to OVO.

He confirmed that I would not need to provide you with a final reading as OVO would do that.  Now he did seem quite efficient and so I was therefore a little surprised to receive your letter. Oh! Who am I kidding; you’re a utility company, efficient at taking money only,  but totally inefficient in doing anything else!

So, yesterday, 21st July, I provided OVO with my final meter readings, and so that you can pass them along and get a final bill raised and hopefully a credit cheque issued with that bill, here are the final readings for you.

Electric 06071
Gas 08521

By the way, in your letter you ask me to provide you with my new bank details on the enclosed direct debit form, enclosed,  which wasn't and then to return same in the enclosed Freepost envelope, which wasn't, but then these are typical examples of a poor quality service, don’t you think?

Yours sincerely


Tom Stronach 

Monday, 14 July 2014

Mr Fat: It's been a while.......

It has been so long now since posted any kind of a blog post and I felt that you at least needed something from me just to remind you that I haven't yet died......

I have been so exhausted over the last few months that I really haven't had the energy to do much, haven't even read any of the many books I still have in my kindle and so many of you wonderful authors are publishing great books and I am buying them and not finding the energy to push the on button on my reader, sheesh ......

Then I started the chemo again a week ago as the tumour seemed to be getting bigger and as usual the actual day of the gunk input was ok and it gave me renewed feeling of energy. ALthough having said that, I did get the right hump over the wait for treatment on the morning and unfairly started to take it out on the nursing and ward staff, but it's not their fault that they are understaffed and there are so many of us cancer stricken old farts hanging about  It even seemed to 'cure' the gagging and choking effect I was prone to every time a morsel of food passed from my mouth into my gullet and that in itself was a relief.  Four days into it though, last Friday I phoned the cancer specialist nurse as I wasn't feeling at all well, lethargic, nauseous, completely run down and in pain.  I was in work, as usual, but ended up going home I just couldn't cope and it went down hill  even more in the afternoon.  I really thought I wouldn't make it to the end of the day, never felt so horrible before and the last time I was on the chemo I was bad and came off it but....

After speaking with Mel the cancer nurse and her reminding me about ALL of the meds ... shit I have so many of them I forgot what I had and for what symptons.  There is one I call Dom Perignon, sounds like it but it's domperysomething .... anyways this is to counteract nausea.  I also have tablets for constipation, have been taking them but then I ended up with diarrhea but hey, I have pills for that too.  Anyway I didn't feel any better Friday and was still at deaths bed on Saturday but began to make a gradual improvement and continued to do so on Sunday but gawd was I pleased that Ishbel took the weekend off to look after me and of course Marie, Peter and the twins Holly and Charlie turned up to cheer me up.  The only problem with that, having gone through life as a big tough scotsman with no outward show of emotion I find it difficult to not just start blubbering and just seeing the kids and the grandkids turning up is enough to turn me into tear streaked numpty.

Oh, I've posted this, as you can see under the Mr Fat page but I can report that he has left the building ...... which everyone but me is getting their knickers in a twist over.  Yep, lost just over a stone and a half in the last three weeks and had a visit from a dietician while I was in getting gunked up last Monday.  Infact they are so concerned he told me I have to start bulking up again... WTF says I.  You do realize that for the first time in 15 years I have just seen John Thomas, if you think .......

And he says, yes very good but a lot of good John Thomas is going to be to you when you are dead. So, I want you to eat more;

Mashed potatoes with extra butter and grated cheese Double cream full fat yoghurt chocolate .....
Thick Gravy on meat dishes
Salt
Sugar
Full fat Milk
Shakes
Bread lashings of butter, toast

Now for some, that is an invitation to heaven I suppose, but for me, to be honest I'm finding I am full after a couple of bites, providing I can get it down that is.

And another thing why is that I feel good enough, well most days anyway to come into work, but at the weekends I feel shitty, when I should be chillin and relaxing and then there is the pee problem. What's that I hear you ask? Well let me tell you.

You know this chemo lark.  They want you to get it into your system but perversely they also want it out again as soon as, I mean WTF again.  Well you know me I never argue and alway, always do as I am told. So I have to drink gallons of water.  Not a problem, I like water and so I drink gallons of the stuff anyway.  Now tap water is good enough for me, not Ishbel though she has to have bottled water, just wait till I'm gone and she has to hump it back from the shops, we'll see how long that lasts then... anyway I digress

So, Take the chemo, drink gallons of water and flush the system.  Fine and then that's where if there is a god  he is messing with me again. like the feeling shit at weekends when I should be partying...
I'm drinking gallons of the stuff sat here at my desk in the office but do I need to keep running up and down the corridor to my private loo, yes well what can I say I deserve it.  No, I am not running up and down to the loo although with the amount of water I'm taken I'm thinking there must be a problem there too.  So off home I goes and of course when I get home, it's time to take the next bunch of chemo meds so I'm drinking buckets of water again and do I need to run up and down the hall to the loo, no I bloody don't! But what I do do, is get into frigging bed, close my eyes fall asleep for an hour and then the first of my three or four 5 frigging minute visits to the loo starts... I mean WTF is going on there and who is messing with my head and body sheesh, I just cannae win .........

So after a frightful weekend I have been back in the office today and felt much better, been run ragged with that bloody contractor again and not stopped, but it has been a good day so the sun is shining and all is rosy in the garden again.  The chemo? I did say to Ishbel and the kids that I was going to phone the hospital and tell them to stuff it where the sun don't shine, but I'll give it some more time.  YThe amelioration from the gagging has been good, but it's beginning to creep back again. so maybe the chemo has had an immediate effect but may not be doing all it might be... bastard, but I'll try and persevere and Jules is telling me to try radiotherapy, which wee Ollie the oncologist has also talked about, so I'll discuss that with her next week and by then it will soon be time to go back to Southend for another round of gunk input AND SOUTHEND HOSPITAL IF YOU ARE READING THIS DON'T HAVE ME FRIGGING HANGING AROUND COS I'M NOT NICE WHEN I'M GRUMPY.

Other news: None. Well apart from the fact that we have had astro turf done in the back garden and all the kids love it, including the neighbours kids and tip good quality astro turf seems much cheaper from the carpet shop, I know, I know, than from the garden centres in fact in south east Essex can't give enough Praise to MD Carpets for the job they did with ours.

Steve, Son in Law No 2 who lives down in woking came over and took me to hospital and Peter son in Law No 1 took time off from his work to come over at the weekend.  I said it earlier in the week, life has been pretty good to me, pretty shit upbringing in terms of an abusive alcoholic father, but the hardest working caring mother as compensation.  Ishbel who has put up with me for over 38 years, and I can see the pain in her eyes when I just want her to cuddle me, but not too tightly as it hurts, and three of the most loving, caring and hardest working kids, in Marie, Brian and Jennifer  it would be any parents privilege to have helped bring into this world and from them we have been given 5 beautiful intelligent* loving grandchildren and then the added bonus of two of the most hard working sons in law that you are ever likely to meet in Peter and Steve who clearly love and adore their partners and their children and work all bloody hours to support them - guys take it easy once in a while will you - I love you all dearly and I want to be the first out the door

*intelligence and tattooed eyebrows I'm sure there is a contradiction there.........

So a few photos of what's been going on recently

Fun in the garden before Astro turf

The new Astro turf

Ishbel planting pots but no pot for my pain!


Our first Indian Restaurant Lacey loved the popadoms!

Peter, Holly and Goalie Charlie K 
Mollie loving the hot towel after the meal
Lacey Mae, Mollie and Shannon aks KatNip
Mollie teaching Lacey Mae 


Grandmama and the darlings 


Daddy Steve and cuddly Lacey Mae
MY JENNIFER with curls and.....





Charlie beginning to outgrow Holly 

Daddy Peter also being shown how to lose at archery



MY MARIE







Sunday, 11 May 2014

Two Birthdays in one....

Raspberry and meringue with coulis for both
You all probably know that the British queen has two birthdays on two different days and to be honest I have have never been that much of a fan of UK royalty to be bothered to ever find out why that is, but there you go.

Well I too, now have two birthdays to celebrate but, unlike old queenie my birthdays fall on the same date so it's double celebration time for me.

10th May is my official birth date and so yesterday we celebrated me reaching the grand old age of 58 (I think) and I spent the day chillin' with the gorgeous one, Ishbel.  Mind you after a cock up with a security company this week I thought it was going to be a day spent at work but Sharon who works for me and who herself celebrated her birthday eight days before me and was officially still on holiday yesterday, passed the workplace came in and sent me home covering the shift herself ... bonus payment next month I think!

So, got home, promptly fell asleep for an hour and a half and then woke up and went out with Ishbel.  We didn't get up to much as I have this problem that we assume is linked to the problem in that if I am on my feet for to long or walk for any distance I start to get a pain right across the top of my back that soon spreads to the whole of my back and quickly begins to feel like, I suppose, a sinking submarine would feel as it got to depths that would soon begin to crush its hull and it implodes in on itself.  I imagine if that happened to such a vessel and it was capable of feeling pain it would be extreme and excruciating, well that's how I get.

It happened last week too when, with my Big brother Jim and wee wifey Marie up from Liverpool and I decided they, me and of course the visiting angels, Mollie, Shannon and Lacey May along with mum and dad Jennifer and Steve would all go for a walk through the local woods and then to the park and I just barely made it home before collapsing in the kitchen in agony, it wasn't nice and it's the first time that my family had seen it this bad and I felt more sorry for them having to witness me blubbering, than I did for myself.  I know although it is bad and I crave for it to end that I also know that as soon as I get sat down with a glass of water and a few painkillers it doesn't take long for me to make some sort of recovery.......

Yesterday, we decided to do a 'little' bit of retail therapy as I received gift cards and vouchers in cards, so we headed over to Bluewater across the Thames via the Dartford crossing. It got a bit much for me and I could feel Ishbels' arm stiffen as we walked around holding hands as she attempted to stop me from going down, so we curtailed the shops and headed to the restaurant and spent an enjoyable two hours in there recuperating and eating a damn fine meal with me chomping on meds throughout to prevent one of the gastric attacks I suffer from, no one stared, so it worked.

All in all it was a good week and day

The second birthday I was sharing with myself was of course my wee tumour.  It was the 10th May 2013 that it was officially confirmed that I indeed did have cancer, so, although the prognosis hasn't been great, who cares, life still goes on and here is to sharing many more birthdays with my symbiotic friend, because as long as we celebrate it WE ARE LIVING and one really can't ask for much more than that on a birthday
Granny Ishbel and Grand Aunt Marie teaching Mollie ball tricks

Lacey Mae and Shannon with Grand Uncle Jim

Super Mollie foreground Super Jim background

Mummy Jennifer outdoing Mollie

Pink Veal and salad for me 


Sewing machine shop front that doesn't sell them!

New outfit!

Sea Bass for Ishbel

Mollie, will I sit on Grand Uncle Jim?

Yes I will

James Adam Wilson Stronach aka JAWS, but I'm better looking!

Monday, 28 April 2014

A Fathers Love

Saw this on twitter and just had to share it with you, beautiful, moving, touching.  An elderly father and his grown up son, sitting in a garden .....

It reminds us that patience and love are two of the core essences of our being, or at least it is for some!  Personally, I hated my father and was glad when he died and there is not a forgiving bone in my body towards him, I still do not miss him today.

For me, it is a reminder that some dads can be loving and thoughtful and still have patience when their kids get a bit grumpy, like we all do from time to time.  And I hope that my kids think of me in that way even although I recognise that at times I was not the best father in the world......







Sunday, 27 April 2014

Another Dream

Just woke up with a pounding headache it's 3:50 AM

I wonder if it was the weird dream I was having? It was about Mollie and I. Mollie our 11 year old and eldest granddaughter, you know the one, the tiny little package of beauty and intelligence with the most gorgeously sweet and arm twisting smiling eyes that it has ever been a grand dad's misfortune to look upon, purely from the perspective of that she just has to glance up at me with those almond eyes and I would walk through hell where no demon could lay a hand upon me until I reached her, standing outside on the other side of it, as she wouldn't actually be in there!

So, it's just Mollie and me. We are in Spain, no idea where in Spain, no idea where her sisters or Mom and dad are or Ishbel is for that matter. But Mollie is attending an English School and is getting ready for a great event. She has a boyfriend, not Ewan, English too, attending the same school, I don't take to him at all. During the course of the preparations we need to attend two different places in the local town and need to get the bus there. Because of the argument Mollie decides to go to one place on her own and I am told to go to the other place.

Her 'boyfriend' is also going to the other place and so he accompanies me there on the bus, he translating for me, still didn't like him. I don't know where we were supposed to be going, or for what but I'm sure it wasn't the place where we ended up.

It was an old building with many floors on it, it had once been an elegant very large home with wide stairs and many reception rooms, it was very bohemian and there was preparation under way for a large social gathering with tables being laid with all sorts of wonderful food and people arriving all the time. William Hurt was there, as was William Shatner, Martin Balsam was also there and many other famous faces too.  As you moved from one room to the other, deep discussions were going on on all sorts of subjects, and there was music and poetry.

I was on my own as Mollies 'boyfriend' had abandoned me. I was approached by a woman who sat me down on a window ledge, it was one of those deep ledges where you could comfortably sit on and gaze out of the window or back into the large room. She asked me when I was going to die, before I could reply she got up and left!

I bumped into Mr Hurt on the stairs and asked him to have a photo taken with me. I have no idea why I did this as I have met many famous people in my life and never once asked them for a photograph or an autograph! As the woman accompanying him started to take the photo I started doing back flips of the stairs, we were going down them at the time.

I kept going down the stairs and found myself in an outdoor swimming/leisure area with pools and slides and water rings and fountains and I saw Mollies 'boyfriend' here .....

I woke with a pounding headache .....  and now I'm going back to bed at 4:35 AM.

Hope you are having a better night than I xxxxxx


Saturday, 19 April 2014

I had to share - A Dream

"I just woke up from a nap about being lost in South Ockendon. You lived at a house at the top of an enormous hill which required traipsing up a bajillion steps to reach you. After being lost for hours, I'd finally reached these steps and knew I was close. I then had to battle an intricate arrangement by one of your psychotic neighbours:
In order to pass their house, you had to squeeze between a wall and a cemented-down wire fence, behind which their 2 enormous rabid hounds prowled. To make your way through the dogs you had to delicately reach (without losing your arm to aforementioned mutts) and trip a system which automatically shot hedgehog prickles at them, dropping them instantly like elephant tranquillisers. I was in the middle of manoeuvring this last task when I woke up"

One of our beautiful gorgeous nieces had this dream,  Iv'e no idea why she was finding it so hard to get to our house for gods sake ever since my impending death was announced EVERY BLOODY PERSON ON THE PLANET WE KNOW HAS BEEN VISITING AND I'M NOT BEING ALLOWED TO DIE IN GOD-DAMN PEACE ......... ;))))

And doesn't she have a fine turn of prose? In fact this was her latest Face book entry and all I will say is, if you are tempted to comment on this post, beware of the warning .....

Please. Everyone. Just...learn to fucking spell.



Friday, 18 April 2014

TGI Fridays - it was pretty average

Having already had our 'main' anniversary present to ourselves, dinner and the ballet we decided to just pop into TGI Fridays for a meal on our 'special day' but only because we couldn't get across the Dartford Bridge as we were heading to a French restaurant at Blue Water, best laid plans and all that...

It's been a while since we were in this restaurant, 11 years, as our eldest grandchild Mollie, hadn't arrived, so we thought not getting where we wanted to go, it was time to re-visit.

As it was just pre evening getting a table was easy enough and we had a very attentive waitress, apologies as her name has slipped my mind! After 11 years I had forgotten just how loud the music is in a TGI's!  I do like my music and I do like it loud, but really in a bar/ restaurant it really does need to be turned down a tad.  Again, after 11 years it looks as if the restaurant hasn't seen a deep clean or a paintbrush since our last visit, possibly since it was built, very tired and shabby looking as were the gent's toilets with the walls full of holes where the hand drier had been moved around on what looked like at least 4 or 5 occasions!

The food:  We had mozzarella sticks with a chilli dip and strips of chicken with a sour cream dip, both delicious although Ishbel wasn't to keen on the sour cream dip.

For mains: Ishbel had salmon fillet, couscous and vegetables and was impressed, the salmon looked a bit dry to me.



I had the 7 oz fillet steak, medium rare with Jack Daniels glaze, crispy fries and an apple coleslaw.


The steak was cooked to perfection tasted delicious and it melted in the mouth.  The fries were limp and the apple coleslaw was absolutely rank and should not even be fed to the the inhabitants of the local piggery, it really was the quality of the steak that saved it for me.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

It's only been 38 years .......

38 years ago today, it was a Saturday and it was a sunny warm day in Aldershot and I was sitting somewhere, but for the life of me I cant think where, contemplating the next few hours and what they would mean to me.

It was Christmas two years earlier in Berlin. I was having xmas dinner with a wee bird called Ishbel Scott, her parents Alex and Margaret, her brother David and Robert Mcallister the family's best friend. They lived in a top flat, top flat Ishbel, not ground, not middle, TOP, on Schmidt Knoblesdorf Strasse a two minute walk from the barracks.

We were in West Berlin, Ishbel's dad Alex, Robert and I all served in the same regiment of the British Army posted to Berlin.  I got to know the family as Ishbel's Mum Margaret worked in the NAAFI (PX) shop in barracks and me being the cheeky (read gobby) little git that I was, used to attend regularly to get me fags, cans of tango and chocolate digestive biscuits.  Anyways, one day while I was in there I happened to notice a photo pinned to the wall behind the till register of two kids, a lovely wee bird and a plooky wee guy, only kidding David, you didn't have plooks in the photo, they came later - and being the aforementioned gobby git I said to the wuman ahin the coonter, "Who's the bird in the photo?" "That's no bird" says she, "That's my daughter".

"Fine" says I, "If she's free on Friday, she can take me out!"

Well that's how it started, me an ma big gob!

Of course Ishbel was still a wee schoolgirl at the time so you can imagine the response my attention elicited from her mother and I didn't even know her father, remember a Regiment has about four companies of men and can number up to 500 hundred souls, so you tended to know everyone in the company you served in and at most were on nodding terms with the rest until you had been in for a few years and moved around a bit......

Lord it was hard work, but eventually they relented. But, instead of letting me take Ishbel out and of course Ishbel's mother also knew from my buying habits (other than the tango and biscuits) that I was a bit of a drinker back then and of course a smoker, so eventually I was allowed to visit at home for meals and whatnot.

I don't think that Ishbel was too impressed to begin with but I soon discovered the way to win her affections was to buy her every Osmond Album , see this post (particularly the last four paragraphs), and knock me down with a feather, it worked, and she is still so easily bought ;)

And then of course there was that fateful xmas dinner, 1973 if memory serves, and we pulled a cracker and a little glass ring fell out, I got down on one knee and proposed I WAS DRUNK  what can I say .........

I don't recall too much more of that day and I don't think we set a date but eventually one was set for 1976.  In between Ishbel returned to stay with her Gran in Edinburgh to attend school (but I think it was her parents trying to put some distance between us.... ) and I got on with being a drunk and volunteering for all sorts of things, canoeing down the length of the not so blue Danube , that is one BIG river and having my canoe sink on me, crashing an Army 3 tonne lorry into a tree , oh! and making a drunken phone call to Ishbel in Edinburgh, from a call box in the middle of a bridge when in the middle of the call I fell backwards and disappeared into the river , true story Ishbel will confirm, but as usual I survived and then of course there was the wee parachuting incident in the middle of 74 when it was thought I may not walk again, but hey, I survived that too....

This is a photo of the Waldhaus restaurant on the Heerstrasse.  It was the first restaurant I took Ishbel to for a meal and we revisited it and had another celebratory meal in 2004, 30 years after our first visit.  Ishbel was still under age and so I blame myself for her addiction to red wine as I ordered a bottle of Spanish Torres Red, the bottles came with a little black plastic bull hanging from the bottle, I wonder if she still has it somewhere........

And then in 75 Ishbel's parents had organised an engagement party in Berlin.  Only problem was I was on posting away from the regiment and true to form spent most of my time in a drunken stupor as a fully paid up member of the Boozy Army on The Rhine.  The party was scheduled for the Friday night and I turned into work on the Friday morning when I should have been heading North to Berlin.  My bosses were more than a little bemused but fully understood my confusion as this was a normal state of affairs for me back then.  As luck, for me maybe not for Ishbel there was a visiting detachment from Berlin scouting out the area I was working in ahead of a major planned exercise, and they agreed to take me with them. To cut a long story short, I travelled the 11 hours in the back of a soft top land rover in a snow storm and made the party, frozen and shivering, with a sorry looking bunch of flowers in hand.

Fast forward to 1976 and we eventually got married in the Garrison church at Aldershot, had three brilliant kids, I stopped drinking when Marie was born in 1978, and THAT WAS AFTER I WAS SHOT AND SURVIVED and then Brian came along in 1980 followed by Jennifer in 1984.



Fast forward to 2014 and we have now been together, 38 years married and every day ISHBEL DRIVES ME NUTS, there is a proper way to load the dishwasher you know, I don't need your jim jams in the ironing basket THEY DON'T NEED TO BE IRONED NOR DO YOUR JEANS, PLASTIC DOES NOT GO IN THE BLUE BIN EEEEEVVVVVVEEEEERRRRR..... and the list goes on, Socks, don't get me started on my socks me I never do anything that annoys, cos I'm perfect anyway (apart from continually and regularly locking us both out of the house ....)

And then of course, there was last year when the doctors gave me a year to live but out of spite and because of all HER annoying habits, I refuse to die and I am going to hang around for years getting my own back on her and  to make sure she starts to get things right, even if it kills me doing it.

Hey, Ishbel thanks for 40 years of friendship and love I know I can be a right pain in the **** at times but at least I'm still cuddly........
I LOVE YOU TOO


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Oh and by the way HAPPY ANNIVERSARY ALSO to Jules and Oscar our Besties in California who also married on 17th April and have 2 gorgeous girls and a son just like us, Hope you two are having a great day too.





Friday, 11 April 2014

Guest Post: Sir Charlie Stinky Socks .... by Charlie Kennedy (aged 8 &2 days)

Sir Charlie stinky socks
And the really spooky    adventure


One cold day at the tall tall tower with a pointy roof sir Charlie decided to go on an adventure. He brought his sword, his trusty grey mare and his cat called bow. So he set of then Charlie stepped in some quick mud so he yelled to his grey mare “ quick grab that vine so I can get out” so his grey mare ran to the vine grabbed it and threw it at sir Charlie but it was not a vine it was a poisonous snake they were really in trouble Charlie tried to get out and grab his sword. Then Charlie was free and grabbed his sword and sliced it in half and they ran. But he could not go anywhere because there was a  deep lake. So he built a raft rowed it to the other side of the lake on the other side of the lake was home. So he went home and had a very very long sleep.

 the end

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Book Review: Henry Wood Detective Agency: Perception (Book 3)

Look Inside Amazon UK here
Look inside Amazon US here 
Book 3 in the Henry Wood serial and both Mr Meeks and the character are maturing into their stride.  I enjoyed the first two books, I did, as evidenced from my previous reviews but this one, to use a Henry Woodism, (or as I imagine he would say) Mr Meeks has just, "knocked it out of the ballpark", he really has.

I have been watching, on and off, another one of those American TV imports recently, not an avid watcher, but tune in now an again to The Americans which is set in the 50's and 60's and has Russian spies embedded in US Society.  Last week and I wasn't paying too much attention to it but I think part of the story was about the Russians trying to get their hands on US naval submarine technology as the US were making vast strides in improving the quality of their 'pipes' and what not, allowing their submarines to go even deeper than they could at that time and of course the Russians were desperate to get their hands on this material and of course the plans......

Well, switch off the telly folks and turn to Mr Meeks cos, he tells it a whole lot better, did the script writers get a hold of  Henry Woods Perception or were they just looking at the same historical info at the same time and did a poorer job of retelling it, you decide but my money is on Mr Meeks being a better story teller.

Celine is now firmly embedded as Henry's boss, I mean secretary but is soon demoted from boss, I mean secretary when Mr Buttons turns up and takes over as head of the office.

Big Mike of the NYPD has been promoted to detective and Bobby, well he is still a bit of an anachronism, although we do learn one of his little secrets.

Francis is still a food critic and now wants to write a novel, don't we all .....

Lawrence, one of the kids from the last book is back and it looks like Henry may be getting a new sidekick .....

And Luna is still enticing Henry with goodies from the bakery, he'll need to watch his waistline in future episodes ........

The cupboard in the basement continues to spill out 'clues' from the future, in this outing a DVD and a CD,  both of Billy Joel from the 70's, but we are no nearer to discovering the provenance of this contraption, how Henry came by it, where it came from or from whom, I suspect Bobby has something to do with it but Mr Meeks is keeping us guessing and as usual the clues are pretty abstract and thank goodness Henry gets there in the end because I never figure them out on my own .....

Anyways,  Henry is engaged by the personal secretary of Daniel Kupton who has recently thrown himself out of a window of the Woolworth Building.  Amy Silverton doesn't believe that it was suicide, he had a wife, he had a mistress and the fortunes of the family business had been turned around and was again making money and would make even more through being awarded a new Naval contract.......

Henry takes the job and the cold war intrigue really begins, we even get to sit in on a meeting with Nikita Khrushchev and the chairman of the KGB, Alexander Shelepin.  The CIA are operating on US soil, oops and the FBI are sniffing around, bodies are piling up and Henry is racing to save not only himself but those close to him, who is gonna kill him first, the CIA or the KGB ......

Perception turned a corner for Mr Meeks, his writing has improved tremendously and the dialogue is much crisper although a few more contractions wouldn't go amiss and he still needs just a tiny bit little more work on editing, but nothing too much to complain about and  character development is excellent, can't wait for number 4 in the series now .....

Editing for Kindle: 4 out 5
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Chapters: 90
Page length: 283



Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Cancer Sucks!

As you may know by now I have been diagnosed with cancer which, they tell me is terminal and apparently if I believe them, I have seven months left of the year or so left that the nice doctors gave me..... yeah, right says I; I intend to be around for a while yet 

Anyways, I saw this video and it makes me SMILE more than usual and I'm sure even if not a cancer sufferer, it will make you SMILE too.  The sheer joy of life and the beautiful smiles of these gorgeous ladies is well worth a visit and a revisit and a repost.


The message is:

DON'T LET IT GET YOU DOWN 
and 
SMILE 

Friday, 28 March 2014

Dinner and Ballet at The Royal Opera House

So, you'll recall I mentioned that Ishbel and I travelled up (you always travel UP to London, no matter where you are in the country!) to London last month, that time where we had intended to go and have lunch at Carluccio's restaurant in Covent Garden, that time where we paid for lunch instead of using the very nice Xmas gift of restaurant gift tokens from Isabel's brother David and his partner Yvonne....  Anyway before we left Covent Garden we popped in to the Royal Opera House to see what was on and upcoming events and decides to purchase tickets to see The Sleeping Beauty.

Now we know that Ballet and Opera aren't everyone's cup of tea but I have always, well since I was around 18 and was attending an event in Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin, well when I say attending that's not strictly true, I was in the British Army, posted to that fine city, and coincidentally that's where I met Ishbel too, but I digress.  Anyway I was on duty dressed up in my parade uniform with Cock Feather on display in my Glengarry and the music for the evening was classical.  My first introduction to it, and there was also a short opera piece as well.  I never understood a word of it but the music was absolutely wonderful and the melodious tone and strength of the voices of the singers gave me goosebumps. Its a bit like some modern music today also, sometimes the lyrics just wash over me and I have no idea what they are singing about, not even picking up on the meaning of the song but, the sheer beauty of the voice and the tune and arrangement of the music just make me want to immerse myself totally in the voice and the music and leaves me quite sad when it ends and I find myself pressing the replay button until eventually I have to tear myself away and get on with my day ......  but enough of that I may do another post on all of that another time.

So, back to the night in hand.  Times have changed when attending places like the Royal Opera House , once the preserve of the rich and famous and those supposedly more cultured than us common peasants or plebs, when it cost you an arm and a leg for a ticket and you had to dress up in evening suits and gowns and the ladies would be in the latest haute couture with their diamonds and pearls on display.  No, it's not like that that at all these days, tickets are available at a variety of affordable rates and there is no need to dress up to the nines and restrict yourself in a corset and tight fitting suit, I mean gown, of course I don't need a corset (sheesh), many folk there on Tuesday were in casual clothes and indeed jeans were a common site too. Having said that, Ishbel and I do like to dress up for an occasion and as we decided that this was going to be an early 38th anniversary present to us, from us ...... so as you can see above we did make a little bit of an effort.



We started off the evening with an early dinner reservation at the Amphitheatre Restaurant within the ROH, there are a number of restaurants here and you can choose any one of them.  The Amphitheatre is really excellent and is available to ticket holders only on the evening of a performance and the table is yours throughout the night.  You can have starters and a main course before the performance and then pop back for dessert and drinks during the interval and if you have ordered wine with your meal the bottle and your dessert are waiting for your return, on the table.



The menu is varied and excellent and really good value at London prices, considering the very excellent service from the waiting staff, the quality of the food and the ambience of the setting.

We both had champagne to start with, a glass, not a bottle, opting for champagne and not the 'Wild Strawberry Bellini' from the menu. Then Ishbel started the meal with the 'Dorset crab mayonnaise and toasted sourdough'.

Ishbel followed this up with the 'Fish Pie', she does like seafood and I thought she might have opted for the 'Cod, saffron potatoes and bouillabassesauce' but no it was the 'pie' which I am assured was absolutely delicious.... and it did look scrumptious.

When eating, let alone eating out these days, I really need to be careful as you know this 'wee' tumour is causing me all sorts of problems not least of all in the eating and digestion department and the reflux and gagging reflex can be pretty bad.  Ishbel has learned now to keep her hands and wrists well away from me at these moments as I grab her and crush her hand as I grip for dear life during one of these attacks.  But having visited with the registrar last week, you'll recall him, I know Ishbel does, 'Handsome Ewan', he upped one of my meds and it does seem to be giving some amelioration to my wee problem.

So, I started of with the 'Caramelized leek and blue cheese tartlet and apple coleslaw'.  Gawd,  it was to die for, absolutely deliciously tasty, to be honest I would quite happily have settled for another one or maybe even two more of these, they were that good.

For mains I opted for a medium rare, 'Rib eye steak, bearnaise sauce', with minted heritage potatoes. The steak was cooked perfectly and as long as I cut and nibble small pieces, I am fine and so thoroughly enjoyed this too, and I was too busy cutting and eating to photograph it, sorry.....

There was still a half hour before the start of the performance but we elected to save desserts until the first interval, so we made our choices and then enjoyed another glass of the excellent wine we had ordered and some more chat and of course some people watching!  Because Ishbel was having two seafood dishes we opted for a white rather than a red to go with my steak and white with leak, even although blue cheese is deserving of a good sturdy red or even a port, white is just as fine... so we had a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape white, which while not as good as the red was very tasty indeed.  And for those of you who like useless information, translated,  Châteauneuf-du-Pape means, 'The Pope's New Castle'.

For dessert Ishbel had ordered 'Amaretto, orange and caramel trifle' along with a glass of Disaronno amaretto on the rocks, she does knock it back when she gets going, bless and I had the truly magnificent 'Lemon and pistachio pavlova' I truly was in heaven and the wine was an excellent accompaniment to that too.










It was then off to the performance; 3 hours with 2 intervals.  The only downer to the ROH for me at least and maybe it's because I have a large bum!, is that I have never found the seats particularly comfortable and I fidget, but once the orchestra strikes up with the opening bars, I normally settle down as I did on Tuesday to be assailed by site and sound of performers at the top of their profession.

The whole performance, from members of the Royal Ballet and the Orchestra, was truly wonderful and Vadim Muntagirov had, I believe, his debut at the ROH that evening in the role of Prince Florimund and was just wonderful and of course Yuhui Choe, who had been promoted to the role due to injury to Natalia Osipova, as Princess Aurora The Sleeping Beauty gave an impressive performance, as did the rest of the performers.  I noted however, bearing in mind that Ballet and Opera, while no longer the reserve of the hoi polloi, there are still some snobby gits out there and I saw one comment on a social media site complaining that she wished she had known that Miss Choe was replacing Miss Osipova as it would have given her the opportunity to sell / get rid of her tickets, dear, dear me ....... 


All in all, a truly wonderful night and a special mention to Carlos B, our waiter for the evening, who couldn't have been more attentive and helpful.