Sunday, 27 March 2011

Samantha R.I.P.

Sad news. Samantha, our black and white cat, died on Friday on the operating table. He had injured his eye in a fight and the infection was so bad the vet concluded the eye had to come out or the infection would have killed her. No sooner had they started giving her fluids prior to the operation than she dropped like a stone. The vet's have all been very sympathetic.

Samantha's gave us fifteen years of companionship and I'll miss tripping over her in all the dark places she managed to find to lie. Whether Meek misses her we don't know - He's taken it all lying down so far.

Jo's job with Merseyside Youth Association is drawing to a close and neither of us will miss it. She had supposedly been part-time but it's taken an awful lot of hours each week. These can now be devoted to her own business which is progressing well.

I've finished my novel - though I'm sure I could play at revising it for years. Now comes the hard part - finding an agent or publisher.

I know folk are interested to know how I'm enjoying my Kindle. The answer is - a lot. It's proved ideal for things like the vet's waiting room where I wouldn't have bothered taking a book for fear of getting it all bashed around in my pocket. I'm finding it easy to read. The less easy part is referring back from one page to another but I think that's just a case of getting used to creating 'bookmarks'. I'm currently reading a book that simply isn't available anywhere else. That, for me, is one of the key things. Once a book goes out of print it can be hard to find it but once it's 'kindled' it will be there for downloading any time in the future. I think it's well worth having.

Fleetwood Mac's 'The Chain' blasted out from the TV again. The Boys Are Back In Town! Formula One is back. The season begins in Australia today and there's no sign of rain! David Coulthard (Birthday Boy - aged 40 today) joins Martin Brundle in the commentary box. There's a third British driver this year - Paul Di Resta - reigning DTM champion with a history that includes beating Vettel in the Formula 3 Euroseries some years ago.

In 2011, the main hope for excitement lies, as usual, with one variable that nobody – not even Bernie Ecclestone – can influence: the weather. More precisely, rain. But Bernie isn't a man to take no for an answer. The phrase 'Formula 1 circus' took on new meaning earlier in the year with Ecclestone's announcement that he intends to introduce a computer generated sprinkler system to liven up boring races. Ecclestone told the BBC, "At some time during the race, it will be raining. Maybe rain more than once." The pinnacle of motor racing is to be reduced to a demolition-derby-style circus fiasco. Those millions of pounds spent on research to produce the cutting edge technology of today's racing are about to be washed down the drains by Bernie's rain. Hopefully that idea has gone down the drain where it belongs.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A Sunday Ramble

This was going to be a Wednesday Ramble, then a Friday one, then a Saturday one... someone keeps stealing my days. I'm sure yesterday was Tuesday!

Actually it's been a moderately busy week. First and most important, we've had a couple of trips to the vet, Not for me (though some people think that might be a better option than the hospital!) but for Samantha, our black and white cat. She's been in a scrap. And lost. Seriously lost. As a result she's lost the sight in one eye and may have to lodse the ey itself. You can tell she's unwell because she lets me pick her up and put eye drops in and that's something she'd normally run a mile from. You would have thought she'd have had more sense at the age of 16 than to get into fights - Teenagers, Huh!

It's been quite good weather this week, sunny and not too cold, so I've managed to get out in the garden doing some clearing and tidying - the first serious work of the New Year.

I've also lost a few days to ill health. A cold and also my usual heart/lung/nervous system rubbish. Although the cold never fully developed it all helped to drag me down. Overdosing on Vitamin C stopped the cold from ever really getting serious enough to be called man-flu.

One sometimes plays the game of who would you dine with if you could pick anyone from any time. I always pick Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain as two of my dinner guests and after that it tends to vary. I can't ever recall picking David Attenborough but I really should have him as number one and always present. I've just watched part of a series on Madagascar and another programme set in Madagascar about the extinct Elephant Bird. This latter included many clips and stories from David Attenborough's first visit there in the 1960s for Zoo Quest. He has so many great stories I could listen to him for hours and hours on end.Madagascar has cut down 80% of its forests but it was really heartening to hear that in order to join up some of the surviving pieces of forest they have planted a million trees in the last three years.

I've decided another person I'd love to have for dinner is Phil Harding (the long-haired one from Time Team). I imagine he'd be hilarious as well as instructive. Who would you have?

Monday, 7 March 2011

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Today's little amble

Despite loving the feel and look of books I've just bought a Kindle. Apart from all the known advantages the big one for me is the cheap and easy access to books which are no longer available, even second-hand. For years there have been a few Anthony Trollope books that I've wanted to read but haven't been able to get hold of. Even the British Library doesn't have lending copies. Some of them could have been downloaded onto my computer but I don't think I could happily read a book on my computer – especially when I spend so much time on it doing other things. And now, at last I can access them all. And the price is ridiculous. I've just paid less than £5.00 for over 90 books.

One of the fascinating aspects about reading books from the nineteenth cenury is learning about all the little things that people did which no longer apply in this day and age. As many people will know the middle and upper classes all had visiting cards which they carried around with them and would leave if they visited someone who was out. (No means of checking if they're in by a quick phgone call!) But did you know that that if you folded down the top right corner it meant that you had come in person rather than just sent a messenger with an invitation or something. If you folded down the top left corner you were saying congratulations while the bottom left was a sign of condolence.

Well, She-who-loves-tea has just made a cup so I'm to sit down and have a chat...

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

St. Swithbert - a scheduled post

I bet not many people know that there is a saint for angina sufferers! He is St. Swithbert (Suitbert) 647-713 and 1st March is St Swithbert's Day.

Swithbert, a monk from the English region of Northumbria, immigrated to Ireland, where he became a disciple of Saint Egbert in the monastery of Rathmelsigi. Described by his contemporary Saint Bede as “humble-hearted”, Swithbert was one of twelve monks of Rathmelsigi sent by Egbert on a mission to evangelize the Netherlands. Among his companions was the famed missionary, Saint Willibrord. After winning the conversions of many pagans by his zeal, Swithbert was consecrated regionary bishop for this mission in 693. Thereafter he expanded his field of labour into western Germany. Here he was successful for a time, but in the end his efforts were thwarted by a Saxon invasion. Swithbert saw in this misfortune an opportunity to withdraw from the world and prepare himself spiritually for death. He founded a monastery on an island along the Rhine, where the town of Kaiserswerth now stands, near Dusseldorf, Germany. Swithbert spent the rest of his life in the Kaiserswerth monastery.

Hopefully I won't be needing his services any more.

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