Thought for the Week

"A hug is a perfect gift - one size fits all and nobody minds if you give it back."

26things November

Last month Miss U gave me a link to a web site hosted on flickr which she thought I might enjoy, given my re-enlightened interest in photography, and it turned out to be a photographic scavenger hunt... what fun!!

Each month, or bi-monthly, haven't quite worked that out yet, a list of 26 things is posted on the site. Anyone can play along as long as they sign up to the group and the idea is that you go out and photograph as many of the '26things' as you can, putting your own artistic slant and creativity into your shots. We decided to challenge each other and then blog about it at the same time.

The rules state that these photographs do not have to have been taken especially for the list, you can use old photographs you have saved on your computer, but they must be your own work, and they must not be heavily manipulated in a software package, eg Photoshop, except for a general lightening/contrast.

Seems easy I thought. Mistake number 1. It was not nearly as easy as I thought it would be, especially with the lack of time to go out and about which I am suffering from badly at the moment. However, I have a few of the 26things, allbeit, not particularly artistic, I am posting them anyway, in the hope it will spur me on to do better with the next list!!! (Note to self: must do better).

Here are the 26 things, and my meagre attempt at producing/using photographs I have taken to fill the criteria:

1. glee

This is me on a night out last Sunday. Well actually, it was a whole afternoon and an entire evening. The football team had a big cup match to play, and the club had booked a coach. 40 of us turned up to board the coach for a road trip out of town, but the football was cancelled due to the severe weather... we all decided we still wanted a jolly. What do they put in the beer nowadays?

2. village

3. reality

This is the scar from my thyroid operation back in the summer. It was an hour or so after getting back to the ward, as you see, the surgeons artistic drawing is still there. When hubby came to visit me later that day, he renamed me Frankie and threatened to get me a bolt to put through my neck!!!! Sod!

4. accident
5. anxiety
6. low
7. copy

8. kindness
This is the huge bunch of flowers that my daughter received last month from her work colleagues after coming out of hospital following an unexpected operation at short notice. They were gorgeous, but of course, I had to photograph them. So glad I took some macro shots of some of the individual flowers, our second project at college has just been handed out, and it is all macro on the topic of Flora and Fauna!! How lucky is that!

9. bad taste

10. stairwell This stairwell is half way up the south tower of Tower Bridge in London. As we climbed the steps up to the walkways high above the road level, the circular iron staircase and the studed iron support work was a great contrast to the delicate carvings which are in abundance on the outside of the bridge supports and I just had the urge to snap it

11. public transport
You have seen this picture taken from the London Eye before I know, but I love it, and it fitted right into this category, given that we are allowed to use artistic licence on the meanings. It is for the public to 'ride' on and the ride is called a 'flight' so I say it fits right in!

12. art I came across this painting of Brooklyn Bridge shortly after arriving back from my hols in America last year, now it hangs on the wall in my living room. Not only is it a fantastic print on canvas, but every time I look at it I get a warm glow inside and remember the night me and G shared a bottle or two of wine with our dinner on Pier 17, and then sat and looked across to the bridge as the sun went down and the city began to sparkle in lights.

13. shoes

Shoes - what more can I say. These are a few of mine. I tried to be artistic with them, first arranging them in a circle with all the toes to the centre and then in a heap, this is what I settled for!

14. Friday
15. alley

16. 7pm
Now, I did take a picture for this, I sat with my camera mounted on its tripod because of the low light levels, and had my TV on the Sky Programme selection page at 7pm, waiting for the clock in the top of the screen to flick over to 7pm also!!! Neat huh!! Not so neat when you have left your memory card in the slot of the computer and I actually photographed nothing!!!

17. telephone

18. ant's eye view A fun picture I took at Langdon Cliffs, some pictures of which I have posted in a previous entry. Cliffs around the coast of England are reknowned in history for smugglers and when I took the photograph it was meant to symbolise someone peering over the edge to see if the coast was clear.

19. words Taken from my latest photography magazine.

20. odd

Can you guess what it is yet? (Sorry, that was my Rolf Harris impression). I took this for my first assignment at college that was all about patterns and textures, and whilst the picture itself may not be that 'odd' it was an odd thing to photograph. It's the drum inside my washing machine.

21. a stop sign

22. traditional

A Scarecrow. The photograph was taken earlier this year, or was it last year, anyway I was asked to judge an annual scarecrow competition held at Wimpole Hall, a National Trust property, and this is one of many great entrants.

23. the sea

A trip to the seafront at Folkestone. The reason, for me, was to enable me to show the difference between fast and slow shutter speeds for my college course. These lads happened by as I was nearing the end of my shoot, made me laugh so much it was hard to shoot anything

24. stripes Also taken on my afternoon/evening out last Sunday with the footy team... don't ask, just don't!!

25. tangled

After washing, before drying, my hair is always pretty tangled.

26. a night shot

Speaks for itself.

I hope you enjoyed some of the pictures, and now zip over to Miss U's and take a look at hers.

*side note to Miss U, your Thursday photo that you took on a Friday!!! I had Friday in my list anyway, so I reckon you get let off with that one!!

Loved your list, some cool ideas, I can see we are going to have to up the anti on the next list!

The Canal

My latest desire for a photo trip was to capture some beautiful landscape in reflections, and so after a brief moment of thought, the Royal Military Canal seemed like the most obvious choice.

Some facts about the Canal:

  1. The Royal Military Canal is 28 miles long, running from Seabrook in Kent to Cliff End in East Sussex.
  2. It is the third longest defensive monument in the British Isles after Hadrian’s Wall and Offa’s Dyke.
  3. The canal was built in anticipation of a Napoleonic invasion. Napoleon had his armies massed on the shores of France waiting for the moment to invade.
  4. The Royal Military Canal was the third line of defence after the British Navy and a line of Martello towers stretching from Folkestone to Eastbourne.
  5. The canal has ‘kinks’ every 500 metres along its length. This is a defensive measure, allowing troops to fire cannons along the canal if invaders tried to cross.
  6. The first sod of the canal was dug on 30 October 1804 at Seabrook.
  7. A narrower road was built on the seaward side as a towpath for the horses pulling the barges.
  8. As well as stopping Napoleon it was hoped that the canal would hinder smuggling which was a serious problem on the Romney Marsh.
  9. Iden Lock was completed in 1808 and linked the Royal Military Canal with the River Rother. The original buildings - the officer’s house and the soldier’s barracks - can still be seen today.
  10. The canal took 4.5 years to complete at a cost of £234,310 - a huge amount in Georgian England, approximately £10,000,000 in todays money.
  11. The Royal Military Canal is one of two canals that were entirely state funded, the other being the Caledonian Canal.
  12. In order to recoup some of the money spent on the canal, it was opened for public use and tolls were charged to take barges on the canal...
  13. The last toll-paying barge travelled through Iden Lock on 15 December 1909.
  14. During particularly cold winters the canal would freeze, and it was possible to ice skate all the way from Iden Lock to Seabrook.
  15. The canal is vital for irrigation and drainage on the Romney Marsh.
  16. It is still possible to take non-powered boats on the canal today.
  17. The canal is a fantastic home to lots of wildlife, including Laughing frogs, emperor dragonflies, kingfishers and the majestic mute swan.
  18. Parts of the canal are a Site of Special Scientifc Interest (SSSI). The remainder of the canal is a Local Wildlife Site.
  19. Today the full 28 mile length of the canal has a public footpath along it and makes an excellent waymarked long distance trail

I picked up my camera and tripod and headed off to my Mum's as we had arranged the trip earlier in the week. As much to give me a break from my nursing/mothering duties as anything else, and by the end of the first week it was much needed.

We drove down towards Hythe, stopping just short at Seabrook, which is where the path along the Canal actually begins. Here we took a short wander on the beach, passing another keen photographer who photographing exactly what I had come to do, the rough sea crashing against the man-made sea defences which consisted of huge boulders stretching out from the sea wall directly into the sea. The size and the shapes create a great back-drop for the spray of the waves as each, in turn, hurls themselves at the immovable objects. Once wet, the boulders take on a whole new image, reflecting the waves as they arch above.

After our brief interlude here, we sat in the car and enjoyed a warming cup of tea that Mum had brought with her in a flask. Whilst enjoying the tea, we also enjoyed the view, enhanced greatly by two very fit looking guys in surfing apparel who were taking their boards out for a spin!

The main event, was the Canal however. I found a quiet spot to park and we walked towards the water, the sun bouncing off the small ripples created by the gliding swans and ducks.

The ducks are always happy to see people, they know that invariably this means they will get fed.

As we began to walk down the path, my new perspective on the world, from a photography point of view, was turning cartwheels. This was pure paradise. A place of beauty during every season of the year, with each season having it's own unique input into the colours and textures of the landscape. Autumn, of course is the most colourful by far. With the tree lined canal a miriad of sedate greens, burnt oranges, fiery reds and bright yellows.

This was the first shot I took, but the speed ramp, and tarmac entrance, on the right hand side, to a club house really detracted from the feeling I was trying to capture with my shot.

So armed with Photoshop (isn't digital manipulation brilliant!!) I removed the speed ramp and extended the grass verge, not bad for my very first attempt at using Photoshop.

The oak and ash trees, the birch and poplars stood alongside many others, together with and my favourite, the grand old weeping willows with her branches so elegantly sweeping towards the water, hovering, teasingly, a couple of inches above.

The bridges at intervals along the canal are each a little different, some are for vehicular access, some are pedestrian only, but each one is stunning, illuminated by the low, bright autumn sunlight which reflects its image on the water below

It was on this bridge here that I stood looking in the direction we had just walked, with one of the 'kinks' in the river in view, admiring the the adeptness of the seagulls whislt they jostled positions to further their advantage over the ducks in obtaining as much of the bread as possible that a small child was throwing into the water.

As I turned to face up stream, the view almost took my breath away, and in that very instant, I knew this was the exact shot that I had come for, it couldn't have been more perfect

Dressing Up.

I am soooooooooooo having withdrawals from blogging. Time is still short, as ever, but daughter is on the mend nicely, so this is just a quickie (so to speak!).

A few pics I received in an email that made me chuckle, so I thought I'd share them with you.

Have you ever walked around the shops, or seen pictures of things in a magazine that immediately made you think of a friend or relative. Well, the last picture here, made me think of Cherrie, it combines two of her favourite things.

Hopefully I will get back properly next week, in the mean time, I am reading your blogs, just don't always have the time to reply.

Firework Celebrations

November 5th (or the nearest weekend to it) is when thousands of people in England celebrate ‘Bonfire Night’

In England, this celebration is much, bigger and more widely celebrated that Halloween which, being so close, takes a bit of a back seat to one of the biggest celebrations we have in our yearly calendar.

What follows is a brief history, for the benefit of all my readers who are not sure why we celebrate this event:

In 1605, Guy Fawkes and a group of co-conspirators attempted to blow up King James 1st and the Houses of Parliament, in what has become known as the Gunpowder Plot. Before they were able to carry out their plan they were caught, and subsequently tortured and executed.

Every year since then on November the 5th, we have traditionally celebrated his notorious treasonous Gunpowder Plot failure by letting-off fireworks and burning an effigy of 'Guy' on a bonfire.

In reality, and with the growing popularity of firework displays to mark other private special occasions, the bangs, pops, oohs and aahs start a good week or two before the 5th. Generally, the largest amount of displays will be held on the Friday or Saturday nearest the 5th November.
G and I were invited this year, as last, to J & K’s across the road from us for the celebrations. Everyone thinks that J has an unnatural addiction to blowing things up....

....what do you think, a tad excessive?

Like a little boy at Christmas, he gets so excited, for weeks before the night, at the thought of letting them all go. His long suffering wife will hear the phrase “I’m just going to let one off. Just one, I promise” for many nights running up to the celebrations. It’s like a child in a candy

The other thing is that J & K really know how to put a party on. This year it was to be even bigger than last year. The guest list totalled 90 people. The fireworks had been arriving home in batches for several weeks. The oven space of all 3 or 4 invited neighbours had been booked to cook the jacket potatoes and we had each volunteered to make a batch of curry, chilli con carne or tikka masala.

G spent the afternoon helping J to set up the garden and unwrap all the fireworks that he had bought and that which had been purchased by the guests. There was a sturdy ‘rocket launcher’ which would hold 7-8 rockets at a time, to position safely, and the rockets were linked with fuse wire which would then ignite them in quick succession.

A similar, much simpler set of pipes were erected on the opposite side of the garden for the smaller, less powerful rockets, and the catherine wheels were nailed, in a neat little row, to another structure.

There was an old tin bath filled, and a couple of other receptacles each filled with builders sand in which to bury the large ‘cake’ fireworks.

In the name of safety, J had constructed a clear Perspex barrier to separate the spectators from the field of ignition. The hose pipe lay down the length of the garden and buckets of water were placed close at hand.

The garage was taken over for the catering. The entire back wall was a sea of alcohol. To one side there were 5 slow cookers neatly lined up, all simmering away on a low setting and a small glass front warmer in which were some of the many jacket potatoes that had been cooked in preparation. To the other side of the garage was a smaller table, with heated containers in which lurked hotdogs and onions.

I had offered to photograph the whole thing for them. A good memento for them and great practice for me. My current college project is entitled Textures and Patterns, I just know some of the pics are going into it!!

Including J and G there were 4 guys setting up and lighting 8-12 fireworks simultaneously.

There were little ones, though not very many;

and there were big ones.

Then there were the really big ones. The ones that reverberated around the hills and left your ears ringing.

The biggest single firework was a 1000 shot cake. One fuse. One firework. One thousand shots. It was so totally amazing it is indescribable.

Here are a few more of some of my favourite shots. Enjoy.

Note to blogger friends: I may be missing for a short while, will try to check in with your blogs, and will write again as soon as I am able.

Memory Monday - Nostalgia in the Present

Last week I wrote about a nostalgic overload I had, when the computer in my brain decided to grab the ‘recycle bin’ and disperse the entire contents around my ‘Random Access Memory’. Boy was it random.

This weeks Memory Monday is a follow on from that entry….

So, in my mind, I was convinced. 100% sure. This ‘new’ friend, was in fact an ‘old’ acquaintance from 28 years ago, my primary school days.

All week, my brain has been tossing around ideas on how to have a little fun with him before telling him who I was, although a little bit of me couldn’t understand why he had not already made the connection himself!

My favourite plan, with the assistance of G (hubby), was to try to steer the conversation round to school days, then subtly drop in first one name from the past, then another and watch the reaction of recognition spread across his face. This is what I decided would be the easiest way to have a little fun.

My plan, unfortunately, was flawed in more ways than one. The biggest flaw being that as the Landlord of the pub, and as there were two big footy matches being shown this weekend, the pub would be heaving and he wouldn’t stand still long enough to engineer any sort of conversation.

OK. Plan B.

Hmm. I don’t have a plan B.

Plan B will be ‘suck it and see’, ‘wing it’, ‘play it by ear’

Sunday morning arrived and me and G headed off to meet the rest of the team at the pub to see who needed lifts to the match ground. Big match this week. Next round of the County Cup. Everyone is there, everyone is pumped up and raring to go and ‘kick some ass’

Following the news that one team member brought with them, about another of the team having been jumped and attacked the previous night, they were all pretty angry, and you could tell that was going to fuel the hungry fire in their bellies even more.

As we left the pub, my ‘new’ friend Steve, said he would catch a lift with us, this is not unusual, when he is able to get to the match he usually rides with us. On the journey, which is only about 20 minutes or so, half of me was wondering whether now was the time, the other half was already deeply involved in the conversation surrounding the events of the previous night and the young team member who had spent the night in hospital. The poor, unfortunate lad in question was my God Son, whom I have known since the day he was born, so it had stirred some very maternal feelings within me, but that’s another story.

About 15 minutes into the journey, my inner voice was having a little conversation of it’s own:

Right, strike while the irons hot. You have his undivided attention for another 5 minutes.

Maybe now is not the right time


No I’m not

Then get on with it. Once you get out of this car you will be lucky to get another chance for an uninterrupted conversation with him today.

OK, I admit. Now I am face to face with him again….


…. There’s a 1% bit in my brain that’s not sure it’s the same guy!

Just do it. I need to know.


The general conversation amongst us paused.

Now’s your chance

Maybe it’s not him. Why hasn’t he already made the connection? I have a reasonably unusual Christian name, most people from my past instantly recall who I am just because the name jogs their memory and it’s not one they hear too often.

Maybe he has recognised you and chose not to say anything

Why? Oh God, maybe he does know who I am, and didn’t like me at school.

What the f***?

Well not only do I have an unusual Christian name, but my son, who plays for the pub team also, and has been a regular in there for a couple of years, has my maiden name. With the two together, he couldn’t fail to know who I am!!

Oh for Christ sake, just get on with it

But what if…. Oh bo**ocks! In for a penny, in for a pound

So I jumped right in.

Me: ~looking directly at Steve~ At the risk of making a complete arse of myself Steve
G: ~laughing loudly~
Steve: ~looking slightly concerned~ Yes
Me: Did you go to ****** primary school?
Steve: ~looking more concerned~ Yes I did, how did you know?
Me: ~cheeky grin~ I thought so!
Steve: ~puzzled~ Did you go there then?
Me: ~nodding~ Yes I did.
Steve: ~looking very puzzled, and leaning back for a better view~ I’m sorry, I really don’t recognise you.
Me: That’s OK, it’s taken me 5-6 weeks to recognise you.
Steve: So you must have been in the same class then, we’re the same age!!
Me: ~even cheekier grin~ Yep
Steve: So what’s your maiden name? I’ve only ever known one Ali
Me: Same as my son’s!
Steve: ~penny dropping, loudly~ Oh my God, I’m so sorry I didn’t recognise you. You look nothing like you used to!
Me: ~I wonder if that’s a good thing?~
Steve: Oh my God. It really is a small world. I can’t believe it.
Me: I was going to wind you up, and start name dropping to see your reaction.
Steve: ~Laughing~ You should have done! Do you remember Andrew N****
Me: Yes. What about Paul L**** and Dennis G****?
Steve: Yeah. Dennis comes in the pub now and then you know.
Me: No way!! ~pretending to cover G’s ears~ he was the first boy I ever kissed you know.
Steve: ~laughing~ Really?
G: You hussy!!!! ~chuckling~
Me: I was only 8!! We stood there, in an old building in the woods where lots of us used to play as kids, about 2 feet apart, saying “you go first”… “no you go first”…
If my memory serves me correctly this scenario continued for about 20 minutes, until Dennis planted the fastest, most awkward, totally hurried kiss on my cheek, and we ran out. Although I had stood there with my heart in my mouth for the full 20 minutes, I can remember thinking “Thank God that’s over!”

Those were the days.


When you are pounced on by a charity collector asking for money, or a donation to some worthy cause, it can be difficult to say 'No'. At least, for most people it is difficult to say no without feeling pretty damn selfish.

Then there are those who strike a deal with the supermarket, and perch on their seats in the foyer or entrance with their little tables covered with leaflets about how this child or that animal may die if you don't help them raise £50,000 to help the needy.

You walk in, and no-one says anything. You walk through the first door, fix your gaze on the second door, thinking this somehow makes you invisible, or at the very least, the fact that you haven't acknowledged their existence means it's not that you are a right stingy bugger, you just didn't see them!

Why should anyone have to feel guilty in that way? If you gave to every charity that asked or suggested that you should, or that your donation alone would make such a huge difference, you would be in need of charity yourself. It is not possible to donate to them all. I, myself, tend to reserve my donations for children's charities.

This said, I still try the 'I'll just pretend I haven't seen you' technique with the rest.

Last week, whilst exiting the supermarket with a loaded trolley, barely able to steer it with the use of both hands, I was approached, asked if I would like a leaflet, and before I had time to answer, the leaflet had been unceremoniously stuffed into my 'still clutching trolley' right hand.

Cheeky bugger, I thought, but hey, I had it in my hand now, I may as well read it right.

To my surprise, it didn't involve giving money to anyone. What they wanted was time. They were on a recruitment drive for volunteers.

This caught my interest. I have been considering trying to get involved in some sort of voluntary work for a couple of years, but have never been able to determine what kind of work I could fully ccommit to and give 110% to without pay. Working directly with the elderly just doesn't appeal to me, rightly or wrongly, it's really not my cup of tea, and I couldn't bear the thought of assisting in a charity shop for several hours at a time. So this leaflet was appealing.

What was it I hear you ask?

It was for the County Search and Rescue (Lowland) team. A voluntary organisation, that is mobilised via the coast guard, RAF and police forces with in the county to assist with the searching for missing, vulnerable people.

Just up my street. Interesting and challenging and helping to hopefully minimise distress caused to victims and their families at difficult times. Search and Rescue training together with general first aid training has to be completed before you can become operational, if you are accepted as a volunteer. I realise that sometimes, the SAR team have to deal with the not so pleasant results of a missing person, but life is all about balance, and I feel sure that the good results will far outweigh the bad.

Anyway, I decided to check out their website and then emailed the coordinator to see if working full time meant I would not be of sufficient use. Turns out, it's fine. So I have filled in all the relevant application, medical and vetting forms, which I put in the post today.

Fingers crossed.


Hell. Why does your brain throw random information at you when you least expect it?

Has anyone ever had one of those 'light bulb' moments, where your brain, for absolutely no apparent reason, retrieves some previously insignificant piece of information from your on board recycle bin and not only restores the item to the location it used to be at without you requesting it, but whilst it's on a roll, it digs around in the recycle bin and retrieves a few more items which it deems have some sort of link to the newly recycled information and stores them right at the front of your brain. Just in that part which comes to the foreground of your involuntary thought processes at the most inconvenient of times?

The reason my on board computer decided it was calling the shots - it thinks it's found a link with the present.

Let me explain.

I was visiting the little girls room at work, minding my own business. I don't recall having been thinking of anything in particular at the time, when all of a sudden I was bombarded with names and memories and information from my past. My brain had this little flurry of nostalgic moments and continued to overload on them.

The motherboard must have had a power surge or something, the information came thick and fast...

"Steve W..., - Stephen W..."

"Of course. Holy Shite. Stephen W..."

"Thought he looked familiar"

"Went to primary school with a Stephen W..., I wonder if it's the same person"

"Steve W... the landlord of football teams pub, of course"

"That's why he looked so familiar"

"Michelle C..., Amanda S..., Stephen W.... holy cow."

"Of course, it makes sense, I can see it in his mannerisms"

"Stephen W..., damn, why didn't I spot it before"

"What are the chances of that? It must be him"

"I can see it now. Hell, wait till I see him at the weekend!"

That was the gist of my brain function. There was a few more similar thoughts and they came at such a rate of knots I felt almost dizzy.

I wrote about the footy team last week and of having gained back some of that 'family' feeling I used to have years ago when I played darts for a pub team.

Well, Steve W... is the landlord of this current pub. I have been a regular in the pub and at the footy games now for over a month. At first I thought he looked familiar, then I thought he just had one of those faces and personalities. Some people get you like that, they are so cheerful, and so at ease with people that you feel like you have known them for ages.

The landlord and landlady are both like this. On one of the walls of the pub is painted the phrase

"There are no strangers here - only friends that haven't met yet"

And that is exactly how they are with all of their customers, whether it's the first time they have seen you or the 100th time they have seen you.

The more I have thought about it, and believe me my brain has been thrusting this info at me constantly for the last 24 hours now, the more I am 100% certain. He has the same looks, the same smile, the same mannerisms.

It is 28 years since I saw him regularly at primary school, although I think in the 5 years following that I saw him a handful of times around the estate that I lived on at the time.

It truly is a small world.

Fancy making a 'new' good friend, only too find out he was an 'old' friend of sorts.

Memory Monday - Showing Off

During my years at primary school, between the ages of 5 and 11, like most young girls I had many friends. Some were just mates at school, others friends you would call round to play with at weekends.

One such friend of mine was named Denice. She was a very pretty, dark haired girl, with an air of confidence about her that I don't recall seeing in anyone else so young, and she was very bright. I had always admired her, and thought of her as sophisticated and from a well off family. My own family was not so fortunate in the wealth stakes, and I can remember her talking about taking showers in the mornings, and I can recall my exact feelings. Showers back then were not common place like they are today, (oh god! I'm showing my age again aren't I), usually it was just a bath.

It is strange, looking back, recalling how I deemed her to come from a well-off family, merely because she had a shower as well as a bath! Today of course, most everyone owns a shower.

Anyway, I was always slightly in awe of her, but was very fond of her also, and we both played in the school netball team, as did her older sister, Suze. Suze was great. She seemed to have a soft spot for me and treated me like a little sister. Treated me better than a little sister, sisters at that age are not the soul mates and companions they often become later in life, but a nuisance more often than not.

Denice invited me over one weekend during the summer holidays, suggesting that as we were going through a hot spell, maybe we would enjoy going for a bike ride round the country lanes. Back then, it was considered safe for young girls to be out on their own in small country lanes, something that would be difficult to allow your own children to do now-a-days.

At the time I didn't have a bicycle of my own and she said I could borrow Suze's. This was hilarious, I was very small, and Suze was much bigger than me, so we settled on me riding Denice's bike and she would take her sisters bike out.

I went round to her house mid-morning one fine, sunny day of the holidays, and her Mum had made us both a packed lunch and put it in a back pack so that we would not get hungry on our travels. We checked the bikes over, tested the brakes and adjusted the saddles a little. Then with a cheery goodbye to her mother, Denice and I mounted up and rode off.

We headed out of our little village and straight onto the pretty, narrow, winding country lanes we both loved so much. The hedgerows were alive with the sounds of young birds, as yet flightless, but all very vocal whilst waiting for mum to bring their dinner of earth worms, flies and other tidbits. The air was pleasantly cool for such a hot day, the vast canopies of summer leaves preventing most of the suns rays from reaching the ground underneath, and the tremendous array of colours and textures was amazing.

We cycled quite slowly for a while, taking in all the beautiful sights and sounds that nature provides at that time of year, and happily chattering away about girly stuff.

Later, when we started to feel peckish, we dismounted at the edge of some woodland, and pushed our bikes over the slightly uneven terrain in search of a good spot to spread out our lunch. It was not long before we stumbled across a small clearing, with long soft green, green grass under foot, tall, heavily laden, gnarled trees dotted in amongst the grandfather trees that seemed to have been growing since the beginning of time and a tiny, gurgling stream. Perfect.

We broke open our lunch boxes and made daisy chains whilst we ate. When we had finished, wearing our daisy chains, we picked a small posy of bluebells and daffodils for Denice's Mum as a thank you and retraced out steps out of the wood and back to the road.

As we set off again, we were discussing some topic or other that was mightily important to a pair of 9-10 year olds until Denice suddenly stopped. As I pulled up beside her, I could see the glint in her eye.

"Race you" she said.

The road ahead was narrow and steep. Very, very steep.

"You're on" I replied, never one to turn down a challenge.

And off we sped.

Denice, much more suited to the size of bike she was riding, pulled ahead quite quickly. I pedalled hard, watching her in front of me. She was still pulling away. I stood up on the pedals. Leaned forward. Pedalled quicker.

Was I catching her? I couldn't tell.

As I looked up at the back of her again, the back wheel of her bike was doing a kind of dance. Not the whole bike, just the back wheel, pulsating from side to side, slightly skimming across the tarmac surface and I remember thinking it looked pretty cool. Of course I wanted to look pretty cool too, and so I tried to make my over sized bike do the same thing.

It was actually easier than I thought it would be, and my bike started to shift, back and forth, quickly feeling like it was out of control. I hadn't accounted for the considerable amount of loose gravelly stones which lay like a dry river bed down the middle of the road. My heart began to pound against my chest. I was going way too fast. The hill was very steep and very long. I couldn't make the bike stop it's dance. My face became flushed, my heart rate continued to quicken, and I was scared witless.

Next thing I know, I'm on the ground. My knees were terribly grazed, having gathered most of the contents of the road in their close encounters to my stopping position on the verge. My elbows and forearms had fared no better in their travels and my head hurt like hell. As I half sat and half lay, dazed, confused and in pain, Denice had just reached the bottom, turned round, saw me on the deck and laughed. As she made her way back up the hill towards my resting place, her face changed from the laughing, mocking, 'you fell off' face to an ashen, wide eyed and worried face.

"Oh I'm so sorry, I didn't realise you had hurt yourself" she said. "Are you OK, can you stand?"

Slowly, painfully, I inched my way from my slumber position to sitting, then kneeling and eventually standing. Dizziness took over and I had to steady myself with her. By this time I was swallowing blood. In the fall I had cut my head quite badly and grazed a lot of my face. Gravel was embedded in every opening, one of my teeth was chipped and I felt sick.


We were in the middle of nowhere, not a soul in sight. We guessed if we waited patiently, a car may come by and help us, at least take me home so I could get some attention for my wounds. But the car never came. We began to walk - slowly. Every step a jar in my spine. Every few steps, another drip of blood released its grip from the bottom of my face and splashed onto the road.

We kept at this pace, making headway towards civilisation, when we came across a family out picking blackberries from the hedgerows. We decided to ask them for help. Of course immediately they saw me we didn't need to ask. They just took over. Arranging for one of them to help my friend back to her house with the bikes, and taking me off in the car back to their house to clean me up, which they did, before dropping me home and explaining to my Mum what had occurred.

I often think about that family and wonder how much more I would have suffered had it not been for their kindness. Today of course, a 9-10 year old girl with half a brain wouldn't dream of getting in a strangers car, let alone agreeing to go back to their house. Come to that, many an adult with half a brain wouldn't dream of offering such a young girl a lift to their own house for fear of repercussions of accusations of assault.

Personally, I think this is a very sad state of affairs. I wish the world could go backwards sometimes. Back to a time, before I was born, when respect, kindness and honesty were abundant in everyone's everyday life.

If you want to take part in Memory Monday click here

My Heritage

Miss Understood, you have a lot to answer for.

Your post on Wednesday, although quite enlightening, had a link. A link to My Heritage. Do you have any idea how impossible it is to sit and look at a hyperlink and not click it? Well do you?

Well of course I clicked the damn link, what was I meant to do with it! Not only was it sitting there calling me, begging for it, 'My Heritage' sounded like a site that would tie in with my enjoyment of genealogy too, double whammy!!

The site says that if you upload a photo of yourself, it can tell you which celebs you most look like.

What fun I thought, always a sucker for a bit of corny entertainment.

I only had one photograph of myself on my computer, I hate having my picture taken and avoid it at all costs as a rule. The photo to be uploaded is supposed to be a large facial picture, facing directly forwards. The picture I had was slightly side on, but I thought what the heck, lets do it.

The uploading was quick, the face recognition and comaparisons took a little longer, as I sat there itching to know if I looked like anyone famous, or more to the point, anyone famous and beautiful.

Hey, a girl can dream can't she?

Eventually, there it was, my own mini list of celebrity look-alikes. They were pretty unlike me I have to say. I put that down to the bad photo, and decided to try another.

Aha - camera in hand, could I hold it at arms length and still get the whole of my face in shot?

Click - flash - blind - blink - oh yuk, do I really look that bad? I had already had my evening shower by the time I tried this and so this was a bare faced, unmade, pure, raw version of me!

When I ran this image through the website, it said I looked a lot like Ashley Olsen - wow, she's gorgeous. Katie Holmes - OMG, she's beautiful...

.... and


How the hell did that happen?

Did I miss something?


Where's that flippin' mirror?

OMG, don't EVER let me out of the house without my make-up, it says....

How in God's name did Mick bloody Jagger get in at 7th place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not one to be beaten, and not wishing to retain the Mick Jagger image every time I look in the mirror, I decided to try again in the morning after I had dressed and applied my make-up for work.

Yes - that's what I would do. Take another pic, with my war paint on. Not that I wear much for work, but it might even things out a little!

So, this morning I took another shot, in what I hoped was better lighting too.

The results? Well not wanting to bore you (or have you all wetting yourself laughing), Kofi Annan was amongst them!!

So... what's a girl to do?


Take another photo. Set the camer to self timer, and try taking a shot that is not close enough to produce an x-ray image when the flash explodes!

Yes. Success. At last, no Mick Jagger or Kofi or any of the others I can barely remember the names of!

So girls - the moral of this story is, be careful where you click, and if you must take a self portrait, do it from a little distance!!


Football is a game I enjoy watching, but only when it means something to me. I don't support any league team, and in fact find it extremely boring to watch.

International footy is something else entirely. I'm as big a supporter for England as anyone when the World Cup comes around. Out goes the big white flag with the red cross, the flag of St George, and England. No right minded English football supporter would be seen dead with the Union Jack displayed, unless of course England were already out and Scotland or Wales were still in the running - nah, not even then.

Our neighbours across the road from us think we 'lower the tone of the neighbourhood' with our flag, but we hang it out anyhow, where's her patriotism? Most of the games are watched in the pub of course, it has nothing to do with the beer you understand, it's just that their screen is so much bigger than our T.V's!!! Honest!!

Just recently, I have begun to watch my son play on a Sunday morning. He has played for years, but I have never gone and watched him before now, which I regret. The thing is, he is currently playing for a pub team, and football and the pub go hand-in-hand, as does the social life and the big 'family' team spirit from the various wives, girlfriends, parents and pub regulars with a genuine interest in the game.

Sunday morning is becoming a routine. Get to the ground, usually giving another couple a lift, for about 10am to watch them warm up and share a bit of friendly banter with the other supporters. Kick off is at 10:30 when the supporters all turn from a friendly, laughing, good-humoured bunch into a marauding group of referee abusers with a splattering of verbal now and then at players from the opposing team, particularly when one of our own has had his feet taken from under him in a needlessly rough tackle. It can get quite heated on the sidelines, and I have soon learnt that the men's characters change completely when there is a game in progress.

No longer do they acknowledge that there are ladies present.

The air can be blue with the language sometimes.

No longer do they even acknowledge that they have a partner with them, for all intents and purposes they are single, with not a thought for whoever is stood at the sidelines cheering them on.

And every one's a critic.

The manager will shout from the touchline, occasionally telling one player to get his act together, cover the midfield, or shout across to another player, keep your eye on the ball, who the hell was that meant to be for? Only the manager is not quite so tame with his language!

In fairness, he gets plenty back from the players too. It is quite amusing to view the Jackal and Hyde personalities whilst the game is in progress. The lads really get steamed up about it, they are all passionate about the game, and deservedly so, they are heading there league by 8 points clear.

After the match, it's all back to the pub where the landlady feeds us all and the social niceties are once again brought to the surface. Unless there is a big game on the box, the team and the supporters usually make up about 80% of the numbers in the bar for the first couple of hours.

Yes, I said first couple of hours. Some have managed to turn it into an art form. Everyone partakes in pool, darts, a bit of friendly 3 card brag for 20p a hand or just having a good old chin wag. As people start to drift off home you can hear "oh, you off already?" or "you're not going are you?" It almost feels wrong to

Last week, the team had a tough game. One player had got married the day before and was not expected to be showing up -

- one player down.

10 minutes into the game, after an awkward and particularly hard tackle, one of the strongest players had to be lifted from the field, squealing in agony. After the ambulance arrived and gave him pain relief he wanted to watch the rest of the game, but they convinced him he needed to go to hospital and took him away. Result - broken ankle, no footy for at least 6 weeks maybe longer.

- two players down.

The remainder of the first half was tough. The lads were obviously finding it difficult keeping their minds focused on the game, whilst waiting to find out how their friend was fairing at hospital.

Just before half time, the goalie caught the ball whilst making a spectacular save, unfortunately he caught it awkwardly and damaged 2 fingers on his right hand. When half time was over, he was asking for help to get his gloves back on!!! Hence, with them swollen, and seriously looking broken, he had to be withdrawn and replaced.

- 3 players down.

The groom, who had been married for less than 24 hours showed up, "just to watch" at least that's what he told his new wife!!! He was itching for half a game He begged to be allowed to play, but didn't have his kit so he stood on the sideline swapping clothes with one of the guys that had come off the field!

Whilst the goalie was struggling just before half time, another of our players clashed heads rather hard with the opposition. It was a fair knock, but when he came off he had a lump the size of a kiwi fruit on the top of his head. He was adamant he was going back on though.

Within 10 minutes of the second half starting, the poor lad couldn't see straight and felt very dizzy and so he too was taken off the field.

- 4 players down.

The groom grinned as he was put on the field.

- 3 players down.

It's all good fun!! They won the game 3-1 too. Way to go boys.

Memory Monday - Planning

When the children were all young, everything had to be conducted like a military operation, planned and executed to the nth degree.

I had my last daughter when my son was 5 years old. He had just started primary school and hence it was the beginning of what I think of as my 'super organised' life I was to lead from then on. Between the two of them, I had another daughter, making 3 children of 5 and under, a handful indeed.

The morning routine on a school day would follow a similar pattern day in, day out. At least most mornings it would, if I had been out the previous night, as was often the case come Friday morning, I would tend to make it up as I went along and even that was a struggle.

On the rest of the week days, the first half an hour of my morning would be spent trying to convince the eldest 2 that they actually wanted to get their backsides out of bed. "Get up, come on, you have school" .... "Wakey, wakey, rise and shine".... "Is anyone actually listening to me?"...

With baby tucked under one arm, bottle held with hand of said arm, my morning cuppa would be drunk intermittently with the other hand, usually luke warm before I had gotten half way down the cup. Winding baby (that's winding as in pat on back, not winding as in crank her up!!), obviously took both hands, and this would delay the next task, but always one to utilise my time effectively, I would use this time to stand quietly at the bottom of the stairs and listen; what was I listening for? The scurry of feet, the running of water, the sound of drawers being opened and closed again; and what did I hear? .... silence usually ....

"Will you two get up, I'll not tell you again. It's nearly half seven, now come on"

"uuhhh, huh, sigh" came the replies

Reluctantly, and eventually, they would leave their warm, cosy duvets and head for the bathroom in turn, arriving in the kitchen, bleary eyed and hungry. By now, baby was fed, and happily sitting in her bouncy chair, watching, surveying the scene of her sorry looking brother and sister as they clearly struggled to appear to be of human form, and she, full of the joys of spring would chuckle and gurgle away in her own fantastic baby language, clearly finding what she had to say quite amusing.

Finally, with all three where I could see them, I would prepare my sons packed lunch, and finish the half a cup of stone cold tea I had left. With their breakfasts eaten and the human heads firmly in place, the next battle would be to prise the two of them away from pulling faces at, tickling and generally making baby laugh, and they were good at it too. They both loved her to bits. Eventually, I would get them upstairs to clean their teeth and get dressed, although somehow, their toys and books always seemed more appealing to them at that point in the day, can't for the life of me think why. They knew the routine though, and they were fully aware that I wouldn't check up on them for the next 10 minutes or so as I would be changing baby and laying her down to sleep in her pram, so as not to disturb her again when it was time to leave for school.

Once she was taken care of, it was my turn. I would climb the stairs, noisily. It meant one less hurry up needed to be issued as they would immediately get on with the mornings necessary tasks, cunning I know. Eventually, somehow, and always in time, they would be ready. My son standing there with his smart school uniform, freshly laundered and pressed, school bag at the ready and lunch box in hand. He was always so cute as a young boy. Even now, at 22, he still has the same 'aren't I cute' smile! The bag and the lunch box would be laid on the tray of the pram, along with another bag of PE kit on the days it was needed. My eldest daughter would be excitedly waiting for us to leave. She knew that once her brother was safely ensconced in school I would take her to the bakery and we would share a little 'us' time with a drink and a sausage roll before we walked round the corner to her playschool.

Once she was dropped off there, I would walk the mile home, just me and my gorgeous baby, for a morning of 'lets see how much housework I can get through before she wakes up'. Invariably, of course, she would wake up 5 minutes after we got home, which was fine by me, it just meant the housework would wait a while. I loved her being awake. She was generally a very happy and contented baby, and I loved to just cuddle her and breathe in that all too familiar 'baby' smell that I will never grow tired off til the day I die.

By lunch time, I would do the reverse trip to collect my elder daughter from playschool.

At 3pm I would do the trip for the third time that day to collect my son from school.

It's no wonder I was always fit, walking 6 miles a day.

Soul Searching. I always wanted to say this.....

I first read the entry in caps on Miss U's blog, a long while ago. At the time, I was writing elsewhere and used it as a release for things I wanted to say.

I occasionally go back and read it, and every time it stirs the same emotions, the same feelings and the same sense of release. I thought I would share it with you all . It was incredibly difficult to do at the time, but very worthwhile. My apologies to Miss U as you have read this before.


1. What was missing in your life that you took such great pleasure in trying to destroy everything that I held dear? What did I ever do to you? You were evil beyond belief for so long. So many nights I cried myself to sleep and plotted my revenge. I didn't want to sink to your level and that is why I contacted the police. I'm so glad that you being bound over to keep the peace put an end to it.

2. What the hell gave you the right to do that? Did I give out the wrong signals? Even now, after all this time I do not believe I did. I was nothing but cheerful, friendly and professional. I guess you realised immediately that your advances were most unwelcome. You seemed almost embarrassed for your actions but for all your backtracking, you made me feel uncomfortable, you made me question myself, you made me feel sick.

3. Why do you blame me? Does it ease your own guilt. Is it easier to blame me than to accept that your own actions may have been a contributing factor, however small? Do you not think I have enough to deal with already without shouldering your guilt for you. I won't do it, it is too much weight to carry. It was not my fault. It was not your fault. It was not anyone's fault. It just was.

4. You are a selfish, jumped upped, self-centred bitch sometimes. Life can't always be about you, no matter how much you want it to be. Do you have no love inside you? No compassion. No thought for anyone but yourself. ME ME ME. Could you not even spare your own mother an hour of your precious time on the day that she buried her husband? You selfish f***ing cow.

5. I'm so sorry I hurt you. That was and still is the last thing in the world I would ever want. You are such a kind, loving and caring person. You didn't deserve that. I can see looking back what led me to do what I did, but I make no excuses for it. I was wrong. I was very wrong, and I will never forget how much I hurt you.

6. You are such an inspiration to me. You have strength of character that I admire. You seem to think you are weak, especially when you turn to me for help, but you are so much more than I could ever hope to be. You have the biggest heart of anyone I know, and always show such strength of resolve that I am sometimes in awe of you. You have been through more devastation and heartache in your life already than most people see in a whole lifetime, but still you unselfishly look out for others, and are always there to lean on. I love you.

7. If only. We can't live on 'if onlys' but I have shed bucket loads of them for you. I miss you.

8. I'm glad you came back. The time apart was too much too bear. I know it was a difficult time for you, a period of adjustment so to speak, but you made me so angry I had to speak out. I was the only one who tried to help you. The only one who supported you in the beginning and yet you pushed me to the limit. Then when I spoke out, you tossed me aside like an old, worn out jacket you sent to the jumble sale. Were you just testing me to see if I too would desert you? I guess I failed that one.

9. You are so cold hearted. How could you move your lover into your marital home all the while making your adoring husband think it was his idea to have his best mate move in? Those letters that the two of you exchanged, I found one laying around one day. I know it was wrong to read it but human nature etc etc. I sure wish I hadn't by the time I had finished. How could you be so cold as to say you were a patient woman and could wait for him to die? You knew it wouldn't take forever because the doctor had said if he kept smoking his life expectancy was not so great, and you were doing nothing to persuade him to stop. You would do that rather than leave a man you didn't love just to get your "fair share" You're a disgrace to the human race.

10. I am so proud of you.


I recently visited the historic town of Hastings which is in a neighbouring county, and whilst I enjoyed my visit, it got me to thinking about richness and importance of the town within the history of England. I thought I would share a little with you, so if you start to nod off, don't say I didn't warn you!!

Before the riveting history lesson, a few of my pics.

This is the bonfire the local council were constructing on the beach in readiness for 5th November celebrations.

Organised displays are usually worth attending as the bonfires are bigger and the fireworks which can be purchased by a company for public displays are 1000% bigger, better and brighter than the selection available for private purchase.

East Hill Funicular Railway. The UK's steepest funicular railway which opened in 1902. We decided to ride it to the top and to explore the Hastings Country Park, with it's spectacular views over the town.

We have a similar Cliff Lift in my home town, which although I have lived here for 35 years, I have never riden. Ours is unusual in that it is one of the oldest water balanced funicular lifts in the UK.

This was taken on top of the cliffs after disembarking from the lift. The area above the town, known as Hastings Country Park is truly beautiful, and the quiet, peaceful aura is in stark contrast to the bustle of the busy town below.

The cliff face itself is formed from limestone and has a range of colours and interesting contours which make it quite the most beautiful cliff face I have seen in a long time.

Hastings boasts the largest beach launched fishing fleet in the UK and has miles of beautiful, clean beach, with well cared for lawn areas and promenades.

There is ample seating to sit and soak up the atmosphere, or to just gaze out to sea in a dream world of your own.

Along the opposite side of the road can be found all the usual seaside town buildings; amusement arcades in their plenty, souvenir shops selling trinkets and kiss-me-quick hats, rock shops, fish and chip shops and restaurants.

These curious weatherboarded and tarred structures date from the 17th century, before the Stade developed, and are known as Net Huts.

The existing huts were mainly built in the second half of the 19th century, often with the wood left over from the building of a new boat. The net huts of Hastings are unusually tall as a result of the lack of space on the Stade, and the relatively high rents that were charged. There was also a council regulation that they should be no more than eight feet square, and since the fishermen needed to store several different kinds of net and other gear, the answer was to build upwards.

... and so to the history of the town...

It is best known in history for the 'Battle of Hastings' in 1066, here's a light-hearted and brief run down on the battle:

The Invader:
William, Duke of Normandy (aka Willy), later known as William the Conqueror or his correct title of William I. He was born in 1027 but his parents were never married (tut tut) and he was often known as “William the Bastard” to his enemies.

In 1051 Willy met Edward the Confessor (aka Big Ed). Willy claimed that at this meeting Big Ed promised him the throne of England when he died. With no proper witnesses to this Willy was in for a fight, quite literally.

He was an experienced military leader. He had fought and defeated the king of France in 1054 and 1057, and he showed no mercy to those who opposed him. His men were well schooled and well equipped (in the armour sense that is. History books make no mention of their manhood!).

The Defender:
Harold of Wessex (aka Hal), who was born about 1022. Hal’s father, Godwin, Earl of Wessex, was the most powerful nobleman in England, and when he died in 1053, Hal succeeded his father as Earl of Wessex, and became a loyal supporter of Big Ed.

Between 1052 and 1066 Big Ed put all his energy into the building of Westminster Abbey in London, and Hal commanded the king’s army gaining a reputation as a skilled leader. His army was a mixture of professional soldiers and men who had been collected on the march south.

In 1063, Hal led an English army into Wales and it is reported that his army killed every adult Welsh male they came across, (probably wanted the sheep for themselves huh?).

In 1064 poor unfortunate Hal was handed over to Wills after finding himself shipwrecked on the coast of Ponthieu. Hal then went with Wills into battle. It is after one such battle that it is written that Hal promised Willy he would support his claim to the throne of England when Big Ed croaked it. With this ‘promise’ Willy let Hal go home to England, where Hal immediately back tracked saying the promise was forced out of him in exchange for his freedom and as such had no legal status. (Don’t you just love the way they used to be able to make the rules up as they went?)

Are you all still with me?

Big Ed died in January of 1066 and it was decided by the most powerful nobelmen that Hal should be the new king.

Holy mother of God. How do you think Willy took that? Well the big sneak, he took his vast army and landed at Pevensey Bay and plotted and rested whilst Hal was still way up north. When Hal and his army reached Hastings, knackered from their 250 mile hike (if only they had used public transport!!!) Willy and his army whipped his ass. Wills then marched through Sussex and Kent, crushing all who dared to resist him and had himself crowned King William I on Christmas Day in Westminster Abbey, London.

It's brief, but concise!

Memory Monday - Netball

When I was a young girl, many moons ago, I absolutely loved sport. I couldn't get enough of netball and rounders at primary school and when I got to secondary school at the grand old age of 12, it wasn't just netball and rounders but tennis and hockey too.

At primary school, there was a bit of a 'personality' clash between the netball coach, who was the class 5 teacher and myself! She didn't like me much and I can't say I cared for her ways a great deal either. She was the only teacher in my 6 years at the school that I didn't get along with, but unfortunately for me, I needed her to want to put me in the team.

It was her usual way to only play girls in their last two years of school in the actual matches, but we were encouraged to attend training during the year before this, to get us up to scratch I guess. Not only did I never miss a training session, but I attended each and every match that the team played, every single one.

She always maintained that until the last two years we had neither the skill nor the knowledge to be effective within the team. The thing was, I knew I was good enough to rightfully earn my place on the team, and the rest of the girls knew it too. I think even the teacher knew it, but she didn't want to have to bend her rules for me, a girl that was too full of energy for her own good, a girl that she didn't get along with, a girl that had so much love and passion for the game that her continued and ongoing refusal to play me left me frustrated to the point where I would have a bit of a sulk and she would know in no uncertain terms that I was well and truly pissed about it!! I swear she liked the power.

I would spend all my breaks with a netball in my hand, practising shooting. From under the post, from the outside edge of the shooting area and from many different spots in between. I just totally loved it. I knew that practice would improve the natural ability I seemed to possess for the game, and I SOOOOOOO wanted to be in the team, I actually believed that eventually Miss X would include me in the starting line-up for a match against another school.

One particular day, the team was short of one player, due to illness I believe. I jumped up and down with excitement whilst Miss X was trying to figure out who the hell she was going to play to make up the 7 players required.

"I'll play, I'll play. Let me play, pleasssseeeee" I said, not holding out much hope.

"Go on" said the rest of the girls, "She's really good and we are a shooter down"

Miss X had little choice. She needed 7 players to start the game and she only had 6. There were a couple of other subs there but they had only been playing for a couple of weeks and were no-where near match ready.

Begrudgingly the teacher said to me "OK, it looks like you will have to play. This is a one-off and I'm only playing you today because we are short. I'm putting you in at goal shooter 'cos you're not big enough to play anywhere else. Listen. Do your best. Create space, then run into it. Think about your footwork, and take your time with the shot"

YES, YES, YES! I was in.

I remember thinking to myself "...not big enough to play anywhere else? I bet I could run rings round you dear. . . Create space then run into it? Yes, yes I know all that, lets just get this show on the road lady. I am gonna play so damn well you won't possibly be able to drop me next week and I will have earned my regular place on the team!!"

So I did.

I ran my little white frilly socks off. Yes I was small, but that was, then and forever after, an advantage to our team. By default, the biggest, tallest girls were always put in defence, and I was so small that I could run in front of them or behind them by ducking under their arms instead of running around them. I was small and nimble, they were tall and less agile. It made a big difference. I scored 4 goals that game and we trashed the visiting schools team. Even Miss X told me afterwards that I had played a very good game and that she hadn't realised "just how much potential I had"

I took that to mean "well done girl, I hate to admit it, but your good" and went home with a huge smile on my face that day.

The next week, I was an automatic selection to play. I had come of age, in Miss X's eyes at least. She had accepted me, just, begrudgingly, and unwillingly to a certain degree, but I had won her round.

It was so often the case that when we had a match, whether it be at home or away, the coach of the opposing team, and sometimes even the odd player or two, would look at me with an "awww, she's so small and so sweet" and when they realised I was actually playing, and worse than that, that I was the goal shooter, you could almost read their faces, wondering how the heck I stood a chance against the bigger, stronger girls.

Again, I reckon this worked in my favour. No-one ever saw me as a threat. I may have been little for my age then, but what I lacked in height, I made up for in enthusiasm and passion 10 times over.

I continued to play as a fully fledged member of the team for the rest of that year and the two academic years which followed, before I left the school and moved onto secondary.

In my final year at primary, our school won the County Netball Tournament and had our picture in the local paper. It was one of those chest busting proud moments you remember forever.

Have you got a memory to share? To join Memory Monday click Here .

Journey to London

Last Wednesday was my 20th Wedding Anniversary, and as you may have read in my previous post, my lovely kids booked us a table at the local all-you-can-eat Chinese for Tuesday evening (20th anniversary is for China!), and then they had given us gift vouchers for a Champagne Flight on the London Eye for Wednesday.

So Tuesday evening arrived, and all freshly showered and changed, with lightly applied make-up we set off for the restaurant, with strict instructions to get our (their) money’s worth, and to ensure that diet or no diet, we definitely had to have a dessert. Crikey, what an awful challenge. Fancy having to eat lots and lots of Chinese and then have dessert as well! How could I refuse?

The waiter showed us to our seats and took our drinks order and we made our way to the buffet area for our first course of the evening. As we were eating, I was aware of a party of 5-6 adults being shown to their seats at the table directly behind me. “Whose flowers are they” one of the elderly ladies enquired, “they’re not ours”. As the waiter came over to take their drinks order, another in the party asked the waiter about the flowers, stressing that they were not for anyone amongst their group. Said waiter then began to read the card… “To Mum and Dad, best wishes on your 20th…..” I spun round in my seat, with a grin from ear to ear, “They’ll be ours then” I said. They were absolutely beautiful, this is one of the roses from the bunch, (taken on my new SLR, but don’t tell Elaine.. shhh).

The rest of the meal was uneventful but very enjoyable, it is a while since we have been out to eat, just the two of us alone. I did get brave half way through the evening and attempt to eat with chopsticks… when in Rome and all that… so when in the Chinese I figured I should give it a try! Not my best decision.

This was not the first time in my life I had attempted this feat, why I thought the end result would be any different I do not know, maybe it had something to do with the wine! After 10 minutes and the consumption of nothing more than about 3 meat filled mushrooms, a couple of strands of noodles and a very precariously held piece of beef in black bean sauce I reverted to the knife and fork… what a fantastic invention.. if God had meant us to eat with twigs he wouldn’t have given us the brains to forge steel into useful implements now would he? That’s my angle and I’m sticking to it!!

The following day, we got up and ready for our trip into the city. We had booked our flight for the 7pm ride when it would be dark and we would get a fantastic city landscape in lights. We decided to ‘let the train take the strain’ and leave the car at home, parking in the city is unbelievably difficult and VERY expensive. So we waited until 10am which is when you can buy cheaper tickets, (the one’s you don’t need to take out a bank loan to afford!) and bought 2 returns to Charing Cross plus a zone 1&2 travel pass that would allow us to get on and off the tube at will and travel all over the city at leisure.

Trying to exit the station at Charing Cross up to street level was quite difficult as there were people stood still all the way up the stairs. As we edged and squeezed past them one at a time it became evident that the reason for this uninitiated congregation of bodies was the weather. You know that saying “It’s raining cats and dogs” or “It’s bucketing down” well it was doing both – at the same time. This is what we had to shelter from before we could even begin to get our bearings and start to enjoy the day!

Once it had eased up considerably, we made our escape, following the sign posts pointing towards Leicester Square. The first hour or so was spent in this fashion, dashing from one spot undercover to another, and huddling together with a large proportion of the rest of the city when the heavens opened up and did their very worst.

Next we moved on to Trafalgar Square, where I was looking forward to seeing Nelsons Column and the fountains.

Just my luck, as we rounded the last corner of the National Gallery which fronts onto the square, it was immediately obvious that the fountains were not working. They were completely devoid of any water and were in the process of being cleaned.

Standing at the top of the great steps infront of the National Gallery looking down onto Trafalgar Square with Nelson on his column, guarded by the four magnificent lions and the fountains with their fantastic bronze sculptures, I could see in the distance, looking straight down The Mall, Big Ben towering above the city.

One of my loves in the city is Tower Bridge. I posted some pictures a couple of weeks ago that I took on my Paddle Steamer trip up the Thames. Now I had the chance to photograph from ground level.

We weren’t fortunate enough to catch the bridge raising but it is still a fantastic and completely unmistakable engineering masterpiece. It is beautiful.

If you wish, you can take the Tower Bridge tour, and walk up the inside of the West tower and along the walkways high above the road level.

When the bridge was originally constructed, these two walkways were to enable pedestrians to cross over the river even when the bridge was in the process of raising.

However, these were closed in 1910 as it became apparent that the much preferred option was to stand and watch as she majestically opened up her bascules to allow a tall ship to pass up or down river.

There is a lift from the top of the Tower that then takes you down to the engine rooms and show the original equipment that was used to raise and lower the bascules.

The audio descriptions and history, which are available in a choice of many languages at the touch of a button, make this part quite informative and interesting even for those who are not mechanically minded.

The highlight of the day was the London Eye Champagne Flight. We were met by our hostess and led onto the eye via the fast track route and hence avoiding the long queues, pretty neat when you’ve been traipsing round London for several hours.

There were only 11 people on this special flight, and so we had plenty of space in our capsule to move around freely and shoot photographs at will.

The first shot with the zoom lens was a complete white out, with the flash bouncing off the concaved glass panels of the pod as I suspected it might do.

The second, third and fourth shots were pretty dismal, furry, blurred images. I had no tripod, and hand held night photography at the best of times is pretty impossible -

-on a moving object it was not the best scenario, but it’s what I had to work with, so I persisted, I’m stubborn like that!

Once I had changed the lens to the smaller 18-55mm and braced myself against the side of the pod before each shot I had much more success. Some were still a little blurred, but I am an amateur so what the heck.

My favourite photo of the whole set is this one. I’m not known for blowing my own trumpet, but I think it’s pretty fantastic.