Armistice Day 100 years remembrance – poems

wp_20181111_002There’s red poppies EVERYWHERE!
Towns and villages have sprouted them, made of glass, or yarn, pottery or wood – they flow down walls, dot verges, surround memorials.

Four years ago, marking the century-old start of what became to be known as World War One, or The Great War, or (unquestionably wrongly) The War to End All Wars, we, as a poetry group wrote a number of works on this theme.

So, today I’ll share some of mine: The first reminds me that we (our WI) used to ‘sell’ poppies door to door – until the year members were upset so much by reactions that it stopped. Partly because of this, I had researched the ‘peace poppy’ thinking it a recent innovation – only to find it was as old as the war – and much misunderstood. Now red-poppies are back in vogue I think it continues to be.

By any other colour   (the peace poppy)

Perhaps they should have picked another colour
to that of the shame-filled feather;
those war widows and war weary veterans
who would have agreed with Owen’s poem
‘Dulce et decorum est’ if they’d understood Latin,

Perhaps then they’d not have been spat upon
sacked and shunned, just for wanting
peace over everything and wearing it,
a sign they wanted it to really be the end
with no disrespect intended.

Perhaps they should just have paused
eighty-odd years, by which time selling poppies
meant slammed doors, even in rural villages
and indifference meant few came
when the Remembrance bugle called.

Perhaps poppies, white or red, or even
remembering the dead, does nothing, for
a hundred-years on from ‘the one to end all’
governments still wave the patriotic flag
and world-wide, still make war.

 

The next I’m going to share with you is short and, possibly, the one most people liked when it was first performed.

How to Grow Poppies

For flowers in abundance
row after row, whole
landscapes turned crimson, first
turn the soil.
Digging trenches works well.
Poppies thrive in open spaces,
the removal of trees and other shade
is recommended.
Fertilize well, blood and bone is best.
Water in, a long winter of rain at least,
and leave … nature will do the rest.

 

I’ll leave you with a final Peace Poppy poem, mainly because I believe that the World needs Peace more now than ever. Wars and conflict are driving poverty and migration across continents, which is driving further right-wing and extremist movements. The Map of War and Conflicts LINK HERE   is frightening – and the refugees and the human misery these are creating affects us all.

 

Peace Poppies

They are white,
white like the feather
dished out to any man
deemed to be fit
but not fighting

They are white,
like the bones
of the sixteen
thousand conchies
who died at the front

They are white,
like the rain-washed faces
of the dead and injured
they rescued from
no-mans land

They are white
a bloom to remember
peace and the peaceful
who’d not kill
but not shirk

They are white
when all others are red
misunderstood today
as much as when
they came to be

They are white
or they are red to
remember and honour
not the war, not the glory
only the sacrifice.

 

Off to the Remembrance service now  🙂 with my red poppy on – and a lovely Cornish badge made locally and sold for the RBL complete with poppy and dove of peace – as in the picture above.

Any thoughts – all welcome

Best Ann

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C.R.A.P. and the Joy of True Recycling

No, I don’t like the acronym either – CRAP is not a pleasant word in any way, sounds harsh, sounds coarse and creates unpleasant mental images  – however, just at the moment, I’m looking at the word a lot!

Why? Because this is the title acronym for Conserving Resources Associating People, which in the title is followed by an Area and is a Facebook page. So here, in Cornwall, there are at least eight that show if I search Facebook for C.R.A.P. – but I do not know if it is a country-wide phenomenon like Freecycle (which I don’t like for its ‘pleading your case – why you deserve this free item’ and ‘having to choose who gets it’ aspect – or is this only me) or just Cornwall and spreading. They referred back to ‘the first one set up’ Falmouth and Penryn (now with 5,400 members I see!) – so it may only be down here at this time.

Basically it is to save stuff going to landfill. Stuff that is still usable but not necessarily saleable – or stuff that’s good and usable that you’d just rather pass on than bother selling.

As we are downsizing in a major way – and have LOTS to get rid of – and then on top of that, quite a bit of the stuff I have hoarded kept safe was kept because it had been too good to throw away (to create landfill)  but not good enough to sell or to donate to charity for them to sell – this site is a blessing.

The local C.R.A.P. group has been running just over a month and has over 900 members already! Some giving, some finding, some doing both, some just watching until something catches their eye! And ‘local’ is important too, as members need to be close enough to pick-up the stuff.

It also encourages Up-cycling and Community efforts using recycled goods to help where needed.

You would be AMAZED at the stuff that goes – because it is so true – one person’s unwanted junk is someone’s ‘just what I need’.wp_20180917_22_21_53_pro

Unbelievable? You want Examples? Here you are then: an assortment of mixed glasses – went to two different people – both for crafting (glass painting / glass etching) 1950’s loo & hand-basin – to a retro loving home, 1980s grey loo, to become a planter, and to someone else, the handbasin – just what was needed.

wp_20180920_11_34_42_proScrolling through the page recently I’ve seen shoes, bowls, plates, lamps, rugs, old tables, cupboards, boxes, artificial flowers, table ends, woolly hats and comfrey roots – all go!

I called this the JOY of True Recycling because it is far more joyful than the necessary recycling of the waste we bring into our homes (plastic, card, glass and paper) and especially as the sort of stuff we can gift on this site is precisely the stuff that still goes to landfill – and there is a JOY in giving things away that you no longer need and knowing someone else can use 🙂

Off to take some pictures of the next pile of ‘treasure’ to give away …

Are you into recycling in this way?

Any good schemes where you are?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you

X  Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

pps – if you are reading on the email and can’t see a video when it says there is one – again , please go to the actual blog by clicking the title – then it should appear 🙂

Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write  🙂 Thank You

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Burlesque, Deportment and Wet-Day PE lesson

burlesque-georgina
Georgina Gale

We had the fabulous Georgina Gale from Art of Dance, Plymouth, come to talk to our WI last week about Burlesque.  Not a usual topic for WI you may be thinking – but maybe you have the wrong idea about burlesque – or the wrong idea about WI ?  🙂

Burlesque is more about the suggestion of sensuality than about sex : WI is about women having fun while learning stuff together.

As Georgina talked it was noticeable that she wanted women to ‘own their space’ to be ‘certain and proud of being a woman – and show it’ and that this was aided by a few minor alterations to how we walked, how we held ourselves, and how we used whatever props came to hand.

At one point I found myself flooded with a memory. A memory that was of a lesson I learned when about thirteen or fourteen and have generally tried to follow – when I remember.

It was a wet day, a really wet day and it was not only PE but our PE teacher was away and so the HE (Home Economics) teacher was covering the lesson. Worse, with only one Gym, the boys and the girls had to take turns on these wet days and it was the boys turn – so we were relegated to the hall. The hall was used for some sports anyway – it had a badminton court marked out on it.

Back in those days teachers were not expected to have lesson plans ready for another member of staff to pick up and use if they were away – so the HE teacher was left to her own devices.

She chose to teach us a little deportment.

Now this may have been usual in some schools (maybe in the nearby Princess Margaret-Rose school for instance) but in our mixed secondary modern it was not on the general curriculum.

She started with walking – as did our Burlesque teacher last week – getting us to walk around the hall following the painted badminton lines, placing one bare foot in front of the other, on the line, as we went. Placing was a good word for it, toe – heel, toe – heel. Those who straddled the line were put right – one foot in front of the other! We were walking with grace – not clumping along.

Then she upped the stakes.

She’d brought along a pile of soft-backed old HE books and now we were to balance one on our head and continue our perambulation. Head up, eyes forward, looking at the line now in the distance. How it straightened backs and shoulders! It sounds stuffy but we had fun – it isn’t easy, that balancing the book on the head stuff – especially when you turn – so there was laughter too!

And so it was in our Burlesque evening (without the books – but with shoes) plenty of laughter but then suddenly we were looking far more confident, all looking taller. You could see how someone walking like that would draw attention, someone looking so confident somehow makes you believe that they know who they are, what they are doing and where they are going – and that confidence is attractive.

It made me think – how often do we as women duck our heads, look at our feet, slouch, unsure what to do without arms? Giving the impression that we are not confident in the world. How much of this is learnt behaviour, learnt ‘feminine’ behaviour? That maybe we have lost some indefinable female power by ignoring, or deliberately turning our backs, on elegance and grace of movement. If you ever watch dancers, off  stage, they still have it – maybe we all need a few lessons.

How often do you see young women ‘clumping’ along (as my teacher put it) like a boy – but with the rest of the body language that says, ‘don’t listen to me, don’t look at me, I don’t know what I’m doing here’ ?

Maybe a little deportment should be taught – maybe under another name? Positional empowerment?

Whereas back in the school hall the teacher finished off by teaching us how sit and how to get in and out of a car elegantly without showing your knickers no matter how short your skirt – very useful in those early mini-skirt days! Georgina added how to stand, so that you are comfortable, your back well supported, (she’s also trained in Pilates), your hands poised in a relaxed position that allowed you to stand tall and look confident – comfortably. (Plus a few cheeky poses and the removal of … gloves 😉 )

What do you think?

Positional empowerment lessons for girls?

A load of old-fashioned nonsense?

Love to hear from you

best  –  Ann

Ok, you can admit it now – you went and got a paperback or magazine and tried walking with it on your head, didn’t you?   😉

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂
If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

pps – if you are reading on the email and can’t see a video when it says there is one – again , please go to the actual blog by clicking the title – then it should appear 🙂

Remember – reviews of books are a great way to say ‘thank you’ to an author if you like what they write  🙂 Thank You

 

 

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Apples and Memories

This week, on a warm day I went into the apple store and realised, by the fermenting aroma, that it was time! Time to sort out all the remaining apples and chuck out all the mouldy ones.

Now a really organised person would have been doing this all along – they’d have done this every time they collected apples – not dashing in, grabbing a few and flying out again, often at twilight, when sorting apples in an unlit shed is not easy.

Red admiral - telling us the apples are ready!
Red admiral – telling us the apples were ready!

As I stood turning over each of the apples that still looked good to check for damage, and chucking the obviously past-it apples into the bucket, I remembered picking this crop. We did it over a number of warm days, the butterflies dancing and tasting apples that had already fallen.

In past years Dad has always been the most assiduous fruit-picker in the family, he’d check the fruit, wait for the dew to dry and then set off into the orchard with a wheelbarrow full of boxes, and steadily pick apples and lay them out in the apple store all day, or until the apples that were ripe were all gathered in.dad-picking-apples-holding-on-2017

This year, ill as he was, he still wanted to help. So, over a few days, he did. I helped him walk down to the trees we were going to pick, and he held tightly to a branch and picked with his free hand, or propped himself against the trunk, and did the same. An hour or so of this and he was exhausted, but happy to have done his bit for that day, and after I’d helped him back he’d settle down in his armchair, feet up, and would swiftly be asleep. wheelbarrow-apples

trug-apples

 

 

 

 

dad-with-howgate-wonderThere had been an excellent crop, with some real whoppers from the Howgate Wonders – an apple I love to recommend as it is sweet enough for an eater, mushes down like a cooker (needing no added sugar) is a heavy cropper and keeps really well! Here’s a snap of Dad holding one, though not the biggest, of these lovely apples.

All this is going through my mind as I sort the apples, and here we are, the second week of April and I still have a range of apples left.wp_20180408_15_17_11_pro
They do not look as pretty as the chilled, native and imported, apples in the supermarket, but they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.wp_20180408_15_16_56_pro

They haven’t been waxed or coated in shellac . . . and if you don’t like the sound of these ‘old apples’ please note that *’apples you buy from the shops are usually anything from a few months to a year old’ * Times Newspaper 10/4/18

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Yet even after all these months, peeled, they still taste wonderful, are free – wp_20180408_15_17_23_pro

 

 

and I reckon I have at least nine kilos left!

 

 

The mouldy and too-damaged-to-eat apples I’ve spread out on our open-top compost heap – where it won’t take long for birds to find them to have nice, unexpected, spring feast.

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What have you been up to this past week?

What annual jobs in the home or garden are you tackling?

Do let me know in the comments – I love to hear from you 🙂

 

ps If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

 

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‘A Respectable Life’ . . . Goes Live

The lead-up to the launch of a novel is always fraught – but here they are ready for this Friday and looking splendid! arl-mass-1

A website that kept freezing, a code that could not be read, a pdf – with embedded fonts – that was somehow rendered with the wrong font in the proofs – these are some of the extra trials in the run up to the launch of A Respectable Life. {up-date – and a whole box of books delivered to the wrong address!}

You will recall the poll I took on the way the words should be placed on the cover (Thank you all for your comments and votes) It was a close-run thing – but both of the main choices had the word ‘respectable’ split up and uneven on the right hand side.

After much discussion the choice was made – with the hint of a shadow added to deepen the font and make it more serious.

All of this carefully placed on Anthea Lay’s painting of Hingsbury so as not to hide any of the main features of Hingsbury village – the pub, The Old Chapel (where Cordelia lives), the Church, the shop and Hideaway Cottage – I wanted all of these visible on the cover.

Anthea had an interesting task – to create this fictional village from a sketch map and set it into the landscape where I wanted to plant it – and then to squash everything over onto one side – the front cover! Explaining this to a number of people I was told that they ‘love a map’ – so I have included this in the front of the book too.

SO… the book is ready to launch. What to do? Where to hold it?

Now, you have to know that Cordelia organises the prestigious Hingsbury Art Fair – raising thousands for charity – and it is this backdrop that flows behind the events of A Respectable Life – so the Book launch will be in Hingsbury Art Fair!

OK… so St Dominick Hall will be masquerading as Hingsbury hall – with a Pop-Up Art Fair provided by five local artists, Anthea being one of them! Each of these five artists is very different – there’s oils and acrylics, encaustic wax, gouache and pen and ink, fine botanical paintings and quirky multimedia work as well. Something for everyone. There will be a short talk and Q&A followed by refreshments (& cake) and opportunity to chat – look at the art – or buy (signed)books and art (Think Christmas pressies for special people – or yourself 😉 )

Now, if you are in the area – and you haven’t already received an invitation via facebook, twitter or email – please consider this yours!launch-invite-2(click on picture to enlarge and make clearer!)

And we all look forward to seeing you there …

X Ann

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Who put the butter in the jam?

Who put the butter in the jam? No, it isn’t a fussy query from the person who deals with such things as the butter dish on the tea table – this is something I wondered aloud – though there was no-one to answer me  (yes – I talk to myself even when there is only the radio to listen).WP_20160917_20_51_23_Pro

I was making some bullace and apple jam (recipe for Bullace Jam is HERE – but the bullaces (wild damson-like fruit) were not as numerous or as large and juicy as usual so I had a feeling that the 4½ lbs lbs would make nothing like the 10 x 1lb pots I hoped for.

SO, as the windfalls have started to come off – I added half a pound of cooked apple per 2 ¼lb lot of bullace.

I cooked the bullace in the microwave with the three tablespoons of water, allowed to cool a little then drained them and squished them around and around in a large-hole colander until all I had left in the colander were bare stones and tough skins.

The apples I peeled, cored and cut into slices (on the apple/peeler/corer contraption which I love (see here) then just cut the prepared apple into 4 and spread them out in a covered pyrex dish and cooked until mushy.

This I added to the bullace and reheated – proceeding to then add the 3 lbs of granulated sugar and stirred well to dissolve it before returning to the microwave. When this mixture had heated to bubbling point I added a “knob” or ‘walnut-sized piece’ of butter … and said (aloud)

‘Who put the butter in the jam?’ … in fact I added, laughing to myself … ‘Who on earth, while making jam, thought – I know – I’ll put some butter in this!’

The effect of putting butter in the jam is to prevent (or largely prevent) a ‘scum’ forming on the top of the jam as it boils, giving a brighter, cleaner jam, and obviating the need to ‘skim off the scum’ – which always sounds pretty revolting – even though it isn’t.

Useful … yes … but who would have known this would be the result? Why would they even think to try it? Beats me!

(you know – it is the jam recipes that keep bringing random new people to the blog – maybe I should be writing microwave jam recipe books instead of fiction – lol)

On another jam note altogether – people will go and eat it! Unfortunately I couldn’t even enter this year’s village Autumn Show – though I had promised I would enter some jam this year – as people had only gone and eaten ALL the jam I made last year! I’m hiding a nice jar or two this year – so at least I can participate next year!

So – that’s my blog for today …

And the question still remains – if you know – do tell – Who (first) put the butter in the jam?

best

Ann

BTW – just to keep you good folks up to speed … my new book* A Respectable Life will be released on 28th October! (*for which you can blame my absence from the blog)

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Of Molehills and Microbes

I’m taking a detour away from telling you about the parts of Dr Perlmutter’s book that I want to share with you, to explain a little more why this book and the premise of this book chimed so much with me.

As I said – I am not so much a scientist – as a bit of a science junkie. I love to read scientific articles and learning is my drug of choice. LearningIMG_0384, however, doesn’t only come from books – it can come from observation.

The basic premise of this book is to say that our gut biome – those billions of bacteria that inhabit our gut (to say nothing of those that are so intimately a part of us, of our very cells, that if they malfunction we are unable to generate energy – the mitochondria) are essential to our well-being. That they have to be the right bacteria in the right proportion to each other to produce the health, both mental and physical, that we should have.

All animals require the correct gut bacteria. When we kept goats, shortly after the new kids were born we would find a nice fresh molehill, preferably in a ‘clean’ paddock where the animals didn’t usually graze, and take a nice trowel-ful. This would be placed in a plant-pot saucer and put in the corner of the goat-house or pen. Why? Because this ensured that the kid got the right bacteria – because they knew what to do with this molehill earth – they ate it.

The recently published longitudinal study known as The Life Project, which began studying a cohort of people in the UK in 1946 – with new cohorts added every ten years (until recently) – has flagged up the difference in the microbiome (biota) of people born by c-section* as opposed to those born vaginally. Where the former have a much restricted complement of bacteria in their microbiome – compared to the latter.  (*our rates of c-section run at 26%)

This method of birth, and the expanding use of antibiotics around birth which cause similar skewed bacteria in the gut, have been shown to produce a higher susceptibility to asthma, allergies and other related conditions in their later lives.

The only one of my four boys to have any allergy like symptoms is the one who was on antibiotics for five years to prevent kidney damage. He, literally, grew out of needing them but can be affected by asthma-like reactions to mould and dust and has sporadic eczema. At this late date he is trying to balance his gut bacteria since I read this book. . . we’ll see (he’s being my guineapig)

That antibiotics are good – that they have brought health where there was death – is undisputed. However, how many of you find that there is the time after you have been treated (and cured) by a course of antibiotics where your body seems sluggish – the normal daily routine is often out of step – and only returns after a while. In my experience plenty of live yoghurt always helped to reinstate normal patterns quicker than if not ingested.

Add to these the fact that being brought up on a farm or in the countryside with animals gives a significantly lower risk of developing chronic inflammatory diseases (such as asthma, type 1 diabetes (T1D), multiple sclerosis (MS), and also inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and we have the basis of believing that the contents of our gut really do affect our lives, both mental and physical.

So, just a few reasons that this theory chimes with that which I already had as a basis of my own understanding – and the fact that so many of these physical conditions are demonstrated by inflammation is leading towards a possibility that this could also be what happens inside the brain.

“You must eat a peck* of dirt before you die”  runs the old adage – maybe we ought to emulate the goats and get our ‘old friend’ bacteria from the start – anyone for nice fresh molehill?

Have you any observations that back -up (or refute) the premise that our gut bacteria can affect our whole health?

* In case you were wondering – as was I –  a peck is a dry measure of two gallons)

 

Find me on Facebook and Twitter @AnnFoweraker

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Getting passionate about …

The first time I was in my forties, and I blame the WI. After all, if I hadn’t seen the day out in the County News I would never have decided to have-a-go.

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Cheesewring, Cornwall – photo Ann Foweraker

So it was off to the wilds of Bodmin Moor – to the quarry at the foot of the famous Cheesewring. When I say, at the foot … if they had continued to quarry there would have been no famous Cheesewring left to see, as it hovers near the top edge of this defunct granite quarry.

We, a group of WI women from all over Cornwall, were gathered to have-a-go at Rock Climbing and Abseiling.

I have to say, it was an exhilarating experience, made all that more wonderful by the fact that you could almost palpably feel the goodwill driving you on to reach that next hand hold or edge of rock to rest your foot on, from the women below (and above) as you climbed the ‘sheer’ rock face. Okay, so it was a real ‘beginners rock face’ with plenty of hand holds once you knew what to look for, and the places to put your feet were substantial enough to suffice, even though we were all in conventional trainers.

Once we reached the top, yes all of us managed it, we had the opportunity to abseil down again. This was quite another thing.

Climbing, taken that you are roped and belayed, is relatively safe, you are also in control of your movements. The LOOK of abseiling sent my heart beating fast. It looked unsafe. It looked out of my control.

My turn came, the sound of my heart beating, in my head so loud I could barely hear the instructions. I stood on the cliff edge feeling sick and started to lean back over the abyss, the rope taking the strain, my grip on the rope, as it went through the rappel, tight.

It was magnificent! The bouncing off the cliff-face and landing further below; a new sort of freedom, and it finished all too soon.

That day was completed with a second, higher, climb and abseil and I exalted in it, enough to organise another event for other members of my own WI on Kit Hill the next year. However, that was it… until my boys, now very (read EXTREMELY) keen and good climbers started taking me with them on local sorties … and to the local climbing wall where they also have Bouldering. A giant ‘rock’ in the middle of the huge climbing barn, dotted with coloured holds, making routes of differing difficulties which you climb without ropes. And, though some routes can be a struggle (for me) the sense of achievement when you reach the top on your second / third / fourth go! ZIPPP!

And I am hooked. I am thinking of buying climbing shoes (rather than hiring them) and, in true WI style, making my own (very individual) chalk-bag  😉 My only grievances: – my fingers are not very strong, and though this will improve, I suspect over-sixty is not the best age to grow new finger-strength – watching  youngsters fly up the holds, their lithe, lightweight bodies scrambling like spiders, and wishing I’d done it back at that age  –  and finally, time – it is hard enough to fit everything I want to into a day as it is!!

Here’s a lovely video of a baby to show you just how easy it is really 🙂

Do you have a new passion this new year?

Have you tried climbing – is it your thing?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you…

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Parking machines that make you SPIT!

I really didn’t want to get off on a rant during the festive time –  but during the festive time is when many of us will be out and about doing that extra shopping… so this is a relevant rant.

Our Council, Cornwall, have decided that too many people have been ‘stealing’ from them by passing on unexpired-time parking tickets to other users. To stop this heinous crime they have installed new parking meters at all their car-parks at a cost of £477,144.42 for the 128 machines installed. Yes – nearly half a million pounds – while Cornwall Council’s austerity measures are also cutting hard into essential services!

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Advantages to the authority seem to be mainly to do with managing their statistics (according to a reply to a freedom of information request on their website). As well, of course, of reducing their ‘Loss’ from people who pass on unexpired tickets, and alerting them more quickly when a meter has malfunctioned so they can repair it quicker.

Loss? Really? If I, or you, bought a ticket for an hour and stayed in that space for an hour, then that space would be occupied for all that time – if I passed the ticket on to someone else – the space would still be occupied for just that amount of time. But (I hear them cry) it is against the rules – and the other person would have bought a ticket so they have made a ‘loss’.

Now I would like you to consider exactly how often this happens.
It takes, 1, that a person has a significant length of unexpired time – you wouldn’t offer a ticket to some stranger with less than half an hour and 2, you have to encounter that stranger as you are about to leave the car park. They have to be obviously going to get a ticket … and you need to be close enough to wind down your window and offer…. Yeah, not often, I’m sure. certainly not £477,144 worth of ‘lost’ revenue – even over a looong time.

All this aside – my main gripe at the moment is with these new state-of-the art meters. They do not like 20p coins! They tend to spit them out as soon as they are put in.

Picture this the other day. There is a fine *mizzle as I pull into the car-park. (*Cornish misty drizzle to the uninitiated) I take my purse and head for the parking meter. Today I have remembered to take note of my car number plate. Sometimes I do not and have had to go back until I can see it to check – because now – on these new machines – you have to put your FULL  number plate in! (How BIG BROTHER is that I ask you?!)

I put the full set in, letters and numbers in the right order, and start to feed in the coins. A nice new 20p – it runs right through.  Another woman joins the queue. I try the 20p again; same result. ‘Is it working?’ she asks. I try a 5p – it registers and I answer ‘Yes, seems it is,’ and then try the 20p again. It runs right through. I root in my purse for 10ps – all I find is another 20p – an old one – feels heavier, somehow, so I go to try that one … but before I do the 5p tinkles out and the machine resets to ‘Put in your number plate’  GRRR!

By now there are two other ‘customers’ waiting for the meter. I say, ‘I’m sorry – it doesn’t seem to like 20ps’. The woman says, ‘Oh dear – that’s all I have too.’  I have noticed this lately – lots of 20ps about – not so many 10s – perhaps they are all in the meters. It is now RAINING! I bend-down to see the keypad properly to retype my number plate number.

Number plate number displayed, I start again with the old 20p I have. It runs right through. There is nothing for it!  I must resort to the ‘SPIT method’. (I don’t like to do this in ‘company’ – as it were – otherwise I might have tried it earlier) I spit on my thumb and wet both sides of the 20p, insert it into the meter … it runs right through. Grrr!

I try a 5p, it registers. I use the spit method again on the 20p, insert it … it registers!!!!  I put in the other 5p and I have my ticket!

After displaying the ticket I head for the shop … noticing that the woman behind me in the queue is still at the meter… and the two behind her now joined by yet another ‘customer’, all waiting to try their luck at getting the machine to accept legal tender.

I think of all the 20ps inside the new meters stuck together with spit – as I know that this is the wisdom passed on from motorist to motorist at tricky meters
‘W
hen the meter spits out the coin – you spit on the coin before re-inserting it!’

I think of the time I have wasted, of the time everyone in that queue has wasted – and how wet I have got – and how unhygienic it is – just trying to pay the parking fee of 30p – and I am very unhappy with my County council – and that was before I found out exactly how much they paid out to inflict this on us!

And … please do not get me started on the other option if a machine won’t accept the coins you have – to use my phone to pay for the ticket!

Have you encountered machines that won’t take your money!

Does it drive you mad?

Do share – a rant shared is … therapy  😉

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Don’t Panic! There’s still time!

 Have YOU done your Christmas shopping?

                      I mean Have You? HAVE YOU? ….  I haven’t!

                                 Indeed – What type of Christmas shopper are you?

DSCF0088Are you a very organised person? Do you buy throughout the year as ideas come to you?

Sad to say – I’m not one of those.

Maybe you are a blitzer – make a list and blitz the shops notching up scores until the whole lot is got?

No, I’m not one of those either.

Maybe you like to sit at the computer in late November or early December and order everything on-line?

Now, I have to admit I’d like to do this. However, if I am stuck for ideas this doesn’t work very well for me – real browsing would be better at triggering ideas.

I have a confession – I do not like shopping.

There, I’ve said it. I know, I know, we women are supposed to like shopping.
But I mean – who says?? No-one asked me!

I do not even like shopping for things, clothes, treats or gifts for MYSELF – let alone any other type of shopping!

A trip to the shops usually has me returning with either something, which I later decide is not the right thing after all, or nothing – except a headache – which I always come back with. (which is why the internet shopping is attractive – don’t usually get a headache doing that)

More than anything – I do not want to go to Plymouth, our nearest metropolis, and trail around the shops there – it is not just Plymouth – I just do not want to trail around shops in any town or city – it is not my thing.

You get the picture – Christmas shopping is not a joyous time for me – though I love to give gifts that I know the other person will actually want and like!

 For the main presents ‘want’ and ‘like’ are the key words to me – however I am now resigned to the fact that I cannot buy what my loved ones will really want and like and make it a surprise. Oh, yes – I forgot to mention that. I really would like presents to be a surprise. A surprise that also happens to really and truly be ‘Just What they Wanted’ … Yeah, right, in my dreams.

And so … no surprises any more for the big stuff – now the esoteric gifts (climbing gear – for instance) is ordered via a link to the precise item, or a description given that cannot be mistaken in any way, for the more usual things.

However, for ‘secondary’ or ‘stocking’ presents I like unique, interesting, different gifts if I can find them to suit the right people – and so, as I said in an earlier blog, I do frequent local quality Craft Fairs – like the one coming up at Upton Cross next weekend. (4th– 6th) where lovely things and beautiful paintings are to be found (as well as my novels) and these have to satisfy my longing to ‘surprise!’

What kind of Christmas Shopper are You?

Are you a woman and like shopping? (or not?)

Do share – you know I love to hear from you.upton cross

 

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