Note Number 45…Christmas is Coming…

I decided back in September to write enough Christmas Poems to fill a small book…ho ho ho, ha ha ha, I didn’t manage it. But I did write a few, so I’ll post them here over the next couple of weeks both written and recorded. Herewith is Rudolph’s Rebellion. First performed in public at Apothecary Words in Bridport on the 13th December 2017.

Rudolf’s Rebellion

reindeer-clip-art-41 copy

You can hear me read the poem if you click on the link below – otherwise read on…

Rudolf’s had enough
he’s fed up, he’s resigned
he doesn’t want to pull that sleigh
another bloody mile

he’s over it
he’s done his bit
round the world and back
every year, forever, with Santa and his sack

now he’s sat down on his haunches
he’s refused to budge an inch
FC shouted, spat and stamped
the other reindeer flinched

Rudolf was having none of itRudolf Text
he’d worked without a break
time to retire! Go out to grass
his pension he would take

I’ve had to raise the limit
of retirement for my lads
I must inform you of your rights
or lack of them, I should add

if you were born before the 50’s
you would have been okay
but sorry to tell you Rudolf
you missed it by a day.

you’ll have to draw your horns in
work longer for your money
what? splattered Rudolf
if that’s a joke it isn’t funny!

I know that you’ve worked long and hard,
I understand you are upset
and frankly with your bright red nose
you’re more than just a pet

but times are hard, the money’s short
austerity means there’s less
you’ll have to give me one more year
and then we’ll re-assess

I’m getting old, my bones all ache
my flat feet all have corns
I get out of breath when in the clouds
and my antlers are all shorn

well, what do you think it’s like for me?
climbing chimneys and the like
delivering toys, of every kind,
every other one a bike

Dasher and Dancer looked forlorn
Vixen and Comet distraught
Cupid, Dunder and Donner were drunk
they’d finished last year’s port

don’t worry, I can sort it out
said Santa to the rest
I’ll talk to Rudolf, make him see
remaining with us is the best

Rudolf sighed, there seemed no choice,
but he wanted to leave while able
just talking about it made no sense
with no offers on the table

the leaders canvassed long and hard
should Rudolph leave or remain?
everyone had to take a vote
no-one could abstain

the outcome wasn’t decisive
with a split of fifty-fifty
vote rigging was suggested
the tellers all looked shifty

after one more round of talks –
more like shouting verbal abuse
no further progress could be made –
not in time for the evening news

they agreed to defer any action
until after this Christmas was done
but with his eye fixed securely on Rudolph
father Christmas began cleaning his gun. . .

santa-with-gun copy

HO HO HO….

Ninette Hartley© December 2017

Note Number 44…Fitter Not Fatter…

It’s been a funny old year with plenty of ups and downs healthwise. Back in April I was diagnosed with Temporal Arteritis...no, I hadn’t heard of it either but I had a lot of headaches which wouldn’t ease with the taking of a paracetamol and I felt generally exhausted and unwell. When I went to the doctor and said that I had a headache but that also my scalp was very sore and I didn’t want to touch it…the alarm bells rang…blood samples were taken for tests and the next day the doctor rang urging me to go straight to the surgery whereupon she told me that the level of CRP (C-reactive protein levels, whatever that is) in my blood, was sky-high and that there was a strong possibility that I had TA. I was immediately prescribed steroids (prednisolone)  60 mg a day and booked in for a Temporal Artery Biopsy (they take a little bit of your artery out of the side of your head – yikes!). It was all very scary.

doctor

The result of the biopsy was inconclusive but when I saw the rheumatologist he decided that we (him and me I guess) should err on the side of caution. He said that it was at least 85% certain that I had TA and it can cause blindness which  seemed pretty serious.  The steroids were to be continued and gradually reduced over a period of time. It is now December and I’m down to 3 mg a day. The reason I’m telling you all this is because steroids can increase your weight, well,in the words of my son who is a nurse, ‘steroids make you feel hungry all the time mum they don’t actually make you put on the pounds. You just have to be strong!’ Thanks a bunch.
They make you want to eat as they give you this weird sensation in your mouth making it salivate  and giving you the constant feeling of needing to stuff your face.  ‘Eat a carrot or some celery!’ shouts the do-gooder…

It was all rather annoying as I had actually just lost ten pounds in Jan/Feb of 2017, and I tried hard not to eat but I’m afraid I did manage to pile those naughty pounds back on. You will have seen that I’ve cut down drastically on my alcohol intake and have enjoyed only the occasional G&T since the end of October and have expanded my cellar of non-alcoholic or de-alcholised wine. I’m coping with it well and last weekend when I took a sip of Sancerre, I actually found it too strong. Now my mother would be amazed that any of her children were not imbibing in some way. She had heart problems and I don’t want those as well as my TA so now that I’m on a reduced steroid dosage and I’m beginning to feel a bit like my old self,  I’ve put my mind to getting fitter and eating sensibly. .

As you know I’ve started the Laban Dance Class and I walk the dog every day for at least 2k and now, now –  ladies and gentlemen, I have begun the Yoga class. I thought it would be a doddle but let me tell you right now, IT IS NO SUCH THING.  There’s lots of breathing, stretching, bending all at the same time AND I will have to learn another new language – yoga-speak. I will never remember the names of all the different moves, poses and positions. But I did love doing it. Especially the relaxing meditation at the end of the class. I’m sure all my children will be delighted that in my late 60’s I’m finally going to be cool, calm and collected.    And breathe. . .

 

PS:  The yoga might have been easier had I not tripped over during the second Laban Dance Class and now have a sore wrist and a rather large bruise on my right knee. I must learn not to show off…

Note Number 43…Does What you Read Affect your mood…?

Book

I was pondering this question this morning after reading for half an hour or so. I’m nearly at the end of a book by Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country. I’m reading it because one of Sophie Duffy’s #100WomenNovelists focused on her and her book Summer. I tried to get that from Bridport library but it wasn’t in stock. They did have The Custom of the Country,  so I took that instead and I ordered Summer from Amazon and it’s here but sitting on the bookshelf yet to be opened.

The Custom of the Country is a wonderful piece of literature, beautiful words, interesting characters and a story long in its unfolding. However, the heroine Undine Spragg is an annoying specimen of an early 20th Century American, social-climbing, empty-headed, spoilt brat! Her husband is weak and he takes on the same attitude that her father had previously, allowing her to ‘spend, spend, spend’ for fear she might have a fit of the vapours and take to her bed for weeks on end. We are not supposed to like her I’m sure, but I detest her to the point where I want to smack her good and hard. It’s been a long read for me and I’ve tried hard not to skip pages, but I have found it somewhat unsatisfying that she hasn’t yet had her comeuppance, although the third husband, I think will provide this. I hope so anyway.

I was cross this morning with the fact that her second husband shoots himself because he can’t come up with enough money to ‘buy’ their son. A child she hasn’t bothered with for a few years and does not care for at all. She knows that she can win him in the courts without a problem and sees it as a way to fill her rather empty bank account. In the end of course, she gets the son, and by chance ends up getting a portion of the money left to him by his father. It’s a long story but the ex-husband gambled on the stock market and the money didn’t come through in the desired time, it did however, come to fruition some time after his death. Poor man. Undine’s status, meanwhile, goes from being a divorcee to a widow which is far more appealing to her ‘Paris Set’. She always comes out on top…until now I suspect/hope.

I closed the book this morning and found myself feeling fed up and in a grumpy mood. All because Undine Spragg is such an unpleasant character. I’ve only a few pages left to read…let’s hope it ends in a way which be satifying and put me in a great mood for the rest of the week. I’ll let you know.

How does reading affect your mood?

 

Note Number 42…List of Missing Blog Posts and Laban Dance…

It’s been a while since I blogged and it’s a pity because I have done many things in November and now the moment for writing about them has passed.

Here’s a quick list of activities…

French classes
Writing
Procrastinating (I’ve had great tips from The Man on how to do this)
London for the day (for lunch…as you do)
Bristol for two days
Writing meetings x 4
Writing workshop in Dorchester
Playing cards
World Cinema with the Bridport Film Society every other Tuesday
Meeting with friends for coffee
Meeting family for Sunday lunch
Meeting friends for Sunday lunch
Losing the dog (we found her again)
Poetry workshop (how to improve performance)
Halloween and Fireworks…with family
To Yeovil to see Steeleye Span…(I coveted Maddy Prior’s blue/silver velvet jacket…I want one!)All around my hat…etc.,
Washing, Ironing, Cooking and the rest…
Dog walking
Dieting
I’m still on the non alcoholic wines although I have had a couple of G&Ts.

If you would like to know more about any of the above, tough…Although some of them may raise their heads in the future…Now read on!

Group Best

Group Photo

Big day today…(Wednesday) I got up from my computer where I’d been sitting writing poems for Christmas and playing Lexulous, looking at Facebook and Internet shopping…(generally procrastinating as above) and I took myself along to the village hall in Salway Ash to join a Laban Dance class. I wasn’t sure what to expect so it was with slight trepidation that I donned my leggings and a baggy top, took a towel, a bottle of water, a basin full of courage and went off to the class. I was a dance teacher for over twenty-five years, ballet, tap, modern and creative dance…but I have had little experience with Contemporary dance. I LOVED it. It was liberating, energizing and so wonderful to get the old muscles and bones moving again. It’s all very well walking the dog each day but that’s not physically creative and you don’t stretch and move every part of your body. They say that swimming is good for you because you use all your muscles, well I don’t like swimming and for me dance is a far better option.

The other members of the class were welcoming and it was a pleasure to work with them all. We danced independently, in pairs or in small groups. We choreographed small pieces guided by the inspiring dance teacher, Wendy. She helped and improved on our ideas without being pushy or demanding. She brought out the best in all of us so we all felt proud of our achievements.

pointing

Group Photo with Me…(centre front) 

Being a ‘newby’ I was anxious to do everything correctly, but of course, there is no correct or incorrect way, you work to the best of your ability and importantly enjoy it. I couldn’t believe how much energy there was in the room. Three hours fairly flew by…we did stop for tea, biscuits and a natter, for about twenty minutes during the afternoon.

I’m thinking now that perhaps I can bring a bit of Laban into the dog walking. After all I hardly see anyone when I’m out and I could develop my walking, running and general movement. Not sure what the dog would make of it though…I might have to lengthen her lead. Work with me here…

Teacher (Wendy) is centre back in top photo… I don’t know the names of the others taking part, but they were all lovely people! 

I’m looking forward to next week’s class, in fact I can’t wait. Why don’t you try it? Find out if there is a dance class for the more mature person, close to you. It might not be Laban but any dance is good. It keeps your body and mind active stimulating the old endomorphines…know what I mean? The feel good factor!

Note Number 41…Sober October and more…

nawineLining up the non-alcoholic wines…they’re not bad. Not too sweet. The two on the right I bought from Waitrose and the one on the left from the Co-op (yet to be tested)

I spent from the end of September until Saturday 4th November without a drop of alcohol. When you tell people this the first thing they ask is, ‘do you feel any better for it?’ The honest answer is that I’m not sure, because I think the autumn weather (wet and windy), and preparing myself for the clock change at the end of October…do not bode well for me. I like warm sunshine and dry fields and whilst I love sitting by the fire in the dark evenings, reading a book and watching a film on the telly I find myself feeling ‘wintry’ as in not inspired to do very much but hibernate. Is that a good way to feel? I think not. Something has to be done about it.

woodburner

I love the wood burning stove…a necessity for hibernating. 

Get out and about, visit Bridport, attend some writing workshops, go to the library, walk the dog and don’t succumb to the winter blues. So that’s what I’m planning and have already implemented as far as I can.

First workshop attended was at Waterstones, in Dorchester. Organised by the Dorset Writers’ Network and led by Rosanna Ley. A group of twelve writers of varying experience, spent two hours listening, creating and having fun on the subject of ‘Sense of Place’. Making sure that your writing gets a true picture of where your story is set and bringing reality to the internal and external scenes that you write. I came away feeling inspired and keen to get on with at least one of my half-written novels, so that has to be good. I began reading through a manuscript this morning…or should I say trudging…think I need to make some drastic changes! Open book with glasses

We are members of the Bridport Film Society (in fact I’m on the committee, not wanting to boast or anything) so every other Tuesday from now until March we can go and see an International film at the Bridport Arts Centre. This week is is Julietta ‘an exquisite study of a mother-daughter relationship tested though trying times…’ Sounds interesting eh? It’s a Spanish film with subtitles. I know some people hate subtitles but I love them because I love watching foreign films and I hate it when they’re dubbed.

Walking the dog has become something of a difficulty because of the muddy fields when it’s necessary to wear Wellington boots. These are hard to step out in and generally I end up with back ache at the end of even a half-hour walk. My decision is to put on the Wellies in the morning,  take the dog to the nearest field, let her run for 5k while I walk for 1.5k then bring her home. In the afternoon I will put on an ordinary pair of lightweight walking shoes, take to the roads and do another 3k. This is my plan but we all know about my plans and how they can change depending on my mood and the weather.

emily

My daughter striding out in the muddy fields last Saturday, complete with baby on her back! Oh to be young again….(she did get wet feet though) 

Going back to the alcohol thing, when I did drink that half glass of red wine on Saturday 4th November, it was Ciu Ciu Gotico (if you’re interested) which, usually I adore…I didn’t really enjoy it on this occasion so the other 5 bottles that I brought back from Italy will probably sit on the rack for some time to come. I have found a couple of reasonable alcohol free or de-alcoholised wines and I’m going to stick to them for a while. Although a gin and tonic does sound rather tempting at around 6pm in front of the wood burning stove while I contemplate my next day’s writing challenge.

Watch this space for some Christmas poetry come December or I might record them on my other blog www.shortstorypods.com

 

 

Note Number 40…Cycling, Creating Havoc, Circumnavigating… IOW

Er...someone taking the P?

Kelvin, The Man and Lou…someone’s ‘aving a larf! 

This wasn’t my first visit to the Isle of Wight, if you remember, we went in August 2016 – for The Man to cycle round it. He went again a few weeks ago so you would have thought he’d had enough but no, he had to do it again. This time it was a team effort with the members of Bridport Cycles. It was the inaugural Kapton Krypton HandiKup IOW. A cycle ride for a club member who has the big C and wanted to set something up for the time when he might not be here. It was decided they should make the first ride in 2017 and that he could participate in his own memorial ride, (which would be a first). Twelve of the riders cycled from Bridport Cycle shop in Symondsbury to Lymington on Friday 13th to catch the ferry.  On Saturday, thirty-two of them cycled around the IOW and then on Sunday, ten cycled back to Dorset and their various homes around the county. A bloody good show I say. The Man did the whole thing and I was very proud of him…around 215 miles in total. I tagged along behind, carrying bags, spare parts and a pump…  One member was lost on the Friday due to mud on the road and a subsequent broken wrist, he bravely cycled on to the half way point of the morning, Ruby’s Cafe in Wool and then cycled home again…What a star.

Broken Wrist

Brave Man…home at last nursing a broken wrist…There’s always next year Lloyd  (photo curtesy Liz I assume) 

On Saturday evening there was dinner at the Albion Hotel, who, despite very late notice, managed to turn out a scrumptious meal for thirty at a very reasonable cost to all. In fact, they were only given our menu choice at 7.30pm and dinner was served at 8pm. Not bad eh?

I wrote this poem on Saturday afternoon and I’m sharing it with you here.

KK HandiKup – Isle of Wight Circumnavigation

A couple of Richards, a Tom Dick and Harry,
A Cat and a Bev, don’t think there’s a Sally?
I find it hard to remember the names
And when in their Lycra they all look the same.

They cycled around either clockwise or anti
Some followed their own – modus operandi
Stopping for coffee, tea and for lunch
They really are an eclectic bunch

It wasn’t a race but they wouldn’t be told
Some of them rushing as if going for gold
Others taking time, enjoying the ride
Cutting the corners – I’m on their side

I drove the back-up, following the mob
Well, actually, I wasn’t really sure of my job
I decided at lunch they could manage without me
And retired to my hotel for cake and for tea

Nobody wanted a pill or a plaster,
On the day, there was no major disaster
Surplus to requirement, of me there was no need
So I set about organising the evening feed

We had dinner on Saturday at the Albion Hotel
Which is stuck in the 80s, not a great sell
They did their best with the troublesome lot
I fear, the managers, may have lost the plot

But, prizes were given, people did shout
Others moaned and gave a good pout
But, I hope they all had a jolly good time
And didn’t find it too much of a pantomime!

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The photographs are not all mine but I hope nobody minds me using the odd couple that aren’t.

Note Number 39…Home and Away…

Jpeg in the shade of an olive tree

Jpeg back in her home country…I actually think she prefers England…but who knows? 

We returned to the place in Italy where we lived for eight years and it was a strange experience. Full of mixed emotions and a short journey of discovery about the impossibility of turning back the clock. We had a wonderful time when we lived there. We loved the weather and made good friends, but folks move on and things change. For four weeks, we stayed in a lovely house in Montevidon Combatte, about 4 kilometres away from Petritoli, our Italian ‘home town’. We were meant to be on holiday but it never felt like that to me. It was as if I still lived there. The consequence of which meant that I couln’t be bothered to go sightseeing – in fact I couldn’t be bothered to do anything which is not only silly it was a waste of time. I must admit I did enjoy lazing in the sun by the pool

We had a fabulous pool and the surrounding Marche countryside was as lovely as ever. 

I tried, unsuccessfully, to write. I managed to produce four poems whilst staying near Lucca in the apartment on my own with the dog. The Man cycled from Rimini to Pisa with his mates from More Adventure … but after that short period of time, the muse disappeared – stage left.

Now, we are home in Dorset, the weather on Thursday was beautiful and welcoming after our long drive back. We stayed in two different places this time on our return journey. The first stop was Asti where we had a brilliant apartment, close to the centre, with secure parking and it was seriously dog friendly. Fabio (the owner) was most welcoming and couldn’t do enough for us and Jpeg, which went over her head of course. She travels quite well but after six hours in the back of the car she’s had enough. We do stop every now and then for short breaks, not just for the dog to stretch her legs but for us too – and to change drivers.

Our excellent accommodation in Asti

Asti did not grab me, there was no ‘wow’ factor to it, except for the enormous car-park in the centre, the biggest town centre car park I have ever seen. It is used for the annual Palio (horse race). I didn’t realise they had one so something I must read up on. I’m not sure the photo does the size of the car-park justice…but it was a whopper!

Asti Central Car Park

An average meal was taken at the Tartufo D’Oro and the man overcharged us… we paid for someone else’s pizza and bottle of water as well as our own food. Should have checked the bill more carefully GB! We paid cash so no chance of a refund. Anyway, I think I’m at the end of the line with Italian food. I love it, but the menu does not vary from place to place…I don’t care if I never see another slice of prociutto crudo (Parma ham perhaps to you), accompanied by formaggio (cheese) and melon…for at least ten years.

Next stop was Bourges, (which I kept calling Bruges, much to The Man’s amusement)…
I am in love…

i love bourges

We arrived somewhat harassed as the trip from Asti took much longer that we expected with traffic hold-ups etc., fortunately we had started early in the morning (09.45) so got to our accommodation before dark. I had chosen the hotel Chatueau De Lazenay because the room had a little kitchenette which would allow me to cook. Sadly, it was lacking in utensils of any kind and although Eric, at reception said we could ring down for anything we wanted and they would bring it up. I couldn’t be bothered. My enthusiasm for cooking up a delicious meal flew out of the window to join the aforementioned muse.

The best thing about the hotel was the situation. It was beside a beautiful lake with a path surrounding it for walking, running and cycling of 6k. (Actually, I’m not sure about the cycling). I took the dog out as the light began to fade and she had a wonderful walk, as did I. Following her supper, she gave a big sigh as she finally got into her bed and realised she was out of the car…at least for the time being.  She is so good and always relaxes fully in any B&B, hotel room or apartment that we rent, allowing us to go out and eat without any fuss.

The lake and the pathway and Jpeg (she’s not too keen on the water but was fascinated by the birdlife) 

We took a taxi into town for an extortionate €20 to the restaurant Gargouille….  A great meal was had, French cuisine is always excellent and it was a welcome change from Italian. I had decided to embark on #soberoctober so no wine or champagne for me on this trip but I did have a delicious glass of lemonade. The Man had vegetable soup, steak, and lemon meringue pie. I had fish and chips followed by pannacotta with bourbon biscuits and forest fruits, served in a kilner jar. No photos I’m afraid. I became irrationally embarrassed at the thought of photographing my food with my Iphone…but I did photograph the drinks!

soberoctober

I cannot wait to go back to Bourges next year when we plan a longer trip around France. I want to explore this beautiful town and all it has to offer. We are in fact, going to take lessons to improve our French beyond O’ level standard…at the moment, whenever I open my mouth to speak French, Italian comes out!

A little taste of Bourges…