Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Let's Go Fly A Kite !

Walking up the hill, this is the first glimpse of Margam Castle....

Today is a small Kite Festival, and we have come to join a handful of people flying their kites on the grounds in front of the castle. Not the best flying weather, with only an intermittent light breeze, but it was fun.

Some stalls selling kite equipment.
The year before last, there were loads of these stalls.
The Recession seems to be hitting everyone very hard.

The bushes in the grounds were in full bloom and looked lovely.

Kites flying above the ruins of the old monastic chapel of Our Lady on the hillside above the castle and the medieval Abbey church which is still in use for Anglican worship.

Some more shots of the Castle. Next time we visit, I must take internal shots of the Great Lantern tower, which is lovely.....

No shots of us flying our kites, as I couldn't fly and photograph at the same time :-)
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Friday, June 24, 2011

A Piece of History

Fairly near our town is an old WW2 Prisoner of War camp, commonly known as Island Farm.  During the War, it housed many German prisoners, including many of high rank.

There was a famous escape via a tunnel dug by the prisoners, and it is such a shame that the local council, in its infinite wisdom (hollow laugh) decided to demolish all the camp except for one hut, padlocked shut in a neglected field. Plans are afoot to build  a sports centre on the majority of the historic site......

There are some excellent web sites, which I have atttempted to collate in one place:

Some famous prisoners

The main site

An excellent and very comprehensive site
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Treasures Of Heaven

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Catching Up

After a very difficult few weeks, Mum has finally acknowledged that she really does need extra help at home and has agreed to have a carer to come in every evening to help her get ready for bed and administer her medications. It seems to be working well so far.  She remains quite low in mood, as she realises now that there will be further deteriorations in her physical health . It has not been easy for any of us........

Our old runabout car was vandalised twice last week, and is not repairable. We are thankful we still have the other car, but it was sad to see the old car having been badly damaged by some thug who did it on a whim. DD3 has had a hospital visit which revealed a multitude of problems with her jaw which means quite a number of future hospital visits and invasive treatments in the future.
Oh, and I have torn a muscle in my calf for good measure......

It's not all doom and gloom, though.

  • Great-Uncle Bob is safely home after a long hospital stay and my Uncle Bob is doing well after his surgery to remove a brain tumour; he is going to be home very soon too.
  • My lavender is in full, glorious bloom, nestled next to flowering honeysuckle, with bees buzzing happily around both of them, and the wonderful smells early in the morning, in the evening and after it has rained are utterly amazing. 
  • My apple tree branches are heavily laden with rapidly growing little apples, and the boughs are bending under their weight, so much so that each time I go to put washing on the line, I have to duck to avoid headbutting the apples :-)  
  • My raspberry canes are producing loads of raspberries and my new rhubarb crown is growing like a triffid. Within the next week or two I expect to be harvesting our very own organically grown rhubarb!
  • Latin class is going well and I am having enormous amounts of fun.

  • And tonight, DH arrives home for five nights before work beckons him away again :-)
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Monday, June 13, 2011

Akathist Blog Update

I have added the Akathist to St Menas at my other blog. 
More will follow in due course :-)
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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Recently Read

An eclectic mix, as always. The above was an audio book from the local Library. I have four of the physical books and wanted to listen to one for a change. Especially useful when out walking the dog....

My first bi-lingual history textbook !

This was incredible. Everything you ever wanted to know about social history and fashionable life in Regency England !! I am currently working my way through my Georgette Heyer Regency books, so this was a great find at the local Library.

Both of these H V Morton books are absolutely wonderful reads.
I cannot recommend them highly enough. I adore travel books, but there is something particularly poignant about his books, detailing life at a point where it was changing dramatically in the areas and communities he visited. Italy in the 1960s/70s will have changed beyond all recognition, and I treasure these snapshots of life, so evocative and beautifully written. He had a keen eye for the ridiculous and a very real sense of beauty and spirituality.

I have vivid memories of reading Tim Severin's The Brendan Voyage when it was first published in my girlhood. Like so many of my books, I discarded it on a house move, which was a bad mistake, as I have regretted it ever since. This was a serendipitous replacement from a  local charity shop and I loved revisiting it.

I am lucky in that all the Round Robin Christmas letters I receive are  well-written and from people I know and love, making them enjoyable reading.  There are some Round Robin letters which are neither interesting nor well-written. The Christmas Letters reduced me to tears of hysterical laughter at the bizarre things some people feel compelled to document, often in graphic and boring detail to their unsuspecting audience. Don't read this in a public place........ 

Carol Drinkwater's superb series about how her life changed when she bought an olive farm in the South of France is something I re-read fairly regularly. Her latest update was a book I borrowed from the Library, so I felt compelled to read my own three books in their entirety as well :-)

In Stitches is not for the faint-hearted. It is a sad indictment of the depths to which the NHS has sunk, and how over-stretched  medical care has become, aided and abetted by idiots who abuse the system and clog up the emergency services by getting utterly blind drunk on a weekly basis and then requiring (AKA demanding) medical care. Sad indeed.
Up and Down Stairs is the social history of British domestic servants throughout the ages. I loved every rivetinga nd engrossing page. Imagine having to clean sixty pairs of shoes before lighting several hundred candles in the stately home Chapel for Morning Service  each and every day.......

Hvaing read H V Morton's two Italian regional books, I was thrilled to find on EBay a copy of his book "A Traveller In Rome". Wonderful stuff indeed. I simply must go to Rome one day.

I read the Bill Bryson book when it first came to the local Library and wasn't impressed particularly. Either I have mellowed somewhat or I was not in the right frame of mind to read it the first time, as this copy I picked up dirt-cheap in a charity shop and actually quite enjoyed it :-)

What can I say ?  I enjoy army books :-)
Shoot To Kill was a fascinating read about the training and selection process for the Parachute Regiment and the SAS. A sad book, particularly when the author reflects on his life.

I didn't have my own copy of A Study in Scarlet, so I simply had to buy this when I saw it for sale at 40p!

Three Men In A Float was brilliantly funny. Imagine deciding to travel from Lowestoft across the country to Land's End in...an electric-powered milk float. Trying to find suitable places to recharge the float's battery became an obsession and the cause of much kindness and serendipity. The only part of the book which brought me up short was when the three of them felt very uneasy at the Benedictine Buckfast Abbey in Devon, despite the kindness of the monk detailed to help them. When the author read the Rule of St Benedict in his allotted guest room, he bcame outraged about the ideas it contained, which really surprised me, as I hadn't thought of St Benedict as advocating cultic like blind obedience to an Abbot. Certainly not in any of the copies of the Rule I have read, at any rate.... Despite that, a good book. Perhaps it was an eye-opener into how divorced and alien traditional Christianity actually is from the lives of many people.

At the extreme end of the Spectrum is Caldey Island, showing an exceptionally positive view of St Benedict's Rule as lived by Cistercian monks on the small island of Caldey, off the South Wales coast. Having been to Caldey several times, and loved each visit, the wonderful pictorial documentary of life on the island was very enjoyable and made me wish to return for another visit. { May 2005 archives on the blog show lots of Caldey photos}  Maybe this summer......

One word: drool !
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Latine Loquor

I speak Latin !

Or at least I hope to do so rather better in the future :-)

 I have been given special permission to join in the Latin study group of a local organisation which provides adult education to  senior citizens. Although I am technically well outside the age remit of their official guidelines, being too young (!),  the Latin tutor has said I am welcome to join them. I will be able to make it to all the weekly sessions held in the morning but not the afternoon ones, as I need to pick up DD4 from school midway through the afternoon class.

It will be much more fun studying as part of a group rather than ploughing on alone with no-one to practice with, or correct any major blunders :-)
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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Rudeness And Indignation

I had some errands to run for my mother in town early this morning, and managed to dodge the heavy rain showers to get to her house by 10.45. She, and her dear friend John, were busy watching the TV when I got there.
I rarely watch TV, and asked what they were watching. It transpires that today is the official opening of the Senedd (the Welsh Parliament) in the Capital City, and not only the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were there, but also Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. I was disappointed, as if I had known, I would certainly have gone to the Capital City to stand in the crowd and wave and cheer. I have never yet seen a member of the Royal Family in Real Life.......

Nevertheless, Mum and I enjoyed seeing what people were wearing; many of the Welsh dignitaries were weaing their best clothes, and many ladies looked exceedingly smart, especially the two ladies we saw wearing smart frocks, hats and short gloves ! Others looked as if they had fallen out of bed into their everyday weekend leisure wear.... The Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall were immaculately and beautifully dressed, as always.

What really upset and dismayed me was the behaviour of Rosemary Butler, the Senedd's Presiding Officer, who remained utterly silent during the playing of the British National Anthem, God Save Our Gracious Queen, yet sang gustily the Welsh National Anthem which followed it.
I could not believe such rude behaviour from a senior Senedd member, and it appeared to be a seemingly calculated snub to Her Majesty the Queen who was standing right next to her and could not miss hearing her silence during the first anthem and her ardent participation in the second.

Surely common decency and common sense would indicate that in such circumstances, one should consider well in advance whether to participate in both anthems  or to remain silent during both anthems.  To participate only in one was objectionable and disrespectable behaviour, which made me ashamed to be Welsh, and I hope Her Majesty does not think this rudeness is a common trait in Wales.

Although the Labour Party won 30 of the 60 Senedd seats, we are not yet living in the "Socialist Republic of Wales", thank God !

God Save The Queen ! Vivat Regina !
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Saturday, June 04, 2011

Pausing For Breath And Prayer

The last fortnight has been so busy......

DoomHamster celebrated her 25th birthday, DD3 celebrated her 13th birthday and Mum celebrated her 75th birthday.  I also went on a school trip with DD4's school as an accompanying adult to a coal mine, where we went underground to a depth of 300ft and traversed the mine shafts for 3/4 mile.

Added to that, last week was half-term break and time to collapse in a crumpled heap.
Or so I thought.

DH had booked the week off, but was unwell for a large part of the week. Thankfully, he is on the mend now, though DD1 & 2 are under considerable pressure at work and Mum's health is definitely deteriorating rapidly, so things are still pretty stressful around here.

 DD3 had two baby teeth removed on Thursday, as they are impeding the eruption and safe passage of her adult teeth, and we are awaiting an appointment at a major hospital's maxillo-facial surgery department for assessment as she has problems with the alignment of her jaw which can only be fixed by surgery, or so we have been informed at this point in time.......

The Psalter is rapidly becoming my lifeline, and I love it dearly. No matter how dreadful the day, or how miserable I feel, there is strength and comfort in the words of the Psalms. Even if I only manage a single stasis, it helps considerably.....

I am going to re-start an on-going Akathist to St Xenia of St Petersburg on Monday, for employment issues primarily, so if you have anyone who needs prayers in this area of their lives, let me know and I will happily add them to my list for prayer.

I have finally and somewhat sadly put my Resurrection icon away, and am missing the Paschal Troparion so badly that it hurts. Despite the joys of Ascension, and with Pentecost still to look forward to, there is something so unutterably wonderful, precious and special about Paschal-tide :-)
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