scribbles tagged ‘wine’


Friday, October 10th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

She slurred “Oh, Wendy, Wendy, Wendy, it’s so good to hear from you, I’ve missed you, I love you

Instantly I remembered why I had stopped calling and visiting

Dad’s in a home” She dominated the conversation with the force of rapids escaping a snow capped mountain

Dad’s in a home”  Occasionally she acknowledged my presence

You’ve lost your dad, my dad’s in a home”  the last time I visited her,  I’d drunk a glass of wine as she’d necked two bottles, via a glass.

Sober she is capable, beautiful, engaging. I haven’t spent much time with her since returning to the UK in 2007. I’d been living on the memory of our friendship from the last millennium when she only noticeably drank on a Saturday night

Dad’s in a home

Deciding to let the relationship die from neglect, I remembered making that decision several times before. In between, I forget, only remembering the good times we’ve spent together. Then I start to wonder why we’re not still having those good times and I phone her….

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whine bar

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

What makes you think you’re saying anything that I’d actually want to listen to?

Smoking ladiesI hadn’t thought. My conversation was indeed trivial. We sat in silence while I pondered something worthy of conversation and he revelled in having silenced me. During the silence I decided his lack of engagement in conversation as a team effort, and the mean spirit of his conversation stopper meant that I didn’t care for his company.  I took my leave. An abrupt way to end a relationship. It had been short and definitely lacking in sweetness. When he’d told me that his ex-wife had attacked him with a meat cleaver I had wondered why, that wondering had wandered into potential victim blaming. His mean comment felt strategically placed to start a heated meta-level discussion about our relationship with a theme of my being inadequate. I’m prepared to engage in that type of conversation but only if handled in a manner that clearly, mutually, uncovers ways in which we can grow as individuals, or a couple. Clearly not the case here.

Putting on my coat, finding the money for my share of the bill and leaving the wine bar seemed to take forever. Maybe I’d overreacted, but the type of person I’d like to spend time with would not have created that situation and would have managed the end of the relationship with more grace and style. I cried while I walked home. Because, despite many clues, I’d not recognised his mean spirit.

whine bar
4 votes rating 4.8

2 bits of fabulous banter »

at the gate

Saturday, March 15th, 2014 | tags: , , , , , , , , ,  |

iPads in airport by the gateInternational flights invariably mean a couple of hours at the airport. It doesn’t take long to tire of airports, expensive shopping, expensive food, controlled air, controlled people.

Minneapolis airport had a surprise for me at gate G4. Tables with IPads, even outside the bars, everywhere people using their own or the airport’s computers. I slid up to a nearby bar and found the menu.

iPad iPad in airport bar, swipe paymentKid’s under 12? I can eat them? Cool. I found myself a large glass of red wine and paid using the swipe-card slot on the bar. The bar staff talked to me about the system. She liked it, the customers liked it, I liked it. Sounds like an all around win.

iPad in airport bar - menuI’ll go straight to the gate next time I’m at Minneapolis airport. No need to unpack my surface, no need to find a power socket or go through connecting to the airport WiFi. Just use the local iPad which even supplies flight information for the anxious passenger. That wasn’t me, I’m not the anxious passenger. I’m the one who’s snoozing after a large glass of wine….

at the gate
3 votes rating 4.7

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flahsbulb memories

Saturday, December 14th, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

Service program coverSo much from the day of Dad’s death is etched onto my memory, it will stay for decades without the aid photography or digital recording.

I was due to go on a business trip, had just driven home to pick up my bags. As I was about to leave the house my phone beeped with a message that I had a voicemail. My parents home number is filed under dads name because he nearly always answers the phone at their home. Dad had called me. Dad has only called me once during the day. The day his brother died. So I knew instantly it was seriously bad news. No point listening to the voicemail of I can talk directly to Dad.

Mum answered.

Wendy: dad just called, um, I just got a call from this number

Mumsie: It’s your dad dear, it’s not good news

I could hear she was not her easy self

Wendy: How are YOU?


Mumsie: he said he was feeling strange when we were having our morning coffee, feeling strange – what do you do with that?  I didn’t know what to do. He said call an ambulance, so I did and when I got back (from the hallway phone, she doesn’t use a mobile yet) he had keeled over. He’s dead.

The maritime reference was a beautiful, natural, touch. They live in the old port of Bristol, dad loved ships, Britain is an island full of nautical sayings. She went on to describe what happened next which involved helicopters. Dad would have approved, many of the retired engineers he mixed with worked on helicopters, he’d shown me video of the testing of  the “Bristol” a helicopter with two sets of rotary blades. She’d been busy on the phone since the paramedics had taken his body. She listed who’d she’d called. How organised and thorough. Mum sounded like me.

Wendy: I’ve got my bag packed for a 2 day trip in front of me, can I come over to your place and get a hug instead?

Mumsie: yes, yes, that would be good, drive carefully though

Wendy: I’ll be there in 2 hours

When the call ended I was stood by my front door with my bags at my feet. A bag with a William Morris print, the strawberry thief. The sofa in dad’s study is a William Morris print. I called work to tell them (about the death, not the William Morris prints). That’s when I started crying. The call ended somewhat awkwardly as I trailed-off into tears and my manager said take all the time you need….

My mind was busy during that drive:

  • I’m glad he died quickly
  • I’m glad I visited last weekend to tell them about my route66 trip adventures and share a birthday (Chinese take-away) dinner
  • I’m glad I moved back to the UK and enjoyed his company for the last 5 years of reasonable health
  • What do you say to a mum who’s just lost her life-long partner, over 55 years living together?
  • I must cancel my hotel
  • Are my tears blocking my road vision or just making my cheeks itchy?

I stopped at a motorway service station and picked up some wine, chocolate and dried apricots. It’s not clear what works for the recently bereaved. I don’t eat chocolate or apricots but I remember a friend telling me that a constant supply of food was useful and both these products would last if not eaten immediately. The wine was more for me, though later I only drank a glass.


flahsbulb memories
2 votes rating 5

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stop it!

Friday, July 5th, 2013 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Can you guess what this design is meant to do:
Don't drin the wine in the store

Plastic locks on the top of wine bottles displayed in a local store.

Is it to stop terrorists putting poison in the wine?  Or to stop locals drinking the wine straight from the bottle (for free) when no-one’s looking. Neither option is a promotional point for living locally. Oh dear. Defensive design gives out such a poor message about human behaviour…something, somewhere’s gone wrong…

stop it!
3 votes rating 2.7

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dying breed

Friday, February 8th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

Smoking ladiesTwo ladies with well-coiffed silver hair at the table next to me would leave their table, wine, handbags (under table) in-between each course. They walked out of the restaurant, across the pavement and stood in the gutter smoking cigarettes together.

A gale-force wind hampered their conversation and smoking while they huddled in the gutter. Their camaraderie seemed to make these obstacles melt into the background.

Go girls!

dying breed
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expanding mole hill

Saturday, January 5th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Sunday Brunch.  Maximillianswaitstaff: would you like anything to drink?

wendy: a glass of merlot, please

waitstaff: what size?

wendy: oh, um, 125ml please

waitstaff: no, we don’t have that size

wendy: oh, um, what size can I choose?

waitstaff: 175 or 250ml

wendy: 175 please

waitstaff: is that red wine?

wendy: merlot

waitstaff: is that red wine?

wendy: yes it’s red wine

Do you think I passed that test?


expanding mole hill
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the Gladstone club

Sunday, October 21st, 2012 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Gladstone Club Gladstone clubI’ve always admired the wrought ironwork on the porch of the London road side of the Gladstone club. It’s a grade II listed building.  The listing mentions that in 1887 the house was the home of the recently founded Reading High School.

It’s easy to notice the Gladstone club, without actually noticing it. It’s a substantial building in a significant location facing out onto both  Reading’s London Road and Kings Road. The club is next door to the Abbot Cook pub on the Cemetery junction on the southern edge of Newtown. Newtown is where the Huntley and Palmer factory employees lived.

Once it was a grand building. It’s namesake William Gladstone was a record breaking 4 times (Liberal) Prime Minister of Britain. The link with Huntley and Palmers is more than the proximity of the club to Newtown. The Huntley and Palmer website says:

In 1878 George Palmer became a Member of Parliament for the Liberal party. He was nicknamed the ‘silent member’, although he did make a few contributions to debates. In his maiden speech he supported a bill to grant women the right to vote “

The Acacias (London Rd)George Palmer lived on London Road in “The Acacias” about 500 yards west of the Gladstone club. An easy walk.

Sadly, the Gladstone building now stands empty with a for sale sign on it.  Until 2010 it was a delightful Indian restaurant and wine bar called the “Sardar Palace”.  Now it looks forgotten, overlooked. Grass is moving into the gaps in the forecourt paving.




the Gladstone club
1 vote rating 4

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cheating elbow and pinkie

Thursday, October 18th, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

using my pinky to leverage the glasspinky in position to leverage the glassMy physiotherapist pointed out that moving my elbow to complete some of the physio excersizes was actually “cheating”.

No cheating allowed.

I’ve since noticed that I’ve developed a whole range of little movement cheats to compensate for a slightly rigid wrist. For example, notice how the upper line of the thumb and back of the hand (from the wrist) hasn’t moved in these two photographs – yet the tilt of the glass has changed.  I can mimic gintly tilting a stemmed wine glass by moving it with my little pinkie.

Can you see the offending digit in action?

tut tut!


cheating elbow and pinkie
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accidental tourist

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |

1.00pm 13th August

Riding along, following my instructor, I drove too fast into a bend and ended up punching the curb. Not a good move.

A conscientious paramedic was on the scene within 10 minutes followed by 2 police cars because this was a Road Traffic Accident (RTA).

The police apologised for breathalising me. I was being way too sensible to be drunk. Not even a hint of last night’s glass of wine was hanging around.

Instructor: you should call your partner, get ‘em to pick you up from the hospital

wendy: I’m on holiday alone, I don’t have a partner and my family all live on the west coast, so there’s no-one nearby to call. I’ll be able to find a bus to get me out of hospital

accidental tourist
6 votes rating 2.5

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Smoking reflections

Friday, July 13th, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

Retail manager (1989-1991) aka ‘Saturday girl’

This job helped to top-up my PhD grant while I was studying full time. I was the only employee of an antiques clothes shop. Having a Saturday girl meant that Val, the owner, could have a day off.

My Saturdays were spent ironing, mending and making adjustments to antique clothes, then doing the weekly accounts at the end of the day. We didn’t have a till. We had a metal box with a key. I used a paper pad with a pen and a ruler to list items sold and write and sign receipts.  Despite the overhead of all this writing at the point of sale, cashing up didn’t take long. There weren’t many sales. Look how neat the shop rails are – a sure sign of very few customers!:

MerchandiseIt was fun when we had a customer!

They would see my genuine joy when they came into the tiny shop.  I’d look up from the sewing machine or ironing board, welcome them, offer them a cup of tea, then go back to whatever I was doing – if they clearly wanted to browse alone.

Some people would happily chat about the styles and period clothes they liked, asking questions about the clothes and the business. Some customers asked for jobs – as I had once done. All our few customers stayed a long time browsing. Some customers would travel long distances, over 50 miles, to visit us because of our unique and interesting stock. I like to think our friendly style also helped.

If customers were actually thinking of buying something, and it didn’t fit, I’d fit them for adjustments – pin the clothes – agree a price. I could make the changes on the spot in the shop while they browsed further and drank tea. Lovely. I loved the shop and the job. We had some customers that came in every Saturday, they were more like friends. I’d been a Saturday customer before I got the job.  It was having tea with Val and talking to her about her stock and business that had lead to my getting the job, I’d persuaded Val to employ me.

Cashing upAt 5.15pm Val would roll in to cash up for the week and get the weeks takings to the bank. She’d pour two large glasses of white wine, bring out an ash tray, and light a  cigarette. That’s Val sat infront of the sewing machine waving her fag at me.

With the shop closed I’d do the paper accounts for the weeks takings in the notebook. Not part of my job, but Val said she wasn’t very good at adding-up numbers which was all that I had to do. Easy.

As I counted the cash and checked it against the notes for the week Val would enlighten a 26 year old me with her 36 years of life wisdom. This wisdom mainly involved different ways of taking revenge against the married men she’d had affairs with. They were juicey stories and quite shocking to think she actually did those things. She explained that these men were responsible for ruining her life by lying to her about their intentions to leave their wives, that kind of behaviour needed severe punishment and she delivered it.

I made a couple of mental notes:

  1. Know lovers for who they are, rather than what I want them to be….
  2. Don’t upset Val, she’s capable of pure evil
Smoking reflections
1 vote rating 5

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keeping a roof on it

Sunday, January 1st, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

I enjoy reflecting on the last year, remembering all the fun things that happened and then weighing those up against the things that have caused pain. So this is an uncharacteristically long scribble. You’ll see from the bullet points below, this year has been a good year 🙂

Highlights of 2011:

Fun with friends – Including a

  • Porthminster BeachSolstice celebration with some Berkshire locals
  • Barcelona holidaywith friends from University, Seattle, and work
  • Loughborough get together with some Doctors and an Italian from my University days
  • St. Ives meeting with a real lumberjack and an exceptionally engaging blogger
  • Bunch of local Reading town house parties – Reading town people have a wonderful community spirit
  • Wrote, illustrated, got feedback on, revised then submitted a short story to a competition (unplaced). Thoroughly enjpyed my friends generous feedback on their experiences of the story. Listening to their interpretations was fun and inspiring
  • Regular blog readers, some of you have been dropping by for all of the 6 years that I’ve been blogging! You deserve long-term service awards 🙂 thank you for all the encouragement

Fun with family – several family trips including:

  • Christmas pantomime – seeing ‘The Hoff’ play captain Hooke at the Bristol Hippodrome. The man can sing!
  • Birthday outing to see ‘We will rock you’ lots of audience participation!
  • Holiday in Hull uncovering family history from my favourite Aunt then meeting her daughter in Barcelona…
  • Wandering around the ‘See no evil’ graffiti in Bristol with my brother was fascinating – more public art please!

Fun on my own – included

  • Hat #20: English FoxyLong weekend in Dungeness – Derek Jarmans garden, light houses, power stations, bleak beaches and fabulous locals
  • Studying for and getting a PRINCE2 practioners Project Managers qualification
  • The fabulous funky barnet giving me a new Bob which appears to be a crowd pleaser!
  • Writing an article that was selected for publication in an international, professional, magazine
  • Fabulous new Miele washing machine and HTC Desire  phone!
  • Successfully completing all last year’s resolutions! Writing ink-pen letters, completing another painting, producing an illustrated story for a competition, home grown edible crops of  raddishes, spring onions and courgettes
  • finding a fabulous foxy hat – for me!
  • A pay rise and a bonus that funded my trip to Barcelona

Lowlights of 2011

  • No new roof – Waiting 7 months and making many phone calls to get the results of a pre-application for planning permission to install solar tiles on the wendy house roof. The pre-application resulted in advice to use different tiles and the builder recommended not bothering to install alternative tiles. A builder turning down work?! I took the builders advice
  • Taking a break from working as a Samaritans in favour of supporting the emotions of people nearer to home

Resolutions for 2012

Healthier lifestyle – including things like

  • Proactively use Reading’s True food co-operative more often
  • Continue using my garden to grow plants that I subsequently eat. Yummy – fresh from the garden
  • Reduce my alcohol consumption and shift to drinking wine rather than ale
  • More regular exercise of some kind built into my daily activities.
  • Get out some more. I’m still a bit of a hermit, enjoying my home and the company of Sampo

Something ‘Housey’ – maybe one of the following…

  • Paint some rooms to change their ‘mood’
  • Replace the bath – its gradually falling apart but works ok
  • Replace the fitted mdf cupboards with fitted tongue and groove cupboards
  • Get a furniture maker to design and build Edwardian style fitted cupboards around the fireplace
  • Replace the ceilings in the bedroom by opening-up the space to see the rafters and adding modern insulation to the roof from the inside

Step back up to make more socially valuable contributions – this could be

  • Re-joining the Samaritans
  • Finding, engaging in, or setting-up, a mentoring scheme for women in the IT industry
  • Investigating ways to encourage the British Psychological Society to systematically contribute to the IT industry
  • Changing the focus, content, of this blog to be more effectively supportive of a wendy-worthy cause


I hope your 2011  bought you some heart-felt smiles and 2012 will bring you more. I’d love to hear your suggestions for ways I could make this blog more valuable, relevant, to you…

keeping a roof on it
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Vermeer composition Forbrydelsen cinematography (part 2)

Thursday, December 15th, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Adjacent room

Vermeer's painting of the 'Love letter'The viewer of a Vermeer painting is often placed at a distance where they can see the people in the scene and something of the surroundings

This can be in an adjacent room. In the ‘Love letter’ we can see a dull wall in the foreground to the left and linens on the shelves to the right – as if we, the viewers, are in the servants closet wathcing the mistress of the house pass a letter to a servant

The main action is in the centre of the painting, a well dressed lady taking a moment from playing her lute to pass a letter to a less well dressed lady, pressumably a servant. Both women are sunlit from the left hand side. Even though they are looking at each-other Vermeer has contrived a natural pose that bathes both their faces in sunlight

Viewer lying on the floor of the hallway The Killing II regularly uses this technique. A mother and child talk while the viewer watches from floor level in the hallway. Nearly half the frame is taken-up by the plain dark hallway wall on the right

Unlike Vermeer paintings, the light source is in view. It is low and to the left of the frame. Like Vermeer the reflection adds brightness and focus to the picture. The reflected light on the floor traces a line to us, the viewers

To get to this view the camera has slowly moved along the hallway until it revealed the doorway, the people, then the light source. Unlike Vermeer, cinematographers have the additional dimension of time (movement) to play with. The Killing II cinematographers appear to have carefully considered how we move from one place to another, how people, place and meaning are unravelled and intertwined visually

Voyeurs, not participants

Viewer outside the roomThe same technique is used in this mortuary scene. We, the viewer, are in the adjacent room. We can see the door in the forground to the left.  Comparing with high quality programmes like CSI and NCIS, tradtional cinematography – their approaches focus on the faces of the people in the room. We watch the reactions of the people in the room, watch them ask questions, see close-ups of relevant body parts. These traditional approaches place the viewer in the room – a participant in the post-mortem

In The Killing II we are a viewer at a distance. We watch everyone’s body language, listen to the conversation while staying slightly outside… a voyeur…

The few occassions when they break this general theme, and the actor looks directly at the viewer, become more personally impactful moments:
Actor talks directly to viewer

Vermeer composition Forbrydelsen cinematography (part 2)
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can’t say how

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

“It’s a little-known fact that the world’s best chicken sexers come almost exclusively
from Japan”

For some reason psychologists and philosophers investigate chicken sexing. Psychologists lured me into reading obscure articles on chicken sexing because, amongst other things, it is a skilled human activity that cannot be articulated. Just one mention in my undergraduate course, carefully juxtapositioned with a reference to how wine tasting is a similarly non-articulatable skill.

Chicken sexing? Chicken sexing! Maybe the idea stayed with me so long and in preference to wine tasting because of the word sex. Maybe its that the act of labelling a chicken with a predicted sex is called ‘sexing’. From one comment in a 1985 class on cognitive psychology, I developed an interest in reading about chicken sexing. So it was, so it is.

“If I went for more than four days without chick sexing work I started to have ‘withdrawal symptoms”


can’t say how
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devour and dodge

Friday, June 3rd, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

Last night I succumbed to a hedonistic Roquefort cheese devouring session, accompanied by a cheeky little Fitou ….mmmMMMmmmm…….

This helped produce a lovely dream, a relaxed family outing.

The dream turned lucid when I realised that my parents had driven my car without permission, into several walls, dodgem bumper car style. They blamed the car for poor usability.

Lucidity enabled me to fix the car promptly.

My parents are still the same.

devour and dodge
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rinse and repeat

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

Oh my god, my head hurts! What a good night. Shazzer, John and Ally know how to have fun! I remember sitting on the floor in the kitchen but I can’t remember why! Must have been a good night!

Pinot Noir,  on BarSuch a good night, it’s going to take all Sunday to recover.  I’m going to have a lovely lie-in, stay in bed all morning while my head clears. Texting Shazzer, John and Ally to find out if they’re as wrecked as I feel and to find out what happened!

No! Shazzer, there’s no wine left! We drank all 8 bottles. Shazzer you’re SO crazy! NO! I’m not having a glass of wine with a fry-up,  I’m not making cupcakes with wine flavoured frosting! We drank all the wine REMEMBER! ‘Cos I don’t! LOL. But the bottles are empty! Shazzer’s such a scream! John’s so cute and he’s got some REALLY cute single friends. Ally’s gonna get John’s cute single friends along for next Saturday. Another great weekend coming up!

I WAS sat on the kitchen floor! I missed my chair, John pulled it out as I sat down, that’s so funny! I should loose weight, I’ve got large thighs, wine goes straight to my hips. You should see my bruises, I’ll facebook them, my arse is well purple, blue and yellow! Looks like the chair tried to beat the fat off my thights!  The bruises hurt nearly as much as my head,





222 word post where I try to write in a different, familiar voice. Thanks to Scarlet for suggesting how I go about choosing a voice
rinse and repeat
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cheese with friends

Saturday, March 12th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

Carr-Taylor VineyardAround 400 vineyards produce wine in England

Driving the back roads from Dungeness to Reading I stumbled across the Carr-Taylor vinyard and spent a good morning in the sunshine with the staff and chipper terriers. We wandered around the Vinyard, sat and tasted wines at long tables in the wineshop, talked about the history and workings of their business. They made me feel like a special guest more than a tourist and shopper. They mainly sell wine through local stores because they can’t produce sufficient quantities to supply supermarket chains.

English vineyards produce high quality white wines, meads and champagnes.

English WineIt was good fun choosing different wines to bring home as gifts for different people,  Prune wine for my brother’s birthday, Elderberry wine for mother’s day, Ginger wine for cheese with friends…

This spirng I’ll be visiting the vineyard near Reading town, it has a beautiful chataeu – Stanlake Park

cheese with friends
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Read dating people

Saturday, February 19th, 2011 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

The evening started with a £3 fee, a sticky name-tag, an empty-crib-sheet for notes, two opposing rows of 10 chairs, and a glass of wine. The organiser, Laura, recognised me by my bookMervyn Peake’sLetters from a lost uncle

Soon the evening was buzzing with quick animated talk as we used our 2 minute timed slots to promote our favourite book to each other. 20 people, each with 2 minutes to entice another person to read their favourite book. At the end of the 40 minutes we all voted for the book we liked-best.

A fascinating cross section of books, people and Library staff. All personable, quirky and good natured. And me. Organising this diverse collection of literary enthusiasts is a challenge. The Reading Central library team failed with flare and  improvised with charming grace.

For people that want a novel introduction to a range of books, to meet local people, and have a good swig of wine thrown in, this is an excellent event.

4 smiles: Ratings explained

Read Dating crib sheet

Two minute book promotion techniques varied from reading 4 pages of bulleted notes on a book I’d been given as an 18th birthday present, read, and loved (Lynne’s Gormenghast trilogy) to Marie Claire’s brief, almost self-apologetic, statement ‘Its like a soap opera, its about people‘ (Men from the boys by Tony Parsons).

Adam produced a polished, yet souless, advocation of Wuthering Heights. If I hadn’t already read the book his persepctive ofnHeathcliffe as misunderstood by the general reading public would have put me off reading it. Adam had no sense of tailoring his delivery to the audience, to me. His delivery felt cold, dispassionate.

Arathy bought the book that had changed her life ‘The science of self realisation‘ by his divine grace Srila Prabhupada. Ernestly she showed me chapter headings and managed to talk in a way that I found difficult to follow. I tried asking her questions about how it had changed her life but she didn’t manage to give me an insight into her revelations, her life before and her life after the change. I was pleased for her discovery but not persuaded that this book would engage me.

During a mid-session break I uncovered snippits of these people’s lives, an emigrant from Australia, an unemployed teenager from Henley-on-Thames, and a mother who’s children had recently left home learning German to fill the gap. No-one asked about me. Even in the midst of lively conversations my ability to feel invisible seeps in.

Read dating people
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best parts of a part tea

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

StarThere were lots of best parts at the New Year’s eve PART-tea at the Lilypad.

For example, the kitchen was full of vegetarian Tapas dishes that included Potato. Potatos in cheese, Potatos in Tomatoes, Potatos in garlic, Potatoes in Omelette. A veritable council of potatos. Eventually I escaped from the kitchen… and discovered even more of the best parts including

  • local, Loddon, beers
  • a walk-in drinks cabinate
  • a  gently heated stairless wine cellar
  • star guests
  • a plethora of tingy lead crystal champagne glasses

The bestest best bit is unpublishable, though I’m reliably informed it smells lovely within a 6 inch range

PS This is a 100 word post, before the PS
best parts of a part tea
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sell by retail

Thursday, October 28th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

Sell by retailPainted above the door of many old English pubs is a sign indicating that they are licenced to sell liquors. The licensing system was introduced in the mid 16th century.  Licensing for Beer and Wine was distinct from Liquor licensing. Normally coaching Inns, places attracting wealthier customers than the beer and ale houses, were licensed to sell Liquor.

I liked this sign because it specified that the selling was by retail, pressumably as opposed to wholesale. With the ability to take the Liquor off the premisis purchasers might be tempted to purchase for illegal resale or big parties, effectively wholesale.

sell by retail
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the good, the bad and the ugly

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Matrix and Neverland share a glass of wine with meHere we see Neverland having dinner with Matrix and I in a farmhouse style restaruant that tolerates ladies with laptops on their tables. That was


Once you’re up and running with your new, budget, computer, what do you do next? I change the desktop background to that gorgeous picture of Matrix.

When I used the fabulous easy transfer migration wizardy thing to move my files and preferred settings from Neverland, this desktop background picture didn’t move. For a fleeting second I thought this was odd but not a big problem because its so easy to pick a picture and I do enjoy picking and changing the picture.

Can you hear it coming? Can you?

Windows 7 starter does not let you change the desktop background !!!!


my new cupboardApparantly ‘Starter’ means we’ll take away the frivolous fun and your ability to personalise the desktop.  The available colour schemes for the desktop are the ‘Classic’ which mean make it look like Windows 2000 and the high-contrast schemes that make it easier for people with vision defects to use the computer. I can live without personalising the colour scheme but being forced to look at the windows logo on a blue background is a bad decision. Everyone I know enjoys chaning their deskop background.  At work they have to have dull corporate or business backgrounds, but on  their own machines and phone’s they can make it personal, put their own picture as a Background. Even cheap phones let you change the background picture, but not windows 7 starter. That was a big suprise and a major disappointment. It’s a mean not user-focussed decision, that’s just


the good, the bad and the ugly
1 vote rating 5

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good company

Sunday, July 18th, 2010 | tags: , , , ,  |

wendy: 4 pints of Ringwood and a bottle of Chianti

bar staff: how many wine glasses would you like

I look at the smiling person next to me

smiler to bar staff: just one glass please

smiler to me: it’s cheaper to buy a bottle of wine and then leave some than it is to get 1 glass then refill it later.  They know me here, they’ll understand.I’m a sot

barstaff: are you sure you dont want a long straw instead of the glass? It will save us on the washing up

smiler: (sudden squeaky scream) I can’t believe he just said that!

wendy: what’s a sot? acronym, slang or real word?

good company
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van show

Saturday, December 12th, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

Vin ChaudWhen  a large glass of  warm red wine laced with honey  steams in my hand as I sit infront of a flickering open fire listening to the gentle dreaming of my kitties

When I can pay the heating bills and buy food –

Winter is wonderful

van show
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bringing home the bacon

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

Friend in Cairo:   we’re meeting a man on the street corner to pick up some bacon

DowntownWe loitered on a street corner.   An old mecedes pulled up,   a Egyptain looking man wearing very dark sunglasses,   smoking a cigarette, got out of the car holding an unmarked white bag.   He looked at us, at my blonde friend and called her name.   She walked over.

As a muslim country,  rearing pigs, slaughtering them and distributing thier meat is not a high demand business.   Listening to my friend and the man talk I heard the fear of the non-muslim.

Friend in Cairo: the children at my school think that you catch swine-flu from pigs,   they don’t realise that you catch it from people

The Christians keep pigs,   eat pigs.    Pig farming in Egypt has stopped.   My friend’s  bacon supplier talked about how his pig farms used to be hidden in the heart of christian areas,   or ex-pat communities (Americans) where the locals don’t worry about them.   But now, since swine flu,   it’s not safe, people break into the farms and kill the pigs.   Now he imports his bacon from other countries.

The man offered us a lift to our next stop, the Cairo antiquities Museum.   As he drove he told us his story.   He was a native born  Egyptian.   He left Egypt at 19 to live in the US.   There for 20 years.   His Egyptain wife missed home so they moved back in 2008.   He misses America.   He misses the way people drive. Business is getting tougher.   He talked to my friend about how she managed to find him.   They shared names and places, they were friends of friends in the community of non-muslims.

Picking up the Bacon was so much more symbolic than simply putting food on the table.

bringing home the bacon
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scribblers advance

Saturday, September 19th, 2009 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

Thatched house

Long post warning.   Plot spoiler –   ‘The Court’ is a great place to spend a relaxing break from modern city life.

Deborah: Wendy?   Would you like a glass of wine,   a cup of tea?

Wendy:   Yes!   both please

Sunday early evening, I’ve just stepped into the Court,   a large thatched cottage in the heart of Sheepwash, North Devon.   What a wonderful welcome.   Deborah takes my bag and gives me a tour of her home while making tea, pouring two glasses of wine and finishing the ironing.

Dining roomDeborah Dooley and her family have  opened their home  to paying guests. Deborah gives subtle and caring attention  to all her guests,  making sure they have what they need, keeping the atmosphere welcoming. Guests might come to write, to hike, to take time-out from being a mum.

Sheepwash bustles at 8am in the morning.  The local shop opens it’s doors, literally.  School children chatter and scream  as they wait for the bus.  Milk is delivered,  tractors roll by and I wake from a deep sleep amidst thick white cotton sheets.

When I wander downstairs in the morning a mug of tea soon finds me.   Fresh fruit salad, cereals and  a full cooked breakfast with eggs from the hens in the garden  are served on the visitors’ book,  a table with messages scrawled from past guests.  Packed lunches are prepared for guests’ planning day trips.

My mornings are filled with workshop activities designed to improve my writing.  Whether my writing improves is up to me,  Deborah’s workshops  give fun, tactful, feedback and encouragement.

Cottage fireplaceEvenings are warmed by  a real crackling and hissing fire.    Guests recline and share stories from huge embracing sofas.  The pub across the tiny town square feels like an extension of the house, not that I’ve spent much time there because the hospitality in the Court is magnetic.

I stayed with 3 other guests,  an  Essex accountant with a detailed colourful story on any topic your care to mention and a Cambridge couple taking a Hiking holiday.  We share breakfast, dinner and evenings and mainly do our own thing during the day.  Deborah listens, thinks, then uses what she’s learned. A simple but rare combination.  An excellent combination for a hostess.

Our roomThis is not the sort of place to stay if you like all the modern conveniences available in a  multi-star  Hotel.   The Court provides a  different kind of luxury, not one that is packaged with the check-list criteria of hotel stars.

The bathroom is shared by all the guests.    None of the modern trendy en-suite nonsense.  The bath is BIG,   deep and long, surrounded by a wide selection of dissolving things that you might want to soak in.  You need to check if there is enough hot water in the tank for a bath before taking a bath.  This reminds me of  living in a house with a hotwater tank and 4 other adults, my family, coordinating use of the bath was something we learned to do without giving it a second thought.  There is an electric shower with always available hot water.  If this  breaks your idea of a cosey retreat  then maybe this isn’t the place for you.

There is a TV in one of the rooms, I have not used it.  There are no TV’s or phones in the guest bedrooms. There is a  wireless base-station hidden in the lounge which provides internet  connections. I couldn’t get cellular reception from either T-Mobile or Orange services.  If this type of thing will be a problem for you, the Court is not the place for you.  Lack of cellular service was a bonus for me.  The Court has a landline number that I gave  to the  neighbour looking after my fluffballs and thankfully  she had no reason to call.

My experience is a warm friendly, active, family home full of people that respect each other.  The atmosphere and attitude of  the place and people made my stay interesting and welcoming. This is a very pleasant change from the benefits of living alone. I’ll definitley be visiting again.

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David Byrne | Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno

Saturday, April 11th, 2009 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Air can hurt you tooOutstanding. Highly recommended.

My 4 day holiday weekend kick-started with  a magical evening of slick, creative, quality performances in  glowing cricketish whites over a glass of wine in the circle of the Oxford New Theatre.

Choreography  variously  included  synchronised office-chair twirling and dancers leap-frogging David while he played.  A packed audience of  silver-haired and teenage people  bounced in the good natured holdiay-ready atmosphere.

David’s vocal control and pitch has matured beautifully adding more depth to classic tracks, those played  included: Air, I Zimbra, Once in a lifetime, Take me to the river.

David was his usual unassuming, audience focused, personable-self.   When he noticed venue staff asked audience members to sit-down he stopped the band mid song and gave people explicit permission to stand-up and dance,  then  picked-up the song again where they had left-off.

Alien t-setA David-designed  alien themed  t-set was a featured part of the mechandising.

David Byrne | Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno
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have mercy on us all

Saturday, January 24th, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

by  Fred Vargas (translated from original French by David Bellos)

Highly recommended for people who like innovative twists on crime thrillers, novels that cunningly intertwine history with fiction, and rich characterizations of people living in another country (Paris, France).

4 smiles: Ratings explained

Times Literary Supplement Ruth Morse summarises the content in a recognisable way when she comments that “Fred Vargas has everything: complex and surprising plots, good pace, various and eccentric characters, a sense of place and history, individualized dialogue, wit and style.”
I cannot comment on how the translation had changed the book from the original. David Bellos worked with the original author on the translation.

Ruth Morse makes a scathing comment on the translation writing that David Bellos had ”simplified, adapted and anglicized throughout, diluting the specificity of Vargas’s well-modulated French. This is not a matter of competence, but of style choices. David Bellos’s translation is so free as to amount to wholesale rewriting, at the expense of the atmosphere. Reading his prose is like watching a hastily dubbed film.” David Bellos  replies to Morse’s criticisms.

I wish I could read the original French version because despite not being particularly interested in murder mysteries I was so gripped that I read this book in one, long, day. A rare un-put-down-able experience for me as a single girl and curmudgeonly reader, intolerant of murder mysteries with plots that are either

  • easily guessable
  • so obtuse its virtually impossible to guess potential plot evolutations

This book managed to effectively walk the line between these two literary traps.

have mercy on us all
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on the value of benchmarks

Sunday, July 6th, 2008 | tags: , , ,  |

Not irritating graffiti or  marks that appear on your fabulous benches.  Benchmarking, to me,  means sensible comparisons.

While I was wandering along the corridors of Technorati,   I started to sulk because the Wendyhome blog only warranted an ‘Authority of  5’.   I have no idea what an Authority of 5 means,   but it sounded fairly lowly.   My bottom lip protruded as I read the  information provided by Technorati on who had linked to my blog.   Then.    OH YES… ….THEN,   I noticed that Raymond Chen’s blog got a Technorati rating of 9.   NINE.    

Lets look at this relatively.   I’m not related to Raymond but our blogs have relatively different readership and page-load numbers.   If my blog is rated 5 and I had to subjectively estimate what Raymonds blog would rate on  the same scale I would guesstimate Raymond’s blog would rate at  an approximate  3 zillion 4 million 5  thousand, two hundred and seventy-nine point  five.   Taking regular daily hits into account and deducting 5 points for nitpickers.    

In short,   which Raymond is,   relative to Average US adult male heights,   that my blog got 5 on a scale that rates Raymonds blog as 9 is a significant achievement.   My bottom lip retracted and the champagne bottles were popped.   Hoorah.    The Technorati Benchmarks are in my good books for today.   Just for today mind,   there’s no telling what tomorrow may bring…

on the value of benchmarks
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wendy (open) house warming

Sunday, May 25th, 2008 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

One recent Sunday afternoon the neighbours, local Reading celebrities,   and a gal from West Sussex dropped by to warm the wendy house over lashings of tea and cake.   A jolly civilised affiar with a little bit of dribbling.   During the goings-on I discovered many useful facts including:

–   a local granny can climb the walls to escape from a locked cemetry after dusk.

–   the Wendy House was converted from a  garage in 1968 partly explaining the dangerous staircase.

–   my nieghbours have lived all over the world – Kenya, Italy, India, Edinburgh before settling in Reading.   Excellent company.

–   the Readibus preferred gift to welcome a newcomer is a bottle of wine.

– the bath works best for a person under 5ft 2  (as do the  stairs).

– house numbers evolve.   One person’s home had evolved from without number to  number 4 then number 2…

I suspect I missed some real news treats while in the Kitchen  warming the pots,   I  wonder what other goodies these people are going to share with us in the upcoming years….

wendy (open) house warming
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alan’s tips

Saturday, May 10th, 2008 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Words of wisdom from my outrageously expensive and  handsome young product-dispensing hairdresser:

If you’re looking for a good winebar the best place in Reading is the Forbury Hotel restaurant bar

As usual,   I’ll be taking Alan’s tip very seriously and following up on this gem of wisdom

alan’s tips
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