November 16, 2009

Told you it was windy!

This tree was blown over in our public car park this morning. Pity the poor driver of the blue car, coming back from a hard morning’s shopping or a hard day’s work, only to find …. aaaarggghh!!!


On stormy weather

November 16, 2009


Sunshine came softly through my window today ...

… but only briefly this morning, before the rain reappeared with a vengeance.

The weather continues to be the topic of conversation, probably because it’s so in-your-face (literally). Yesterday continued the stormy wildness across the south of the country. Headlines screamed “storms lash Britain!” much to the anger of the Northerners (according to the blog comments on MSN), who believe they are side-lined in news reports. Bad weather in the south does not constitute the whole of Britain, they say.

Oh hang on, have just read another report that says the north will be getting their strong winds and downpours – “be careful of what you wish for”!

Britons make me laugh with their seriousness, there are some comments (again on MSN’s blog) about building arks, leaving the country, and some really bitchy remarks saying well why don’t you just go then if you hate this country so much. Lighten up folks! It’s November, surely this is perfectly normal for this time of year.

Lastborn Daughter is still bedridden, with ‘flu symptoms of a swollen sore throat, shivers, aching body. It’s been a week now, and just as she seems to get better, down she goes again. Cat’s think the best defence is sleep …

On a stormy day

November 14, 2009

Rainbow after the rain - phone pic

And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” – G.K. Chesterton

Another blustery, stormy day at the seaside. Advertising A-boards being blown over, trees at impossible angles, horizontal rain. You can feel the energy in the air!

The cats kept leaping in fright every time a gust hit the building, but have now given up and gone to sleep (their panacea for all ills).

On the weather

November 13, 2009

A phenomenon in the UK, everyone talks about the weather! It amused me when I first arrived here, but I came to realise how it affects our daily lives.

In South Africa, you could be sure, generally, that the day was going to be hot and sunny. Sure, we have our rainy spells, and winter on the Highveld can be very cold. About every six or seven years we might have a light snowfall! Such excitement.



Abandoned umbrellas abound ...

In Britain we have funny (peculiar) rain – rain that can’t make up it’s mind. Does it actually want to rain or will it just hang about in the grey heavy clouds, keeping us on tenterhooks? Or will it just be pretend-rain that actually seems to come upwards from the pavement?



... another redundancy!

Or will it be a sudden downpour, drenching us from head to toe as we struggle to find our (useless) umbrellas in depths of our handbags? How about that stormy rain that blows in from the Channel and bowls over everything and everyone in it’s path?


… had enough

Whichever way it occurs, store-bought umbrellas are useless, sheltering us for a few seconds before saying “ooh, I’ve had enough of this”, giving up and blowing inside out. I often wonder if I should splash out (gettit?) and buy one of those “hurricane-proof” umbrellas I see advertised, but sincerely doubt if even they are British-weather-proof.

And so I join the damp throng in my traditional outfit of “kagool and wellies” (that’s anorak and gum-boots to you South Africans), and let the rain wash every scrap of make-up from my face. It’s either that or go stir-crazy.

 Oh, those lovely endlessly-long hot summer days and nights are a distant memory *sigh*. But the winter equinox is around the corner …



On Graphic Design

November 12, 2009


A blustery autumn day - the pier at high tide

Looking for food inspiration, I was browsing through an old recipe book produced about 30 years ago by a then-colleague. I remembered the entire book had been produced on an IBM electronic composer, way before the days of computers. There was no spell check, and different fonts were on separate “golf balls” that had to be clipped in and out by hand,
We used Letraset for headings, the sheets kept in huge folders separated into the different typestyles (didn’t call them fonts in those days), and in the different sizes. Sometimes, in the middle of a job, we would run out of particular letters e.g. capital R, and have to make them up using other letters! Sometimes an entire wedding invitation would be made up in Letraset if the customer wanted a fancy script.

Pictures, photos and graphics were supplied as “bromides”, neatly trimmed and pasted down with rubber cement aka cow gum, a great substance that allowed you to move the artwork around until you found the right spot.

My colleague was a marvel. She could draw up the artwork for an entire business form – e.g. invoice, order form or statement, ruling all the lines with a Rotring drawing pen and ink – all, perfectly spaced, her neat corners were a sight to behold.

The day my boss decided to go computerised was like all our Christmases and birthdays at once. CorelDraw! Wow, what a boon! Suddenly, instead of being artists, we were computer operators, half the work was being done for us. Spell-check, hooray! Downloadable fonts at our fingertips – woopee! Scan in the graphics, resize them and drop them in where you want – what a doddle!

Aah, anyone remember those days?

On Remembrance Day

November 11, 2009

Today is Remembrance Day (Armistice Day) in the UK. At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month 1918 the Armistice was signed, ending hostilities of “The Great War”. Today even the ladies in my slimming class managed to stop chattering for the 2 minutes silence held this morning at 11 a.m. to honour the fallen from all wars, as it is every year on this date at that time. I’m sure all of us have someone to remember, in my case my cousin Laurie Aubrey Wright, shot down over the Channel in 1944, aged just 21.  



Laurie Aubrey Wright - died 19 May 1944

Of course, I had never met him but I grew up with his story. When the opportunity arose a few years ago, I decided to do some research, never realising what a journey it would take me on. From the initial War Graves Commission enquiry, to internet research, finding people across the world as far flung as New Zealand (he belonged to a New Zealand squadron), and eventually to discovering that his two best friends are still alive! The highlight was meeting these two wonderful gentlemen at a memorial in London, and to find that one of them lives in the same town as me.
The research over 18 months made me see Laurie as a real person, and I finally felt I had come to know him. How sad, though, to die so young, like so many in that situation.
Although I am a pacifist and cannot see the point of war, I do realise there are many many men and women in horrific conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere. We call them “heroes” and “brave”, and of course they must be to put themselves in those situations. (Please note this is not an anti-war rant, it’s only my point of view.)
I feel deep compassion for soldiers, policemen and –women, fire-fighters and all those who put themselves in danger so that we can live an easier life.
God bless you all …


On being made redundant

November 10, 2009
Good morning! Thank you for visiting … I’m Chamomile, just call me Cam … here you’ll find the views, ramblings, rants and inspiring philosophies of an …. Oh let’s just say I’m a lady of certain years! Hmmm, that’s already two exclamation marks, but there you go, I tend to get over-excited sometimes.

You’ll notice I almost said I was an elderly woman. So, I’m in my early sixties, look it but don’t feel it, more of that later. I seem to have ended up as that old cliché, the dear old lady living alone with two cats. How did I get here? That’s something I ask myself almost every day.


Oh what a beautiful morning!

I have worked hard all my life, throughout my pregnancies, returning to work a few weeks after the birth of my children (at that time in South Africa there was no financial infrastructure to support the incubators of the countries future), because I was not financially savvy and seemed to be perpetually short of money.

Divorced and selling up in South Africa in order to return to my birthplace, I found myself once more virtually penniless, with no property and a few possessions. So it was back to work … until last December when I became a statistic, one of the thousands who were made redundant in the economic crash. Yes, our employers ticked all the boxes, the consultations, what do you think we can do to save the company … we saw the writing on the wall but we thought it was written in chalk and could be erased. Then, on Wednesday we were told we were to close on Friday, not really time to say goodbye.

What is that like? Who can describe the feeling? We will each have our own version. I hated that word “redundant”, with it’s connotations of being tossed on the scrap-heap, of no further use, we don’t want you any more thank you very much here’s your money now go don’t darken our doorstep. So here you are, unexpectedly forced into retirement, suddenly it’s upon you when you didn’t plan it this early in life. I always thought I would work until I was 90!

What bad timing, just before Christmas, I thought, until someone pointed out that it was best before you’d maxed out your credit card on prezzies and wondering how to pay it off in the new year!

What do I miss the most about not working? Of course it is the regular income, suddenly having to budget even more strictly, juggling pension, benefits and savings with the same outgoings and expenses. But what I miss is the social interaction with my colleagues and customers. Our shop was on the high street with people in and out all day. We got to know our “regulars” and they were almost like part of the family, sharing their problems and joys, discussing current affairs, putting the country to rights, stretching the mind. Suddenly it was all gone. Here I was alone in my garret, staring out of the window wondering what I would do today.

Thank goodness that funk didn’t last long, after all it was Christmas. Spending time with the family kept my mind off it. In the new year I decided it was time to put my vast knowledge to use, spend my redundancy money on a new computer, good digital camera and other equipment and set myself up a website I am a good typist, love doing research on the internet, and am happy to spend all day on my computer. Now I am ready for customers ….

Suddenly I have all the spare time I could want, and meet up with my friends whenever we want. We use our bus passes to go out for the day, or we simply walk along the beachfront. That’s when I count my blessings … I live in a nice seaside town, I have good health, I have a lease on a huge old Victorian flat, my two cats (oh yes, the proverbial), good friends and a lively mind.

Yes, I still miss the money, and I’m in the process of writing a book on how to set up a website for free. Now my friends and I (three of us made redundant in the past year) wonder how we managed to find the time to do all the things we did when we were employed, our lives are so busy – oh, and all those library books to read! Those exercise classes we can attend, the reiki course …