Truckstop on the way to a damn good time..

On my way to The Badger last night for a beer with friends before we all headed off to The Old Mill to see a band, I caught myself thinking how I would rather be staying in the pub, just nattering and putting the world to rights rather than shouting over what was possibly a disappointing wall of sound.

I say caught myself because one of the good ideas that I have been trying to drive into my brain is that just like not judging a book by its cover – not prejudging an evening when you haven’t researched the band and have not as yet developed any kind of precognition is unwise..

And to prove this conclusively I proceeded to have one of the best nights of my life – mainly because the band were just so, SO GOOD!  Be prepared people – there will be more over-excited yelling to come.

Truckstop Honeymoon are originally from Lawrence, Kansas and now happily resident in Wales, Katie and Mike West play a mixture of bluegrass, rockabilly and rock and roll and they play it very, very well. Songs written by themselves that are in turn, funny, poignant and all ports in between,  wryly intelligent and always so clever they make the whole performance seem easy.  It was hard to pick my favourite but up at the top would be Johnny and June, Your Mother is a Sociopath as well as Walk of Shame which bought back a few memories.  It was the first time ever that I didn’t want to leave my seat, even for an urgent call of nature (damn you excellent real ale) for fear of missing something.

I ENJOYED EVERY SINGLE SONG..

I admit that in the past I have suffered from beer ears, similar to beer goggles – summed up by the phrase “there are no ugly men at closing time”, beer ears is the phenomenon where drink has been taken and you find yourself publically grooving to music you wouldn’t normally allow to grace your home stereo system, not only that – you are so in love with this music that you find yourself splashing the cash and buying a cd which after one confused play the following day, finds itself lurking in the back cupboard for the rest of it’s natural.  Not that there’s anything wrong with the music or band per se but it’s just REALLY NOT YOUR CUP OF THRASH METAL

Anyway.. Money in hot hand I made my purchase and this morning slipped that sweet, sweet c.d. into the slot of my laptop – and GLORY BE TO THE GODDESS, IT WAS GOOD. It was the real deal and once again I LOVED EVERY SINGLE SONG..  Bless you guys, and welcome to Wales, it’s fantastic to have you here.

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Hope we will see you again real soon

 

 

 

 

Yesterday’s brief post was an attempt to sort out the technology around Google photos, because I now use my phone and ipad as well as the camera to take photos and I can store them all together.  I hadn’t yet worked out how to upload from Google onto my blog so a bit of experimentation was needed.

WordPress kindly tells me it’s four months since I last wrote and my previous post was so depressing that I needed to get rid of it for something more cheerful.  Oh and Charlie has totally recovered from his broken leg – thank you for asking 🙂

Despite our disastrous attempt at a holiday back in March we have managed to get away from Hay a few times without any major incidents.  There is one thing about bad things happening – it makes other occasional misfortunes seem like nothing in comparison.

We had a week camping in Rhandirmwyn, Carmarthenshire, at an incredibly beautiful camping spot down by the Towi River and despite rain and the attempt by the local insect population to eat Mr T alive, we had a great time.  In fact because of the rain and the well bitten Mr T, we got to spend a night in a pub in Llandovery in the middle of the week just to have some respite, which was most enjoyable.  The next day we visited one of our favourite towns just up the road from Llandovery – Llandeilo, which has lovely shops and eating places.

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By Llandovery Castle

 

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Camping with Gin and Snacks
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I bought along a sun lounger for myself
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Talley Abbey

We made it all the way up to Lampeter and visited the ruins of Talley Abbey on the way.  The Abbey was built in the 12 century and the Canons that lived there wore white robes. The place is lovely and spooky and I could imagine a dark night and the robed figures haunting the place.

We also visited the medieval Cilycwm Church, just up the road from where we were camping – very worth going there if only for the 18th century paintings on the walls, which were redone in the 1980s.  I particularly loved how the powers that be thought so much of the paintings that they just bunged other monuments on top..

 

We have managed a few other trips away – a day trip to Rhossili Beach on the Gower which started out as a quick visit down to Swansea with Sunday lunch at The Ancient Briton on the way and turned out to be a proper day out, not getting home till 10pm that night.  We haven’t been to the Gower since we got back to the UK last year and Mr T being in a driving mood we got to Swansea and just kept going.  We made the long walk down to the beach watching the hang gliders and peregrine falcons hovering above us and spent a lovely hour or so on the beach before heading back up the steep walk (not for the faint hearted) for a pint and chips at the pub on the cliff – spectacular views and the sun came out to cheer us.

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toastie at rhossili .

I will post this now as it has taken a couple of days to get this together and will write again soon about our latest break away.

 

a little light on my friend Simon

One of the things I used to love about coming to visit Hay-on-Wye when I lived elsewhere was the fact that not only were there masses of book shops, which is my idea of heaven, but also there were other lovely and sometimes unusual shops as well, with a complete lack of the normal high street chain stores.

My friend Simon has owned his chandelier shop Goosey Ganders for twelve years now.  I met him when we first came to live in Hay, and I liked him straight away.  He’s an interesting person, a bit of a renaissance man – sometimes outspoken and outrageous, kind and gentle and incredibly creative and I love him to bits.

I think Simon knows everything there is to know about chandeliers – he certainly knows the history of them, how to build them, fix them, hang them, clean them and make them even more  fantastic than they are already.  The amount of care and work that he puts into creating and rebuilding is mind-boggling.  I am always fascinated when I go in to his tiny, jewel box of a shop because it is jam-packed with lamps dating back over the last century and full of light and colour, which is not to be sneezed at in these dark days.

So without further ado, here are some of the photos I took the other day..

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Flamingo friends
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Keeping him company.. Kenny and friend

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The man himself

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My photos don’t do the shop justice so drop in if you’re in town and maybe you can add some extra sparkle and light to your home.  And don’t forget to say I sent you 😉

As I emerge blinking into the light..

Regarding my last post – one of the reasons I had been feeling so crappy is because I had had the flu since Christmas day and two weeks on, just as I thought I was getting better, the glands came up under my chin and back I was, sofa bound (apart from walking dogs) again.

I am finally well and have emerged ready and able to listen to all the other poor sods who have also been ill, and there are many, probably because around Christmas everyone gets more social than usual and we cheerfully and unknowingly go about the town spreading our germs.

While I was ill, our possessions that we had shipped, arrived from New Zealand. Unfortunately I was in no fit state to deal with them and it is only now that we have finally got down to the last box.

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Family heirlooms worth shipping across the world – plastic flower lights, Marmite tray and Big Blue the Pot

 

 

 

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Never go anywhere without this motley crew 🙂

It is lovely to have all our rugs and bits and pieces about again although it is taking some doing, shoe horning everything in to our tiny bolt hole.  It is fortunate that I was rigorous in what I packed, although somehow a large amount of yarn managed to find itself secreted into whatever crevice it could be stuffed into.

And talking about yarn – here is my new poncho which I whipped up when I got hold of some discounted, beautiful Japanese Noro Hanabatake wool and silk yarn on Ebay – yay!  Finished just in time for this very freezing weather.

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I am going now to take tea and catch up on some socialising but I will be back later in the week with a couple of blog posts about some of my friends here in Hay-on-Wye and I’ve got lots of lovely photos to show you.   Have an awesome day 🙂

 

 

 

This evening a nearly full moon rides serenely in the sky with a pale, petrol slick coloured halo glowing as the slow clouds pass.

I’m feeling pretty serene as well which I am curious about.. Most of the day has been spent in tired despair, brain fogged and irritated  at myself, continuously forgetting what it was I was about to do, dropping things, knocking things over, snagging my clothes, dribbling my scarf in the washing up, remembering just what an utter arse of a person I am then getting cross for calling myself names – and generally getting in my own way, and then suddenly, about four in the afternoon, and for no earthly reason  that I can think of,  I find I am completely and utterly fine..

I watch myself in wonder as with returned energy I walk Toastie and Charlie through the grave yard, calmly spending time reading the grave stones and allowing the dogs to sniff to their hearts content.  I feed my friends cats, stopping to sit and talk to them and stroke their lovely fur.  I sort the recycling and actually don’t hate doing it.  I think of something for tea without effort and cook it well, sausages and onion gravy, potato and swede mashed with warm milk, garlic butter and loads of parsley, steamed carrots and brussels sprouts.  And then I eat it at the table, enjoying that I have made myself good food, appreciating it, thinking that Mr T will enjoy it too when he gets home from his chess club later tonight.

And then I step outside and watch the moon and think it may be the most beautiful thing I have seen in my life.

 

it’s great being back..

One of the first things I noticed when we arrived at our new home in Hay-on-Wye, just over two months ago, was this stone doorstop covered in a crochet cozy by my dear friend Em who had found us this flat in the first place.

It is always a bit worrying when you rent a place sight unseen and although the flat has a few small downsides it has turned out to be a great, little bolt hole.

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And it is wonderful to be back in Hay!  Really so good.  We arrived back to a spectacular autumn, warm and beautiful.  Our house lacks a garden so we have to walk our dogs a lot and we have visited quite a few of our old haunts, up on the Begwns (where it is possible to see all of the Brecon Beacons National Park from the roundabout at the top), Cusop Dingle where I was happy to greet my favourite, majestic Copper Beech, and the castle at Clun on the way up to Montgomery.We live close to the Wye River so that is the default walk of the day.

 

Two months has been enough for the weather to slide into winter and so far we have had one furious storm and yesterday and today the temperatures have dropped to well below zero and even though the sky is clear blue and sunny  the frost stays on the ground all day.

Our flat is in an old, stone building that used to be the work house, it has massive thick walls and is amazingly warm so that even though it is minus 5 outside I don’t need to have the heating on.  I was not best pleased to hear of the buildings horrible history when I got here but I like to think that we will be adding some happier atmosphere to it, besides Em tells me she smudged the place before we moved in to clear any negative energy and whether the smoke helped or not it’s the intention that matters.

Mr T is working back in his old job and has found a welcoming chess club based in a pub in Presteigne, not far from his work.  I am back making things to sell and consciously working on keeping the Black Slug of depression at bay, which is made easier by good friends, beautiful surroundings, our lovely dogs who need lots of walks in the fresh air and it’s nearly Yule!!

This weekend the Christmas lights were turned on on Friday night and that plus the Hay Winter Festival, Food Festival on Saturday, Vintage Market on Sunday meant that the town was full of happy wanderers even more so that usual.

It is lovely living here, we are so very lucky..

 

Nearing ready for take off…

imageWe are up to our eyeballs in farewells to friends at the moment.  Which is to be expected as there is only one day left before we leave the country.

Moving out of our house was exhausting but a lot less stressful that I had thought it would be and we have just spent two weeks staying out in the country at our friend Shona’s house ‘Summer’ where we rented the annexe.  The whole place is surrounded by trees and birds and the air smells amazing.  The house is closer to the mountains so we even had a snow shower when we had a blast from the South Pole.

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Shona’s annexe out at Summer

 

We are now staying at Mike and Sue’s, which is in town but also very beautiful as the house and garden are so well looked after and lovingly decorated. They are tree huggers, like many of our friends and it shows in their surroundings.

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Uncle Mike and Aunty Sue, my soul mates who I will miss so much.

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Our going away party/spring equinox party was Saturday night and so it was lovely to cozy up the next evening with these dear, good friends and watch the first three episodes of ‘Edge of Darkness’ a favourite of us all since it first came out and won awards at the BAFTAs in 1986.  Still a fantastic programme but so dated now in the technology they used, coppers using pay phones and rotary dial phones.  Watching the rest of the series tonight after enjoying one of Mr T’s curries.

Outwardly I am just dealing with one small task after the other, trying to be organised and trying to get the weight down on my suitcase.  Inwardly I am now firmly between two worlds, here and there, sadness and happiness, excitement and apprehension.  We drop the dogs at the pet travel place tomorrow at 1pm and then on to the airport for our flight to Auckland – Shanghai and then Heathrow.

Just trying to keep calm, ommmmmmm

 

 

 

off again..

We are moving again..

Only this time it’s not a little move, it’s a great big journey across the briny and back to beloved Wales.

We arrive on the 21st September and are being picked up by our good, kind friends Kath and Jules, who are celebrating their wedding anniversary that day, the wedding that six years ago in Swansea, I acted as best woman..  What a fantastic day that was.  And I had forgotten, I have enough problems remembering our own anniversary without remembering anybody else’s – yes I know that’s bad.  In my minds eye I think of their wedding as being in high summer, it was such a hot, sunny, beautiful day.

I have been having a hard time of it lately and I know that because now the hard time has stopped I can look back and see what it was through clear eyes and shudder.  Mostly I think it’s been to do with my thyroid medication.  Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile will know that I have Hashimotos disease.  It’s an auto-immune disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland and causes fatigue, depression, weight gain etc.  To treat it most people take a synthetic thyroid hormone called Thyroxine, usually it works and people return to normal, for some the symptoms can last for a long time.  I’ve been taking it for years, but in the last six months, since I have been living in Carterton, the pharmacist has be giving me a different, generic form of the drug.  And when I asked about it they told me that it was the same thing – no problems and they wouldn’t consider giving me anything else.  So I took it and for months I have been feeling bad, crashing fatigue, depression (more than normal) , anxiety – constant tight ‘butterflies’ in the stomach and occasionally suicidal – oh yes..  I put it all down to ‘The Change’  good old menopause adding to my misery.

So about ten days ago I found a sheet of my old Thyoxine in the bathroom cupboard and thought – what the hell, let’s experiment. Five days in and I was feeling better and the last five days have felt like a major gift.  No depression, no anxiety, normal energy all day, and happy.

I cannot begin to tell you how good that is.. Moving is always a stressful time, especially when you are going such a long way – packing, selling, sorting the dogs for their health checks, rabies vaccinations and flight.  Trying to deal with everything with constant anxiety was awful – and now it has stopped.

I rang the medical centre yesterday for a new prescription which I will have filled in a pharmacy where they will give me the real deal.  I spoke to the nurse and told her of my concerns about the generic drug – and she was tripping over herself to tell me how right my concerns were, how many patients say they have had the exact same experience as me – honestly WTF?!!

I never thought we would be going back to Britain,  I just thought that this was it, we were here for good and tried very hard to just enjoy being here, and for the most part that worked.  I think that if Mr T wasn’t so home sick I would be happy to stay right here, but he is not happy and we are going and now I am feeling better I am getting so excited I could pop!  To think that in five weeks time we will be driving that beautiful drive from Swansea to Brecon and to our new home near Hay-on-Wye is just mind blowing, let alone seeing and hugging all our lovely friends who I thought we would never see again – it still feels really unreal.

I thought I would leave you with a photo of a visitor we found on our doorstep the other day – Australia may have way more fearsome critters than us but only we have The Weta!

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Now – where are my dried frog pills?  Ahh, that’s better…

So, where was I?  Doesn’t matter – I’m not there now..

Last time I looked I wasn’t Atlas, I do not have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders and every now and then, like today and Sunday, I remember and my world becomes a lighter place.

What am I up too?  Well, it’s the middle of winter here in little, old N.Z. and mostly I seem to spend a lot of time putting wood on the fire to keep warm.  And dressing in lots of layers, and walking the dogs in the rain and drying wet dogs and wet washing and – well you get the picture.

I do like the winter though, especially when we get truly wild weather like we had yesterday, southerlies rolling in, lots of dramatic, freezing wind and rain.  Giving me a chance to wear some of my sixty million shawls and hats and socks and boots.

I have been making stuff as usual, like this blanket, which handily warms my knees as I hook it.

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The latest shawl, fresh of the hook and waiting to be blocked.  It’s called The Sunday Shawl from a pattern on Ravelry and I am pleased with it except I could have been more careful about the main colour – dark blue is a blond dog fur magnet.

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I am also doing some stitching, using my natural dyed fabrics.  My brain has not been working well recently and although I wanted to stitch something really complicated it turned out that energy and concentration levels as well as the ability to MAKE A DECISION FFS, were not playing together nicely.  So I’m keeping the design simple but interesting (to me anyway).  I will show you it again when it’s finished.

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I have company during my day of course, there is this dog..

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and this dog..

 

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and both of them are giving me the ‘it’s time to take us for a walk’ signals, so I’m off.  See you soon hopefully 🙂

 

feeling groovy..

I used to pride myself on my ability to do more than one thing at a time.  I’d actively look for multiple activities just to see how far I could push it. Nowadays I have to actively try to concentrate on doing one thing at a time to get anything done properly at all. And even then I still get it wrong, as evinced by my dismay at putting my jeans on around the wrong way, looking down with confusion at the arse-shaped fabric ballooning from where it shouldn’t.

I suppose I should be thankful I noticed..

Anyway..

The weekend has been lovely, really lovely.  Several things joined together to contribute to the general loveliness of it all – firstly Mr T was home for the whole weekend and he has got over his flu.  He seems to have been ill for the last month at least and so when he has been home he has been cast on the couch of doom, snorting and hacking and feeling like a bag of bollocks.  Not much fun, but now he is well, yay!!!

Secondly – the weather, though forecasted for rain, morphed into warmth and sun and gentle breezes so we could have the tiny house door open and go for walks and generally bask in the temporary relief from freezing southerlies.  This is not to be sneezed at – at this late stage of winter when desperation for sun sets in.  I even cast off my second layer of trousers, (I wear leggings under trousers all the way through winter, and yes I do wash them regularly and they do not have to be cut off come snow melt), and then hastily donned them again this morning when I found the dream was over and I was a little nippy around the nethers.

Thirdly, although I was still brain fogged, I was blessed with a happy, quiet mind.  This is good – very, very, outrageously good.

Apart from book club on Sunday afternoon, for which Mr T made a fantastic batch of Welsh Cakes and Philippa a Rhubarb Crumble Cake with cream, Mr T and I were happily unsocial and spent our evenings cwtched up on the couch with our fur friends watching many and varied – old Red Dwarf episodes, a little Boston Legal (Denny Crane!), cult Australian movie The Castle (for the eleventh million time) and inhaling multi episodes of The Brink with the ever gorgeous Tim Robbins and Jack Black.

Saturday afternoon found us charity shopping, drinking superb coffee and eating Hummingbird Cake at the Arts Centre Cafe and walking the dogs in the park. The town graveyard is adjacent so we had a wander around the early settlers graves.  I was saddened by the headstone of a family who had died in the 1870s, the father first, leaving a pregnant wife whose baby died the following year at 5 months and then the death of the wife the year after.  There can be few activities more guaranteed to make you glad to be alive than hobnobbing with the dead – I wholeheartedly recommend it.

So without further ado, a few photos..

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More spring flowers, snow drops and japonica
Waiting for fur Father to come out of the bathroom
Waiting for Fur Father to come out of the bathroom

Charity Shop finds include-

A pair of GoodyGoody silk slippers $3

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A pair of china elephant bookends to support some of my most loved childhood books

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and a 50 cent addition to my small ‘Made in Japan’ vintage china collection, which Mr T takes great enjoyment in mocking furiously when he comes home and finds I’ve acquired another little kitsch orphan, and who would want to deny him that pleasure huh?

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That’s it for now – I have been writing this post on and off for most of the day interspersed with walking dogs, and having a lovely friend visit, so now it’s time to get on and make something.

Hope you are all having a good one