SELF-DESTRUCTING BLOG

Blog.Co.UK (BCUK), whose registered offices are in Germany, is completely removing its blogging platform during the day of the 15th December, 2015. It is a very final act. I have never before seen a blogging platform self-destruct out of all existence.  BCUK will be history.      smile emoticon kolobok

Blog UK was an intuitive site to use, a vibrant and supportive social site in its heyday, it was easy to make blog friends who actively shared comments. Its demise, though slow, was really inevitable after it was sold on. The new proprietors gave access to avalanches of spammers.   Inappropriate mails stopped being dealt with.  Lots of genuine bloggers voted with their feet. Many, like me, occasionally posted and kept in contact with favourite BCUK bloggers. Groups of friends kept going.  smile emoticon kolobok

Users of BCUK were given lots of warning of the proposed end, as were sister platforms in other parts of the world. At the same time we were given detailed instructions in English on how to export our posts to WordPress (WP) and how to save them.  The instructions would not work for the likes of Blogspot, where I was regularly posting.

The French bloggers also received their instructions in English!   smile emoticon kolobokI spent some time translating the instructions into French with the assistance of Google Translate. My translation was posted on the French site, with lots of grateful thanks.

Exporting blogs to WP was not difficult, though perfect, it was not. I will have to edit through ten years worth of posts. I have given it a rest while I’ve been learning to use WP.  By default WP has become my primary site.  It is a bit complicated and there is a lot of clunky programming.   Bloggers from other countries have found sites elsewhere and find it easier to stay in touch with me on Blogspot. smile emoticon kolobok

A few blog UK friends decided it was time to say goodbye to blogging.  Some have have connected up here on WP. It’s nice because linking up on WP with other people who want to genuinely inter-communicate in words about this and that, and not sell you something, is not easily facilitated with the WP set up. smile emoticon kolobok

 

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HUNKERING DOWN AND BATTENING THE HATCHES

Weather – what to say; it’s weather of a kind and variable to where we happen to live. I won’t bore you with details of the light coverings of snow; icy roads; heavy hail beating upon the windows leaving ice balls piling up on the sills; and then the increasingly fearsome noisy wind speeds.

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I have not fully opened the curtains today, just drawn them a single window’s width. I thought I had better let in some of the limited rations of daylight we have, irrespective of how dour it looked.  Here, it’s a day for checking outside,  from inside, very occasionally, and definitely not being out in the weather.

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We will have similar and various experiences of weather hurtled at us throughout the U.K according to the Meteorological Office,(Clodagh is the latest named storm). What a number of us will share, I think, is the way we react to the weather. I am wearing layers of clothes indoors and as night draws in again, it feels like I will need another layer or two.  At not too hard a push, a cosy blanket to hug round me while I curl up in a chair  would do very nicely thank you.  We have hunkered down and battened the hatches.

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Photo 3 by Slanket.

Mmmm…YUMMY

Lots of little children have their special comforters, like a little blanket, or, a toy, or, a taste.  So it was, in a Bohemian meeting place called Tmol Shilshom, in Jerusalem,  a friend got talking to us about his special childhood comfort memory.

What is real

What is real

His mum used to make him a special drink  some evenings, in which she mixed very finely chopped nuts, honey and spices…the names of which, in English, he did not know.

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IMG_0074 T'mol Shil Shom Menu 2

Here, in Tmol Shilshom, he could re-live the comfort tastes of his childhood; the drink was good, almost as good as the one his mother used to make for him. He was going to order it and if we liked it,  we could order more.  With a recommendation like that, who could refuse at the very least to try this magical experience and share with him just a little of his personal memory.  I couldn’t refuse.  it was a very special gift.

T'Mol Shil Shom A reading Room with a restaurnt

TMol Shil Shom A reading Room with a cafe/ restaurant

The order was given. You could hear a lot of whipping and stirring going on in the nearby kitchen. Very soon a long heat -proof glass arrived filled with a thick creamy substance.  My friend dipped the long handled spoon in to the glass; offering it  to me, he gently said….. Taste a little… perhaps, in just the same way his mum had  once said it to him.  On top was a sprinkling of ground pistachios and almonds around which, was a fine circle of  light  brown powder.  The dessert texture was smooth, the flavours were yummy. I could distinguish the delicate flavour of cinnamon and a blend of nut flavours. He watched me closely as I hummed a long ‘mmmmmm’.  With a big smile my friend said, ‘ It is yours…you have that one, I will order another one for myself……..this is salep’.

Back in Jerusalem two years later we found our own way to TMol Shilshom, where I ordered salep, of course.  We met up with our friend a few days later and talked of our shared memory: shared, except for one detail, we were unsure about the main ingredient of it.  Maybe, by now, the little mystery had become part of the charm.  My friend took me to a small grocery store where I was shown a packet mix of salep I could buy to take home with me.  The two boxes contained two packets and each packet made two portions of dessert similar to those we had.

The main ingredient given on the box was  corn starch. Who would have thought it!

Sahleb

Sahleb 2

I have heard since of a very similar dessert, with a similar sound name, being made with extra fine (powdery) ground rice,

Irrespective of the variations,  I can vouch that the dessert I had was a delicious comforter . 🙂

 

A BAPTISM WITH EXTRA FLOURISHES

A post by GillyK about a ‘riotous’ baptismal service got me thinking.

I was a mature student. In those days it meant I was twenty-five years old, or more. A relative youngster really. I was approached by a woman I had got to know, who asked if I would be a godparent to her baby daughter. Being very honest, she told me I was not a first choice because she thought I would not want to be involved in a Christian religious celebration. There were two sets of godparents and one couple had excused themselves. The baby was going to be Christened in the local cathedral, but only because the local church was closed for refurbishing. Of course, they were delighted with the upgrade. It did mean though, that the baptism was going to be incorporated into the main service; again, they were content.

These were the days before personal computers were even on the horizon, anyones horizon, and no ordinary mortal owned a mobile phone. I don’t think they had been invented then. …And no, I was not born in the 19th century!!

I wanted to speak to the local priest, or, a Cathedral priest, about the invitation to be a godparent given my heathen status. I was not and am not a member of the church. I needed to know if my position was acceptable; also, what would be expected of me? The conversations were very pleasant and centred on how I felt about making the commitment to stand in for the parents, if that need were to arise and to bring the child up in the Christian faith.

Because it was Easter time there were a few extra service ‘flourishes’. In total three babies were Christened sequentially during the service. The congregation looked on. I remember many smiling faces. We all exited the Cathedral with the throng to beautiful sunshine.

I am in contact with my god-daughter to this day. I have not seen her for years, but we have spoken, occasionally exchange emails and there’s always a little package at Christmas. She is an adult now with a family of her own. From what I glean, I am the only godparent of those given the role, who maintained contact.

YET ANOTHER RESOLUTION…..FORGET IT!

I promised myself I would not do any washing this holiday weekend, I had done enough while we were away on a short break, loads and loads of it, left by other people who had used the house before us. The contracted cleaning and service agency had their invoice paid for,  for a date they said they did the job, which was  a few days before we arrived.  They very obviously had not fulfilled their contract in any shape or form.  I took the house owner, (a friend) on a tour of the premises with my iPad camera, so, he could the agency to task.  Hell! was he upset and mortified at what we walked into.  We set about making the house reasonable to stay in.

There was some of our own stuff  to wash and dry on our return home, inevitably, there always is, but, I said to myself, that’s it,no more. The trouble is, where I live, In  the far north of Scotland,  you are very aware of weather patterns, you have to be. Today is going to be the best day of the week, the rest of it is forecast to be a wash- out, ( ‘scuse the irresistible pun ). So, if I am going to get washing dried the eco way, outside on the line, whatever there is to be washed must be laundered today. Yet another resolution hits the dust……….

FREE AND RARING TO GO

Yippeeee!!!  I was released from my plaster cast this week. I thought I would miss my constant companion, especially at the end of the day,  when I had got used to plonking my foot into bed with a clog fixed on it.  Curiously, I did not really feel any sense of loss.  I thought about the cast in a vague kind of way. It was a fleeting thought that wafted into a passing fog and disappeared.  I just curled up into my bed covers and slept a cosy sleep. In the morning, I awoke feeling quite refreshed and ready to ‘hirple’ *

 

*(Old Scots meaning to walk slowly and painfully or with a limp, to hobble; to move unevenly).

BIG SKIN

I have to admit it can be enormous fun overhearing conversations.  Believe me though, I do not make a point of ear-wigging, but, as we all know, there are times when it is just impossible not to hear.

I was in a local pharmacy. There were good displays of decorative nick-knacks, cosmetics stands, perfumery, hair products and all the sundry first-aid items you would expect. Near the service counter there were two or three baskets with reduced stock, (close to date) just right for pocket-money birthday gift buying for granny. Mum was doing grown-up shopping while her two youngsters were making their selections.  After lots of exploration and excited chatter they showed mum their choices.

G-l-y-c-e-r-i-n-e, and …. what’s that mum?

 She peered at the label and read the rest of it.

What does it do?

It hydrates the skin, said mum.  

Oh…..

It will make granny’s skin big, mum said.

Just like mumps!

IT HURTS

Two friends with whom our families have grown up, are selling up and leaving the area. In one case it is primarily for work, though it will be an easier place for family to travel to, to meet up. The other friends want to be nearer transport links to family.  In both cases the children do not want to travel to a remote place – it’s not easy to get here – as many hours are spent on trains and buses, not ideal for a weekend trip.  When they are home for longer none of their friends are here; the ones they went to nursery with; then primary school and high school.  They’ve all moved on. I recognise this too, as I hear the same thing from sprog.  It hurts.  

This has been a lovely region of the country in which to bring up children, to give them freedom to play out, to have stop-overs, to go for walks with their friends, join in group activities,  and to learn all sorts of extra-curricular skills from the talented people who have lived here.  The children – now adults – are educationally and socially well-equipped and have moved on and out into the world.   I accept that is how it should be. We as parents have provided as best we can for our children’s futures, together with the teachers and a supportive community.


All that said, it grieves me to see friends disappear who have provided special links with a very important chunk of my life and my family life. It feels like I am losing close relatives.

GETTING UP A HEAD OF STEAM

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When you really want something you know you have stored somewhere, that’s when you can never find it. So it was today, I hunted high and low for a canvas bag I wanted to use. Anyone within earshot of me would have heard me muttering all sorts of unrepeatable phrases. There probably was also a steady head of steam around me instead of my usual equable aura. I peered in places I knew the bag was unlikely to be, I pulled out stuff that had been shoved, er, fitted, into tight spaces. Could I fit them back; NO. They were forced back and the door was quickly shut.

Time for a break; just then hubby returned home. He made helpful suggestions of places I had already looked and one or two I had avoided. A few packages fell out on top of me as they do when you’re ploughing through a pile of ??? years’ collection.

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One more look in the cupboards, I decided, then I was going to give up. Yeah okay, you’re already there. I found the bag. It was lying neatly under a h a t. (I’m not even going to go there. The bag was found and there’s an end to it).

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One of the local charity shops is going to benefit from some of the howking out of long forgotten bits and pieces that I thought might come in useful one day. The haul includes a couple of carrier bags of wadding, created from reducing over-stuffed pillows, good for quilting and other craft work. Another stored bag contained weird shapes of fine wool fabric in two colours, together with flattened pieces of brown paper. Many memories flooded into my mind when I remembered what it was all ‘attached’ to. It made me a little wistful. Someone might get some use out of a dressmaker’s brown paper pattern and the left-over material of the garment that was made, which has long gone.

VARIOUS KINDS OF WAFTINGS FROM ONE YEAR INTO THE NEXT

What have I done so far since the last weeks of 2013 wafted away and 2014 blasted in.

I have felt weary, tired, but definitely not fed up; I am not affected by the long dark days at this time of year. What I am affected by, I believe, is the relentlessness of the festive expectations that are manipulated by commercial interests.

For heaven’s sake, Christmas trees hanging from store ceilings in September, all dressed up with their tinsel and faux parcels!

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This in-store tree in Edinburgh was a  real one, which, unlike others,  was a great feature with twinkling lights, at about the expected [right]  festive time. It would have been wilted and horrible had it been in place in the very warm environment of the store, for around three months.  Perish the thought!

I was pleased our town’s street lights were not switched on until the 7th November 2013. That’s weeks behind the lighting up in major cities. The lights are pretty, a gentle tradition to brighten up the darkness.

 

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Getting back to the frenzied reality, there’s the need to get packages and well-wishing correspondence sent by mid October if you want it to definitely arrive in time for mid December in the Antipodes and the Americas, we’re told, notwithstanding the blatant profiteering of the mail system; the costs of posting anything have soared. There are leaflets telling you what can and cannot be sent and where whatever it is, can and cannot be sent. Added to that, there’s a memory test, you are interrogated by the teller as to what is in the parcels and packages. It is almost like airport security. My gift package of two mini Xmas puddings was checked against an explosives list!!!!

We travelled on Christmas Day, 25th December. It’s rare to share the road with many cars on this day. This year was an exception. People had taken note of the severe weather warnings and delayed their journeys. One of the few businesses open, a Brewers Fare restaurant, was quiet when we arrived before the lunch rush. We were looking for restrooms and a hot drink. The staff were so accommodating, finding a space for us to sit and have cups of coffee, then giving us takeaway drinks for the journey.

On lower ground it poured with rain. Up high, there was some snow; the snow ploughs and gritters were busy at work, we passed four.

At The Portrait Gallery Edinburgh

When we returned home, it felt so good slipping back into my own bed for the first time in 2014 and drifting off to a relatively restful sleep.

This week, we have waved cheerio to our liquid petroleum gas (LPG) tank, a garden feature for far too many years. I got to connect the lifting chains.

 

The hydraulic lifting mechanism was a fine bit of engineering. It took quite some time to complete the manoeuvrings both sides of the fence. Once on the lorry in the right position, our tank had to be strapped securely into place. Regulations prohibited the vehicle to be driven off till the remaining LPG was drained out of the tank into the fixed white one on the trailer.

 

 

A morning and two mugs of tea later, (for the driver) a signature on a receipt for the tank’s removal, the job was completed and the driver was off to pick up the next tank.