IF IT LOOKS LIKE A BAG…

I’ve got four birthdays to think about, all of them are this week.  It feels like Christmas has prematurely come round again, before I have had time to properly recover from it.  I like to give two or three small packages to the children, so they have fun going through the present bag.  Adults are simpler, more often than not, one piece of gift wrap for them covers all.

Ho hum….here I am again, only eight weeks after the last festive blast cutting up gift paper, wrapping up presents and raking through the cupboard for some bags to put them in.

Brown or white paper bags can be quite  good as gift bags, those you sometimes get in food shops with paper handles – they look like ears have been attached –  making sure, mind you, that there are no tell-tale signs of their original use.  The trouble is, it’s too early in the year to have any.  My alternative would be a plain bio-degradable plastic carrier bag, if I have one. These days, getting a carrier bag of any sort, let alone one that I can use as a gift bag, is rare.

Like lots of people I recycle the festive gift bags I have received at Christmas time.  Really, I can’t see any reason why I shouldn’t use them at anytime, even if they are glittery tree, Reindeer, snow-flake,  bauble and star adorned festive gift bags.  After all, they are bags; if it looks like a bag and acts like a bag, then it must be a bag……………………I cannot think of any good reason why I shouldn’t use them for all sorts of occasions, can you?

Gift Bag

Gift Bag

Comprends, Entiendes, Capisci, Understand?

There are still the remains of sales in some local shops. I am looking for something in particular and  I was in the one shop that might just have provided it. I browsed the department upstairs where you find cushions, bedding, curtains and some menswear. So far no luck, I could not see what I wanted.  All the staff work downstairs, which is where  I found a shop assistant.  While I was asking, it occurred to me that she might not understand what I was looking for:

Me –“I am looking for a counterpane, do you have any?”   Assistant- “ Could you tell me what that might be?”

It seemed I was speaking a foreign language. I explain it is a bed-cover….she continues to look vacantly at me….. I’m thinking quickly about what might be the current trendy modern bed-cover translation and I tentatively suggest “A throw”.

Some comprehension dawns.  The assistant tells me there are no throws……“Throws are for Christmas”

🙂   ❓

 

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POP-UPS PUT-OFFS PUTTING ON THE STYLE AND GREETINGS

I decided to buy a subscription to an e-card site.  ‘Subscription’,  does, in this case,  mean I pay for  the service; it is advert-free. (I do receive the occasional ‘free’ e-card from people, usually, they are totally obscured by pop-up and flash advertising. They can put you off e-cards).

I have access to a big selection of imaginative e-cards for more occasions than you can dream up, and there are note-cards as well.  Like in a card shop, you can assess the product before you [buy] send. I can also choose  what date I want it to arrive.

It has been intriguing seeing what does not work and what does work for e-card recipients;
  • A very, very small number say the e-cards are ‘naff’…fine, they have a choice not to open the card.
  • Some people don’t give their email addresses, so I couldn’t send them an e- card anyway.
  • Wistful responses for the tangible written card were quite common.
  • Rare, but I have been asked not to send e-cards.
  • A few contacts don’t have their computer systems configured to open e-card mail.  However, they are notified they have been sent an e-card and from whom.  People let me know their position, usually with thanks for the thought.
  • To the majority of my mailed e-cards there was a very positive response.

 

  • Believe it or not, I was reprimanded for not sending a letter!

    This subscription gives my friends a nicely presented e-reply note.  They don’t have to, but they do use it.

    • There is a lot that has worked for me; I certainly would not be buying the equivalent numbers of cards, nor posting them around the UK and other places in the world. The e-card subscription has added a positive more immediate interactive layer to worldwide friendships
    • Hoping 2017 will be more peaceful than the last, that  the year will be good to you, and  I wish everyone a healthy and happy year!

A BAG OF MONEY

After depositing a present for a child in a Gift Bank, I was presented with a net bag full of milk chocolate money coins.

The first nursery kid I saw on the street got them. I did ask the [taken aback] surprised, parents first.

“Oh goody chocolate”, said the kid as soon as he saw the bag, which he rapidly reached  forward to snatch, iniating an embarrassed  parental chorus of, “ Say please and say thank you”.  Neither nicety materialised from delighted single-minded junior.

…….”It’s Christmas.” I said, and went on my way.

I couldn’t resist looking back.  The grown-ups had happy smiles on their faces.

Airy Fairy Wonderland Alice…Bouncy Clown-ess and LED LADY

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The woman in the red coat adorned with bright LED fairy lights, looked at the bakery goods displayed in the glass covered counter in  front of her, every -so- often checking her mobile phone.   Like her, I waited too.  We continued to wait…and wait.  LED lady  looked up at me and we exchanged smiles.  Two other women, dressed up for the local fun day, were serving at the far end of the counter, which provided for the Baker shop café customers.  At our end of the counter- sales – a young girl dressed up as Alice In Wonderland,(AIW) had her back to us; she studiously ignored everyone. The high visibility lady covered with sparkly LED lights glanced at her phone once more and then left the shop.  Alice in Wonderland looked round, glanced at me, then turned back to whatever it was she was doing, writing, I think.

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I conjected that if I waited a few more moments I just might be served. I knew what I wanted to buy, it was pre-wrapped, so, it was just a question of selling it to me.  I thought my patience was being rewarded when a clown-ess, (one of the duo of staff attending to the café) bouncily arrived opposite me……. My mistake, she was involved in playing a game of choices for someone in the café, who, incidentally, arrived in the shop the same time as I did.

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Excuse me, can the assistant over there serve me? I pointedly asked.  Clown-ess raised herself on tip-toes to peer over AIW’s shoulder.

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Clown-ess -said, She’s busy doing shop admin”. With that she rushed away and with a smile called out Someone will be with you soon”.  

Me – Looking directly at Clown-ess at the far end………I’m going; that’s two customers you have just lost”.  And I went.

restart

This is not the first time me and other customers have walked from this shop.  There are two other similar business in the same vicinity that have gained from the chaotic customer service. Goodwill is fading fast.

 

 

SHIPS AND BOATS AND PLANES……..SPROUT WINGS

My surface mail to Canada and America went off in time for the last surface mail posting date in mid October 2016.

The packages would take minimum four weeks and a maximum of five weeks to arrive, said the post office clerk.  

The stated timing was perfect; early slow mailing is economic and in any case, there was plenty of time for slow delivery.  The packages could have taken six weeks to arrive and still been in time.

Five days after posting, I received my first thank you email for my gift.   It was soon followed up by a second one……………. Ships, coach and horses, obviously sprout wings.

Moments At The Edinburgh Festival Fringes

It seems to me there are lots of Fringe bits to the Edinburgh Festival, but to keep things relatively tidy, (programmes, books, leaflets always being the exceptions) I see the Fringes divided up into the;

  1. International classical theatre, concerts and The International Book Festival;
  2. Professional Fringe; (worth a look)
  3. Mainstream Fringe (semi professional, can be interesting);
  4. Have-a-go Fringe (a huge range of options, often thought-provoking and clever);
  5. Stand-up Comedy, and
  6. Multinational talents Fringe, (A wide variety, some very beautiful).

Selecting from numbers 2-6  is not straightforward. This, for me, is a great big part of the fun of being at the Edinburgh festival…getting there and invariably taking pot luck. Number 5, is quite likely to be risqué! (I have no respect for ‘comics’ who operate with gratuitous vulgarity).

The Royal Mile pop up shows stand out on their own; The Royal Mile is always worth visiting.

This year I found myself second in a queue for a show; the Editor of The Children’s Guinness Book Of Records, Craig Glenday was first. We had a lovely chat and sat in the same church pew to watch a really good show called The Gin Chronicles.  It’s a spoof 1947 radio broadcast. If the show appears anywhere else, go see it.

And here is the Guinness Book of Records man doing his own ”show’ at The Book Festival. There were only a few tickets left when I got mine on the day. Craig gave the young audience, (and their adults) guidelines about what records would not get into the books,  such as anything that would upset the people who help animals. It was a gentle humorous  production. We saw a couple of record holders, a bagpiper, and  a cyclist without a bike seat. The seat-less cyclist also tried to break a record at the show.   Children were invited  to play the bagpipes, or, monitor something with stopwatches, or, click devices, or, race to make up a potato head. (There is one on the low table).

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The Festival seemed a bit slow to get into a bustling rhythm this year, partly because some of the elements of it were staggered not to clash too much with the Olympic Games. The new digital hub in the Centre of town had no  queues of festival-goers lining up for digital events in the Assembly Rooms, where, in previous years  you would have seen flows of people waiting for shows. It was all very quiet. The pop-up outdoor cafes and bars nearby were not over-subscribed with patrons. Up the hill in the Old Town where a lot of extra events seemed to be sited, it was busy.

What you see here is a newly refurbished banking hall at St Andrews Square, Edinburgh. It is gorgeous. The staff are happy for visitors to wander in and learn about the building’s history. In the front garden – a Festival venue – you could sit and eat, or under gazebos, sit and play with outsize light -weight dominoes, or, under another, lounge on large cushions and play  with large cards.

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So, in Princes Street, (the main shopping street of the city) I was darting through crowded spaces when I heard the attractive sounds of music.  I back tracked and gave the guy a donation. “Stop!” he called as I was about to dash off again. He raked around in a big bag and handed me a card… except it wasn’t. He’d given me a gift of his CD “Because you are so nice”, he said.

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This is busker Marcello Vacante playing a track from  his CD ‘Train For London’ .  (His name is on the CD cover)

 

Does anyone know anything about this type of teapot, (if it is a teapot) seen in a charity shop window?

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Oooops – In a back street I  found that The Driving License Authority had been busy (DVLC stamped on the clamp).

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Let me introduce you to Audrey.

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The last remaining vintage mobile cinema from around 1967.  Black and white Pathé News films, (remember those) were shown, a couple were of the 1947 beginnings of the Edinburgh Festival. My friend told me afterwards that she remembered going to the first festival with her mother!!!  You could have knocked me over with a feather.

This was called “The Rook”. The Game Of Thrones seemed to be a theme, does it refer to it?

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It looks like a close relative of the Kelpies based in Falkirk (Scotland). However, the Kelpies don’t have reins or a feather topknot.

Scenes of Festival relaxation in Princes Street Gardens and Granny’s Drying Green below Edinburgh Castle:

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A musical venue, where guitars  also became percussion instruments for both classical and fusion genres.

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Last, but definitely not least:

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A view of Edinburgh Castle with an interesting wee look-out tower and a clear view of a lump of Dolerite, a coarse-grained Basalt rock.  The Castle rock is estimated to have formed about 350 million years ago and is the remains of a volcanic pipe.

References:
MacIvor, Iain (1993). Edinburgh Castle. p. 16. ISBN 9780713472950.

McAdam, David (2003). Edinburgh and West Lothian: A Landscape Fashioned by Geology. p. 16. ISBN 9781853973277.

 

POWERFUL WORDS

Some of you from BCUK may remember Guinevere Glasford-Brown. Since those blog days, she has become a published author and got a Best Book review from The Times Literary Reviews as well.  Last week I heard she was in Brussels.  Also, last week, I heard she was safe.  I breathed again.  Atrocities are painful to hear about, and heaven only knows, we have heard about so many; too many. When you know of someone who may be caught up in an atrocity you are seized by an indescribable, awful sensation, which, muscles you did not know you had, hold down.  Guin was fortunate in her travels, others were not.  Since arriving home, she has written about some of her post trauma feelings on her Facebook Page, to get her feelings out.  Her words talk of her irritation with  family, they indicate her anger and emotional pain at what has been done to people….to people by people. Her words are powerful.

What Guin says applies to all the atrocities we hear of, be they of large groups or individuals, such as the Moslem shop-keeper in Glasgow who was murdered because he wished his customers and Christian friends a happy festival.

It is so sad, so sad.

 

PLAYING WITH THE ADVENT OF E-CALENDARS.

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There I was, after the New Year,  parked in front of my computer screen catching up with my present of  an e-Advent Calendar.  There were about ten days of catch-up. There are some windows to open with very clever creative work to do.  You decorate a Christmas tree, or, decide where to hang stockings for filling.  Then there was the window that hooks you in to play a memory game of matching up cards. With my less than alert grey matter, it took a long  but enjoyable time  to complete.  I was nearly timed out!

P1030440 Decorated Victoria Qtr

From November on through December is a busy time, so, play time is hard to justify to myself.  It’s nice, but just hard to fit in with all the other domestic demands. I reckon I have more administration to do for daily living than I used to have when I was at work!  How can that be?

I clicked through the days not yet explored, (to paraphrase a well known quote), listened to pretty brass band seasonal music; Christmas Carols; classics like the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, and scrolled through the main animated 19th century scenes, busy with all sorts of delightful activities. That’s it done!  Well……no it wasn’t.  A date which I had missed,  with a logo, was blinking at me.  You can’t ignore it can you;  you can I suppose, but I didn’t.  I clicked on the winking date and was given a jigsaw puzzle to do, timed of course. I chose the maximum number of pieces on offer.  If a piece fitted it clicked into place, if it didn’t, it jumped out like a jack-in-a-box. I completed the puzzle in one minute and forty-three seconds.  Now, that was a surprise. And yes, this time, that was it…..all done!

 

OF SANTA AND ELVES

1.To Sender

A quiet knock at the door at tea time when it was dark, revealed a man dressed all over in red.  He proffered me a box. What gave him away was the electronic signing machine in his hand. There was no doubt he was a 21st century e-Santa.  I think his elves were getting a lift in his reduced sized  square covered carriage. (Austerity measures).   It kept them out of the damp and cold.  e-Santa loved my hat, he said.

The wee elves have been pestering me to open up the box. Being sensitive to their demands, I did so, with the assistance of the large elf who resides here.  Nestling within the box were several beautiful packages. I have explained to the elves that for the time being, the packages will stay pristine and  reside in the big box in which they arrived.  Having found a ‘from’ label on the box, we know that you instructed the man in red and the little elfen people to endow us with this visitation and the gifts.  For this we mightily thank you.

2. From Sender

Glad it arrived OK. Given the way the weather’s been, I did ask Santa to take extra care. He asked, “Why?”. I replied, ” It looks like rain, dear”.