Monday, 9 March 2009

Irish Mental Health Hotline

I don't know about you but I hate telephone answering systems. No matter who you ring these days it's rare to hear a live voice and have a real human to pick up the phone. If you do manage to find an option to speak to a real person, you're lucky if they're even in the same country these days.

It drives me mad as the answering system rattles off the options to you, trying to pick the relevant one and remembering the number they told you to press.

Now if I thought th
e ones I ring are bad, this is the answering system from Hell! I love it!

Frank Kelly alias Father Jack strikes again!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

My Third Guilty Pleasure

Watching Daytime Telly


Now why should I feel guilty about it? My husband never does, he can watch telly all day, however I do get the guilt pangs.

Maybe it’s because there was no daytime TV when I was young other than children’s TV. Ah the memories come flooding back, Muffin the Mule, Andy Pandy, Bill & Ben the Flowerpot men.

So what is the charm of daytime telly for me? Well I still haven’t got used to getting up and not going to work. So I watch telly programmes when I think I should be at work. It feels a bit like skiving off. Wonder when I'll get used to this. Strange how you're conditioned to going to work.

The telly is usually on as my husband switches it on the minute he gets up, that's anytme after 5.30am. He seems to be addicted to watching the BBC morning news. I wouldn't care I've seen it and they repeat the same things afer about an hour.

He then goes off to work and I make my latte and sit down to watch a little telly.

What do I watch? Well not the BBC news, I don't want to be depressed watching stories about the economy.

Inspector Morse is one of my favourites. I do like a good detective programme and this is probably the best. Funnily enough I didn’t like it at first but it grew on me. It has just about everything to recommend it a few murders but no gratuitous violence and bad language. It has an amazing cast of characters in every programme, a virtual who’s who of British actors. The one with John Gielgud is one of my favourites. There’s humour, fabulous scenery, wonderful scripts and although opera music isn’t my favourite genre, it does add a touch of class to the programmes.

This is one telly series that actually improves on the books. I’ve read a couple of Colin Dexter’s Morse books and they’re OK but the programmes are better. Colin Dexter himself admitted this on a programme about the making of the telly series.

Pie in the Sky is another wonderful TV detective series. I love Richard Griffiths, he has such a dry way of dealing with situations and nothing like the dreaded Uncle Dursley character he plays in the Harry Potter films. If you haven't seen it, forget Starsky and Hutch, Kojak and CSI; this series is a million miles away! There’s not always a dead body, no bad language (a pet hate of mine) wonderful actors, lovely gentle humour and a recurring food theme with his restaurant which provides the title for the series.

Wanted Down Under is something I’m almost addicted to. I absolutely love watching a UK family being transported to Australia or New Zealand to see how they would adapt to living there. Apparently 40% of UK families who emigrate there return in less than 2 years, so this programme gives them an opportunity to check out the place, the work situation, housing and lifestyle in a place of their choice. It’s great seeing the different places and the people’s reactions. The hardest is watching the videos from friends and families. I have to say I would have loved to live in New Zealand but I know I could never have left my family behind.

Jeeves and Wooster is a series I didn’t see first time around for some reason. The antics of those wonderful upper class twits is a joy to behold, the ridiculous situations they get into really makes me laugh. There’s lovely scenery and again there’s a wonderful cast, the pairing of Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry is a just class.

I also watch a lot of children's telly once I pick Lauren up from nursery. I don’t like much of it but have to say I fell in love with In the Night Garden and I don't feel at all guilty watching it because I'm keeping Lauren company!

I could listen to the introduction over and over again, well I do most days! I love the poem and the music, Derek Jacobi provides the perfect rendering of the poem. If you haven’t heard it, here’s a clip.

Those characters with the silly names are great, there's Upsy Daisy, Igglepiggle, Tombliboos, Makka Pakka, the Pontipines, Wallanders, Haahoos, the Ninky Nonk and the Pinky Ponk, well you get the picture! How sad is that knowing all their names? I need to get a life!

Along with most other young children, my granddaughter has all the characters, books, toys, jigsaws, DVDs, dressing up outfit, pyjamas, dressing gown and slippers. Wish I had shares in that programme.

Upsy Daisy and Igglepiggle

They have a good section on the CBeebies website that Lauren loves to play on.

Want to play in the Night Garden? Just click on one of the stars.

If you have a webcam you can have your/child/grandchild’s face appear in parts of the picture and only you can see it. The instructions are here

Yes, sad old git that I am, I’m hooked, I’ll admit it.

Anyway, it’ll be OK when my husband retires because he's a definite telly addict, it'll be on all day. I'll have no guilt at all, well he certainly doesn't. We can watch it together, as long as it’s not flippin’ sport! I heard the good news today that F1 is returning to the BBC. They've even got a new section on the BBC website for it. He'll be over the moon as he's complained non stop about it being on ITV and "constantly" interrupted by adverts. Good old advertising free BBC! Well that's if you don't count all the trailers for their programmes.

I have one story about telly I never let him forget. When I was at the polytechnic many moons ago, I had to go on a field trip for twelve days to Yugoslavia, as it was called then. I felt really guilty about leaving the children (nine and eleven so not that young) for so long. You see my guilt complex! My husband said not to worry, it would be a doddle! He would take a couple of weeks off from work, look after the kiddiwinks and decorate the living room and dining room.

I came back home and guess what? No decorating done. Why? Well it was late June and the 1982 World Cup was being played in Spain. I suppose he must have watched every match televised even though England didn't win. Again!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Swimming and Me

I love swimming even though I’m not very good at it. When we go on holiday I love swimming in the pools whatever kind of water it is and no matter what the temperature. I have to swim at least once a day.

It must be something inbuilt and I've never admitted this before but
I've often had nightmares where it's the last day of my holiday and for some reason I haven't been into the pool. Talk about panic, I'm demented. Maybe it's a metaphor, something to do with getting older and you haven't done the things you really wanted to do. I don't know. Sometimes I really wonder about myself. Good job I've never seen a psychiatrist.

Anyway I can swim quite a few lengths but I just can’t put my head under the water so I’ve never been able to do the crawl. I’ve always envied those people just effortlessly gliding up and down the pool doing the crawl. My son in law has a wonderful smooth style, barely a splash and he taught himself to do it. Well I’ve tried, but without putting my face into the water, what a farce.

When I was approaching sixty, I had that feeling you get when you start to think about all the things in your life you’ve never done. A bit like that Bucket List film I should think. I kept putting off doing anything about it because I have to say putting my face into the local swimming pool full of chlorine and other nasty stuff just didn’t bear thinking about.

Well last year they opened a new Aquatic Centre in Sunderland, about 7 miles from where I live. Until this pool was built we didn’t have a 50 metre pool in the North East, the nearest were Leeds and Edinburgh, over a hundred miles in each direction.

Opening Night at the Aquatic Centre © City of Sunderland

It's a weird looking building from the outside and has lots of derelict land which hasn't been landscaped. I gather it's part of a redevelopment area and at the moment they're going through a public consulation. Still you think they would have tidied it up and put a bit of grass on it.

Front Entrance

Side View (Looks a bit like a Hovercraft!)

I didn’t get around to visiting it until a few weeks ago and I was very pleasantly surprised by it, well the inside anyway. It’s got 10 lanes of 50 metre length which is wonderful for a spot of exercise. There’s a diving pool too, not that I have any ambitions in that direction. Both the main pool and multi-purpose pool have moveable floors so their depths can be varied. This accommodates a range of activities from aqua aerobics to water polo, enabling swimmers of all abilities to use them.

Pool Area © City of Sunderland
The main pool also has a movable boom, which can be used to alter its length or sub-divide it, allowing more than one group of swimmers to use it at the same time. So you can have three different sections, school children having lessons, a free swimming area and lanes for the more serious swimmer.

Children's Activity Session © City of Sunderland

There isn't a children’s pool as this is not a leisure pool although they do put on fun sessions for youngsters, usually in school holidays.

However for me the best thing is the water quality, it’s fantastic. Some kind of bio filtering system so there’s hardly any nasty chemicals in the water.

To save time and travelling costs, I went back to our local pool in Washington last Friday morning and it was awful. It was packed with people of a certain age, like me, but the problem was they were swimming so slow I don’t know how they stayed afloat. Made me feel like Rebecca Adlington, well not really. Apart from the obvious fact she got two gold medals at the summer Olympics last year, I don't spend a fortune on Jimmy Choo shoes. Then there were the awful chemicals to contend with. Yuk!

So I made up my mind I was going to visit the Aquatic Centre more regularly and procrastination time was over. Yesterday I signed up for a swimming improver's class as they call it. Bargain of the day, it only cost £13.50 for 5 sessions! I do have a membership of the leisure club which is quite cheap if you’re over 60 and that made the classes very good value.

Well today was the day, I went for my first lesson. There were only 5 people there for the lesson and we had quite a laugh. The instructor was really nice and she taught me to put my face into the water. Success! I eventually kept it there for a few seconds. I also managed to swim a width of the pool with a float doing a crawl kick. Good grief I thought I would lose the use of my legs, it’s so hard to do compared to breast stroke kick. Must be really good exercise.

I’m really looking forward to next week and my second lesson. I’m feeling pleased with myself for getting off my bum and trying to improve my swimming. Hopefully by the time I go on holiday to Rhodes in May, I might be able to do a sort of crawl. Might being the operative word. Watch this space!

My Singer 338!

Well here it is my very first sewing machine, the one I got for my 21st birthday in 1966! I know it cost my Mam  a lot to buy it for me...