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Archive for September, 2010

The House of 1000 Mirrors

Long ago in a small, far away village, there was a place known as the House of 1000 Mirrors. A small, happy little dog learned of this place and decided to visit. When he arrived, he bounced happily up the stairs to the doorway of the house. He looked through the doorway with his ears lifted high and his tail wagging as fast as it could. To his great surprise, he found himself staring at 1000 other happy little dogs with their tails wagging just as fast as his. He smiled a great smile, and was answered with 1000 great smiles just as warm and friendly. As he left the house, he thought to himself, “This is a wonderful place. I will come back and visit it often.”

In this same village, another little dog, who was not quite as happy as the first one, decided to visit the house. He slowly climbed the stairs and hung his head low as he looked into the door. When he saw the 1000 unfriendly looking dogs staring back at him, he growled at them and was horrified to see 1000 little dogs growling back at him. As he left, he thought to himself, “That is a horrible place, and I will never go back there again.”

All the faces in the world are mirrors. What kind of reflections do you see in the faces of the people you meet?

Japanese Folktale

I subscribe to a wonderful website AsAManThinketh.net and receive emails called ‘My Daily Insights’ and receive ….daily insights 🙂  I received this last week and just loved it so much I decided to share it with you.  The last sentence is so pertinent to life…what image do we project that influences what we think life gives us?

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Me! 🙂

As a child of the dark ages, the current ‘fad’; Social Media, as some folks call it, is a whole new ball-game to me, and boy am I having fun!   Bearing in mind it took me till 2002 before I caved in and got a mobile phone and about 6 months to figure out how to send an email… (tut tut, no need to be rude 🙂 )

Over the years I have slowly tested the waters and joined facebook, watched youtube videos (even started my own channel!!), uploaded photos to kodak, turned into an email then blogging  junkie, ventured onto flickr and finally after a kick in the butt (metaphorically) from my brother-in-law I learned to use google effectively.   Now I am also a google addict 🙂

In 2008….mmm November I think it was, I volunteered to help a friend get her business off the ground.  One of the suggestions from her accountant was that she get onto twitter.  Since she was more of a novice than me about the mysteries of the internet, I volunteered to do it for her.  She introduced me to a person who was the current ‘expert’ on twitter who would give me a few lessons!

After a few lessons on the ‘how to’…I got into the ‘what to’…..and as they say in the classics…I have never looked back.  Sadly the relationship did not last (long story not to be repeated), but I was hooked and without further ado I set up my own twitter account and got tweeting….. @notjustagranny

I was born to ‘tweet’ 🙂

Twitter has been one of the most amazing learning curves in my life (and I have had plenty and have plenty of curves)…. it is also the best way to meet, greet and chat to people from around the world.  I have met, had ‘tweet-ups’ and communicate with lovely people from Australia, America, in the UK, Canada, Alaska, New Zealand, India and Europe and Cape Town….even Russia!  I have had the pleasure of reading fabulous blogs by very talented people, especially travel blogs…..my favourites!  There are some truly fabulous places in this world of ours.

I know that facebook is meant to be ‘the’ place to be….I prefer twitter.   The timeline moves fast, you can engage in conversations that have an immediate response, your mailbox doesn’t get cluttered, there are hundreds of interesting links to follow (my downfall), and you can connect with new folks on recommendation of those you are already following…. I have gotten to know some terrific people this way.   You also get immediate news and sometimes not so immediate news and there is a never ending supply of interesting articles and snippets of information to read.

Falling into the category ‘social media’, twitter has evolved from sending an update to friends to a full-on business tool.  An opportunity to share and learn information.  What has been interesting too are the debates about whether it is a good thing or not, to be taken seriously or just a fad.  As the ‘twitter angel’ for @newmediaangels it is my job to read links (to make sure they don’t lead to porn sites !!!) before I retweet them …..have I learned a lot.

I have read articles from the likes of @jeffbullas and @mashable and @chrisbrogan and @problogger.  I have also read the debates from the CEO’s of large corporations who do not yet get it – Social Media.  And they are not alone.  There are a huge number of small businesses that want to get ‘onto’ twitter and expect to suddenly have 1million followers!!   The buzz and hype has given folks the wrong perception and their expectations are way out of line. Many people think that you open a twitter account, post a few tweets and voila suddenly you have hundreds and thousands of followers!!!  A misconception if ever there was one. Like going to a party and expecting to suddenly have hundreds of friends!

As for me….I can’t live without twitter.  I get antsy in the mornings till I log on and get my ‘fix’. I find it incredibly diffficult to watch a link go by and not open it.  I could quite literally spend the whole day just chatting to folks and reading links.  I have ‘favourited’ hundreds of webpages (madness I know) with the faint hope that I will actually go back to them someday….hahaha.

I love nothing more than to open ‘hootsuite’ and see mentions from people who have thought of me and sent a message.  It’s fun, it’s funky and it’s the best invention yet…besides the internet!  It is very educational….how else would I have known about #earthday or any of the other causes that whizz through my timeline. 

Long live twitter…… certainly my blue bird of happiness; long may it live to feed my addiction!

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bird feeders

As I said before my sister sends me some brilliant emails…..this was no exception. I was going to write about the birds in our garden but decided to send this instead, coz it is so what I have to do with the verandah every day after pigeons have been!! 

Maxine on bird feeders.....

“I bought a bird feeder. I hung It on my back porch and filled
It with seed. What a beauty of A bird feeder it was, as I filled it
Lovingly with seed. Within a Week we had hundreds of birds
Taking advantage of the Continuous flow of free and Easily accessible food.

But then the birds started Building nests in the boards
Of the patio, above the table, And next to the barbecue.

Then came the poop. It was Everywhere: on the patio tile,
The chairs, the table ..Everywhere!

Then some of the birds Turned mean. They would Dive bomb me and try to Peck me even though I had
Fed them out of my own Pocket.

And others birds were Boisterous and loud. They Sat on the feeder and Squawked and screamed at
All hours of the day and night And demanded that I fill it When it got low on food.

After a while, I couldn’t even Sit on my own back porch Anymore.
So I took down the Bird feeder and in three days
The birds were gone. I cleaned Up their mess and took down
The many nests they had built All over the patio.

Soon, the back yard was like It used to be . Quiet, serene….
And no one demanding their Rights to a free meal.
Now let’s see…..
Our government gives out Free food, subsidized housing,
Free medical care and free Education, and allows anyone Born here to be an automatic Citizen.

Then the illegals came by the Tens of thousands.
Suddenly Our taxes went up to pay for Free services; small apartments Are housing 5 families;
you Have to wait 6 hours to be seen By an emergency room doctor;
Your child’s second grade class is Behind other schools because Over half the class doesn’t speak English.

Corn Flakes now come in a Bilingual box; I have to ‘press one ‘ to hear my bank
Talk to me in English, and People waving flags other Than our flag are
Squawking and screaming In the streets, demanding More rights and free liberties.

Just my opinion, but maybe it’s time for the government To take down the bird feeder.

If you agree, pass it on; if not, Continue cleaning up the poop.” end of….

Unfortunately, I have yet to figure out how to get rid of the blessed pigeons (any ideas?)… and then there are the squirrels!  As cute as they are, they pee all over the verandah which drives me nuts!! excuse the pun 🙂

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I realise this is a week late….but hey, it’s my blog 🙂

Last week, Britain saw and complained and complained, about the visit of the head of the Catholic Church to our shores, (how boring life would be if there was nothing to complain about!)  Initially when this news first hit our papers, I was like well… so what?!  What’s all the fuss about?  It was splashed across the papers, some folk were way excited about it, others were complaining about that we had to pay for it (I would rather pay for that than for some greedy politician to go buy a duck-house for his pond!), about how he, the Pope, had swept the paedophile issues under the carpet and not dealt with them properly and about why did he have to come here anyway and blah, blah blah!  It’s sells papers!

Initially I just took a passing interest, then watching the news, I saw about how the Duke of Edinburgh broke with tradition and greeted him at the airport, saw how this man with the lovely smile descended the stairs, and how tiny he is, and suddenly my interest was piqued.  Here is this man, a short little guy, well into his 80’s who should be at home with his feet up in his parlour, relaxing and enjoying his old age….who in reality commands a massive institution, a man who has a profound influence on the world and whose word sways millions of people……  And that sudden realisation amazed me.   Plus he has a bank balance greater than my mind could possibly conceive (they have a point about us paying for it!)

I guess when it is nearer to home it makes a difference.  In Rome he is hundreds of miles away…a figure in a robe on the box, and he doesn’t seem real.  But now that he was on home shores; I found myself getting caught up in all the excitement and bemoaned the fact that I was unable to attend any of the events in London – mmmhhh.   But, I was glued to the TV when they showed the various events around the country and I found myself totally caught up in the excitement of it all.  I was particularly enchanted that he was coming to London (how absurd).  It was particularly fantastic to me when he visited Westminster Abbey…  it represented reconciliation, acceptance of another’s beliefs and how they conduct that belief, it represented humility… he the Pope, head of the Catholic Church, a far more powerful and influential institution than the Church of England, was humble enough to step into the Abbey and worship on the grounds of a different, albeit similar faith.  I also mused at the time that Henry VIII was probably spinning in his grave at the temerity of it all.

I found myself loving the traditions, and the flamboyance of it all. I got all emotional watching the ceremony of ‘beatification’ of someone who was significant in his, the Pope, and others lives, and yet most people had probably never heard of John Henry Newman. I loved that he drove around in a ‘Pope mobile’… how modern 🙂  I loved when he stopped to kiss and bless the babies along the way. This was especially wonderful to witness, coz of what it meant to their parents, how overjoyed they must have been that he stopped to bless their child.  Not every kid gets to be kissed and blessed by the Pope.   The kid’s life will most likely be defined by that one moment in time…’the day the Pope kissed me’.  I would love to fast-forward 20 years and see what has become of that child…how has it affected their lives.  If their parents are particularly religious, what responsibility will they now place on the child.  It could be a blessing or a curse.   I found myself getting all tearful for the parents (yeah, go figure), how must they feel…. it was obviously important to them or they would not have held the child up.  There was one moment too on the day of the beatification – along the way he stopped the car twice to bless and kiss babies, and yet just a few yards further along, there all dressed up in a beautiful white dress was another baby…. held up in the hope of……. and he didn’t stop!!!    I cried (daft I know) for those parents, at their dismay, their disappointment, and probably their hurt and maybe even anger.  The child had obviously been dressed up especially….the outfit was of the christening kind, a lovely white, frilly dress and he didn’t even stop! I was shouting at the TV…  “No! go back, you missed that baby!”   He stopped for the other babies, why not theirs?  How did that make them feel?  How will it affect their future beliefs?   Will they carry that with them forever or will they just shrug it off and it becomes the ‘day the Pope didn’t stop to kiss you’.  Will it be talked about for generations (as these things are) and how will it then define the life of that child.

It also begs the question…..if as they say; the church is hiding paedophiles and brushes their misdemeanors under the carpet…why then allow the man who is supposedly responsible for that all to kiss your baby?  

Paedophiles are a rotten curse on society…. they should be incarcerated and never see the light of day ever again.  But, families hide these things, they hush them up, unable to face the horror that in their midst could be someone who is so vile.  It is easier to shut their eyes and deny it…they brush it under the carpet.  The church, no matter which one it is, is no different.  They are a family, he is the ‘Papa’ and they have done what most families do, they try to hide it and hide from it.  It is too horrible to face.  There are also people and families who brave the onslaught that knowledge of these things bring, and face it head on.

My question is this….. why when after all, he is just a mere mortal, ok one who is more esteemed and apparently the conduit between heaven and earth, with the ear of God on his side….why is he expected to do any differently than anyone else.   Many Priests ‘find’ their vocation and become caring, loving representatives of the church, they are good men, they teach and worship and tend to their flock.  And then there are others who use this as a means to prey on vulnerable children, there are also those who are forced through their parents and families’ wishes and desires to ‘become a Priest’.  What then makes them different to any other on earth?  How, when we as mere mortals live on a daily basis with people in our families who go on to do dreadful things to others, and we never would have guessed, how can we expect this man to know?  And how on earth can anyone expect one man to ‘know’ the mind and character of every Priest in his church.

Why are we so surprised when it is discovered that a ‘Priest’ has been found out of abusing children?  What makes them different? Is it the supposition of ‘faith’, the supposition that coz they are Priests they should be good and pure? Is it the clothes they wear, the traditions they are meant to uphold and then desecrate that makes it all the more shocking!  Or is it that they have abused their position in society?  We live on a daily basis with our friends and our families…..and we never really ‘know’ them.   It is impossible to know.  

I totally believe that paedophiles should be hung, drawn and quartered for what they do, but why do people pin all the blame on one man.  Yes he is the head of the catholic faith, yes he carries the burden of that position….but why make him the scapegoat.  The law doesn’t really take it seriously and unless a child has died as a consequence, they get a jail term and are then allowed out early for good behaviour!  Yes, they have been good….they are stuck in jail and unable to get their hands on little kiddies.  Let them out and hey ho…off they go!

So now that all the hoolabah has died down, the crazies have gone back into their cages and the Pope has gone home…what now?  What are the people who demonstrated and made such a fuss about the visit doing now?  What are the people who flocked to the events doing now?  According to statistics the number of church attendees has dropped dramatically and churches are half empty, unless you have a really charismatic Priest/Vicar or whatever.   Have these people now started attending their church again and for how long before the novelty wears off?  Have they found their faith again? Or is it just the celebrity aspect and the excitement of an outing that drew the crowds?

And what about the most contentious issue of the whole visit….paedophilia?  What are the people who demonstrated doing about it now?  What are we as a society doing about it now?   Is it up to just one man to sort it out, or is it our responsibility as a whole?

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a thought for today…..

What if………….. this is one of the most heart-warming and amazing videos I have ever watched……….what if!

We are all beautiful regardless.  What if we could all just love ourselves and find the beauty within….how amazing life would be.  What if we could let anger and angst go by without a glance, what if we could only find the joy of life and celebrate our uniqueness, our beauty, our lives….what if

I know I posted this on twitter and facebook last week, but this man has just about the most amazing perspective and made a massive impact on me the first time I saw it…..what have I got to complain about?

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18.09.10  Walkabout through City of London….. Today (18th) I got to do one of my favourite things…..I went walkabout through London, and I am sure that by now you will have noticed I do this quite a lot. 🙂

London is a treasure trove of interesting buildings, parks, statues, unusual places and sometimes unexpected surprises!  I never tire of walking about the city and today was no exception.

Arthur Sullivan memorial in Victoria Gardens

I started my journey at Leicester Square…just coz I love it so much. I briefly explored the gardens and noticed that the square was unusually quiet….either that or I was unusually early 🙂  It was quite pleasant for a change – being able to walk around without being knocked off my feet. 

Leicester Square at 10:10 in the morning...better than 22:10 in the evening!

Then I meandered over past the Wappenbaum, past China Town and onto Piccadilly Circus where I managed to get a few photos of the fountain and Eros without a rainy background……did I mention that the day was splendid!!! 

a perfect autumn day

 Wonderful blue skies and crispy autumn weather.  I also managed to take wonderful photos of the 4 horse fountain and the golden girls above.

From there I walked back through Leicester Square past the London Hippodrome which has the most amazing carved chariot on the top of the building.  I then walked along Charing Cross Road to Trafalgar Square to see the robot display that was set up in the forecourt.

robots at Trafalgar Square

The sun was shining brightly and I got a fab photo of St Martin-in-the-fields Church.

St Martin-in-the-fields

I had decided to take a walk along Victoria Embankment, so making my way past Charing Cross Station I stopped briefly to admire the newly renovated Eleanor Cross and the facade of the hotel.  It had been my intention to walk along Villiers Street to the gardens but I stopped briefly to look at the Sanza shop in the Arches Shopping Arcade and for some reason the end of the tunnel beckoned enticing…..  I am quite unable to resist meandering through narrow lanes and around hidden corners to see what’s beyond. 
As I walked out the tunnel to my delight I noticed an intriguing pub ‘The Ship and Shovell’ a tiny little pub that has the unique distinction of being the only London Pub in two halves.

The Ship and Shovell..... a pub in two halves

Yes, indeed one half of the pub is on the opposite side of the narrow lane.

I exited into Crawford Street and while looking around I notice a plaque across the street on the wall.   Closer, I noted that it mentioned that ‘Heinrich Heiner’ lived at the house in 1827.  These plaques are of constant fascination to me and I am always delighted to discover them….it amazes me to know that famous people, whoever they may have been, had lived there.

Before leaving I turned to my left to photograph the houses on that side of the road, briefly annoyed that there was a great big blessed bunting attached to the railings. Complaining to myself about hanging bunting all over the place I walked closer to get a better angle…and bit my tongue! Not literally thankfully, but mentally.  The reason for the bunting was ‘Open House’. Yes it was one of the Open House venues which are open to the public this weekend every year in September…and to make it even better it was the house where Benjamin Franklin had lived!!! Whoo hoo.

inside Benjamin Franklin's house

Without any further ado, I stepped into the foyer and to my absolute luck a tour was just about to start…I tagged along immediately.  Although the house is largely unfurnished it offers a fascinating insight into the homes of Georgian days.  I wrote more about this in a separate blog on 3daysinlondon.info.  Needless to say, it was fascinating and I really enjoyed this glimpse into the past…a past of gas-lamps and dark alleyways, mystery and discovery.

After the tour I headed towards the embankment once again and as I strolled along to my delight I noticed another blue plaque further along….this one said that ‘Herman Melville’ author of Moby Dick lived here in 1849!!! OMGosh….  Then I walked back and along another narrow lane past The Sherlock Holmes’ restaurant.  Wonderful.

Sherlock Holmes Restaurant

Shortly I reached Whitehall Place and noticing that the park gates were open I decided to explore….I have never yet explored these gardens despite having walked past many, many times.   I stepped past a bank of the Barclay’s bicycles….they are everywhere 🙂 then walked through the gates and into a wonderful landscape…..the gardens are dotted with fascinating and fabulous statues and the flower beds are lovely.  The rear buildings of Whitehall, which stand tall and imposing but beautiful, tower over the gardens.

Whitehall Gardens

There a number of memorials to folk who have influenced the City of London and the United Kingdom in many ways as well as other aspects of the history.  I will blog on these folk separately as there are so many.  Reaching the end of the gardens I stepped out and into Horse Guards Avenue.   I was delighted to realise where I was now and walked along to the end of the avenue, past the Ministry of Defence which is massive and very imposing with two statues sitting atop a plinth on either side of the doors.

Ministry of Defence doors and statues...impressive

A short stroll brought me to Whitehall (the road) and across the way of course are the Horse-Guards.  I retraced my steps and found a lovely statue commemorating the Gurkha Soldiers and noting the various Campaigns they had fought in for the UK….I mused that Joanna Lumley had very good cause to fight for their right to stay in the UK.

list of Campaigns the Ghurkas fought in for the UK

I strolled along to admire the front of the buildings that line the gardens at the rear…they are impressive and very beautiful.  I then walked back and turning right into the 2nd half of the gardens I noticed amongst the usual statues one very beautiful statue that looked like an angel descending from the heavens.  On closer inspection I noted that it was a RAF Pilot descending on angel wings named ‘Fleet Air Arm’…..the memorial was inscribed with dozens of names….stunning. 

Fleet Air Arm

I then made my way towards Victoria Embankment just in time to listen to Big Ben chime the 12 noon. 🙂

I made my way over the opposite side of the road to have another look at the memorial to ‘The Battle of Britain’.  It really is very impressive….

memorial to The Battle of Britain... on the Victoria Embankment

Then meandering along I enjoyed my view of the London Eye, County Hall and the wonderful memorial in remembrance of the men and women of the Air-Forces who gave their lives in the 2 World Wars.  Finally reaching Hungerford Bridge I clambered up the steps for one of my favourite views of the river and the city.

what a beautiful view.....an amazing city 🙂

 Along the way I stopped to look at the memorial to Sir Joseph Bazalgette CB – the Engineer of the London Main Drainage System and of this Embankment! And on the other side of the bridge is a memorial to W.S. Gilbert Poet and Playwright ‘his foe was folly and his weapon wit’.  Cool.

By now it was almost 12:30 so I made my way into the Victoria Gardens and strolled along to admire the gardens.  These gardens are beautiful, also filled with wonderful statues and memorials: Robert Burns; the gate that marked the north bank of the river Thames before the construction of the Victoria Embankment in 1862;

this gateway marks the position of the north bank of the River Thames before the construction of the Victoria Embankment in 1862

a fascinating statue of a soldier in the uniform of the WWI mounted on a camel.  I forgot to have a look what the inscription was….  Also in the gardens is a beautiful memorial to Arthur Sullivan and to Robert Raikes ‘Founder of Sunday Schools in 1780.

I tarried for a while and enjoyed my sandwiches whilst listening to the chirping birds and murmur of brief conversations. The sun was beating down, warm and comforting.  After lunch I continued along through the park and noticed on my left the entrance to the Savoy Hotel.  Deciding to have a closer look I ventured along Savoy Place leading to the hotel and along the way I noticed a 2nd Open House….The Institution of Engineering and Technology, the beautiful Victorian building situated on  the site of the 13th Century Savoy Palace. Awesome.
I stepped through the doors into a lovely tall cool foyer, where I was told I could explore at will…which I did. First to the 3rd floor and the Riverside Room from where I had a marvellous view of the river and then into the Lecture Theatre; original panelling and carved cartouches from 1909, designed by W S Frith, as well as a beautiful ceiling feature.

beautiful ceiling of the Lecture Theatre at the EIF

Next stop the  library and archives; housing a world-class collection of digital and printed resources on all areas of engineering and technology.

From there I decided to explore the rear of the Savoy Hotel which looked rather beautiful, and to my delight and amazement I found a tiny chapel; The Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy in the square.

The Queen's Chapel of The Savoy

From here I continued uphill and found that I was now in The Strand, and as I walked along I passed Somerset House and since I had yet to visit…..decided to explore….the London fashion Week is being hosted in the forecourt and the number of totally amazing outfits boggled the mind. 

London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week - some seriously absurd outifts

 I noticed that the Inland Revenue has their home there (?); admired the fabulous fountain that faces the entrance,

Somerset House

lovely fountain in the courtyard of Somerset House

walked around the back to Seaman’s House…the carvings around the building are of a nautical nature and most amazing…I walked through the foyer of Seaman’s House to the patio at the back for a view of the river…lovely. Returning to The Strand I walked to the far end to explore a church I had so wanted to visit for ages…. St Mary Le Strand, one of 2 island churches on The Strand.

interior of St Mary le Strand

Wow…what a beautiful church….again I will blog on this separately. From there I meandered as I do and found amongst other treasures; the ghost station of Piccadilly RLY – Strand Station; now boarded up and just around the corner in Surrey Street another exit to the station, also boarded up.

a ghost station

And just a wee bit further on I noticed a mysterious tunnel-like entrance and a plaque on the wall… thank goodness they are so sensible in this country with all the plaques…stepping into this dark entrance – Surrey Steps, I walked along this exceptionally short street and down a dank, grubby set of stairs and into a very shabby lane to the right and there to my utter delight were the remains of a ‘Roman bath’ ….. awesome!!

a Roman bath

Another of the English Heritage sites and one of the Open House venues….not normally open to the public and usually viewed through a window we were able to step into the ancient past.

From here I made my way back downhill towards the embankment, passed the delightful ‘Norfolk Hotel’ with its wonderful facade and intricately carved entrance details,

beautiful detail on the pillars at the entrance to Norfolk House

and thence to Temple where I was to meet up with my daughter.  Since she had not yet arrived I meandered along Temple Place, passing Arundel House and to the corner where I stopped at Number 2 Temple Place to enquire of the 2 very smartly dressed gentlemen out front the gates, about the history.  Turns out #2 Temple Place was a  house built for the ‘Astor’s’ of the hotel chain, but they never actually lived in it.  It is now owned and managed by The Bulldog Trust and is used as a venue for weddings, important dinners and such like.  Very grand.

Number 2 Temple Place

Number 2 Temple Place...built as a residence for Wiliam Waldorf Astor 1895

From there I slipped through the metal bollards that guard the entrance to the lane heading uphill and into Temple. A short walk and up a long flight of steps into a short cul-de-sac uphill and past the Edgar Wallace Pub….a sad story.

As I neared the top of the lane I suddenly became aware of a beautiful building ahead of me… OMWord!!! The Royal Courts of Justice…..a most incredibly beautiful buildings, looking for all the world like a fairytale castle rising up on the crest of the hill.  My jaw practically dropped to the sidewalk in amazement….it is magnificent. 

The Royal Courts of Justice

 I sent CJ a text message to say hurry up….it’s one of the Open House venues!!! Yup, you got it….the courts were open to the public for our delight.
While  was waiting I explored the surrounding area and found the most delightful and beautiful St Clement of the Danes Royal Air Force Church. 

St Clement Danes Central Church of the RAF

An enormous memorial to ‘Gladstone’ stands on the forecourt and the interior of the church is magnificent.  A small church dedicated to St Clement has sat on the site dating prior to the 9th century.  When the settled Danes settled in the area the church became known as St Clement of the Danes.  I will go back at some stage to explore further and then blog in more detail about it.

Finally CJ arrived and we set off to explore this magnificent Royal Courts of Justice. (see blog)
After the fun and games of this particular visit, I then took her on a tour of Fleet Street and the areas I have explored for my itinerary. We visited the birth site of Samuel Pepys, St Bride’s Church, Fleet Place, Old Bailey, past St Sepulchre’s Church (another favourite of mine), past Cutler’s Hall, into Stationers Hall, along Ludgate Hill to St Paul’s and through Temple Bar into Paternoster Square. Along the way we stopped to admire the beautiful houses in Amen Court and the very modern steel spiral vents of Paternoster Square.

spiral vents at Paternoster Square

By now we were in the mood for a hot drink so stepped into Starbucks and treated ourselves to a drink and carrot cake…..sat on the benches surrounding the ‘pineapple’

the 'pineapple' in Paternoster Square and St Paul's Cathedral

and enjoyed our fabulous view of the Cathedral….listened to the 6 p.m. Bells while I regaled her with tales of the history of the square, St Paul’s and surrounds.  After coffee and having recovered our strength we explored the garden of St Paul’s and then to the bus-stop and home.

A marvellous day.

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My sister is an absolute genius at sending thought provoking and interesting ‘thought for the day’ emails.  I think she probably gets them via some site or other….but nevertheless I always enjoy reading them…..this was no exception:

“The obstacle in Our Path.
In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway.  Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock.  Some of the King’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it.  Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.
Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables.  Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road.  After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.  The peasant learned what many of us never understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.”

I really enjoyed this post and thought I would share it with you.  What does it mean to me? It is a reflection of my current position (in my life…not the job)….in that over the last 5 years I have been presented with quite a lot of boulders….. actually make that my whole life!!  But, nevertheless sticking with the here and now…. it reminded me of the many boulders I have come across and how I was like those merchants and courtiers….always complaining about the boulders and not looking at how I could overcome them…or move them out the way, although sometimes I did…..and found the gold purse.

What is different now of course is that I am more like the peasant than the merchants/courtiers…. instead of complaining about the boulders in my way, I now look at how I can move them out the way.   This has come about due to all the Personal Development courses I attended in 2007/2008/2009, which although they cost me a tremedous amount of money and have put me into a bit of a financial pickle…. were worth every penny I invested.  They have taught me how to look at boulders as opportunities and instead of b*tching about how unfair it all is….. I now look at what it is I am doing in my life that has brought me to that boulder…..and how I can move it out the way….. hence the new business I have started.

Personal Development has been a very interesting journey for me, I still have a lot to learn and sometimes I forget  myself and complain about things, but on the whole the boulders are now more of an interest than a problem and it is fun to work out the what, why and wherefores of any boulders I come across.

and of course this ties in beautifully with my post of yesterday……I will keep my eyes peeled for any yellow 1955 VW Campervans 🙂  I am sure that with persistance, patience and perseverance….the boulder I am currently working on moving out the way will reveal not only a purse but also a campervan (hopefully not a flattened one) 🙂

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a vintage model.....1955 VW Campervan

Ok, so a couple of days ago I posted a blog and therein made mention that currently I am working at my ‘day job’ not my ‘dream job’.  So what is my dream job?  This has been incredibly difficult to pin down….until I came to live in the UK…..

When I was just 17 years old (lordy but that does seem like such a long time ago)….I wanted to be a Nursery School Teacher (I loved little children and babies…still do)…. but my Mother said NO! you go get an office job, you will earn more money! (and what Mother said…you did).  So I did, and she was right.   But was I happy….NO!   I hated working in an office, but as the years went by and I progressed from being a typist who could not type… (the guy gave me a job coz I burst into tears in his office and told him my Mother had said I should not come home till I had a job, and it was 4pm by then)…. to being a Credit Manager; managing a staff contingent of 10 for a group of 5 Companies…. this took the best part of 30 years by the way.  In between there were many positions, not just a few companies, and a whole lot of crappy bosses 😦

However, along the way I learned to enjoy working in an office and to love what I did….phoning people and asking for money.  Just a shame it wasn’t for myself 🙂

Anyways, when I arrived in the UK, which was by default; I came on holiday and never went back (well only briefly to get my Ancestral visa) and I have never looked back…..quite literally – no looking in the rear-view mirror.  So when I first arrived in the UK, what was the job I applied for…..?  Why of course…. I applied to be a Nanny :).     However as fate would have it…. I did not have current experience DUH! and I did not have an NVQ in child management… double DUH!!  So that idea was scotched and went out the window, and anyhow by all accounts being a Nanny in the UK is akin to being one up from a slave.    Not to be deterred I continued to look for a ‘job’ and again by default managed to find a position as a Care Assistant for the Elderly….which I initially hated and then without warning I found that I actually enjoyed it and so I have and have been for the last 8.5 years (except for a 1 year stint in an offfice which nearly drove me to the brink of a nervous breakdown!).

So here I am….. working as a Carer…..but is this my dream job? Nope!   

Since living in the UK I have developed a passion for travelling.  This came as quite a surprise to me since I had never really thought about actually travelling around the world.  Sure I had the odd dream about going to the Maldives (not got there yet) or visiting Venice (been there 🙂 ), going to Paris (been there 🙂 ) and New York (been there 🙂 ).  But besides the odd daydream it was certainly never something I seriously considered I would actually get to do.

Till now!  So UNIVERSE, here is what my DREAM JOB would be…… to travel first around the UK (coz it is so fantastically gorgeous) then round Europe and then the US of A, and then if I am still alive and able to….spread my wings further afield. (ooh that has a double meaning!) LOL.   I would however like to spend at least 4 months a year in London!

So here is my message to the Universe….hello!!!! : My ‘DREAM JOB’  is to travel around the world in VW Campervan that has ‘NotJustaGranny’ with the funky logo emblazoned on the sides…. taking photos of everywhere I go, blogging about the places I am visiting and tweeting! and getting PAID to do it!  I would quite enjoy writing a book too…if that’s ok with you.

So dear Universe, if perchance you are actually listening, as the Guru’s in the Personal Development world maintain that you do…. Hello!!!!

Oh, and just a little p.s. The Guru’s say that when you ‘state’ what it is you want, you have to be specific; so just that there is no confusion about this…..

the VW Campervan should be a 1955 model (nothing but vintage is good enough for me)… you know what I mean 😉

It should be yellow with white trimmings (yellow is my favourite colour)

It should have 2 beds at least….1 for me (of course, and one for my daughter to join me from time to time, or for a friend to come along occassionally…and also for when my grandchildren arrive…have to have enough space for them to travel with me)

It should be fully re-furbished and reliable; preferrably with modern accessories and equipment…like an up-to-date engine. 1955 is all very well but it is a bit long in the tooth!

It should be modified to be eco-friendly….no fumes please.

I would appreciate it if there is enough space for my laptop and camera equipment (oh and I would need sockets for the chargers).

Don’t worry too much about wardrobe space….I don’t have much clothing… LOL

and it would be awesome if it had a lift-up roof-top for air circulation

oh, and a tent attachment would be brilliant for when I am stopped alongside a lake somewhere in the UK or Europe or the US of A, so that I can sit outside and enjoy the scenery and the night stars while I sip a sherry (or two).

If you need any further specifications….contact me via this blog and I will be happy to give you more details.

and just a final p.s.s. (sorry to be so picky, but…) when I talk about being paid to do this…I am happy to earn the money….. but please note that I would require at least £5,000 per month. For travel expenses and so on. ta

by the way….this is a 1955 model (the one on the right) please be sure to send a yellow one 🙂

1955 VW Campervan

and just in case you are wondering….. I put the picture twice so that you are clear on what it is I am looking for!

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50,983,200 minutes

Can you imagine ……..97….that is 97 years!   Yes, today is my lady’s 97th birthday…..that means she was born in 1913!!  She has lived for 35,405 days or 849,720 hours or 50,983,200 minutes!!!  How cool is that!   My calculator can’t work out the seconds; not enough spaces 🙂 and she is still going strong. I was warned by the family that she does not like her birthday to be mentioned and doesn’t celebrate the day and hasn’t done so for years…..Ha! Not on my watch. First thing this morning I sang Happy Birthday to which she groaned out loud and said “don’t remind me” which of course I ignored completely.  She then did a complete turn-around and decided that today was a jolly day for a birthday and has excitedly opened her cards.  Yesterday I iced and decorated a cake that her niece baked on Saturday and this afternoon for tea she will have 9 candles to blow out (1 for each decade) and a happy birthday sing-song!  How can you not celebrate being alive and reaching the fine old age of 97!

During her 97 years she has seen 2 World Wars, The Vietnam War, The Gulf War, The Iraq War  lived through the Great Depression of the 1930’s, survived numerous Governments, saw the Queen’s Coronation, watched man land on the moon, the advent of television and many more world events…….for interest sake I have listed a few below, not in any particular chronological order, although some are:

The Lincoln Highway, the first automobile road across the United States, is dedicated.
Mohandas Gandhi is arrested while leading a march of Indian miners in South Africa.
The Panama canal opened.
Pluto is photographed for the first time but is not then classified as a planet.
Alexander Graham Bell in NY calls Thomas Watson in SF.
Thomas Edison invents telescribe to record telephone conversations.
John B Gruelle patents Raggedy Ann doll.
Easter Uprising in Ireland.
The Russian Revolution.
The first crossing of the Atlantic by plane.
Women finally gained the right to vote.
Lindbergh crosses the Atlantic.
The General Electric Company introduced the flash bulb for taking photos.
Albert Einstein, the renowned physicist, wrote President Roosevelt a letter outlining the potential of nuclear energy in weapons
Charles Carlson patented the first xerographic machine.
Peron becomes Dictator of Argentina.
India/Pakistan Gain Independence.
Yaeger Breaks Sound Barrier.
Edwin Land developed the first instant camera that developed photos on the spot.
King George VI Dies, Elizabeth crowned Queen of England.
Polio Vaccine Invented.
First kidney Transplant.
First Trans- Atlantic Telephone Cable.
Castro Seizes Power in Cuba.
Soviets detonated the largest atomic bomb ever exploded.
The Berlin Wall was built.
President Kennedy Assassinated.
Vaccine Against Measles.
The Concorde Super Sonic Transport is unveiled in Toulouse, France.
Mariner 5 flies past Venus.
Dr. James Bedford becomes the first person to be cryonically preserved.
Professor John Archibald Wheeler introduces the term “Black Hole”.
British Post office introduces First Class Post.
Pope Paul VI bans Catholics from using the contraceptive pill for birth control.
Hong Kong Flu pandemic begins in Hong Kong.
Dr. Christian Barnard performs the first successful heart transplant.
ATM First Philadelphia Bank installs the first automated teller machine in the U.S.

British anthropologist Richard Leakey discovers 2.5 million year-old human skull in Kenya
America celebrates its 200th birthday.
First test-tube baby born in England.
Sir Anthony Blunt, art historian to Buckingham Palace, exposed as fourth man in Britain’s worst spy scandal and stripped of his knighthood.
Earl Mountbatten murdered by IRA.
Mother Teresa wins Nobel Peace Prize.
England drives invading Argentines from Falkland Islands
AIDS virus is discovered.
Bill Gates becomes the computer industry’s first billionaire.
DNA evidence is allowed in some criminal trials.
Nelson Mandela freed from South African prison.

The first sheep ‘Dolly’ is cloned.
Channel Tunnel -‘The Chunnel’ completed linking England and France by road and rail under the English Channel.
World Trade Center in New York City bombed by Middle Eastern terrorists.
The “World Wide Web” started up for home use.
Hong Kong ceded from England to communist China.
Princess Diana killed in automobile accident in Paris.
NASA’s ‘Pathfinder’ module lands on Mars.
Peace agreement reached in Northern Ireland, ending over eighty years of terrorism and civil war.
Millennium celebrations take place throughout the world.
Pope John Paul II begins the first official visit by a Roman Catholic pontiff to Israel.
A rare conjunction of seven celestial bodies (Sun, Moon, planets Mercury-Jupiter) occurs on the New Moon
May 11 2000 – The billionth living person in India is born.
The world’s first self-contained artificial heart is implanted in Robert Tools.
Euro begins official circulation in 12 European countries
US space shuttle Columbia crashes.
Earthquakes
Tsunami’s
Volcano explodes in Iceland.

The planet Mars makes its closest approach to Earth in over 60,000 years.
London hit by Islamic terrorist bombings, killing 52 and wounding about 700. It is Britain’s worst attack since World War II (July 7)
Three men wearing ski masks steal four pieces of artwork from the Zurich Museum in one of the largest art robberies in history. In broad daylight.

4Million-year-old skeleton found in Ethopia.
First Black American President voted into office.
For thie first time in over 500 years a Catholic Pope enters Westminster Abbey, dedicated to St Peter, which has been the kingdom’s coronation church since 1066, and which, for 600 years as a Benedictine Abbey, until the English Reformation, enjoyed a close relationship of mutual support with the papacy. 

She has seen the advent of Elvis Presley, The Beatles, experienced the swinging 60’s (although I am quite sure that would have been viewed with a frown!), seen fashions change from long skirts and sleeves, to mini-skirts or less, from cover-it all bathing suits to bikini’s and less, had countries come and go, new democracies formed or lost, Tiannamen Square, massive protests over a number of issues, the nuclear bomb and seen major achievements like the first summiting of Mount Everest.

the list goes on and on……….Researching the world events that happened since 1913 has been an exercise in fascination…..so much has happened that we forget about.

I hope I live to be 97…..

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blackcurrent!

I am one of those very unfortunate or fortunate people (depending on your point of view) who has a ‘sweet-tooth’.  All my life I have enjoyed sweet stuff…..biscuits, cake, jellies, sweets, puddings…whatever.  If it was sweet I was there 🙂  One of my favourite sweets was of course Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles and if today I had a £ for every fruit pastille I ate in my life, I could buy a new house.

Up till now, sharing a packet of fruit pastilles was a real hardship…..mostly coz it would seem that everyone who likes fruit pastilles want the black ones.  Finally Rowntree’s have solved that problem…….they have brought out a roll of just Blackcurrent! How sensible.

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