Monday, 25 January 2010

chilly mortal

I am what they call a chilly mortal, or thin-blooded, which means that I feel the cold. In the below zero days earlier this month I was wearing sweaters knitted by my mum for my two boys when they were teenagers going on winter scout camps or skiing trips to Voss. I'm impressed by the way animals grow their own winter warmth - I've seen spherical ponies at this time of year - and I asked Apple about it.

What it is, you know, my dear, what it is, is nobody eats proper warming food these days. You need a good hot stew with plenty of winter veg, doesn't matter if it's a bit old and ropey, you can't tell in a stew, or a good hot soup with a bit of bay leaf and spicy dumplings simmering in it, tastes better the longer you leave it and sticks to your ribs on the way down so you get a bit of extra padding. Now between you and me, I reckon Urchin's mum, I mean his real mum, I reckon she were under-nourishated, poor love, and that's why our Urchin turned out the colour he is, not that I'd have him any different, Heart love him, they call him a favoured squirrel in that whitewash place the queen come from. And a good hot winter cordial, I'll put a pan of that on the stove now... oh, you in a hurry?

Monday, 18 January 2010

spel chequer

I've never installed a spell checker on the blog, but it appears to arrive as part of the package. Bless it, it's firmly set in its ways. It knows the rules it was programmed to observe and it will stand by them or die, or even dye.

This said, I can't resist occasionally giving it a wee prod, tweaking its tail a little. For one thing, it doesn't like colour, favour, cheque, or anything else with a UK flavour rather than a US one. It won't honour any European spelling with a soupcon of recognition, and it's not at all at home with writers of fantasy. Let's really annoy it - Mistmantle, Padra, Huggen, Lugg, Archraven. You can't see it from your end, but this page is now marked by eleven red under-scorings where the spell checker is trying to tell me that THIS WORD DOES NOT EXIST OR IS WRONGLY SPELT! (Twelve) I think I should stop before it gets into a bit of a tizwaz(thirteen) and kaputs (fourteen) itself.

You may know of other perfectly acceptable words that catch it out and I'd love to hear about them, but to finish with, here's my favourite (fifteen) unknown to spell check word - it's -



Wednesday, 13 January 2010


Yesterday, we heard that Miep Gies had died, at a hundred years old. Miep was the Dutch woman who sheltered Anne Frank and her family, and saved Anne's diary. She hoped to return it to Anne after the war, but Anne died shortly before the camp she was in was liberated, and only her father survived the Holocaust. Miep returned the diary to him, he had it published, and Anne Frank still speaks to the world.

On the news yesterday she was being hailed as 'the woman who saved Anne Frank's diary', but she was more than that. She sheltered eight people at terrible risk to herself, and every day they spent in that room behind the office was another day of safety for them and danger for her. She was a true heroine, to be remembered with honour and respect.

One of the things about being married to a minister is that old people feel free to tell me their stories. They don't think of themselves as brave or heroic, they just 'got on with things', but there is heroism everywhere. If ever an old person starts telling you their stories, don't switch off or make an excuse to leave. You are being invited into a treasure house.

We can learn from the past, said Miep Gies.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

a week in wellies

Is anyone tired of the snow yet? Yes, round here, a lot of people are. Main roads are clear but it's hard to get in and out of the side roads. There haven't been any major snow falls for a few days, but the drifts are still there because the temperature's never above freezing for very long.

But it's beautiful. The children are still loving it, and when it's gone it's gone. Make the most of it.

Wellies are the accessory of choice. Schools have been closed, but a few brave mothers and their children cleared their way to toddlers and after school club this week. The lassie is here this weekend, much to the delight of lovely younger son, and that makes it Christmas again.

A good long talk ('blether' is the Scots word for it, and can't be bettered) with an old friend is one of life's great joys, and when the friend has also been a colleague in the writing world it can be quite inspirational, too. So highlights of this week have been a long phone blether with a dear friend, and making contact again with a delightful person I'd lost touch with.

Our electricity was off for a long time yesterday - after dark - so the three of us curled up round the gas fire with torches, candles, and books Power cuts are good for books. Not so good for having a bath, though.

Saturday, 2 January 2010


Me name is Much. As in ta very Much, Much of a muchness, it's all too Much, and Much the miller's son in the Robin Hood stories. Good Yorkshire name. I'm well pleased with that. Mostly, says 'er, it's from that well known old saying - 'you can always tell a Yorkshireman, but you can't tell him much'.

Blooming snow. I'm covered in the stuff now, me snail looks like a poodle.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year

It was snowing lightly as we walked to our friends' home for their New Year party - great company, fun conversation, lovely food - then we all walked down to church together for the Watchnight service, about fifty of us squashed into the choir stalls with tall white candles everywhere. We all spilled outside in time for the clock to strike twelve - fireworks, snow, a full moon, and even one of those Chinese lanterns which looked like setting fire to one valiant lady and a tree, but managed to soar safely away into the clear night sky. After the ceremonial jumping up and down on the bridge we were invited back for champagne and cheese and things, and finally wandered home through the snow and fell into bed around 3.30. Now, that's how to do New Year. Many thanks to the providers of hospitality, and much love.

I had the weirdest dreams. An overwrought mind, or cheese at 2.00 am? It was still snowing lightly when I woke up - I mean, properly woke up - and I'm not telling you when that was.

Happy New Year, and bless you.