19 Dec 2013

Hestia remembers the S1 school dance

My S1 school dance was probably before you, dear reader, were born.  Unless you are also 50 in which case we probably endured enjoyed it at the same time.

It was the 1970s and long dresses were IN.

I was so excited when Juno agreed that I could have a long dress!  My friends told me about their frocks - various scarlets, electric blues (what can I say? It was the 70s) and even one in BLACK which was very, VERY daring for a 12 year-old.

I don't remember the actual buying of the frock.  I might not even have been present because I can't imagine that I would have willingly selected what I wore to the dance that night.

Yes, it was a long dress. But it was BROWN.  Very dark brown.

In the dimly lit Town Hall, I was like a little polyester short-haired turd.

13 Dec 2013

Hestia and Insomnia Part 2

So we gets into the car and heads off in the general direction of Telford Conference Centre. I say 'general direction' because if you've ever been to Telford, you know that there are eleventy-billion roundabouts, none of which seem to take you in the direction that you have carefully planned.

And lo! it came to pass that I ended up hurtling down a leafy country lane thinking to myself, 'this is definitely NOT dual carriageway.'  A swift 3-point turn (well, 5 point turn) had us back on track and we turned onto a roundabout that was so stacked with traffic that it could only be the parental cars of small gamers heading to Insomnia 49.

We queued and queued only to be told that the car park was full and that we should head off to the overflow car park.....which was back down the wrong turning that I'd taken 3/4 of an hour earlier.  Of course, you know what happens next.  Overflow carpark is full.

By this time I have huge sweat rings beneath my armpits and my knuckles are white.  Where on earth can we park?  I haz a brainwave.....and drives to the Holiday Inn hotel, next to the Conference centre.....and into its blissfully car-free car park.  Now, I'm no dummy, I high-tailed it to Reception to ask for a parking token or to offer payment, but the gorgeous girl on duty said that it was free to park.  I wanted to have her babies, I was SO grateful!

This meant that we had a two minute walk to the conference centre.

Reader, I was trepidatious.  Neither of us had ever been to a Gaming Festival.  I had brought my book (The War of Art, if you must know), my specs and plenty of cash for coffee and buns.

We walked gingerly into the main trade hall where every kind of game known to man was available to play....you could test new products that were not yet on the market, like this Occulus Rift which was so excellent I was SCREAMING like a girl and wobbling about from side to side as I became fully immersed in a roller coaster ride inside the helmet.

Occulus Rift - when this goes on sale GET IT!

There was a retro gaming arcade where, for another tenner, you could play arcade games ALL day.

Upstairs was the restaurant and lots of board games (or bored games as Sonshine calls them) and this was where Sonshine pissed away lots of his money on raffle tickets and plastic Things For Your Desk That Don't Do Anything.

There was a Cosplay competition (A competition where you costume-up as a gaming hero) and THIS Griffin costume won.  You could SIT on it.  The eyes moved and it had WINGS.  Am dreading Sonshine asking for this for Hallowe'en.

And then the Gaming Hall.   And it alllllll became clear why it was called Insomnia - the kids game alllllll night!  Yes, there was a pizza delivery service TO YOUR COMPUTER CONSOL, sweeties, endless cans of juice and a surprising level of trust - handbags (yes, plenty of lady gamers!) left dangling over the backs of chairs, jackets and purses on display.  One can't help thinking that if it had been set in Glasgow, all these things would have been spirited away in a hastily balled-up tracksuit top.

Security was very high at the event all round.  The gig ran like a well-oiled machine and felt so safe that I quickly let Sonshine do his own thing while I retired to the main hall with my book.

Then the main hall presentations started and suddenly I was hooked on the stop-mo videos that had been made of Minecraft cities.  The video makers were greeted like conquering heroes as they ascended the stage and pretty soon my book was discarded as I listened to them talking about how they made their cities.

But the hall was filling up and I couldn't see the main screen too well.  A brainwave! Sit on the BACK of the chair and get a few vital inches.  Fablas!

'hey!' shouts one gamer on the stage 'Let's take a 360 degree photo for Notch* and post it to facebook for him.  Everybody - wave!!'

Reader, I raised my hands above my head and wooped with the mad gamer weirdos.







And landing with a huge BANG on the floor.

All eyes turne to me, sprachling like an upturned beetle on the floor, chair tipped over, legs up in the air.  A couple of teenage gamers rushed to my aid and I did that oddly defensive LEAP to my feet shouting: 'I'm FINE, I'm FINE! Don't worry, I'm FINE! Thank you, I'm FINE'  While all the time unable to breathe because all the air has been knocked out of your lungs... and your arms feel like they've burst straight through your shoulder blades.

The chair was put upright and I disappeared back into obscurity and my book...

Lunch was a high-class affair

Sonshine arrived in a short while later, curious to know about the new friends that I'd made.  Yes, every man and his dog came up to me to ask whether I was, in fact, alright.  I explained to Sonshine who looked extremely relieved not to have been in the same room as me when it happened.

All too soon 4pm came around (our agreed departure time) and making my way through people who were STILL asking me if I was alright after my fall, we headed back to the car and had an uneventful drive home to the hotel.

Sonshine and his gaming swag

PS - the black suede shoe was no-where to be seen.  The guests had alllll gone and we got a BRILLIANT night's sleep :-)

And he wants to do it all again next year!  Over to you, Tartarus!

11 Dec 2013

Hestia....and Insomnia Part 1

I was going through all my posts, deleting some that had never made it past the 'draft' stage and came across this.  My first part of my visit to Insomnia 49, a gaming festival in darkest Telford.  I don't know why I didn't post these two posts, but here you are anyway.  

Insomnia Part 1

I focus blearily on my wristwatch, tilting it to catch the faint light creeping through the gap in the curtains.  It is 6.40am.

It is Saturday morning and I am lying awake in a hotel room in Telford with Sonshine tossing and turning restlessly in the single bed next to mine.  We are here for a gaming festival called Insomnia. The hotel is nice enough, but it seems to have been taken over by guests at a nearby wedding and they have been rolling home in dribs and drabs since midnight.  I have no idea why they named the festival Insomnia, but it's fucking appropriate right now...... I am so tired I feel like I've been drinking.  Sadly, I am the only person in the hotel who has not:

We have been treated to raucous home-comings from giggly girls, slurring men and a horrendous amount of door-knocking,  lost-key-in-handbag-fumbling and this:

Somewhere down the corridor: 'Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock....Karen .... knock, knock, knock, knock.... Karen? Karen are you awake (louder) KAREN!  Let me in, KAREN!'

A huge sigh emanates from the bed next to mine.

'Are you awake?' I ask, in a whisper.

'Are you kidding?  You would need to be deaf to sleep through this lot.' Another sigh and some pillow punching takes place. He throws himself back down.  'What time is it mum?'

'Nearly 7am'.

'SEVEN?!'   What's WRONG with these people?'

'They are," I remind him in saintly manner, 'just back from a wedding.  They've just been having a good time.'

At this point 'Karen' answers the door.

'Where the FOOK have you BEEN?' echoes up the corridor.

The errant female remonstrates with her room mate:  'Ai lost me shoe, look.  I lost it!

At this point I imagine her hanging on to the door frame, woozy with drink, a body-con frock sprayed on...rocking the Kardashan-chic look.  I imagine her wafting the tanned leg (shoeless) in 'Karen's face.

Karen immediately mellows. The pain of a lost shoe is a unifying force for women the world over. 'Lost it? Where did you lose it, girl?'

At this point Sonshine and I are lying on our backs laughing like drains.  We are not bothering to be quiet.  They haven't toned down their conversation, therefore we can laugh at it.

'Well, if I knew where I'd lost it, it wouldn't be lost, would it?' retorts Shoeless girl.  Her tale of sartorial woe is not over:  'And me handbag.  I've lost me handbag.'

'Oh Bridesmaid's got your bag.' Karen announces with a yawn. 'Your bag was the same as the bridesmaids' bags, did you see?  One of them lifted your bag by mistake.  So it's not lost.'

Shoeless remains out in the corridor.  A man's voice joins in.  It is muffled.  We cannot make out what he says other than the fact he's much plummier in his accent.   I assume that Shoeless and the man have been granted access to Karen's inner sanctum because silence reigns.  

Sonshine closes his eyes and nods off into welcome sleep.

I wonder whether I might get an hour 's sleep before I have to get up and drive Sonshine to the Games Convention.  But no.

knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock.... Karen....... I've got me bag.  KAREN I'VE GOT ME BAG.

Groggily Karen opens the door and admits Shoeless.

I have had 2 hours sleep.  My temper is short (shorter than Shoeless's frock, I'd imagine).

Cut to breakfast.  Got to hand these folks their due - there are loads of exceptionally hung-over wedding guests loading up their plates with carbs in the vain hope that they will be fit to drive in a couple of hours time.

One young woman speaks.  I recognise her voice - it is Shoeless.  She regales the table with the story of  The Lost Shoe and The Lost Handbag.  The second tale has a happy ending but the shoe it would seem is still lost.

Sonshine and I are standing in the foyer, just about to leave for the Insomnia Gaming Weekend when he spots something.  A black suede 'Stripper' shoe sitting on a black chair in the hall.  It's almost impossible to see against the black chair.  Sonshine thoughtfully sits the wickedly spiked shoe on the floor for Shoeless to find after breakfast.

Cinderella's shoe story will have a happy ending after all.  Huzzah.

And with any amount of luck they will all have buggered off by the time we get back from Insomnia and at last, I might get a good night's sleep.

9 Dec 2013

Hestia's Sonshine...and Social Dancing

Don't you remember the torture and bliss of social dancing.  We used to call it Country Dancing, but Country is a word that is just begging for trouble when it comes to being uttered aloud so the schools have changed it to the much more acceptable 'social' dancing.

Sonshine is learning all manner of jigs and reels and whatnot and it has spawned a welcome interest in using the shower much more frequently as he shufties his small armpits into the faces of willing victims partners as they spin around the hall.

There is so much Lynx body spray in the bathroom that it is peeling the silver from the back of the mirror and flies are dropping...well, like flies.

5 Dec 2013

Hestia...and chums in NaKniSweMo

So, it's not coming as ANY great surprise to anyone who has known me for more than 5 minutes:  I utterly failed to knit a sweater during the month of November.

Yes, while men were decorating their faces with all manner of unusual bum-fluffy 'tasches for Mouvember, a goodly portion of us were taking up the needles for National Knit A Sweater Month.

Where you, erm, knit a sweater in a month.

I had plans, reader, PLANS!

I was all set to knit Nero a sweater to keep him all toasty and warm as he pitty-pads mournfully around my big, echoey (is that a word?!), Victorian home complete with drafts, chimneys, stone floors and the odd mysterious happening at the top of the stair...... (that's a tale for another day!)

I myself am kitted out in two sweaters, a thermal vest, thermal leggings and jeans as I type this to you, so don't go thinking that I'm being cruel to the dog by giving him a poloneck.  He needs it.  Sonshine has so many layers on, he looks like The Incredible Hulk Mini Me.


My NaKniSweMo month crashed and burned, but  I have talented chums.  Enter Stage Right, the lovely Viv.

Viv is to knitting what Mozart was to music - bloody irritating to those of us who languish in the Beginners' Recorder section).

Here's what SHE managed to achieve in November:

Look - there's CABLE and button holes and other fancy-pants stuff in this!  Isn't it wonderful?

AND not only did she knit this sweater, she finished off this:

It's knitted fucking LACE!!!!  I *know*!!!!!  Apparently it is really bad form to use loads of exclamation marks but I DON'T CARE!!!!! Loooooooook aaaaaaaaat iiiiiiiiit!!!! If that's not worth four or five exclamation marks, I don't know what is.

BTW - she doesn't always knit in pink.

You can follow her kitting progress on her blog, here, where the sharpness of her needles is only slightly less than her sense of humour.  I luffs her.

I has another, equally talented chum called Ania - she also makes corsets and wedding dresses and all manner of lovely tight-waisted stuff!  She decided to knit her dawgie Dexter a jacket too.  She's not quite finished yet because she had to rip it up and start again *hears Orange Juice track inside her head* but here's her Work In Progress, as modelled by Dexter.  Isn't he cute as a button?!

What did I knit?

3 Dec 2013


So I'm on-line looking for some kind of inspiration to hit me for the ol' Christmas shopping and I decide to buy a whole wodge of cheapie things for Sonshine to open on Christmas morning to keep him occupied until such times as I decide to elevate my carcass from my Christmas Day bed and get into the Spirit of things.

I go to website and fill my little shopping basket with £20.00 worth of tat and Proceed to Checkout.

I am asked to sign in. I know that I have bought stuff from them before, but it was ages ago.  I don't really want to sign in, I just want to buy the stuffs and GO.

It asks me to sign in again.


13 Nov 2013

Hestia and NaKniSweMo...Day 12

So, it's taken me...what? 12 days to knit this - a sort of square rectangle - for a snood for Nero.

The observant amongst you will notice something quite significant about this bit of knitting what I have knat.  It's pink.

I started knitting a BLACK snood.

That one still looks like this:

11 Nov 2013

Hestia's Remembrance Day

When we were in London last month, we focussed our touristy attentions on The Tower of Lahndahn. As we made our way, wind-whipped and wet to the ticket booths, I spotted a fancy arch across the road.  Now, Lahndahn is FULL of fancy arches.  This was a war memorial arch.  For the Merchant Navy.

I tugged at Tartarus's sleeve and pointed to the arch.  He's served in the merchant navy since he left school and I knew that he'd be interested.  And he was.  But it was too wet and horrible to go and explore, so we turned our chins back into the wind and squinted out beneath our woolly hats and pressed on to the Tower....

A couple of days later and the weather has perked up.  So we went back.  Tartarus and Sonshine disappeared into the garden, but I wandered beneath the arch, scouring the plaques looking for ships that had been registered in Glasgow...reading the lists of all those who had perished at sea.

Sometimes it was just one or two names and I hoped that the rest of the crew had been picked up and taken to safety.  I imagined them struggling in the ocean, how terrifying it must be - maybe in the dark, maybe trying to keep afloat in waves of monstrous height,  Maybe surrounded by the vessels of the very people who just blew your boat to kingdom come.  Would they pick you up or would they leave you to die in the sea?

Sonshine materialised by my side and in his usual 'oh-god-you're-embarassing-me' voice asked 'Are you crying?'

I nodded, tears dripping off my chin. 'Where's your dad?'

'He's outside looking at the other names'

'Other names?'

'Yes.  Mum, this is just the sailors and fishermen people lost in the FIRST world war.'  I went out side and saw this:

Wall after wall after wall after wall of names.  Every bit of dark surface in this photo is crammed with names, and this is one corner of the garden with the main arch looking out onto the streets of London.  The walls run out and in, almost like castle crenellations, to take the endless plaques of names in the tiny garden space.

There are acres of names in the garden. So many that it's utterly overwhelming.  All those sons and brothers and husbands..... I shot a tiny clip of video - sorry that my voice is in my boots, but I was somewhat overcome.

Some names had little photographs blu-tacked next to them - the faded pictures show fresh-faced, cheeky-looking young men.  I wondered whether a nearby secondary school had done a project on some of the sailors who were on the memorials.  This is A B Robertson.

Tartarus was standing at one of the plaques, hands in pockets, silent and inscrutable as ever.

'Look,' he said.

It was someone who shared his surname and his initial.  Maybe some distant relative.  Someone with his name doing the same job as he was doing just now.  Someone who had sailed on the British Security,  registered in London and who never came home.  I slipped my hand into his pocket and gave his clenched up hand a squeeze.

The merchant navy ships had little in the way of weapons, just supplies for home.

And fishing boats?

At the going down of the sun, we must remember them too.

3 Nov 2013

Hestias NoKniSweMo - Day 2

Look, I know you're reading this with a sinking heart thinking ' surely to fuck she's not going to give us a day by day, blow by blow, stitch by stitch account of knitting a rectangle of ribbing?!'

Worry not, dear reader, I won't put you through that.  Although it's tempting.  If I'm suffering then I want YOU to suffer along with me.  But I shall be kind.  There shall be radio silence for a bit while I struggle through my project.

But here's the latest update before I go:

I have learned how to do the long-tail cast-on - properly, just using one hand and a needle.  Thanks to the great Yootube God. I am 50 years old and learned from a video that sounds like it was made by a 10 year old.

I have also learned that as a left-hander my plain and purl stitches are a bit wonky. Many blessings on the sainted Auntie Chrissie who bravely tried to teach me to knit as she chain-smoked her way through endless cartons of Capstan cigarettes.

But since these stitches are functional, and somewhat decorative, they are remaining unchanged for the duration of The Snood.

On the upside, I have found - at last - a toy that the dog loves to gurry and chew.

On the downside, it was my fledgling knitting.

The dog and I have now reached an understanding that if he so much as looks at my ball of wool, I will turn him into a greyhound shaped lollipop with a knitting needle up his arse.

I shall post a photo of the snood once I've completed it.

Also - the Whisky remains untouched.  The gin, on the other hand, is finished.

2 Nov 2013

Hestia's NaKniSweMo

From: Action For Greyhounds (click to visit)
November has become synonymous with Na(tional) No(vel) Wri(ting) Mo(nth) but some wag on Ravelry (basically - it's knitting porn) came up with Na(tional) Swe(ater) Kni(tting) Month where you have to knit a sweater in a month.

My lovely knitting pals Viv and Ania are doing it.  It seemed churlish not to join in.  But I know my limitations.  They have chosen beautiful sweaters entwined with cables and bobbles and all sorts of gorgeousness.  I am kitting a sweater too.  For my dog.  
Like I say, I know my limitations.

I decide to begin with a snood because greyhounds really feel the cold in their wittle ears.  This one in the picture is pre-made - you can click on the link and BUY one from the girl who knits them!!

So, here we go:  My diary of Day One of NaKniSweMo

I download the pattern and get my needles organised.
I spend an hour and a half looking for my needles.
I find them. With all the other needles after all.
I start knitting Nero a heather-pink snood.
Three rows in, I decide that his pride won't allow him to wear a pink snood.
I rip it out
I run out to buy different, butch, wool
I buy black wool.
I cast on four times, each time I have not enough wool in my tail to complete the 84 stitches.
I rip back the fucking aborted casting on four times.
I settle down to start knitting properly with the lamp on, my specs on the end of my nose.  
The greyhound is sleeping soundly beside me.  
There is some hideous pedigree chum inspired farting.  
I pull my poloneck up over my nose and mouth and knit, hijab style.
During Autumnwatch I get engrossed in an owl eating a starling. 
I get my stitches wrong.
I realise that I have my stitches wrong in the FOLLOWING row.
I am knitting rib. 
The shame of getting ribbing wrong is overwhelming.
I rip all the fucking knitting out again and re-cast on.
I am so stressed that the stitches have been cast on so tight that the wool squeaks and I barely force my needle down through the stitches to complete the first row.
Emboldened by this first row success, I decide to knit another row in bed.
I get halfway down that row and realise that I've made a mistake.
I cannot bear ripping it out for a sixth time.
I jam the wool onto the needles and fling it onto the floor beside the bed.

I fucking hate knitting.

Lay your bets - how much of this Grouse will be left by the end of the NaKniSweMo.
Clue: I have another two bottles.

22 Oct 2013

Hestia...completes the Stained Glass panels!

Not soldered yet, but look - it's finished!

From the bottom of the panel, looking upwards!

We always hated the big pane of 'bathroom' glass in our front door and were overjoyed to find the remnants of the original stained glass panel in a suitcase in one of the outbuildings.  The lead was a mangled mess and trying to piece back together the original pattern of the glass was proving a complete headache.

One night a couple of years ago, I opened the door to find a chap clutching a large photograph album.  He was a descendant of our home's builder, Mr Hunter, and he'd heard that I was interested in the history of the house and the family.

And although we spent a happy evening with coffee and pancakes perusing the photos, none of them gave a clear view of what the front door stained glass looked like.

Tartarus and I decided to ask a stained glass expert to give us a quote for just making up a new panel.  After I'd picked myself up off the floor and declined the quote, I decided to sign up for a stained glass course at Glasgow School of Art.  How hard could it be?!

I spent five glorious - and blood-stained - days making a small panel of a red kite in a windy sky.  I was happier than a dog with two dicks with my efforts..... One thing was for sure - it was not as easy as it looked - cutting wee bits of glass and whapping some lead around it.... But why it took another two YEARS for me to complete the stained glass for the front door, I'm not really sure.

Certainly part of it was I HAVE ONLY 5 DAYS EXPERIENCE OF THIS!!! Part of it was the fear of bloody fingers.  Part of it was the fear of making a complete arse of things.

But look.  I have done it.  Two panels for our front door!  I have even re-used some of the original glass to tie the old work and the new work together.... *stands back and waits for applause*

Am available for Bar Mitzvahs, Christenings and Funerals :-D

16 Oct 2013

Hestia does Lahndahn...in numbers

The sitting room.  Yep, Sonshine is on-line already!
90 - the number of minutes our flight took off from Glasgow, late
90 - unfortunately, the number of minutes we got to Glasgow, early, to catch said flight.
60 - the number of minutes we tootled into central Lahndahn on the underground from Heathrow
303 - the number of our 2-bed appartment which was EXCELLENT
10 - the time I went to bed, fizzing with excitement about speaking at the UK Tarot Conference.

Where I tossed and turned all night.  Before I got into bed.

5 - of the a.m - how long I lay in bed, tossing and turning, worrying about speaking at the Conference.
8 - am - the time I left the flat to go to the Conference
8.20am - the time I arrived at the Conference centre to find, unsurprisingly, that I was a tad early
12.50 - the time my 40 minute presentation began
40 - the number, in minutes, that my finely honed presentation ran to! *high fives everyone reading*
6 - the number of additional hand-outs that I will need to e-mail to people because we DID NOT HAVE ENOUGH *high fives the reader AGAIN!!*
4 - the number of new decks that I am home with as a result of attending the Conference
eleventy-gazillion - new friends made at the Conference
1 pm - the time that we had arranged to meet blogging friends, Legend (aka Wally Bell) and Jo for lunch at the Dickens Inn on Sunday

Sonshine, Hestia and Legend.  Photo by Tartarus.  He doesn't believe in 'filling the frame'

 Sadly, think that the weather might have put off Jo (it was tipping it down) so we'll just have to organise to meet her the next time we're down!

3 - the number of hours spent in the delightful company of Legend
2 - the number of bottles of home-made wine that he brought us.
1 - the number of bottles of home-made wine that we brought all the way home
1 - the number of bottles of Wally's wine that we scarfed down on Sunday night
75 - the number of pounds required to visit Mme Toussauds in London
3 - the number of minutes spent debating whether it would be good value
3 - the number of unexpected hours that I spent in the V&A because the decision had been found not in favour of Mme Toussaud.
185 - the number of pounds spent on 3 tickets for Spamalot
1 - heart attack incurred by Tartarus when I fessed up the ticket price
2 and a bit - hours of fantastic fun that is Spamalot
8 - number of crows RAVENS (must have had a brain fart whilst typing - thanks for pointing out my error, Viv!) at the Tower of London

100 - number of smudge marks my sweaty little fingers and breath makes on the glass case as I edge my way around the State Crown admiring the jewels.  And no, you cannot get diamonds TOO big.
5,000 number of calories ingested at the Kensington Creperie.  Each.  Ice-cream to DIE for, lemme tell you.

Sonshine modelling the 'I can't eat another thing, but I'll give this a good shot' at Kensington Creperie!

uncountable - the number of good laughs we had in our 4 days in London
unknown - the time it will take me to save up enough to return.

I looooooove London!

30 Sept 2013

Hestia's Sonshine ....does The Passion Test

So, it's like this:  Motivating Sonshine to do anything other than play computer games is pretty hard-going.

I unearthed my Passion Test book (charity shop purchase - honestly) from the eleventy-billion Self Help  books that have not helped me one single jot.  But perhaps a teenager is a different matter.  Perhaps this will encourage him to find motivation.

Me:  I found this book *waves book around*

Sonshine:  Right?

Me:  I think that it would be fun for you to do the Passion Test.

Sonshine:  Do I have to, like, READ it?  *already looks bored*

Me:  No.  I'll tell you what to do and you just do it.  Are you up for it?

Sonshine shrugs and gazes at carpet in resigned-let's-get-it-over-with fashion.

Me:  Here's a pad and pencil.  I want you to spend a couple of minutes thinking of what would be in your life if it was absolutely FANTASTIC and that would have you springing out of bed with  a smile on your face EVERY day.  Ok?

Sonshine:  But I usually AM quite happy when I get up.  Unless I've been listening to you reading me a  ghost story at bed time.  Then I'm usually just knackered because, like, I have had hardly any sleep?

He's started this annoying upflick at the end of his sentences? Like this? Which I thought had died out with re-runs of Friends?  Clearly not.

He starts scribbling away.

Me:  Have you come up with about 10?

Sonshine:  Yep.  But I don't want you to read them.

He hands me the list which I proceed to hold out in front of me like a town cryer, with the list facing him, not me.

Me:  Point number one - compare it to point number two.  Is it still at the top of your list?

Sonshine:  Nope, I'd rather have point number two.

Me:  Excellent - now consider point number two.  Would you rather keep it than point number three?

Sonshine:  No I'd rather have point number two.

Point number two keeps it's high ranking place until we get to point number five.

Sonshine - I'd rather have point number five than point number two.

Me:  I'm getting confused with where we are in the list.  Can I not just read your list and we can do it that way?

Sonshine: Nope

So I struggle on with each of the points, trying to keep straight in my head which points were still in his top five and which were sent to the bottom of the list.

Point number five stays at the top until we get to point nine.  Then it takes centre stage.

Sonshine:  Actually, I'd like point number nine at the top of my list.

Me:  I'm getting confused, can I not just read the list?

And so I read the list.

And I read what point number five is, and how it trumped the other points before it.  And my eyes whell up with tears.

Until I get to point number nine.

And realise that having a USB table top fridge trumps World Peace and his parents having a happy relationship.

Children, who'd have them?  Seriously.  Do you want mine?

Note:  Point 10:  'Origin' is where one needs to have an on-line account to play The Sims 4 or something and Sonshine's account refuses to work.  Origin only want to talk to us with a live person, not e-mailed instructions.  Or a telephone call.  Which is just NOT on the cards at all.

18 Sept 2013

Hestia...luffs the Incredible Spice Men

Before the Incredible Spice Men strode onto BBC2 in a clashing riot of orange, pink and tartan, I was a complete POOF when it came to spicing up my food.

I'm such a woose that an unexpected dalliance with a Victory V can set me chundering for a jug of cold water.

My domestic goddess authenticity is also a bit suspect.  Remember my attempt at making almond lemon cake? It took about half a dozen attempts to get it right and by that time Sonshine and I had eaten so many egg-rich cakes I thought we would need some kind of medical intervention before we managed to get to the toilet again unaided.

I am, however, a complete push-over when it comes to the purchasing of cookery bookeries.

7 Sept 2013

Hestia's...random musings whilst dog-walking

Dear reader, I have been neglecting you shamefully over the past few weeks.  I would love to tell you that it's because I've been busier than 10 men with the writing, the leaded glass work, the gardening, the being 50 and making the most of the dying days of summer.

But I'd be lying.  I've simply been doing nothing.  Certainly nothing worth putting pen to paper about.  Or finger to key. Or whatever.

It's been mainly Facebook, if I'm honest *hopes that Tartarus isn't reading this on the Engine Room computer*

My daily grind at the moment is getting Sonshine off to school and getting Nero out for his 2-mile walk through the wood.  Yes, the very same wood where I fondly imagined there to be a dead body wrapped in a hideous 70s quilt cover.

I do a lot of thinking when I'm out with Nero.  Here are some of today's random thoughts:

I've brought 3 poo bags. Surely that will be enough....

What if I entered a poetry competition once a month?  I could totally do that.  I might even win something.  Remember, you won that thing in the Library last year.  Yeah, but probably no-one else entered that.  There's a big difference between winning a £15 book voucher and £1000 from the Basil Bunting Poetry Award.  Andrew Motion is the judge for that.  Did I take that poetry book back to the library?  Fuck, the fine will cost more than the book!

I hope these wellies don't start to chaff...

Is that a chantarelle mushroom?   *has sniff.  No scent of apricots.  ignores the mushroom. Walks on*

What about writing a bit more of that play? The one about the elderly comic who comes home to Scotland to visit his daughters, finds love and a new lease of life?  Who the fuck would want to watch that? It would be like paint drying.  Oh wait.  That's actually the plot for Last Tango in Halifax.  Bastards.  I should have written this when I had the idea in the first place.  *consigns idea to mental bin*

I've only brought 3 poo bags.  That won't be enough.

That's where I saw that body in the duvet.  Except it wasn't a body of course.

oh look - a deer!

Right, let's practise this 1-hour presentation for the Tarot students in Greenock.  *looks around.  No-one there.  Starts giving presentation.  ALOUD.  I talk out loud to no one for at least 15 minutes...getting into my stride.... when....*

JESUS  - that's a two-bag shit, Nero.  In fact, that's a shit that needs two pairs of hands, never mind two bags!  That Leaves me ONE bag for the last mile.  It won't be enough.

What about getting a writing festival going here? There could be poetry and flash fiction competitions for the schools?  Maybe get the PTA to finance the prizes?  Or publishers - after all, it would be educational.  Or we could hire the Pavilion for the day - all of it - and have Scottish authors reading passages from their work and talking and answering questions.  Maybe Ian Rankin? Alexander McCall-Smith....he's got a house in Argyll somewhere.  Local writers could get involved too - we've got a few good ones!  Myra (Duffy) and Jenny (Chaplin) could talk about self-publishing and sell their books? Local writing group could run workshops...... We could explore the format of the essay and the short story..... we could talk about recording our elderly relatives histories....we could have well-known poets too.  Fuck, ARE there any well-known poets?!  No.  A Festival of Writing wouldn't ever get off the ground.

Note to reader  - I don't actually think in brackets.  I added them for your delectation and delight.  Also, for googling purposes.

That's DEFINITELY a chanterelle.

Why does the dog insist on pissing on his own foot?

I need to get cracking on this book for the Tarot of Alexander (Daniloff).  I've only written about 6 cards.  What if he doesn't like what I've written?  What if it's so completely off the mark he says that I can't continue?  What if I can't actually write anything bout Tarot that anyone wants to read?

*remembers that she is half way through giving Tarot presentation to the trees.  Starts talking aloud again.  Hears polite cough behind her.  Stops talking.  Allows man with jack russell dog to hurry past*

I haven't blogged for AGES.  No one will come back to read anything I post now....

Please, Nero, don't crap there.......it's someone's GARDEN *looks round apologetically and scrapes up a poop that really needs more than one bag to do it justice*

By this time I am back at my front gate.  We've walked 2 miles. The dog is knackered.  I am the only person in the world to return from a dog walk completely hoarse.   I have given my 1-hour presentation aloud.  Twice.  I have what may or may not be a chanterelle mushroom in my pocket.  Some random jack-russell-owning dog walker thinks they've met an utter basket-case with a greyhound.

*reads back over the blog posting*

I think he's right.

16 Aug 2013

Hestia...and Sonshine's debut into S2

Every single year I have posed Sonshine on the front step and snapped him in his sparkly clean school attire.  It's the smartest he looks all year.

Yesterday was Back To School day for us up here on the West Coast.  Should have been Wednesday, but it clashed with Show Day and so some In Service Day magic was conjured up.


Yesterday we did not take the photo because some pals turned up and it is clearly Uncool to be photographed by your mother (still in her jammies) and half past eight in the morning.

As a Leo, I am BIG on tradition - so he had to get a photo when he came home.  Under protest, of course.

First Day: S2

Not so well-groomed at home time, eh?  

Loving having the house to myself.  Well, myself and Nero, of course!

When does school go back for you?

15 Aug 2013

Hestia's...... proud moment

If anyone ever calls you a horse's ass - say thank you!
Today was the island's Agricultural Show - a Big Thing in the social calendar.

Now that I have a dog, I thought I would enter him into a couple of classes at the Dog Show.  You may recall that a couple of years ago I was Steward at the dog show; a day of such unrelenting pelting rain that it we expected Noah to start rounding up the show animals two at a time.  It was such a mad day, it took TWO blog posts to recount in all its glory.  And for the benefit of my new reader (thanks for reading this btw :-)) here are the links - Part 1 and Part 2.

This year I decided to enter Nero into The Best Six Legs and don a little black skirt, black opaque tights (so that no-one could see my legs were as hairy as a greyhounds too) and black high heels.

But as show day dawned, I realised that I no longer owned such a thing as a little black skirt. I only owned a small tartan miniskirt that I hadn't worn since New Year 1998.  It actually fastened, but if I so much as sighed, the material threatened to split like a badly cooked sausage.  I pondered throwing ona  long skirt instead, but since you couldn't see my legs at all,  it simply wouldn't do.  I slid my gaze hopefully to Sonshine.

Me:  You still got those skinny black jeans that are too tight for you?

Sonshine:  Maybe.  Why?  *looks at me suspiciously*

Me:   Would you be prepared to wear them to take part in the Dog Show today?

A long silence ensues and he regards me balefully and with much resentment.  The unspoken words in his head are, I am sure 'I'm only doing this because you were FIFTY yesterday)

Sonshine: *sadly and with feeling* Okay then.....

Of course, I care not a jot about his interior monologue and mental accusations, just so long as I don't have to wear the tartan mini skirt in public.

And so we went up the field and I entered him in the Best Six Legs AND the Sporting Dogs category.

Reader, you will never believe it, but my recycled racer and my boy came THIRD in the Sporting Dogs category!!!!

Proud mother, proud handler, harassed dog

They came nowhere in the Best Six Legs (only 3 male entrants) because the judge did not take into account the skinniness and blackness of Sonshine's legs AND his black and white T-shirt matching up with the dog's legs and markings and awarded the male's rosette to a loud asshat with a boxer that had slipped its lead and run amok earlier in the day.  Who says that a noisy child doesn't get what it wants?!

They waz robbed - what fantastic six legs!

But THIRD best Sporting Dog, from about 13 other dogs!!!! We are very, very proud of Sonshine and Nero.

Sonshine got an extra 30 minutes on the computer for coming third and Nero got a pig's ear.  Parenting: I'm doing it the best I can :-D

12 Aug 2013

Hestia's dog is afraid of......

  • shadows (including, I kid you not, his own)
  • tennis balls
  • stairs (inside and outside)
  • mirrors
  • footballs (bounced or kicked)
  • umbrellas (up or down)
  • loud noises
  • Crisp packets (empty)
  • Boys on bikes
  • birds (the feathered, not Kardashian, variety)
  • Anything behind him
  • other dogs
  • being left on his own

15 Jul 2013

Hestia and Nero

So, here he is: Nero

I have walked so much since we got him on Wednesday of last week that I am two inches shorter!

Don't let the scabby, scared puppy in the photo fool you - he's an affectionate, quiet sofa-thief.

We luff him to death.

Will write more later.  Busy dog-walking!

8 Jul 2013

Hestia...... gets fused and slumped

I'm fairly getting into this glass stuff.  I signed up for a workshop on 'fusing and slumping' which has nothing to do with becoming a drunk electrician.

There were six of us standing nervously outside the glass workshop on Saturday afternoon.  We all shook hands and introduced ourselves.  Everyone had some experience of working with glass but I think I was the only one who had never fused glass.  Virgin.

Inside we got coffee and told each other a wee bit about our glass experience.  I basically led off my spiel by saying that they better have plenty elastoplasts in stock and asking whether blood made terrible stains on fused glass..... I think I was joking.

We each produced our pattern - mine was a cartoon mouse for a cheese board.  I had in my head a black background, a white mouse and, erm, cheese-coloured cheese.  But of course you cannot trace through black glass!  So it became a blue mouse on clear glass and I even ventured an attempt at painting some wording.

Anyway, enough of the chat.  Here's my work:

This is my fat little mouse, traced off and painted in some kind of black ink for firing in the kiln

And this is my fat little mouse in blue.  With cheddar cheese.  I should have picked something with more glass - it was a fusing and slumping workshop afterall.

This is him on Sunday morning with the glass fused and my 'cheese pleese' on both sides of the dish.  Also, floorboards.  It is sitting on top of a shallow square mould and will slowly slump into it as the temperature comes up again when the kiln is closed.

Behind you see Ellie's take on a Charles Rennie-McIntosh piece.  Hers will slump into an arc, over the top of the stainless steel mould it is balanced upon.

We pick up our completed items at some point this week.  I also made some coasters because I wanted to play more with the coloured glass....and frit.....and ink....and everything that the glass workshop had that we could play with!

Marvellous fun!

I came home to the news that Murray had won Wimbledon - so perfect end to a fantastic weekend!


Tartarus had been on child-care duties all weekend and over a quiet beer at a friend's bbq I got to hear exactly how my son had spent his weekend.  And it wasn't good.

But I'll tell you about that during the week.

For now - feast your eyes on my little mouse and cheeeeese!!!

PS - I did not cut myself at all!!!! I am improving!!!!

10 Jun 2013

Hestia....and Dr Internet

yeah, only search for DIAGRAMS, missy...
So it took me MONTHS to pluck up the courage to go to the doctors to see about the mystery bump on my boob.  After some careful prodding, the doctor told me that it was nothing to worry about and was actually called a senile something or other.  I pretty much tuned out after the word 'senile' to tell you the truth.

You would think, therefore, that when an intermittent nagging pain blossomed again in my side, that I would waste no time, I would be straight up the surgery to have my concerns laid to rest.

6 Jun 2013

Hestia.....and the Ginger Fudge

Billy Bunter - cake expert
My mum gave me her Ginger Fudge recipe which I shared with you, dear reader, here.

I decided that it was time to give it a bash and so today I set to work - turning two packets of ginger nuts into a fine powder in the food processor and heating through the condensed milk, the sugar and the butter.

And that's it.

What could go wrong?

5 Jun 2013

Hestia is.....no laughing matter

The long-suffering reader here at Hestia Towers might know that I am quite keen on Tarot.  Once a month I go up to Glasgow and provide a 2-hour workshop for people who want to develop their skills.

Last weekend was one such workshop and we were looking at spreads - everything from the value of single card readings right through to a big 36-card spread.

I spend ages writing the hand-outs, packing in as much as I can into the 2 hours with lots of practical excercises for the attendees to experiment with.  I even stand in my bedroom and deliver them to the wall so that I can work out my timings so that I manage to get through the entire worksheet. Oh yes, I CAN work quite hard when the mood takes me.

So at the workshop, one lady, who is a regular, is sitting in front of me while I deliver some lines.  I pause, allowing the team to start getting their decks organised for the first exercise.

3 Jun 2013


It's not the taking of pills that worries me.

 Nor even having to take them in such quantity that it warrants a neatly divvied up wee box.

 Without a word of exaggeration (or even a vowel of exaggeration), Not My Boyfriend Ron asked Juno whether she wanted her tablets from the compartment marked 'Deb, Eve, Zooz or Nrom'.

 I think that she was so dumbfounded by his clattering lack of insight into how you hold the package to read it that she failed to reply entirely.

 I myself was left gawping like a goldfish.

 He drives a car....so be afraid, VERY afraid.

28 May 2013

Hestia considers Adopting. A greyhound.

Will you be my Buddy?
Dogs have always been a part of my life.  We started off small, with Yorkshire Terriers - fiesty little critters who were surprisingly robust and happy to wrestle.....and then the most unbelievable Lhasa Apso who was really a person in a dog suit.  A very small person in a very small dog suit.  And then a small Alsatian called Sally, whom I rehomed from my workplace at the PDSA(occupational hazard, working with animals means that you end up giving a home to at least one abandoned wee soul).

It has long been my intention to rehome a greyhound.  Elegant, quiet and profoundly lazy this is the breed of dog for me.

And other pluses:

26 May 2013

Hestia....and the Ginger Fudge recipe

This is Juno's ginger fudge recipe.  It's from when she attended a group in the neighbouring village called The Young Wives.  Given that she's now 76,  I think it's fair to say that she's had this a loooong time :-)

2 packets of Ginger Snap biscuits (crushed) <- use a processor for best results
2 teaspoons of dried ginger
1 cup and a wee bit more of brown sugar <- technical, right?
1/4lb of butter
1 large tin of condensed milk
1 pack cooking chocolate

Crush the biscuits and add the ginger to the mix.

Into a pan put butter, sugar and condensed milk- bring to boil slowly, stirring all the time.  Don't go away and leave it!  Let it boil for about 2 minutes.

Take off heat and mix thoroughly with crushed biscuit/ginger mix.  Tip into tray-bake type tray and press into place and even off the top.

When cool, cover top with melted chocolate.

As cooling, mark out into SMALL squares or even triangles - it is VERY sweet and small portions will suffice.

Juno also points out that it's better to make it thinner (ie use a larger, rather than a deeper, tray)

I have no pictures of the ginger fudge squares because they are all eaten

*pancreas howls in protest*

21 May 2013

Hestia does Florence Nightingale. Sort of.

This was SO not me.
So I went up to mothers, having farmed sonshine out to my Day Carer and the Grass Fairy for a couple of nights.  What a difference it made to me knowing that he was ok and not watching someone's ipad under the covers until 3am before school....

Arrival at the house was fine - got the heating on and the water switched on.  Then my mum's neighbour and I headed off to pick up two perching stools and a loo seat with handles.  After a bit of dicking about (where we were left hovering in a hallway surrounded by No Entry signs) a wee man came with the stuff.  I signed a form. We stood looking at each other.  'Is that it, then?' I asked after a bit.  'Aye,' he replied before disappearing back through the swing doors and into whatever strange Santa's Grotto it is that they make these things.

13 May 2013

Hestia and The Tale of Juno's Hip

So, my mother went to visit my brother and his wife in sunny Birmingham.  They went for a day out to Ludlow and whilst walking down a cobbled street (no doubt looking in a shop window!) my mother lost her footing and tumbled to the ground like a sack of spuds.

And was unable to get back up.

29 Apr 2013

Hestia's Highland Fling

I know that you probably FELL upon this posting, in the hope that I have kicked Tartarus out and embarked on a mad, passionate affair with some man in a bothy somewhere.  Come ON, people!!!! *claps hands together like school teacher*  It means that I went to the ballet.

Scottish Ballet's Highland Fling.  Technically, Matthew Bourne's Highland Fling, but he not only gave permission, but actually oversaw the choreography for Scottish Ballet.  *impressed*

If you are a long-suffering time reader, then you might recall that I met up with an old school friend after a hiatus of about 20 years?  Well, we decided to celebrate our 50th birthdays jointly, by having an outing to the ballet.

Some background information  *does the wobbly-time-shifting-hands thing*

We were impoverished students (always had enough money for a sausage supper and a pint of wine at the uni disco though) and we liked our culture, so we would take our  £410 grant money and use it to buy a season ticket for Scottish Ballet.

We saw lots of excellent ballets, from the best seats in the house (the Dress Circle).

So what better way to celebrate our passage through life? A night at the ballet!!!

Aphrodite (she'd like me to call her that, rather than her real name) bought the tix, I booked a couple of inexpensive hotel rooms and before you know it, it was performance night!

Here's my hotel room.  The Campanile hotel at the SSEC - absolutely brilliant value for money - bright, clean and a lot nicer than a room costing £29.00 per night might suggest!

Here's what I can see from my seat in the Dress Circle:

This is looking straight across to the boxes.  Next time, we're going to get that box on the far left and wear tiaras....

This is the ceiling.  Of the Theatre Royal, not the Campanile Hotel bedroom.

The stage, set for Act 1.  That bright light actually says 'Highland Fling' my camera couldn't cope with the different lighting conditions.  To see what the set actually looked like, there's this, official photo.  I don't know who the photographer is, but this is definitely not my photo:

I won't tell you the whole plot, but it ended in tears.  The choreography was by turns lyrical and edgy.  There was a lot of Bourne's humour - even little animals in the Sylph's forest.  If you can get a ticket to see this when they tour it, please do - it's really good.  Aphrodite even gave a little gasp as the final scene played out.  Telling you nothing else, but GO!

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