House at Pooh Corner

House at Pooh Corner
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Monday, 1 August 2022

A Georgian Jane Doe Challenge


Recently, we visited Georgia (the Country, not the US state).
We are now fascinated with this country & have fallen under its natural beauty spell but, full disclosure,  largely ignorant of its History, Struggles & What her people have lived through & experience(d).

Obviously it is patronising to try to even imply that 10 days was anywhere near enough to even scratch the surface but, we tried and were (are) very interested.

I've no wish to politicise this but, obviously, at THIS moment in history, the past struggles and experiences of Georgians in recent times feel VERY relevant just now.

For reasons, not relevant to the point in hand, we found ourselves at a famous Flea Market in Tbilisi.  Some of the traders at this market, deal with former Soviet military items (medals, gas masks, busts of Stalin etc).

Whilst browsing the various stalls, I spotted pile of papers & little books.

(Stock photo - not my own)
I couldn't read any them (as all in Russian) but the vendor started showing them to me - University Degrees, educational documents, that sort of thing.

A small tattered red booklet caught my eye. 
Opened it up.
A black & white lady looked back at me.

It appeared to be a passport.

I quickly put it back.  

So deeply ingrained in us, the importance of a passport.  It felt wrong and invasive to be touching someone else's passport, let alone such a personal document belonging to a total stranger.

We left.

But, I couldn't stop thinking about the Black & White Lady, with her hair all 'did' for such an important photo.


I felt mad & sad that her passport was there, just lying amongst a host of other dusty documents, by the side of the road.
I felt mad & sad that they were there to be peddled as a kitsch curio to tourists (like me).
I wondered about the circumstances behind her passport being there.

Needed to talk about it with husband.

I said that I felt it was so disrespectful that someone might BUY something like this ... as a souvenir, when there could well be some tragedy behind the story.
Surely this trivialises the tragedy? Whatever it might be.

Husband said "Yeah, but, let's turn this around & think of it another way".  


He concurred that there could well be a tragedy behind its journey to the flea market (what that might be would be disrespectful to speculate).
But, maybe, this might be an opportunity to pay respect (to the Black & White lady with the coiffed hair... & the passport's journey) by going back for it?
Maybe, He said, you could find out something about that lady & her story and thus, pay homage to that.
But, at the very least, He said, you could stop it from lying amongst a pile of other papers on a grimy tarp in a flea market and give it some respect & dignity that way.

Well, I was NEVER going to leave her there NOW, was I?

Back we went.

I found her straight away.

{A Twist: there was another small red book .... same photo, much info the same but, some differences.}

They have BOTH come home with me.
Whether the man who sold them to me cared or understood (or not), I told him I'd look after them (and her) now.


I'd love to investigate these documents.
I'd love to understand how or why they might have found themselves away from their owner.
It might be a massively mundane reason and I have been over emotional/dramatic about all this.

I'd love to see if anyone else wants to investigate them with me.

They are all in Russian, so I am already on the backfoot.
I am utterly ignorant about the political & social history of Georgia - and so I have a lot to learn.  It seems getting a handle on this seems a sensible place to start.

If anyone else would like to help me get to know the Black & White Lady with the Coiffed Hair, let me know and let's go on a journey together.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Pony Gal Pals - through the Ages

For many a little girl, the cliche Pony Obsessive Years start around, perhaps 7 or 8?

Earlier, obviously if One is lucky enough to have Pony Folk as Parents.

Some of my earliest, strongest friendships (and I realise now, the bulk of my current, most profound friendships) may have started with but were certainly cemented by Ponies.

Myself & my Young Pony Gal Pals bonded over:
🐴 'Have you ever Cantered?',

🐴Pony Story Books (Jill & her a million Pony books - enabled me to reassure my parents that I was TOTALLY going to be able to finance a pony on my gymkhana winnings. And lemonade stands.
Even though we didn't really have regular Gymkhanas, and they didn't give prize money. And I've never made lemonade in my life),

🐴Showing off Naming Parts of the Bridle, whilst de' & then re'constructing one

🐴The covering of bedroom walls and doors with pony pictures from a multitude of pony magazines

🐴Fantasies of The Pony We Will Have One Day (FYI that Palomino never did show up)

🐴Multiple drawings of stable blocks with every pony named

🐴Conversion of bedroom doors into stable doors with some stick-on poster (this was the ACTUAL one I had.)

🐴Hours of cleaning & oiling the foulest and filthiest of School Tack. Pfffft. Nobody called it Child Exploitation back then. We loved it & couldn't get enough of it.

🐴Hours of helping out in lessons for Beginners, just waiting for the nod for the Instructor (who we ALLLLL worshipped. My love of silver bangles, I KNOW came from my 1st Riding Instructor)

🐴Hours of pretend lessons - each of us taking turns to be the Instructor (see above), whilst the others trotted or cantered on our 'naughty' ponies in a circle around her.

🐴Hours of Showjumping course construction - sometimes out of sunbeds, sometimes flowerpots, brooms & pea sticks. Once, a lawnmower. Perhaps Arena Eventing was invented in my grandparent's garden in the early 80s?

🐴Hours of cantering imaginary naughty, snorting, refusing ponies, who sometimes went clear but sometimes unfathomably would have a pole down around the above showjumping course*
*to date, imaginary is the only kind of showjumping course I've ever done, clear or otherwise)

🐴Sometimes if Showjumping was on telly, my mount was the back of the sofa, with stirrups made of 3 belts and reins out of a 4th. We had many a successful Hickstead this way, Sofa & I.

🐴The hours till the Weekend were counted down.  The routine of 'all day, every day' at the Stables was sacrosanct

But then, for many, there is a point when The Pony Girl Life stops.
It might be school pressures, perhaps moving to University.
Perhaps an unpleasant injury (my case).
Certainly, when one stops being bank-rolled by the Parents, Ponies do often take a back seat for a while.

But, y'know, for many of us, they never get out of the car completely.
You glance up at the rear mirror and there they are - smelling all gorgeous, soft whiskery muzzles at the ready - just waiting.


Image result for thelwellTill you find your way BACK to PonyLand.

And you find your way to Grown Up Pony Pals.

But the most amazing thing about your Grown Up Pony Pals is .... that when you are together, you AREN'T grown ups at all.

Our inner pony-obsessive 12 year old girls rise to the surface again. We recognise each other joyfully and FINALLY we get to speak to each other in a way we can speak with no one else.

We aren't Mums or Wives or Teachers or PAs or other such terribly grown up things.

Together we are those 12 year old girls again.
(apart from the imaginary show jumping courses, cos lots of us have, y'know, sciatica and bad knees and shit now)

🐴We'll talk about our ponies, each others' ponies, for hours.
🐴We'll watch pony stuff on telly for hours (granted, this often is accessorised by a Something & Tonic  and gorgeous nibbles)
🐴We go out and have adventures together - sometimes there are ribbons to bring home, sometimes there aren't.
🐴We celebrate each other's victories (& we know what they are, however small they might seem to someone outside the Inner Circle)
🐴We love & watch over each other's ponies as if they were our own - we know their personalities, quirks and trials.
  • We shove them onto horseboxes cos "Enough is enough dickhead, we are all bloody knackered now. Let's just go home".
  • We stay out of range of certain teeth.
  • We roll our eyes at their annoying door kicking. And then, give them a carrot.
  • We worry if we hear one of Us has a tummy-ache.
    We know what that means to a Pony Person. 
  • We send Whatsapps about the appearance of Poo. 
  • We worry with each other & We help calm each other down. 
  • We ask help from each other. And we give it freely

And we also cry together and we share the sad times.
Shoulder to shoulder.

When One of Us has to say goodbye to their Pony, the 12 year Old Girls weep.
We weep for the Little PonyGirl who has just lost Her Pony SoulMate.
We weep with Her and we weep for Her.
And We weep for ourselves.
For we have lost one of Us.

Until we all meet up again by the Big Polo-Patch in the Sky.
Just don't expect me to canter there either.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Battles at The Fringe

Keep your friends close they say, but your Enemies closer.

Lucky me. 
Mine Enemy is close.  Very very close.
Like, Mine Enemy is 'right up in my face'-kinda close and has been for years.

And yet it seems, familiarity has definitely bred contempt.
Even from the earliest days our relationship has been troubled:
Would you just LOOK at that thing?

Granted, the actions of a 3rd Party have certainly not make our journey any easier.
Yeah, I'm looking at you, Mama of Roo. The evidence really only points in one direction.

Straight is for losers.
And so, we agreed to go our separate ways.

Yup, throughout the '80s & '90s, it was just Me & the Madonna Perm, The Rachel and The Natalie Imbruglia*.
We never spoke of Her.

* Yes, I know (now) that having their haircut DOESN'T make you actually look like them, but they were 2 very stupid decades

I don't, to this day, know what She told others about me.


But look! Things are clearly working out for Winkleman & Hers.

OK, we are different creatures, Winkleman & I.
Hers looks a jolly, amenable, shiny happy thing
And she will have 'people' to handle it. 

I don't got people but I DO got High Irritability Levels and a Short Attention Span when it comes to negotiating with terrorists.
Further, I am ill-inclined to kowtow to that effing thing & its unknown bloody demands.


Between You, Me & The Proverbial, I need Her more than She needs me these days.  Trouble is, She knows it.
I have cajoled, I have negotiated & when rudely ignored, I have tried to force submission.
THAT did not go well. I don't know why I thought it might.

Are these things really SO needy? Why so high maintenance?
Why so bitchy?
How can it APPEAR to agree to 3 fairly simple requests (hang straight, stay there! and ideally, don't poke me in the eye) and allow me to leave my house thinking Today Is the Day.

Before spectacularly scrumpling & skewing itself into some flimsy cow-licky monstrosity.
Such a bitch.

Just cover up the wrinkles, you cow.

Yup, another one.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Chipology - for the love of a good Chip

These are Chips:

Also: Pomme Frites or, French Fries

And these are Crisps:

Both are good.

But today, we are talking about Chips.

Over dinner, myself and some friends spent the best part of an hour discussing, ruminating and debating over the best kind of Chip.
If the length and volume of our conversation is any measure, it is apparent that many of us feel quite passionate about our Chips.
Actually, if I cast my mind back, I don't think I have ever met anyone that said,
"No thanks, I'm just not that keen on chips."

Now, where we DO seem to differ is what we consider to be
a) The Perfect Chip.
AND .....
b) Our Methodology to attain the Perfect Chip.

The Perfect Chip

The Chip-Loving World seems divided on this.
Some fall in the Golden and Crisy camp.
You know the ones. 
The ones that maintain their perfect form as they travel from wrapper/plate to mouth.

Their firmness allows for ease of dipping into your sauce of choice: 

You do not need to take in to account the Droop Factor to avoid getting red, brown or curry sauce on your knuckles.
There is an audible crunch as you bite through the crispy outer and discover the fluffy, steam-emitting carby interior.

CARE: they register high on the 'burn the roof of mouth' risk 

Others, the Pale & Soggy camp.

If you detect some bias, you would be right. I love a pale and soggy chip.
But, standby, Antacids...

Droopy. Greasy.
The advantage with this chip is that when you shake the salt on, it doesn't ricochet off on to the table.
There is high Droop Factor with this chip.
You must dangle to dip (Copyright : Roo) but, what happens next is a matter of personal preference.

I recommend the technique known as the Baby Bird. Tip head back, drop chip in.  It is un-ladylike but it will minimise greasy fingers and getting sauce all over yourself, including your chin (also un-ladylike).

Comfort Food Quotient is exceptionally high with the Pale & Soggy.
It is like a curling up on the sofa, with a duvet, with BBC's Pride & Prejudice on the box.
For the duration, all is well with the world.

Also, you feel a little Edgy. A little Dangerous. A little Screw You, World.
Eating chips.
You know it is bad but, like all Bad Things it is soooooooooo good.

The Methodology


Can we have a show of hands?
Who thinks the best way to eat a chip is straight from the paper? (Bonus Point: a seagull stalking you)

Yes, I thought so.

Potential Area of Difficulty:
Sometimes, you cannot eat them straightaway.
Sometimes  you have to drive, or walk, them home.
Sometimes, you need to carry them to where everyone else is sitting on, let's say, the beach.
And remember, there's that seagull.

What do you do?

Wrap them up tight, in a plastic bag?
or do you ......
...... tear a hole in the paper to let the steam out to avoid Steam-induced Sogginess, which is the evil step-sibling of Yummy Greasy Sogginess.


A further opportunity for heated debate.

Convention might suggest, Salt THEN vinegar.

In our household, we have gone with Vinegar, then Salt.

Helps the sticking, see?

In Conclusion
I never met a chip I didn't like.
Clearly, there are some that I like better than others.

Some may scoff at my Enthusiasm for the Humble Chip.
But I am willing to bet, that if presented with a bowl, plate or bag of chips - most of you will scan, select and eat individual chips in order of preference.
According to your own unique set of criteria.

Have a look again.
If that was your bag of chips, you would pick which you would eat first.
Admit it.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Laugh with me. Cry with me.

"The achievement of bringing someone to tears, is infinitely greater than the achievement of bringing them to laughter"

"We laugh all the time. And easily"

(Malcolm Gladwell, Canadian journalist, bestselling author, and speaker.[1] He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996)

Lucky me, I also cry easily.

But I cry easily at stupid stuff.  
Like over sad animal stories. Oh, and at the happy ones too.
Like at the big reveal of those gardening make-over programmes.  
Like National Anthems (everyone's. All of them). 
Like whenever anyone wins anything, or loses.
You can imagine I am a puffy-eyed wreck during the Olympics.

Mr Gladwell is right.  We do seem to laugh all the time.  Although I propose that not all Laughs are equal.

Neither are the Cries.

The Laughs

The most common is the 
Joining In or, I am One of You laughs.
The one you do when you don't really know what you are laughing AT but it feels more comfortable to laugh than not.
It is a shallow laugh.
It is a social nicety laugh.

In that it is a Getting Along laugh, it is a superficial but positive heh-heh-heh.

I am ok with that.

There is the OMG! I can't believe you just said that laugh.
This is accompanied by hands covering eyes or mouth, a *gasp* and some furtive looking around.
You love it, but you hate it.
You are also glad that whatever was just said, was said by someone else.
See, the technicality that YOU were not the purveyor of whatever-was-said, protects you.
You can laugh at this, and not be a complete bitch.

The rarest, most elusive and, most healing laugh is the Belly Laugh.

Now, this one is the one that will clear your soul.

Your entire body and mind surrender to this laugh.  

It purges and drives tension away - that's why often you feel quite weak after a good ol' Belly Laugh.

What makes this special is that only very special people can make you Belly Laugh.

If you have some of those people in your Life, you are blessed.  They are as essential to well-being as a good internet connection and a freezer full of chocolate biscuits.


As I have mentioned, I do cry fairly easily.
As someone who completed a Pet Bereavement Counselling course in the hope of being able to help clients, I am a big fat #fail.
You see, I am unconvinced that crying along with Crying Clients helps much.

That aside, yes, I well up fairly easily and fairly regularly.
Stuff moves me.
Eyes get watery.
Empathy = welling up

But, what is, thankfully, rare is the Full Sob of Sadness.
These are reserved for those extra-close, extra-special people or real-life sad or bad situations.

It doesn't happen much, I am happy to report.  But I am glad that it does.
It means that I have extra-close, extra-special people in my Life.

And, it occurs to me, as I write, that they are often the same people that Bring on The Belly Laugh.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Look up and love the Clouds

Of Magpies & friendly grass.
Of newspapers, magazines and radio.
Clouds and blue skies.
Wish I could wriggle my toes in all.

Last year it was the trees.
This year, whilst Trees maintained their Significant Significance status, out of nowhere, Grass stepped it up.

Perhaps Grass got wind of Trees' 2013 rave reviews.

Whatever its drive, clearly Grass has a competitive streak.  Its work, this Summer was impressive.

How had I in previous years, failed to acknowledge the deep joy of walking of soft, squeaky (the absence of dust and sand helps) juicy green grass?

The grass where I live is harsh, spiky, pokey, stabby stuff.
And, within it, live ants.
Bad ants.
Walk on this stuff you will find no joy.
Only risk.

The Bad Ants will give you the kind of bite that makes your dog suddenly drop and chew madly at its foot.
When, and it is 'when', not if, it happens, first it will hurt.
And then, it will swell.

If I could chew my foot, I think I almost certainly would.

So, I wriggle my toes, free from threat, in that lovely juicy squeaky clean grass whenever I can.

Also, I shall salute Magpies.

Can't help it. Always have.
I do it without thinking.

See a Magpie. Salute.

In fact, I salute groups of Magpies, which I know isn't, strictly, necessary, but, so far so good, I ain't risking it now.

As well as the United Kingdom's Grass and her black & white birds, I also fell under the spell of her Clouds this Summer.

My FB page is awash with photos of Seagulls (I am partial to a seagull too. Since Roo Time began, without a seagull fix, I haven't had me a British Summer Holiday) ...........................and Clouds.
We just don't get Clouds like it. And I couldn't take my eyes off their cumulonimby glory. (Cloud types)


And so, we return to our sandy Home-for-Now.
We have those Happy/Sad feelings that all who have chosen our kind of life have when it comes time to say Goodbye & head home*.

(NOTE the lowercase 'h') See also Being Home

We have much to look forward to but, do me a favour ........
If you live in the UK, or anywhere that has good clouds, be thankful for them.
Look up and love your Clouds.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

A Fix - of calm, quiet Booky Coffeeness

Scattered around the world are Happy Places.
My Happy Places.

Some, but not all, are bookshops.
My Favourite Bookshop, just FYI, is Waterstones on Piccadilly, but I am blessed to have a 2nd AND a 3rd favourite.

I wish I could say that one of them was an Indie but sadly, no.
If I had regular (read: any) access to an Independent Bookshop though, I have no doubt it would be a contender.

All this aside, yesterday, I got to spend time with #2.

Waterstones (coincidence?), Swansea.

A hidey-hole of calm, quiet and considered bookyness.  It doesn't feel like a place where the primary concern is the rather vulgar financial transaction of selling paper, with words on it.

Here, I sense their desire to share books & to share their treasure box of enjoyment for them.

When you walk in, you feel the diversity of riches, inviting you, welcoming you to immerse yourself.
Here, you will be entertained, educated, amused, informed & enriched.
All you have to do it take your time, and make the leap.

It helps that it is also, beautiful.  The Art Nouveau frontage, the grand sweeping staircase (of this former Carlton Cinema) as you enter is a thing of beaty and, irresistibily, it draws up UP.

UP is where the most delicious coffee is.

UP is where in spite of all muttered good intentions as you ascend those pretty twisty stairs, the first sighting of a homemade Lemon Cake or Victoria Sponge will leave you powerless to resist.
Anything you want, just give the cake.

It is up to you how you want to do this.
For myself, the Optimum Book-Shopping Experience goe thus.
First, we are talking about an ACTUAL physical thing. That's why I am here, and not buying books sitting on the loo, hoping the Wifi stretches this far, with a Kindle. (no disrespect Kindle, but I am sure alot of your transactions happen there.)

Browse the shelves.
Pick up books.
Feel them.
Smell them.
Examine cover.
Red the back
Open, check font, paper and spine.
(Note: A book may be rejected & replaces, at any point, during the above sequence).

There is one final test I carry out before I decide if it is a Yay or a Nay, but it is a secret.
Not secret because it is terribly clever and high-brow, secret 'cos you will think I am ridiculous if I told you.

Once selection(s) is (are) made ........ THEN coffee.

Never coffee first.

Peruse Selections in an increasing caffeinated, cake-fuelled high.
(Note: this part of The Process is academic.  You will be buying all of them.  We know this.)

Gaze out of that beautiful bay window, if you are lucky enough to have scored yourself a seat there.  Look past the anti-pigeon net, feel like an Elizabethan m'lady locked up in an evil Uncle's beautiful house watching the Cheerful & The Free below go about their lives. #princesscomplex?

IN fact, what I can see from my vantage point within this cocoon of dignified, latte-rich serenity are a series of mobile phone repair/unlocking shops, e-ci vendors, bookies (that is book-IES, places not generally know for their excellent espressos, or books) & H. Street Jewellers.

Withdraw back into this other world, just for a little while longer.

Finish your FlatWhite/Cappu/Whatever, it is time now, Sweetheart.
Time to re-enter the world of parking attendants, mega-super-uber stores & pasties shops.

For me, it will be a while till I can get myself back here.  Such trips are always bittersweet.

But, fortified by these few hours, I shall float along buoyed up by today's purchase until I can get me to another of my Happy Booky Happy Places.

Wherever in the world it may be.


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