Sunday, 26 June 2011

-17lbs and Shakespeare at the Priory

I thought I'd better get another weigh in onto my blog before my holidays.  I've now lost 17lbs, the diet's still going well, the weight's not dropping off fast, but slowly but surely it's happening and I'm happy with that.  I'll have a blip when I'm on holiday, I don't do dieting when I'm away, part of my breaks is enjoying good food!  But I will go back to it when I get back home.

I had a good weekend, after the excitement of U2 at Glastonbury on Friday, Saturday saw me enjoying some Shakespeare.  My friend and I saw The Merry Wives of Windsor at Lanercost Priory,  it was part of the yearly Lanercost Festival.  Before the play we had a meal in the restaurant there, I had fish and chips and a strawberry Eton mess, (yes I know it's not diet food but I'm already in holiday mode LOL!).

If the weather is good the play is performed outside beside the walls of the Priory, but it was wet so the play was held in the Dacre Hall, part of the Priory's cloisters and refectory.  It was an amazing room, original brick walls, the original oak-beamed vaulted roof and a huge 12 foot wide stone fireplace.  You could feel the history.

I'd never seen The Merry Wives of Windsor before, and I really enjoyed it, full of trickery and people getting their just dues.  In the interval I was in the toilet and I heard an English woman saying to her American friend that she was enjoying the play and that it was rather like a Carry On film.  Then she had to try to explain what a Carry On film was LOL!  But she was right, it was a bit like that.  Good fun.  I love Shakespeare, he can make you laugh and cry and everything inbetween.  He had such an understanding of human nature, and after centuries that's still the same, just shows people don't change that much.

So now it's not long until I go to Canada for a holiday and U2 so there'll be a break in my posts here for a while.  But I'll be blogging all about it once I get back, bye for now!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

U2 on Fire at Glastonbury

Last night I sat myself down in front of the TV with a bottle of Errazuriz Merlot (delicious!) to watch U2 perform at Glastonbury.  I love Glastonbury, it's different from other festivals and the eclectic mix of performers is always great.  It took U2 30 years to perform there but at last it was on!  It must have been quite nerve-wracking for the band as there was a significant anti-U2 vibe about them performing there.  So when they came onto the pyramid stage I had my fingers crossed for them.  I needn't have worried, from the start they were brilliant, and within a short time had the crowd very much with them.

They started with a medley of Achtung Baby songs, Even Better, (accompanied by a new video by Damian Hurst on the screen behind the band) The Fly, Mysterious Ways, Until the End of the World, One, and I drifted back in time almost 20 years to the mad Zoo days.  Even some of the video on the large screen behind the band was from those days.  They were crazy, but good times and it was a treat to hear those songs again.  The rain was pouring down, you could see the drops on Bono's glasses and at one time as Edge stamped on the stage the water from little puddles on the stage.  But hey, this is Glastonbury and that means rain and mud!

Then, a nice touch, Bono sang Jerusalem acappella, very appropriate as William Blake's words refer to the possibility that Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea visited Glastonbury.  Whether that is true or not, Glastonbury is a special place and some magic was happening there last night.

Jerusalem segued into an uplifting Where the Streets Have No Name.  Then it was I Will Follow after which was I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking for, the crowd singing a verse on it's own, amazing if you think that this is not a U2 audience, something Bono remarked on - "We haven't played to people who are not our audience for a very long time, so it was just overwhelming for our band."

Then came Stay which was wonderful followed by Beautiful Day which had a pre-recorded introduction by astronaut Mark Kelly in the International Space Station.  Then there was a medley of high energy songs, Elevation, Get On Your Boots, Vertigo, Sunday Bloody Sunday.  Suddenly the high energy stopped and those familiar opening notes that always send shivers up my spine rang out - Bad!  It was a huge surprise for me as they haven't done Bad live on the current leg of the 360 Tour.  I have to admit the tears were running down my face during this, it always gets to me, and this version was fabulous, I was in heaven.  Bono added a few lines of Jerusalem to the lyrics:

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

This was followed by Pride, which isn't a favourite but has to be done in a gig like this.  After a short break the band did a encore beginning with With Or Without You, during which Bono took UK and Irish flags and laid them across speakers on the stage.

Moment of Surrender followed, still not one of my faves, and it seemed as if it was all over, then suddenly they launched into Out of Control, another surprise!  Written when they were ordinary kids of 18, and now here they were, world famous 50 somethings, the best band in the world who definitely still have it!  That's pretty amazing.

Though I'm still a fan I've often been critical and cheesed off with U2 over various things in recent years.  But live they are brilliant, never let us down and are simply the best.  And I can't wait until I see them live again myself in Canada very, very soon!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Cumberland Pencil Museum

My cousin Janet and I went to Keswick for a day out last week.  Though the Lake District is so close to where I live I don't often go, and every time I do go I say, "I must come more often" but don't.  Anyway, we pottered about the town centre which was busy but not heaving with tourists so it was quite pleasant wandering around.  I saw a man with a gorgeous standard wire-haired dachshund and just had to go over to talk to him.  It brought back memories of our very first dachshund, Kim, who was the same type.

Now to the Cumberland Pencil Museum.  Pencil Museum?? you may say, and yes it sounds as odd as the Currywurst Museum in Berlin, but you know, it was really interesting and worth visiting.

Anyone who draws will know of Derwent Pencils, they are known for their quality and are used by many an artist.  Well these pencil were made at a factory in Keswick for over two hundred and fifty years, the factory moved to West Cumbria in 2008.

Graphite was discovered in the early 1500's in Borrowdale close to Keswick.  Shepherds used it to mark their sheep which wandered freely across the mountains and fells. A cottage industry of pencil making soon developed.  Graphite became enormously valuable, costing around £1,500 a kilo in the late 1700's, it was transported under armed guard.  The UK's first pencil factory opened in Keswick in 1832, it became the Cumberland Pencil Company in 1916. 
The Museum was opened in the former factory canteen building in 1981. The famous Pencil Museum van, a 1954 Morris J Type, was found hidden under rubbish in the warehouse, brought out and restored, it now has pride of place at the front of the Museum.  The Museum has over 80,000 visitors a year.
You enter the Museum through a reconstruction of a graphite mine - which has seen better days! Then there are various display to look at.  I was fascinated by the top secret pencils that were made at the factory during World War Two. They were given to RAF servicemen before missions in Germany,  They contained rolled up maps and a compass where the eraser should have been.  The Germans never discovered this trick.  
The largest pencil in the world is on display as well as very inventive pieces of artwork made from pencils.  There was a room in which a film all about the history of pencil making ran which gave a good back ground to the exhibits. 
There was an artist giving tuition on using pencils for artwork.  Unfortunately we just missed getting into that as it was underway when we arrived.  The museum has regular free workshops on different subjects.  The shop was very good and had gorgeous pencil sets.  There were great bargains to be had in the sale, but alas, I'm still on my financial sensibility mode so I resisted.
The Museum isn't very big, and from the outside not very inviting - it's an old fashioned prefab.  But inside it is bright, lively and has a good atmosphere.  The story of the humble pencil is really fascinating, and this is a museum with the difference and well worth a visit.  
Visit the website Cumberland Pencil Museum

Monday, 6 June 2011

Paw Rest

My older dog Max is on paw rest!  I noticed this morning that he was limping a bit, so this afternoon took him to the vet.  She said it seemed to be a strain.  I immediately felt guilty as it probably happened as a result of the long walks we've been taking these last few days (£21 for a five minute consultation, I should have been a vet). Poor Max, but then he is 70 in human years.  He should be fine after having a little rest for a few days and no more very long walks.  So it'll be Pepsi and me hitting the road for the treks in future.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Glorious Summer and Memories

We've been having some great weather these past few days, very warm and sunny.  I was working this morning, but shortly getting home I went out for a walk with the dogs.  There's just something so relaxing about walking with dogs, you are kind of in harmony with your pets.  Plus you always get into conversation with some other dog walker you meet on the way as you immediately have something in common.  I've just got a new pedometer, one that actually works properly, and was using that for the first time.  I can't stand gyms etc, but need to exercise more, so I'm aiming to do a proper walk every day as part of my weight loss regime.

It was a lovely walk, the birds singing, happy as us humans to have the good weather, the hedges seemed alive with the chattering of sparrows!  The trees had that gorgeous, fresh green hue of early summer and buttercups gave a bright yellow hue to many of the fields.  On a summer day like this in England there's no better place to be - shame we don't get more of this weather though!

The area I walked in was around the hospital that I used to work at - the main Victorian hospital is gone, there are just a few parts left, now turned into exclusive apartments amongst newly built houses.  I often walk through there, but I must have felt nostalgic today because I was thinking of all the memories held in that area- where I spent much of my nursing career.  I must say they were mainly happy memories, I loved my job until red tape and staff shortages made it impossible to do the job as well as I wanted to.  It was slightly scary to think that the small boarded up building that was the "school", as they called it then, was where I began my training almost 34 years ago, yikes!!!

It's almost three years since I retired from nursing now, and I know I left at the right time for me.  I have a couple of small jobs that still involve caring, but there is no stress, and I have the time to enjoy other things in my life, like walking 1.6 miles with Pepsi and Max!

Thursday, 2 June 2011


An amazing story, I can just imagine Bono sitting in the back of the car with the dog! LOL!  Read about it