Easter Bank Holiday Missive Part 1

Dear Sophisticated Ladies

Happy Easter ~ I trust the bunny has been busy where you are and chocolate has been liberally dispensed!

 I started this missive on Easter Saturday with absolutely every intention of sending it out on time; to my usual timetable i.e. Sunday night but I’m afraid The Passion consumed theenergy that compliance required! What a weak excuse I hear you cry; despite popular rumour, my dear readers, the Contemporary Spinster finds herself dreadfully mortal.

As an aside the state of my legs at this moment in times is testimony to my ridiculous stupidity ~ I turned down the offer of a lift (and a bag of chips) and decided to walk the 2 plus miles from the centre of Port Talbot to the seafront. Hey challenges are there to be risen to and I had no other plans for today so crutches in hand off I marched with an able bodied friend!

This being a Bank Holiday weekend I decided to treat you, and indulge myself, to a series of missives. Life has been rather full of experiences that I feel moved to share; I do hope you enjoy! For those of you who have signed up to the blog site your reading pleasure will be embellished with a patchwork of photographic (and video) images.   

I have to report news on the subject of mammalian companions or perhaps the subject of pets would be more accurate in common parlance. My dabbling with rather unsophisticated gold fish followed by attract Shubunkins has reached its inevitable conclusion; none of the little creatures survived! Yes the fish waved goodbye with their fins for one last time.

The lesson here is that it is folly to seek to marry living creatures with interior design on a slim budget. The purchase of tasteful glass vessels from Ikea and Tesco, (the monster Culverhouse store not the Express Cowbridge road version; please I’m not quite that tight!), was a mistake. In my defense the latter was an old fashioned goldfish bowl (shaped vase) ~ do you know how difficult it is to find one of these?

I fail to understand quite why this is such a tall order, finding a tasteful solution for the housing of fish. There is a preponderance of ugly ‘tanks’ and ‘aquaria’ but frankly none, in my humble opinion, are in any way attractive. OK suitable and successful (at keeping the occupants alive) they may be. My godson’s gold fish is housed in a nasty plastic rectangular business with a blue lid and apparently has survived a cup of coffee being poured in! How does a 2 ½ year old know that a goldfish wouldn’t fancy a nice hot drink when he/she is swimming constantly in cold water ~ it stands to reason that under such circumstances one might welcome a warming beverage!

Poor children must be in a perpetual state of bemusement as they are forever faced with flawed adult logic. And do we spend enough time explaining this rather than allowing little ones to risk feeling stupid? I suspect not! Note to self next time Godson asks ‘why?’ six times in a row attempt to find a way to something resembling a decent answer rather than plucking the first thing than one finds in the ‘rummage sale’ drawer for miscellaneous items (in my cerebral filing cabinet).

So to conclude this sorry episode I have put the, now empty, glass vessels in the vase cupboard; quite what I’ll do with the tasteful gravel I don’t know. Another Tupperware box has been placed in the pantry out of sight to gather dust! Or at this time of year probably iced with the dandelion clock style fluff courtesy of (I think) the cherry blossom tree! This morning I noticed that the bath was full of this seasonal offering too; quite how it snuck through the inch open bathroom window I wouldn’t like to guess.

But more importantly the kitten, of which I have mused before, has arrived!Yeh and double yeh! She, of course as one prefers not to have male hormones raging in the spinsterial abode, has a name finally. I was given an ultimatum by friends I saw this weekend; if she hadn’t got a name by the time they visited today then she would be (forcibly) named Janet!

Whilst there is nothing wrong with the name Janet; apparently it means ‘God is Gracious’ and according to numerology the hidden meaning is ‘Creative – Free spirited, artistic, enquiring, innovative and influential’. This seemed not to be appropriate for my little fluffy bundle. An awful lot to load onto one so young!

I spent rather more time than was necessary pondering names, even mum got involved; she suggested Zen! Too much reading of the Zen detective novels me thinks! So having seen her again I thought I’d see what came to me when I got her home; observed her personality and behaviour. Coupled with the shouting of the name at the back door and doing the ‘how stupid do I feel’ test!

Anyway I will put you out of your misery and tell you! She has been christened (by virtue of me inadvertently dropping something on her head; I forget what exactly the substance was). Bella (Blue Eyes) will be accompanying the Contemporary Spinster on this next phase of life. I swear that it is actually the tone of voice that animals respond to rather than name as so far she pays exactly no notice to me!

Bella arrived rather sooner than I had envisaged but so far she is settling in well. I confess to being a little bit nervous although I have had feline companions for the best part of the last 20 years.

The fact that on the first evening kitty fell asleep on my knee confirmed my decision to just have one was right. I was worried about loneliness hence seeking to have two from the same litter but I think that was more about me than the kitten. Ironically Bella was a loner tending to sleep alone away from her siblings although when I picked her up she was in the middle of a heap of three kittens!

The evening I brought Bella home, in the black nylon Chihuahua (name of Fifi (she wears a pink collar with her name emblazoned in diamante) l popped to a close friend’s house as her gorgeous talented photographer son was home for Easter and cooking. I hadn’t seen him for what seems like ages but is probably only a few months. Young men at university develop and change subtly at this age. Wonderful to observe from a distance not that this makes me a cougar of course ~ a lovely expressed for older women who are attracted!

Talking of changes in not so young men my brother has suddenly become fantastic; perhaps this trait has always been there, untapped, waiting for a chance to be exploited.

Brother phoned last night after a conversation with my mother about my new TV that he set up last weekend. The Virgin Media man came on Tuesday and sorted out my ‘box’ that for some reason had got stuck on standby. He was a man of few words; declined a cup of coffee/tea; did the job; explained why he had go outside (to get a signal); and gave me a quote for moving the broadband in the house.  Personification of business like to the extent one was left wondering if the company allots a time to each call. I’m sure Monsieur Branson wouldn’t want his time wasted on pandering to the needs of techno phobic spinsters!

I don’t know if any of you caught the piece on Woman’s Hour about Victorian Women Travelers; spinster daughters of the family give tacit agreement to travel the world once their family duties had been completed. Basically when the parents were dead the daughter could travel. These women were extraordinarily brave in terms of the places they chose to explore but then if you’d be shackled to a gray granite Yorkshire Manse exotic Africa might be tempting. Mary Kingsley went to West Africa to study fish and fetish and spend time with a tribe of cannibals!

The question playing on my mind now, of course, is should I give in to my desire to travel and just go? I have wanted, for a long time, to go and work in South Africa on a project helping women who have been victims of violence especially sexual violence. I worked in rape crisis and Women’s’ aid in Wales for over a decade in the 1990s. My body might not be up to scratch these days but there ain’t anything wrong with my mind and one returns regularly to the question of doing something that makes a difference. Whilst I adore this little Endeavour I’d like to be remembered for something a tad more significant in the scheme of things!

Mum and I were reminiscing about my granny who will have been dead 20 years next year. She was a wonderful woman and I still miss her today; I was surprised to find myself filling up with tears as we talked. One of the old ladies who I swim with reminds me so much of granny from her stature to her general approach to life. The son of this lady has ‘borrowed’ her car as he and his wife need a second car and can’t afford to buy one at the moment. This must be the 5th or 6th time this has happened; the difference is that this time she knows she won’t ever see the car again.

On her behalf I am so angry at his inability to see the impact on her life; it’s not enough to come and take her shopping at the weekend. As a result to come swimming at 7 am she gets the bus at 6.15 -6.30 am. So when we are both swimming I take her home; to start with she got cross but now we have an understanding.

I have tried to find the bus stop to intercept her on her way in but so far I can only conclude she must scuttle through the back lanes as I haven’t found her yet! On the way back one day this week as we got to her house she asked if I would like some almond tarts. I thought she meant would I go for coffee but she has worked out that most days I don’t have time but no she said you wait here and I’ll go and get some.

A few minutes later she returned to the car with a Stork margarine tub filled with macaroons. My granny used to reuse the same Stork tubs. The tarts are lovely especially with really strong coffee made in a stove top coffee pot. Mm I might have to indulge myself! Every time I apologise saying I don’t have time to pop in for coffee I feel a guilty wrench knowing that she probably won’t speak to anyone until the next morning when she comes swimming. Loneliness in older age when one has outlived one’s spouse and many of your friends must be a terrible thing.

Finally before I sign off on this element I must tell you about the Salons coming up. Fingers crossed the Salon in July (the 4th) will be with guests Catrin Finch and Elinor Bennett, two of Wales’ renowned harpists. Logistically this has been challenging on the diary front ~ the three of us are so busy and me having booked a holiday (two sunny weeks in July on the Algarve) didn’t help! I am also trying to arrange one in May for the 23rd so if you could pencil in that date I will confirm asap.

In sophistication with a hint of chocolate

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