On taking a break

“Taking a break. Been working solid for the last few weeks, as opposed to working liquid, which is more drinkable. Can I pour you a glass of productivity?” – yeah, thank you Jarod Kintz – provider of so very many nearly quotable quotes, including the title of the play, The Cleverest Thief. (Yes, I had his permission to use it…oh yes I did.)


I’ve been doing a bit too much of the working solidly (Naturally, we British speak proper, Jarod!) of late. Not taking a break often enough.

My fingers are a blur.

That would be okay except my brain is too.


Can’t remember how many weekends I’ve spent working. This is a sad indictment of how many weekends I’ve spent working. Or my memory. I’ve forgotten which.

All work and no play makes Caroline a dull boy. Or similar.

So this weekend I’m not. Not dull. Not a boy. Not working.

This weekend I AM taking a break.

“Elizabeth (aka Caroline) lay face-down on the massage table, and allowed Marco to relieve the stress of the business day with firm and knowing fingers. Success, she decided, was often a matter of knowing when to relax,” averred Barbara Taylor Bradford, in an early manifestation of Fifty Shades of Puce.

No Marco required.

I have been seeking advice about how to take a weekend off:


That should do it.

Taking a break. Not taking a Kit-Kat.


Some things make me laugh

Yes, and “It takes maturity to be able to laugh like a child again,” said Moffat Machingura. Oh yes he did.

So, I must be terribly mature.


There have been a couple of things on the radio this last week or so that have made me laugh – and continue to laugh every time I think about them, and then I’ve had to bore everyone I meet who’ll stay long enough to listen… but things are never so funny second or third hand. It’s the way I tell ’em.

In the spirit of sharing, here they are. Judge for yourselves a) my sense of humour b) whether or not I’m three gallons of crazy in a two gallon bucket.

This was on The News Quiz when, at the end, the participants read out (real) newspaper cuttings. I checked this one out and it is, in fact, from 2011.



The second piece, which keeps coming back to me and making me giggle, was from Clare in The Community – brilliant BBC Radio 4 comedy by Harry Venning, adapted from his cartoon strip from The Guardian. The family au pair is an Eastern European girl called Nali, played wonderfully well by Nina Conti. Nali is always full of sage proverbs and rural anecdotes from her homeland. This was on the occasion of Clare’s boyfriend coming back after a separation:

(To be said in Eastern European accent). “I love a happy ending. It’s like when Cousin Ludmilla fell into the threshing machine but Cousin Boris was still prepared to marry what was left of her.”

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That oh so common bit of textese – LOL, not to mention LMAO and ROFL…

It made me laugh. It still does. It might not make you laugh. I’m fascinated by this. It’s what makes humour so very subjective – and writing it exceptionally tough because some things just AREN’T FUNNY to some people when they have me reduced to helpless giggles.

Just to end with:

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Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

I suppose all this indicates that what makes me laugh is to do with words, their clever use and accidental misuse?

Happy Saturday!

Slobbing! Yesterday’s plan.

My early Sunday thoughts:

“What’s the plan for the day? Slobbing in the morning, followed by slobbing in the afternoon, then a snooze before the main evening slob?”

(Also a quote from the inimitable Red Dwarf.)

Dave Lister says hi!


There’s nothing wrong with a bit of slobbing once in a while. Especially not if it’s:

  • Sunday
  • the morning after the night before (a dinner party)
  • raining
  • windy
  • chilly

And I’m a little battered and bruised following a less than spectacular fall off one of my horses (He tripped up over his feet and I went tumbling over his head and landed with a smack on the ground!)

And I’ve been non-stop doing stuff for what seems like months on end…

Well, those are my slobbing excuses and I’m sticking to them. Be kind to yourself every once in a while, Caroline.

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This is a picture of me, except there were two, and sometimes three, labradors slobbing on the coach with me. It was cosy.

We watched a not-that-good-but-perfect-for-a-Sunday-afternoon film called:

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And some other stuff but then, just when I wanted to go off to bed, (slobbing can be quite exhausting) I was drawn into the VERY good first episode of a new drama series:

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Called Remember Me, starring Michael Palin, seriously dark and spooky. An absolute MUST WATCH.

I’d have missed it if I hadn’t been slobbing!


Caroline’s complaint-free world

A complaint-free world? Surely that’s not possible?

Tell you what, I’m giving it a good go in mine!

And so, apparently, are another 10, 121, 812 others across the world. (Yeah, we love unverifiable statistics!)

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With thanks to the lovely Leisa Brown, a Brighton friend, who got me interested in creating a complaint-free existence.

I’ve been watching her progress on Facebook, noticing her posts are quite different, more cheerful, COMPLAINT-FREE! (There used to be a lot of moans about spiders…)

So, the idea, which comes from a motivational speaker chappie called Will Bowen, is to wear a bracelet on one wrist and keep it there until you notice you’re complaining.

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…Then swap it to the other wrist until your mind is clear again. The target is to have twenty-one complaint-free days. The difficult bit is, that each time you catch yourself complaining, you have to start again with the 21 days… I fear this is going to take me A Very Long Time.

I don’t think legitimate complaints count – for instance, if you receive a meal alive with maggots at a restaurant. It’s possible to complain without whining, I suppose, to be factual and lose the emotional charge.

So – things were going very well for a couple of days until I had a riding lesson on Alfie.

immobile Alfie

Alfie had other ideas. He wouldn’t budge. Or at least, he would budge, but only at the expense of me kicking and slapping and puffing and panting and expending so much effort that by the time he took a few steps forward I was so exhausted I crumpled into a collapsed heap on his neck in desperate need of oxygen.

I caught myself complaining! I swapped my bracelet on to my left wrist.

When I’d recovered my composure, and a right-wristed bracelet, things were going very well UNTIL…today.

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I was telling some girlfriends about the complaint-free thing. At the end of my lively and cheerful description, I said the immortal words: “The only thing is, I wish the bracelet were a bit smaller because it’s driving me INSANE!”

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We all started laughing at the same moment.

Hello, twenty-one days!




May be or May be not…

“And a bird overhead sang Follow,
And a bird to the right sang Here;
And the arch of the leaves was hollow,
And the meaning of May was clear.” 

Not clear to me, Algernon Swinburne. Not clear to me.


“Hebe’s here, May is here! The air is fresh and sunny; And the miser-bees are busy Hoarding golden honey.
Thomas Bailey

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That was yesterday. We were blessed. My dear friend Tessa’s 60th birthday garden party. Outside. In the garden. In the sunshine. With no rain.

And today?

“But winter lingering chills the lap of May.” Oliver Goldsmith

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It’s very British, isn’t it? Changeable weather, and also talking about the changeable weather, but…

May, PLEASE. I’m talking to you…

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Thank you.

Only one shopping day left ’til tomorrow

Well, at least today’s not Good Friday or Easter Sunday…


“In an article about Tesco on the BBC news, Easter was described as ‘an important date in the shopping calendar’. In the context, I understand why – but purlease! Easter is an important date in the Christian calendar. Rant over.”  Yes, Libby, I share your opinion, even though I’m more of a humanist than a church-attending Christian, these days.

So – today Peter and I went shopping to Brighton, to purchase a new pair of walking boots for him, ready for the Great Expedition to Snowdownia. Peter’s old walking boots, circa 1903, were something like this:


And do you know how many outdoor clothing and footwear shops there are in Brighton?

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I think it’s about three hundred.

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And do you know how many we visited? (Some of them more than once)

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I think it was three hundred and two.

And do you know how many pairs of walking boots Peter tried on?

I think it was ninety seven.

And do you know how many pairs of walking boots Peter bought?

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And do you know how much the parking in Brighton cost?


Yes, EIGHTEEN POUNDS AND TWENTY PENCE for between 3 and 4 hours.

Peter might go shopping again on Monday.

This time.

Without me.

A day of balance

Next – a life of balance?

Yesterday, when I think back on it, was a perfect day. That’s because it was balanced.


Yin and Yang by Sharon Cummings


I woke up with things on my mind, things that I knew needed to be done. It was a temptation to ignore everything else and just launch in to those tasks.

I didn’t.

Walked the dogs in Buxted Park – it was drizzling, but beautiful! How lucky we are to live in this village.


Cleaned the kitchen, mopped the floor, washed all the dogs’ bedding.

Posted articles and flyers on Facebook for Landmark ( a little on my conscience.)

Had lunch.

Did a piece of work that I was sent at 6 p.m. on Friday. No given deadline but it was haunting my brain.  (Thanks, Dan!) It was one of those tasks that I looked at, briefly, when it came in and thought ‘I can’t DO this. I’m completely devoid of inspiration,’ but then, when I took the time…

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(I await feedback!)

Then I spent an hour in the garden with dogs and chickens, pottering about doing little jobs.

Next, I put the dinner on, creating a recipe for mutton chops out of my head. By which I don’t mean that it included brains.

While it was cooking – for hours, it being mutton – I worked busily on the one-woman theatre piece I’m writing for a friend. It flowed. I love it when that happens.

(I await feedback!)

After dinner, I carried on writing until 9, sent the MS off,  then did the ironing while watching The Crimson Field – a drama about nurses in the First World War. I was rather glad of the ironing.

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“Lots of well-scrubbed young ladies with plummy voices, alongside some more matronly, fiercer types, dealing with bloody matters of life and death. This they do…with gusto and good cheer, qualities which accentuate the huge clumsy gash of naked sentimentality which is scored across every moment of every scene,” reviewed Serena Davies, in the Telegraph. Yes. What more have we come to expect on a Sunday night?

I think it’s all my years working with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission – I can’t bear sentimentalisation of either of the world wars. Well, ANY war.

And so to bed. Fulfilled and happy.

A perfect balance of physical, cerebral, domestic and creative activity, indoors and out in the fresh air. Loads achieved, apparently effortlessly.

Here’s a quote from James Patterson’s book, Roses are Red.

“Here’s a nice image for a life in balance,” she said. “You’re juggling these four balls that you’ve named work, family, friends, spirit. Now, work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it bounces back. The other balls they’re made of glass.”

“I’ve dropped a few of those glass balls in my day. Sometimes they chip, sometimes they shatter to pieces.”


Yesterday, I didn’t drop any balls!

A day of perfect balance


Caroline doesn’t abhor a vacuum cleaner (much)

While we were away, my vacuum cleaner died. This could have been because it was unaccustomed to being used – Tim kindly decided to clean the house ready for our return – who knows?

Anyway, RIP, purple vacuum cleaner. You had a hard life what with the dogs, the dust, the muddy boots, the horse rugs, the chicken feed, the inconsistent usage, the domestic abuse.


See, lying down. Dead as a dead vacuum cleaner. 

My friend Tessa offered to lend me hers. Why on earth would I want to borrow a vacuum cleaner? In my defence, rather than hoovering on Friday, which is the chosen day, I cut the hedge instead, so earned a few house points.

Today, we bought a NEW vacuum cleaner. THE most heavy-duty one we could find.


“There are days when any electrical appliance in the house, including the vacuum cleaner, seems to offer more entertainment than the TV set, ” said Harriet van Horne.

Well, today she may be right. There are attachments on the attachments. It has a flex about two miles long. You needed a degree in Mechanical Engineering to get it out of the box and assemble it, not to mention understand the manual. 19 cyclones working in parallel across two tiers generate high centrifugal forces? Oh yeah. Tangle-free Turbine Tool. Now you’ve really lost me.

Be very afraid, carpet! Cling to those floorboards.

Take cover,  microscopic particles as small as 0.5 microns including mould, fungus and bacteria.

We’re coming to get you!

Some time.


Gelatinous with fatigue

…like Winston, in Orwell’s 1984. Me and fatigue. Unhappy partners,


Hardly a wink of sleep for the last two nights.

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Brain full of work stuff and other stuff so it would NOT be obedient and let me rest.


In about 14 hours time, we’re setting off for the airport, bound for Turin, then Cervinia.

I can then be gelatinous with fatigue in a seated position on an aeroplane.

Happy days!

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Spring: Science has never…

…drummed up quite as effective a tranquillising agent as a sunny spring day, said W. Earl Hall, whoever he is or was. I can’t be bothered to find out because it’s a sunny spring day and I feel tranquillised.

The good bits about spring:

The warmth and the sunshine.

The fact that I can fling open the windows and doors and let in some fresh air.

I can hang the washing outside at last.

The dogs and horses are less muddy.

Happy chickens.

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Other flowers (Can’t remember what they’re called) Hellebore? I think so.

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The view across the garden…

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The bad bit about spring:

The windows look dirty and that makes Peter grumpy.


N.B. I took photos of our windows and the dirt didn’t show.

Perhaps Peter should always view them though a lens?