Posted on November 11, 2013 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay16 Comments »


Today is Armistice Day. It’s the day when we in the UK remember the fallen and the injured from WWI. ¬† These days we combine it with Remembrance Day (celebrated on the nearest Sunday to the 11th November) to also honour the fallen and injured from subsequent conflicts, including WWII.

I wanted to post this on the actual day of the Armistice for a particular reason, and I know I’m a bit late in getting this post up but I’ve been busier than usual today, so forgive me.

Do you remember that I did a post once about Jimmy, the little donkey who was born on the battlefields of the Somme and whose grave is now in my town park?   Well, yesterday we were at the park, and as usual, passed by that memorial to a brave and uncomplaining soul.  A fresh wreath had been laid there, honouring the thousands of animals who had died or been injured in WWI, and in all wars, everywhere.

There was even a handwritten note to Jimmy, letting the world know that he, at least, has been remembered, and was being remembered, with respect and love.


I’m reading a book at the moment about the first world war.¬† Amazon have it down as a love story, and while it is that, it is so much more than that.¬† It is a gritty narrative which makes you feel that you know exactly what it was like to be there, wallowing in the noise, terror, blood, mud and body parts of the battlefields, and what it was like to be one of the women who waited, or one of the VADs who nursed the maimed, or drove ambulances in deep, continuing shock and despair, while officers and generals sat in comfort in warm offices in England and ordered them to walk, not run, into enemy fire – having first blown a whistle to let them know they were coming.

If you feel you would like to know more about that conflict – if you feel that Armistice Day is outdated and of no importance in today’s world of modern warfare – you might like to check it out.¬† ‘My Dear, I Wanted To Tell You’ is written by Louisa Young.


And let us not forget: conflicts are still going on all over the world and soldiers and ancillary staff and members of the public are still dying and still being horribly wounded and maimed.

I hate war – I would call myself a pacifist.¬† But ignoring those who have been injured and ignoring the grief of the families who have lost a loved one is not the way to end it.¬†¬† If we can’t do anything else, we can remember.






You thought I’d forgotten How to be happy, didn’t you?¬† Ha!¬† No, I’ve just been busy with other things.¬† But here I am, and I have a few minutes so my mind is running in that direction.

Let me think, now.¬† What has made me happy this week?¬† Well, one thing is that when Sid was ill just before we went on holiday, we saw a different vet than usual, and she suggested we try him on gabapentin for his pain issues, in case some of the pain was neurological – for instance, he might be suffering from phantom limb syndrome.¬† He was ill with some kind of infection at the time, so we decided that we’d sort that out first, especially since we were going to be away for nearly three weeks,¬† but a couple of days ago, OH went down to the vet’s place in town and picked up the new painkillers.

I am happy to say that so far, they seem to be working very well indeed.¬† Yesterday, for the first time in quite a while, he looked completely relaxed, and he had his happy, hopeful, ‘isn’t life good?’ face back.¬† I’m not going to say his troubles are all over, but boy, did that particular face make me happy!¬† If we can keep him comfortable¬† and happy on this new drug, then maybe we can get him off one (or even both) of the others.¬† I know gabapentin will have its side effects too, but if it’s effective for him, it will improve his quality of life.¬† And that makes me happy.

Secondly, one of the things I’m trying as a self-help measure against acid reflux seems to be working!¬† I have had a lot less trouble this week to the point where I’ve hardly had to resort to the Gaviscon to back up the PPIs at all!¬† I’ve been drinking wine with what almost amounts to gay abandon, and I’m actually eating butter on my toast!

Personally, I suspect it’s the tea.¬† I have cut out tea drinking altogether.¬† But I have also switched to bottled water instead of tap water for most kitchen purposes, reduced my vegetable intake, cut out unrefined carbs, and no longer eat late at night.¬† It may well be a combination of factors, but I’m going to continue like this for a couple of weeks more before re-introducing one thing at a time.¬† Gosh, if I can deal with this by diet alone, I shall be enormously happy!

Thirdly, a couple of days ago, I found two websites where I can easily do revision for my Italian studies.¬†¬† I can pop in to Lo Studio Italiano when I have ten minutes and brush up on my prepositions, or vocabulary, adverbs, verb tenses, or whichever aspect I feel is lacking in my repertoire (which is pretty much all of them, really!), or I can steadily work through from the very basic levels as far as I can go on a site called Duo-Lingo.¬† I’d visited Duo-Lingo once before and hadn’t liked the way it was done for various reasons (not least the way they present it to you in their summary) but I popped back and took another look because it had been mentioned on a blog called ‘I Love Italian Movies‘.¬† Cherie actually did a post called ‘If you aren’t learning Italian using Duo-Lingo, why not?’ and I commented that I had looked at it but decided it wasn’t for me … but then I thought I should give it another try and I’m really glad I did – so thank you, Cherie!


Anyway, it makes me very happy to tell you that, using a combination of Lo Studio Italiano and Duo-Lingo, I have made some progress and consolidated a lot of what I had already learned.  There were even a couple of lightbulb moments, and they always make me happy!

Anything else … ?¬†¬† Oh yes –

New art!  These are two reproduction prints of old posters for greyhound racing, which OH found and gave to me for my birthday.


They are hanging dead opposite me as I sit and type this, and they look so nice against the yellow wall that every time I look up and see them, I smile to myself.¬† Aren’t they lovely?¬† They come from the 1920s or 1930s, I think, and the one on the left has some of the place names so familiar to me from my childhood in London.¬† Finsbury Park was one of the green spaces we used to go to sometimes on a Sunday to run and play, and the Angel, Islington was not much more than a hop and a skip from where we lived.¬† Buses with some of those names on them were a familiar sight.¬† I might not have enjoyed living in London much, but I’m a sucker for nostalgia!

Well, that’s How to be Happy for this week.¬† Join in if you’d like. Take a copy of this little badge and stick it on your blog, then write about what made you happy this week.¬† Maybe the happiness will spread!







Posted on November 4, 2013 in Life, the Universe and Everything, Oddities by Jay11 Comments »

I don’t know about you, but I have a bit of a fascination with lost things. Oh, I don’t mean my lost things – those are just irritating, and there are far too many of them. I mean other people’s lost things.

Take a look, as you walk or drive somewhere. Maybe there’ll be a glove on a railing, or a woolly hat on the floor. Maybe you’ll see a shoe, a biro … maybe even a book. You might remember this post from 2011 if you’ve been reading The Depp Effect for that long –


But from time to time – if you keep your eyes open – you might see something even stranger.

I’ve been taking pictures of lost things for quite a long time now. Usually it’s hats, gloves, shoes, etc. The odd jacket or jumper or BMX helmet. More intriguingly, these pieces of underwear were on a narrow roof on the second floor of a hotel in Perugia, and you can’t help wondering on how they got there, can you?


I love the lost things which seem to have a story to tell. We will never know the truth, of course, but we can speculate, and maybe have a little giggle. Some of them do concern me a little – did that child get into trouble at home for losing his bike helmet, for instance? And I’ve found two or three credit cards. I found one of them outside a large supermarket and I handed it in to customer service, only to think later that maybe I shouldn’t have done so, because there is no guarantee that customer service staff are honest, after all. Now I would take them to the bank that issued them, which seems much safer.

And just occasionally I come across a real gem. Like this one:


The very upmarket Excelsior Palace Hotel in Rapallo, on the Portofino coast of Italy, has a very grand entrance with a sweeping drive up to the porticoed front door. There is a small car park, and there are the usual flower beds and tubs and formal gardens, and we were waiting there one day for our friends Paola and Umberto to collect us when I noticed a narrow service path leading round to the side of the main doors. I caught a glimmer of metal and there it was.


Naturally I had to sneak down that path and take a look .. .and several photographs. I have to wonder if the winner of that trophy is still wondering where he (or she) left it! Secondly, why the dog bowl? And lastly, how come it has not been moved? Clearly it’s been out in the weather for some time now.


But this next one, also at the Exclesior, may just take the biscuit.

I suppose it’s not officially ‘lost’ as such, since everyone knows exactly where it is, but it’s been there now for several years. Apparently, it was abandoned there when all hell broke loose over Libya, because, you see, it belonged to Colonel Gaddafi’s son who was staying in the Escelsior at the time. Unfortunately for the Excelsior, he apparently left without paying his bill, but they can’t sell the car to recover the costs because it has been sequestered. I presume it belongs to the diplomatic service of Libya.


However, the intrigued-ness* doesn’t stop there. When I looked up ‘Gaddafi’s son’s car’ on Google, I found this item. This states quite categorically that the car has been removed from the Excelsior Palace Hotel and impounded in Genoa … and yet, here it still appears to be!


So, what’s going on here, then? Did they impound it and then put it back?

* No, this is not a real word. So sue me.