Yorkshire Pudding recently posted here  about the images and sensations that can be conjured up by certain sounds.

His post struck a chord with me (yes, I realise that is a bad attempt at a pun).   As I have a genetically acquired hearing loss my relationship with sound has changed dramatically over the years since I began to grow deaf in my late 30s.

As a young woman I loved to listen to music, visit the theatre, restaurants, pubs etc and watch films and TV.  Crowded places were of course noisy but nothing that caused any problems with my social life.

Once my hearing loss was properly diagnosed and I was fitted with hearing aids, my life began to change subtly as ordinary, every day sounds became less familiar, often distorted and frequently uncomfortable.  It may not be widely understood but hearing aids do not always provide the wearer with "normal" hearing.   For a normal hearing person, your brain will automatically tune out some background noise without you being aware of it, making it easier to listen to conversations for example. With a hearing aid that is more difficult as all noise is generally amplified at the same level, making it difficult to filter out unwanted background noise.  There are some very sophisticated "smart" hearing aids out there now which do have the ability to filter out certain background noise and adjust to different environments, but these cost several thousand pounds so are out of my reach.

I have found that I can no longer hear all the different frequency levels when listening to music so songs that I have been very familiar with now sound totally different, so much so that sometimes I can no longer identify them when they are played on the radio or TV.

Other sounds are very uncomfortable; I have become super sensitive to sudden loud noises, for example if an object is dropped onto a hard surface or a car engine revs or someone coughs loudly.  The sound of running water is for some reason another sound that can be very uncomfortable and will often drown out(!) all other sounds.

Reading YP's post made me a little sad that I have lost that wonderful ability to just let everyday, soothing sounds wash over me and conjure up memories, images and sensations that I took for granted in my younger days.

Enjoy what you have whilst you have it.  Some simple pleasures are well worth savouring.

A Break

 ... from the cold, rainy winter we have endured so far.  This week has been mainly dry and today has been bright and sunny. This is the view up at the mountain tram stop this afternoon...

I decided to take advantage of the break in the weather to have a little day out on the bus.  All by myself.  I had some gift vouchers from my sister for Christmas and birthday so thought I would see what I fancied spending them on. P had planned to have a long run up on the fells so he didn't want to come with me.  No tugging on my leash as I browse the clothing aisles!

A two minute walk to the bus stop at the end of  Dog Poo Alley then hop on the bus, paying with my old fogey bus pass and a pleasant 50 minute pootle along the coast road.

I was out for three and a half hours in total, stopping briefly for coffee and a sandwich just before the office lunchtime rush.

I took advantage of the bus free WiFi to message P to let him know I was on my way.  

It was a pleasant surprise to see him waiting by the bus stop as I got off.  He must have missed me!

A Crackling Kettle

For the past week our electric jug kettle has started making a very loud crackling sound as it starts to heat up.  It is so loud that I can hear it from the next room even without my hearing aids in.

I consulted Professor G and most online posts I found suggested that the heating element may be on its last legs.  P and I duly walked into town yesterday afternoon and I selected a replacement kettle which we purchased.

When we reached home P made a cup of tea, using the old kettle, as I started to unpack the new one.  From experience we found that our current stainless steel kettle needed to be boiled several times using clean water to remove the taint caused by the factory's protective coating on the inside, so I intended to do the same for the new one.

P stopped me from unpacking the new kettle as he said that he thought the current one didn't sound as bad and that perhaps we should take back the new one and get a refund.

Seriously??  I have boiled our kettle a couple of times now and it still sounds like it is going into orbit!

I think he just has second thoughts on spending the money and is desperate to get it back whilst the current kettle is still hanging on.  I think I need to point out to him that even if it lasts another month or so, we shall still need a new one at that point and the prices may well have risen  by then.


 P has kindly passed on to me his cold, probably picked up from our trip last week.  Sore throat, cough and an excess of "gunk".

However, I am wrapped up in several warm layers with a plentiful supply of hot tea and have only ventured as far as the front door to take a photo of the memorial garden sycamore tree in its winter state...

At breakfast this morning we watched the most vivid sunrise slowly emerging;  the deep crimson and orange hues were mesmerising. I tried to capture it in a photo but this just doesn't do it justice.  It is also fuzzy because of the old glass in our kitchen window.

Winter can be very beautiful at times... when it is not raining.


My Week

Since arriving home from our short break on Friday afternoon, I seem to have been confined to barracks for much of the time.

Saturday was spent doing the usual post-holiday laundry and shopping for fresh stuff - fruit, veg bread, milk etc.  It was quite a miserable, windy day so we didn't venture too far.  Overnight we had more gale force winds and woke up on Sunday morning to find that our once handsome pittosporum had taken a tumble ...

P went out to chop it up and remove it but, once he had sawn off the top section, the trunk miraculously bounced back upright by itself.  He has now firmed it back into the soil and staked it so we shall see if it survives.

Monday was actually a good, clear, bright and sunny day but bitterly cold. We went out for a walk in the morning as we had heard that bad weather was on its way later.

Tuesday morning we awoke to find that it had snowed overnight and a few gentle snow showers came and went during the day.  

We were lucky here but most of the island's roads were blocked by snow and ice, the schools had to be closed and most people had to stay at home as it was unsafe to go out and about.  A Snow Day.

Now the snow has gone but it is still very cold.

We have one poor confused daffodil that had woken up too early and had its head frozen, and one tiny clump of snowdrops have poked their heads out to see what is going on.

Only another three months to go before our Spring gets going.....

Last Day

Wednesday was our last full day in Cadiz.  It was a grey, overcast day and a chilly breeze was blowing in off the Atlantic.

We had breakfast in the bookshop cafe around the corner from our hotel.  Coffee and a pastry (very healthy!)

We had read that the large covered market was worth a visit so we strolled through the narrow streets, past the cathedral and found the market in a small plaza surrounded by cafe bars.

Quite a few of the stalls there were closed up, presumably because they don't do much trade in the winter.  However, there were plenty of others open and most seemed to be doing a good trade.  All of the central aisle was taken up with fruit and veg stalls. Piled high with  bananas, oranges, papayas, melons, strawberries and lots of exotic looking fruits that we didn't recognise.

The next aisle was the fish section.  My goodness, what a selection of wonderful fresh fish and shellfish, all glassy eyed and piled up on mountains of ice chips. Around the far edge of the market are all the meat and deli stalls.  Again, all incredibly fresh looking.

I wanted to take a photo but didn't like to intrude so this is borrowed from the internet to give you an idea

We stopped at one of the cafe bars outside the market for a snack lunch and coffee and a spot of people-watching.

After lunch we walked across town to the far side of the promontory to take a look at the beach, La Caleta.  It was still overcast and breezy and there was a group of hardy souls trying to surf, although the waves were not really big enough for that.  There were cyclists, walkers and mothers with tots all out along the promenade.  We sat on a bench and took in the view for a while.

Time for a siesta, so  another long walk back to the hotel where I snoozed for a while.

That evening we argued debated about where to eat. I was tired of tapas snacks and wanted a "proper" meal.  P was not keen as he said that the only restaurants that would be open at 7 pm would be tourist traps. He finally agreed to take a stroll around the places we had passed earlier as I had noticed one that looked inviting. 

I persuaded him to go in and take a look around. Inside it was done out in a style to match the building's history. No plastic tat.  We were greeted by one of the most beautiful young women I have ever met, who showed us into a little dining area at the back. She was very chic and elegant  with a stunning,  warm, welcoming smile. I think P was hooked right there.

There were lots of enticing options on the menu.  I chose the pheasant breast stuffed with figs and P had the slow-cooked suckling pig.  Both were gorgeous. 

The chef came out to ask if we enjoyed our meal and we chatted with him in our very sub standard Spanish. He was a very cheerful and charming young man who was originally from Gran Canaria so we spoke a little about our time living in Tenerife. 

After our meal the lovely young lady presented us with a plate of two sublimely light and oh so delicious profiteroles.  Heavenly.

By the time we left the main dining room was full so it must be a popular place to eat.

We strolled around for a while  enjoying the street vibes before heading back to the hotel for a coffee.

It seems there was a big football match on that evening as a big screen had been set up in the bar as well as the usual TV in the corner.  There was a family of five and two couples watching but they drifted away after a while.  We were left alone with our coffees and complimentary turrones (small almond paste cakes). 

I am going to need to lose some weight now.

The Next Episode

Enough of the boring history lessons.   Now on to some food and drink.

Day two of our three day break we spent walking ..again .. 

In the morning we walked to the more modern part of town. Just modern apartment blocks but Cadiz has a large Corte Ingles department store and we popped in for a look.  We like to just browse, seeing what is available and comparing prices, much like looking in estate agent windows when abroad, comparing house prices.  Does anyone else do that?

We walked back to the old town and had lunch in a tapas bar;  thinly sliced pigs liver fried and served cold in olive oil with red onion,  and a plate of eggs whisked in the pan with wafer thin iberico ham, setas and champinones (two different types of mushroom) . And local beer of course.

We may just have had another beer later.

After a siesta  we went out to walk around town to join the evening paseo.  One of the things I like about the Spanish lifestyle is the way that the city streets are so lively at night with young and old out and about . The shops are open, lights are blazing,  lots of people around. Being a university town there are lots of young people;  very well behaved too.

The restaurants don't generally open until around 9 pm which is too late for me to eat but we found a local bar on the corner of a plaza that served tapas. This was a real local bar,  no tourists here so we were a bit of a curiosity to start with but the regulars soon ignored us after a while.  We sat in the corner by the loos and did quite a lot of people-watching over a couple of glasses of wine and a plate of meatballs in a ragu. 

Back to the hotel the long way round as we got lost.  It took 45 minutes instead of 10 so we felt the need to restore ourselves in the hotel bar with a glass of anis over ice.

I slept well that night.

A Little Bit Of History

Our first day in Cadiz was spent just wandering the streets of the Old Town to get a feel for the place.

One of the beautiful plazas

A huge Ficus tree (I was standing at the edge of its longest branches)

Public loo ... Cadiz style

We visited the city museum to learn a little of its history and, although none of the exhibit  information is in English,  our rusty Spanish language knowledge allowed us to get a reasonable overview.  

We learned that Cadiz is the oldest city still standing in Europe, founded by Phoenicians from Tyre around 1100 BC .  At that time what is now the old town was actually two separate islands which the Phoenicians called Erytheia and Kotinouessa, which joined together to form a promontory as the sea channel slowly silted up.  The Old Town is currently joined to the rest of the mainland by a causeway.

There was a good display of finds from many different periods that had come to light as the city was being developed.  Some of the oldest are still exquisite and in perfect condition.

Those naughty English and Dutch sacked the city back in the 1600s so large walls and defences were built to defend it from further attack.  We walked the remaining city walls, which are still quite impressive.

In 1980, during excavations for a building, the remains of a Roman amphitheatre were discovered and a small part is now preserved, although it is a little crumbly!

The next episode of "Wish You Were Here" follows tomorrow, probably...

A Brief Interlude

We have just returned home from our short break in the (albeit weak, wintry) Spanish sun.

After months of seemingly endless rain and gales we both felt in need of some respite. To feel the sun on our faces and not have to battle against 50 mph winds to walk up the street.

British Airways had advertised a sale a couple of months ago so we bagged a cheap-ish flight and hotel deal down to the southern tip of Spain.

We flew to Seville then caught the evening train down to Cadiz. The train was delayed by half an hour but it finally got us there by 10 pm that night.

The hotel was tucked away up a side street in the Old Town

It was dark when we arrived but this was the view from our window at dawn the next day..

We were on the fifth floor with just the roof terrace above us.  These are the views of the city from the roof..complete with humongous cruise ship parked up next door...(the mist had burned off by then)

Cadiz has  a fascinating history, given its strategic location between the Atlantic and the Med,  and has been occupied by the Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, and more besides over the centuries.  The Old Town's architecture shows its varied history. 

Be warned, I am going to bore you soon with more details!

Twelfth Night Traditions

More local stuff from Culture Vannin here...

We love a good old Manx tradition, and Twelfth Day (today) has some great ones.
Referred to by the Manx as Laa Giense (dancing or partying day!), this is the last day of the fortnight of rampant Christmastime feasting, partying and getting up to odd activities - the Kegeesh Ommidjagh (Foolish Fortnight). So tonight's evening needs to be a good one to cap it all off!
Firstly, the Laair Vane (White Mare) is described like this in 1891:
"It would seem that these entertainments were usually held at a public-house [...] the whole party sat down to supper [...] During the supper the laair vane, or white mare, was brought in. This was a horse's head made of wood, and so contrived that the person who had charge of it, being concealed under a white sheet, was able to snap the mouth. He went round the table snapping the horse's mouth at the guests who finally chased him from the room, after much rough play."
[A. W. Moore, 'Folklore of the Isle of Man']
Then, once that is done, it's time for Cutting Off the Fiddler's Head:
"On Twelfth-day the Fiddler lays his head in some one of the wenches' laps, and a third person asks who such a maid or such a maid shall marry, naming the girls then present one after another, to which he answers according to his own whim, or agreeable to the intimacies he has taken notice of during this time of merriment. But whatever he says is as absolutely depended on as an oracle; and if he happens to couple two people who have an aversion to each other, tears and vexation succeed the mirth. This they call Cutting of the Fiddler's Head, for after this, he is dead for the whole year."
[George Waldron, 'Description of the Isle of Man'
So, whatever you're up to this evening, we hope you'll be honouring the conclusion of the Kegeesh Ommidjagh with something suitably traditionally Manx!
More on the Laair Vane tradition is available here:

Already Spent

Well, my first state pension payment hasn't even been received yet but I have already spent it.

This morning I booked and paid for a week's holiday in England at the end of April to visit my sister and her daughter and the grandchildren.

I haven't seen them for over four years.

I cannot wait.

By The Light Of The Silvery Moon

In the wee small hours I lay in my bed desperately trying to get off to sleep.  My brain just kept fizzing and churning, going over and over endless scraps of trivia.

Gazing up through the rooflight window above me I could see the inky dark smudges of clouds being sent skidding across the steely grey sky by the gale force wind. The eerily bright silvery light from the moon shone intermittently through the glass as the clouds obscured then uncovered its gleam.

By 1:30 a.m. I gave up trying to sleep and came downstairs to make myself tea.

I didn't bother switching on any lights but just sat curled up on the sofa in my dressing gown with a knitted throw over my lap  drinking my tea and looking out at the garden.   The strange silvery white quality to the moonlight made it appear that the lawn was covered in snow or ice.

I must have dozed off around 4 a.m. still on the sofa.

I am due to meet my friend this morning for a walk and coffee. I hope I can stay awake.

The Sea, The Sea

Bank Holiday Monday. A fine, bright, sunny but chilly morning.  Just right for a walk along the seafront.

The hills of Cumbria were clearly visible on the horizon so I took a short clip on my 'phone, which hopefully includes the sound just for Frances who asked so nicely!

New Year Fun And Frolics

If you wanted to wake yourself up after the New Year's Eve revels  there are several ways to make a splash here on New Year's day. 

Each town on the island has its own "Dip", where people clad only in swimsuits and flimsy fancy dress rush madly into the sea and immerse themselves in the icy cold water.  All to raise money for charity of course.

For those who prefer their water to be of the muddy variety, there is the New Year's Day fell race where runners, also in some form of fancy dress, run over a hilly course that takes in a fast flowing stream which usually ensures everyone gets a good soaking.  

There were Santas,  ballerinas,  elves and even a dinosaur this year. P took part, dressed as an old man.

New Year: Quaaltagh


The Quaaltagh is the first person to enter a home in the New Year, and they will determine how luck will go for the household over the next twelve months. If they are dark-haired, tall and male, then you're in luck. If they are female, short and red-haired, things might not go so well in 2023...

This is the Quaaltagh blessing that should be recited:
(you'll notice that it doesn't rhyme in the English translation but it does in the original Manx!)
Ollick ghennal erriu, as blein feer vie
Seihll as slaynt da'n slane lught-thie;
Bea, gennallys as bioyr eu ry-cheilley.
Shee as graih eddyr mraane as deiney;
Cooid as cowryn, stock as stoyr.
Palchey puddase as skeddan dy-liooar;
Arran as caashey, eeym as roauyr;
Baase myr lugh ayns ullin ny soalt;
Cadley sauchey tra vees shiu ny lhie,
Gyn feeackle y jiargan, cadley dy mie.
A Merry Christmas to you, and a good year;
Luck and health to the whole house;
Life, joy, and sprightliness to every one.
Peace and love between men and women;
Goods and riches, stock and store.
Lots of potatoes, herring enough ;
Bread and cheese, and butter and beef.
Death like a mouse in a barn haggart;
Sleeping safely when you are in bed,
Undisturbed by the flea's tooth, sleeping well.