From the moment that Pam Ayres walked onto the Tata stage, she captivated her audience with humour, wit, facial expressions and a perfect sense of timing. Her introductory piece was a poem about the arrival of a letter from the pension office and it was the start of a series of hilarious poetry and stories which had the audience in an uproar, I have seen Pam Ayres on television but her impeccable delivery of her material and the twinkle in her eye can only be appreciated in a live show.
What was unexpected for me, was the sensitivity with which she described things such as the departure of her son for university and the arrival of her grandson into her family.
Most people know that her husband features in some of her material (not always in a positive way) and I think that he must have a forgiving nature as they have had a long marriage.
This session was one of my highlights of Hay Festival this year because I laughed so hard that my stomach ached for hours afterwards and it is wonderful to witness a true craftswoman practice her art.
Where else can one see Victoria Hislop, Alan Bennett and Jack Dee but the fantastic Hay on Wye Festival? I am lucky enough to be part of the crowd this year and am loving every minute of it.
Most of us will have seen the iconic photos of Chinese wonders and so, I have decided to put up some different types of travel photos. The panda is loved by the Chinese and in Chengdu I was able to witness them munching their way through the bamboo that is the mainstay of their diet. Cute until you see the size of their teeth!
Above is a picture of one of the many temples I visited, each different and beautiful in its own way.
They took my breath away. The Terracotta Warriors are a must on any trip to China and I couldn’t resist showing you why.
The hotel rooms were well equipped with everything a visitor needed.
The sight from Xian City Walls includes the local barbers at work.
Not a portrait of Chairman Mao but Tiananmen Square nonetheless.
What they don’t tell you about walking the Great Wall is that the steps are uneven in depth and it is steep!
Read about the Forbidden City in Pearl S Buck’s great novel, ‘Imperial Woman’. It is a good read and brings the experiences of the inhabitants of this amazing complex to life.
Boats on the lake at the Summer Palace.
If you go to the Summer Palace, time your trip on the dragon boat to cross the lake at sunset. Our guide, Lillian, kept us together like ‘sticky rice’ and surprised us with this experience at the end of an amazing day. Watching the sun set behind the mountains with the lake and bridge in the foreground was magical.
The Chinese are fit and supple as seen at the Temple of Heaven park in Beijing.
The Tai Chi master tried to teach us westerners how to move with grace and strength.
I hope that you enjoy this short summary of a country too big to capture in words and pictures.
How did I become hooked on a programme about baking? The Great British Bake Off commanded my attention every week and woe betide anyone who dared to telephone during that special hour. I watched the contestants whip, stir, pound, and stretch their creations with single minded attention. The crazy thing is that the last cake I made was about 20 years ago and the Prince Charming was so heavy that he ended up with his head buried in the blue icing (supposed to be the sea but a rather sick looking cross between a muddy pond and a cloudy sky). Anyway, since then my constant battle with the scales has forbidden indulgences such as chocolate cakes and iced buns.
So I am making a plea; why not get the contestants to tackle some recipes for watchers of weight and the growing population who suffer from diseases such as diabetes, etc? It would give a different meaning to carrot cake and banana breads and orange muffins.
Recently I celebrated a milestone birthday which seemed to prompt my loved ones into a competition amongst them of who could purchase me the most wayout present. When I first read this one I thought that I would be jumping out of an airplane for a skydive and my heart fell as my daughter reminded me of my fear of heights. However, this was not the situation and instead I was lifted up into the air in a wind tunnel. The instructor had me down as a troublemaker when he was unable to exit the room at the end of the briefing due to my many questions and concerns. He sounded quite shocked when he passed me my certificate at the end with a number of achieved levels ticked off and an evaluation that I was awesome. The video soundtrack is overpowered by the laughter of my family as they observed my experience and so I have settled for a still picture to show you what it was like.
A word of advice – do it if you can. What fun it was and we can’t wait to book the next trip so that the entire family can try it out.
copyright D Mcllroy
His words. It’s all in the preparation, he told her. By the summit it would be like second nature.
Months of planning. Years of anticipation. All of their holiday allowance. All of their money.
In the early days she’d loved his ambition.
That was then.
It was all in the preparation.
She grins at her travel documents. Not long now. A beach holiday. Compliments of insurance.
Must remember to wipe the memory.
She puts on a pair of rubber gloves before she wraps the bottle. He only took one sun cream. Her own recipe.
Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields at http://www.rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com for organising the Friday Fictioneers. A group of writers having fun with photo prompts. Stop by and have a look.
Novel writing is all consuming and that explains my silence in the blog world lately. However yesterday I had a notification from someone I follow about two sentence horror and I had to respond so my friends, I am blatantly pinching their idea and starting a thread for you. My effort is below. Please post yours in my comments section. I can’t wait to read them.
When the knock came at the door, he whispered in my ear, ‘don’t answer’. I obeyed but warm fluid ran down my legs as his hand tightened on my throat.