Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Monday, 31 March 2014

Ear today

Tomorrow my A-Z challenge starts, I have done very little thinking about this yet, and absolutely no planning at all.   I have been think that I may just carry on with my usual ramblings and just add a title in alphabetical order, but somehow that smacks of cheating.

In the mean time I am enjoying my new earrings courtesy of my friend Joanna, I am in awe of multi talented people like her, an excellent violinist and teacher, and designs and makes jewellery.

She made these specially for me with stones to match my favourite colours, just having these makes me feel a bit special.

Drab? Drag? tired......

Well I am now taking a bit of a pause this morning after what has been a pretty frantic, but deeply satisfying weekend.   As happens all too often I found myself ludicrously over committed, while I would have taken all this in my stride twenty years ago, I just can't manage without my sleep any more.

Saturday night's concert with the lovely Pelly Orchestra was great fun, while I might have felt a little underutilised as much of the program did not include tuba, this gave me a chance to appreciate the playing of the rest of the orchestra and the musical sensitivity and personal charm of Christopher Braime, out conductor.    I love performing, sharing the joy of music, to me playing without an audience is a bit like masturbation, you are only giving yourself any pleasure and that is fleeting, performing involves a relationship with the audience, both the audience and the performer are involved, sharing, giving, this is more like proper love making!   Of course it is also an opportunity to dress up, and you will not be surprised that I took full advantage of this.    I have bought yet another black dress, but this one is longer (mid calf length) and has a very full skirt, this has two advantages, one, it swirls rather pleasantly around my legs and two, I can maintain my modestly while holding the tuba on my lap (can't be done and keep knees together!).

As we were playing in Hampshire it was around one O'Clock in the morning when I got home, which of course with the clocks going forward meant two O'Clock, by the time I got to bed I barely had to time to blink before I had to get up for an eleven O'clock rehearsal for an afternoon concert in Sutton.   In all honesty I was too tired and I struggled to keep my concentration, at one point my fingers forgot which instrument they were playing I started to use EEb fingering on a CC tuba ~ it doesn't work!

A quick change and then up to town for an LGSO rehearsal.   Chris was conducting this rehearsal as well, and he had been teaching in the morning before auditioning soloists for next seasons concerts.   He seemed alert lively in control and in general good form, ~ what it is to be young!

Interestingly over the weekend it was only the Sutton Concert where I was in drab, but it now feels as though I am in "drag" when I'm dressing in boy mode, it is just now so natural to let the girl out.   Sometimes I am excited, confused, and sometimes a bit frightened about where all this is going.

Roll on the promised  counselling.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Wedding March

To celebrate the first day of same sex marriages in the UK the LGSO have published this performance of the Mendelssohn wedding march as played at our last concert for Valentines day.    I of course am hiding behind my usual pillar somewhere at the back

This performance is conducted by the most excellent Christopher Braime (watch out for that name, a young an who could go far).   This evening I will be play Tuba with the Pelly Orchestra also conducted by Christopher I am looking forward to a fn and interesting afternoon (Rehearsal) and evening (Concert).   At the moment this is the only "Civillian" Orchestra I play with, but I would really, really like  to add to the number so for any orchestras who want a Bass Trombone or Tuba I am (relatively) cheap and often available (Ohh err Missus!)

Suits Her

Yesterday was an interesting day, my daughter worked with me during the day, while she may not be the most productive worker I have employed she is better company than many.   While waiting for her I spent a little time with my wife, I should stress that we are still on reasonably friendly terms, or at the very least polite communicative terms.

It seems that she is having a good year, for the first time in years she has started to wear make up on a regular basis, has lost around a stone already this year, which equates to two sizes meaning that she can now and does shop for clothes in Primark.    She has joined a choir and started going out with friends.   All in all she seems to be enjoying life making the most of her opportunities.    I am very happy for her, these are all things that I have been trying to encourage her to do for years.   It's just a shame that it took leaving me for her to feel enabled to do all this.

This all gives me some rather mixed feelings, pleased that she is letting herself bloom a last, but disappointment that I am not involved.   But then nothing else about my life is particularly simple so why should this be.

Whilst I may e morning the loss of my own marriage I would like to add my congratulations to the many others to all those who are getting married today, whatever your gender.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Hit by no change

As is my habit every morning I have been listening to the Radio, my program of choice is the Today Program on Radio 4, several items caught my ear,   Tonight's first same sex marriages (of which I expect to write more at some point the 50th anniversary of Radio Caroline, a very interesting piece on the Roma community in Sheffield and of course more on the missing airliner.   But maybe the piece on the Spare Bedroom Tax was the piece that hit me most.

I will not go through all the arguments here, enough to say that it is really tough on the people effected.   What hit me was the thought that here I am with a spare bedroom that is not being used.    When I heard about the changes to pension regulations in the Budget this month I was very hopeful that I would be one of the people who could take advantage of these changes, release some of the capital I have tied up in pension plans and clear my debts.   It is difficult to emphasis just how much debt hits you, or at least me.   I find I am preoccupied with thoughts of how to pay them all the time I have not had a holiday since a week October 2012, I do run a car, I have to consider ever single piece of expenditure.   It short it is a constant grinding worry, and just at the moment it is worse than ever because I have had so much trouble working with all the rain the last couple of months.

So the thought that I would be able to pay off all my non mortgage debt was like looking forward to the sun rising.   Yesterday I found out that I do not qualify until next year!   I am no worse off than I was at the beginning on the month but I feel as though I have been condemned to an extra year of struggle.

What has this got to do with the hated Spare Bedroom Tax, well just at the moment I can think of no other way of improving my situation than to take a lodger ~ but how do I find someone who I will get on OK with and who will accept my "alternative lifestyle".

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


Over the last couple of days I have heard a lot about the anniversary of the escape from Stalag Luft III of course it was an heroic act on the part of the escapees and a dastardly act on the part of the Gestapo to have 50 of them summarily shoot.   This is of course the "The Great Escape", it is 70 years ago today that 76 of the prisoners escaped, of that 76 only 3 made it to freedom and 50 were executed.   Remarkably it is also now over 50 years since the film from John Sturges was released (as opposed to escaped).   For me one of the more interesting aspects of the film has always been what was a 1961 Triumph TR6 Trophy doing in the German Army? ~ apart from waiting to be stolen by Steve McQueen's character "The Cooler King"

The film is actually based on the book of the same name, a factual account of the actual escape, what both the book and the film tend to overlook is that most of the camp's 10,000 or so prisoners had little or nothing to do with the escape, or indeed had any thoughts or intentions of escape.   My Father's best friend was an RAF Navigator / Bomb Aimer who saw out his war in this camp, he would relate how most of the prisoners would concentrate on survival, finding small pleasures, and basically making the best of the situation.   It was also obvious that the friendships he forged while there were very special, and every year there would be a reunion, with veterans flying in from around the Common Wealth and beyond.   I certainly remember meeting a couple of his Canadian friends who he met while a prisoner.   I suppose that something like this that is shared creates a deeper bond than most of us experience in normal day to day life.

The Daily Telegraph tells us that Dick Churchill at 94 is the last surviving escapee, I am surprised as my father's friend and most of his friends died relatively young, I had always assumed that their time of incarceration and privation would have been a big factor in this.

A Girl Who Likes to Say Yes

It is slowly dawning on me that I spent too much of the weekend on the M4 getting upset with all the idiots and members of the Centre Lane Owners Club and not enough playing the trombone!   I also end up feeling as though I haven't had a weekend at all and spend the rest of the following week feeling weary.   Feeling weary this week is not really an option, I had a rehearsal last night, a home group meeting tonight, concert Wednesday night and a concert Saturday night, then on Sunday there is anther concert in the afternoon before an LGSO rehearsal, at least then I get to play the Trombone again.

It has been nice too be able to get the CC tuba out again now that I am playing pieces in a ore normal register, but I need to find some time to practise, and I need to get some serious practise in on the trombone before the LGSO concert on 13th April.   It would be nice to be in a position to take the week off work and concentrate on the music, but that's not an option either.   It doesn't seem to matter how much older I get I still don't learn to say no.

On another tack I have always thought of my hands as being one of my best features, I certainly like to let the nails grow a little and them paint hem a pretty colour.   At the moment they don't look so good!   On Friday I managed to shut my hand in the van door, now my little finger is bruised bloodied and swollen.   Then yesterday morning I picked up a fence post while not wearing gloves and got a couple of splinters, I thought I had got them out but had missed a bit which I have only been able to get out this morning, so now my index finger is sore and swollen as well.   I hope they will have recovered by the weekend when I want to be at my best.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Nailed It

Still in Cardiff, sill away from internet access, but here's a "Blue Peter" i.e. one I prepared earlier......

In my line of work I get to play with a lot of power tools, you know those things that get labelled "Boys Toys".   I have drills grinders, mowers, strimmers, angle grinders, hedge trimmers, and of course the most masculine of toys, chain saws.   Trouble is that at the moment I have three chain saws and not one of them is working properly and reliably.    Sometimes I also feel a little incongruity using some of these toys, wielding a 9 inch grinder doesn't seem to quite fit with my feminine self image, but I keep telling myself that tools do not have a gender and that all jobs are open to all.

Earlier this week I was troubled when I broke a nail, my hands and finger nails are a source of pride to me indeed I feel they are my most feminine feature so broken nails don't help, neither does shutting them in the van door!

Fortunately I have nothing where I will be out in public until Saturday when I have concert.   I hope my hand will be feeling, and looking better by then, as I do like to be able to glam it up a bit.   This Orchestra have a more formal dress code than many these days and the Gentlemen still wear dinner jackets and the ladies evening wear.   Although I will be playing tuba I now have a nice longish black dress that has a very full skirt which I think I may wear, it's that or trousers.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Keeping Mum

Once again I am away this weekend, I am now in Cardiff visiting my Mother, while it is always a pleasure to spend some time with Mum, it is also always a challenge.   Not just the six to eight hours fighting my way along the M4 and doing the shopping, but the time with Mum can be frustrating.   As she gets older she also gets more and more forgetful, as she is in her nineties I'm not sure whether this Alzheimer's or just part of the ageing process.   Either way it makes life difficult, even more difficult is that we (my brothers and I) have decided that because of Mum's condition we should not tell er about my marriage breakup or the reasons for it.

I want to tell her, after all she is my Mother, but I also know that if I do she will forget and I will have to go through the trauma of the conversation again and again, indeed I think that this would be painful for both of us, so it is probably best avoided.

Friday, 21 March 2014


Yesterday I wasted nearly the whole day waiting for my windows to be fixed, by the time the job was finished it was basically too late to go out and get on with any work.   I was feeling frustrated about not working and of course the attached loss of income and ended up feeling very "down".   I ended up spending the evening lying on the sofa watching lots of TV that I had recorded earlier.   I also hit the comfort food, fridge type investigations didn't give much joy but I ended up cooking some diced potato, carrot, onion and chorizo in olive oil and herbs de Provence, a big pile of warm slightly spiced comfort.   At another time of year I would probably have washed it down with too much wine, but I resisted temptation.   Well I resisted that temptation, still feeling the need for comfort I made myself a pint of custard topped off with double cream. Not the healthy option, but ideal when it's too cold for ice cream.

This morning a whole new day, sun shinning in through the bedroom widow, interesting variety of gainful employment and physical activity beckoned.   First job was to clear out a garage and take the contents to the dump, I added a few things from home I wanted to get rid and off I went.   While at the dump I managed to shut my finger in the van's sliding side door.   A little blood, a lot of swelling and a lot of pain, retire home to feel the pain and shame, drink coffee and ponder on another day buggered.

So I have ended up sitting at home feeling sorry for myself watching awful daytime telly

This week started really well, and has just got worse.   I can only hope that tomorrow will better.

Grammar School

So,~ "How many Pedants does it take to change a light bulb?"... "Well actually that would be replace a light bulb."

Last night I saw one of my friends who (no doubt) assiduously reads Paula's Place every night, and he had a complaint!    I had made a slip!   My tag line above did not have a capital G for Gardener!   I have now corrected that.    But it makes me think.......

I get infuriated when I see, all too often, "your" instead of "you're"; or There, Their and They're used interchangeably, and of course there are many, many others.

I suspect that this is just a symptom of a more general intolerance, something Paul has a much greater stock of than Paula

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

At Bay

Life constantly throws new experiences at us, sometimes we may think that our jobs are repetitive and boring, and then they will throw something up that we have never come across before.   Of course I am very lucky in that I enjoy my job, that's not to say I wouldn't enjoy a day off every now and then, I have something new most days, but yesterday I did see something I have never seen before.

Most of us with gardens, or an interest in food will be familiar with bay trees, now there is a good reason why they are called bay trees! I have seen them grow to over 40 foot tall, yet we still have the habit of planting them close to our houses!  


We are used to seeing them nicely clipped into columns or lollipops, often grown in pots or tubs and kept to a constant size.   Being evergreen they quite ornamental, the leaves give a lovely scent and of course they taste good!   The Bay is in fact part of the Laurel family, it is bay leaves that were used for the "Laurel" wreaths that Olympic athletes were crowned with and that Roman generals wore for their triumphs, I suspect that this is one reason they are known as Laurus Nobilis.   It is also the source of the word Laureate!

Well yesterday I was with a customer I visit maybe once every three or months, usually just to do a bit of tidying up.   On my last few visits I have trimmed the bay tree growing in her back garden, trying to keep it in proportion to the size of the garden, and keep a nice "standard" ball shape.

These two pictures were from last year, yesterday I saw something new on this tree, whether as a response to my ministrations, the weather or just my lack of observation on other occasions.

"My" tree

The tree is in flower!  Not a great drift of blossom, but lovely small fragrant white flowers, now I want to know why there are none on my tree at home!
Stock photo from internet

Tuesday, 18 March 2014


At one point yesterday I checked out and found that Paula's Place was right in the middle of four of the Blogs that I follow.  Given that four of us try to post at least once a day and the other posts every Monday it should not be that surprising, but it still gave me a little thrill to be in such immediate company with such august bloggers as Meg and Stana, as well as these two I strongly recommend the other two Calogrenant and Jenny.

Jenny says that she believes that "the best blogs in this sphere are those general-purpose blogs whose owners just happen to be transgender or transsexual, rather than the endless crop of one-issue transition blogs."   Although my original intention in starting Paula's place was simply to have somewhere that I could talk about my gender issues (at that point there was nowhere else for me) and to try to work them out, it has become a reflection of the fullness of my life, and I find I agree with Jenny.

The more observant of you may have noticed the new logo on the right for the A-Z Blogging Challenge.   This starts on April the first and runs for the whole month, the idea is to post on a topic starting with each letter of the alphabet, in order!   should be fun, should be a challenge. Should probably have saved this post for the second of April!

Monday, 17 March 2014


Today is St. Patrick's day.   A day when half the world seems to claim Irish descent, drinks far too much Guinness and/or whiskey and generally makes a fool of themselves ~ so why should I be any different?

There was an old family joke that we used to be the O'Higgins but when crossing the Irish sea by boat we were so see sick that we spewed the O over the side.   All very amusing (not) but a couple of years ago my wife did some family history research and found that it was true, they left Ireland (Limerick if I remember correctly) as O'Higgins and arrived in Oxford as Higgins.   Somewhere around Liverpool the O got lost.

To mark the day I will be planting my potatoes, this year I will be growing them in a bag on the patio, not very elegant but I am curious.   I will just be growing one variety Sharp's Express a nice all round first early which I have grown before.   It will be interesting to see how they get on

Sunday, 16 March 2014

More Beards

My daughter is of the opinion that all men look sexier with beards,

So here are some photos of sexy actor types sporting their sexy beards

Six Nations, One Winner

Well that's it the Rugby Six Nations tournament has draw too a thrilling, and generally pretty unexpected conclusion.   Much will be written about this championship, how close it all was right up to the last minute, the high quality of the second rows, the poor quality of the front rows, the giant centres who can break any tackle, but can't pass, the great Brian O'Driscoll.  

The French side that beat England in the last minute and nearly did the same to Ireland but somehow failed to turn up for the other three games, the Welsh team that could have beaten the world but only came third in the table, how the French managed to beat the first and second teas but only came fourth.    There have been some massive collisions between massively fit hunky men, dynamic d├ębuts and retirements.  

The message for the World cup, all of the European teams can be beaten.   The great teams, Johnson's and Carling's England, Eales' Australia, any All Blacks team have the knack of being able to win their bad games, none of this current crop seem to have that aura of invincibility.

As I say much will be written about all of this, here I want to draw attention to the beards, in any ways 2014 has been the year of the beard! D'Arcy has had his shaved off to celebrate Ireland's Championship, I wonder if it will be back.


Saturday, 15 March 2014

Friday Night Saturday Morning

It's Saturday Morning already and I realise that I haven't even finished writing about last weekend, one good thing this Saturday morning is that it was not preceded by Friday night!   I know that sounds silly but I also know that a good many of you must know exactly what I mean.

So often this is my state on Saturday morning that I will often not surface until nearly mid day, well this morning I was up at a sensible time, bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to greet all that the new day was bringing me.   Since that started with washing up not quite as great as it sounds.   This has to be in at least partly due to my lack of alcohol over the last week or so, there have been times when I have had to struggle a little with my self control, but then that's really part of the point, isn't it.

Last Saturday I went to Wisley with my Daughter, where she took lots of wonderful photos, I have already shared some of the butterfly ones here, now for some of the others

It is always fun spending time with my Daughter, and Wisley is one of my favourite places so that constituted a "Good Day".   There have of course also been some this week that have not been so good, I hope that today will be another good one, tonight I have a concert in Croydon that my Daughter is coming to, so this morning I am concentrating on relaxing.

Friday, 14 March 2014


I woke up this morning to the rather sad, but inevitable news that Tony Benn has died, he was one of those rare things a conviction politician, who always tried to do what he thought was right.   A great reformer and honest socialist he was a thorn in the side of many Labour Party leaders but always stuck to what he thought rather than what he thought would get him elected or promoted, like I said a rare politician.   With one thing and another I have been thinking of death a bit recently, and seems to me that as Christians we have hope, for those with no faith the future is what they leave behind.   At the weekend while I was tidying up I found a ring with the single word HOPE on it, I have taken to wearing it on my little finger, as I need that hope.

As well as this sad news I woke up to the sun pouring through the bedroom curtains heralding a bright sunny spring day.   Last night was a little misty and more was forecast for today, but by the time I was up it had already dispersed.    A little dew on the grass, but lovely blue sky

Last week was the first week this year when I managed to work a full five days, and it looks like this will be the second!   This is of course great news for my earnings so I do hope it continues, but I will admit to beginning to feel a little tired.   However I simply cannot afford to work any less than five days, and then I still need to do a lot of work in my own garden if it is not going to degenerate entirely it jungle, and that's before I start to think about all the decorating that's needed round the house.

Oh well, the sun is well and truly out, customer's grass is growing all in all it's a lovely spring morning so it's off to work I go.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Hanna Nails it

There are a number of blogs I follow, some trans, some not, all interesting.   One I really enjoy every morning is Hanna's "Illustrated Diary of a Cross-dresser" I particularly enjoyed this entry

I suspect that this mirrors the experiences of many of us. For more of Hanna go here, ~ I mean it, GO

Wednesday, 12 March 2014


Referenda are much in the news in these parts at the moment, we have the long awaited vote in Scotland about independence, we have the rushed and probably illegal one in the Crimea, and of course we also have our politicians arguing about whether to have a referendum on staying part of the European Union.   Of course I do have opinions on all of these issues, but I'm not sure that this is the forum to share them!

What struck me and prompted me to post was a Labour M.P. on the radio earlier who stated that he thought it was a politician's duty to do what the electorate want.   It didn't take me long to ponder on this and decide that he is wrong. Surely it is the Politician's duty to lead opinion not follow, to instigate fresh ideas and policies, not simply to do what ever is popular in order to get re-elected.

I suspect that this is part of the problem we have with British politics at the moment, with leaders getting ever younger and more photogenic but less experienced and at the same time being held in lower esteem than ever.   Perhaps if our leaders led rather than followed, could convince us that they were in politics because of their conviction and drive to make things better for the country at large then we may, just may show them a little more respect.

I know I said that I would not give my opinion on these issues, but.... it does seem strange to me that we are having a vote on the breakup of the UK but only one part of the Country has a chance to express their opinion.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014


Saturday was a big day for Rugby, there were two key matches in the Six Nations and as a keen Rugby fan I was determined to watch them both, but I had even better things planned than watching Rugby on the TV.   I had arranged a day out with my daughter.   First I should say that although my daughter does know about my gender issues she does not know the full extent of those issues (lets be honest neither do I) and we do not really talk about it.   She has issues of her own and I have no wish to burden her further.   But since she and her Mother moved out our times together have become the highlights of my week, and I think that our relationship has deepened.   I think we are nearly ready to have that conversation.

Enough digression, I am a member of the RHS and this was the last weekend of a butterfly event being held at Wisley.   Although my Daughter is not a great garden enthusiast (at the moment) she is a super photographer and grabbed the opportunity to get some great shots with both hands.   We had a few hold ups on the way down to Wisley so we just had to time to get in and go straight to the conservatory, as I am both a Member and had booked entry times this took a mercifully short time.   Going into the conservatory one is immediately aware of the increase in the warmth, but going into the tropical area where the butterflies were was a bit like entering a sauna.   Even though I had dressed for a warm spring day I was immediately aware of how much clothing I had on, and some of the inner layers where in grave danger of getting wet!.

Although the warmth was a little uncomfortable it was well and truly worth it for the plants and the butterflies

All these photos (except the first one of the glass house itself) are my daughter's I could capture nothing of this quality, but to give some idea of the scale of the Wisley glass house here are a couple of the photos she took of the waterfall inside it.

Monday, 10 March 2014


I have had a brilliant weekend and I promise that at some point very soon I will write about it all because I do like to share these things with my friends.   This morning I sat down at my desk fired up the old laptop to catch up on the cartoons I have missed over the last couple of days, do a little work and write a post here.

Having opened the curtains and cleared away last  night's debris, I had not long settled down with a cup of coffee enjoying the warmth of the sun through the windows when one of the units in our patio windows shattered.  

BANG does the noise it made no justice at all, it was like a small explosion, only after checking that my heart was still functioning properly and that my underpants were still clean did I dare investigate.   It was then that I realised that just the outer pane of one of the large double glazed units was shattered. The continuing sound of cracking as the crazing spread more and more over the next hour or so was quite distracting, and more than a little worrying.  

I can only assume that the warmth of the sun on the outer pane made it expand faster than the inner and the difference caused the outer to shatter, what ever the cause it gave me one heck of a shock as the noise was so LOUD.  

I have contacted my "Window Doctor" who is obviously very busy as he can't even get here to measure up till Monday, thank goodness that it was only the outer pane as otherwise that would be quite a long time to be both cold and insecure.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Trying Too Hard

A funny thing happened on the way to work yesterday, I know that sounds like the start of a Frankie Howerd monologue, but in this case nothing funny about it.   I was driving on my way to my first customer of the day, contemplating the prospective joy of a day doing some proper gardening in the sunshine, when I just happened to notice a group of people on the  forecourt of a car sales lot / petrol station.   What attracted my attention was the one woman in the group, quite tall, very well dressed if a little too glamorous for the situation.   She also seemed to have slightly too much bouncing wavy blond hair.

Most passers by would, I am sure, not have noticed anything unusual, or indeed would have given the group a second glance, but that combination of height, hair and short skirt set my T-Dar into overdrive.   Checking my mirror as I passed I am convinced that here was a sister.    Maybe I'm being unfair and she had a reason to be dressed up to the nines, she would have blended right in in the West End, but certainly caught my attention in a petrol station in Sidcup.

I'm afraid when I started to think about this I was reminded of the old Denim Aftershave advert "For Men Who Don't Have to Try Too Hard"

One of my friends was particularly fond of "denim" I never quite got round to telling him that adverts lie.


I just noticed that on the Blog's stats my all time page views have topped 144,000 ~ Gross!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

What are they afraid of?

There is something very odd going on in Russia and it's satellites, on this occasion I am not thinking of the outrageous behaviour in the Ukraine, or indeed Russia's terrible and developing homophobia and transphobia they have now found a way of hitting straight at all women, whether trans or cis

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Happy New Year

This may seem a little strange to those of you who follow the conventional calender, but for me the year really starts with Spring.   My diary says that the first day of spring is the 20th March, I think it is wrong!   Yesterday I pruned my first roses, today I have already carried on with some of my own, for me this is what dictates the beginning of Spring.

There is a definite feeling of extra warmth in the air (even though what has passed for winter has been very mild) everything is shooting, requiring pruning, feeding, re-potting and very, very soon the grass will want cutting.  

The only fly in the ointment is one of my vines appears to have died, it was very sad at the end of last year, losing all it's leaves early and not fruiting well, I have pruned it as usual and have been trying to give it every chance, but there are no discernible signs of life.   Still if it does not make it, I will treat this as an opportunity to grow something different over that side of my pergola!

Photos from my garden this morning.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


Today is Shrove Tuesday, or if you prefer Pancake Day, this is the day when we prepare ourselves and possibly our kitchens, for our lentern fast.   Hence the pancakes, as we consume all the good things we have before starting our fast on Ash Wednesday.   There are many traditions around the whole Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Lent concept.   For me it is all about preparation for Easter of seeking to deepen my relationship with God, and to have a fuller understanding of my other relationships, of my place in the world.

In more practical terms it means a bit of self denial, Self Control is one of the fruits of the Spirit and it is good to exercise it every now and then.   For a number of years I have been in the habit of giving up booze for Lent, this is partly an act of self denial, on opportunity to reflect on what is truly important to me, and also to assess the nature of my relationship with booze.   I do worry about who is in control of this relationship, is it the booze or is it me, this period of self control is a way of affirming that I am in control of the booze not the other way around.

Last year I looked at my diary and decided that I had too many events at which I would, be expected and would want to drink at that I so I forwent my usual fast.   Yet again this year I have concerts, dinner dates, and parties I should be at, I know I will want a drink at these, so I have a choice to fast and maybe set myself up to fail, and give me something else t beat myself up about, or not fast and admit failure before I even start.   Having said all that I have had it pointed out to me that this is not a religious practise, i.e. it is not something I have to do to ensure entry into the kingdom of God ~ that is down to faith.   Also that many Christians of different denominations have different ways of fasting at Lent, so I have decided that this year I will be fasting during the week but allowing myself a social drink at weekends.   I suspect that this will still be difficult, but then that is part of the point, at some level i feel that a fast needs to be sacrificial.  

However after this I do not intend to write any more about it, I will not be broadcasting my fast, or making it too obvious, after all Jesus said "When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting.   I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.   But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you".

Monday, 3 March 2014


I fear I must be getting old, today I just about managed to get around  6 hours work done in between the rain and hail before I gave up, came home and got changed into something ~ dry.   Having got cleaned up and changed I settled down with a up of tea, switched the radio on and promptly went to sleep.   As a general principle my sofa is a pretty comfortable place, certainly comfortable enough to go to sleep, not quite so comfortable on waking up.

Not sure what right I have to be that tired as although I did have late night on Saturday I had a quite easy day yesterday.   Saturday night was a really nice night my friend arrived a little late but that did give me a little extra time getting changed, dinner was good, but the best bit was the dessert, a lemon trifle which a made myself, whereas the starter was bought in and the main course just a joint of pork.   We talked way into the night before going to bed in the "wee small hours" putting the world to rights.   I am afraid that the evening did also involved large amounts of alcohol, so Sunday morning I awoke at a reasonable hour but slightly under the weather.   I certainly felt that for once I was better off not going to Church.

I dressed for comfort, not speed with a favourite casual top thick tights and denim shorts.   Coffee and breakfast followed in there due course, the one thing I had forgotten was that as I was not at Church one of my friends had to pop round to return a borrowed instrument.   Bless him, although he does know that I am a cross dresser this was the first time he had met Paula he did not bat an eyelid, and enjoyed a cup of coffee with us.

I did feel a bit unwell on Sunday evening and ended up missing my orchestra's rehearsal, but felt fine this morning, and indeed all day until I got home and hit the wall of tiredness.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Sticks and Stones..............

Recently Joey wrote about labels, this got me thinking, we nearly always associate labels with negative thoughts, - skinny, fat, short, lanky but of course they can also be positive slim, hunky, petite, tall.    On being asked what labels we might apply to ourselves I resisted the temptation to use the old joke about "Call me anything you like except late for lunch", instead I extended the tag line for this blog  and suggested "The world's leading transgender Bass Trombone and Tuba playing ex prop forward Christian Gardener"   All of these are pretty positive, but still leaves out quite few rather important ones like Parent, Friend, Son etc. etc.   I am sure that we can all think of plenty of negative ones as well.   I am actually not sure that Transvestite or indeed even "Tranny" are worse labels than Cross Dresser after all they do describe what it is that I do, even if they say noting about the motivation.

I actually do think that the worst thing about labelling people is that it involves Judgement, by that I mean it involves the process of judging somebody else, their appearance, habits, or capabilities and reducing all their characteristics into a single word or phrase.   The Bible tells us that "Do not Judge, or you to will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (NIV Matt 7:1-2)   We are constantly exhorted to evaluate carefully and to choose between good and bad people and things, we should "test everything" (1 Thessolonians 5:21)   But if we simply label  somebody a fool we are hardly weighing up their full value, and we will then be weighed the same.

Certainly it hurts to be called names, especially when we know them not to be accurate, but maybe the biggest damage is done to the the person applying the label.   I will soon be sowing some seeds, but rest assured I will be labelling them!