I used to be indecisive…

…but now I'm not so sure


Friday letters – the non-grumpy edition

Dear pickleball,  You are a completely new sport to me, but you look like something that might be fun.  I’ve had two beginner’s lessons so far but haven’t quite got the hang of hitting the ball with control.  It doesn’t respond in the way that I am used to it responding in tennis, or squash, nor does it fly like a shuttlecock off a badminton racket.  I am going to persevere though, because there seems to be quite popular here (amongst people of a certain age…).

Dear local supermarket,  I just want to say thank you for always being cheerful at the checkout, and how much I appreciate having someone there to pack my bags for me.

Dear local coffee shop,  I really enjoyed the live music last Friday evening.  The sign said it was going to be Jazz, and that can come in many forms.  Luckily it was the smooth variety, played on two guitars with a drum accompaniment, and was just loud enough to be able to hear it, but not to make it difficult to chat.  The accompanying iced coffee was rather nice too.

Dear dog beach,  On our most recent walk last weekend, we saw the interesting sight of dogs on paddle boards. I couldn’t decide if the owners were only on the paddle boards while the dogs learned how to do it themselves, or whether the dogs were always going to be passengers, enjoying the ride.  Is this bringing a new meaning to the phrase ‘doggy paddle’?

Dear self,  A whole set of Friday letters and not a grumpy one amongst them.  Goodness.

Poor quality I’m afraid, but it’s the dogs on paddle boards.


Have a good Friday everyone.



Friday letters – the just after the 4th of July edition

Dear stingrays, I hear you are in the area now, attracted by the warm shallow water near the beach for mating and giving birth.  Apparently, even if we are only a very short distance from the water’s edge, we should all adopt the ‘Stingray Shuffle’ if we are walking in the water – dragging our feet heavily rather than stepping – because the vibrations will send you on your way.  I am more than happy to do that if it means I avoid your sting.

Dear San Diego County Fair,  I really enjoyed my visit to you on Tuesday last week.  You say you are the largest county fair in the United States and I can believe it.  There was so much to see, and do, that we were quite spoiled for choice.  We did our best to try and see as much as we could, but it was impossible to see everything.  We managed to catch the piglet racing (although just the last race unfortunately), a Monster Truck competition, pigs in fancy dress, the butterfly house, garden displays. a model railroad and the livestock barns with many, many cows, pigs, goats and sheep being shown.  There were lots of displays of arts and crafts (knitting, sewing, quilting, paper craft, baking etc) from competitions that had been running and we could see who had won ribbons for their efforts.  There was wine and beer tasting and a whole barn full of information about sweets and their history (and a few free samples).  There were hundreds of food stalls to tempt all tastes and then there was, of course, the fair ground.  We tried the ferris wheel and got wonderful views over to the ocean on one side, and across the fair site on the other.  The other rides were a bit too wild and twirly for us, so we passed on them.  I want to mention how well organised your parking was, and how quickly you moved people around.  We opted for the offsite parking and that was very efficient – free parking in a local college car park where a fleet of buses were waiting to whisk us off to the fair grounds and drop us right by the entrance.  It was an excellent day out, thank you.

Dear new houses nearby,  I confess to suffering from a bit of mailbox envy.  Now that you are almost ready for your first residents, the final touches are being added.  One of those final touches is a nice white mailbox at the front of each house – the kind with the red flag on the side.  I’d like to have had one of them, which I could have decorated in my own way, but we have one of those commercial metal banks of boxes at the end of the road, and we have a key for our own little door.  I know it’s efficient for the post person to drop the mail, but I had always fancied the idea of having my own mail box outside my house.

Dear 4th of July, Well, we had a lovely day, thank you.  The weather was, of course, fine so everyone could spend as much of it outdoors as the wanted to.  We opted for brunch in a bakery we hadn’t tried before, and then headed for the beach for a walk, and to sit on the rocks and watch the world go by.  It was good to see so many people dressed in patriotic colours and some houses were displaying extra flags, patriotic bunting and pleated fans on their porches and balconies.  We saw a few cars and motorbikes that were decorated too, and one open topped car had a flag so large that the driver was in danger of being enveloped in it.  The day was rounded of with fireworks as far as the eye could see from about 8.30 pm.  We had a great vantage point just at the back of our house, which is on one of the many hills in the area.  Although one set of fireworks was quite a bit closer than all the rest, it was still interesting to be able to see, and hear, so many at the same time.  I think an excellent day was had by all.

Our 4th of July beach visit.

Have a good Friday everyone.


Friday letters – the May 18th edition

Dear Bakery cafe,  How difficult can it be to make a latte and deliver it to me?  I went up to the counter, ordered a regular sized latte from the young man at the till, confirming that I would like only one shot in it rather than the standard two.  He took my name and my money and asked me to wait and my name would be called when the drink was ready.  He went on to serve the two people who had been waiting behind me.  Some five minutes later, when I had been standing round the corner from the counter at what appeared to be the order pick up place, he came over and presented me with my drink, showed me where I could get a lid for the cardboard cup if I wanted it, and then I took it to the table to join the group I was there to meet.  That’s when I realised that what I had been given was a black coffee, so back to the young man at the counter I headed.  He apologised for the error and asked me to wait and the correct drink would be with me straight away.  I then hovered around for almost ten minutes.  The bakery was not busy.  One or two people came in and either ordered at the counter, or ordered via screens just inside the door.  What on earth took you so long?  It is possibly the longest wait I have ever had for a simple drink.

Dear Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende,  I was expecting you to be about a young woman starting an adventure in California, having travelled from Chile.  I am over half way through and she has only just arrived there.  Really?  I take issue with your ‘blurb’ on the inside of the book’s jacket – it led me astray.

Dear local council swimming pool,  I popped along to check you out yesterday and you look fabulous!  Two spacious outdoor pools, a good sized hot tub for the adults, a great water play area for children and plenty of shady areas where you can sit and see the pool.  Oh, and loads of shaded parking. I’m looking forward to trying you out.

Dear bare patches on the grass,  I am awaiting eagerly the sprouting of the new grass seed.  There have been no birds pecking at it.  I’m not sure if that is due to my superior bird scaring measures involving lengths of string and tied on strips of cut up plastic supermarket bags, or the seeds being coated in something the birds don’t like, but whatever it is, it has been bird free.  By this time next week, the seed packet promises lush green growth.  We’ll see.

Dear garden birds,  It’s been good to see another newcomer to the visitor list.  I think you are a Spotted Towhee and what a lot of mess you leave as you scratch around pecking up all the seeds that have dropped from the feeder.

A rather blurry photo, taken through a window as the light was fading.

 Have a good Friday everyone.


Friday letters – the bookish edition

Dear Book Club,  Yesterday afternoon was my first visit to an ‘official’ book club, run by the local library.  My book club at home was a group of friends who all live within walking distance of each other, have known each other for years, and we took turns to host the evening.  The book discussions would last for five minutes (ten if it was a really exciting book!) and then we would have another glass of wine and catch up on each other’s news and local gossip for the next two hours.  Sitting in a room in the library, round a large rectangle of tables so that we could all see each other, and with a glass of water rather than wine or coffee, was quite a different experience.  First of all we had to go round the group and give our thoughts on the book – luckily I had some!  Following that there was some general discussion with members of the group offering further thoughts, or personal experiences relating to the book.  An hour after we started, papers were gathered up, books were put back into bags and that was it, all over.  I enjoyed hearing different viewpoints on the book, which hadn’t occurred to me as I was reading, and didn’t feel out of my depth, which I was worried I might be.  I read books to enjoy the setting and story, not to delve into the inner thoughts of the author!

Dear A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles,  I did enjoy reading you for the book club, and found your main character (the said gentleman of the title, a Count) very likeable.  Finding himself under house arrest at The Metropol Hotel in Moscow, he makes the best of his situation and in the course of that we learn a lot about Russia in the first half of the 1900s, and in particular the life of someone who has enough money to live comfortably.  I do take issue however with your ending – I would have liked more ends to be tied up thank you.  I got to the last page (which I had no idea was going to be the last page because it was one of those books with an excerpt from the author’s next novel so I thought there were many more pages to go) and turned it eagerly for more of this exciting, dramatic section of the storyline to unfold.  But no, that was it – most exasperating.

Dear Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende,  You are the next Book Club book and until I picked you up from the library yesterday I had no idea what you were about.  I had heard of you, or maybe I had just heard of your author (whose surname I was incorrectly pronouncing Ah-lendy, rather than Ah-yendy).  On reading the blurb I see it is a very appropriate book for me to read because it is about a young woman who travels from Chile to start a new life of opportunity in San Francisco and north California.  I am looking forward to finding out what happens to her.

Dear bird at the bird feeder,  This little bird feeder was installed in my garden to attract “finches and chickadees and other small birds”.  I wasn’t quite expecting you to turn up and enjoy a feast.  According to my Audubon Field Guide to California, I think you might be a Western Scrub Jay.  Although you do look a bit large on the feeder, it was very nice to see you.

 Have a good Friday everyone.


Friday letters – the early May edition

Dear May,  Hello and welcome – you do seem to have come round rather quickly though.

Dear new bird feeder,  Having established that hummingbirds are happy to come to their feeder, I thought it was time to cater for other types of birds, so you are now in place hanging from a tree and filled with ‘mixed seed’ which should suit various small birds apparently.  So far, you have attracted a House Finch and an as yet unidentified yellow and black bird.  Keep up the good work.

Dear Spring Street Fair,  You were very enjoyable, thank you, and we had a good time browsing the stalls and generally drinking in the atmosphere and watching the world go by ( from the comfort of a pavement cafe with the most delicious French Toast for brunch).  I’m looking forward to attending your Autumn version later in the year.

Dear garden,  You are looking a bit better now that I have removed some of the ferns that were engulfing other plants and shrubs – it’s going to be exciting to see if they flower now that they have some space and light.  It was also good to uncover several sprinkler heads, so they should now be able to do their proper job and distribute the water widely which should benefit the plants.

Dear little soft toy pig,  I don’t know how long you lay hidden in the ferny undergrowth, with a few snails for company, but I hope you are feeling better now that I have rescued you and given you a wash.

Dear weekend,  I can’t believe you are nearly here already – how did that happen?

Have a good Friday everyone.


Friday letters – the this and that edition

Dear Farmers’ Market,  We enjoyed our visit last Sunday and the bread we bought was delicious.  We will definitely be returning.

Dear railroad tracks, I felt very daring crossing you from where we parked the car to get to the Farmers’ Market.  Even though I could see for at least a mile in each direction, and trains always use their bell as they travel along these sections of the line, it still felt a little unsettling just to walk across.

Dear hummingbirds,  You seem to like the new placement of your feeder and I’ve been seeing larger numbers of you.  I also like the new placement of the feeder because the ants don’t seem to be able to get to it.

Dear active wear,  I see lots of people wearing you when I’m in the supermarket, or driving around.  I had assumed that those people were either on their way to, or returning from, some kind of exercise class, but I have my suspicions that you are just being worn for comfort and for the purposes of creating the illusion of exercise. 

Dear nearby lagoon,  You are an excellent spot for a walk, and for observing wildlife.  Could I make a suggestion though?  It would be excellent if you had a path that went all the way around, rather than just along one edge.  I know I might be asking a bit much, and that to achieve this aim would mean constructing a bridge of some kind to cross the inlet from the sea, but it would be lovely to be able to do a circular walk rather than a there and back again walk.

Dear osprey,  It was very exciting to spot you resting near the edge of the lagoon.  You were just there, standing on a log as though you weren’t anything exciting at all.  To me you are still something of a rarity, and a seldom seen sight – something that is kept hidden and well protected.  I remember back in the ‘olden’ days of my childhood, how exciting it was when a pair of ospreys first returned, of their own accord, to Scotland after an absence from Britain of a hundred years.  Our family, along with many others, made the long journey to the village of Boat of Garten in the Cairngorms in the hope of seeing them, or their nest.  I think there might have been eggs or chicks involved, because it was a particularly special occasion and several years after the first pair had settled in the area, but my memory is not completely clear on that.  So, hopefully you will understand just how special it was for me to see you.


Have a good Friday everyone.


Friday letters – the tidal edition

Dear high tide,  We should have thought it through really, before trying to go for an early morning walk last weekend just when you were doing your thing. We could, of course, have waded up to our waists, or swum for it round the jutting out rocks, but we decided that we’d rather stay dry and so our walk was cut short.  I know you have your routines to go through, however would it be possible for you not to come so far up the beach in future?

Dear tide tables,  Yes, we will consult you before we set out for our next walk rather than when we arrive at the beach.  Actually, I have learned a few things as a result of consulting you over the last few months.  Previously I have just looked at the times of high and low tides to help me know whether there would be much beach visible and not thought very far beyond that, but you are really much more complicated than that.  Luckily I don’t need to know all of it to go for a walk!

Dear surfers and paddle boarders,  I think you did consult your tide tables, judging by the numbers of you who were out in the water enjoying the waves at the same time as we were failing to have a long walk along the beach. Still, we enjoyed sitting on a rock and watching you for a while instead of walking.

Dear pelicans,  How do you manage to glide so close to the surface of the water and not catch a wing, or drop in?  It looks very impressive.

Dear fellow bloggers,  I’m not sure where the last week flew to (well, I know that some of it flew to Ikea and then was spent putting together the purchases from said shop) but I’ve not managed to keep up with my reading and commenting and my Inbox is starting to groan with the weight of unread notifications of new posts.  I’m not ignoring you!

Have a good Friday everyone.