Both Weathered and Unexpected

It’s probably a bit late for both Weekly Prompt challenges but I only found this guy today and just had to share him – better late than never!

This is a sandstone effigy of a knight, and along with one small section of sandstone pillar still standing in a small, very old graveyard he is all that remains of a Dominican Friary built here in 1233. He has no arms any more, and his head and chest are extremely weathered, but if you look closely you can still see the design on his belt buckle holding his scabbard and long sword by his left hip. On his right side there is a shorter stabbing sword or big knife, and looking behind his shoulders there is still a hint of chain-mail patterning cut into the stone.

He’s maybe not the clearest of effigies to make out but the poor guy is just shy of 900 years old and sandstone is not the most hard-wearing substance on the planet, so I’d say he’s looking pretty good in the circumstances, even his knobbly knees. Especially as the friary itself was disbanded and destroyed during the reformation in the mid-16th Century, with many of the original stones being re-used for major buildings elsewhere in the town, so he’s lucky to have survived.

I’d decided today to explore two of the three old burial grounds within a stone’s throw of each other in the middle of Inverness – Blackfriars is the smallest and most hidden from view of them all, tucked in behind a rather ugly relatively modern telephone exchange building, and I’d never actually been there before so finding a 13th Century stone knight still standing strong was a pretty cool find. I imagine he’d be pretty spooky at night though, looming out of the wall like that πŸ™‚

Weekly Prompt: Unexpected

Weekly Prompt: Weathered

Favourites

Hmmm… I’m not good at favourites… Well, not consistently, anyway. My favourites tend to be more fly-by-night than firm fixtures in life, dependent on circumstance and context and timing, as much as anything.

For example, what is my favourite chocolate? Milk chocolate, for sure, but other than that – usually it depends on my mood. I do prefer good quality milk chocolate though, not something made with excess milk-fat then over-sweetened and with negligible cocoa solids – I find cheaply-made chocolate is often such a disappointment both in texture and in taste. Give me Green & Blacks 37% organic milk chocolate any day – Mmmm… ❀

My favourite flower? I like traditional flowers, and usually prefer them growing to cut, so my favourite bloom tends to change variously with the seasons. And even then it depends on whether I choose a visual favourite or a scented favourite or a ‘seasonal first’ favourite… However small and humble, there’s nothing quite like the first snowdrop heralding the beginning of the end of winter. Or the first crocus of spring, or the first rose of summer…

My favourite season? We live in a temperate climate so usually I’m happy with whichever season I’m in at any given time of year, although I must admit this particular spring has not been the best here in Scotland – wet and windy and a lot colder than usual. But I like that we do HAVE four clear seasons here, with reasonably-easy-to-deal-with changes in temperature and weather to go with all four seasonal variations, so that nature adjusts herself accordingly.

Oh wait, I’ve just thought of a proper, permanent favourite – the house we live in now is definitely my favourite home ever! It’s the first one in my life I’ve had any real say in, the first one I chose for myself (well we chose it together, but I did get to choose) and it may not be perfect by other people’s standards but its beautiful imperfections mean it’s perfect for us. It’s probably going to take us til retirement to get it just the way we want it, but we prefer working on it ourselves over time so inevitably that slows down the overall process a bit.

Weekly Prompts: Favourites

Last Week…

The Weekend Prompt at Weekly Prompts this week is Last Week… Hmm… Let me see now… What might count as highlights in this crazy busy world of mine right now? (Spot the sarcasm…)

Last week I spent quite a lot of time in my garden again (surprise, surprise!), mainly weeding and planning and monitoring the progress of all the plants. My yellow azalea is now flowering, but the red one sitting right next to it is still a bit shy to open up. The single little colony of white bluebells are probably looking their best just now and the plentiful blue bluebells making their presence felt all over are still going strong…

What else? Um… One day last week I actually went into a proper shop that was not a supermarket – woo-hoo! In the end I didn’t buy anything but I really enjoyed browsing again for things other than food and essentials. It felt a bit weird to begin with but I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it again soon enough. No, thinking about it I went into TWO shops, because I also visited a toy shop and bought my youngest grandson a gift for his sixth birthday πŸ™‚

Oh, and the other day I decided finally to paint my wooden garden bench. I bought the paint a couple of weeks ago but the spring weather has been a bit inconsistent so I never seem to have two dry days together to get it done. Instead I took the bench in to the conservatory, let the wood dry out properly, gave it a good clean and a sand and have given it a first coat of paint. Now that’s fully dry I’ll need to give it a second coat… maybe tomorrow?

Yeah, life isn’t exactly fast-paced at the moment as we start to come out of the pandemic, but that’s OK with me… πŸ™‚

From Buxom Blonde to Menopausal Matron

For years I was a natural buxom blonde. Natural in that my boobs are big without any intervention and my hair is blonde at source. In the past I suppose I had a reasonably nice curvy figure (although having three kids by 21 left their mark) and as I got older I used to dye my dulling dark blonde hair lighter to try to re-capture that youthful brightness. For the longest time I looked young for my age, too, so people would see me and judge accordingly. In many people’s eyes big boobs plus blonde hair equals bimbo – vacuous, dumb, shallow, whatever the particular stereotype du jour.

It used to be quite fun to see the look on people’s faces when I surprised them with the reality that I’m actually quite smart – I gained a first class honours degree at 40. Or parents would say to me in a patronising, parental tone ‘Wait til you have kids, then you’ll see!’ and I’d point out I already had kids, I’d been a mum since I was 18. My voluptuous soft curves often belied my underlying physical strength – beneath my layer of fatty tissue I also have well-built muscle. On initial acquaintance for various reasons I often simply wasn’t the person people assumed I was, and for many years that social dissonance almost became part of my identity – I was often able to use the stereotype to my advantage.

But as time passed it bothered me more and more to so easily be dismissed by others as irrelevant in a snap judgement just because of how I looked. It stopped being fun and instead I found it increasingly frustrating. In my late forties I stopped dying my hair and deliberately lost that ‘blonde bombshell’ look I’d kept for so long. And now I’m in my late fifties my once-shapely figure is more menopausal matronly than sexy hourglass, my dark blonde hair is greying and it seems the old stereotype no longer applies. So am I taken more seriously now? Nope, not a bit of it – it seems I’m still routinely dismissed as an irrelevance in society at large, but now it’s because of my advancing age rather than being a buxom blonde! πŸ™‚

Weekly Prompt: Advantages

PS After publishing this post, it was brought to my attention that it would be a suitable answer for this week’s Fandango’s Provocative Question, which asks:

What impression do you think you give when you first meet someone?

So I’m cheating and using my post to answer this challenge, too! πŸ™‚

April A-Z: O is for Outside

For now meeting outside is allowed

Just a few, not a massive big crowd

Garden benches will do

And a cane chair or two

Hope for sunny skies, not rain-filled cloud πŸ™‚

For this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge I’m aiming for an alphabetical exploration of my personal thoughts and feelings on the continuing Covid 19 pandemic one year on, using a mix of poetry, pics and ponderings…

Weekly Prompt: Outdoor Seat

Alien

I really resent having to be classified by the United States Internal Revenue Service on my husband’s annual American tax return as a ‘Non Resident Alien Spouse’.

We don’t live there, have never lived there together and have no intention of EVER living there together. My only link to America is being married to an American Citizen – even though said American Citizen has lived here in the UK since he was 11 years old, was educated here, has only ever worked here, pays tax here, owns property here, got married here.

So I suppose what I resent more is that my husband has to pay through the nose for a UK-based US tax specialist to complete a convoluted, complex US tax return every year in the first place (even though we rarely actually owe any tax because we pay tax here) simply because he is an American Citizen, regardless of where in the world he lives…

Come on America, why not have a much fairer, sensible, residency-based tax system like everywhere else in the world!

Weekly Prompt: Alien