Alexander Averin

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Counting Steps

A Journey through Landscape and Fatherhood

Cinnamon Press

There is a new book out written by Mark Charlton of the fine blog Views from the Bike Shed fame. I finished the book this morning, somewhat sadly really as I would have liked it to have been longer.  You know what it’s like when you have a really good book, you sometimes want to make it last and to savour it slowly.  The writing was very fine and the book is full of emotion.   I can recommend it highly. Particularly poignant was one of the pieces the author wrote about his father, it had forgiveness, wisdom and understanding within and Mark’s words will stay with me. It is a worthy book for that alone but also for the writings about Wales, many areas of which I know well, (but not all which was a bonus). I am not into climbing, I love walking but unfortunately my husband, because of health problems, is not up to long walks any more. However I could visualise many of the more remote places he visits which was an added bonus.

There is everything I love in this book;  nature and very personal reflections combined – this appeals to me as I too find it easier to reflect amongst nature and do not feel happy if I am away from it. Put me in a town or a city and I do not feel the same ease.  These places are fine to visit but I cannot stand crowds and traffic for too long any more.

So this book will appeal to many: walkers, climbers, lovers of Wales, wildlife and nature, fathers,  husbands ........and wives too.  

For sons of fathers and fathers of sons, there is much that is touching within it.

(There is a quiet humour too).

Most of all I love the book for its honesty.

I look forward to another.

Cait O’Connor

Friday 26 October 2012

I Hope You'll Dance

Dance till the stars come down from the rafters
Dance, Dance, Dance, till you drop.
W H Auden.

Dear Diary,

I start most of my days with a yoga session – after I have showered I put my Music Library on the computer - which you can find in the right hand column of this blog – just click on Playlist in the top right hand corner – then dismiss the little window that comes up and click on My Library Radio – I have saved a lot of my favourite records on there – there will be some ‘foreign’ ones in there but you can skip those.  Have a listen yourself.  I know a few people who enjoy working  along to my music.

I learned yoga when  I was in my thirties when my children were small.  I’ve been practising it  ever since ( yes I am getting  a bit tired now!).
Anyway, I do my daily yoga routine to the first three songs which come up randomly on the computer, they are always a surprise as I never know what will play but I know I will like the tunes.  If I don’t fancy a particular one I can always skip it.   My routine consists  mainly of Prayers to the Sun, also known as Salutes to the Sun.  I prefer Prayers as they  sound a bit less ‘military’ to me. 

This sequence of poses uses all the body bits – my old yoga teacher said that we could get away with only doing half a dozen of these every day and it would be enough – along with the Corpse posture which is very relaxing.  I often do that in the evening or when I felt the need!   I also do daily neck and shoulder poses as I have had a very serious neck injury in the past.  I try and do yoga every day unless I am feeling  very tired or unwell.  My teacher advised us not to practise it on Sundays, she said we should have one day off a week.  Wise woman.    Even if I am a little tired beforehand  I always feel energised after doing my yoga,’ looser’ too and ‘brighter’.  I recommend it.

This morning the fourth song this morning happened to be Staying Alive by the Bee Gees so I just had to dance; how could anyone NOT dance to that song?   

Another song which is inspiring is Time of My Life from the wonderful film Dirty Dancing.   I usually end my routine with a bit of dancing as I love it so -  it’s quite safe, no-one can see me upstairs in the little study.;  well only the dog and she seems to approve of everything I do, bless her.

I am into Strictly Come Dancing at the moment, nowhere near as obsessed as I was at this time last year but I was poorly then while waiting too long for a gall bladder op.  (another story).   I really love dancing and envy the celebrities who are being trained to dance by such professional people.

Anyway I hope you will enjoy my music and I hope  you will dance.

Which takes me nicely back to the beginning.

Have a nice day,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,


Sunday 21 October 2012

You've Been Trumped

Try and watch this documentary if you missed it on BBC2 tonight (Sunday)

It has impressed cinema audiences around the world. 

The journalist who made the film writes in the link below.

Monday 15 October 2012

Rip Off Britain- car insurance

I am thinking of having a special section for this subject.

Rip Off  Britain.

This is a copy of an email I sent to this website

You asked for stories concerning car insurance renewal quotes as in the article on your website you say:

Evidence suggests that some car insurers are offering sky-high renewal quotes even when they are willing to insure for a lower price.

Drivers have found their insurer offering cheaper quotes for the same cover as their renewal offer through comparison websites. 

It means that rather than quoting prices based on a driver's circumstances, insurers are taking a punt that loyal customers will accept a higher price without question, even if it could afford to insure them for less.

(

This is my experience.

My renewal notice came through recently at £205 from Swintons, I have been with them for some years now.

My husband rang and tried to get a lower quote from the brokers, Swinton Insurance,....... and was quoted £170.

I went on to the great website money supermarket, found a quote for £105 and purchased it online. I was pleasantly surprised as this quote was for fully comprehensive and we had only asked Swintons for third party, fire and theft on the phone as that is what we always have. .

Guess who this lower quote for a more comprehensive insurance package was with?  (£100 lower).  Swinton Insurance.

I received in the post a schedule of insurance today for £170 so as you probably understand (Swintons pretended not to!) I was very worried and confused as I had only paid (I hoped!) £105 online to purchase the cheaper policy.

It took two phone calls to Swinton Insurance for it not to be explained  what was going on.  I have demanded that a receipt and an explanatory letter (in plain English) are sent to me today.

While I was on the phone to Swintons my husband checked our bank account and thank God only £105 had been taken.  The insurance doesn't run out till the end of the month so they are a bit eager aren't they?

The first woman at Swintons treated me like a child and the second man was more helpful and spoke English but he called it getting a discount.  He had called it cashback to my husband in an earlier call.

Not what I call it.  How about you?

Wednesday 10 October 2012


I am cheating a bit by posting this on my blog because it is another piece of homework set last month at our writing group. We each had to choose a word beginning with the letter 'F'. We chose Felicity, feckless, finickity,  fettle, frank, felucca and one other which I have forgotten. 

We then had to write a piece of prose or poetry using these F words. (an earlier post, a poem of mine, gives this away somewhat!).

Trouble is on this piece of prose I got a bit carried away (but I wasn't the only one).

A Fictonal But Fairly Factual Story of Fun and Foreboding.

First and foremost let’s face facts.  I am not a fan of Felicity Fairweather and I may be politically incorrect in saying this but I am known for being forthright and I am only being fair to you by sharing my true feelings and saying that I have found out that for some modes of transport, Felicity was far too fat.  Floating ferries maybe, but a felucca?  No.

Apart from being far too large, Felicity was French and a feisty female,  a bit facile, a bit of of a flbbertigibbet and far too gossipy and flighty. She was also flushed of face, fair of hair, and probably still fairly fertile for she was not yet forty-five.  Her latest beau Frank O’ Flaherty was a fop (a bit of a fool) to be honest (as they say far too often here in Wales); not forceful  at all but full of the flannel.  He was rich though and quite funny, if you like that  sort of thing and he had certainly played the field, sometimes in formal circles too; (his father had once won the fixed odds on the football pools, but that’s a fable I shall save for another day).  Frank was unfortunately prone to fixations and he fell far too fast for feisty Felicity and she, being without the talent for fascinating the male sex which some fortunate females possess, could  never dare to be finickity enough when it came to finding friends or would-be lovers. She didn’t really fancy Frank but for a while she feigned favourable feelings towards him, fawning over him in a slightly feline way (for she was far too susceptible to his flattery).

Patrick Francis O’Flaherty (Patrick being his first forename) was  of Fenian stock and was frankly feckless, especially on that fatal  foggy day on the fourth Friday in February last year. The couple were sailing on the Nile in a felucca during a frightful monsoon when their flimsy makeshift flag came adrift and floated far away downstream. Felicity had got in a flap, had fainted right off her feet and the felucca started leaking like a fountain.  Poor old Frank was never one to flip and feeling in such fine fettle, flexed his muscles and made a foolhardy attempt at fixing it by sticking his finger in the fissure.

To cut this far too frenetic story short, a frantic family feud , not the first, ensued between the ferocious owners of the felucca  (who had captured it all on film) and the fecking insurance company, (their ‘F’ words, not mine, the air was very frosty I can tell you and more than faintly blue)……..

Frank and Felicity’s relationship was somewhat shortlived and faded swiftly after that fateful date.

And Felicity?  Would she ever achieve fulfilment? I did wonder. However, she was never one to fret or be frightened of anything so she soon recovered and with no need for rehabilitation she quickly returned to her previous good form.  She never forgot Frank, she never forgave  him either but she  didn’t give a flying fig……………..she  just looked forward to her freedom.

And  Frank?  He may never be a high flyer but he wasn’t fearful of life either, rather the opposite.  He  looked forward to visiting France on the next available flight (he had a fear of boats) and to exploring fresh pastures and to fighting new frontiers…..and more than anything he relished finding a few fresh and more faithful French females (the fresher the better)…..

Cait O’Connor

If you would like to comment feel free to use F words (but only clean ones).

Saturday 6 October 2012

Saturday's Poem

This week has been a very sad one for us all here in mid-Wales. For readers of this blog who not from the UK you may not have heard that there has been an abduction and a murder of a five year old girl, April Jones, in Machyllneth in my own county.  These sort of things just do not happen here.  The response of our community has been amazing and I am so proud of the hundreds of volunteers who have come from miles around to help in the search for April; I am so proud of the Welsh rescue services and the police too.  It is a cliche but my heart goes out to April's family. I have four granddaughters of my own and cannot begin to imagine how April's mother must be feeling. 

The news has been full of children's suffering of late. Prior to that poor child being taken there were stories in the media of the alleged abuse of children by the late Jimmy Saville. This followed the Rochdale Social Services affair which shocked us all. 

Some folk question why adults wait so long to speak of their abuse as children.  Many indeed go to their graves without ever telling a soul.

I was inspired to write a poem.


It is what she wants them to know
but she doesn’t want to tell
and doesn’t want to remember.
It is what her brain won’t  recall
but rather chooses to forget
until triggered, like a failsafe, out of  
its save-from-wounding safety catch.
It is what she needs to say
but which is held instead within,
buried in a store of memories, incurred like fines.
It is what she never understood;
a trauma of troubles, feelings too new,
just hands and touchings, far too strange for understandings
for what in truth is normal to a child
believing touch is touch, is touch, is touch?
Is it really such a slight pain, this silence,
dulled and muffled up against all elements,
carried like convictions in a tally of a life?
Is it now that she is old, yet still that child
that she is dreaming of her deathbed where there may be spilled
a riot of revelations, a telling of all truths
outpoured to all her kin within a testament of tears?
But for now she doesn’t blurt, she doesn’t even whisper of his ways
but turns her face and self away 
and shuts the door on memories of shame,
her frailty and fear still hidden
behind the door that has slipped once more ajar.

Cait O’Connor

Thursday 4 October 2012

Just a poem for National Poetry Day

Frank and Felicity/A Marriage

Passion was in hiding somewhere that night

and even the moon was absent for their union

in their honeymoon bed of half-measures

and pale imitations.  For his movements were too clumsy,

or bungling with half-baked hamhandedness.

The marriage of hobo and dreamer?  Such a bad idea

but he had been blessed with the gift of quackery

and on the Nile in a faded felucca

he had charmed himself into her heart.

A gypsy had foretold her a future of

a life with no fun with a man in fine fettle

who would stand stubbornly in his own light which

shaded her too and faded her dreams till they died.

A wasted life with a man, feckless and foolhardy,

a would-be pirate destined to roam and to be

a dark mystery,  a cowboy, a dare-devil desperado.

Cait O’Connor