Friday, 29 April 2011
Thursday, 28 April 2011
For example, the Bishop's house (built c. 1740) in Tynemouth village is for sale just now. Also another of my favourites on Front Street.
This is a great house from the outside, but I'm not fond of the modern style in which they renovated it. And a chandelier light fixture in the front porch? Well, OK, I'll let them, but I wouldn't do it.
On the other hand I looked at the flat available for £200K in Prior's Park and though it has sea views, I wasn't inspired to move.
I have our new house in Oklahoma City all picked out: Edgemere Park, built 1928.
I looked for something in Salt Lake City, but even for $1.5 million, I wasn't too sure about this. What do you think?
The fun thing is that one doesn't need to worry about price, cause it's just looking. I'm not really looking to move, so I can just enjoy the photos and perhaps get some ideas about what improvements we could consider. I do have to be in the right frame of mind or I can get grumpy about what we can't afford. The main thing for me to remember is that I live in a far nicer house than the one I grew up in and 99.9% of the time I'm well satisfied with it.
Do you like to look at things you can't buy or do you avoid them?
Wednesday, 27 April 2011
They arrived Saturday evening with flowers, bless them.
Then we had a cup of coffee and then wandered down to the Gate of India for a delicious meal of about a million calories. Personally, I wouldn’t choose curry for the night before a race but these two guys did it and lived to tell the tale.
The next day was glorious, the best so far this year (she said, optimistically); it may well be the summer for all we know. Helen took the guys down to the start so I had a leisurely morning.
I almost wished I had entered, people looked like they were enjoying themselves so much, but it was only the first mile or so after all.
It has often occurred to me that the perfect conditions for running (slightly cool, perhaps even with a drizzle) are not nice otherwise, but I've done many a run or race thinking it would be far more pleasant if I were walking or picnicking. Just can't be pleased, can I?
Sunday, 24 April 2011
I was whinging one day about having to start this process when Bill said, "You know you love it, really." He wasn't even being sarcastic. It made me think of Gretchen Rubin's recommendation about 'reframing'. She talks about this - and her other happiness concepts - fairly often, so you can search the blog for this word and find other examples. I think of it as a form of lying to oneself, but if it makes me happier, I'm all for it. So I tried it with taxes:
I hate doing my tax returns. I really enjoy doing my tax returns. It forces me to gather information about my financial situation that I am normally too lazy to collate. It is often good news and when it's not good news I have the picture in front of me so I can make decisions to improve it (ie find a new property manager). This information gives me a better sense of what I can realistically spend, given my erratic income. Completing the forms is like working through a complicated puzzle. I always feel good about having figured it out when I'm finished. If I'm not thrilled about the bill at the end, well, taxes are the price we pay for living in a civilized society.
It almost works, actually. I've motored through the process so far, stymied only when I had to go into town to do a face-to-face transaction to get the necessary information about interest on an account. Some aspect of British finance are still quite archaic.
However, there are some aspects that I think are more advanced than in the US. Though I think 20% VAT ('value added tax'...I ask you) is scandalous, you pay no sales tax on children's clothing or basic unprocessed foods (which is what we should all be eating anyhow). A lot of people don't have to fill out an income tax return at all. Like in the US, UK taxes are taken out of salaries, but unlike in the US, tax at the basic rate (20% after the living allowance of £7,475 / $12,375) is taken out at source from interest bearing accounts. As long as you are in the 22% income bracket, just under $58,000, or have income from an unusual source, you don't have to bother with it at all. There are accountant's offices on every corner, seemingly, so they haven't exactly been wiped out by this practice. Also, with the Inland Revenue (part of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs), you have the option of giving them all your information and letting them calculate how much you owe, saving another 5 or 6 pages if I recall. I did it myself the first year (after learning I needed to pay UK tax on my US income - ouch) but have had them do the maths (in Britain it is apparently plural) ever since. They come up with a similar figure so I let them.
Mind, having rental income I'd probably always have to file anyhow, but were it to change I think I might be quite tempted to sell up and simplify my life. But I do actually enjoy doing my tax returns...really.... Must work on this one.
Other cartoons to cheer you up about taxes here.
Saturday, 23 April 2011
Friday, 22 April 2011
Thursday, 21 April 2011
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
|High Light and Low Light *see link below|
|Customs House Theatre|
I could keep up with Bill because, bless him, all the groceries were in his paniers.
Unfortunately I managed to pull a muscle in my back that's niggled ever since, but never mind, it was still a good day out.
*High Light, Low Light in North Shields
Sunday, 17 April 2011
Loads of luck Lyle. You need it. Oillie
Ego solus sto. Sed Ubi? (in the corner)
Saturday, 16 April 2011
She and I have each worked there at different times and have pleasant memories of the place.
The weather that day was unbelievably glorious - about 80 F. and I gradually shed my layers, regretting my heavy tights and thermal vest.
We had lunch at the Wheatsheaf, a little cafe down an alley way I'd never have noticed without her pointing it out to me.
Then we scoured all the charity shops, looking for not much in particular, though I decided a navy purse wouldn't go amiss, and sure enough I bagged one (sorry).
We walked over to the pedestrian bridge because I thought it particularly picturesque. Also, I have a bit of a thing about bridges, just like I do balconies, turrets and other romantic architecture.
I was envying the people whose houses backed onto the River Wansbeck (excepting that there was a terrible flood there a few years ago) when a familiar face passed by.
I just grabbed her name -- Helen -- out of distant memory before she left speaking distance. She recognised us at once - in spite of my new hair colour - and stopped for a chat.
She's been retired about 5 years now. We all admired the lovely heron just beyond the road bridge.
On the way back to the car we detoured slightly to capture the Clock Tower, probably about the most notable feature of Morpeth. It was difficult to get decent photos because the sun was so bright, but you'll not catch me complaining for one second!
I tried also to take pictures of the Town Council building.
I remember years ago when we used to do the Morpeth to Newcastle race on New Years Day (about 14 miles). Alas, England's oldest road race is no more.
The Hunt was still going on back then - also no more, though I can't say I grieve it. For the New Year's Day Hunt the riders gathered outside the Town Council building, dressed in their red jackets and surrounded with packs of dogs making a terrible racket.
I never knew which direction they headed, but was glad not to encounter them on my way towards Newcastle.
Friday, 15 April 2011
Duchin reported getting some nominal present that first Christmas, something along the lines of a tie. Pamela’s son, Winston, got an airplane. A real one. Alida Morgan (beautiful, striking woman with white hair, shown in a very red room; must find out more about her), Harriman’s grand-daughter (actually, step-grand-daughter; her maternal grandfather was apparently Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney) dropped by to see him one day and was turned away. "Leave a card, make an appointment," she was told. She was never alone with her grandfather again, not even on the telephone, without Pamela’s interfering presence preventing any real personal contact or complaints about the increasing distance between them. Part of me thinks that anyone so careless about their personal relationships deserves to lose them.
I’m still working on figuring out what was so wonderful about Pamela. Whatever it was, her new 79-year-old husband got a ‘new lease on life’. The programme reminded viewers how important a man Harriman had been in his lifetime, the 48th governor of New York, two time presidential candidate. Strangely enough I’d only ever heard of Averell Harriman because he’d married Pamela Harriman, who had something to do with Churchill. I felt a bit better after reading his Wikipedia entry that most of his political career happened before I was born. Nevertheless, in 1971 he was apparently still a big player on the Washington scene and he had a home in Georgetown. Pamela’s political career began with her salons.
salon -- n 1. a room in a large house in which guests are received 2. an assembly of guests in a fashionable household, esp a gathering of major literary, artistic, and political figures from the 17th to the early 20th centuriesWord Origin and History:1699, "large room or apartment in a palace or great house," from Fr. salon "reception room," from It. salone "large hall," Sense of "reception room of a Parisian lady" is from 1810; meaning "gathering of fashionable people" first recorded 1888 (the woman who hosts one is a salonnière ). Meaning "establishment forhairdressing and beauty care" is from 1913. From www.dictionary.com
One of her biographers describes her working at her on parties like a professional cowboy on a seasoned cutting horse: she’d choose her man and cut him out of the crowd. The lassoed politician would be taken to the couch where they would chat a few minutes; she’d ask what she wanted to know, give what information she had. Then she’d return the heifer back to the herd and select the next one, continuing throughout the evening. Apparently this all required infinite charm and finesse and she was a master at work. I don’t quite follow what is so hard about this, but obviously this isn’t my social area.
"An ambassador is an honest gentleman sent to lie abroad for the good of his country."Apparently she and President Chirac got on like a house on fire and she got a lot of his time, more than most other ambassadors. Life in Paris was good for Pamela.
As Shirac had once promised, ‘before she left French soil’ she was awarded the Grand Cross. Her son Winston reported that she’d not been gone 3 minutes (as in removed from life support) when Clinton was on the phone to him. Upon learning that she’d been awarded the Grand Cross, Clinton declared “We’re not going to be out-done by that.” Winston (who died in March 2010) said it was “as though the Atlantic became a large poker table”, with Presidents of the two countries vying for Pamela’s posthumous favours, so to speak. Clinton sent AirForce One to bring Pamela home to the US (she’d become an American citizen in 1971) and she was given military honours and a State Funeral, something no other ambassador has received.
Though she had no formal education she was must have been fairly clever. I’m certain she was a hard worker. It must take work to spend that much money! I don’t think ‘good in bed’ covers it, but I confess that I don’t really understand what courtesans actually do. I read somewhere that women who marry for money end up earning every penny and I believe there is some truth in that. I think I would prefer to pay my own way in the world than to pander to some rich man, but had life offered me a millionaire, or three, I might have thought differently. Whilst the programme leaves you with the impression of ‘rags to riches’, she started off pretty well up and I can’t help think this was part of her English charm to rich American men, being the daughter and sister of a Baron.
I did find one good thing she did: according to that article, she left her estate not only to her son, but also to his first wife, the mother of her four grand-children. Putting aside whether it was her money to give, I’ll give her brownie points for that.
Thursday, 14 April 2011
In 1953 when celebrations were held for the coronation of the new Queen Elizabeth, Pamela was desperate for an invitation. No chance, though. The ambassadors’ wives knew all about her and they were not having it! Can't blame them, can you?
Step-daughter Brooke also reported that Pamela had diamonds "in swathes". A friend, seeing the collection, remarked that "it was F.S. Fitzgerald stuff" (must read some, sometime) and Pamela tended to wear the lot. Paints a picture of a walking Piccadilly Circus, I think, but then this is a bitter step-daughter speaking.
The day after Hayward’s funeral she was on the phone to Peter Duchin, son of bandleader Eddy Duchin and - more importantly - godson of her old friend Harriman.
The TV programme didn't explain that Peter Duchin's mother had died when he was only a few days old and that the Harriman's had raised him. Nor did they mention that Duchin was eventually also son-in-law to Pamela, being the second husband of Brooke Hayward. And they say that the upper class in Britain are all related to some degree... One thing is for sure, reading about the lives of these people doesn't highly recommend fame and fortune in support of happy relationships.