Left-Over Posts? Snippets Not Quite Meaty Enough On Their Own To Make A Satisfying Post?
This Is The Place To Come To Use Them Up.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Well, I never! Things you can learn from Daytime TV

A woman on a day-time TV antiques show, picking up a metal ring with regularly spaced peaks, says:

“This reminds me of King Alfred’s crown”. (Alfred the Great was king of Wessex from 871-899)

In an aside to the professional dealer who accompanies each team, she says, very audibly, making sure the TV audience doesn’t miss it: “I am descended from Royalty, you know.”

“Really,” says the antiques dealer, “go on then, give.”

“Well,” says the woman, “King Henry VIII (King of England 1509-1547) was my great-grandmother’s brother .” She is deadly serious about her statement and nods earnestly.

The antiques dealer doesn’t bat an eyelid and, as smooth as oil, purrs “You’ve worn well, then.”

King Alfred’s crown turns out to be a kitchen appliance for hanging things on.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Use It Or Lose It

Crosswords are supposed to be excellent exercise for the brain and I've been doing one every day for years ... for fun , I hasten to add.
Then why , given my blogging name , did it take me so long to solve this clue ?
"Some reason a tango is just for one or two players ?" ( 6)
Got it yet ? This might help ...
"Some reason a tango is just for one or two players ? "
Perhaps if I upped it to two crosswords a day ?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Through the wringer

This is inspired by an article about Taylor Swift, which contains the following:
So Taylor Swift may not be dealing with hampering toils of life — coming up with rent or job hunting in this economy like the rest of us — but where amore and being a mega-star is concerned, she has been through the ringer.
A person hasn't been "through the ringer." He or she has been "through the wringer." Probably younger people don't know what a wringer is. Here's a picture of what the phrase means, from Sleep and Salami.

When I was four or five I was helping my mother do the laundry (except we called it "doing the wash") and when I poked something into the wringer and my little hand followed the article of clothing right through. Having had that experience, it annoys me to see "through the ringer," as if there were something bell-like about it. 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

This Autumn's Culinary Must Have

You thought your Batterie de Cuisine was complete ? Think again . I bet you haven't got a vegetable sharpener like this one ,

featured in the Style section of this week's Saturday supplement .
Though for catering on a grand scale something along the lines of a teacher's mechanical pencil sharpener might be better .

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


Internet very slow these past several days: about the same speed as Morse code tapped out by an amateur but more frustrating. I maintain that it's the solid mat of very pale gray clouds in the sky that's hindering Verizon's wireless performance.

Angus paces, paces, waiting for Husband to return to make his life whole and happy. Husband is away for a few days; the dog might wear a path in the floorboards before his return.

For two months I have happily forsaken most of all the tasty foods that I hitherto enjoyed to excess. Danish pastries with lemon-flavored cream cheese filling, chocolate of any description, ice cream melting into viscous puddles of richness beneath microwave-warmed caramel topping. I am due to have blood drawn this week for a Friday visit to the doctor. And this week I am nearly powerless to sustain my grip on what passes, in my life, for healthy eating. Let me remember this lesson, and have the blood drawn ten days prior to the doctor appointment, when I am still strong against my sins.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

It's that Time of Year again

 Spider in the Bath

Spider Expelled

Are they particularly dozy at this time of year?
This monster let me pick it up this morning
and carry it (dangling from a couple of sheets of loo paper) to the window.
It sat on the window sill for quite a while before
it scuttled off.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

No Comment

Having just been wondering about the beard inhibitor in the old advertisement , I was amused to see today's cover on my newspaper's Saturday supplement .
(Anne Claire De Breij's wonderful photo , one of several for an article about people who enter their pets in shows . )

Thursday, 4 October 2012

The Scientific Academy of Beauty Comes To The Rescue

Apropos of absolutely nothing ... no , I do not have a beard ... how do you think this advertisement was supposed to help any hirsute lady reading it in a 1920s Dutch magazine ?  Was the device meant as a cure or a disguise ?
( Overtollig haar means excessive, and presumably in this case , unwanted hair  ) .

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Winds Of Change

Today a sycamore seed ''helicopter' whirled down in front of me as I walked round the corner to go to a U3A play reading, and tonight, when I came across this image I'd created way back in March, I thought it captured the essence of that small, flying miracle. I decided to spice the soup with its rich colours...

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


I have no comment on this news story except that I thought pork was "the other white meat."

Britain fears an a-pork-alypse now

Saturday, 22 September 2012


A thought I had while I was on the first leg of last night's walk: I wonder if birds look down and think, "My wings are so tired. I wish I could walk with big strides like humans do. It looks so easy." They don't, I'm sure. Birds are lucky enough not to think of what might be.

I feel sorry for Dina Lohan. I do not follow the foolishness of people who are famous for being famous  and their ilk, but I've seen so much hype about the Dr. Phil interview with Ms. Lohan that I can't help having become familiar with what probably amounts to most of the substance of the interview. Was she drunk? Was she high on something other than alcohol? Who cares? To me, she appeared to be very self-conscious and terribly uncomfortable talking about some sad experiences. I recognize the quick quippiness that is supposed to charmingly distract the companion. "There you are in your little tie and your little shoes..." I used to do that! ...back in the days when I had even less self-esteem than I now do. Should she have grown up and started acting like a parent to her daughter? Well, sure. Should we all do some things differently than we do? Well, sure. But what happened to Dina that made her unable to act right? That's the question that nobody cares to ask.

I had my wedding ring resized . . . oh, all right . . . enlarged . . . and went to pick it up today. The jeweler was busy with another customer and a tall handsome elderly gentleman and I had a wonderful conversation. Nothing of substance, really. Just our life stories. Where he used to live, where I used to live, how nineteen years ago he and his wife sold their house and moved to an apartment so that after his death, she would have an easy place to live. "And now it's nineteen years later and she's gone and I'm here." And our stories of our years-long loyalty to this particular jeweler, and which of his granddaughters will get which of his watches. When he had finished his business we thanked each other for the pleasant chat. Sometimes a random conversation is worth a lot more than you'd think.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Empty nest but full crumble dishes

Yesterday, we saw off the Youngest Daughter, who's done her 4 years at uni and has now packed up her room at our house and gone off to the big world of work, living in London and becoming a cabin crew member for BA.

Being an Empty Nester is exhausting.  I am wearing myself out missing her saying, 'Hey, Mum, you HAVE to watch this Youtube clip'.  

But at least I had something to distract me from the emotion after she'd gone yesterday.  We had a big event at church this morning (a couple's wedding 'blessing' after their registry wedding yesterday) and I'd offered to make a shedload of apple and blackberry crumble for the meal.  We were expecting about 70 people.

I spent 4 hours in the kitchen yesterday making the crumbles.  With the radio on and a glass of wine to sip I was very happy chopping apples from 17 trees and making so much crumble mixture that if a beach in southern Spain had needed re-covering, I would have had the materials for it.

So, there I am, lunchtime today, standing behind a big table at church after the service with my crumbles, saying to people, 'This is apple and blackberry - would you like some?'  Next to me is a lady who's made an equal amount of pavlova.

'Apple and blackbe ....?'

'No, I'll have pavlova, please.' (Moves on.)

'Would you like some app ...?'

'Sorry - the pavlova looks nice, though.'  (Moves on.)

'This is ap ...'

'Looks lovely.  But I prefer the pavlova.'  (Moves on.)

'Can I help you to some ...?'

'Pavlova, please.'  (Moves on.)

'Ap ..?'

'Ooh, no, pavlova for me, please.'  (Moves on.)

I made 6 crumbles.  Two got eaten (people tend to give in if you cry).  The rest came home with me.

So, not only has my youngest child abandoned me, but in a cruel irony, I have enough crumble in the house to feed thirty daughters.

Any of you who live in Warwickshire are very welcome to drop in.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

"It's Always Easier If You've Got A Hobby"

Passing acquaintances have taken to giving me helpful advice now I've retired . They say things like "It takes a while to get used to ...", "It helps to have a hobby ... " , "There's always volunteer work ..."and , of course the classic "A good pension is vital ..." The lovely hairdresser I found ( who had just called her salon The Hairdresser and therefore was the obvious choice ) was the only sensible one to date . "Don't jump into anything . Enjoy doing exactly what you want , when you want ..."
All uneccessary in my case . I've taken to idleness like a pig to mud . But I see two neighbours are having problems . Two big hearty men who've worked in the building trade , man and boy , seem to have been totally surprised by retirement and are adrift .
One spent his first week hacking down a rather hideous evergreen in his front garden with what looked like a fretsaw . By week two he was uprooting the stump with a trowel and by week three he was outside gouging weeds from between the crazy paving with a kitchen knife .
The other is more mechanically minded and spent the first week power-cleaning all the rugs in the house , having draped them over the pergola . By week two he'd run out of rugs and his dog looked as though it would cry if taken for another walk . This week he'd found a new pastime . He's acquired a blowtorch attachment for a large domestic gas canister and has been blasting the weeds between the paving stones up his side of the street .
My new hobby ? Well , let's call it people-watching .

Friday, 10 August 2012

Toast, anyone?

Bring back the days of the toasting fork, by investing in this 2012 version of the electric toaster! From light gold to charred brown, the colour of your slice of bread will rely on your dexterity, skill and, let us not forget, olfactory input, which will probably alert you to  when it may be advisable to call the fire brigade, instead of reaching for the butter...

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Spoiled For Choice

I'd forgotten that my hairdresser goes away for the summer and , already looking like a Shetland pony , I need a trim . I hauled out the phone book and started hunting through all the Beauty Specialists .
Now , if you were going to open a beauty salon , what would you call it ? After all , the Yellow Pages lists hundreds of them . So a snappy name is a must .Wendy obviously feels that her combination of hair styling and pedicures will draw them in to her Haarvoetiek ( HairFootique , see how clever ? ) , though Voetsievoet probably does well , too .

You do have to be practical , though . With any luck you'll do well and get a lot of calls . I pity the poor receptionist at one local place every time she answers the 'phone ..... "Good morning ! " This is The All Beauty Sense Of Well-Being Salon . How may I help you? "
Anyway , just to get my money's worth , I'm thinking I might skip all the massage , toning and snipping and get straight to the point . Perhaps I'll stuff my hair in a turban and head to Blinding Beauty Visagie .

Friday, 3 August 2012

My Dad had one of these . . .

He stored his cigarettes under his bowler  . .  till one day he set fire to it and couldn't stop smoking. Pity no one ever developed a walking stick with a built-in smoke alarm, or even better, a fire-extinguisher.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

A Handy Tip

We're all steadily getting heftier ... not you personally , I hasten to add , but in general . And even the BBC blames McDonalds and Eat Your Own Weight In Pizzas establishments for the trend . But a cookery book I was given today on retirement ( one of several .... either Husband has complained or I look as greedy as , in fact , I am ) had some sterling advice at the end of a recipe for Croque Monsieur .

" For a more sober version make only one Croque Monsieur per person and serve with a small salad " .

Friday, 13 July 2012

Guardian Masterclass

Do you have a spare £299? (Inclusive of VAT and booking Fee!) And two spare days in October 2012?

If so, you could learn how to write a blog. The course will examine the essential questions which must be addressed if you wish to write a blog that people will want to read. Sessions cover how to find a voice, a subject and a form; the dynamic relationship between images and text and different strategies in transforming a conversation into an effective written evocation of a personality.

And there you were, thinking all it takes to write a blog is telling people about your dog, your aunt Mary's skill with baking cupcakes and the fact that the sun and moon rise and shine at different times of the day and night.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

More Helpful Advice

Waking up yesterday morning with hedgehogs samba-ing in my eye sockets , I started using some drops I keep for the luckily rare attack of conjunctivitis . Being responsible and sensible , I re-acquainted myself with the instructions . After all , it's my eyes we're talking about here .

That's good to know . I need my sleep .

Monday, 25 June 2012

What (Male) Breasts, Bellies and Stomachs can tell us

Adolf Schroedter  1805-1875
 Falstaff und sein Page

Make prognostications from the breast and stomach, which are governed by Cancer.

The Breast without hair signifies a man to be unshamefaced and fearful; the Breast very fleshy, to be inept to learn; hairy on the Breast to be bold but unconstant. The Belly small, signifies to be of good capacity; much Hairy from the navel downwards, to be full of Words; the Belly bearing out big, to be a great feeder.

The Shepherds Prognostication 1729

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Are Cows Getting Their Own Back?

The Guardian had an article in their Experience series entitled "I was crushed by a cow". in which a herds manager describes how an irate Frisian cow threw him down, face in the mud, knelt on him and pushed her head into his back after he had waved his stick at her and told her to get back. 

That cow was cross.

The paramedics who came to his aid were concerned enough to call for an air ambulance to transport the injured man to hospital. He recovered and two weeks later he was back at work.

The cow was destroyed.

There's been a spate of similar incidents;  a chap who was killed when his herd turned on him, a vet who was trampled to death. Dog walkers have been killed in fields, because they've held on to their dogs instead of letting them run for their life. Beloved and I were pursued by a herd of heifers across a muddy field. One of them saw us, alerted the others and the whole two dozen of them turned as one animal and came galloping towards us; we ran and stumbled for the stile, me howling in fear. The heifers bellowed the theme tune for Rawhide as they almost caught up with us.

Have they caught on that all we want them for is to eat them, make cheese out of the milk meant for their calves, put their baby girls in cages to become veal and kill their boy offspring at a few days old if they happen to be born into a dairy herd? I hate the sound of a dairy cow howling and crying for her young after they've been taken away. The sound goes on for weeks, as each herd is deprived of its babies. 

And to crown it all, we can now interfere with the sex of their offspring; we can now determine that no boys are born into a dairy herd. If that's not enough to turn a mild-mannered, soulful creature like a cow into a vengeful killing machine, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Football Fervour

I don't know what you're all doing .... but there's an awful lot of football being watched in this house .

( the specs are key to the enjoyment of the whole thing , apparently )

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Say Cheese

Source: Wikipedia

May cheeses are now being made.

Cheese that is good ought not to be too hard or too soft, but betwixt both; it must be of good savour, not full of eyes, nor mites, nor maggots. Yet in High Germany the cheese which is full of maggots is called there the best cheese, and they will eat the maggots as fast as Englishmen do comfits.

Andrew Boorde Dietary of Health 1547

To make Whitsun cheese-cakes, take twelve pints of milk warm from the cow and turn it with a good spoonful of rennet.  Break it well and put it into a large strainer, in which roll it up and down, that all the whey may run out. Then break the curds and wring it again, and more whey will come, and so break and wring till no more will come. Work the curds exceedingly with your hand in a tray, till they become a short uniform paste; then put to it the yolks of eight new laid eggs, two whites and a pound of butter. Work all this long together, for in the long working consisteth the making them good. Then season them to your taste with sugar finely beaten, and put in some cloves and mace in subtle powder; lay them thick in coffins of fine paste, and so bake them.

The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Opened 1669

Personally, reading this, I have no problem with being dairy intolerant.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Beau Brummel-ish

The sudden onset of summer with sun and temperatures in the double figures has made us all rush to find something cool and reasonably flattering to wear . Even the rather strange drunks that hang round the supermarket entrance have discarded their flappy anoraks and are eating ice lollies . But no one looked quite so hip and happening today as one of the regulars . In a baggy white tee shirt , white-ish bermudas belted with a nylon orange , green and silver scarf , white shiny leggings and over-the-knee black wooly leg warmers tied up with string garters he cut quite a figure . Pity he hadn't put his teeth in .

Monday, 14 May 2012

And Now A Feast

In case anybody was left feeling hungry after that last post, here's a well known Brueghel painting of a more sumptuous repast for you to contemplate  - though by the look of it, pies were the only things on offer...

Friday, 11 May 2012

The Friday Market , Chapter 8 ( or 9 )

I do love going to the weekly market on Fridays . Huge stalls piled high with every sort of fruit and vegetable , trays of corn fed chicken and fish , spices and cheese ..... For overcaterers like me , it's Paradise .
Today I stood at one of the vegetable stalls behind a wispy young woman , holding a shopping list . She bought : 2 cherry tomatoes , 2 yellow cherry tomatoes , 1 plum tomato , 1 stalk of rhubarb , 1 small onion and an apple . After she'd paid and gone off with it all in a plastic bag , the stallholder said approvingly , one eyebrow only slightly raised , "Good , eh ! Now she won't have to dash to the shops all week . "

Monday, 7 May 2012

To cheer you up

Does he remind you of someone stuck in a honey pot?
Or is he playing hide-and-seek?

Joie de Vivre


 No, unlike Fridge Soup,

 On a Roll!

 OK, let's get up.

 Must sort out my legs.

Nice Grass!

Whereas Fridge Soup is stone cold
and has lost its flavour.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Magpie 114

image by Alex Stoddard

I can't prove 
that I held my breath for seventeen minutes under water
because I forgot to inform the media beforehand
and nobody turned up to applaud me.

The photographer didn't even bring a towel.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Next Time You Visit Downton Abbey Don't Forget That

all members of staff who have been of help must be tipped: the butler, the chauffeur, if he meets or takes you to the station; the bedroom servants, and the cook.

Tips for bedroom servants may be left in the bedroom, but it is courteous to tip as many people in person as is possible, thanking them at the same time for their assistance. To do this, you may have to find your way to the kitchen or garage, but it is worth the effort as a marked courtesy.

If you are uncertain about how much to leave, ask Her Grace for advice rather than take the chance of leaving either far too little or too much. If you get it wrong, you will not be invited again.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

If You Really, Really, REALLY have nothing else to do . .

 . . play this amazing computer animation.

Seems some folk believe the "machinery" is for real, constructed out of farm machinery components in the Engineering School of the University of Iowa.  Don't believe everything that reaches you by email!

Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Bathtub Test

During a visit to the doctor an elderly friend asked: "How do I know if and when I should think of going to live in a care home?"

"Well," said the doctor, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer the person a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to empty the tub."

"Right, I understand," my elderly friend said, glad that she knew the answer. "A normal person would use the bucket because it is bigger than the spoon or the teacup."

"No," the doctor answered,  "a normal person would pull the plug. Would you like to have a bed by the window?"

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Etiquette Advice Needed

What's the correct form of address when meeting important spiders in one's hall ? Something more than a squeak seems called for .

Monday, 12 March 2012

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Beware Of Bearing Gifts

If you're going to stay with people who love Spanish food , you'll be as delighted as I was to find the perfect hostess gift .... a selection of fuet ( a special sort of dried sausage ) by Campofrio , beautifully presented and packed on a wooden board .
Until , that is , you're going through the airport security check at the airport , when your carry-on case will raise eyebrows and you'll be discreetly called aside by a large security guard and a wiry woman in rubber gloves .
Had I packed the bag myself? Could I explain the presence of a knife in my luggage ?
"A WHAT? In my bag??"
So he turned the screen round and showed me a long , very thin , very pointy knife . Yes , it nestled , ready for instant use , between the sausages all still hermetically sealed in their presentation pack , the whole looking rather high on cholesterol , but otherwise harmless . Luckily I wasn't the first that week to have this in their luggage and he just removed the knife and gave the whole lot back to me to pack .
As I ran , red faced and mortified , down the corridor to gate H4 , I decided that any future foodie gifts would be limited to salty liquorice and a box of Merci chocs .

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Never judge a man by his appearance

This afternoon I was in a shop that mainly sells farming equipment and animal feed and there were four big, bearded biker guys who were not interested in the chainsaw display or similar butch, testosterone raising products. No. They were seriously interested in (and don't ask me why this shop sells it, because it seems to be very out of place there) the display that is filled with, predominantly pink and lilac cake decorating materials.

Friday, 24 February 2012

English Grammar

I learnt the difference between 'shall' and 'will' the other day.

If you say:

I shall drown myself and no one will help me,

that's tragedy.

If you say:

I will drown myself and no one shall help me,

that's suicide.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Love Burgers

In case you were wondering what to serve your Innamorata/o for supper tomorrow night , may I suggest these.

They're on special offer till Tuesday evening .

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Vignettes of French Life



Where:  La Foux d’Allos, southern French Alps

When:  1530 Monday Feb 6

Who:  La Marine Fran├žaise , of which there were at least 25

Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Kindness of Strangers

Have you ever left anything on top of your car, forgotten it and driven off? How would it be if somebody else left YOUR house keys and YOUR car keys on top of THEIR car as they waved you goodbye? This is a true story. It happened to a friend of mine. Both sets of keys weren't missed until the forgetful driver had long gone. Replacing keys is an expensive and troublesome process; my friend wanted to see first if he couldn't find them somewhere on the route the other car had taken. No luck, obviously. But he was desperate, so he asked in several villages along the way if anybody had found them. These are small villages and everybody knows everything that happens.

"Yes," said a chap, "Fred Bloggs found a set of house keys and he took them to the Police Station in CA", - the nearest town with a manned cop shop. My friend raced off and yes, they had his house keys. But not his car keys. Unwilling to give up hope, he set off again the next day. Somebody might have found them in the meantime and handed them in. "Sorry, no". And then my friend had a brainwave. If the house keys had been found in the village of A. by the big bend, perhaps the car keys had been catapulted off the roof at the same bend. He set off a third time, parked his car and walked along the bend. And there his car keys were,  safe and sound; a kind stranger had picked them up and put them on the wall of the bridge between the road and the little river running beside it.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Double Take

After seeing the previous post by Smitonius & Sonata, I couldn't help thinking that this lady* would probably agree wholeheartedly!

* read all about her here.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A Capital Offence

We have a lurker and she is not amused . Any further references to vegetables , root or otherwise , would seem to be deemed treasonable .

(Our lurker in an informal portrait by Mini Grey , taken from The Pea and the Princess , published by Red Fox .)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Monday, 9 January 2012

Health and Safety Strikes Again

I heard this story on the BBC Radio 4 News this morning at 6 a.m.

An elderly gentleman was visiting an aircraft museum in the English Midlands. He is very interested in a grounded "Spitfire" on exhibit and asked an attendant if he could sit in the pilot's seat.
"Oh no!  Oh dear me, no sir.  Far too dangerous!"
The elderly visitor replied "I wish the Luftwaffe had been as considerate of my welfare."

He was one of "The Few," - a WW2 Spitfire pilot who had come through the Battle of Britain unscathed.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Dad and Aunt Gertrude

Posted by Picasa

Since the photo in my earlier post didn't work, and you were all just a tiny bit curious, I thought I'd try to post the photo of my father and his sister again. So, hopefully, here it is. Taken at her 104th birthday party.

Aunt Gertrude has been living independently until about 6 months ago, when her children sort of pressured her to pack up her things and move into a home for the elderly. Where, funnily enough, her daughter had already been living for years. So Aunt Gertrude gave in and moved into an old peoples home to live with all the 'old people' who are all younger than she is. According to my father the fact that she is living amongst the elderly is the reason she's getting old herself now. Yes... well....

Aunt Gertrude is almost completely blind and deaf, but she still has all her marbles and organizes her birthday parties herself. Choosing the venue, making the arrangements, etc.

My father suffers from an eye disease, which affects his sight, but he can still see enough to ride his bicycle. At least that's what he tells us and we're keeping our fingers crossed that he's right. For reading, doing his crosswords and telephoning people, he has a cunning device that electronically enlarges everything he puts under it and projects it onto sort of a computer screen.

My mother is 80 in this photo, taken in 2010, and she doesn't know the word 'no'.
Which is why my father telephoned his sister.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Conversation at our Christmas dinner table

My mother:  "Your father telephoned Aunt Gertrude."

Me: "Really dad? Did she (meaning my mother) make you call up your sister?" (My father doesn’t like telephones and avoids them as much as possible.)

My father: "She did."

Me: "And. How was Aunt Gertrude?"

My father: "Judging by her voice she’s getting old."

Me: "Remind me. How old is Aunt Gertrude?"

My father: "104"

my father (89) and his sister Gertrude.