Wednesday, May 31, 2006

End of May

Well, I was intrigued to note that the blogger website automatically updates your age on your birthday. A small thing, but a reminder that you can't escape time.

I had a great birthday, and was thoroughly spoilt by all, starting with my son and a cup of coffee at the crack of dawn. He then unloaded the dishwasher and stacked it without being asked, which was obviously the direct cause of torrential rain for the rest of the day. I had visitors and calls, and a super meal out with the Harpers in the evening. And there was the twins 3rd birthday party in the afternoon as well. Rocket balloons were a great hitA really special day. My friend Annette, had a super lunch for me the day before my birthday and it was lovely to see my friends, and catch up. Then there was Bekah's ballet display at the Castle, and that was perfect. The child is clearly destined to be a prima ballerina. She is 4. The house is full of flowers, and the scent is wonderful, and a reminder that summer should be nearly here. The fact that we all still have the heating on and that the weather continues to be diabolical is immaterial. In Engelberg today, they are having a blizzard, so we are lucky in comparison!

I started thinking about my 52nd year, and it was certainly eventful for my family, and my friends. Last June I broke my foot while redecorating the house, which meant a lot of changed plans for the summer. Then there were the floods in Engelberg, and all the trauma associated with that. It was great to have Diana home for most of the summer, and then she left for New Zealand in October. Andrew and Ann bought their house and all the rushing about moving them in. Mum turned 80 in November, and there were parties here and in Switzerland. I spent a week there to fetch Mum after her birthday. Peter resigned from his job at the Kloster at the New Year, and that was enormously stressful for everyone, but he was in an untenable situation there after so many years as head chef. The Boden became reality, and all the work involved in that and its successful launch in February. I should have been there to help. Geoff collapsed at work and had his heart op. Major stress all round. Mum developed medical problems. That was February. Hanna died in Switzerland. I developed trigeminal neuralgia. Cut down on the stress the doctor said. Spring Harvest came and went. Andrew and Ann took Mum to Switzerland, and I paid a surprise visit for a week to unwind at the end of April. David finishes his AS levels next week.

So many of us have had a traumatic year so far, and there is so much I have wanted to do to help and not been able to in so many cases. There are not enough hours in the day or days in the week, and wanting to make things better for everyone is something I battle to cope with. It is not all about me, after all. I just like being there when I am needed, and when circumstances or finances or ill health mean I can't it is immensely frustrating. I don't do "sick" or weak and feeble. There are so many great bits too. The babes are a constant delight. My friends are another. And my kids are wonderful. Of course. I am still optimistic, and the dreams are still intact. The sun is actually shining at the moment, and that is good. The prospect of Switzerland in the summer to try to help sort out the ravaged garden after the floods, and Marge's 50th and then a trip to see Diana are lovely. The year is speeding past and apart from needing a major lotto win, there is lots to be thankful for. It's all about the people in your life. Somebody........ well Andrew Gunn, actually, asked what I want to be remembered for, in a philosphical moment. My answer was to have made a difference. Yes. I want to have made a difference.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fixed heart

Well, after a visit to Oxford and the John Radcliffe Hospital this morning, and after x-rays and ecgs, I can report that Geoff's heart is now fixed. Better than ever, and they don't want to see him there again. Professor Taggart has done his work, and is very pleased with the result. So is Geoff. He is back at work, and delighted that he can have his normal life back. He is so lucky that things happened the way they did, and that he saw the right doctors at the right time in the right place. And he is deeply thankful for the NHS and the outstanding medical staff who have been treating him. He will be having check-ups at Northampton General Hospital from now on.
It rained all the way there, and so the wet weather continues to blight the spring. Summer starts officially next week, and there is no sign of sun and hot weather, but with the prospect of hosepipe bans, I suppose we should welcome the rain. No. That is a step too far! Thankfully the wretched roadworks are over in most places on the route to Oxford, so getting there was not as bad an ordeal as it has been in recent weeks.
So there you are............. one of the biggest broken things this year is fixed. Still lots to go but I am getting there.

Monday, May 22, 2006


I have been chatting to Louise while she is on Jura, an island off the west coast of Scotland, where she and her family have a stunning home. I should be there with her right now, but exams and sons precluded that for now. She has been chasing cows out of her garden and is now convinced they are circling the house with evil intent. She is also certain they have elastic ribcages to be able to squeeze through tiny gaps. The mind boggles. I have this vision of her tearing about the garden swatting great enormous cows yelling "shoo". So when I was looking at the clipart collection, I found this. It seems to be appropriate. It is said that it takes longer to get to Jura than to get to Peru. But it is well worth the epic trip. If only to help chase cows!


David starts his AS level exams today. Maths. He seems remarkably calm. His mother is a basket case. He finishes writing all the exams on 9th June. Then he has just one year left at school.

Quilts 3

Here are some more quilts I have made over the past few years. I forget to take photos sometimes!

This is one I made for Jean. It is simple, and I found the sqaures I had made ages ago and then the embroidery machine made them special. Buttons are also great additions to any textile art.

This one is special. I made it for Lindsay's 50th birthday in New Zealsnd, to celebrate a friendship that started in first year at university and that has been the rock in my life. It is made of silk, and the paperdolls at the bottom represent our 5 children.

And this one is one of the many I have made for babies born to people I know and love. Bright and fun. Freddie is a really special little boy.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Weather still foul

I am now desperate for some sun. This is not amusing at all. Rain, wind and grey skies. It is enough to trigger severe depression.

Last night was the Eurovision song contest and as usual, we all met at the Elvins for a serious bout of judging, complete with score sheets. We rolled with laughter, and as is normal, all the songs we thought were reasonable were failures, and the one we hated won. The rest of Europe take it so seriously, and the United Kingdon does not. Terry Wogan makes the evening. He can never retire.

The allotment is in the process of being weeded. I have yet to take a "before" photo, but am assured that there is still no noticeable sign of improvement.

Yesterday morning I went to Castle Ashby for tea with the Harpers. It was good to relax and pile on the calories with friends, and then wander round the little shops. They have unusual stuff there. So, there you have it. Nothing much exciting to report!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I am still trying. Here is a link to the greatest tennis player around. Federer YESSSSS!!!! I am a GENIUS! and I did it WITHOUT having to humiliate myself by asking my daughter or youngest son to help. TRA LA TRA LA!!!! I am about to celebrate with coffee. I can do anything......!


It is really not that great when Sky and other news channels report earthquakes near New Zealand. In the afternoon our time. That is the middle of the night NZ time. I want to wake Diana immediately to see if she is alive, but have learnt that her temper is not good at 3 in the morning. I tried another hyperlink. Snarl. Just go to Diana's blog in my list at the side. Hyperlinks. Today's project. I will conquer them.

Talking about earth quaking, Geoff has decided to get an allotment. The earth will indeed have to quake to rid it of weeds, and he has great plans. I am waiting for the vegetables, and am not that patient. It is enormous. For those of you who have no idea why anyone would want an allotment, here in England, houses are usually small, and have small gardens, or in my case, virtually no garden at all, so you can rent a piece of land which is measured in poles, and this one is 10 poles (165ft approximately) long, with a shed at the end, and then you go and grow things. Like Veg and fruit and flowers etc. Geoff has just said it is about 250sq m in total. Huge. Mega huge when you look at the weeds. He will be busy.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I cannot believe that I am the mother of a 29 year old son. I remember being 29 myself. Quite clearly. On Sunday we went down to see Andrew and Ann, and he did a great BBQ for our lunch, even though the weather was not stunningly hot. In fact the sun was rarely out at all. But this is England, and there was no rain, so obviouly perfect weather for a BBQ. They are so enjoying their home, and are decorating at the moment. It was really lovely to see them.

I have been thinking back to when my kids were small, and all the funny memories I have. Our first children are always experiments in parenting, aren't they. But somehow they survive and so do we, and now I can sit here and see the man he has become, and I am very proud of him. Happy Birthday, Andrew!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Spring is beautiful

Or it was until the thunderstorm an hour ago. The trees were full of blossom which is now all over the drive like snow. We have had a few really hot sunny days and what a difference that has made. It is only 3 weeks since I talked about shoots popping up in the garden. Well, in 3 weeks, it has grown to a jungle. I love this time of the year. There are so many shades of green, and more flowers are coming out every day. I have planted the summer annuals, and changed the pots and the patio is no longer a death trap. The roses are in bud, and the lilac is stunning. Tall irises are about to bloom, and appleblossom is falling on the patio. My friend Jean is giving me some marigolds, squash, tomato and beans for the garden too, so this year I will have more than flowers and herbs to pick. The light seems softer and more golden on the old stone buildings in the village, and eveyone is out in the sun after a long grey winter. And my mood is lighter. So is everyone's. The scent of spring is everywhere. I love it.

It is the FA Cup Final tomorrow. I will be out doing something else. The garden centre may well be empty. Sounds good to me. One can never have too many plants. Rugby I can watch. Football? Not really. I would rather watch cricket or tennis of course. Then the World Cup will be upon us. Football should not be allowed in the summer. It is a winter sport.

Right then. I will go out and take some photos of spring this weekend if the sun is out.After coffee at the garden centre.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


This will be short. I was up till nearly 2 last night, but for the first time (aided by Diana via messenger!) I used powerpoint to make a presentation. I even made a heading. This might seem extremely simple to those born when computers were commonplace. For me it is epic. David's comment this morning when I showed him my efforts with considerable pride was...I have been using powerpoint since I was 10. He then started offering advice on how to do everything else that I possibly could to it to make it better. I told him to go to school. I am feeling considerably smug. Me. Powerpoint. Hah! Now I just have to conquer hyperlinks. DIANA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

More quilts

I have mentioned that I love making quilts. I have a friend coming this morning to see some of them, so here are a few more for you to see as well.

I don't follow many rules when I make them.......... I tend to do what I want to do, and make it work, if you see what I mean. I suppose I am a maverick quilter. The crossword idea came on a train trip, and by the time I had got to where I wanted to be, I had done about 25 on paper. Thank heavens for little square paper notebooks!

The family tree ones are from ideas linked with my interest in tracing ancestors, and the mixed media is to represent the people in the family. The little bags ususally hold miniature books, papers or photos.

I love sewing, and I also love working with beads and buttons and in the footsteps quilt, I have used the beads as the ripples of the water. The buttons on that one are actually made of shell.

There have been many more that I have made and given away. They are all special to me, and, I hope, to the people who have received them. I always have so many in my mind, clamouring to get out and become reality. So many ideas, and just 2 hands to make them.

The use of photos as you have seen in the other quilt post, is just wonderful. I made the big one for my 50th birthday, and in the centre of all my friends, I have embroidered "my life is like a patchwork quilt of people who matter to me". That says it all.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Book club

Tonight was our book club. We have been meeting for years now, and our format is not like most other book clubs. We don't all read the same book and discuss it, we read different books and all voice opinions about what we think of the different books. The great thing is that we have all read books we would never have dreamt of reading before book club, and our reading range has grown dramatically. Initially we all had small children, and saw each other at school gates and in the playground, but now this is the only regular way of meeting as a group, and it is so good to catch up on each other's lives and families.

I have just finished reading The Colour, by Rose Tremain. Great book about the gold rush in New Zealand. Some of the other books recommended tonight were:
The other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory,
Moon Dust by Andrew Smith,
We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Dissolution by C J Sansom.

There were others but I can't remember them all.
So life is back to normal now, and after a few beautiful days here, which inspired me to go and buy all the plants for the tubs and hanging baskets, it has rained for the past few days. My kitchen looks like a greenhouse. This is a stunning time of the year, and the garden is coming to life more every day. The lilac is in bloom, and the oilseed rape in the fields is bright yellow. The hayfever season has started again, and it is time to start thinking of BBQs. And exams. David starts writing his AS exams on the 22nd May. I thought they were much later. As I said, back to normal again. How on earth do you get boys to work??? It is a long time since Andrew was home and writing exams. I seem to have forgotten how to motivate my son. But then, he is 17 now and I just have to trust that he is doing what he has to do I suppose. Not easy!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Back home

Walking the dogs with Mum along the river that flooded so badly last summer.

The setting sun through mist.

Well, after getting all sorted to fly home at the crack of dawn yesterday, I checked the flights, and discovered I was on the late night flight. My mistake will take a long time to live down. My family thought it was hysterical. I had a bonus day in Switzerland which was spent acquiring Marge's new computer and setting it up, moving all their old floor boards into a skip, and then making the trip back to Basel and home. Then I got a text to say there was a tsunami heading for New Zealand while I was on the train. With a daughter living there, and friends with home on the shoreline, this was not a comforting thought at all. Thankfully it did not happen.
I always hate leaving Switzerland, and yesterday was a beautiful day. Oh well, I will be back.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Sunny afternoon

By afternoon, all the snow in the village was gone, so I am so glad I went out so early. I took the dogs to meet Peter at the See, and then went on a walk up the valley to the camping site. This is the view from the front of Marge's house. It was covered with snow in the morning.

The See, looking back toward the village.

And this is on the way up the valley, along the river. So green, and all the little wildflowers are starting to come out too. My feet were numb by evening, but I had the best day, and, as I keep saying, Engelberg is food for the soul. I never want to leave. Just one day left now.

Today I went to help at the Boden. What an eye-opener. It was amazing watching my brother-in-law at work for the first time. He is a really great chef. So when you come to Engelberg, as you all will, now that you have seen just how special it is, you will have to go to the Boden for a meal too! And what a pity I don't have a photo of me looking particularly stunning in a white apron. The finger nails will never be the same, but it was such fun. One more day. Did I say that? Sigh.