I am totally mortified. I have always remembered that I never did get round to answering all the questions I asked for months ago.
Read that again.
It was in OCTOBER. Oh grovel. I just checked.
Crystal, I am SO sorry! October....sigh. I don't know where the time has gone......
Anyway, here we go with her questions. And Crystal, I don't mind if you want to interview me after you have done the one I sent you, and I promise I will answer immediately this time! This is a LONG post. I won't be offended if you skip through it!
I loved when you showed parts of your village - could we see and hear more please?
I live in a village in the centre of the UK, in a county which is mostly overlooked. Northamptonshire. This village has a population of over 6000 people, and it has everything you could wish for when bringing up a family. In South Africa, I lived in Cape Town, a huge sprawling very beautiful city, with mountains and seas, and beaches and everything. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. And this has spoiled me for other cities. I think Wellington is up there as a possible, and Luzern is too, but even then I would prefer living in a village with a city nearby.
Here, the village centre is where everything happens. We all live surrounding the very old part, where the Square is dominated by the church on the hill, with its tower which is well over a thousand years old. Just think of that. Over 1000 years old. You can try to imagine what life was like back then. Some parts of the village are very old, and there are preservation orders on areas of it. And the outlying areas are newer. Where I live. This village used to be in the heart of the shoe making industry, and once upon a time, there were about 6 shoe factories here, and most of the village was built for the people working in those factories. Only one sort of remains now, although I don't actually know if they still manufacture here or in the Far East. Sad.
We have 4 churches, a butcher, a supermarket a chemist (which sells just about anything on earth) estate agents, museum, hairdressers, costume hire store, florist, post office, electrical store, beauty salon, take-away places...fish and chips, chinese, indian. Patchwork shop, photographers, small supermarket, funeral parlour, 2 doctors' surgeries, a dentist, optician, wonderful coffee shop, and a home and garden shop. And that is just the centre. There is also an industrial area, and little shops all over the place. You have to hunt for them!
Then there is the library and a primary school too. Infant and Primary Schools. Children go to school when they are 4 here. There are playgroups, a nursery, Mum's and tots groups, and endless societies, and things like cubs, and brownies, and crusaders, and sports clubs and badminton, and photography classes. Historical societies. Don't forget 2 allotment areas. There are tennis courts, and bowling greens, and the music society I belong to, where we raise choirs of 60+ and our own orchestra. There are weekly meals for the older people, and we have our own village magazine, which is on-line too, and sends out emails when there is a prioblem, like the snow, with offers fo help and reminders to check on neighbours. That sort of thing.
I am probably telling you way more than you need to know. We have a village carnival each summer up on the Rec, after we have had a parade through the village. Once the children finish at the primary school they are bussed to nearby towns for secondary school. It would be so great if we could have our own school here though. Did I mention the Drama group? They perform throughout the year and there is a similar group for teens too. Ballet lessons. Marshal arts. Football. Cricket.
Anyway. It is a lovely place to live, and people are very friendly, and you should see everyone gather to toboggan, or on Christmas Eve in the Square to sing carols. Sigh. It is good.
Tell us more about South Africa and Switzerland and other places that you love.
I love Cape Town, where I was born (more than half a century ago!). You just have to look at the photos of it on the Internet and you would see why. I will try to scan in some photos one day. It is absolutely beautiful. I went to University there, on the slopes of Devil's Peak. The university must also be one of the most beautiful in the world, set above the city, near Rhodes Memorial. I always knew where I was there, because the mountain was towering over us as a point of reference. Here I am totally bamboozled by direction. I need a mountain at my back! Surrounded by 2 oceans and mile upon mile of glorious beaches. Well, we never did go to the beach all that often. It was just always there. So was the mountain and I was 21 when I first went up it.
I loved going up the Garden Route....up the east coast of the country. We used to go to Plett for holidays with friends. Plettenberg Bay. Knysna, Oudtshoorn, the Wilderness. Beautiful places. Again, I need to scan in photos of those times one day. When I was a student, we used to go crayfishing up the west coast, at a place called Donkergat (dark hole), and we would then cook the crayfish in seawater on the beach and eat it. Divine. SA crayfish are lobster anywhere else, by the way. There is a place called Darling, where the wild flowers come after the first rains, and the entire land is covered with zillions of flowers. It is something people come from all over the world to see. I will talk more about South Africa soon.
When I was 11, my parents us to Europe for a Grand Tour. We went EVERYWHERE and saw EVERYTHING. Including every cathedral in the UK, but we will skip over that and the mutiny that ensued. We were here for months. And in the process, we went to Switzerland, and I fell totally and absolutely in love with the place. I turned 12 in Zermatt. That love has never died. Just grown. And, as you know, I brought my own family to Europe in 1986 on holiday and we met up with my sister who was on her global trot at the time, and went back to Switzerland. The love I had as a child just got bigger. Then, excuse me, that sister of mine, 3 years later, fell in love with someone who lived in Switzerland and has been there ever since. Younger sisters can be a pain sometimes!
I jest really. She is an amazing sister and she has the most beautiful home in Engelberg, and if I could move there tomorrow I would. I love the mountains, and everything else about it. So much beauty takes your breath away. Luzern is a beautiful old city..... and you can see the history all around you. It, because Switzerland is a neutral country, has never been bombed, or destroyed by war. What a blessing that has been. The lake is beautiful. It really does look just like the chocolate boxes. Believe me. I know. You need to go and see for yourselves.
What would be your dream vacation?
So many places I want to see. I am not the type of person who would go to the Costa Brava and lie on a beach. I want to go and explore the rest of New Zealand with my daughter. I want to revisit Vienna, go to Prague, explore the Nordic countries. See Alaska.
But right now, having assumed I will go to NZ anyway and that Europe is close, my dream holiday would be to arrive in North America, and then travel all over the place to visit all my dear friends, and see for myself where they live and join in all the fun. Throw in a Chonda Pierce performance, a LPM convention, and a Blogging Conference along the way and I would be totally and utterly happy. And forget the bit beneath where I say I am not into acquisition. Lead me to an American or Canadian craft or fabric store, and all bets are off. I may need to be restrained. Or baby shop. Toy shop.....
Yes. My Grand Tour of Blogs. Then I could write a book about it.
If money were no object, what would you do for yourself , your family and charities?
Well, this is not likely to happen, as my continual failure to win lotto is a bit of a stumbling block here. If money were no object, I would like to see my family safe and settled in homes of their own, and without the worry of redundancy. I would love to know that their education and that of their children one day was taken care of as well. Then there is my sister and mother, and friends...... they would all share in any great fortune in one way or another. Of course.
And I would definitely share any good fortune with the charities I support, without a doubt. Compassion, Children in Need, Air Ambulance, RNLI, Alzheimer's Society. My mother always had a dream of donating a life boat, and with Geoff's history at sea, that would be very apt.
And if I were disposing of mega millions, it is the disposing of it that would give me the greatest pleasure. Making a difference where possible. For me, the freedom to travel and have adventures would be wonderful. Remember my Grand Blogging Tour!
There are very few things I would buy, apart from a laptop and a sewing machine which does quilting (because my hands will soon not be able to hand quilt). I would see that my home was in order, and then set about reducing the size of my "to do before I die" list. My version of the Bucket List. Anyone reading here for a while will know that the things are not important to me, so I am not into acquisition here. Maybe build that log cabin? Who knows. I want to meet people, see all of you in real life. The list is long. And I should have added at the beginning, pay anything I owe first and foremost. And get a wood burning stove..... see you have started something here.....
If you went back to school / retrained, what career would you chose?
Now? Hmmm. I am not sure. I wish I had gone back when I was in my 20s and studied medicine as I had always planned to do. It never occurred to me to do that at the time. I would love to go back to uni now, simply to learn new things. Stretch that mind of mine. I am not sure, though re the exam bit. I could do without that! I have done a great deal of learning over the years myself. I am the type of person who faces any problem head on, having done the research and learning. I am so interested in so many things. Economics, politics, psychology, law, society, climate change, architecture, education.... the list is long. There is very little which does not fascinate me. I am a dreamer, you see. I know that. It has a lot of drawbacks. My mind flits a lot from place to place.
I suppose that, if I were to choose something today, it would be something which combines all my life experience and knowledge. Maybe in a counselling forum of some sorts. Perhaps. I don't know. I just love it when my mind slips into overdrive, and whizzes all over the place, and you have to think fast and .......sigh. But then there is the fact that I love being arty and crafty. Making things from textiles and wood. Maybe as a carpenter. Yes. I think I would love to learn all the secrets of proper carpentry. Then I could build that log cabin one day. Ok. I have it.
What's your favourite school memory?
This one is easy. In Matric, the final year of school, I wrote a dance drama of the Crucifixion for our Scripture Union to perform, and it was magical. The crazy thing is that I was actually on crutches after a leg op at the time, and had to direct from a chair. But it worked unbelievably well. I chose all the beautiful music from my parents' collection of classical ballet music, and other bits, and my mother sewed huge grey curtains as a backdrop. The entire story was told in dance, and acting, and only one word was said, and that was "Mary" when Jesus rose from the tomb. I remember the performance so clearly, and when it ended, the packed hall just sat there in silence. It was so Holy it was tangible. Then they applauded for simply ages. We were asked to go to several churches to perform it, and I think we just did one other performance. I also remember the headmistress in assembly the day after the performance. She sat there and said something along the lines of...... "if you were there last night, you will be aware of how special and beautiful it was. It is hard to describe." She was right. It was very special.
And that does it. I have finished my October Questions. I am quick, aren't I??
As a PS, we had a blizzard last night. And at 3am had masses of snow, but by dawn most had gone because we then had rain. Still a lot of snow on the ground, but the sun is now shining, and it will go soon. No Bump news either.