Sunday, July 31, 2011

Catching up with friends......

Today started with a message to say that Gill, a friend from my long lost youth, was hoping to pop in for tea this morning, and when I called to make sure they were coming, they were half way here, so the old Dyson and I had a speedy stint of exercise while I waved the other hand around clutching a duster mitt. And put out cups etc etc etc. 

They were en route to Cambridge, so didn't have long to visit, but it was such a delight to see them all, meet the adult son I last saw, so help me, when he was about 3, and meet his lovely wife. Wife, for heaven's sake. That baby is married. An hour was simply not long enough, and we haven't even begun to talk about the children we have who were not physically present. She has 2 more grown boys, and we all know I have Andrew and Diana too.

We howled with laughter as I told the kids the story of how Richard, Gill's oldest son, and Andrew, who are the same age, managed to eat an entire pot plant when Gill and I went to fetch our coffee from the kitchen. It took a minute. They were at the crawling and pulling up stage, and there we were, 2 first time mums, screeching down the phone to the Children's Hospital poison line that our babies had eaten a pot plant. What kind of pot plant? Shriek. It was green, I don't know. What kind of leaves did it have? Screech, I can't remember and it is gone. Eaten. They have green faces. All that is left is a stalk. Do they seem well? Screech. They are laughing.


It was one of those moments. They lived. We started going grey right then and there.

The sun shone and the garden looked great, and it was just as if we had last seen each other a week ago. It always is like that with old friends, and that in itself is just wonderful. Hopefully we will be able to do some more catching up before she flies off home again to South Africa.

And then, David and i went to have lunch with friends in a village just across the county, which was lovely. I have not seen Matthew, my friend's son, for about 3 years, as he has been away at boarding school, and he too seemed to have grown into an adult in the blink of an eye. Time keeps marching on.

Our visit ended on a slight crisis point, when my phone managed to end up in the dregs of coffee. It was not a happy phone and went into a silent mode. Sulking, perhaps. David spent the journey home googling wet iPhones, and it had to work its little heart out trying SO hard to connect with satellites as we whizzed up and down through the countryside, that it heated up dramatically, and I do believe the heat sorted out any dampness problem, because it now works. Oh, the relief.

So today has been a day of catching up and much laughter. And the realisation that the years have flown by, and children grow up, but that some things - the friendships made when we were very young, they stand the test of time. Yet another thing to be immensely thankful for!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sunshine lifts the mood.....

 I am not sure why Saturdays are so special, but they just feel different. And the sun is shining today at last. Not this morning, but since lunch time, and oh, how wonderful it is! Breakfast was a slice of the latest cake - the blueberry cake (with a few raspberries added in too) and it is just as delicious as the raspberry one of a few days ago.
 We needed the energy, you see, because I have run out of potatoes, and rather than go and buy any, I decided that David would do some digging. He is extremely good natured, although we both woke at some ungodly hour because the local farmers sprayed fertilizer on the fields, and so help me, the stench was appalling. He was not good natured at 5.30am. He zapped round the house slamming windows, and sleep was not an option after that. Thankfully, by 10, it was gone.
 And so we went down to the allotment, and he dug up 2 rows of potatoes. There were loads. I have to now work out how best to store them, apart from the brown bag thing in a cupboard, or whether to cook some and freeze them. Hmmm. The need for a big freezer grows by the day. The runner beans look great too - they are covered with flowers, which means plenty of beans will be arriving soon.
 I picked some rhubarb and cooked that when I got home, and that is cooling before it goes in the freezer too. I was about to chop down the broad beans, when I noticed that there are masses of new plants at the base - all with flowers, so these must be repeat producers. Or something. So I will wait and see what happens to them. And the french beans keep coming. The peas (the second lot) are podding too.
I love my garden. I may have mentioned this a time or forty.

This afternoon, I popped to the shops to get some freezer bags, and came home with a new bigger water butt. A bargain. And, I stopped on the way home to drop a book back at a good friend, and had coffee in her garden. Her husband has offered to install said water butt, so that is FANTASTIC. I David just has to move all the extra roof tiles and an old paddle ski and a ladder and old piping, and it will be in place. Ready to collect more water. I can't believe how obsessive I have become about water.

The doors are wide open, and I have been playing with a project which I can't tell you about because it is a gift, and I think I am going to go and fire up the BBQ in a minute, and sit under my apple tree and soak up the beauty. I was thinking - who knows - maybe I won't have a garden like this again. Not for a while, if ever.  Maybe I must remember what I keep forgetting - it is all about now. Today. That is all we have. Love it all. Smile. Soak it up and file away the memories. The petals of the rose will fall off tomorrow, so REALLY look at it today. Ditto for the other 297,893,065,938,902 flowers in my garden. Remember the scent. Examine the intricacy. Really see the miracles right here in front of me.

Accompanied by the smell of BBQ-ing meat, and a glass of chilled wine, it sounds a little like heaven to me. One question I have noted for when I get to heaven one day - why weeds? What are they meant for? Were they a mistake? And do you KNOW what bindweed does to a garden?? Hmmph. Some things are beyond understanding.

I hope the sun is shining for you too, and that your weekend is peaceful, restful and full of laughter.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pottering is good....

Oh, I am really not loving all these grey and dark days. When you need to switch on the light to see what you are doing at noon at the end of July, aka SUMMER, something is wrong. I put on a Tshirt and skirt this morning. Hope springs eternal, you see....and went outside. I was back in to get changed at top speed.

However, Switzerland is worse. They are having appalling weather. Summer has not shown up at all yet, and that is disastrous for high tourist season.

So today has been a stay at home and potter sort of day, involving a little sanding, a little baking (I have made a blueberry version of that raspberry cake for the weekend), and a whole lot of relaxing. That is, after loading and reloading the dishwasher, deadheading, watering, etc etc etc. Ordinary life.

I didn't even switch on the computer till this evening. And the sky did not fall in.

I am considering a hot water bottle though. This weather is ridiculous. I am COLD.

We have had a sudden vegetable glut here in the garden. I have a huge bag of grated courgettes in the freezer now and yesterday, the French beans suddenly mass produced, so I froze a huge bag of them too. That took most of the day because just as I was about to pop them into boiling water to blanch them, I realised that I had no ice. So the whole process had to wait until I a) found the ice trays, and b) made the ice. But they got done by nightfall. The tomatoes have suddenly started ripening too, and it won't be long before I have to deal with them.

AND a friend called me yesterday to tell me that the apples were falling off the tree in the orchard, and I could have as many as I needed, the plums were ready to be picked, and the damsons would be ready in the next few days. Right. I need a huge freezer. All this free food is not going to go to waste. It all seems very early though.

Tomorrow, David and I will go and dig up potatoes at the allotment. Well.....I will sit and watch David dig them up, to be accurate. I can pour the juice to keep him going and waft about with a watering can, can't I. And examine the runner beans and other assorted veg, and contemplate where on earth I am going to store them all. David doesn't know this plan. Yet. Hahahahaha.

Now... I just need a little sun for a change.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Attempting an answer......

This morning, Vee posed the question - "Has working at coming up with blog posts caused you to look at life differently?"

And it made me think a little. Well, a bit more than a little actually. Back when I started blogging, if I go back and look, I thought I was only talking to family and friends, which I was, but yet I still seem to have left a huge amount out. The stuff that was happening in my life back then. I also remember not really knowing how to go about this blogging business. Being shy. Worrying about whether I had anything valid to say. Hah. We all know that was ridiculous, because I seem to have plenty to say. I started writing. Now I talk. You get the difference? I talk now, knowing that there are people reading, because, even when the comments seem very thin on the ground, if I happen to check the site meter, loads of you are there, hidden away.

Back then, I knew very few people were reading.

I am a very relaxed blogger, I admit. If I have something to say or just want to write a little, I do so, and to be quite frank, I am not consumed with angst re the content. I get to decide. If I don't post for a few days, then that is also fine. If I think of something I want to discuss of great worth (a rarity), then I may jot down the subject now and then and perhaps develop my own thoughts on it before I spew out the words here.

However, in 90% of my posts, I simply sit down and chat. Like I would if you were sitting here too, helping me to finish off that raspberry cake which has migrated to the hips, despite the energetic aqua-zumba-ing. And sometimes, the conversation turns to deep subjects, and sometimes it hovers round the banal mark. Or gardens. Or dreams. Or bargains. Or whatever.

Has it changed the way I look at life? Well, it may have added another dimension. I think of my friends out there, and just know that something would appeal, or amuse you all. Or I need to rant so I do it here (think Dell). I file away thoughts to share some times.

But coming up with posts does not change the way I look at life, other then to maybe make me look a little closer at things.

The huge difference that blogging has made to all our lives, though, is the fact that we spend time writing out here in the big wide world. There has never been an opportunity to do this in history. Not from the comfort of our own sitting rooms, and for nothing. What did I do before I started blogging? Did I write to people? Not that much. Did I keep a diary? Well, at times, but sometimes I bore myself rigid. I probably spent more time talking to people in person. Or thinking. Or reading. Or doing stuff. Or ....

The blogging business has brought us all into contact with people we would never have known in our reality. Different cultures, traditions, opinions, religions, political persuasions, continents, hobbies, gifts....and so much more. It has enriched my life immeasurably. I have learned so much, which has changed my life. I have grown so much. I have learned when to shut up and when to speak out. Restraint does not come naturally to me!

I have learned how to crochet because of a blanket I saw on a blog. I have made cakes (think raspberries) because of a recipe on a blog. I have taken the blog and made it an integral part of me. Of my life. And, as I have said many time before, it can be a lonely life, and having contact with the big wide world 24 hours a day, should I need it, is a wonderful gift.

You see, I NEVER work at coming up with blog post ideas. And this is why I shy away from particular things on particular days. I don't want to have to follow a pattern. Though maybe joining in Wordless Wednesday may be a good idea. Silence from Linds one day a week may be regarded as a gift. But then, all you have to do is choose not to visit. This is a place where I wander about, and if you were here right now, you may be perched on the kitchen counter waiting for the kettle to boil, or hunting for a teaspoon, or something.

You know, I have just been outside thinking where this is going, and I want you to take a look at the list of most popular posts here. Over there on the side bar >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The most popular one is "A letter to my granddaughter". This was not a planned post. It was written from my heart, as I waited for Ann's labour to get to the stage where I needed to get in the car and go to be there when Missy was born. So much joy and love. Planned post? Absolutely not.

And then there is the one entitled "Answers" - more straight from the heart. Unplanned. And " Different Windows". Unplanned. There was one called "I go to the hills" - unplanned.

So not planning posts seems to resonate with you lovely people who pop in to visit. There is a great deal more I could say, actually. My mind has started whizzing.

So let's go back to the question - Has working at coming up with blog posts caused you to look at life differently? (My English teacher would have been horrified at the way I have strayed off subject here!) I have said that I don't work at ideas for posts, so we have covered that one - but blogging has made me look at life more carefully, perhaps. In more detail. And the working part - hah. Editing has taken on a starring role, of course. Pruning. Sometimes I let the words run away, and often I write things then never publish them. Don't we all?

Ah, I do love this little corner. I love the advent of the internet, and digital whatevers. Like the camera. I take many many more photos - blogging? Because I can? A bit of both. It is all about capturing the essence of a life. My life.

My answer is this then....BLOGGING has changed a great deal in my life. But working at ideas for posts? Not at all.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday already.....

I happened to see this Raspberry Cake recipe over at Mary's a couple of days ago, and I knew where she had seen the original recipe on Pinterest, because it appealed to me no end too, so when I saw raspberries on offer at the local supermarket, I knew exactly what I was going to make. 


 So I did. Believe me, people, it is delicious. DELICIOUS. My friend Margaret arrived as it came out of the oven so got to taste it warm, and then Jean added her vote of approval (with exclamation marks and a request for the recipe) today. I cannot recommend it highly enough, and the beauty is that you can use any fruit. The original recipe had blueberries in it. And I just happen to have bought some reduced blueberries as well, so that is the next baking venture sorted. I halved Mary's recipe, by the way. There are not 15-18 of us here! And I used her version of buttermilk too - the milk and vinegar. 
And that was the sum total of achievements for yesterday. Singular.(But a very yummy one!) I had a very quiet day. These long trips to Bath and the long appointments and the talking about difficult things - they absolutely wipe me out. 
Today, although the leg is not happy at all, I decided that if it was going to be revolting, I would do stuff, because I have had enough of being a wilting flower. So I went to look at new water butts with Jean. I am all about exciting days out here. I can't stand it when it rains and all the water gets wasted! Well, it is metered here, so I pay for what I use and rain water is free, hallelujah. I want to catch it all. I did mention dams once before, I recall.

And this afternoon was the aqua-zumba class which is always wonderful, if exhausting. At least I feel as if I am doing something positive! And I did remember that once a long time ago, the docs had said not to swim one particular stroke, and I asked which it was when I saw them on Monday. Breast stroke. Hmm. The one I have been doing very slowly up and down the pool before each lesson. So today, I was attempting other kicks while not wanting to swim like a pro. You know.....the poddling up and down the pool chatting kind of swimming. It was another challenge. But I think I have invented a new stroke. I didn't drown, so it worked. it may have looked odd but who cares. 

And things seem to be moving on the legal front at last so there have been chats with lawyers to get my brain moving slightly faster than a slug. 

And now I have a special request. One of my readers emailed me yesterday to ask if I would mind praying for a friend of hers. You can go here to read about Kay Bremmer. My heart aches for her family, and my response was instant - of course I can and am praying for her, and for peace for her family. If you would, please add your prayers, my friends. It is a privilege to pray for people in need and the more prayers covering them, the better. And thank you, K, for feeling you could ask this of me/us. Absolutely. 

And oh, how this reminds me that I am SO blessed in so many ways...... 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Art in a garden......

"Art can be a quilt, a collage, a stamped card, a poem, a musical performance, a well-loved garden, a delicious meal, a warm conversation and more."

I was zapping through the "recommended for you" list on Amazon this morning, and spotted a book I thought looked interesting. I am not buying it, but it was about art and how it saves people from loads of things. And then I spotted the line above in the description of the book, and it all made sense to me. A well loved garden is art too. My garden. Art. It certainly is well loved.

When you think about it, it is art, isn't it. Most people plan their garden and then plant them and everything grows into a colour palette the gardener artist saw in his or her mind. Me? Well, I think I am at the toddler artist stage where you toss the whole selection of paints onto a canvas and smear them all around, but take huge delight in doing so and making a mess at the same time. And that is art too. I have paintings done by my children here which also fall into the total delight phase of playing with the medium and the colour rather than aiming for perfection. I always did think that Picasso had the same idea.

Art is also something which involves the heart and the mind. I can't be creative on demand. It happens. And so it is with the garden, except I am like the artist who cannot call it good and leave it alone. I keep adding to the picture. Layers and layers. Seeds and more seeds. More and more.

If you peeled back the layers, you may find the bones of the garden, just like peeling back the layers of the artist may reveal the hidden essence of who they are. Who I am perhaps. Actually, in winter you will see those bones. Not mine. The garden's. (Although seeing my bones may be a good goal as well for winter. They are hidden under layers of... we will not go there, will we...)

Interesting, isn't it?

I wonder what the giant courgette - now of marrow proportions - would say of me. I can't believe I missed it in the flower bed. Actually, it was hiding under the great profusion of flowers, so what else could I expect??? Hidden treasures. If you like marrow. 

Layer upon layer upon layer. Human beings too. 
But I am creative. And why not see the garden as a part of that creativity. Not just a source of food and somewhere lovely to sit in the summer, but as a canvas for the thoughts and dreams inside me. I said the other day that it was my rainbow in what can be a grey and dark world, and taking it a step further and seeing it as that canvas of creativity makes perfect sense. I have unintentionally expressed who I am out there. A kaleidoscope of colour and scents which can overwhelm at times. Practical (food) and airy-fairy. A mix. Like me.

What was it I me a garden and I will tell you all about the gardener? Maybe I am more transparent than I thought. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Back to Bath again.....

 It was "Back to Bath Day" today, and the city, as always, was a delight. Jean, Glynis and I got there just before my first appointment, and had time for a little browsing in the lanes and byways before I deserted them, and headed for the hospital. The "Min". (The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases.) It is right in the centre of the town, so perfect for shopping before and after appointments!
 The two weeks I spent there in 2009 provided, in retrospect, a wonderful opportunity to get to know where everything was, and I certainly did that, so when I go back for appointments now with friends, I know where to go.
 One of my local friends has a sister-in-law who lives in Bath, and she told us about a really fabulous little restaurant and we went there for lunch today. Freshly prepared food. Delicious. And great coffee too!
 But I wanted to tell you about a little shop down this little alleyway. I knew it was there, because I looked it up on Google, you see. I had maps as well. A new little shop. Sandra you are going to be GREEN with envy here......
 Can you see? The Makery Emporium !!!! As detailed in Mollie Makes the new UK based craft magazine which is taking the world by storm. If you haven't got a copy yet, you need to check it out (if you can find one) asap. The 3 of us were in that door so fast, I can tell you, and each of us left clutching new treasures. It was a total delight, and I just wish I had had more time to browse. Hi, girls (from the Makery Emporium) - I told you I would be blogging about the shop! I completely forgot to get your names. Oops. Sandra - I told them all about you and gave them the link to your blog too. I also pointed out the really weird way a lady in Arizona ended up being the one to tell me, here in England, about the new UK magazine.

I had Issue 2 of Mollie Makes with me - the one which talks about the delights of Bath, and we were going to find some of those places. There was much excitement in the car - forget the hospital stuff - it was the shop we wanted to see.

I was absolutely delighted to find Washi Tape - I had seen it on Pinterest and a few blogs, and wanted to try using it, so got the 2 rolls above. And some lace tape, which I had never seen before. And some little silver hearts which say "hand made with love" on them. I was SO thrilled to find these, and believe me, if time had not been marching on, I would have bought more. Sigh. It was just lovely. 

If you watch the Mollie Makes Youtube clip, you will see Bath. I recognised it immediately. And it really is a lovely place. So many things to see. 

And so I went off to the appointments, while the girls carried on exploring. The doctors are happy with what I am doing, and I go back in a year, and if all is going well, my GP will take over then. I have new exercises, and have to massage the my knee, which will be interesting. I only touch it lightly, so deep massage could be a challenge, but then, we have had plenty of those. We talked about the podiatrist and the fact that my knee was twisting inwards, and the wretched inserts for my shoes, and gym and all the rest. There was also a reminder to vary the exercise, and not just do the aquarobics.

So. We move on slowly. There was more, of course. And so I left, absolutely drained. I fell asleep now and then on the way home, and here I am. I would love to spend a few days in Bath. Maybe one of these days I will do just that. But right now I am going to play with that tape of mine.......

Sunday, July 24, 2011

And the sun is shining still at 8pm....

The sun has shone today - a miracle! And a very welcome one too. It has been a delight to be able to put out the cushions on the garden chairs and actually feel as if it was summer at last. Mind you, it is not by any means hot. I am still wearing a jumper, but I will take the sun, warm or not.

 Please note the blue sky up there in the corner. I can't tell you how beautiful the garden is at the moment. Photos just don't capture the reality of it all. The absolute beauty of all the colour. And the millions of butterflies and bees which zap around the flowers. Lilies are fighting each other to be the first to bloom - the next wave of colour and scent. I stand there and watch and they peek at me, and keep me guessing. Maybe tomorrow....
 Such joy it gives me. Simple things, remember. And yes, it is a little over the top, and over stuffed with things, but I love it, and that is all that really matters.
 Church, bacon rolls for brunch, garden, skyping with Missy - it all means smiles and laughter and joy. Remembering to find delight in small things, and above all, being thankful for it all.
 Because, even though it may not always seem so, I know how incredibly blessed I am. The past few years have been tougher than anyone could possibly know at times, but I - we- have survived them, and the grin is still in place.
And that is why things like my garden of joy mean so much to me. I can see beauty everywhere I look. The rest of the world may be the grey/black parts for me, but out there - a rainbow. Perfect.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

An ordinary day here, but not in Norway.....

Blogger is not behaving for me today. I can't upload a video I wanted to show you and things are just wonky. This is not unfamiliar territory, though, is it. But it does tend to raise the blood pressure just a touch. And that is an understatement, if ever there was one.

The world is going crazy. The news from Norway is just appalling. All those kids - their families..... What possesses people to do such diabolical things? Words fail me. All we have are prayers and more prayers. It is the loss of innocence which is so incredibly sad. I have the BBC news channel on, and listening to the young ones talking of their experiences just fills me with horror.

In the wake of events like the Norwegian tragedy, it seems inane to talk of ordinary things, but if ordinary life doesn't go on, these mad men win, don't they? I won't let that happen here.

Our wintery summer continues here. The US heat wave has made our international news. I suggest we combine our temps and divide them between us and we will all be happy. I could do with a little warmth here, and would really like to wear something like a T-shirt, you know. Not a fleece.

Today, one of the oldest stores in the village is closing. I listened to the owner chatting to a customer this morning, and he was pointing out that it was a very viable business, and everyone in the finance world would agree. However, the banks are not lending money to small businesses, and so small businesses are going to the wall. Very sad. I did get a few 50% off bargains though....spray paint, hooks, wooden beading and such like. But, I would rather have the shop open for many years to come than a day or two of bargains.

And then I popped in to a craft warehouse this afternoon. Well. I resisted temptation (for the most part), but am now consumed with a "have to have/want/need" wave of consumerism. This is why I NEVER go to places like this. I have a very good imagination, and I can see projects, and ideas and the whole thing sends my brain into a frenzy and usually I get all the bits, then race home, realise I am exhausted, so toss the bags in the sewing room, and forget all about them. For a year or two, and then I find them and unpack them and can't bear to use them up. This has got to stop.

I need to use them all up now.

But that doesn't stop the wanties when I see all the new and splendid things in a warehouse. Warehouses are huge. With many, many things to see. I will not return. I will not return. I will not return.

I did buy the chipboard letters I went for. The cheapest ones. (and a few balls of beautiful wool)

Is anyone else thinking of Christmas projects? I need to get my head straight here, and work out what I want to make, because the months fly by so fast. And if I am making things, they take time. I did fire up the scroll saw this week and start cutting out a gift. One. Well, it is a start at least!

Right. Garden. Water. Deadheading. I will be back........

Friday, July 22, 2011

So thankful....

If I were to tell you that I crawled under the duvet last night, and my heart was overflowing with thankfulness, and that I fell asleep in the middle of regaling the Good Lord with lists and lists of wonderful things that I was SO grateful for, would you understand? 

 For this young man, his gentleness, quietness, perception, and strength.....
 For this little city which has hosted his transition into adulthood, with its mix of centuries of tradition, and modern development....(This little square outside the entrance to the Cathedral is not much changed since the days of the troubadours, except for the costumes and most probably the lack of a stench in the air...)
 For the pride in my heart for all he has achieved, this youngest child of mine.... and for the delight in how we walked around town, amidst all the other young people in academic gowns and caps with their parents smiling broadly, and how total strangers stopped him in the street and congratulated him, asked what faculty his colour of cape denoted, and they were both young, and old. For the look on his face.
 For the fact that this slightly wobbly Mum managed to cope with those cobbled streets, and found a very helpful security guard at the Cathedral who arranged a pass for me to park within the grounds. This was even more delightful when we emerged after the ceremony to rain.....
 For kind strangers who took photos of us. For the way he carried himself - tall and proud. For a wonderful seat right at the front for the ceremony. For glorious organ music (including Gaudeamus Igitur) filling the Cathedral with beauty, and 8 trumpeters adding to the sound. Ah...... how special it was. The colours of the robes, the processions, the music, the young faces, the proud families, the work, the achievements..... so much to celebrate.
 For the laughter, and the fun of trying to take self portraits of us together. You have no idea what the others look like. Just as well. For the hot black coffee while sitting at a table outside in the sun, watching the world go by as we chatted..... For seeing him with his friends.....
And for this. The graduand became the graduate. 

And so much more.
So much.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ordinary days - and a graduation too!

I am back from aquarobics. I didn't know if I would actually go, or if, once there, I would be able to do anything except go and lounge in the spa, but Debbie  the teacher prevailed, and I survived the lesson. Just. If I do not have at least the arms of a stick insect soon, I will be seriously put out. It is hard work. It was also an escape from the seemingly never ending phone hacking saga which is dominating the airwaves. I am sick to death of it all. Bring on the happy summer news.

Tomorrow is graduation day, and I am so looking forward to seeing my youngest child graduate from university. Proud? Oh yes. He is already there, and I will be there in the morning, clutching his suit, shirt (memo to self - iron it) tie and shoes. In time for him to change, get his robes, have the photos taken and then hopefully, grab a bite to eat and take my place in the Cathedral a full hour before it starts. I may not be able to walk by the time it is over. I don't do sitting in one place for hours terribly well. But it will be such a delight to see my son up there in his cap and gown. Sigh. When did they all grow up?? It was just yesterday that he was sliding down the stairs on his stomach and demanding a power ranger outfit.

I do not have much exciting news. The days have been filled with attempts to move, a little shopping expedition for storage boxes and hangers, watering the garden and falling asleep on the couch and waking at 2am. That is the current record. Add a little washing and hoovering and the days have been filled. Slowly does it round here. In fact, now I come to think about it, isn't summer supposed to be filled with long lazy days? Now if someone could just FIND summer and send it back this way, I would be delighted. I am not happy to be wearing jerseys and fleeces right now.

But at least it is fine to sit and quilt or knit or crochet without expiring from the heat. So there is always something to be thankful for, isn't there????

Ordinary days. I like them.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pure class around here...........

At the Casa del la Rocking Chair, we have class, you know. Real class. Even our rodents are classy. See? I nearly jumped clean out of my skin this morning, when I walked into the garden and nearly stepped on this.....

 Rodents here like to sleep on rose petals. RODENTS. Rose petals. Highly scented rose petals. I don't care if they are small cute dormice, fieldmice, baby thingies.... they are still rodents and I loathe them. However, I stood and looked at it sleep. Jean stood and looked at it sleep when she came to collect me to to go out to lunch, and neither of us knew what to do, nor did we have any inclination to drop a brick on it. So we left it snoozing. It was gone when I got home. Rodents on rose petals. Heaven knows what I will find next.
 So we are agreed then - Blogland is verrrrry quiet at the moment. I really hope everyone is out having the time of their lives with their families and friends, making memories and enjoying the northern summer or southern winter. And one lovely consequence is that Mother T has found us here. You are very welcome, Mother T! By the way, my leg is wrecked too, but thankfully,  I have raised beds here in my garden, and just about everything else is in pots, and they get planted on a table.  Kneeling is not an option.
 Once the holidays are over, hopefully things will liven up and we will have loads to read and catch up on. Here in the UK the schools break up this week for the 6 week summer holidays. The weather is failing to co-operate. It is cool and damp and not sunny and tropical. April and that hot spell may well have been summer after all.
 Jean and I went to Olney for lunch today, and they have some wonderful little shops - a wool shop (there was much sighing and stroking of wool), classy charity shops (Crystal, I found a little golf set exactly like Samuel's one for £1!!!!! I was SO excited! And what is more, it was complete with all the balls and thingies, whatevertheyare. My bargain of the day!) and craft shops, shoe shops, furniture shops.....
 So we wandered slowly around, and had a great time. I refrained from wool purchase. Sigh. Walking today has been a nightmare trifle challenging. I went upstairs last night, and completely misjudged the number of steps, and tripped and fell with an almighty crash onto my bad knee. Once I managed to start breathing again, I ran a hot bath and levered myself into it and that sort of helped, but there was not much sleeping accomplished last night. But it would have been a lot worse if I had fallen DOWN the stairs, so I suppose one must be thankful for.... etc etc
 There has been no further sorting of stuff here today though. The country is caught up in a frenzy of outrage over the phone hacking/News of the World/Murdoch/police chief saga. The lengths some people, journalists, papers will go to to get information, and further their career ambitions just staggers me. I remember how fast I had to learn when I started work after G died - everyone I met seemed to have an "agenda". They would twist words to suit them, say one thing to your face and another behind your back, and focus was solely on advancement. Theirs. Trample on anyone on the way. Being nice to each other was seen as weakness, and kindness was not an option. You had to have the "right" friends in the staffroom or were doomed. This was a school, remember. A school.

I remember it all so well. I just wanted to go back to my world, where people smiled, were genuine, kind, nice, helpful, concerned. For each other. And I was told to get used to it - this is what real life is like. Well, I don't like it now, and I didn't like it then.

Politicians, policemen, editors, private investigators - they are all mixed up in this mess. Trusting anyone seems to be out of the question. But hacking into the phone of a missing child and then deleting some messages when she was still missing (later found dead) was beyond horrendous. Unforgivable.
 Fortunately, lunch out today means that I do not have to bother to cook anything for supper. I will be retiring to the couch soon, and will no doubt fall asleep instantly , or as soon as I pick up the knitting needles.
 The garden is watered. It took a while. Even if it rains, the pots and baskets still need water. Actually, it is now more of a jungle, and things are still not at their peak yet. It is a joy, though. An absolute joy. The simple things really are wonderful.
So much can one not smile? And ever changing too.

Did I mention that I go back to Bath next week for a check up at the hospital? Hopefully this will be the last one. I know what to do. I just have to get on with it now and I can always call them if I need more help. One lovely thing this time is that the new crafting magazine, Mollie Makes is, I think, based there in Bath, and I have every intention of finding some of the places they talk about when we go down. Glynis and Jean are both coming with me, so that should be a lovely extra. Bath is absolutely beautiful. I love it.

I will be back....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

And the rain came down....

It is raining. The golf is on, and I sincerely hope they have waterproof jackets. Trousers. Boots. Hats. I went out to investigate the state of the water butt (full - it must have been raining a while) and was soaked, even though I had an umbrella. But oh, how we need it around here. The trouble is that the ground is so hard that it doesn't absorb the water - it bounces right off and away it runs.

Except here in my garden, where the soil is now very used to bath water, of course. I need more water butts to store all this excess water. Maybe a dam. I have even put up a couple of those flower umbrellas over some of the petunias - remember when I got them in Switzerland? There is no wind at the moment, so maybe they will stay in place and not take off for foreign parts. Petunias do not do well when drenched.

It is now 28 hours since I started writing this. I have no idea why I didn't finish it and post it yesterday. I seem to have run out of oomph. Or inspiration. You know, I read this quote this morning...." To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow" - Audrey Hepburn. A lady with absolute class. And she spoke with absolute insight too. I think she knew this from experience. To plant a garden IS to believe in tomorrow, and all tomorrow brings. I see that as hope, trust, faith, optimism, anticipation and with delight. All good stuff. It really is so therapeutic, to garden. However, when it rains stair rods as it has been on and off all day, optimisim is sorely challenged.

However, I have learned that no matter how battered and bashed and blown over it gets, whether there are broken plants or dead flowers, it always always regenerates itself. Hope lives.

And as I write this, Darren Clarke is being presented with the claret cup after winning the Open (golf). He too has been battered and bashed by events in his life over the past few years, and as he said, with a grin, a minute ago, he is fine - things are fine, and they are. He has survived, and he said too that everyone has dreadful things happen to them, and they have to get through those dark times. He is on a high right now. A dream fulfilled. It took a while, but he got there.

The dream survived those dreadful days. And triumphed. And I could not be more delighted for him. Good things have happened for him. Bad things too. But even though the bad things nearly destroyed him, here he is - so so happy.

Believing in tomorrow....... how can we not?

Friday, July 15, 2011

A start......

Thank you for all your  lovely comments, people - it is lovely to see you on the screen. I have been in a bit of a slump recently. Well, that said, I went to aquarobics yesterday and by the time I got home, I just wanted to sit on the couch and let the tears flow a while. Sad, hurt, weary, the lot. Not pleasant at all.

So this morning I got up and grabbed the wire brush and started getting the old flaky paint off the railings outside. Then, with an eye on the clouds, I gave the railings a coat of paint. They needed it badly. So, I was really pleased I had got something done, until I went out later to admire my handiwork and discovered that I had missed one. Sigh. It had taken ages to get the brush cleaned not to mention the hands, and the skirt, which required 2 washes. The Tshirt has now been christened the Painting Shirt and is past help. I gave up trying to get the paint off that one. So I still have that one pointy thing to do and the whole fence will need another coat, I think. Well actually, the pointy bits need it and not the rest. The arrows. It would help if I could think of the appropriate words. You know what I mean, though. Senility is setting in.

So I was on a roll.

Once David was about, I got him to put up the ladder to the attic, and then he carried box after box downstairs for me to go through. We have sorted about 20 so far, and paintings and sports equipment too, and there are boxes for the charity shop lining my kitchen, and the recycling bin is full already, and the ordinary bin is getting there too. I have discovered more crafty things than any village could possibly need in a decade. Do NOT let me bring another thing into this house. EVER. Photos. Frames. Tools. Toys. Games. Groan.

And you know, the attic is just as crammed and it doesn't look as if I have done anything. You have NO idea how many Christmas boxes there are up there either. I could decorate the county, and have some to spare. Christmas lights????? Oh yes. Miles of them. Do they work? I have no idea yet. That delight awaits.

We will not discuss the miles of fabric either. Not metres. Miles.

So, by the end of the day, I was too tired to move, so I decided to BBQ, because I could just sit there and watch the food cook. I grabbed a handful of lettuce from the garden, a tomato and supper was done.

Some things are sorted. Little by little I will wade my way through the rest.

Right now, though, I need a nap.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I wonder........

In the middle of the night I was thinking.....

I love my children, but I hardly ever see any of them. I miss them.

I love the rest of my family but...ditto.

I love the sea, but I live as far from it as you can be, here in the UK at the moment.

I love the mountains, but there are no mountains here.

So why am I here?

A home, friends, the familiar.........

The night and the silence, the darkness and the stillness....they combine to make it easy to listen to the thoughts in my head. Did I imagine the simplicity of the list? Or was it a message? Am I listening to the right person here? Is it me, or is it Someone much bigger telling my heart something huge?

I don't know. I am uncertain.

Why do I keep these four walls and even the garden I love, when it keeps me from being free to be in the places I love more, with the people I love most of all? Shall I become a gypsy? Am I brave enough?

If you have wandered around the pages of Pinterest, you will know that there are loads of quotes, and sayings. So many resonate with my heart....

"If you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders".
"You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream" (C.S.Lewis)
"Worry is like a rocking chair - it gives you something to do but it doesn't get you anywhere."
"Home is the person or place you want to return to over and over."
"People cry not because they are weak but because they have been strong too long."
"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life which is waiting for us." (Joseph Campbell)
 "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." (Bill Cosby)

See? So many and I didn't even begin to start copying out the ones with more words. So I made a few boards of my own at Pinterest. One is called "Dreams". The other one is "Makes Me Smile". Maybe I need to go and see what I put in them. Really look at them.

I don't know. It is so easy to opt for the familiar and the safe, and then what am I missing? I could be missing out on the greatest days of my life - the adventures I was born to experience. I don't want what I own to be the defining thing in my life. There was another quote which made me really sit and think a while....."People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is because things are being loved, and people are being used."

Over and over in the past few weeks, you have heard me say - I LOVE my garden. But I love Diana. Andrew. David. Ann. Missy. Mum. Marge. Peter. I love them so much more. I could grow a garden anywhere, couldn't I?

    (I found this quote via Pinterest here .)

Maybe it is time to turn those dreams into reality. Leap off cliffs. (Metaphorically.) But first I need to get rid of all the stuff which is weighing me down. Clear the attic. Aim for 80 bags in 40 days. Or more. Strip away all the extras, and then....then maybe I will have mustered the courage to grab my life by the horns and steer it into the trade winds, and see where they take me.......

Sunday, July 10, 2011


How nice. Blogger works again, after a good few hours of "Service Unavailable Error 503". Nothing infuriates me more than things failing to work. No dashboard, no commenting, no nothing.


It is working now. All is forgiven.

I have just fallen asleep over the keyboard. It was not comfortable. I was on page 81 of Pinterest. That is what happens, you know - inspiration overload. However, I have made a decision. I need to put that inspiration into practice and get things sorted here. Enough of new ideas. New ideas would be fabulous if I had a new house, which was being built to my specifications, containing all those inspirational ideas I have amassed. We need to work with what we have, small though it may be.

Just for my American friends - a large bedroom here in an average house is about 10ft square, or 10ft x 12ft. and that does not usually have built in cupboards, so space is at a premium. My son's bedroom is 6ft wide, and about 10ft long (and 2 of those ft are occupied by a cupboard containing the hot water cylinder). The average size of American closets. This is the son who is 6ft 4" tall. So space is at a premium, to say the very least. I dream of space.

One of the things that had never ever occurred to me in  my entire life was the fact that I might not be able to walk around the outside of my house. Or that there wouldn't be windows on all four walls. My house is detached (as opposed to being joined to another one) but it stretches from boundary to boundary and the only way to the back garden is through the house. So my dreams are of windows on 4 walls and space to walk around the outside. And space and light. And..... maybe a bigger garden.

But it is home, and mine and it is fine. So I need to get it organised and get the study moved and sort the attic stuff, and hallelujah, get to the centre of my craft room. It is completely hidden by boxes of David's things, and the spring boxes, wedding paraphernalia from that wedding in May, and the bits and pieces I have acquired for Marge. I need to Make a Plan, and Get Moving.


All my friends are back now and the gardens, homes and dogs are back in their care. The gardens were alive, and so were the dogs, so mission accomplished. And today was the monthly shared lunch at Jean's with friends. We all used to go to the church in the village, but have now spread out to surrounding churches, but we still get together. We all live here, so that is really nice to maintain the contact on a regular basis. And that has been my day. Don't forget the snooze on the keyboard.

Now I am off to make another list of things to do.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

More games and memories....

Just a note here - please don't get me wrong - I have always had immense respect for young mums who manage to juggle parenting, careers, community life and everything else required for modern life in the 21st Century. And access to information is now a given, with the internet and books available for delivery to one's doorstep via wonderful places like Amazon. The blogosphere, websites - oh how I wish they had been around back in the dark ages! You never know what twists and turns life will take, and being prepared is crucial.

I know a great many of you are young Mums. And just as things were different when your parents raised you, and their parents raised them, so it is now as you raise your children today. It is only natural, as I wander down vintage and antique pathways (that still has me howling with laughter when I try to find toys I played with on line - 50 years ago? Vintage? Antique? ) The secret is managing to take the best of all those years with you into the future, combined with the knowledge you gain from reading and experience. You will work it out.

I have always dealt with any crisis in my life, large or small, by searching for and immersing myself in information. Too much at times. I am living in the right age for this, aren't I?! I love it. The tricky bit, though, is sifting through it all, avoiding overload, and finding the right balance. Life is all about balance. And instinct.


I had a little play desk when I was a pre-teen. And a blackboard. We LOVED to play school you, see. Do kids today want to play "school"?? Paper, crayons, pens, chalk....bliss. My desk had a pine top which flapped open, and a groove along the top for pens. It had blue metal legs, or a frame - and a chair to match. So I looked for a picture on the internet. Right. Google images - a gold mine.
OOOH! Look there on the top - that looks like something similar to my little desk......
Ah. This is more like it, but I think it had folding legs. Or did it? The little chair folded up. Maybe the desk didn't. It was found under "Vintage tri-ang child's desk" If I looked under "60s..." or "1960s..." or "old" it did not appear. Vintage. I thought antique and vintage things were over at least 100 years old.  Now, while the children I taught assumed I was at least 100, I am nowhere near vintage or antique. Or am I?

Sigh. That little desk makes me smile. I think I taught my dolls school. My mother says I didn't play much with dolls - I always had my nose in a book. I know I made my little sister sit there and taught her school. That is probably why she is a genius, you know. I take all the credit. Being the oldest had some advantages.

Mum and I were talking about the things she played with in the 1930's too. She remembers having a teddy bear on wheels which she could ride on, a blue scooter with red wheels, a baby doll with a china face, a doll's house, and later a fairy cycle. And books. Always books. She says that she and her brother and cousins loved making mud pies, playing on their scooters or bikes, and that they always seemed to be outside. She doesn't recall having friends round to play, but says that on Friday nights they took turns going to each other's homes to play cards.

Every summer, my grandparents moved to the beach to a house in Fish Hoek, and she and her cousins and my uncle spent their summers on the beach. What a wonderful way to spend summer! (Fish Hoek is a beautiful place - my kids loved going there too, and so did I.) She is writing down all her beach escapades as I speak.

When Mum was growing up, toys were not a big thing. And when Geoff was growing up, toys were almost out of the question, because he was born during the war years here. But that is another story. I may have talked about it before, but a long time ago.

A few more things to add to the list....

  • yo-yos (Fanta and Coke)
  • swingball
  • tinker-toy
  • hula hoops
  • pick up sticks
  • slinky
  • climbing trees
  • trolls
  • snakes and ladders
  • magic painting (water painting)
  • chinese checkers
  • ludo
  • dot to dot books
  • bagatelle
  • slip and slide
  • running through the sprinkler
  • picture blocks
  • statues
  • K-I-N-G
  • musical bumps/chairs
  • body surfing in the sea
  • french cricket
  • searching for shells in rock pools
And I haven't mentioned the fact that our social life sort of revolved around the huge Methodist Church we went to - once a month there was family movie night, and Mum and Auntie Myra made home made fudge and coconut ice and peppermint creams to sell there for church funds. Or that we grew up going through all the huge church youth groups . Junior Guild. Senior Guild and then Yours and Mine for older teens and students. We went on progressive suppers, treasure hunts. So much fun on a Friday night. On Saturdays, we played badminton in one of the church halls too. Sunday School, church fetes.......

The memories that this is triggering keep a smile on my face right now. And this is what I am doing, isn't it - I am logging memories. (Picture cheesy grin!)

The sun is shining. I am off to poddle round my garden.

Friday, July 08, 2011

In which my friend and I delve into our childhood....

I cannot begin to tell you how much rain has fallen in the past 24-48 hours, and how much damage the wind has done to my garden. Pots blown over, plants horizontal. Oh well. It will revive itself. I can help. 

 And I have managed 2 more aqua classes, and then, a lovely surprise visit from an old school friend from eons ago. We last saw each other in 1987. June remembered. But it seemed like yesterday, and the conversation has roared along all day, ever since she bounded out of the station. (She is agile and bounds along. I feel like Methuselah.)
 See? i complained about having my photo taken while she was sitting down and i was standing - never a good look, believe me - so she leapt onto the rocking chair and took some from on high. Much better, thankyouverymuch.
 While discussing games and toys of our youth ,  (she remembered stencils - they were a winner) I showed her how to take self portraits. Well. There was MUCH laughter.

 We could have been 17 again. It was good growing up with lovely friends who have stood the test of time with ease.
 See - I made her climb onto a chair in the garden too. In the rain.
 This photos of a cosmos is for Marge. See, Marge? It is not right. It looks like a mutant and I am not pleased. So we will go back to the old ones again next year. I am SO tempted to yank these ones out. I do not want little tubes instead of open petals. I tried cutting them and they expired.
But my sunflower is reaching for the skies. One of them. The other 2 are catching up fast.

So here is a question - I asked vaguely, I think, in a previous post. What games or toys did YOU play with as a child?

  • Hopscotch (with a variation of 6 squares, and a caller who yelled out "boys names, Countries"etc, and you had to name 6 as you hopped. Matthew, Mark, Luke John, Peter, Paul.......)
  • Paper dolls
  • Colouring books
  • Barbie and Skipper
  • Floppy dolls
  • Jacks
  • Card games
  • Drawing, stencils, crayons, etc
  • Goomie (french skipping) - a card of elastic tied in a knot and looped around 2 people's legs while you leap in and out and twist about)
  • I wrote a letter to my love
  • Cat's cradle
  • tennisette
  • Diving for stones at the bottom of the pool
  • Catch (or on-on)
  • Hide and seek
  • Collecting charms
  • Books and more books
  • Monopoly
  • The forerunner to pictionary - a couple of teams and someone with a list of movies or books, and having to draw them without speaking
  • That paper game where you have the alphabet drawn in little circles on one page and then pages of columns where you list country, boys name, rivers, mountains, food, vegetables, fruit etc etc - choose the topic - and then take turns closing your eyes and stabbing the alphabet page with a pencil, and then the race is on to complete a line with original things starting with the letter chosen
  • tin can telephones (+ a piece of string)
  • "Clubs" - I had a club with my next door neighbour, and we used to meet in the little old wendy house in her garden, which contained cushions, and piles of annuals (Christmas editions of the comics we loved to read in book form) - Mandy, Bunty, June, Princess, Judy, Look and Learn.. We also had passwords, and no-one could crawl in without knowing the password. 
There are more. You know, the one thing that struck me, and I want to go back to this point in the future, is that the toys / games we played with all required input from us. Lots of outdoor fun, and lots of imagination. They were tools. In themselves, apart for the books, they were not entertainment. And most of them did not cost much, if anything at all. In retrospect, who could have known that hopscotch could improve one's general knowledge? Rivers? Countries? Like that paper game. 

And today, children are more sedentary, and so much of what they get to play with is entertainment rather than imaginative. TV inspired. Instant. It makes you think doesn't it??????