Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It has been a great weekend......................

I have been otherwise occupied this past long weekend. 

It was another Bank Holiday weekend, so yesterday was a holiday. This marks the beginning of the half term holiday, so my son and his wife and my granddaughter came to visit. Andrew had to go back to work today so he left yesterday, but Ann and Missy are still here. Actually, I started the photo uploading process as they left with Diana to go and visit some shops, and they have just walked in, so the posting of this - the writing of it, in fact, may have to wait until Missy is asleep. Because they are leaving tomorrow, and I will not be missing another moment. I will be back. 


Hello again. It is now Wednesday and they have gone home, so the house is quiet and tidy and it is not the same at all. And here I am.  Last Thursday evening, I was scrolling through Facebook, and saw a little Silver Cross doll's pram for sale for £10 on our local buy, sell, swap or give away village page, and I hesitated for one millisecond, and then typed "Yes, Please" and so, I beat someone else who was a second after me. And off I went to collect it in the next town. I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to buy it. Missy doesn't have a proper pram for her Billy (doll), and I was SO delighted that it came with me to house group so we could all ooh and aahh and pat it. And Mum immediately started on a matching blanket for Billy. It was done in no time. Oh - Missy loved it, and it is now in residence down south. Moregranny did well.


So, during the epic preparations for the family's arrival, we discovered that a black bird is nesting under my potting table. And it is sitting on the eggs. Missy was enthralled on the 2 days it was actually good enough weather to go outside and not get drenched. We all had to be "Very quiet, Moregranny, or we will scare the bird". She was ever so good too. 

On Sunday, the day they arrived, we even had the garden chairs out and the sunshade up too for a while. It was so lovely to be outside, and to have the doors and windows open. Now? It is pouring yet again. 
There in the distance, you can see me under the apple tree, chatting on the phone, and yes, Missy is getting so grown up now..........
They went for a walk in the local country park, and the pram and Billy had to go along as well, of course.
Seats cut out of old tree trunks were great fun too, when you have an aunt to lift you into them!
Diana took this photo - I love it. Maybe a summer header for the blog? We will see. 
My daughter-in-law is not the shy retiring type. And she is a perfect subject for action photos! Leaping off the dam wall.................. Like a bird in flight! I am happy to report that she didn't break any bones.

When they got home, I was banned from the kitchen, because there was some serious cake baking and decorating going on in there. Missy made a poster of me, and dictated the words to her Auntie Diana - Dear Moregranny - you must stay out of the kitchen until the candles are lit. It was stuck on the door. Hmmm. Right. Diana took this photo too. 

So I got on with the watering of the garden. I had a very willing and able helper..............


And so Monday dawned, and with it the celebration began. It involved many balloons, including the one stuck on the ceiling....................


And cake. Diana is proving to be a Master Chef/Baker - just check out the 3 layers and the checker board effect on the cake she baked! It was delicious too............

Missy decorated the beautiful cake she and her Mum baked too. There are 6 candles on it and they mean absolutely nothing. I am not 60. 

I am now, as of Monday, 59. 

I needed help blowing out the candles. And there was a lot of cake eaten on Monday afternoon. Jean arrived with scones and cream and jam as well. The Harpers also joined us, and I opened presents. This was the first time Missy has been here for my birthday, and she was such a delight. and SO excited, because there were decorations, and banners and balloons and cake!!!!!


Ah yes.............. I have been busy here. Having fun. Playing the tortoise game Diana found at that charity shop. Playing dollies. Listening to long involved stories, reading books. I had help in the garden. Help in the bathroom, cleaning. And a little girl shadowing me around. 

A very valid excuse for being away. And a birthday to celebrate. It cannot be possible that I will be 60 in less than a year. Ridiculous. I have NO IDEA how that happened. It would have been perfect if David could have been home too, of course. But he is gearing up for the last part of his Master's course and has too much work  to get through. 

But it was all good. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A little day trip...................


Hello there once again. The alium above is to confuse you, because we have no sun. Hail, yes. Rain, yes. Icy wind, oh yes, indeed. However, when one's youngest son requires his smart shoes for his professional practice week in court, one needs to pile into the old trusty vehicle, and head south. 

So we made a day of it, and Jean came along for the adventure as well. We fancied a little sea for a change, seeing that I live slap bang in the centre of an island. You cannot get further from the sea, actually. Almost. And it was always regarded as ironic that Geoff lived so far from the sea, seeing that his career was sailing about on the wet stuff all the time. 

Anyway, that being said, we went to Dorset. Geoff grew up and lived in Devon, Plymouth, until he met me. And then he moved. 

David is doing his Masters at Bournemouth, but his halls of residence are 5 mins from the beach in Poole. I didn't know until yesterday that Poole has the biggest natural harbour in the world. It is huge. 

So we went to Poole. Diana loves driving, so she was at the wheel this time. And we got there after a stop for coffee near the M4, and arrived at lunch time. Everyone had a tour of David's accommodation, which is super, and then we went to Poole Quay, which is a working quayside, with ferries, super-yachts, fishing boats, touring boats, yachts, cruisers, launches and every kind of vessel imaginable. 

After lunch at our favourite deli, we wandered along the quay, and a little old lady offered to take a group photo. It soon transpired that she had last held a camera roughly 45 years ago, and the digital age was a little confusing, but she soldiered on, and our grins were fixed, and eureka, she managed this!

051 - Copy
Jean, Mum, aka Granny, David, Diana and moi. My mother is less grey than I am. And I am looking horrendously faded and grey. #Iamnotgoingthererightnow. 

Birds. Yachts. Greyness. Water. But no rain.

After lunch, we piled into the car and drove to Sandbanks. Very, very nice area, on a sort of isthmus. Boats on one side. Houses in the middle. Beach on the other side. A sandy beach. Be still my heart. I come from Africa, where the beaches are white and sandy and beautiful and soft. And the UK is known for its pebble beaches. Not here, though. The shoes were off, and I was off too. Heading for the water. 


There I am drawing on the sand. Watched by mother, Jean and David. Diana and I were the only 2 who took the shoes off and rolled up the jeans. We are women of steel. 

We have a whole bunch of photos from all over the place, with the place-name written, or made from sticks or stones and so on, so Poole joined the collection. Actually it is between Poole and Bournemouth and in fact the two places blend into one. My first artistic attempt looked like "poop", my daughter decided. She had a point. So I redid it. 

And here we have Diana with Granny. Granny did not remove her shoes. 

But I did. Actually, the water wasn't icy cold at all. I chatted to the 2 life guards, who were not being rushed off their feet at the time, and they said that yes, people had been down to swim, but that the water was roughly 5 degrees Centigrade colder than normal for this time of year. I am not surprised. So far, this has been the coldest Spring since 1979 or somewhere round there. Why am I not surprised?? My stick enjoyed the paddle too. 

The water line was marked by a band of shells - and I just love this photo. Straight out of the camera.. The Isle of Wight is somewhere in the distance. 

And then my daughter decided to play with the camera and took this photo of the two of us. I am even greyer than I thought. She, on the other hand, is stunning. 

The seagulls were having a discussion. Unfazed by our presence. 

And the little boats were waiting for the tide to come in.

And then it was time to leave, so we went back to Poole Quay, dropped my son and his shoes and paraphernalia and headed back north, passing "Downton Abbey" on the way. Diana was gutted that it was not open on a Wednesday. Ah well, we can always go later on and see it all. You do have to book tickets well in advance, I gather. It is very popular. 

I wonder why???! (Hahaha)

So, home. I flopped. I was oh, so weary. But David has his shoes, and I paddled in the sea. We saw the yacht we felt we needed. We took masses of photos. We had an adventure. And the car survived the outing. So did we. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Planting and cars and a day with some sun..........

I get lulled into a false sense of security, you know. The sun shines for one day and the doors are open and I get all excited and start transplanting plants and so help me, the next day we are back to grey and chilly again. That being said, I have (EUREKA!!!) planted the courgettes and leeks down on the allotment. The first plants in the raised beds are in. And then I sat and looked at them for a long while. And grinned. And announced to all and sundry that I was SO thrilled with my stunning raised beds......

I am so happy to report that the planting was simple for me. I didn't have to get onto the floor. Soil. I could do it all standing. Jean was there to help me plant the leeks, seeing that I have never grown them before, and there is the matter of dibbers, toilet roll inners and netting to deal with. They are in. And protected from the birds, because my raised nets at the sides of the beds make it so easy to plonk more nets over the top.
And so I came home and repotted the butternuts and tomatoes, and started another (#3) pot of gem squash. because #s 1 and 2 have failed to emerge from the soil. This could be because there has been no hot weather yet. I may well be buried under an avalanche of gem squash one of these days, but we can deal with that.


I love growing things. You cannot fail to have noticed this in recent years. But I can also talk about things non-garden-related. I promise.

Last Thursday, Diana and I set off for Coventry  and that is a lot more time consuming than one may expect. The setting off part.

First we needed petrol, and while at the garage, I went to check my bank balance at the cash machine. Autobank. Hole in the wall thing. And it kept spitting out my card saying they couldn't tell me anything at all. So, panic stricken, I told Diana to head for the bank in the next town, where I discovered that my card had expired and that they had forgotten to send me a new one. Perfect. Heart attack averted. Anyway, I ordered the card, got back in the car, and noticed the service light was on. Hmmm, I thought. I should check the oil. So I suggested to my by now fast-losing-the-will-to-live daughter that we should go to the car shop and check it out.

So we did. By now an hour had passed since we had left home, and we were still not past the village yet. Oh, said the car man - it needs to sit for at least 15-20 minutes before we can tell. So daughter went off to try on some jackets at the outdoor shop and I sat and waited. One litre of oil and 30 minutes later, we finally set off.

It only took us 35 minutes to get to Coventry and the Motability Big Event. This was why we went - to check out ranges of cars which those who are disabled can drive, have adapted, etc.

It was wonderful to see the whole lot under one roof. Just about every manufacturer was there with many many cars. So I booked a test drive in 3. I need an automatic. However, some makes seldom have any to test drive, and so help me, Ford, once again, didn't have the one I wanted to test in an automatic. So I had to try a manual one. I think I have said before, that 99% of all cars in the UK are manual. What Americans would term "stick shift". My current, aged car is manual as well.

It is really weird, you know, this obsession with manual cars. Men seem to think they aren't very "manly", the automatic versions. And I shake my head in disbelief. I can switch from one to another, and I have no problems other than a leg which actually would like to do nothing while I drive.

So I drove a semi-automatic Peugeot 3008. Why semi automatic?? You should have been there when I found the Peugeot PR man (who looked about 12) and discussed the "semi-automatic" idea. This means that as the gears change, you have to anticipate the moment and take your foot off the accelerator. WHAT???? Give me strength. And the steering wheel had enough extra arms on it to make me think I was piloting a Boeing 777. So we lurched around the test drive roads. It also cuts out when you stop. Then starts again when you take your foot off the brake. Saving the fuel and the planet. But not saving my sense of peace and serenity.

Then we moved on to the Ford C-max. The manual version. It was OK. Sort of. Neither yes or no from me, because I don't know what an automatic feels like and no-one can find me one to drive, so that would be a no, then.

And the third one was a spur of the moment decision, and smaller than the other two. The Suzuki SX4. It is much lighter. Also fully automatic. And I put my foot on the accelerator and we nearly did wheelies on the spot, and took off rather faster than we had expected to. It was hilarious. It was good, but rather small. So I will see if I can do another local test drive.

Anyway. It was a good day. Interesting, and loads of facts and figures and possibles. But on Saturday..........

Ye gods. I could hardly move.

As in the worst amount of pain I have ever known. So I did just about nothing at all, except sling a chicken in the oven. And groan. And watch the clock to see the first instant I could take more pain killers.


But that was then, and this is Monday and it is grey. I live in hope of more sun, but at least the planting out has begun!

So I edited this, people, and added some photos for you to see. The garden is just starting to fill out. Wait a month or two and you will see what I mean!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

36 years ago, on an autumn day in another land................

Thirty six years ago this evening, a little boy, weighing 7lb 14 oz, with lots of red hair was born, and I became a mother. No longer just a young 22 year old woman, wife, graduate, daughter, sister, friend, but a mother. And my whole life changed. My whole world changed.

One small bundle with powerful lungs upended all the theory and thoughts of sleep, and so the best part of my life began. Mind you, his father was in Norway on a ship. My parents contacted his head office and they sent a telex to the ship to let him know that he had a son and that all was well.

Does anyone remember things like a telex? (I changed the wording there, because what on earth is the plural of telex???)

Anyway. He few home 6 weeks later and spectacularly scored an own goal (as in his wife was less than impressed) when he shot straight past me, and had eyes only for the 6 week old boy with colic who was shouting loudly in his carrycot. Tap, tap of the toe.

It took a few days for forgiveness to win the day. By then, let me add, all signs of colic had evaporated, and there could not possibly have been a more contented happy little chap. His father took all the credit.

So, today that baby is 36 and is a father himself. Missy is keeping him on his toes, believe me. He is happy, has a wonderful wife, and work he enjoys, and I am so very proud of him. He has also made me a grandmother, in turn. Ah, how that wheel keeps turning round..............

But being a mother was and is an amazing thing.

The most amazing thing I have ever done, and my greatest achievement.

Those baby years, the toddler years,. the pre-school years, the big school years, the senior school years, the university years.................they flew by. That is, from my viewpoint today. At the time, some of them were ENDLESS and hello. Lord., please let my child be potty trained before he turns 21. Well, those were thoughts I had x3 children at some stage of all those training years, and will any of them ever learn to eat what is put in front of them??? Please???  I am quite sure you all identify totally. And then there were all those wonderful Wet Pup years (the nickname of his prep school) and the outstanding concerts each year. The costumes. The galas. The athletics, judo, tennis, venture club, a house full of small boys, and their Mums drinking tea as we waited for school to end every day. Living one road from school was genius, because all my friends avoided the traffic jam and came to my house, and we waited for the cherubs to return in their own time. Occasionally we had to send a search party because some games were just too much fun for them to think of coming home. Or homework.

Then there was the letter to the tooth mouse after a tooth fell out on the rugby pitch, complete with a map as to where the mouse could start looking. The memories. Crystal clear.

And he grew up, my boy.

I look at the man today, you know, and I see that little boy frown, or grin broadly, and I remember the laughter, and the scraped knees, and the batman costume. I remember standing on quaysides with him, waiting for Daddy's ship to dock. I remember years of travelling at sea with him, and his sister too in time. David came much later! I wonder if he remember beating the 2nd engineer at darts when he was only about 9 or 10? Or if he remember going to visit his Nanny in Devon? I can show him the photos, of course, and tell him the stories. Of castle cakes and ship cakes, and chocolate games and firework parties. Of breakfast on the beach with his friends and their parents, of treks up the mountain, and picnics in the forest. Of wetsuits and boogy boards, and skateboards and bikes.

He may have forgotten, I know. But I remember. I remember and cherish all those bright splashes of colour in the patchwork of my life. That tent, Andrew - do you remember Bain's Kloof and the tent which threatened to take off in the middle of the night and how I spent the entire night hammering the pegs back in???

Maybe not. I think you slept through it all.

That is what mothers are for. Hammering in tent pegs so her children don't get blown away. Gold star.

And a few other important reasons too. Mothers are there primarily to love. Love their babies forever and a day and beyond that even.

This mother loves her son, the baby, boy and man. And that will never ever stop.

Happy Birthday, Andrew.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I think a lot.............

There is a reason one should keep all the paperwork in files and in order. I know. I happen to be missing the gene that automatically triggers organisation. Sigh. So, on a grey day more reminiscent of winter, where the heating is on (I know - nightmare) I have been upending box after box trying to find facts and figures that we need at the moment. The lawyers. Oh well. For those of you new here, my husband's death is still being investigated. Nearly 7 years on. Hospitals. Manufacturers. Importers. Aaaaargh.

And in the meantime, life goes on. Doesn't it always? That is one of the most reassuring of facts, you know. Time ticks on, seasons change, night follows day and we get on with living the best we can.

The organising. I loathe it.

Unless it involves fabric or yarn or fascinating bits and bobs, like templates or cameras, or ........

I digress.

My days may seem boring to some, but you know, I have earned the right to slow down and savour things a little more. 36 years of being a Mum does that. I love poddling about in the garden. I love reading, although that is seriously challenging when the meds I have to take interfere with my short term memory. I start a book and by chapter 3 I have forgotten everything. So I read non-fiction instead. Somehow, I remember that better. I love being creative. Sewing, quilting, playing with wood, paper, fabric, wool. I absolutely love writing. I bake a bit, especially at Christmas. I need to have people around to eat the things I make or you would be talking to Jumbo here. I love talking. Thinking. Remembering. Reflecting.

Multi-faceted. Facetted? Whatever. Me.

And the doing. Things like the aquazumba - I can dance in the water. Pilates when I can get into a class. Walking.

I am happy to stay close to home. I do not have to be out every day. I love being here. That doesn't mean, however, that I want to be a recluse or to avoid travel. I LOVE people. I LOVE adventures. I love going to different countries and exploring everything. I have big dreams, and a List of Things To Do Before I Die too. My own bucket list.

Actually, I have had it for decades. Long before it became fashionable. I try to cross a few things off each year, and keep adding to it as I grow older. I eliminate stuff too. Seriously, my days of dreaming about a tandem paragliding flight are now out of the question. Not just the physical part where you have to run off a cliff .(I can't run anywhere any more, never mind off a cliff. Maybe if a lion was chasing me, I could. Jet propelled.) But the mental part. I have no desire to do it anymore.

One thing though, as you get older, the need to suddenly add more and more things to that list speeds up dramatically. There is more of a sense of urgency. I want to try things. Be in places. Do stuff. Meet people. I don't mind being alone. But it would be lovely to do some things with friends as well. Will be. I have great friends.

There is a variation of the words below out on the Internet, but I rather like this version. See what you think......

Hunter S Thompson wrote it this way:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”

So much to do. Dreams to fulfil. Some of mine are teeny. I can manage them. Some are immense. I will manage them too. One day.

And so, I am happy here, watching my garden grow. planting seeds, watering them, tending them, and seeing them blossom into beauty. Just like it was giving birth to and raising 3 children of mine. All grown, blossoming and beautiful now. And still the gardener watches over them, and still is tempted to prune and tend. Mothering, you know, never stops. They forgot to mention that in the handbook.

A lot of words today. I like words.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Confusing Mother's Day, TED, and the Commander...........

Mother's Day doesn't happen in the UK in May. It happens in March. If you spend your entire life here, then that is no problem, but if, like me, you spend it in two places on earth, then things feel rather odd. For the first 35 years of my life, Mother's Day was in May. Since then, it has been in March. However, when your sister is in the May camp (Switzerland) and your daughter has spent 7 years of her life in New Zealand (May), then things get a bit mixed up.

So, yesterday, because Mum is here with me, my sister asked me to take her out to tea, for a Swiss Mother's Day. And so I did. (She has already had a British one with me.)(In March.) We crossed the valley (that sounds like Little House on the Prairie) and wandered through the countryside, to another wonderful garden centre, where we headed first for the coffee shop, and enjoyed fruit scones for tea and conversation. That was very British, and delicious too. And then I looked at the plants.

This is where this year differs from every other year in recent memory, because I have not bought anything for the garden. Not until yesterday. I was restrained. I just got 2 bacopa plants. The rest will come out of the greenhouses. I normally get plug plants and pot them on for the 14 hanging baskets. This is the frugal year. But I am quite sure it will all look wonderful when it is done. Sort of. It will work.

Anyway. My greenhouses are overflowing. This is a good sign. The fact that I am in a fleece over a jumper and with woolly socks on the feet is not good. There are jeans involved too, let me hasten to add.

Onto a totally different subject now. Do you listen to the TED talks? This one by Daphne Koller is absolutely fascinating, and has the power to transform education, and it is all free. Just amazing. Coursera. Go and scroll through the list of courses. I have seen a couple I would really love to do, and there is nothing stopping me at all. One of their ideas is to fuel life-long learning, and I am so ready for this. If you are new to TED, then go and wander through the talks and settle back and listen. They have a way of igniting the mind, and that is always good. This talk by Rita Pierson is wonderful too.

I could go on listing more but you will find the ones that you want to listen to when you start wandering around. Always supposing you haven't been doing so already. I just haven't seen people talking about them here in the world of blogs, so thought I would mention them. Fascinating. Fabulous. Thought-provoking. Excellent.

Oh, I do love the Internet. So much to learn. So much to see. AND to top it all, you HAVE to watch THIS, if you haven't already seen it on Facebook, Twitter or on your news programmes. One man has single-handedly rekindled interest  in space around the globe. Commander Chris Hadfield. Commander, until tonight, of the Space Station. Even David Bowie is impressed.

I grew up in the Bowie era. I remember the song so well from my youth. But this is just a wonderful version. A) the voice. B) the words and C) the view. Enjoy!

Diana is cooking supper. I may take another photo.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Waendel Walk and Saturday in the village...........

Welcome to a cold and damp but not blustery day here in Middle England. Today, the annual Waendel Walk is taking place and it comes through the village over the weekend. There are different lengths of walks or bike rides during the whole weekend, and people of all ages come from all over the world to take part. I see that there are more than 4000 this year.

One of the older gentlemen who has an allotment near mine, Roger, is always manning the hamburger grill, dressed as a pirate, complete with parrot and cutlass. He was telling me all about his outfit earlier in the week, and I was absolutely determined to walk along the road and take a photo to share with you. He is a real character. He even flies the Jolly Roger flag amidst all the other international ones at the top of Mill Lane here in the village. 

So, after taking Mum to the Fairtrade coffee morning in the church hall earlier this morning, and catching up with friends over the coffee (and cake),  I walked along to see the walkers. And Roger, of course. 


Thousands of walkers out in the fields.
The rape-seed is starting to flower at last. It is late this year.


ROGER!!!Mind you, I think his parrot is looking the wrong way. He is now famous. An international star. He brandished his new cutlass for the photograph, and abandoned the burgers he was cooking to pose. 

Under the trees is a great place to stop and rest weary legs, and to sample one of Roger's bacon rolls, hot dogs or hamburgers. They were doing so in their droves. It is a really festive and fun time, even when the feet hurt! The queue for the portaloos was also impressive, but I felt we could skip that part.

So, when the rain started falling gently - more like a drizzle, I decided it was time to come home. There is a tree which is absolutely bowed down with the weight of the blossom on the main road. I have no idea what kind of tree it is. My knowledge of trees is sadly rather lacking in any depth. I can generally spot an oak tree, an ash and a few more. Willow. Elder. Hmmm. I should do something to increase the knowledge perhaps. (But why do I need to know????)

And I got some strange looks when I bent down to take a photo of the weeds. Daisy weeds. There were so many growing in the grass under the trees and they looked so pretty. They will all be mown away soon, when the council ground=keepers bring their huge mowers around, as they do every now and then to do the grass on public land

I liked them. Maybe not in my garden, but out there is fine.

So, my Saturday is drifting along slowly, and there are vague glimpses of the sun trying to get through the clouds. The water butt was full this morning, so that was decanted into the two which do not have drain pipes attached to them. Yet. 

The FA Cup Final is on later this afternoon. This is arguably the most famous football match, apart from the World Cup , in the world. Football - soccer - the game the world adores. Well, except for me. I am more of a rugby fan, and my team play tomorrow in the semi-finals. I get running commentaries from friends with season tickets. That is hilarious. They send texts. 

Mum doesn't mind big football matches at all. I think it comes from so many years watching with Geoff. Oh, how he loved football. He used to book his leave for when exciting matches were on. In fact, when he went into hospital that last time, he was on leave because it was the World Cup at the time. I made sure he had TV at his bed so he could watch, but I realised just how ill he was when I arrived one day, and England was playing and his TV was off. He was just sitting in the chair with his oxygen mask on and all the tubes in and out and eyes closed, and he wasn't in the slightest bit bothered. 

2 hours later......

I went out into the garden for a little break. 

The rain stopped sporadically, but I had enough time to get into the garden and plant the beans, and for my hair to frizz entirely. I know tomorrow is the 12th and that is when I should plant them, but I had to do something in the garden. I am odd. I know. You do not need to remind me. I also planted some melon seeds to be taken down to the allotment when they are out of the ground. Always supposing it warms up enough for them to grow. There is plenty of space there for them to ramble should they be inclined to do so. So the climbing french beans are in. The dwarf french beans and the yellow beans. I do love grabbing a handful and cooking them when they are out, and they freeze so well. 

Talking of rambling, .... I know. I do go on. But now I am damp and I am retiring to the rocker to work on that ripple blanket. It has to be finished before I start anything new. And while it is cool enough to work on a blanket. I am ever hopeful that summer will be hot. 

Have a great weekend! And, to all international readers (ie not the UK) Happy Mother's Day for tomorrow! 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Two of my favourite bloggers.....

I love reading your comments, my friends. LOVE it. And it is great to see how you feel too. By the way, I never expect everyone to agree with me - differences are what make life interesting, after all. Having said that, though, I love seeing how many of you can identify with what I wrote a couple of days ago about returning to the simple storytelling times. We absolutely CAN poke the embers of the dying flames and rekindle our fires. Voices. You know what I mean. (The words sort of ran away with me there in a fit of enthusiasm.)

Now I want to tell you about some of the bloggers I love, who have continued relating the rhythm of their days. Blogs I can settle down with and feel as if I were sitting across the kitchen table, pushing the piles of ironing out of the way to accommodate the plate packet of biscuits (cookies) while we chat about the ordinary, laugh about the absurd and weep in times of anguish. It happens. This is what community feels like. Size doesn't matter. The warmth and caring does.

I am not going to list them all in one post, or in any order of preference either. Just a couple every now and then, because I want you to go and scroll through their posts and get to know these lovely ladies. Take your time. And just remember to come back here.

First up is a sweet friend in Arizona. Diary of a Stay at Home Mom. Sandra and I have a lot in common. She is from Southern Africa, with a bit of Mozambique, Portugal and South Africa thrown in together. The South African connection is strong. We know what we are talking about. She married her American Air Force husband, and moved to the States. Another connection. We both moved countries. Hemispheres. She is a stay at home Mom. So was I. She loves crafting. So do I. And then she bakes. Good grief, she is an amazing cook! Chef. Baker. The similarities grind to a halt here. I love baking but Sandra is on a different level altogether. I fully intend being a house guest one day and sampling her cooking for myself instead of drooling over the keyboard while looking at her photos. Did I mention that she is also a great photographer?

She is not a saint. Stop worrying. She is just like me, doing her best to be the best she can be, where she is. And she is not afraid to share her ups and downs and homeschooling stories, and dreams and all the rest. I love her to bits. And so will you.

And the other friend I am going to introduce you to today is Chris. His Unfinished Work. Chris, like Sandra, had a small break in blogging, but she is back. And she and I have weathered all sorts of storms together over the years. We are roughly the same age. No, I lie. She is a bit younger than me, but we both have older children and then younger ones as well. Think my oldest and youngest with a 12 year gap. So we know what being a Granny is all about. She and her husband are renovating a house to rent out, and their escapades are hilarious. She works full time and is planting her garden, and she has dreams too, just like me. We have skyped and chatted and laughed till we have cried, and there have been tears too, when she lost her Mom a few years ago. I love her dearly. She is a friend. And that is what this is all about. You will love her too, I know.

You see, just making a few connections where you identify so clearly with the words you read can add so much to your life. It has, to mine. I know I keep saying this, but when Geoff died, I found people to connect with on line when the world around me was asleep. Back then I wrote very little about what I was feeling or thinking or how our world was turned upside down. It was all too new. But there was a human connection at a time when it was absolutely crucial for me to have one. A life line of sorts. I cannot begin to tell you how much of a difference that made to me.

Anyway. Two bloggers who some of you may not know yet. I know some of you already follow them, but a little reminder that they are posting is always good!

It is a foul day today. The sun has gone AWOL again, and I refuse to turn the heating on. Layers. We are all wearing multiple layers. And Diana has made an interesting soup for lunch and has just been out to buy a lovely loaf of bread to go with it. I think the soup is parsnip, bacon and potato. It smells wonderful and I am quite sure will taste divine. I may just take a photo, seeing that the camera is lying idle next to me.

The days are filling up with appointments and telephone appointments to come, and we are planning a visit to David, down south at the sea the week after next as well. He has been on a dig on some big estate. They had to uncover and examine mass graves. Not real ones of course. This is England. But he has had a muddy and wet time dressed in a white CSI type suit which forensic investigators wear in real life. They do not have their long hair swishing about contaminating crime scenes IRL. He loves pointing out all the wrong bits to me.

Photo taken by one of David's friends, Fiona Mak.

I think they all look rather like Casper the Friendly Ghost. 

The soup is amazing. Just so you know.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

English sheep and other bits.................


There is a hurricane type wind blowing outside. Think hair standing on end. Yes. I look like a wild woman right now. That is because Jean sent me a message to say that she has acquired another free pallet and what did we want to do with it, so I had to go and inspect it. Well, we can dismantle it and make new slats for the compost bin all the same width. See? I am a genius when it comes to making stuff out of nothing.

This is just as well after spending an hour on the phone to the gas and electricity supplier to get accurate figures on a bill I received today. I could buy an oil well with the final total I need to pay them. We will now do all the cooking on the BBQ, have cold baths and the heating is off forEVER.

Moving swiftly on..............

We all went to aquazumba this morning, and danced in the water. And then I had a head massage - Glynis is trained in head massaging, and I am her practice head. But she doesn't need to practice at all. She is wonderful. However, I am not going to encourage her to stop - it is such a lovely way to relax and de-stress. Apparently my muscles/tendons/bones/whatever were very tight today. I nearly fell asleep. 

If you have never had a head massage, start a savings jar and go and have one. (And then encourage friends to train so you get to have free ones!!)

On Bank Holiday Monday, I think I mentioned that we went back to Market Harborough to take the box of stuff we couldn't sort last week, to the auctioneers. After we were finished, we wandered around town for a little while and then Diana called a friend of ours who lives in a village nearby, and asked if we could pop in for coffee. Of course we could. So Diana cheerfully announced that we would be there in 20 minutes. As she put her phone down, I did mention that we were about 5 minutes from Tessa, so we had to slow down a bit. 

English country lanes are just so beautiful at this time of the year, aren't they? Mind you, a maniac in a fast car did screech past just before I took this photo. 

We passed a fence in the hedge and the scene was so lovely we had to do a U-turn and backtrack to see it again. Cows in a field...........

We had to use up that 20 minutes, you see. Sheep everywhere - white sheep, brown sheep, black sheep..........

It was so pretty..........

The fields seem to roll away into the distance. Hedges. Greenery. Trees. Just so perfect. It was a stunning day. So, so hot. England is very beautiful at the moment.

Anyway, I thought I would share the photos with you. Little jaunts around the countryside are lovely. 

Tessa and I have known each other since university days. At the advent of the Internet many years ago, I was searching for her, and found her brother in California. And I called him. I knew Tessa had gone to New York in the 1970s. 

Well. He remembered me from those long ago days, and said, that no, Tessa was now living in the UK. And do you know, she was living just 20 minutes away from me. Amazing. In global terms, almost in my back garden, seeing I was talking to California. 

And so we met up again, and we have stayed in touch ever since. Diana spent many a summer looking after her son. Who ever would have thought all this would happen so many years after that time at university? 

As I said, AMAZING. 

On a completely different not, please look at the next photo of the Flickr home page. Every time you open Flickr, it tells you how to say hello in a foreign language. This was yesterday's offering. I had to look at it twice to believe what I was seeing. 


Meow. I can speak Cat. 

Of course.

At last - someone else who wants to tell the stories of our lives...............

Ah, people, Ashleigh has written the post to end all posts about a return to story telling on our blogs. About going back to the way it used to be when we, or rather, I started writing so many years ago. Well, I never actually changed the way I wrote, because I looked at all the new-fangled words like "monetise" and "brand" and broke out in a rash. An uncomfortable one.

Ashleigh puts it beautifully. Please read her post.

There are times when I am so glad to be ever so slightly older than most bloggers, because with that advancing age comes the license to do what I want and to heck with the rest. I hate being confined. Restricted. This is the equivalent to declaring  my intention of wearing purple. (Missy will be delighted. Purple is the current favourite colour.) I want to just tell the ordinary stories of my days, my dreams, my life, my times. Not because it is wildly exciting, but because there is a certain delight in finding the extraordinary in the mundane. And heaven knows we do mundane very well around these parts.

Of course, no-one may want to hear about the laundry or the failure of the gem squash to grow into seedlings, but hey, this is my corner and we all know I tend to write exactly what I feel like writing here, now don't we?

I have talked about this before - the way we set about being the brave pioneers in the blogging world. Well, 7-8 years ago, it was uncharted territory. Those blogging years were personal times. Do you remember Heather and her brain cancer? And her beautiful little girl, Emma? Do you remember Angie's Audrey? And Kelli and her search for a kidney? And Scribbit? Boomama? Big Mama? Owlhaven? Linda? Morning Glory? Susie? Barb? Antique Mommy? Jeana? Shannon? Chris? Crystal? Heidi? Jewels? Chris? So many more. Not many of these wonderful ladies blog any more. That saddens me.

I lie. It really does so much more than that. I miss them. I miss the community of storytellers. Of sharing their lives. A status update on Facebook is never going to be the same. Births. Deaths. Anguish. Celebrations. Weddings. Divorce.


Morning Glory had the Alphabet Soup idea - we wrote random posts once a week, following through the alphabet each week, and did we ever have wildly differing words! It was a delight. I know single words can trigger an avalanche of ideas or memories, and that was what we were - are - good at. Being keepers of the memories.

There is no place for all those words ending in "ise", you see. I don't have a target market. Being human is enough of a requirement. Fallible, quirky, fun. I want to talk about how living out my days provides a wealth of stories, of both pathos and jubilation. Life is 90% ordinary and 10% extraordinary. Believe me, talking about simple things is infinitely more desirable than dwelling on the Other Stuff.

So, as I have said before, I make no apologies for the talk of gardens and growing things and village life in Middle England. Of church, and children, and grandchildren and friends. Of Alps and lakes and mountains and oceans. Of trains, planes, cable cars and flat tyres. There is colour there - even in the frustration of standing in a ditch beside a motorway.

So, the stories go on. Just as they always have..............

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Bank Holiday Weekend................


  And now we have the very familiar (weekly) apology for not posting anything. I am sorry I have been absent here this week. The sun shone, you see, and it was such a strange occurrence, that we spent the whole week outside marvelling at the great big glowing thing in the sky.

The garden has been half power-washed. 
I decided to clean under the table outside. The one which I use for potting. The same one under which I unearthed the rat, if you remember. {{Shudder}}


I saw a green machine thingy under the cobwebs and other rubbish (the rat was there because it was cosy in all that rubbish), and hauled it out and HALLELUJAH, it was a power washer!! I sort of remembered Geoff having one. Actually, I remember the fact that I freaked out about the expense at the time. However, I do not recall it being used. Ever. And, after 7 years, I was not holding my breath here, but Diana switched it on, and lo, the water sprang forth from the wand in a jet, and great globs of black stuff on the patio vanished.

Now, if you remember, my garden is paved. There is no grass. Therefore, that means that there are a great many slabs to clean, and I am so thrilled to report that we have managed to blast most of the horrible stuff to kingdom come, and somehow, the red slabs are now pale pink.

I do not remember them being pale pink.


But they are much cleaner. There is not much left to do on the bottom section, and then we have the top section. Under the apple tree and beyond to the other end where the greenhouses and pots of vegetables are growing. It does sound huge. It is very small. I just cram in a great many things.

It is a work in progress.

The courgettes are taking over the world
You know the greatest thing? Having the doors open, and letting the sun stream in. Ditching the shoes and feeling the warmth under the feet. Not to mention the sweat dripping off the nose. I have said this before, I know, but it never ceases to amaze me - the joy that I feel from being out there in my garden. And someone please stop me planting stuff, because every single day I plant more. Just because. .

 On Thursday, Jean and I went to a nearby town - Market Harborough - which we absolutely love. 

It is a typical market town, full of people, interesting small shops and we both say it would be a great place to retire to. On the first Thursday of every month, there is a Farmer's Market in the middle of the town. Great fresh food, meat, fish, plants, veg and so much more. It is just lovely to wander around there. We were on our way to the auctioneers with some stuff for auction, and we will be back there with more stuff on Monday, because we ran out of time. And the great thing is that the items will all go up for auction the day that Flog It, a TV programme on antiques, is filming. Hilarious. We will wear bright colours. 

The flowers in the town centre are beautiful, and they are everywhere you look. It was a lovely day out. And just look at the sun and the blue skies!
There has been a bit of aquazumba and a little bit of resting this week. Not nearly enough, because today, I really did not want to get out of bed at all. Diana was baking for church coffee duty tomorrow, so I made a quick trip to the supermarket for cocoa and other baking essentials, and then surrendered the kitchen to her. She is a star.

However, sinking into the armchair, to sip some coffee and maybe pick up the large ripple blanket with my feet up on the exercise ball was halted by a sudden onset of guilt for not saying hello, and I love you all and I am still here. The exercise ball has nowhere to live, so it is rolled between us all in the lounge. I am a stellar decorator of houses. It is purple. Like my garden clogs.

So here I am.

Now let me upload some photos and we will be good to go for a day or so..............

Today has been a crazy weather day, involving sudden torrential downpours and then sun. There is the small matter of transferring water from one water butt to another when it rains, and Diana shakes her head and greets my announcements about the state of the water levels with disbelief, and a comment about how exciting my life is. She is right, though. It DOES excite me. Water butts are important. But maybe I do need a life too. Hmmm.

I need to think about that.

The stable for small ponies new compost bin is still sitting in the middle of Jean's garden. I must speak to people with large cars this weekend, or the next thing will be Jean and me strapping skateboards under it and riding it down the hill to the allotment.

I am not sure about steering it though.
It is a Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK. And as predicted, the weather changed today. BUT it is due to be really hot and sunny on Monday!! Yay!! So, I got out the BBQ. It is very old, that Weber. It must be approaching 30 years old, in fact. Groan. And my vigorous scraping revealed the fact that the metal is paper thin. So are some of the spokes on the grid. However, I am hoping it will make it through 2013, even if we have a glorious summer and it is in use constantly. Nothing says summer more than marinating meat and then sizzling it on the BBQ. I like old fashioned charcoal cooking. Diana is used to a gas BBQ. She must have been switched at birth, because all South African born people like charcoal!!

Anyway, after I had had a small fire going to clean it all, I decided that we would have a BBQ last night. The first of 2013. Hopefully the first of many. 

It was wonderful.
And finally,. we were going through the 4 boxes of my mother's extensive Dolls From Around The World collection, and we found this Skipper doll. She is one of the very first ever. I had one just like this one. (No-one was allowed to touch this one.) And then I cut her hair. She looks like a ragamuffin. An urchin. But I still have her in the loft somewhere. I loved that skipper doll. Do any of you remember the pink pleated skirt, and pink cardigan set for her? Sigh. The best. I still love this old Skipper, which is why she is now sitting on my kitchen table. 

And now, I hear the kettle boiling, so that is it for today. Have a wonderful weekend, people!