A Walk in the Bluebell Wood – bliss.


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Click on the title of the poem to hear the words while you look at the pictures :)

The BlueBell Wood

We walked within an ancient wood
Beside the Heart-of-England way
Where oak and beech and hazel stood,
Their leaves the pale shades of May.

By bole and bough, still black with rain,
The sunlight filtered where it would
Across a glowing, radiant stain—
We stood within a bluebell wood!

And stood and stood, both lost for words,
As all around the woodland rang
And echoed with the cries of birds
Who sang and sang and sang and sang…

My mind has marked that afternoon
To hoard against life’s stone and sling;
Should I go late, or I go soon,
The bluebells glow— the birds still sing.
Poem Published in the following books: Tales from The Woods

 

 

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This the beautiful bluebell wood near my cottage. Yesterday morning, Larry and I went for a walk there enjoying the birdsong and the lovely scent of the bluebells. Come share with me our walk…

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A few days away in Ely, Cambridgeshire.


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Larry and I have just had a few wonderful days away in Ely, Cambridgeshire – enjoying the Spring weather and visiting the gorgeous cathedral there.

‘The Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Ely is the principal church of the diocese of Ely and is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Ely.  Highly visible from every direction across the surrounding flat fenland, it has been called ‘Ship of the Fens’ for centuries, although there was a time in the 17th Century during the English Civil War that it was also dubbed ‘Cromwell’s Castle’.

Construction of the Cathedral began in 1081 when the monks of Ely finally submitted to the Norman Conquest after five years of resistance led by Hereward the Wake.  Though dedicated to God, it was a symbol of Norman authority and remains today a remarkable example of Norman architecture, from the original Romanesque features to early English pointed windows and emerging Gothic style.’

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‘The Church achieved Cathedral status at the beginning of the 12th Century and there have been additions, changes and restorations throughout the centuries since then, in the 13th Century, the Galilee porch of limestone and Purbeck marble was added to the west front entrance and the Cathedral’s east end was extended using the same type of materials.’

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Ely has always been a special place to me because when I was 27 years old, I came to live here for two years. It was a very happy time in my life and felt like being on holiday. At the time I was living in Ely, we had two little boys already – one of four and the other of 7 months and apart from my immediate family, I knew no-one else. I used to visit the Cathedral regularly; in the summertime to keep cool and in the winter-time to get warmed up because the weather in Ely can be very extreme.

The surrounding countryside is very flat, which gives rise to some vicious winds not least of which is the Fen Blow, which whips up the black alluvial soil into dark clouds which scud across the landscape looking like a witch’s cape.

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‘Disaster struck n the 14th Century when the original central Norman tower collapsed.  It was replaced with the Octagon that we see today, see picture no. 2 above, a structure unique in European cathedral architecture.  Made of stone, it is topped with a wooden lantern rising from its centre.’

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The next picture shows a view of Ely from the south aspect, from the park leading down to the river. It’s very picturesque in all its stately splendour isn’t it?

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Now that the weather is getting better, Larry and I are looking forward to spending some more days away and of course I will come back on here and share them with you.

Enjoy your Sunday :)

Oma

‘…’ from The Ely Map

Bonnie’s blanket


Bonnie on her blanket

I’ve been working through my stash of yarn recently. All those odd balls of wool knocking around doing nothing. I began to feel like I should be doing something about them!

I would love to have a dog, but at the moment it isn’t possible and I don’t think Millie would be too pleased if we invited a dog into the house. However it occurred to me that if I couldn’t have a dog here, then I could do something to help a dog I didn’t own. Perhaps one who needed a blanket? So I got out my knitting needles and followed the pattern on the Battersea Dogs’ and Cats’ Home website and made a colourful blanket. I enjoyed making it and when it was done, I packed it up and sent it off to London.

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Very soon back came the picture of Bonnie,one of the dogs for re-homing, lying on the blanket. That made me so happy, I think I’ll make another one!

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and if I’ve made a little mistake in the pattern, well – the dogs won’t notice, will they.

 

Here’s the detail of the basket stitch: Four stitches plain, four stitches purl, alter the order after four rows. Sounds easy, but it isn’t difficult to go wrong, especially when there’s something good on the TV.

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You can find the patterns on the Battersea website. Click here for information.

Sunday is gardening day!


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We had some really fine weather over the last two days and my flame tulips opened right up. I’ve been watching them growing from my sun-lounge and couldn’t wait to see them open up. Here they are in all their splendour.

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and the camellia bush is flowering early this year. That’s a bonus. There are lots of flowers on it and such a joy to see.DSCF1847

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and before I forget, the butterflies are out and about too. I just managed to catch this one sunning its wings in the sunshine. It’s a peacock – gorgeous, aren’t they.

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Have you seen any butterflies recently?

Today is Mothers’ Day in England. We are earlier than most places. I consider myself very lucky today. I have had two visits and a phone call.

Thinking of my own mother, who died in 1992, I remember a very Dutch lady who loved her tulips. So here is a toast to my mum and her tulips.

Is there a flower that you associate with your own mother? If so, which one comes to mind?

Oma

 

 

My grandson Dylan, update


Dylan with spiderman glasses

My grandson Dylan is into super heroes, especially Spiderman. Here he is in his spiderman sunglasses. Looks the part doesn’t he!

We haven’t seen him too much lately because he’s been going to Nursery. Don’t they grow up quickly!

ChildhoodChildhood, sweet and sunny childhood,
With its careless, thoughtless air,
Like the verdant, tangled wildwood,
Wants the training hand of care.See it springing all around us –
Glad to know, and quick to learn;
Asking questions that confound us;
Teaching lessons in its turn.

Who loves not its joyous revel,
Leaping lightly on the lawn,
Up the knoll, along the level,
Free and graceful as a fawn?

Let it revel; it is nature
Giving to the little dears
Strength of limb, and healthful features,
For the toil of coming years.

He who checks a child with terror,
Stops its play, and stills its song,
Not alone commits an error,
But a great and moral wrong.

Give it play, and never fear it –
Active life is no defect;
Never, never break its spirit –
Curb it only to direct.

Would you dam the flowing river,
Thinking it would cease to flow?
Onward it must go forever –
Better teach it where to go.

Childhood is a fountain welling,
Trace its channel in the sand,
And its currents, spreading, swelling,
Will revive the withered land.

Childhood is the vernal season;
Trim and train the tender shoot;
Love is to the coming reason,
As the blossom to the fruit.

Tender twigs are bent and folded –
Art to nature beauty lends;
Childhood easily is moulded;
Manhood breaks, but seldom bends.

David Bates

I hope this Wednesday brings you joy :)

 

Oma

Strip Patchwork


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Yesterday I posted about the scrap patchwork. What I chose to do was the strip or string patchwork, which is the same thing really but a bit more structured. I chose to do that because I had so many bits and pieces left over from the American themed quilt I made for Larry. For those of you who wouldn’t know where to start with this type of patchwork and for those of you who just like watching ‘How to do…’ videos, here is a good one from Missouri Quilts:

I intend to make mine into a table runner but I may just keep going with it till it gets a bit bigger. I’ll post again when I’ve made some progress.

 

Oma

 

My Patchwork Club


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Every Monday afternoon for ‘so many’ sessions, I go to my Patchwork Club.  It is held in a church hall and some of the money collected each week goes towards the church funds. I think it’s a lovely idea, don’t you. It gives the chance for we ladies of a certain age and younger (also one or two men) to come along and chat, make new friends and sew in a nice environment.  It does get a bit noisy sometimes.

We make lots of nice things, which we can use afterwards or give away as presents. During this latest session, the theme has been on ‘scrap patchwork’, which basically means using up all the scraps of fabric that are lurking in your basket, or large cardboard box or whatever. Here is an example of scrap patchwork:

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I liked this next one best. I liked the way the stripes gave opportunities for lots of different colour schemes. In this example, half of the square was plain cream coloured calico but for mine I chose the purples and pinks.

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I tried to crop the pictures a bit in Picasa, but it wasn’t playing the game so please just look at the centre of the pictures to get the gist of the different arrangements. They are displayed on a large board at the club to give us all inspiration.

The next picture shows scrapping but using bird pictures in the centres of some of the squares. It’s so pretty and such a good use of those little bits and pieces:

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The cushion cover in the last pictures is lovely, isn’t it?  The lady who made is is currently away suffering from shingles, poor thing. I hope she gets well soon.

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I have made enough squares now for a table runner and this afternoon I am hoping to sew some of them together.

Oma

Busy Hands


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While I was in America, I introduced Larry to rug making. I didn’t know if he would like it, but he certainly did. We started him off with the rug of the deer, see above. It’s now hanging on his bedroom wall, right above his bed and looks wonderful, don’t you think?

After making about five other rugs of varying sizes whilst he was waiting to come over here, he decided to design one for himself. This is it below and I think he’s done a great job of it too. He plotted out the chart in Excel and then ordered the back-cloth and the yarns to make it. It took a while because it is very thick and luxurious, but now he has something he can be truly proud of.


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I’ll be showing you some more crafty items that Larry has made. He really is very talented.

Meanwhile I progress with my patchwork. Here are some squares I made recently. When joined together they will be a table runner.

I chose pinks and purples because I had quite a few bits and pieces of fabric left over from making the quilt for Larry’s bed.

Here is the quilt:

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The picture turned out a bit dark, but you get the idea, and here are the squares I’m making:


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So we keep ourselves busy. Busy hands don’t get into trouble, do they!

Have a lovely Sunday :)

Oma

A Walk Along The Canal Side – bliss.


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A walk along the canal side is always going to bring joy. Last Thursday, the weather turned bright and cheerful, so we set off to walk beside the water to enliven our spirit and enjoy the softness of feeling that being beside water always brings. Come with me as I walk and listen to the sounds of Spring.

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The is the Grand Union Canal.

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What is life without music?


Music has played a very large part in my life – for pleasure and for work. Since I’ve now upgraded this blog, I can at last share with you my favourite plays.

I want you to enjoy this clip from Estas Tonne. I wonder how many times you will play it over? Once maybe? or perhaps endlessly, like I do.

I am a European and very much keen on passion in music. For me Estas Tonne has it all and I am quite hooked.

See what you think…

When should I plant out my geranium (pelargonium) cuttings?


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Back last August, I took lots of geranium cuttings.  So what has happened to them since, you may be wondering. Well they are doing just fine thank you. The smallest ones have been on my window sill all winter and now they are bursting to go outside. Since we could still have frosts at night, I am waiting till April to plant them out and meantime I am enjoying the daffodils in the border first. You can see how big the cuttings are in the first picture above.

The rest of the plants, which I had in the back garden last summer, were brought in in October before the first frosts arrived. They have been sunning themselves in the ‘den’ at the back of the cottage all winter. Now they are getting a bit leggy and want to go outside, but first they must be hardened off. I shall be doing that soon.

Geraniums, or to give them their proper name, pelargoniums, are easy to grow and quick to propagate so they are ideal for beginners to gardening and for me because there is such a high success rate. I like to make sure that I get a continuity of colour each year so I take care, when propagating, to get an equal number of red, white, pink and peach plants. Each year it seems that one or other does better than the rest and, of course, I am always on the look out for new colours. I would love to have a blue one, but blue is not the most prolific colour in the plant world.

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Like the primrose, the geranium is not particularly attractive to bees for pollinating. The primrose (which I wrote about yesterday) relies on small insects to spread its seeds and the geraniums need a bit of help from me!

This is one of the pink ones, which is longing to get outside. It’s such a delicate colour, isn’t it.

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Millie thinks I’m mad, messing about with plants all the time; you can tell from her expression while she is watching me:

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So today it is fine and sunny outside and so I may go out and poggle about with the fork! First I have to think about something for dinner?

What are you having for dinner today?

Oma

The Humble Primrose


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I have just upgraded my blog to Premium because I ran out of space so now I return with some pictures of the lovely primroses and primulas, which have been growing in my cottage garden just lately. The first picture shows the humble primrose, although it is quite spectacular really especially after our wet and miserable winter. The next pictures are primulas, which have been cultivated by the growers from the original primrose into large blooms with brighter colours. I am not showing here today the other two members of the family, namely the Primula veris (the cowslip) or the Primular auricula (the auricula).

‘The Primula genus belongs to the Primulaceae family. In general terms, it is a genus of about 400 species, some of which hybridize very easily. They are deciduous winter-green plants, some of which are only half-hardy. All are perennial and produce flowers (often on long stems, sometimes on short ones) from central rosettes of low basal leaves.

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The primrose (the Latin name P. vulgaris means ‘common’; sometimes this species is called P. acaulis, meaning ‘with stem’) is one of the first spring flowers to bloom and is a plant that is found throughout Europe.  It is a native perennial in Britain, found in woods, grassy areas and hedge banks.’

From Flower Wisdom by Katherine Kear

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My Memoirs – My granddad Fred Mills, circa 1922.


Fred Mills on beach with family circa 1921

I am writing these memoirs for my three sons. I hope they read them one day and find them interesting.

In the picture are: on back row, my Nanna Ethel Mills and my Granddad Fred Mills.

On the front row, from left to right are my Uncle Bert, My Dad, also called Fred Mills like his father, aged about three and my Auntie Connie who is thirteen years older than my dad.

They are enjoying a day at the seaside, but I don’t know where the picture was taken.

I recently came upon some information about my Granddad Fred and would like to share it with you below. It is an entry on page 239 from the Journal of the Great War, 1914 – 1918.

‘MILLS, F., Gunner, Royal Garrison Artillery.

He joined in June 1916 and in the following year was sent to France.  In this theatre of war he fought in many engagements, including the Battle of the Somme, and during his service overseas he was stationed at Etaples for some time.  He was discharged in May 1918 on account of service and holds the General Service and Victory Medals.’

His address is given as 71 Salisbury Road, Luton, Bedfordshire, England.

Looking at the picture above, it is almost inconceivable to me that World War II ever took place.  How could the world ever go down that route again?? My dad, so small and innocent in the picture, went on to fight the Germans in Holland, but that is another story and not for this post.

I remember my Granddad with great fondness. He was very kind. He smoked a pipe and as a child I loved to watch him filling his pipe and lighting it. In later years it was one of the few pleasure in life left to him because he suffered very badly from rheumatoid arthritis (the scourge of my family) and endured much pain for many years. Eventually he could no longer climb the steep stairs in his house to get to bed so a bed was made up for him in the front room at Salisbury Road.

On the day that he died my mother was visiting. He was lying on his bed when she arrived. He sat up, in his vest and raised his arms above his head, which was something he hadn’t done for years! ‘Look, I can move my arms’ he said with joy. Later that day, he died.

My English Garden in February – something’s moving!


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The weather here in England has been appalling just lately with high winds and flooding across much of the country. However here in the south-east, north of London – just! we’re ok, thank goodness.  The cottage garden is not flooded although a bit water logged. Today is lovely and sunny so I went out and took some photos. The bulbs are peeking through in the tubs and the polyanthus are bravely flowering.

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I’ve been in the cottage a lot over the last few weeks and I don’t mind that because I love to read, knit and sew, but today going out was a joy – just for a little while. The first time out gardening always causes stiff muscles – yuck! but a tidy up is in order. Not today though. I’ll wait till it’s a little bit warmer.

Meanwhile I’ll enjoy these gorgeous roses that Larry bought for me for Valentine’s Day. Wasn’t I lucky!

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We have a new member of the family.


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Please meet’ Sausage’. He is the latest member of our family to join the cottage. He is the result of my latest crafty effort and he is a sausage dog (in case you didn’t guess).

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He likes to hide behind the washing basket…

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and sneak up on the cat …

He has a very stripey body …

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But we all love him :)

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My memoirs – J and I, our first home.


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I’ve been ill with the flu all week – horrid. It was a week when I discovered Larry didn’t know how to peel potatoes and Jim didn’t know how to load the washing machine! Oh well, perhaps I’ll feel better next week.

While I was lying in bed feeling awful, I got to thinking about my next post on here. What should I write about? It seemed some time since I wrote a post for my memoirs, mainly because I’ve been caught up in Larry’s posts about his finding on life over here in the U.K. I

I am writing these memoirs for my boys. Perhaps they will like reading them one day. This one is particularly significant and I hardly known where to start. It is about young love and discovery. It also touches on ‘becoming invisible as we get older’ because I am 62 year’s old now; but I wasn’t always old. I wasn’t always an Oma. I was a young lady – that’s me in the picture with my first husband J. We weren’t married yet. When you look at this picture, see me as the young lady I was, not the old lady I’ve become. I’m still here. I just look different and I think differently about life, based on my experiences. I digress…

It is May 1970. I am 18 years old and J is 21. We  are preparing for our wedding in August. We have know each other for four years already and we are planning to get married to the day that we met, i.e. August 15th. For me it is a happy day, a very special day. J and I met on August 15th, 1966 and we married four years later. The marriage was to last for 36 years and we are still great friends to this day.

We saved to get a deposit for the flat (apartment) you see in the picture. It cost apx  £3,200 and our deposit was £1,000. Neither of us earned very much money because we were so young and J was still studying for his degree as a research chemist. He wouldn’t complete the course until three years later, although he already had an H.N.C (Higher National Certificate) in Chemistry. So in those early days I was earning more than he was,just!, as a Sales Administrator at Electrolux. In those days it was only the husband’s salary which counted for the mortgage and then only 2 1/2 times, nothing like it is nowadays. We were lucky to get a mortgage at all. Despite saving diligently in the Halifax Building Society for 3 years, we were still turned down. They said they didn’t lend money on flats and we couldn’t afford a house. Then J’s father took matters into his own hands. He went down to the Building Society and ‘threatened’ to take his own savings out and put them somewhere else if they didn’t give his son a mortgage! Nowadays that probably wouldn’t cut any ice, but then it did. He had significant savings and they listened. Our mortgage was granted (thanks dad) and we got on the first rung of the ladder.

The flat was new, brand new and I can’t tell you how excited I was to get it. My mum promised to buy us some curtains so that they were all the same. They were bright orange and one of the walls was purple. All very 70′s and high fashion at the time. Later on one of my hamsters would chew a big hole in one of those expensive curtains, but I’ll keep that story for another time.

Our flat was on the ground floor, at the front of the building. There was a bus-stop right outside, which was very convenient. I could walk to work and J could get the bus. Bit by bit we bought carpet and furniture and made a cosy home.

In the picture I am wearing a mini-skirt dress. It was made of crimplene, a very fashionable material at the time. I think it was a pale green colour.

Here are some interesting facts about May 1970 in the U.K.

So, we had chosen our home, booked the church for our wedding and the venue for the wedding reception. My dress was chosen as were the dresses for the two bridesmaids. We were almost there…

What were you doing in May 1970?

Larry’s take on the weather here in England.


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Six Months in England – Weather

I’ve been told that to be accepted by the British one has to complain about the weather. My father taught me that trying to understand the weather was preferable to complaining about it. Nevertheless I’ve found complaining about the weather in England is not optional – it’s compulsory!

Dad worked for 40 years at a chemical plant in Texas that produced carbon black (soot basically) by burning crude oil and methane. Today carbon black remains a key ingredient in automobile tires (excuse me, tyres), plastics, dyes, etc. No need for a chemistry lesson here – elemental carbon is used in almost every product you buy. But the process of making carbon black is messy to say the least. Today chemical plants control their airborne emissions in compliance with strict government standards, but back in the 1950’s this wasn’t the case. Although filters were used at my Dad’s plant in the 50’s and 60’s, they weren’t adequate to prevent micron size particles of carbon filling the air above the plant. Depending upon the wind speed, direction, relative humidity, etc., very fine particles of carbon would settle on the farmhouses in the countryside surrounding the plant. Every day the plant manager would get a phone call from one or more farmers who felt they were getting more than their share of soot that day. The plant manager was mildly annoyed – my Dad was fascinated!

Having only a 7th grade elementary school education, Dad maintained all the instrumentation used at this plant, mostly through self-study and trial and error. Since weather affected these instruments (many were unsheltered outside), so he also noticed that very local weather observations seem to coincide with heavier than normal soot fallout at certain neighboring farms. Having no weather station data closer than 30 miles away (and 24 hours behind), he decided to collect his own weather data using crude instruments he cobbled together in his shop. There were no computers or data-loggers in those days – wind speed, direction, relative humidity, and barometric pressure readings had to be collected manually several times a day. The eventual result was decades of weather data for that plant’s location that predicted quite accurately which of the surrounding farms was going to get “dumped on” that day. Dad could tell the plant manager in the morning which of the local farmers would be calling him that afternoon to complain. As the technology improved, so did my father’s enthusiasm for understanding what made the weather different from one day to the next.

What does all that have to do with the weather in England, you ask? Apparently Dad’s decades of passion for understanding the weather rubbed off on his only son. I find the weather in England quite fascinating and definitely worth a bit of study. The United Kingdom straddles the geographic mid-latitudes between 49–60 N (51 N where I am). It is on the western seaboard of Eurasia (the world’s largest land mass) and the eastern edge of the northern Atlantic Ocean, warmed by the Gulf Stream.
Moist maritime air and dry continental air are constantly converging at this location. The large temperature variation creates atmospheric instability, which is a major factor that influences the often-unsettled weather experienced in the UK. The weather here is seldom uncomfortably hot, and seldom bitterly cold, and seldom the same from one hour to the next. The terms “moderate” and “variable” have new meanings here. If you want to delve a bit deeper read “A newcomer’s guide to English weather” at http://www.vegemitevix.com/2012/10/26/understanding-english-weather/ , e.g., “Sunny – means the sun will rise and set. It might even show up for a minute or two. Sunny does not mean you will be reaching for the sunscreen. As Miss Fliss asked the other day ‘Why doesn’t the sun feel warm over here?’ Answers on a post-it note please.”

This month I’ve installed a Davis Weather Station at the top of an 18-foot pole in the back garden, which wirelessly transmits data to a console 75 feet away inside the house (where it’s warm and dry). Obviously it’s early times, but I’ve already observed hourly swings in barometric pressure that are amazing, measureable rainfall every day in January, and wind gusts of 17 to 22 miles per hour almost daily. Today we had blue skies at 12 noon, a driving rain from 12:20 to 12:45, and blue skies again at 1:00 pm. I’ve never seen clouds move across the sky the way they do here except with time-lapse photography. The good news is that the “bad weather” for this winter (snow & ice) hasn’t yet arrived. Maybe in February. Can’t hardly wait!!

Hoarding and Compulsive Disorders – OCD


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I have recently been watching a programme over here about compulsive cleaners. It has been fascinating. These people may have a disease, although to them they are perfectly normal! They feel the need to compulsively clean their houses, bodies, cars etc. for long periods of the day. Sometimes they don’t get on to anything else before they need to start cleaning again. They are obsessed with keeping everything as clean as it could possibly be and spend a lot of money and time on the products and hours it takes to get to perfection.

The programme makers have coupled these people with their opposite numbers – those people who do no cleaning or very little cleaning or who consider cleaning to be the action of moving something from one place to another. They either cannot be bothered to clean up or they cannot face touching the dirt or they are in total denial of the fact that their houses or bodies are filthy dirty. Mostly, in the programme, it was the houses that were dirty, not the people.

The compulsive cleaners were assigned the task of showing the objectors (those people who object to cleaning their space) how to best clean their houses and also how to de-clutter their space so as to make cleaning easier. In turn, the objectors helped the compulsive cleaners to see that there is a life beyond cleaning and they owe it to themselves and their families to be a little less discriminatory.

Week by week I have watched the programme and marvelled at the outcomes. It really is a revelation. I consider myself to be normal in the respect of cleaning. I like a clean house, but I’m not obsessive about it. Bringing up three sons made sure of that! However I do see in myself a hint of the ‘strict’. I do like to do certain jobs on certain days and if I can’t keep to my routine, I find myself ‘outside of my comfort zone’ and feeling a bit anxious. I like to do my jobs in the mornings and then I can ‘play’ in the afternoons. I feel relaxed about picking up my knitting or sewing or spinning or whatever, once the chores are done, but not before!

Having watched the programme for a few weeks, I began to realise that some of the people on the receiving end of the show really did not know how to clean.  Amazing! I was brought up in the 1950′s when mums mostly stayed at home to take care of the family here in England so I was able to observe at first hand how to keep a house clean, how to do the ironing, cooking etc. My mother was a good role model so I became a clone of her, I suppose. I have very fond memories of growing up with a mum at home all the time and when I had my own family, I wanted to do the same. I managed it although it did take make sacrifices.

You can watch the programme yourself here: although it may not work in America (sorry).

Hoarding clutter and not being able to throw things away is very similar to avoiding cleaning the home, it seems to me. Hoarding possessions seems to be a way of not letting go of the past and I am guilty of that myself, to a certain extent. I’ll go into this in more depth in another post.

Suffice to say that watching these programmes has made me aware of how things can overcome us and eventually leave us needing help, from family or friends or even ‘the compulsive obsessive cleaner round the corner’.

A while ago I included a category on this blog, entitled ‘Daily Chores’. I’m working on this from time to time. I started it when I came to realise that a lot of people just have no idea how to go about keeping their place clean. What it says about me is that I place a lot of importance on these issues. To me, a tidy, clean place gives rise to a tidy, clean mind. Does that sound pompous to you or just common sense. Do you agree or disagree?

Have you seen the programme? or one like it? What impression did it make on you? Are you a compulsive cleaner or a hoarder or maybe you can’t face cleaning your home? Please tell me, I’d love to know.

Oma

Book Review – The Light Between Oceans


The Light Between Oceans

I just finished this book the other day. It was fabulous. Funny how some books capture your imagination and others don’t. That’s why it is difficult to recommend because I always feel like ‘well, I liked it, but maybe they won’t’. However, this book is so good and I’m not alone in feeling that, that I have no hesitation in recommending it.

It is impossible to review it in depth without giving the story away so all I will say about that is that it is all about a lighthouse keeper and his wife who live on a tiny island beneath the lighthouse off the western coast of Australia. One day a boat drifts on to their shore. In the boat is the dead body of a man and a tiny 2 month old baby. What happens next you must read for yourself. I think you will find the book hard to put down.

The authoress is M. L. Stedman and it is her first novel, published in July 2012. For a first novel or even a subsequent one, it is stupendous. Why? because I couldn’t put it down. Not a word is wasted and yet her descriptions are thorough and the characters are very well drawn.

Be warned – it is a heartbreaking story so you’ll probably need the tissues. I did and when the book was finished, I was left with that empty feeling that only comes at the end of great story.

I’m told a film is coming so be quick and read the book first because they’re always better than the films, right?

Oma

Baby Sam’s First Christmas and a new project for me.


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This is my second grandson, Sam. He is sitting on his mum’s lap, opening his Christmas presents. He is a little confused about it all because it is his very first Christmas and he’s not sure what it’s all about. The quilt over his knees was his main present from me. You can see more about it here… I think he likes it. It has a jungle theme so I bought him  a tiger to go with it and a storybook called ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’. Don’t you just wish you were that age again?

So now that I’ve finished that quilt, what am I working on next? Well, here it is, a quilt for Larry (my husband). When I was in America, I loved going to Joanne’s Fabric Emporium. They have every sort of craft going on in there and they are very big on quilting. I was inspired every time I stepped through the doors. Now that I’m back in England, I feel deprived because the nearest shop I have to that is quite a way away and my local shop is tiny. I buy a lot of materials online, but I did bring some American themed material back with me so the quilt for Larry has an American theme (in case he gets homesick) and I’m making it in a homespun sort of design. I fell in love with the homespun style while I was there and for those of you reading this who are English and unaware of the style, take a look here:

I love the spooky nature of the Primitive Style. It appeals to that side of me as I love all things natural and home-made.

Here’s a preview of Larry’s quilt, which I still have to sew up. The layers are in place like  a sandwich and I’m pinning them together so they don’t shift about when I sew.DSCF1749 DSCF1750

Sam Xmas 2013

and one more picture of Baby Sam’s first Christmas:

Oma :)

Millie likes the radio.


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Millie is my six year old calico cat. She likes to sit on the window sill and listen to the radio.  Isn’t that cute?

Since the New Year began, we’ve had so much rain and high winds, that it’s been difficult to get out much. I don’t know about you, but I’ve become a bit lazy! I enjoyed Christmas a lot and got used to the routine of eating what I fancied and slouching around watching lovely cosy films on TV. I’m in the fortunate position of not having to go back to work because I’m retired so at long last, I can enjoy life without worrying about that annual return to the workplace. I do miss my jobs, but I love being at home so much that the days just fly by.

I’ve been spinning. This is my latest spinning project: a lovely lavender roving in Merino, which is a delight to spin with and will be fun to knit with later on.

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Have you got any new aims for 2014? I don’t make resolutions, but I do have aims. This year’s aim is to study the Druids. In my Wiccan world I try to study something different every year so that gradually I get more knowledgeable as the years go by. The Druids have always fascinated me so I look forward to reading more about them and perhaps sharing some of it with you.

I so enjoy blogging with all of you. I’m looking forward to following you through this New Year and trust that it will be a good one for all of you.

Oma

Memoirs – Larry’s Observations on Driving in England


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First of all, let me wish all my blogging friends on here a very happy New Year. I hope it brings you much joy and no sorrow! I have so enjoyed reading all your blogs and sharing in your lives and hope to continue to do so through 2014. Thank you to any new followers and welcome :)

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Larry has been with me in England for nearly six months now and he says he is still learning. This month’s observation is all about our driving habits over here. Have a giggle…

‘Five Months in England – Still learning!

Driving in the UK remains somewhat of an uncertainty. I plan on taking driving lessons in the spring – that is, if they will let an old man of 69 years drive over here. Not that I don’t know how to drive a car – been doing that for half a century now! No, it’s this business of having the car on the wrong side of me and the gear shift on the wrong side of me and the road on the wrong side of me…. Well, you get the picture. It’s a bit like trying to read a book by viewing it in a mirror. Seems simple enough to decipher a sentence or two as a party trick, but imagine having to read the entire book that way, and in heavy traffic. I just need a bit of practice to gain some confidence, and a driving lesson or two seems the safest way to proceed. Might even be a nice break for the driving instructor, not having to worry about a gum chewing 16 year-old slamming on the brakes every 100 yards to answer a text from their friends. Hopefully I’ll get an instructor who can adjust to my Tennessee vocabulary, such as ‘rite thar’, which means ‘look whar my finger’s pointin’.

Having a senior citizen’s pass to ride the bus for free makes driving a luxury rather than a necessity. But that isn’t the point. I see it as a challenge, and I’m still up for a challenge even at my age. Learning the ‘rules of the road’ in the UK, albeit substantially different from those in America, is not the challenging part. I recall my 7th grade English grammar teacher explaining to a group of 13 year-olds that it would take us two weeks to learn the rules of proper English grammar, followed by another 16 weeks to understand all the exceptions. The exceptions were the interesting bit – so it appears to be with driving in the UK. Take, for example, a leisurely drive through a suburban area of a southeastern English town. In England we are supposed to drive on the left side of the road. Simple enough, but here come the exceptions. At least half the cars in the UK are parked in the road (they have no other choice), some partly on the curb and some completely in the road blocking the left lane entirely. So if you’re trying to drive on that road what do you do? You toss the rulebook out the window and improvise. You drive on the right lane (natural for me) until you get around the obstacle. Unless….. There’s a car coming toward you in the right lane. That means waiting until he has passed, and then moving into the right lane. Unless….. You think you may have ‘just enough time’ to swerve around the car blocking your lane and get back in your lane before the oncoming vehicle arrives. This is where it gets interesting. Different drivers have different perceptions of how much is ‘just enough time’. City bus drivers seem to be experts at this little game of “chicken”, having played it once every 3 minutes throughout their career as a bus driver, based on my 5 months of observations.

I used to think that most of the traffic congestion in America, caused primarily by 4-way stop signs, was successfully eliminated in the UK by building roundabouts. These ingenious inventions keep the traffic moving because it is much easier to determine whose turn it is to safely proceed through the intersection, i.e., you don’t go through the intersection – you go around it (and each other if there’s sufficient space). However, I have since discovered that whatever time savings the roundabouts offer is cancelled out by the time spent sitting behind parked cars blocking the left lane, where ‘whose turn it is’ depends on people’s perception of ‘just enough time’. How big the oncoming vehicle happens to be is also worth considering, with city busses getting preferential treatment from most motorists.

Out on the motorways (highways) things get a bit more dicey at much higher speeds. Motorways in the UK are usually a welcome relief from the relatively narrow (curb to curb) streets in and around towns. Motorways may be wide enough (using the entire paved surface) for three car widths, sometimes wider still. Thus driving in the left lane offers some new options. If trapped behind a slow moving lorry (truck), some drivers wait until there is sufficient space in the right lane to pass the lorry before the next oncoming vehicle arrives. This is the familiar custom on American highways. In either country success also depends on how much horsepower you have under the hood (excuse me, bonnet). But in the UK you may choose to go down the middle, passing the lorry on its right side but staying sufficiently out of the right lane that the oncoming vehicle can comfortably (or uncomfortably) go whizzing by. This is an interesting thing to watch – a lorry at 60 mph being passed simultaneously by a BMW going 75 mph in the same direction and a Fiat coming at 70 mph in the opposite direction. Definitely not for the faint of heart!! Other options too complicated to describe here must surely be available when the motorway offers multiple lanes in each direction.

To sum up then, the art of driving in the UK requires unique skill and experience in making the fullest possible use of any portion of the roadway that becomes available at any moment, with the ability to execute split-second timing being the thing that separates the experts from the novices. I am wondering if I have enough years left (and can purchase enough insurance) to adequately master this art form. One thing is certain however. For those entrepreneurs in the U.S. who collect $100 every time they tow away a car found illegally parked in the streets of American suburbia – come to the UK. You will all be millionaires in six months.’

Oma

Dylan update – Dylan has a new house!


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This is my little grandson, Dylan. He has some big news. A week before Christmas he moved into a new house! Here at the cottage, it was very exciting news because the move had been on/off, on/off, on/off, all through December. There was a small snag concerning the Land Registry and that held everything up. (Isn’t there always a small snag!!!). Anyway, in the end all was well and they moved in on a fairly nice day without too much wind and cold.

It took till lunchtime to get the van loaded at the old house and then til tea-time to get into the new one. By then everyone was tired. Dylan came to the cottage for the day while everything was going on and Larry was ‘on loan’ to help with the move. My son and his wife coped admirably and even seemed to enjoy it.

The next day the priority became putting up the Christmas decorations. The other grandparents did a lot of that, so that by the end of day 1, the house looked like Christmas had arrived and the family were very happily ensconced in their new abode. I don’t have pictures yet, but suffice to say it is bigger than the last house and Dylan has a very nice, new bedroom to put all his new toys in.

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Christmas is now over, in the main; although because I love it so much, I refuse to stop celebrating in my own quiet way. This afternoon I intend to sit down and watch ‘Holiday Inn’ because I really enjoy that film. I have a new, digitally coloured version, which is excellent.

When I woke up this morning, there was a hard frost all over the ground. Larry had never seen such a thick frost before. It looked like snow to him. No doubt he will mention it in his next missive, which I must encourage him to write.

So now I must get back to the kitchen. We have roast lamb for dinner today. It is already smelling wonderful…

The reluctant elf.


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My grandson Dylan was a reluctant elf last week at his Nursery School’s Christmas pageant. There he is at the back, sitting on his teacher’s knee, not wishing to participate very much. Bless his heart, he is only three years old and it was all a bit much. He wasn’t the only reluctant elf either. There were several.

The play itself was lovely. One of the Nursery teachers told the story while the children played their parts. There were lots of parents there and a few grandparents who squeezed in at the back! With so many parents at work, I couldn’t help but notice what a good turnout it was and how delighted the parents must have been to see their children looking so cute.

Of course it was a different story when Dylan got home. Back in his own environment he was happy to pose for a picture in his elf costume.

Dylan as elf Xmas 2013

When my children were little there weren’t any ready-made costumes to buy. Now there is a very good selection in Sainsburys (my local supermarket) with everything from a costume for Mary to a big gold star. Amazing! Again, we live in changing times and with so many mums out to work and many of them the breadwinner, they don’t have time to make costumes for their children themselves.

Christmas is a time when it is really the little things in life that matter so why don’t we try each day to make someone else’s life a little happier? A smile to a stranger or an unexpected wave of greeting to a neighbour may brighten someone’s day.

Time for the Christmas Tree to stand proud.


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We recently took our Grandson, Dylan to see the Christmas Tree Festival in Leighton Buzzard. The church there is very old and has a magnificent spire. The whole of the inside of this delightful church was packed with Christmas trees of all colours with very thoughtful decorations. Just as we arrived, a party of school children entered the building and the noise level rose a bit! They were excited because quite a few of the exhibits had been made in the school and they were anxious to see them in their designated spaces.

Each tree said something special about the organisation for which it was set up. Particularly poignant to me was the one set up to collect money for the homeless in our community. Sadly this community has been growing over the years of our recession.

Dylan was entranced by all the trees and their decorations.

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When we had finished looking at the trees, we sat down to listen to the school children singing Christmas songs. Their voices rang out beautifully in the old building and filled our hearts with joy.

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…and before long, it was time to go home. Dylan soon dozed off in the car, aah

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Here is a story I wrote a few years ago:

Christmas Time at Langwitch

Barry Thompson, aged 6 years old, couldn’t afford to buy his mother a Christmas present, and he had racked his brains to try and think of something to make her but he wasn’t very accomplished when it came to making things.

It was 5th December, the day of the annual Christmas Tree Festival at St. Nicholas’s Church in Langwitch.  The beautiful old church looked even more attractive than usual, decorated as it was with thirty-six Christmas Trees of all colours and sizes.  Mrs. Smithers, the part-time secretary at Primrose Primary School, parked her car at the back of the church hall and made her way through the churchyard with Barry Thompson. She was looking after him for her friend, Angela, who was taking a break to do some Christmas shopping in the High Street.  Both Mrs. Smithers and Barry were looking forward to the treat of seeing the Christmas trees in all their glory.

The gravestones in the churchyard stood tall or leaned sideways as they passed between them. They looked just like a row of crooked old teeth.  A row of old yew trees was resplendent, covered in their scarlet red berries with dark branches hanging low in their dampness.  Mrs. Smithers held tight to Barry Thompson’s hand.  Heavenly music, played on the organ, was drifting towards them as they entered the church through the large oak side door, letting in a blast of cold air as they did so.

Once inside the atmosphere was warm and welcoming.  The smell of pine and candles was enthralling.  Mrs. Smithers paid the entrance money into a large plastic margarine pot and was given a programme and a voting ticket!  Following the numbers in the programme she made her way up the nave and into the chancel.  Each tree had been expertly decorated by young and old groups of volunteers, each hoping to win the coveted accolade of the “Best In Show”.  Proceeds from the festival were going towards the continuing restoration of St. Nicholas’s Church.

The Langwitch Lace Group had crafted some very pretty circlets of hand-made lace, exquisitely fragile and delicate, as they hung in gay profusion from their tree.  Their entry was entitled “Bobbins, Bangles and Lace”.  The Brownies had fashioned an exciting tree with photographs of themselves to decorate the branches.  Smiling faces looked out from the tree as Mrs. Smithers passed by with Barry.  Standing in the corner was a bottlebrush tree, donated by the local chemist, and covered all over in red, spiky baby-bottle brushes.

“How original!” thought Mrs. Smithers.

In the right hand corner was a wall plaque, which Mrs. Smithers read out loud to Barry:

“Every part of this church is open at all times, but this corner is a special place where children can bring their gifts of flowers, read and pray, and speak their hearts to God.”

Barry, red cheeks glowing, put, his little hands together and talked to God.  He asked for a Christmas present for his mum because he couldn’t think of anything and he didn’t feel clever enough to make anything.  He wanted it to be special, something she would really love and treasure.  He asked for something that she could keep for a long time.

Leaving behind that wonderful corner, Mrs. Smithers and Barry turned into the chancel and there stood a tree decorated by the local Rainbow Children in all colours of the rainbow and coloured lights as well.  It was enchanting.

At the end of the chancel was a large stained glass window.  By now dark outside, the interior lights lit up the window and Christ, hanging on his cross in the window with a crown of thorns upon his head, looked down upon his faithful people.  Mrs. Smithers thought she could see him smile. A young mum in a blue coat with a headscarf tied around her brown curls, was showing her toddler the beautiful window. He wriggled in his buggy and pointed to the image of Christ.

On went Mrs. Smithers, past “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by the Makin family and “Winter Wonderland” by Valerie and Kate. She stopped and cast her eyes over a magnificent floral Christmas tree decked out by the Langwitch Ladies Floral Arts Club.  Lavender coloured roses were tucked into the branches in uniformity, and strings of cream coloured pearls hung in loops all around.  Twinkly lights enthralled.

Down to the organ corner where one of the churchwardens was playing tenderly:

“Away In A Manger, No Crib For A Bed, The Little Lord Jesus Laid Down His Sweet Head”.

The Methodist minister was serving steaming hot cups of tea and coffee from an electric urn, and her assistant was arranging homemade mince pies on a large plate nearby.  Fruit cake and walnut cake and mini chocolate rolls were fighting for space on another plate nearby and the queue for refreshments was getting longer and longer.

With a cup of tea in one hand and a plate with mince pies in the other, Mrs. Smithers sat herself down with Barry on one of the glossy oak pews.  Her thoughts returned to Christmases long ago.  She remembered the Christmas of 1962/3 when the whole country was covered in snow for weeks.  As a little girl in long red Wellington boots, she went with her dad to fetch milk and eggs from the shop because the milkman was unable to get his float down the road.  Dad’s breath froze on his moustache and turned it prematurely grey.

Coming back to the present, Mrs. Smithers chose her favourite tree and put the number of it on her voting slip.  The slip went into a waste paper basket collection receptacle, to be counted later.  She bought a raffle ticket and popped it in the drum and then left the church as she found it, a place of great tranquillity.

Dark outside now and getting colder, the Churchyard surrounding the church building was well lit and ghostly shadows followed Mrs. Smithers and Barry back to the car.

“Now” she said “I feel that Christmas has begun”.

Three weeks later and it was Christmas Eve.  Angela Thompson, Barry’s mum, went to the front door and opened it to put the milk bottles in the crate and some rubbish in the dustbin.  There on the doorstep was a huge black cat, which meowed urgently, asking to come in.  Mrs. Thompson looked around and saw Barry.  He knew why it had come.

“It’s for you mummy, it’s your Christmas present,” he said knowingly. He knew that Jesus wouldn’t let him down.

Oma

Patchwork table-mats for Christmas


DSCF1688 I’ve just finished a patchwork project for Christmas – one table centre-piece and four tablemats. Now do I keep them or give them away as presents? After all the work I put in to make them, it’s tempting to keep them.

In April my Patchwork Club is having an exhibition of work we’ve been doing through the year. I’m wondering how many tablemats will have spillages on them after the Christmas holidays? Perhaps we should keep them till next Christmas?

Here are the individuals…

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The colours don’t look quite right on here. In reality there is more contrast, but this was the best I could do in the available light.

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Shall I keep or give away? Choices, choices….

Hamley’s Toy Shop – a child’s delight!


Dylan in Hamley's Toy Shop - 02-11-2013

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

My grandson, Dylan, has been to the famous toyshop in London, called Hamley’s, to make his Christmas choices. At three year’s old, there is no end to his list of wants, but who would spoil the magic? Not me, for sure…

Here at the cottage, the shopping is almost done. I still have the food to buy. I don’t have enough room to store very much and soon every corner will be filled.

The decorations will go up at the weekend. I must check that the lights for the tree still work!

The cake is made and sits in a tin awaiting the marzipan and the icing decorations.

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How are you getting on with your preparations?

Oma

Goodbye Patch ! R.I.P April 2000 – November 2013.


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I had to have my beautiful cat, Patch, put to sleep this morning! Yesterday we took her in for a check-up at the vet’s office. He diagnosed a crumbling tooth so we took her back this morning for the extraction, but while she was under the anaesthetic, he found a lump in her bowel. He phoned me from the operating theatre and told me the bad news and I made the decision, which no pet lover likes to make. She was nearly fourteen years old – a good age for a cat.

We had suspected for a while that all was not well with Patch. Her tummy had been making some very odd noises and she had been sick more often and had ‘other’ problems of a dietary nature. I wondered if it was getting used to Millie being here that had upset her tummy, but now we know better. Millie and Patch tolerated each other, but they weren’t exactly friends. Patch just wanted to lie about sleeping most of the time, but Millie, being younger, liked to chase and play much more. Patch just wasn’t interested.

I think the vet had his suspicions! Perhaps he got Patch in for the tooth extraction so he could do some more in-depth investigations under the anaesthetic.

I feel bereft. That cat has been part of my life for fourteen years nearly and she will be sorely missed. When I was in America she kept J company, but she was always pleased to see me back. She was very loyal. I had her from a kitten, together with her mum and four brothers and sisters so I knew the history of her. For a while she lived next door because my neighbour wanted her and in those days she was called ‘Taz’, but then they bought a large collie dog and then another. The first dog was kind to cats, but the second one wasn’t and bit Patch’s leg quite badly. She, remembering where her life started off, shot through our cat-flap in the back door and never returned next door again! I nursed her back to health on that occasion.

Patch lost another of her nine lives a couple of years ago when the cat across the road, I call him ‘The Ghost’ bit a chunk out of her ear, necessitating an operation. You can see that clearly on the photo above.

She always used to sit on my suitcase when I was getting ready to go to America. It was as if she was saying ‘Please don’t go…’ now this morning, I found myself saying to her ‘Please don’t go, not yet…’

I have cleaned her chair and put away her dirt box and told Millie not to expect her playmate today.

I am left with my tears and a rather large hankie…

A new skein of yarn.


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I’ve been working on some lovely, soft merino topping in a beautiful lavender shade. I had some darker shade left over from the previous spinning so I’ve combined the two into this lovely colourway.

The next spinning will be the lavender on its own with the idea of making something which starts with the two colours and ends with the one.  Should be fun, shouldn’t it! You can see the plain lavender in the next picture.

DSCF1620It’s a lovely way of spending the long, dark November evenings. It’s actually quite soporific and while I’m spinning, I go into a sort of trance, which I find very relaxing. I suppose it is my brain going into beta waves, hard to do without a trigger, but really easy once I start spinning…

The Church Christmas Bazaar – cupcakes galore!


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Last Saturday we had the Christmas Bazaar at church. Larry and I had a ‘Tea-Time Stall with all things tea-time on it. Our stall wasn’t very big so we couldn’t display too much at once, but it did have the advantage of being over the heat vent so we were nice and warm throughout the proceedings. I was a bit worried about the toppings on my cup-cakes melting, but they sold so quickly that I needn’t have been concerned.

I got the recipe out of a new cook-book, which a dear friend gave me recently. Over here in England, cup-cakes are a relatively new invention (correct me if I’m wrong please). In any case they are new to me. I am more familiar with fairy cakes, which are a good deal smaller and have a lot less topping on. Here you see the completed cupcakes. I made three sorts; blueberry, chocolate chip and all chocolate. Larry was allowed to eat one of them!DSCF1628

There were lots of other stalls and I thought you might like to see some of them:

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This is our ‘Tea-Time Stall’ again, this time showing how I present some of the cakes – in tea-cups. The tea cups were also for sale so the visitors could buy the cakes on their own or a cake in a cup. You can also see the tea cosies I made and the pot holders.

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Next is the main cake stall with lots of attractive goodies for sale.

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There was a raffle for the hamper. I bought a whole book of tickets, but I didn’t win anything.

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This stall sold ‘smellies’. I bought the pink shower bag. It had some body lotion inside!

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There were lots of books for sale:

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Bric-a-brac

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These hand-made gingerbread men were beautifully made.

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We had a very well-designed bottle stall…

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I hope you enjoyed your trip around the bazaar and if you are having your own bazaar soon, I wish you well with it.

Oma

Life in the U.K. – Larry’s update at four months.


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Here is his take on the first 3-4 months.

Larry’s chair in Knoxville is empty these days because, as you know, he is now over here.

‘Three Months in England – or is it Four?

I must admit I have lost count. Time flies when you’re having fun!

Accomplishments this month include
• mastering the UK currency (which involves twice as many coins as in America),
• committing the local neighborhood to memory (it’s less than a 10 minute walk to the supermarket, dry cleaners, doctor, dentist, several restaurants, Bramingham Wood, and much more),
• rediscovering the problems caused by the U.S. Postal Service refusing to forward mail beyond U.S. borders (European countries have been doing this for decades),
• finally finding an “eagle” at Bank of America who understands how to make repetitive wire transfers to a UK Bank (although even she was unable to correct the mailing address on my Bank of America checking account),
• having minor surgery to remove a basil cell carcinoma (my 8th in the past 30 years) from the back of my neck, at no cost!

Americans have to contend with pennies (1 cent), nickels (5 cents), dimes (10 cents) and quarters (25 cents). Actually pennies are just used to fill glass jars. Hardly anyone pays with pennies anymore. In the UK there are coins for 1 pence, 2 pence, 5 pence, 10 pence, 20 pence, 50 pence, 1 pound, and 2 pounds. To help out a bit, the 20 pence and 50 pence coins aren’t round – they have seven sides. Why seven and not six sides or eight sides, you ask? No one seems to know. At least in the UK the 10 pence coin is larger than the 5 pence coin. I never did understand why dimes are smaller than nickels.

Suburban neighborhoods in the UK are designed for walking. There are paved walkways that go between houses, providing shortcuts that avoid having to walk along busy roadways with almost constant vehicular traffic (you can still choose the paths beside these roadways if you wish, but it certainly isn’t as pleasant). However, sidewalks are called “pavements” in the UK, whereas the pavement in America is the roadway itself. Obviously it’s important here to know what you are talking about.

This past month I ran across an interesting postal problem. The U.S. Postal Service will not forward mail to other countries. And Bank of America will not allow its client’s to have a mailing address outside the USA. That means that a form mailed to me from Bank of America never reached me here at my UK address. Since I didn’t receive the form (I was never told it existed) I didn’t return it. Because I didn’t return the form Bank of America deleted the information allowing me to wire transfer funds to my UK bank. Imagine my surprise when I called Bank of America and was told this little story. Fortunately, after also being told nothing could be done to fix this problem, I found an “eagle” in the Bank of America Wire Transfer Services Department who happily fixed it for me. Thank heavens for those few “eagles (I can do that for you)” in a world full of “ducks (sorry, there’s no way to do that – have a nice day!)”.

For those who believe universally available healthcare can never work, I suggest you investigate the UK National Health Service (NHS). I have seen the doctor here on several occasions, been diagnosed with skin cancer (again), had the lesion surgically removed from the back of my neck by a Russian dermatologist (she did a beautiful job of it), and I have yet to pay a single farthing! I have not had to wait for treatment nor been inconvenienced in any way. Everyone I have seen has been very professional, competent, courteous and genuinely concerned with my wellbeing. No forms to fill out and patient information is shared between doctors, hospitals, laboratories, etc. for maximum efficiency. I would highly recommend it. For those over 60 who aren’t looking forward to the healthcare issues associated with growing older, the benefits of the NHS are obvious.

One of the more obvious benefits of living in the UK involves the way the daily news is delivered, whether by radio, TV, Internet, or printed media. I find the greater focus here on the world’s news events refreshing and enlightening, although sometimes depressing. There’s a lot going on in the world that Americans don’t see. National events here receive appropriate attention to be sure, but reporting of UK events and politics is more reserved, and more time is spent on global events. Perhaps that is due more to geography than anything else, but the contrast with news reporting in the U.S. is dramatic. In the past few years I have grown particularly fatigued with the constant barrage of divisive political reporting in America, usually with obvious bias and unapologetic pandering to a select audience. Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow, where are you…..?

I remember a time when elected politicians claimed (believably) to be representing the views of the people who elected them. American political parties now claim that when they lose an election it’s because they “failed to get their message out”. Maybe it’s the people who aren’t getting their message in! Ten’s of millions of dollars are spent by political parties in America to “win people over to their point of view”. Perhaps politicians should spend that money attempting to understand the point of view of ALL the people who elected them, rather than incessantly “selling” the extreme ideology of an over zealous minority through a news media eager to grab the attention of an increasing polarized American public.

It does appear that American politicians these days are solely interested in their own survival and total destruction of the opposition. The desperation evidenced by factions within a political party willing to furlough thousands of federal employees and default on the full faith and credit of the United States of America, just to destroy a government program they don’t agree with, is something I never imagined I would live to see! It appears now that any means to political victory is justified. Will active sabotage of government programs be the next weapon of political warfare? Those who claim their actions are “saving the nation” seem to be willing to destroy the democracy it is built upon in the process. And the American news media is offering the spotlight and center stage to help them succeed.’

Interesting, isn’t it?

 

Oma

My Memoirs – 1962 – I start High School


Stella starts High SchoolThis old photograph was taken in 1962 and it shows an eleven year old me in my new school uniform, ready to go to High School.

In order to get to the ‘High School’ we had to pass the 11-plus examination at the end of Junior School. My mum promised me a transistor radio if I passed! The 11-plus was more of an intelligence test than a proper exam. I passed and got the radio. I was delighted. Now I could go to the best school in the town and I was as pleased as my mum and dad were proud.

I had to be kitted out with the uniform, which was extensive and expensive. I had two sets; one for summer and one for winter. The winter uniform consisted of a felt hat, white shirt-blouses,tie, navy blue tunic,large navy blue knickers,white socks and sensible black shoes. I also needed a blazer with a badge on it, plus a badge to go on the tunic. This showed the school emblem. In the picture I am wearing my summer hat, which was a straw boater. We could choose between three colours for the summer uniform. The choice was yellow, blue or pink gingham and I have to say that the girls looked very nice in their pretty colours.

We also had to have a sports kit. The least said about that, the better. I had the same pair of black plimsolls for five years! and I was always getting into trouble because they were black, not white. I lived with my mum at the time and we were very poor. She couldn’t really afford any of it so I would never dare to ask for anything extra for fear of upsetting her.

My satchel was leather and had to hold a lot of books. Each day I had to carry the books to school and then back again afterwards. It’s a wonder my shoulder wasn’t dislocated with the weight of it all.

So I was going from being a big fish in a little pond to being a little fish in a big pond. What would life hold for me? You’ll have to wait for the next instalment…

Can you remember getting your school uniform at High School?

In a field near me…


A2PLNT38 I have been watching the plots in a field near me, over the last few months in order to see what is growing and doing well and what is struggling. Unfortunately, I cannot give you the names of the plants yet, but I can tell you a bit more about the project, taken from their website here.Quote,In November (2012) we had a meeting with partners from Councils in Bedford and Luton, and the Parks Trust in Milton Keynes, to identify sites for the experimental meadow plantings which are a part of workpackage 4 of the project: experimental manipulations of biodiversity and ecosystem function. We are identifying sites in which up to 9 different mixtures of grasses and herbaceous plants – creating different structures and species diversity – can be established, to examine their effect on invertebrate biodiversity, aesthetic value, and soil performance compared to the mown amenity grassland which would otherwise be there, and at the same time, their sustainability from a land management perspective. Can biodiversity and function be improved, while also being more cost effective to maintain? +++ f3ues-meadow-1-2013 Overall, the plots have been very well received by the local public which has been reflected in comments from interested people coming to ask questions and from a series of surveys that have been undertaken by the F3UES team. People seem to particularly appreciate the conversion from cut-grass to colourful flower displays. Comments include: “I love the flowers; better than cut grass” and “Nice to see flowers; a bit of colour”. More detailed examinations of people’s responses to the plots will be explored in the coming months through discussion groups, and we look forward to seeing the plots develop their full potential over the next year. Progress and preliminary results were shared at a gathering of the principal local partners at a stakeholder meeting at Cranfield University in September where there was very positive feedback and productive discussions. The active involvement, interest and enthusiasm brought to the project by partners – in particular the Councils’ involvement with the meadow experiments – has been invaluable, and we look forward to sharing the results with them.’ end of quote

Recently the plots near me have been ploughed up. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

By the way, I think you are right about the wild carrot, Loren. It looks like one to me too.

Oma

What am I currently making?


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I’m busy making some things for the Church Autumn bazaar. I finished two of the tea-pot covers recently; one black and yellow and the other black and pink. I finished the top with some flowers made of yarn. Looks quite nice doesn’t it.

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I also had some leftover pieces of material from the jungle quilt I made recently for my grandson Sam. I used those to make some pretty pot holders, see below.

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I can’t make the items fast enough unfortunately and time is getting nearer. The bazaar is on 16th November so it’s just around the corner.

However! I’m not going to dwell on what I haven’t done, only on what I have done. That’s a good adage, isn’t it? Do few things but do them well.

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My new computer arrived last Thursday and I’m slowly getting used to it! I find Windows 8 very confusing, but thanks to a previous post and an answer from Pia I downloaded the Classic Shell and now I am back to what I am used to, almost. I think I shall be keeping my old computer for quite a while though because there are things on it that won’t work with Windows 8. For example, did you know that Windows 8 will not play DVD’s? and all my music, which I had put on an external hard drive (luckily) would not open on the new computer. I had to convert them all individually. Actually, Larry did it for me. Isn’t that kind of him!

I suppose these days we have moved on a lot, but because of my age and the fact that I have been using computers for so long, I am stuck in the past with lots of CD’s to listen to. I’m not about to go downloading all that lot again from I-Tunes, am I. If I was starting off, it would be a different matter. I would do a lot more downloading and my office would be a CD-less workspace. Eventually I will have to give them all away or sell them. I know that, but I do think that the computer manufacturers could consider the needs of older people more than they do.

I like ‘simple’ so I’m not very keen on the tiling I get at the beginning. There are three screens when I switch on so there’s a fair bit of navigation to get where I want to be. I’m not a fan of ‘touch screen’, preferring the keyboard for everything.

I’m still working on the pictures. I’ve downloaded Picasa so I can organise properly. Sadly I don’t have my albums on Picasa, but I will be able to organise any new pics I take. I have a library of 6600+ pics so they do take a lot of organising.

I’ve always used Quicken to organise my finances (at home), but Quicken isn’t supported in the U.K. anymore and Windows 8 won’t play it. I have the 2004 version, which is way too old for today’s computers. Which programme do you’all use for finances?

So I’m in a bit of a minefield really, but the new machine is FAST. Now WordPress opens much quicker, which is good for the blogs where people include videos. Previously it was taking me ages and ages to download the Reader and see all the new blogs and that was mostly due to the videos loading. LadyBlueRose, that’s you. Your blog is very full my dear! So now it all comes down the tube very quickly. What with coping with things in the cottage and waiting for the old computer to load up, I had time to clean my teeth and wash my face before I could see the new blogs.

Wish me luck as I tread carefully through the minefield. When I get too frustrated, I just read a good book or pick up my knitting. It’s easier…!

Oma

Dylan update – Dylan is three today!


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It doesn’t seem possible, but my little grandson, Dylan, is three today! Congratulations to him from all of us at the cottage.

Apparently he ruined his birthday cake by putting too many sprinkles on top of it, but I bet it tasted delicious anyway.

Dylan's third birthday cake

Grandad and I will be fetching him from Nursery this afternoon. He comes to us for an hour while he waits for his Daddy to get back on the train from London. We have one or two little surprises for him when he gets here.

The dreadful storm, which passed over yesterday in the very early morning, has now moved on to Europe and we are left with some devastation. Luckily it didn’t affect the cottage or my precious garden, but the winds were high and the trees were bending. It’s not unusual to have storms at this time of the year, but one of that ferocity doesn’t come too often, luckily.

Oma

We went fishing!


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Those of you who are familiar with the programme ‘Last of the Summer Wine’, which has been running for many years, may see a similarity here. We went fishing – to a stream near the cottage, all four of us. On Fridays my grandson Dylan comes here to enjoy himself and I don’t see why we shouldn’t all join in, do you? With Dylan in the picture is his Grandad J and my husband, Larry in the background.

We took nets and buckets and gloves etc. and down to the riverbank we went. It was fun. This time I tried not to fall in. The last time (but one) that we went fishing, I had an unfortunate mishap and ended up stuck in the mud and had to be rescued! This time things went better. I stayed on the bank and left the fishing to the men and a very good time was had by all.

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When we had finished fishing, we filled up some receptacles with blackberries. When the jars were full, we ate our sandwiches, but just as we got to the crisps, it started to rain and we had to beat a hasty retreat back to the car.

It wasn’t a very productive fishing trip. The fish were wise to us, but we had a great time, as you can see.

Oma

Jane Austen Knits – Capelet project finished!


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Remember this project? Well, it’s now finished and keeping me warm. Here’s another picture from the magazine:

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The second picture shows the shoulder joining, which is tied with a pretty ribbon. However, I wasn’t too sure about that ribbon, so on my version, I plaited some of the yarn I had spun previously, like this:

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I think it looks a lot more natural.

You can read about how the wool was spun here and then here

So the lacy top is mohair in a gorgeous orange colour, but I crocheted instead of knitted. It’s so warm…

This is the back:

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I added a bead feature at the corner:

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All in all, I’m very pleased with it :)

Oma

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Autumn Flowers


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It was my birthday on Saturday and I have to say I consider myself very lucky to have a birthday in this, the most beautiful month of the year. I haven’t received my birthday present yet. It’s coming on 21st of the month – a new computer! Aren’t I lucky? The one I have been using for the last three years is soooooooooooo slow now, that it is almost unusable so I’m ditching it. Unfortunately that means I will soon be using Windows 8, which I don’t care for at all, but there it is. I need to upgrade. I’ll let you know how I’m getting on soon. Meanwhile, if any of you have any tips about using Windows 8, I would be very glad to hear them.

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Here in the cottage garden, I have started bringing in the summer geraniums. They will not over-winter outside if we get any frost and I don’t want to lose any so one by one I am bringing them in until April. It sounds a long time doesn’t it, but there it is.  I took some cuttings from the bigger plants, as usual, and the little babies are doing really well on the window ledge in the front room.

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Preparations for winter continue. I need to get a new hot water bottle. I use one so much, I wear them out every two years. Here’s a tip: never keep your hot water bottle too long because the rubber inside can become perished. If you live in England, always buy a good one. It’s not worth risking getting burned. I don’t feel ready for an electric blanket yet. I’ll consider that when the hot water bottle doesn’t work anymore.

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Today we went to Specsavers. Larry needed a hearing test. This comes free on the National Health Service over here. He was referred there by the doctor we have. The test took an hour to do and he walked out of the shop with two new hearing aids and much improved hearing. It didn’t cost anything and it was all over very quickly and efficiently. He was very impressed and once again, I can say how very proud I am of our National Health Service here in England.

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So, next stop is the hospital on Thursday, when L has to have something on his neck looked at. I’ll let you know about that afterwards. The older we get, the more we need the doctor etc. it seems!

So enjoy the Autumn with me and wish me luck with my new computer when it gets here. I think there will be lots of cursing and swearing until I get used to it.

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Bristol Harbour


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The Matthew in Bristol Harbour

Larry and I have had one trip away since he came over to England in July. That was to visit my eldest son and his partner, who live in Bristol. One of the most interesting things about Bristol is the harbour – see below.

‘Bristol Harbour was the original Port of Bristol, but as ships and their cargo have increased in size, it has now largely been replaced by docks at Avonmouth and Portbury. These are located 3 miles (5 km) downstream at the mouth of the River Avon.

The harbour is now a tourist attraction with museums, galleries, exhibitions, bars and nightclubs. Former workshops and warehouseshave now largely been converted or replaced by cultural venues, such as the Arnolfini art gallery, Watershed media and arts centreM Shed museum and the At-Bristol science exhibition centre, as well as a number of fashionable apartment buildings. The Bristol Harbour Railway, operated by M Shed, runs between the museum and the Create Centre on some weekends and bank holidays. Historic boats are permanently berthed in the harbour. These include Isambard Kingdom Brunel‘s SS Great Britain, which was the first iron-hulled andpropeller-driven ocean liner.

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S.S. Great Britain in Bristol Harbour – Autumn 2013

[1] and a replica of the Matthew in which John Cabot sailed to North America in 1497. The historic vessels of M Shed museum, which include the steam tug Mayflower, firefloat Pyronaut and motor tug John King, are periodically operated.

The Bristol Ferry Boat Company[2] and Number Seven Boat Trips[3] operate ferry services in the harbour, serving landing stages close to most of the harbour-side attractions. The latter company also operates a Bristol City Council supported commuter service.[4] The Bristol Packet boats offer regular harbour tours with commentaries and river cruises on the Tower Belle up the River Avon to ConhamHanham and Bath and downstream to Avonmouth.[5]In late July each year, the Bristol Harbour Festival is held, resulting in an influx of boats, including tall shipsRoyal Navy vessels and lifeboats.[6]‘ from Wikipaedia

We had a really great time on a pleasure boat in Bristol Harbour: This is our view from the inside:

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After we had sampled the delights of Bristol harbour, we chilled out in a wonderful coffee bar near the city centre.

Larry is learning our cafe culture. It goes slowly. He was not in his comfort zone in here.

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In true American fashion, he wanted a map of the city and a plan for the day. I, on the other hand, was very happy to amble through the day, alighting like a butterfly, on one interesting place after the other. I think he got quite frustrated with me!

We had a great time visiting my son and his partner and all their animals:

Rob and Kelly August 2012…and hope to return there again soon.

Oma

A Patchwork Quilt for Baby Sam


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I have just completed this patchwork quilt for baby Sam (my second grandson). It will be for his Christmas present.

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It was difficult to find the time to work on it recently, what with all the business at the cottage since the end of July. However, I have finished it and I am quite pleased with it. There is no ‘Jo-annes’ near me so I have to rely on small shops and the internet to get the supplies that I need and I was held up with the finishing of it until my favourite sewing machine got here from America.

The quilt has a jungle theme, which I chose to match with Sam’s bedroom.

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I do hope he likes it. He’s a bit young to appreciate it now of couse, but in time he may come to like the pictures and the bright colours.

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…and of course, no jungle is complete without an elephant, so the elephant may go with it (if I can bear to part with it).

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Meanwhile, the elephant is having a sleep while he waits for Christmas.

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Now if I can just find a box big enough to pack them both?

Oma

Life in the U.K. (Two months in England – from Larry’s perspective.)


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Two Months in England – Bigger and Newer are not Better

‘Having just completed my second month in the UK two fundamental concepts in America are in jeopardy. When I was growing up in Texas in the 1950’s I learned that “bigger is always better”. That’s because up until 1959 Texas was the largest state in the United States of America. And all Texans know that Texas is by definition the best state in the Union! Thus, bigger and better clearly go together. “Smaller” simply can’t be better. (It’s probably against Texas State law!)

In America “new” is always better as well. It must be because all the advertisements tell us that it is, at least 25 times per hour on national television. But there’s a problem with “new” – it isn’t (new) for very long. By definition, new is perishable. Nothing stays new. By contrast, old gets even more so with the passage of time. Since time only moves in one direction (as far as we know) then “new” is always perishing while “old” just keeps getting better.

What does this have to do with life in the UK, you ask? During my two months here I have become a student of the contrast between “new” and “old” and between “bigger” and “smaller”. Everywhere you look in this country there are monuments to at least 1000 years of carefully recorded history. Towns and cities are built around massive stone cathedrals and churches that often took four or five generations of workers to construct over several hundred years. Everywhere you find structures that have withstood hundreds or even thousands of years of natural weathering and human wear and tear. These are not simply tourist attractions, but vital centers in the daily operations of the community. There is a universal respect for the “old” that I find very reassuring. At the beginning of a tour of the Tower of London one of the Beefeaters asked, “How many Americans are in the group?” Several hands went up. In response the Beefeater said, “Just think! All of this history could have been yours.” While I am proud to be American and have great respect for those who fought for America’s independence in 1776, the Beefeater’s comment made me a bit envious to say the least.

There are plenty of great new things in England. I find the quality of television programming in the UK much superior to that in America. Traffic on the roadways is much better managed with roundabouts instead of four-way stop and red light intersections. And here the stoplights turn yellow before they go green as well as before they go red – believe it or not that really helps. I suppose it’s the way the “new” and the “old” are blended together that impresses. Houses are built to last several hundred years without needing a new roof or other major upgrades. There is an appreciation for maintaining what you have rather than simply building all over again in a new location and abandoning the old in place. Looking at a cathedral built in 1023 AD gives a since of permanence and comfort – it’s stood the test of time and will be there when I come to visit again in 5 years, or when my grandchildren want to visit 50 years from now. Looking at a new American shopping center, my first thought is, ‘I wonder how long before all the shops move out and leave it sitting empty.’

Bigger is better if you have infinite space and natural resources. That’s the assumption in America – there will always be new land to build on and an infinite supply of bricks and mortar. Well maybe so, but is that really better? Or is it just cheaper for the builders? Spend an afternoon sometime counting the number of empty abandoned shopping centers and storefronts in the average American town or city. When space is at a premium refurbishing is the better option for many reasons, cost being just one of them. Forcing American builders to pay for demolishing their buildings as well as constructing them might change the American landscape for the better.

Some of you may remember Dinah Shore. She was a popular singer in the early days of television when advertisements were in integral part of the TV show. “See the USA in your Chevrolet” – that was Dinah’s trademark catch phrase. At an average cost of 1.4 GBP per liter ($8.56 per US gallon) it’s very expensive to “see the UK “ in your private car. I’ve found traveling by bus or train in the UK is much less expensive and much more enjoyable. “Seeing the UK” in a Hummer would not only be prohibitively expensive but physically impossible. Small cars (if you find you really need a car at all) can negotiate the narrow roadways that would be impassible for a Hummer or large American SUV, and they get twice the miles per liter (gallon) as American cars. Bigger is better in the UK when 50 people can ride instead of only 1 or 2.

Watch this page for my third month in the UK.’

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When Larry was very newly arrived, one of the first things I said to him on the way back from the airport, was ‘Think small’.  I was anxious that he would find the cottage too small and overcrowded for comfort. We have no closets for clothes so one of the first things Larry had to do was to buy a wardrobe to put his (much reduced) clothes in to. He also had to get used to the idea that things needed to be moved around a lot.  For example; if you want to get to something, you need to move at least one or two other things out of the way first!

As the time has gone by, I have been keen to introduce him to places of space. We have visited St. Albans and seen the marvellous cathedral there and last Friday we took Dylan to Dunstable Downs, an area of extensive chalk hillside where the view is spectacular.

So far so good!

Oma

Tea with Miss Clare.


Village Diary - Miss Read

I am a big fan of Miss Read or, to give her her real name, Dora Marie Saint. She wrote ‘Village Diary’ in 1957 and it tells of a village school with two teachers, Miss Read and Miss Clare; Miss Clare is the older of the two and has recently retired from teaching. She returns to the school when needed. The book is beautifully illustrated by J.S. Goodall.

In this excerpt, Miss Read is going to have tea with Miss Clare. Why don’t you escape with me into the dreamy world of Fairacre, for just a few moments and read about life in a bygone age?

‘Miss Clare invited me to her cottage for the evening.  She refuses to let me fetch her or run her home in the car, but cycles, very slowly and as upright as ever, on her venerable old bicycle.

As usual, the best china, the snowiest cloth and the most delicious supper awaited me.

Miss Clare’s cottage is a model of neatness.  The roof was thatched by her father, who was the local thatcher for many years.  She has an early-flowering honeysuckle over her white trellis porch, and jasmine smothers another archway down the garden path.

In the centre of the table stood a cut-glass vase of magnificent tulips, flanked by a cold brisket of beef on a willow-pattern dish garnished with sprigs of parsley from her garden, and an enormous salad.  The freshly-plucked spring onions, were thoughtfully put separately in a little shallow dish.

‘It’s not everyone that can digest them,’ said Miss Clare, crunching one with much enjoyment, ‘bu my mother always said they were a wonderful tonic, and cleared the blood after the winter.’

Miss Clare’s silver was old and heavy and gleamed with recent cleaning.  How she finds time to keep everything so immaculate, I don’t know.  Her house puts mine to shame, and she has no one to help her at all, whereas I do have Mrs. Pringle occasionally to turn a disdainful hand to my affairs.

After we had consumed an apple and blackberry pie, the fruits of Miss Clare’s earlier bottling, we folded our yard square napkins – which were stiff with starch and exquisitely darned here and there – and washed up in the long, low kitchen, while the coffee heated on the Primus stove.’

When life gets frustrating, I pick up one of Miss Read’s excellent books. She has written two series about village life plus other stories and is always a joy to read. My favourite of the two series is Fairacre, which is written in the first person. I pretend that I am Miss Read, when I read the stories and live through all the ups and downs of village life along with her. The other books are about Thrush Green. Miss Read herself, preferred these. I suppose it is easier to write in the third person. I read them all regularly.

For those of us who live the village life, or try to! it is nice to dip into these books for inspiration. I encourage you to give them a try if you feel so inclined.

You can read more about Miss Read here.

Baby Sam update – 4 months old (nearly)


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Just look at my newest grandson…. hasn’t he grown? This is my latest picture of him, which I’m proud to show you. He’s got such a winning smile and he’s a real little ‘buster’ isn’t he? – so different to Dylan, my eldest grandson, who is nearly three. Sam’s weaning at the moment and as you can see from the picture, he’s enjoying his food very much! He’s got his parents well trained!! and likes to be carried around all the time to enjoy different views of the house and garden whenever he feels like it.

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Here in the cottage we’ve all got colds and feel miserable. It doesn’t seem fair after all the hard work we’ve been doing lately, but there it is, we’re sick; sneezing and coughing and groaning, day and night.

In between the bouts of fever and sneezing, I’ve been unpacking the last box today. In it were all my scrapbooks from America and all the ‘stuff’ that goes with it. I’ve been putting off that box because I knew it would be nigh on impossible to find room here for all of it and I didn’t want to start chucking things out. I unpacked the box and got rid of the rubbish and then repacked it for another day. I will get to it, I will, I will, I will.

Millie is so pleased to be with her ‘daddy’ again and takes advantage of a cuddle whenever she can…

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So I’m back to my sniffing and snuffling, hoping to be feeling a bit better tomorrow…

Oma

Packing Crates galore!


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This was the scene a couple of weeks ago when the lorry arrived with all our stuff from America on it! There were two crates; you can see the first one opened and the second one is to its left. Larry is going to supervise the operation.

There were various items of furniture plus about fifty boxes of varying sizes to unpack. I have been very busy going through it all and am now down to two boxes, which I hope to tackle tomorrow. When it all first arrived we had a hard time finding room for the boxes. They were everywhere.  Larry had done a great job of packing everything and nothing has broken. One or two knocks on the furniture told the story it its travels across 4,500 mile of land and ocean. Not one glass or piece of china was broken. Remarkable really.

All the boxes were numbered and packed with labels, e.g. U.K or North Carolina because a lot of our stuff went straight to L’s kids. They have gotten their inheritance early!

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A Very Busy Two Weeks


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It’s been a very busy two weeks, here at the cottage. It started with the building of Larry’s new shed (see picture above) and it ended with our spending a few days with my eldest son in Bristol. In between times, the furniture and effects arrived from America and are currently standing in many boxes all around the cottage.

Consequently, we have been busy and exhausted at the end of each day and I have spent very little time on the computer. Apologies therefore if I haven’t visited you lately, but I will be doing the rounds shortly.

The shed went up very nicely and compliments the garden. I think every man (and woman) should have a shed (doghouse) to go into from time to time. Larry wanted his for a specific reason, which I cannot reveal at the moment. We also thought we may need some extra storage space for those boxes, which will have to wait to be unpacked.

During the upheaval of the shed construction, we decided that a small patio in front would be an advantage so L and J went to Homebase to buy some small paving stones to put in the space. On arrival back at the house, they began to unpack the stones and carry them into the back garden. Larry decided to remove his wedding ring and put it in his pocket so it wouldn’t get scratched. Somewhere between the car and the shed and the house, the wedding ring got lost. We all three of us spent the next few days looking for it to no avail. Finally, when we had almost given up, J decided to buy a metal detector to help to locate the ring.  It arrived from Amazon a few days later and the two men put it together and took it outside to search for the ring.  They didn’t find it down the alley, nor on the patio by the house. They did find three nails, which were useless, of course!

I wondered if the ring could be under the new patio, which L had just laid the day before? He took up all the stones he had just laid and searched underneath. No sign of the ring! Then, of course, he had to put all the stones back! Not a pleasant task.

The metal detector was hopeless because it picked up everything and nothing. The beep was going off all the time. The neighbours must have wondered what on earth we were doing, crawling round the driveway at the front, peering down drains, metal detecting here there and everywhere.

In the end we gave up and it’s still lost – damn it!!!

Bad omen I call it!!!

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My Memoirs 6 – Larry’s Fourth Week in England


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This past week has been all about sheds! First of all, Larry’s new shed was delivered and erected by Telesheds, in just under an hour and then Larry made a few modifications to make it just how he would like it. In the picture he is making some edging for the corners and once done, it looked very nice. Then of course there was a trip to Homebase to buy some Cuprinol to protect the shed from the bad weather that I expect we will be having soon!

I’ll show you how the shed turned out in a few days time.  Meanwhile, here is Larry’s observations over his fourth week in England:

‘My Fourth Week in England

Shopping carts in England are called “trolleys”. You’ll find them all chained together in front of the grocery store. Apparently if left unchained these trolleys would all escape to the far corners of the local neighborhood. If you want the pleasure of driving one of these trolleys around the grocery store you first have to release the chain holding it to the others. Just insert a one-pound coin (worth about $1.50) into a slot on the trolley – this releases the chain so it is free to roam about as it pleases. You can also use a token made expressly for this purpose if $1.50 seems too much to invest. When your journey around the grocery store is complete you get your coin or token back when you re-chain the trolley to its brothers and sisters. Although chaining trolleys together is an obvious affront to their civil rights, I did notice the complete absence of loose trolleys in the car park (parking lot), and no dings on the sides of the cars where unrestrained trolleys had banged into them. Perhaps shopping carts in America should be re-evaluated and given a little less freedom. In any case I must admit to missing the ones in Krogers with the square wheels.

Speaking of grocery stores, you can conveniently find them in large shopping malls here. Buy an iPad at the Apple store, a new jacket, pair of trousers or new shoes on the first floor of Marks and Spencer’s, then have a sit down for tea and cakes, and finally on your way out of the mall grab a quart of milk, bread, cheese, tomatoes, and other grocery items on the ground floor of M&S – all just in time to catch the No. 9 bus back home. How can you make things easier than that? How many more people would visit their local shopping mall if there was a grocery store there?? BTW if you are on the first floor of a building here don’t be fooled into thinking you can just walk out the door. You’ll find it’s a nasty drop. The ground floor here is for doing that. The first floor is one story up, and the second floor is two stories up, and so on.

This week’s discovery is the word “hire”. In America the word “hire” applies to people but not to inanimate objects. For example Americans might rent or lease a car and then hire someone to drive it for them. In England you can hire a car, hire a caravan (recreational vehicle), hire almost anything whether it’s alive or not. The words “rent” or “lease” still apply when referring to real estate, such as renting a flat (apartment). However the most common phrase for renting or leasing a place to set up a business seems to be “To Let”. There are large signs posted everywhere saying “To Let”. To show you how a tired old brain can play tricks, my mind saw “To Let” and automatically inserted an “i” to make the word “Toilet”. For some reason this mind trick persisted for almost a week. “How marvelous that every toilet in the UK is so prominently marked”, I thought! Then one day I realized my mistake. While there is an ample supply of toilets everywhere I’ve been in England, there isn’t one on every street corner after all.

I had been warned (sort of) before I moved here that there was a poltergeist living in the upstairs portion of the house – not an evil or malicious type, just a mischievous spirit who likes to play pranks on occasion. Being of scientific persuasion I immediately dismissed such notions without a second thought. However, this past week provided first evidence. Moving a computer and printer from one room to another provided the opportunity. All the cables for both computer and printer were disconnected and carefully placed in a plastic bag. After both machines were relocated the process of reconnecting the cables began. All the cables were accounted for, except the gray and orange cable that connects the computer to the printer. After looking for it for almost an hour it became apparent something strange was going on. After another half-hour we found the missing cable on top of the wardrobe in another bedroom, where no one had been during the past several hours. Without question the printer cable was connected prior to the move. So how did it turn up on top of a piece of furniture almost six feet high in a room where nobody had been?

Definition of Paradise – Sitting hand in hand on a park bench under an enormous oak tree by the River Ouse in Bedford feeding the swans, partly cloudy skies and 70F with light breeze.

Watch this page for next week’s adventures in paradise.’

Oma

Sunday is gardening day!


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After a slow start, the beans have come on in leaps and bounds and we have already had three meals for three people from them.

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Good results down on the allotment too, as you can see from these pictures, taken at Stockwood Park:

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Chard
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Yes, it’s been a very good summer. Now the fields are golden and the farmers have been busy, bringing in the crops and already there is a slight hint of Autumn in the air.

Dylan update – a trip to the hospital.


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It has been a very busy week for my little grandson, Dylan who is two and a half years old now.

Last Friday he started Nursery School for the first time.  For the last year or so he has been coming to me for the day on Fridays, but now that routine is set to change. Just like everything else in life; just as you get used to one routine, it changes for another. Having Dylan for the whole day has been a joy, but also very hard work because he is on the go all the time and at my age that is hard. I need a sleep in the afternoons or a rest at the very least. With a toddler around, that is nigh on impossible. I cannot believe how I coped all those years ago when I had my own three little boys. Did I really go through the whole day without a nap? Could I really carry one on each hip at the same time? I did, but I couldn’t do it now.

So in a way I am pleased that Dylan will be going to Nursery and yet in another way I am sad because it will be different.

With Larry’s arrival and Dylan’s first trip to Nursery School, we have put away the cot and all the bedding including the mattress. It is up for sale (sadly) and so is his push-chair (reluctantly). Ah, I hear you say, but you have another grandson (Sam)…. what about him? Isn’t he coming to stay at Oma’s?  Well no, is the answer to that.  I don’t expect to see nearly as much of Sam as I have of Dylan. Sam and his parents live fifteen miles away so he won’t be popping in nearly so often. I think of him every day and in some ways I wish I saw more of him, but again, it’s hard work, entertaining family and babies and I have to admit, I’m just not up to it anymore.

For the last two and a half years I have played at mummies and babies a little bit.  It was wonderful to have a cot around again and a pushcahir and all the other paraphernalia that comes with a baby, but now I’m ready to move on. Larry is here and soon his ‘stuff’ will arrive from America and we need every bit of spare space we can get in the cottage.  I’m not very good at empty nests. I never have been. My nature is to collect things, not to give them away.

Dylan went to Nursery with his daddy and the first session was just for an hour and a half. Soon he will be going for a day and a half each week, which is probably plenty for a child so young. After his session at Nursery he came here for the rest of the day and I noted that he was a bit disturbed. For the first half hour he curled up in a ball by the front door and wouldn’t talk to anybody or do anything. We were expecting a delivery of a large package so eventually he had to move to allow the men to get through the door so that made him move to the sofa. After that he steadily got out of the sulks but truly he was upset and I felt sorry for him. He is a sociable child and he needs to mix with other children, but it must have been hard for him – about the same as for one of us going to work for the very first time.  Everybody is new, there are lots of people about, the noise is probably a bit deafening and all in all it makes for a stressful environment.  I’m sure that once he gets used to it, he will be fine, but for the moment, he is out of his comfort zone for sure.

Last night there was a development, nothing to do with the Nursery. Dylan developed breathing difficulties in the middle of the night and his parents took him to the A and E (Accident and Emergency) department of the local hospital. There he was thoroughly checked out, given oxygen and steroid medicine and eventually went home at 5 a.m. It must have been very traumatic for him as it was for his anxious parents. Today they are all resting and getting over it! However, it is a wake up call. His mum suffers with asthma so maybe Dylan will have a tendency to that sort of thing.  At the hospital, croup was diagnosed. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again! So frightening for all concerned.

So, life does not always go smoothly, does it and the lesson to learn is that each day is precious and we need to remember that.

Bless you Dylan, get well soon. You are so very loved by us all xxx

Oma

My English Country Garden – In a field near me.


In a field near me there is something exciting going on. Read the sign below to find out what…


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The field was sectioned off and planted with all sorts of wildflowers. Now the results are beginning to show. How many of these plants can you recognise?

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No. 2 – red flowers

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No.3 white flowers

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No. 4 yellow flowers

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No. 5

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No. 6DSCF1483 No. 7

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No. 9

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No. 10

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No. 11

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No.12 blue flowers

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No. 13 pink flowers
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They might look like weeds to you, but to the insects, birds, butterflies and bees, they are a valuable source of food.

I’ll be returning to this later on.

Meanwhile enjoy your trip through the flower meadows.

Oma

Happy Easter and Sammy update.


 

Sammy Smith aged 10 mths

 

My little grandson, Sammy, is growing fast.  He is nearly one year old already. Can you believe it? For Easter we bought him some small, white chocolate Easter bunnies and a gorgeous book about Peter Rabbit. He came round to visit this morning with his Daddy and we had the pleasure of watching him open the parcel. Too soon for chocolate today but he may be allowed a little tomorrow.

News! Sammy is crawling and gets about the room crab-like and quite fast.

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Down at the garden centre, business is booming.  Feast your eyes on these delights:-

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The shops are full of Easter Eggs.  Which one is your favourite? This year mine is an Aero egg, full of bubbles and I’m looking forward to eating some of it tomorrow.

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Have a wonderful Easter Day tomorrow from all of us at the cottage :)

Oma