Roman Verulamium


 

 

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A week or so ago Larry and I went to St. Albans in Hertfordshire to visit the museum of Roman artefacts. St. Albans is a city about 15 miles north of London and 15 miles south of where we live so it made for a nice day out.

I wanted to show Larry the museum because it contains some extremely old and interesting articles. In the picture Larry is admiring one of the mosaic floors, which was unearthed when the old Roman town of Verulamium was excavated. It is almost intact, which is amazing considering its age.

Verulamium was one of the largest towns in Roman Britain and we can learn an awful lot from studying the artefacts which range from the large mosaics you see here to the small objects of everyday life.

Verulamium began in the late Iron Age when it was known as Verlamion. The later settlement of Verulamium expanded to become a very large town and it flourished for four hundred years from around AD50.

If you would like to read more, you can click here. If you want to test your knowledge on Roman Britain, go to the fun section on their website and see how much you really know. The more you delve, the more fascinating it all becomes.

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I consider myself very lucky to live in a country with so much history going on all around me.

 

Oma

Propagating geraniums (pelargoniums) – My baby geraniums.


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Here are this years baby geraniums. I usually propagate them in August, so that they have a good month or two to get going before I bring them indoors for the winter.  Once indoors, they will stay on the windowsill until April. It’s a long time and I have to nurture them. It’s worth doing because they will be perfect for the borders next summer.

This year I took slips, two from each colour, red, white, pink and peach. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they will all take. I don’t use hormone rooting powder. It really is not necessary for these accommodating little plants. They root very easily; you just have to make sure that you take the cutting properly to avoid die back. (see my previous post, link below).

  I’m still on the look-out for a blue one! No luck yet.

Yesterday and the day before were very rainy here in my part of England and the little pots were up to their necks in water. That’s not a good thing because the roots will rot, so I brought them indoors just for one day to dry them out. I think they appreciated it.

The next step will be to bring in the plants which were last year’s babies and pot them up in larger pots ready to store indoors in a frost free environment (my back room).

If you want to read more about how I do it, you can click here and check out last year’s post, which goes into a bit more detail.

Oma

My English Garden – August 2014 – rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb


 

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It’s been a very good year for rhubarb in my English garden this year. Above is a picture of some stalks I picked the other day, and was glad to give away because there is only so much rhubarb you can eat as a family!

The leaves were gigantic as well. Here I am holding up two of them. They look like umbrellas, don’t they.

 

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It has also been a very good year for runner beans:

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and we have been eating them for a couple of weeks now. They are really a colder weather crop and so long as they get plenty of water, they always seem to do just fine. I prepare them as I was taught when I was small.  My mother was very particular about the cutting process and I had to get them just right. The thinner the better. Later on when I got married, I bought a bean slicer, but it never did such a good job. Now I buy a new knife every summer and use it for the first time when the first beans come in from the garden. That way I get the best cut, just so long as it’s not my fingers!!!

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We have lots of tomatoes, but they are not ripening very fast.  We need more sunshine, please?

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Lots of people have been clicking on a post I did last year about propagating geraniums.  I’ll tell you how this year’s babies are doing next time.

I greet you from a very rainy England :)

Oma

My grandson Sammy – update.


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Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,

Upstairs and downstairs in his nightgown,

Tapping at the window and crying through the lock, Are all the children in their beds,

it’s past eight o’clock?

The explanation of the words to Wee Willie Winkie was to teach children to associate every day tasks with their own lives. Before the days of the wireless, television and the Internet great reliance was put upon the Town Crier to pass on the latest news and information. ‘Wee Willie Winkie’ was the children’s version of the Town Crier! The author of the poem was William Miller (1810 – 1872) and the first publication date of the words to Wee Willie Winkie was in 1841.

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This adorable child is my grandson Sammy.

Have a wonderful Sunday everybody.

Oma x

Spotlight on… hagelslag!


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This is something I was very familiar with when I was growing up. My mother, being Dutch, used this product a lot and so I thought it was normal. It wasn’t until much later on that I realised that English people didn’t use Hagelslag so much, only really as a cake decoration!
There are lots of different sorts of Hagel including a very delicious aniseed variety. It’s called gestampe muisjes, which translated means little mice stamped on! because the aniseed seeds are crushed into a powder and then spread on bread.
I had to be careful when I was small not to sneeze or blow too hard when eating the gestampe muisjes because otherwise they would blow up my nose and into my eyes.

Originally posted on Dutch Community:

If there’s one grocery item that the Dutch simply cannot do without, then it has to be hagelslag – delicious chocolate sprinkles that come in a variety of interesting shapes and tempting flavours, and are typically sprinkled over a slice of fresh bread and butter. But did you know that you can also use this popular Dutch treat as an irresistible ingredient in some of your favourite recipes? You’ll find a few mouth-watering examples below!

View original 453 more words

We have a visitor.


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I stop by in front of a pond,
listening to the humble frogs’ songs.
The melody tells of tales,
as I listen, the whole story unveiled.

There’s a story of a boy and his dream,
frivolous, helpless, and all that he seems.
There’s a story of a boy and his shoes,
the path and the destination he is to choose.
There’s a story of a boy and his book,
poems, stories, and all things you can look.
There’s a story of a boy and his hope,
for the Time’s willing, for a while it stops.
There’s a story of a boy and a pond,
tears, smiles, and hopes he lives on.
There’s a story of a frogs’ symphony,
flowing is a memory of the melody and me..

So I am here for the song that they sing,
in this old pond there’s a hope that I cling.
I shall care of nothing more else,
nothing, but myself and this once, childhood place..

poem from PoemHunter.com

 

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We have a new pond in the cottage garden.  Larry has worked very hard this summer, digging a large hole in the dirt and putting in this delightful addition to our surroundings. Already we have had a lot of activity from the wildlife.

Have a wonderful Sunday everyone.

 

Oma

 

Old Age – coping with it, acknowledging it.


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Getting old has its compensations, but also its draw-backs. I am nearly 63 years old and I am learning, slowly. For the last seven years or so I have been in transition and it hasn’t been easy. Far from it. I have had to let go of a lot of things. I no longer kid myself that I look ‘good for my age’. Once I realised that, I embraced the age that I am and went in a different direction. However, that didn’t quite suit me and it still doesn’t, if I’m honest.

A year or so ago I cut my long, auburn (dyed) hair and let it go grey. Not so important maybe, but it was to me. I looked in the mirror and someone else was peeking back at me. The face in the mirror looked sad, apologetic even. Had I done the right thing? Maybe I should have kept on dyeing that hair but what is the point. I didn’t like the grey roots poking through. No, that looked awful. I kept my hair short for a while, fiddling about with curlers to try and keep it looking lively. Then I gave up and had a perm. Looking in the mirror that day, I saw my Auntie Connie looking back. Damn it! Where is me in all this? Where have I gone?

Since then I’ve kept my hair grey and fought off the aches and pains which seem to increase weekly. I feel guilty that I wasn’t more sympathetic to my own mother. She went through this too, I tell myself.

I have stopped using make-up, except for a little lipstick. That does brighten my face up so I keep that; but I can’t wear mascara anymore because my eyelids have drooped and now if I apply mascara, it ends up on the lids as well as the lashes and it’s darned difficult to get off.

With the negative issues comes also a sense of satisfaction, almost a wisdom. I now know what the outcome will be if I do this or that. I know what to avoid doing, which is a big help.

What I do know, I would like to pass on to my children, but they don’t want to know. If they want to know something, they turn to the internet these days. That makes me feel superfluous.

It’s not all bad though. I have more freedom with my time. Freedom to do my crafting, to visit lovely places and time to watch my garden grow. I have time to listen if anyone wants to talk.

I am content.

Read and enjoy this poem, which I found in an old copy of Peoples’ Friend Magazine:

 

Just The Way I Am

by Pam Davies

My face will not be lifted

And my tummy not be tucked.

It’s quite enough to file my nails

And have my eyebrows plucked.

Wrinkles on my face relax,

They know I’m Botox-free;

They know they’re in no danger

And they suit the likes of me.

Bits of me have grown and bulge,

Bits of me recede;

Some bits hint at deprivation,

Others hint at greed.

But every bit can tell a tale.

Is marked by fun or strife;

They’re signs of all the highs and lows

That bless my thankful life.

I shall not seek a surgeon

To return me to my youth,

I’m happy just the way I am,

Contented with the truth!

Have a lovely Sunday everyone. Thank you to my faithful blogging friends for sticking with me. You know who you are! and thank you to my new followers. You are most welcome to journey along with me.

Oma

A finished project – Fanny’s Chemisette


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This is my latest finished project. It’s called’Fanny’s Chemisette’ and it comes from the Fall 2012 edition of Jane Austen Knits magazine.

The pattern is designed by Deborah Adams and can be found on page 112:
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I had some handspun (by me) alpaca/silk yarn, which I used to make up the back of the bolero. It is heavy and hangs really well, caught up by the tie at the bottom. I used a crochet tie not ribbon as stated in the pattern.

I didn’t have enough handspun alpaca/silk yarn to do the whole bolero and I think it would have made it too heavy so the front is worked in a purchased Sirdar yarn called Escape. I used the DK weight.

Here is the magazine with one of the fronts:

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This is the back. I crocheted a picot edging around the sleeves because I felt it looked prettier and I stitched down the collar with large tacking stitches to stop it sticking up and being a nuisance.

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The bolero is very comfortable to wear and gives that extra bit of warmth for the evenings.

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I recommend this pattern to anyone who wants to make a bolero.

Happy Knitting, Oma

 

Fibre-East Festival, 27th July 2014.


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These delightful black piggies were part of my day last Sunday, when Larry and I went to the Fibre-East Festival at Redborne Upper School in Ampthill. There is a farm on the school where the pupils can learn animal husbandry. The animals were extremely well kept and happy and the pig-house even had piped music installed to keep the pigs entertained.

 

There was a farm shop, where I bought some fresh eggs and some honey and in the freezer there were all sorts of home produced meats.

Here are some pictures of the fibre festival itself. Larry and I had a wonderful time looking around and it has inspired him to take up weaving!

There was have-a-go spinning for beginners:

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There were weaving looms galore.

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Lots and lots of yarn. Here I am checking out some wonderful, purple art yarn.

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Bales of roving in all natural colours and livid ones too.

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Hand-made drum carders:

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I was interested in those but they were very expensive.

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Just look at these gorgeous colours:

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and of course there were sheep!

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and a sheep shearing demonstration:

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and the fleece was for sale too. I didn’t buy one. I am still working on the one I’ve got!

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Have a great weekend, whatever you do!

Oma

 

My Memoirs – 1997 – a School Panto.


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In 1997 I was working as a school secretary at an Infants School. It was decided to put on a pantomime (see below) for the children, who were all between four and seven years old. We did a sort of Cinderella and I was the King. Here I am in my stage clothing with one of the teachers who played the Queen of Hearts.

The children were told that a theatre company was coming to entertain them so they had no idea that the teachers would be performing for their delight. When they realised who they were watching, there was uproar and they absolutely loved it.

The headteacher was a good sport! Here he is as the wicked stepmother:

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Yvonne was the fairy godmother:

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and Dorothy and Karen were buttons and the prince:

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but I give the prize for the best costumes to Flo and Jan who made some fantastic wigs, which transformed them into the ugly sisters:

Just look at the work that went into make the wigs from paper ringlets:

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At the end of the performance we all danced with the children to the Barbie song. Remember that one?

My days at the school lasted for thirteen years and I loved it until we got a new Headteacher and then it all went pear-shaped!

Have a love Sunday.

from Wikipaedia:

Pantomime (informally panto), is a type of musical comedy stage production, designed for family entertainment. It was developed in England and is generally performed during the Christmas and New Year season. Modern pantomime includes songs, slapstick comedy and dancing, employs gender-crossing actors, and combines topical humour with a story loosely based on a well-known fairy tale.[1] It is a participatory form of theatre, in which the audience is expected to sing along with certain parts of the music and shout out phrases to the performers.

Pantomime has a long theatrical history in Western culture dating back to classical theatre, and it developed partly from the 16th-century commedia dell’arte tradition of Italy, as well as other European and British stage traditions, such as 17th-century masques.[1] An important part of the pantomime, until the late 19th century, was theharlequinade. The pantomime is performed today throughout Britain and, to a lesser extent, in other English-speaking countries.

Oma

 

Baby Oleg has arrived.


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We have a new car. It’s a Vauxhall Agila. Isn’t it cute?  Larry decided he didn’t want to drive over here so we chose a car which was just right for me and this is it. Then we needed car insurance so we went to a website called http://www.comparethemarket.com and chose the best one for us. That entitled me to a free meerkat toy. They are so very funny on the adverts that I couldn’t resist and went for the baby one. Here is the advert so you’ll see what I mean:

I had to wait a while for the toy to arrive because it was travelling all around Europe but eventually! here he is complete with adoption certificate and everything. His name is Oleg.

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He was packed in a box with his toy, a grub. Even that is cute.

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I know you enjoyed the video of Oleg so here’s another one. Enjoy it.

 

Oma

 

Dylan update – July 2014 and a flash back to the past.


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It seems that Dylan’s transformation into Spiderman is complete!

Dylan is now nearly four years old.  His birthday is in October, like mine and so the big 4 is just around the corner. He is a very active little boy who enjoys dressing up and posing for photographs. Whenever I see pictures of him or observe his behaviour when he comes to visit, I can’t help thinking back to my own three little boys when they were the same age. It doesn’t seem so long ago to me, you see; although in reality it is 36 years since my eldest son, Robert, was four years old.

This is Robert, aged 4 and his brother Edward aged 1. David wasn’t born yet. The year is 1977.

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The photo was taken by a professional photographer. I know that at the time we could hardly afford it, but I so wanted a nice picture to keep so we stretched ourselves. The days when my children were little were the happiest of my life. It is hard to compare those days with these days when I am almost a different person. I look back and I think, did this really happen? Why did it go so quickly? Looking at the picture above, it would not be long before Robert started school proper and then it would be ‘teacher said this or teacher said that.’ and I would no longer be that most important person in his life. For now he was mine, all mine and we shared everything together. We lived in a happy bubble, not having much money, but having plenty of time.

My grandson, Dylan, has just had his first professional photograph taken at the Nursery where he goes twice a week. I think it turned out very well, don’t you?
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Have a lovely Sunday all of you. Just want to say a big thank you for following my blog and sharing my life and my memories.

Oma

 

The Polworth Fleece


 

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The Polworth fleece, which I acquired recently, was quite dirty so it needed a good wash. It’s amazing how much dirt came out of that fleece during the three washes I gave it.  It’s important to use hot water for washing and not to agitate the wool. The results were good.

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My husband very kindly made me a lovely drying rack so I could dry the fleece in the garden in the sunshine.

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Next I needed to card the fleece and that is a work in progress. I was anxious to try spinning it to make sure I was carding it properly and after a few goes I think I’ve got the hang of it. I’ll leave that to a future post.  Suffice to say that I will probably have enough to make a pretty shawl so now I’m looking around for patterns.

Have a lovely day in the sunshine if you can.

Oma

 

In a field near me – July 2014 – these are the plots.


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The view above shows the approach to the first of the meadow plots, which has been called ‘A’. From this angle the first plot gives a pleasing view of what may be ‘things to come’.

The ten meadow plots are experimental. They have been sown with a variety of native grasses and flowers, many of which are bi-ennial (i.e. flowering in the second year after planting). If you look back at the pictures I took last year, you will be able to see the difference a year makes.

The plots are part of a major research project into improving urban biodiversity.

Luton Borough Council staff are cultivating a variety of seed mixes at this site and managing the meadows using different mowing frequencies. Researchers from Cranfield, Sheffield and Exeter Universities are monitoring the sites.

Here is the first of the plots up close:

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and the second (B). At first siting I didn’t like this one very much. It is brown(ish). After I’d studied it for a while, I decided I did like it after all but I wouldn’t want to see a whole field full of it. Of course that is not the idea. When the designers take over, there will be areas of planting and areas of mown grass because the object of the exercise is to create an urban environment which is beautiful and useful to people, animals and insects alike.

Plot B is mainly grasses, as you can see:

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Next is plot C. This looked like a weed patch to me and I wouldn’t want to see more of it. However I’m sure there are plenty of insects who would not agree with me.

One of the considerations being taken into account is whether or not the plots are likely to attract unwelcome wildlife and/or litter. I think this one would welcome litter!

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Plot D I thought was very nice. The plants were not too high, lots of variety, colourful and certainly popular with bees and flying insects. So plot D got the thumbs up from me.

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Plot E on the other hand, was not attractive. Again it looked like a weed path; bearing in mind that a weed is just a prolific plant in the wrong place. Most of the plants in this plot were going to seed. There wasn’t much colour to be seen and I think litter would easily blow into it.

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Plot F was a nothing sort of plot. I don’t know if that was deliberate, but I wouldn’t be surprised. I didn’t think it was an improvement on just mown grass.

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Plot G was my favourite. It was bursting with colour and interest. On the downside the plants were big – taller than me, some of them and I’m 5 ft. 6 inches tall. A whole field of this selection would look gorgeous but be totally impractical I think.

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Plot H was another no-no to me. Another weed patch in the making although there were some rather attractive field poppies in there. I think they had sown themselves.

DSCF1984When I counted the number of plants in each plot, I found that there were an average of six different varieties in each plot. I don’t know if that was deliberate but it probably was intended.

The intention is to cut all the plots down to ground level at the end of the summer.  This will encourage new and healthy growth to come in the new season.

So there we are. I may take some more pics before the end of the summer, but I doubt if they would be much different. If anything new happens, I’ll let you know.

Enjoy your environment as much as you can for as long as you can.

Oma

 

Starlight Promotions – 4 – My Memoirs – sounds get more selective.


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So it’s the mid 90’s; Starlight Promotions is up and running and I’m getting busier and busier. The website is getting a lot of hits and I’m learning about sound recordings. I figured out how to put the sounds on the website and I asked the bands to give me one song that I could use so that the customers could listen. I used the Windows sound recorder to pick a part of the song which best reflected the sound of the band or artist. So most of the clips were 60 seconds long. The trick was choosing which 60 secs to record. Sometimes it was the intro. which was the most interesting and at other times it was the guitar riff in the middle or the fantastic drum solo at the end. Choices, choices!

For the party bands, I had the demos. but it was costly to post them out all the time and sometimes I didn’t get them back so the sound clips became more and more important. The sounds of the party bands needed to show their singing and playing abilities whereas the unique,new,Indie bands needed to show off their particular strengths.

So Starlight was evolving. There were the bread and butter songs and then there were the new bands, looking to be famous. I wanted to promote them more even than I wanted to provide music for weddings and parties. At this point I will say that there wasn’t much money in it! It was more of a hobby and a very interesting one at that.

Together with a friend from one of the bands, who I shall call A, we decided to break off the individual band part and set up a record label with our own name. We thought up a name to suit us both. We called it Mangoneworld. I found out how to get a bar-code for the CD. That also proved to be very interesting. Once we had the name, the business and the bar-code, we made a record and assigned it to our own label.

This is it:

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The band is Grief Society and the song below is called ‘Pin Cushion’. You can buy it or the CD on Itunes.com.

 

Can you let me know please, if the sound thingy works? Thank you.

Oma

 

 

 

Sand


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Our lives are short and full of sand

which shifts and trickles through our hands.

No longer can I take for granted

That tomorrow we shall not be parted!

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We fill our buckets on the beach

with dreams and hopes we try to reach

But sorrow knocks on every door

The shifting sands are here once more.

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These grains of sand like hairs are numbered

but bronzed and lazy we do but slumber.

Unaware that days like these

Will disappear upon the breeze.

 

S. Jones

In a field near me – July 2014


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Last year an experiment began in a field near me. The experiment is being run by a nearby University and is ongoing. The idea of it is to plant up areas of wild flowers in urban areas to see what effect that has on our wildlife. Before the experiment, the field near me was just grass, cut once a week and available for use by the public who live nearby. The main use of it was for children to play football and for dog owners to exercise their pets. I don’t remember seeing anything else much going on there. I wrote about it in a blog post here.

Now here we are a year later and lots of changes have occurred on the ten plots. Looking at them today I can see many more plants and flowers. A lot of the plants from last year are bi-ennials so only came to flower this summer. Here are the plants which have been planted:

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Larry got this picture with his camera-phone and took it whilst on his knees in the field. The original belonged to one of the students who was reluctant to part with it today. Tomorrow I’ll see if I can get my own copy, then Larry can take  a better pic. Meanwhile it is good to have because at least the words are clear and we can always to to Wikip… and get a better picture.

The students are handing out survey forms and asking all our neighbours to take a look at the plots and see which ones are most appealing to look at. I can see how important this is because we are all so used to seeing manicured lawns with flat, green grass and nothing much else except the dandelions, daisies and buttercups.

It is so important that we encourage our wildlife to return to our urban spaces that we must learn to find space for them and learn to live with the difference in our environment.

At the moment the plots are slap bang in the middle of the grassy areas but in the longterm I suppose they will be moved to the edges and become part of the landscape.

A healthy week?


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Last week seemed to be filled with things medical for some reason or other. On Wednesday L and I went to the hospital for the morning. He had an appointment to see the consultant as a result of a recurring bowel problem, which resulted in a blood test and a consultation with regard to the way forward. He returns in a few weeks for a colonoscopy! He’s had this before, ten years ago so it probably is time to go again but I don’t envy him.

L has taken full advantage of our wonderful NHS (National Health Service). Last November, soon after he got here, I noticed that he had a lesion on the back of his neck, just beneath the hairline. It was weeping and wouldn’t heal so we went to the doctor, who sent us to the hospital and he had that basal cell carcinoma removed. They did a very neat job of it and now there is nothing to see.

I suppose as we get older, we can expect more problems with our health. It’s almost inevitable. I’ve been so lucky over the years and I pray it lasts longer. My mum had a hysterectomy at the age of 47 and so when I got near to that age, for some daft reason, I thought I might have to have one. I was lucky, I didn’t.

On Thursday I fell over in the garden. I’d gone up the path to get the washing in off the line. All of a sudden I found myself flat on the floor admiring the daisies! I must have got my foot caught in the little gully between the path and the lawn. I knew when J dug that out that one of us would trip in it, but I didn’t expect it to be me. For a few minutes I lay there in full view of the pair of them and then sat up feeling no ill effects. I was a bit shocked and felt like crying, but avoided that and laughed instead.  It’s amazing how close those two emotions are isn’t it! I suffer with a bad back and I was really worried that I would have put that out – in which case I would be hobbling about on a stick for 6 weeks or more, but amazingly, I was all right. My pride was hurt, my arm hurt and I will have a bruise at the top of my left leg, but otherwise nothing. I was lucky.

Since then I have been extremely careful. I don’t want to fall over again. It’s not pleasant, is it.

I’ve been enjoying writing up about my Starlight Promotions experiences. They is more to come but I wouldn’t want to get boring about it.

Have a lovely Saturday.

Oma

 

Starlight Promotions – sounds


This track is a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s song ‘Little Wing’ by the band Flynn who are no longer together.sadly.

It was never sold. This is a demo.

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When a potential customer wants to know what a particular band sounds like, they usually ask the agent for a demo. or perhaps a chance to see the band in action. I enjoyed matching the potential customer with the bands. The bands would either send me a demo. cd of their own or a list of where they were playing so that they could be seen. Later on they had their own websites, but at the time I started doing the agency, it was mostly on demos.

As I got further into the agency running I would take samples of their cd’s from their demos and put them on the website. That was fun to do.

I always tried to go and see the bands myself and very often I took a video of them so that I could use some of it for agency purposes. At the time (1990’s) I only had a large video camera, which got heavy to hold after a while. These days all that is so much easier. I now have a small hand-held video camera, which looks like a phone. I can use the videos straight onto my computer, You-tube or wherever. YouTube didn’t exist then.

One of the bands which was busy on the local circuit had a singer who I got to know well. He was one of the ‘good’ band members. He always called me back when he picked up my answer phone messages and always turned up to gigs at the right time. They were reliable. Reliable is a word much prized by entertainment agencies. It’s no good doing all the work to get a band for a customer, only to find at the last minute that they can’t find the venue or they turn up late. After a few times of being let down, I kept a band in reserve. This seemed a good idea and I called upon it once or twice.

The singer I’m talking about, I shall call A. He told me that the band had made a record (CD) with a well-known record company, only to find that it was going to be released in Japan, but not here, not for a while anyway. This was disappointing for the band naturally. We were entering the time of Indie Bands, Indie Record Labels and it was a whole new time.

We decided to set up a record label, YEAH Isn’t that exciting. I’ll tell you about that as we go along, but for now I’ll stay with the agency.

The website was getting more and more hits and often got first placing on Google. That would be very hard to achieve these days!

I found I could see who was visiting the website and get statistics, which were very revealing. From doing that I could see a trend. I began to keep records of the statistics and published them on the site so folk could see.

At around this point I felt that I was doing a lot of work!!! Most of it was in the evenings because I was still doing my day job. It took time to prepare the handouts and keep the website current. I didn’t charge the bands for advertising on my website. That would be illegal. I still think that was unfair but it’s just the way it is. As it happened they were getting free advertising  on a website that was receiving an awful lot of hits, much more than they could hope to get on their own websites.

The way I earned my money was on commission for a sale. Even then sometimes the bands were reluctant to share their earnings. I took 10%. Most agents took 15%. I’m not sure what it is nowadays. I think that with everyone using the Internet so much, there is not much place for agents at all. Perhaps they specialise. I kept only to music, no stripagrams, no jugglers or magicians although later on I did give their names out through other agencies.

to be continued …

 

Starlight Promotions – 2


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So during the 90’s I was bringing up teenagers! three boys! and the house was full of guitars and then came the amplifiers; small ones, large ones and my youngest decided to be a bass player and the most enormous amplifier entered the house. There was music in every room, morning, noon and night only not so much in the morning… These were the days before musical downloads. That was in its infancy and we had a lot of CD’s. It was hard to know whose was whose. Where’s my  ….. CD was a frequent cry.

Then there were the practises. Lots of them. Friends coming in and going out and trying out new songs. Luckily the house is detached and nobody here took up the drums. I doubt there would have been room for a drum kit although we did have an electric one.

Meanwhile I am getting gigs for all and sundry and I decided to give ‘myself’ a name and charge commission. So in effect, I became the fifth, sixth or whatever member of the band. I arranged the gigs, took the money and shared it out. I was meticulous with the book-keeping. I was fair to the bands. Entertainment agencies, Estate agencies etc. have a bit of a bad name. I wasn’t having any of that. I was quite honest about it and encouraged the musicians to join the musician’s union if they hadn’t already.

So now I had a set-up. I did most of it by phone. Then I bought a fax machine. Remember those? It was useful at the time. I used the internet and realised that I needed a website. I had no idea about websites then so I did a bit of research. A young lad called Robbie contacted me and offered to make me a website for a reasonable fee.  He was very young, about 16 as I recall. I was amazed at how much he knew. He designed a lovely website for me, mostly blue with pages for all the bands and a contact page – everything I needed at the time.

Then he gave me a playpen so I could practise updating the pages myself.  One of the most important things about a website is that it has to be updated regularly. Nobody wants to read something that appears the same as yesterday. I bought a software programme called Dreamweaver and taught myself how to use it. All exciting stuff.

Once I got the website, things really took off.  I was inundated with demo. discs and biographies from bands, duos and goodness knows what from all over the place. I loved playing the CD’s

So now I had three things going on. I was collecting information from the bands, entering it all on a database – I used Lotus 123 and putting it onto my website. I was receiving enquiries from potential customers and sending them details and prices and I was ‘mothering the bands’ because they aren’t really very good at administration, I discovered.

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to be continued …

 

 

Starlight Promotions


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When my three boys were growing up and getting interested in music, it was really popular to want an electric guitar, learn to play it and then join a band.  When you think about it, that’s an awful lot to do, isn’t it.  It can take a year or more to become proficient on the guitar.  Then you have to find like minded people who want to join a band with you and then there are the practises!

My eldest son wanted a guitar.  We bought him one for Christmas, thinking that it might be a five minute wonder.  We were wrong.  He soon became addicted, sitting up in his bedroom night after night, sometimes all night, teaching himself the chords and listening to the sort of music he liked, mostly classic rock or heavy metal.

My then husband J had always played guitar, folk mostly on an acoustic and the boys grew up with music always in the house.  They told me later that they thought every house was full of music and guitars and were surprised to find that other people’s houses were different.

After about a year, my son could play.  He then started sending off for complicated guitar riffs (the solo bits in the middle of a piece) and studied those with a compulsion.  He didn’t neglect his school work, luckily.

I’ll skip a bit here, which I may come back to later, but what followed next concerned me and my life.

Once in a band, my son (R) needed somewhere to play.  Local pubs and clubs would let the bands play but they preferred a band to be experienced and play songs which other people could recognise.  By now the band was writing its own stuff and wanted to show it off.  In order to play in a pub, the band had to get some fans to come along and support them.  This, of course, ensured that the pub landlord got bums on seats and received money for beer at the same time.  The band would be paid a remuneration at the end of the night.  This is where I come in.  The boys in the band may have looked fierce, but they were still young and were shy to go up and ask for the money.  My husband and I went to support the band and I offered to get the money for them at the end of the evening. This worked well all round.  While the band were putting their instruments away, I would get the money and then give it to them when it was safe to do so.

The pub landlords got to know me and it wasn’t long before they were ringing me up and asking if I could get them a band to play on the next Saturday night.  Perhaps they’d been let down or just hadn’t managed to get a band.  I knew quite a few bands by then, friends of my sons and friends of their friends and they would also ask me if I could get them a gig somewhere or other.  It was fun!

Then one day someone asked me if I could get them a band for a wedding party.  The bands I was working with were not exactly suitable for weddings so I decided to advertise.  That is how Starlight Promotions came into being.

I am talking about the time circa 1992 and it was before many people were on the Internet so they were limited as to how they could find information.  These days people would just go on to Google or one of the other search engines and type in ‘wedding bands’ or ‘entertainment agencies’ but at the time I’m talking about, it was mostly word of mouth.

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to be continued …

Tea-time


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My pansy teapot

 

The ‘Divine Harvester’

The discovery of tea is said to go back to Shen Nung, the deity with a bull’s head and the father of agriculture, who ruled in China in about 2737 BC.  Resting at the foot of a bush and being thirsty, he is said to have asked a servant to boil him some water.  A few leaves fell from the bush into his cup.

Seduced by the sweet and restorative beverage thus produced, he is said to have ordered this plant to be cultivated throughout the land.

from ‘The Book of Tea’ by Annie Perrier-Robert

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Tea-time in our cottage is between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. depending on how hungry/thirsty we are, but tea drinking is an occupation that goes on all day. It starts for me at 7 a.m. when I have my first mug of tea. Then coffee at mid morning break, followed by more tea at lunch-time. Water with lunch, then coffee and another cup of tea at 2 p.m.  The next cup is made at 4 p.m and again at 6 p.m. At 9 o’clock it’s cocoa these days but sometimes tea again. Do you think that is excessive!

Just lately I have become hooked on Red Bush Tea.

Red Bush Tea

This tea has a unique flavour. It’s quite strong and definitely an acquired taste, but if you like your tea strong and I do! this could be the one for you. It’s certainly worth a try. Now I have an admission to make: if it wasn’t for the fabulous books by Alexander McCall Smith about the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, I don’t suppose I would ever have tried that tea; but it is a favourite of Mma Ramotswe. Mma Ramotswe sets up a Ladies Detective Agency in Botswana and with the capable help of her secretary, Mma Makutsi, she has lots of adventures. I am hooked, totally hooked on the doings of the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency and cannot wait to read each new book. Mma Ramotswe drinks Red Bush Tea all the time so I thought I must try it. When I saw it on the shelves in Sainsburys, I picked some up. Since then I haven’t looked back and I’ve also noticed that more and more of it has been appearing on the shelves.

Mma Makutsi on the left and Mma Ramotswe waiting for the kettle to boil:

Mma Makutsi and Mma Ramotswe

Assam is supposed to be the finest tea, but nowadays I find that lacking in flavour. No doubt my taste buds are getting old as well as the rest of me.

Do try it and let me know what you think of it.

Oma

 

My English Garden in June – Roses


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June is the month for roses and I’m pleased to say that the roses in my garden are doing well. I did have a plague of green fly descend upon the bushes, but a little spray took care of that. I use a washing up detergent diluted in water to remove the little blighters. There weren’t many ladybirds around so I thought I’d better deal with it myself. The rose bush above is in its third year and is doing very well. There are more flowers on it this year and the blooms are larger.

New to the garden is the red climber in the next picture. It’s doing well. I won’t prune it this Autumn. I’ll let it do its thing. I did buy two, but sadly the other one has died. I planted that one out the front on a north facing wall so that may have something to do with it.

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Roses are quite easy plants to grow and they seem to thrive in most conditions. I find it fascinating how each bush is different and some do better one year than another.

Here are the others.

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Oma

The American Museum in Bath, England.


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On our recent visit to Bristol, to visit with my eldest son and his partner, we took a day to go to the American Museum in Bath.’ The museum takes you on a journey through the history of America, from its early settlers to the 20th century and illustrates the complexity of American culture through its remarkable collections of folk and decorative arts.  Its furniture, paintings, maps, quilts, silver and glass are presented in a series of period rooms within a historic manor house near Bath in the beautiful Avon Valley in the West of England.

The museum grounds encompass 125 acres of parkland, gardens, and an arboretum and throughout the year, children’s activities, living history, workshops, lectures and seasonal celebrations are all part of the life of the Museum.

The only museum of Americana outside the United States, The American Museum in Britain was founded to bring American history and cultures to the people of Britain and Europe.’

The  museum was founded in 1961 by two men who had a great love for the decorative arts of America and who wanted to share this passion with the people of Britain.  They were Dallas Pratt, an American psychiatrist who served in World War II and his partner John Judkyn, a British antiques dealer.  In the 1950’s they were struck with the popularity of newly established historic site museums such as Winterthur, Williamsburg, Sturbridge Village and Historic Deerfield.  So why not found a museum to demonstrate that America was more complex than in the Hollywood movies people were familiar with?

Acquiring a 19th century manor housse near Bath to display their collections, the founders planned a series of period rooms for their decorative arts collections and the interpretation of American life.’ from the ‘Aspects of America’ guidebook.

Here are some of the pictures Larry and I took when we visited:

The house itself is beautiful and the view from the front is spectacular.

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This is the view from the front:

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‘This room is the ‘keeping room’ .17th century ‘keeping’ was a term used by colonists to describe where they lived.  The Keeping Room includes a pedestal table that may have belonged to Peregrine White, who was born aboard the Mayflower':

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What follows is the ‘Stencilled Bedroom’ ca. 1830. ‘Stencilling was done by itinerant painters who travelled across the country decorating walls with paint, as a substitute for more expensive wallpaper.  The popularity for stenciling travelled back across the Atlantic to Britain, where it also was used in the 19th century.’

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We had such a good time here and looked and looked until we were too tired to look anymore! We had lunch in the beautiful refectory where all American food was served, which was nice for Larry because although he wouldn’t admit it, he must feel homesick sometimes.

After the house we visited the exhibition hall in the grounds where a Kaffe Fassett exhibition was being held. I wrote about it here if you missed it the first time round.

 

 

The fleece(s) has arrived.


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I have now received the fleece(s) I was promised and there are some of different types. The Polworth looked the dirtiest so I have started with that one. Picture above showed how it arrived.

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

  P0lwarth is a breed of sheep that was developed in Victoria (Australia) during 1880. They were of one-quarter Lincoln and three-quarters Merinobloodlines. They are large, predominantly polled sheep with long, soft, quite fine wool and produce good meat carcases. They were developed in an attempt to extend the grazing territory of sheep because the Merino was found lacking in hardiness in this respect.[1] A dual-purpose (meat and wool) breed with a major emphasis on wool production.[2]

Characteristics

Mature ewes weigh 50 to 60 kg (110 to 130 lb) and mature rams weigh 66 to 80 kg (146 to 176 lb). Ewes are excellent prime lamb mothers producing lambs that have good lean carcases. The high yielding fleeces weigh an average six to seven kilograms, with a fibre diameter of 23 to 25 microns[3] (58–60s).[2][4][5]

The Polwarth Sheepbreeders’ Association of Australia was formed in 1918 and the studbook closed in 1948.

Polwarths are now mostly found in the higher rainfall regions of south-eastern Australia that have improved pastures. Polwarths have been exported into many countries, including South America where they are known as Ideals.[5]

Polworth sheep Polworth Sheep

First I washed it, three times. Then after a thorough rinse, I put it out in the sunshine to dry.

 

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Larry bought me some carding combs so I could stroke the fleece into submission!

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It’s important to keep one comb for the left hand and the other for the right. So I marked them to make sure I didn’t get them mixed up.

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When the fleece was washed, dried and combed, it looked like this. I have stored it and can’t wait to try spinning with it soon. It looks like a cloud of happiness to me :)

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I’ll come back and show you as soon as I start spinning.

Oma

Spinning and Knitting Project finished.


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The above four yarns were spun by me during the last year.  Question was: what to do with them when they are finished? Answer: find a pattern that you like and adapt it.  Easier said than done.

Then I saw this pattern in an old ‘People’s Friend’ magazine. I thought it would be just right. It was just right for someone short-waisted, like me, and lots of opportunities for using more than one colourway.

My spun-off merino knits up like Aran so knitting with 5mm (u.k. needles) I began.

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…and here is the finished result. I’m pleased with it.  It’s not at all itchy and very comfortable to wear.

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The colour panel at the back breaks up the vast expanse of lavender yarn and compliments the front panels.

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I like the way it sticks out at the front.

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Now on to my next project, but first I need to make something with the left-over yarn from this one. Any ideas?

 

Oma

 

My English Garden in June 2014


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These daisies come up every year and sometimes are just a little too prolific, but I like things I can get a lot of so I put up! with the profusion. Can you see the bee on one of the flowers?  Last year it was hover flies and I got stung twice on the arm on two separate occasions. I’m hoping that won’t happen again this year because I’m allergic to stings and bites and suffer miserably.

Here is the hanging basket just outside my back door. The nasturtiums aren’t flowering yet, but they will be soon I think. Just as soon as we get some sunshine.

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On Sunday last, Larry cooked a tasty barbecue. We had steak and lamb chops. Next time I fancy doing kebabs of some sort so here he is making an addition to the grill to cook kebabs on. Does anyone have any good recipes for kebabs? I’m new to barbecues and could do with some help please.

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Jim’s runner beans are all up, even the ones in the pots. Last year was a disaster to start with and he had to replant the lot. Then in the second coming (so to speak), they did so well that he had the best year for runner beans ever.

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Here the ferns and in front the tomatoe plants. To the right is our camellia.

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We had lots of beautiful clematis flowers this year. This one is called ‘The President’.

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Last year I took care to spread around lots of the white nigella plants. We are rewarded this summer with some lovely specimens.  Common name is ‘Love in a mist’. So romantic, don’t you think?

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The sweet williams are just starting to flower.

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and we have lots of bright red poppies.

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Lots of joy in the garden isn’t there.

Oma

 

A new raw fleece cometh.


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I am currently spinning with this beautiful dark purple roving, which I bought from E-bay. It’s a very soft merino. It spins up quite quickly and is a joy to work with.

 

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So far I have several spools of it and some of it is already in use. More of that another day.

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However, I am excited about getting a raw fleece to work with, later in the week so I will be back on here to tell you how I’m getting on with that. I’m not sure what I’m getting yet, but it could well be a long staple variety, like the one in the following video. You will see how http://www.taylormadeyarns.co.uk spins up an art yarn using a Wensleydale fleece. It’s quite fascinating. Do take a look:

Oma

Sammy is one year old today!


Sammy on his new slide May 2014

Hip Hip Hooray, Sammy is one today! Truly my cup is full and runneth over. Little grandson number 2 is one today and we’re just been out for dinner to celebrate the day.

Here he is on the new slide his other grandparents bought him for his birthday and later on, after he’s had a little sleep, he’s off to the playground again to have some fun.

His mummy is a teacher and therefore has this week off work so isn’t he lucky.

Sammy is such a dear little soul with a big dimple in his chin, just like his mum and his maternal granddad. He has his daddy’s curly hair and big blue eyes.

Below you can see a picture of Sammy’s daddy at the same age (on the left) and Sammy himself on the right.

Sammy May 23rd 2014

One year old is such a milestone, isn’t it.

Oma

 

Happy Birthday Rob. My Memoirs – 26th May 2014.


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My eldest son is 40 today so A Very Happy Birthday to Rob. The picture above was taken recently when L and I went down to Bristol to meet him.

Here he is in his band when he was 20 year’s old. The band was called ‘Childhood’s End’. They were playing at The Arts Centre in Luton and backing a group called ‘Nothing But Trouble’, which Rob later played in.

The video is a bit long so if you fast forward to the point on the video at 32 mins and you can see him playing a nice guitar piece, which he wrote himself. You have to start the video first, then push the indicator to the 32 min mark.

It’s a bit of a moment when your child turns 40 isn’t it.

Have a great day,

Oma

Leaf Cards


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I’m currently read Mary O’Hara’s lovely book ‘The Scent of Roses’ wherein we learn about her life as a singer, as a newly married woman and as a nun.

‘In the fifties, Mary OHara, almost by accident, found fame and fortune as a singer and harpist.  She had a gentle beauty and charm, coupled with a unique lyric soprano voice.

Mostly, I came to realise, book reviews are about current books or those just published, but I tend to read new and old and often re-read those I like the best. Although I knew of Mary O’Hara, I hadn’t read this book before and now as an older person, I have been enjoying it. I may not have read it in my younger years, but it speaks to me now as a 62 year old. This morning I read about the leaf cards she made and would like to quote from the book here for you now:-

‘As soon as I was Solemnly Professed (admitted into the monastery), my father went off to work in the U.S.  Every now and then, a particularly lovely autumnal leaf, indigenous to whatever part of North America he was in, would arrive from him in a letter.  He would pick them up on his rambles, press them and send them on to me.  They were so attractive that I took to sticking them on to cards and using them as markers in my choir books.  One day Sister Hildelith, who had seen my leaves, asked me if I’d join forces with her and produce some leaf cards for the annual display of handmade gifts from members of the community for Lady Abbess on her Feast Day and I agreed.  However, shortly after that , Sister Hildelith had to drop out of the project because of other commitments, so reluctantly I had to continue on my own.

Eventually the finished leaf cards went on display among all the other community gifts.  It was a lovely surprise to discover that not only did Lady Abbess like them, but so did other people including the Cellarer, who asked if I’d produce more for sale in the monastery shop.  So I went on happily making leaf-cards in my free time, little thinking that it was to develop into a fascinating hobby.  Until then I was not well acquainted with the flora in our grounds, but gradually, I became more knowledgeable.

At first I just culled random, experimenting with lots of things.  Although I never used flowers as such, apart from the heads of conparsley, hogweed or fennel,I sometimes picked a flower after the petals had fallen off and the flower assumed a different appearance.  Clematis, for instance, after the petals have dropped off, becomes ‘old man’s beard.’ Pressed at an early stage, it remains silky and a shiny pale green for an indefinite time and looks stunningly lovely.  Pressed at a later stage it turns out lavender-coloured, very feathery and fragile-looking.  I sometimes called these the ‘Eye of God’ or ‘Ezechiel wheels.’

To me each leaf I worked with was a new source of wonder because each was a unique creation and something living.  The combinations of leaf and paper were myriad.  I was in the enviable position of having access to off-cuts, and sometimes whoel sheets of what must have been some of the most beautiful hand-made papers in the word, from Japan to England.  My sources of supply were all within the monastery walls and contributions came from the printing room, where they also did Fine Printing, the scriptorium, the bindary and the artists’ studio.  Besides hand-made paper in white and in various colours, shades and textures, and Japanese veneer, I was also given good quality machine-made papers, sometimes hand-dyed.  Soon it became the most fascinating work I’ve ever done.

A by-produce of this was that I became much more observant of the beauties of nature out of doors around the enclosure.  Eventually, as the work expanded, I was given a special cell to work in, which I called my ‘Leafy Bower’, and was also provided with a table, shelves and a guillotine for cutting paper.  It was absorbing and enjoyable work.  Sometimes I referred to them as my Zen cards.’

That passage from the book and it’s subsequent paragraphs, which went on to chronicle further successes with the art, moved me somewhat. I got to thinking about how a simple thing like receiving a leaf in the post from her father started something which gave Mary and all her friends and later customers such pleasure. It really is the simplest things in life that give the most rewards.

Here is Mary in song:

 

I wish you a happy and peaceful weekend.

Oma

 

Dylan at the seaside.


Dylan in Norfolk - May 2014

This is my little grandson, Dylan, having a great time at the seaside this weekend past.  He is still enjoying Spiderman and wears anything spiderman related that he can find. Looks cute, doesn’t he.

We haven’t seen very much of Dylan lately and I do miss him, but we were finding that having him all day was too much, especially as he kept asking ‘when is daddy coming to collect me?’ Clearly we ancients are not his idea of fun even though we tried very hard to amuse him all the time he was with us.

It is hard for working parents, I know. But it is also hard for grandparents who lack the energy of a three year old.

We were discussing the situation with one of my other sons the other day and he explained that these days, the 30 somethings were an ‘entitled generation’. They have been brought up to expect things done for them. This has quite a big impact of all our lives. If you are of that generation, reading this, I don’t want to sound harsh. I can only tell it how it is to us.

We have given free child-care for 3 1/2 years, but it’s never enough or so it seems. I would love to be 30 something myself but I never will be again, sadly. I do not have the will or the energy. When Dylan came along, I thought it would be like taking care of one of my own little boys, but I quickly discovered that things, which I took for granted in the 70’s, I can no longer do. For example, I could only lift the baby for a little while and when I leaned forward to put him in the cot, my back hurt unbearably. I needed help and got it from J, but he also got tired very quickly. Even with three of us here, it is difficult to be ‘on’ all the while throughout the day.

So things have changed here. We only see Dylan when his daddy brings him round, but at least we see him sometimes. It is not enough for us to have him for just a couple of hours. He needs care all the day so it is very much an all or nothing situation. I know there are lots of grandparents who don’t see their grandchildren at all for one reason or another and there are many who don’t have any grandchildren and never will have and I feel for them.

Life is so different to when I was young. I was so happy to be at home with my little ones and enjoyed every minute. I didn’t get bored or ‘brain-dead’ being with children. Life is very much what you make of it, isn’t it.

So I’m getting used to the new situation, slowly.

Oma

The Kaffe Fassett Knitwear and Quilt Exhibition – Bath, England.


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I’ve just been enjoying a trip to Bath. On one of the days we visited the Kaffe Fassett exhibition, which was, to me, spectacular. This post is heavy on pics but I simply could not choose what to leave out so please enjoy the feast…

This is the entrance hall, which was very pink like everything else in the exhibition – a riot of colour.

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With pictures like these, who needs words? If these pictures have wetted your appetite for more, click here and you can read some more about this interesting designer.

Oma

 

My Memoirs – The Mills Family of Tittenhanger, St. Albans and Luton.


Ethel Davis and parents

 

On the left of the above picture as we look at it, is my little nanna, Ethel Mills (nee Davis).  She is standing with a brother and sister. Her parents (my paternal great grandparents) are seated. They were a large family of some eleven or so siblings and my nanna was one of the youngest. She was tiny in stature and like so many tiny people, she was lively in nature. They lived in St. Albans, Hertfordshire and then later on moved to Luton where she lived for the rest of her life.

Nanna married Fred Mills and had three children – Connie, Herbert and Fred jnr. (my dad). Here is a picture of them on the beach somewhere, enjoying a day out perhaps. My dad is in the middle.

 

Fred Mills on beach with family circa 1921

 

 

My nanna worked hard making hats for the thriving Luton Hat Industry, which is famous for its straw boaters. If you click on the link you can read more about the plaiting and so on…Later on my Auntie Connie joined her and one of my enduring memories was visiting them in their tiny house to find hats everywhere. They were stacked up in corners everywhere awaiting my nanna’s attention. She did the finishing – sewing on ribbons and bands. It was welcome work and done at home so it had advantages. I don’t suppose my granddad Fred liked having so many hats all over the place, but I never heard him complain.

Another memory I have of Nanna Ethel was the way she buttered bread. She used to buy milk loaves from the little shop on the corner of her street and then cut off the end. That done she would tuck the loaf under her arm and butter the bread there! Then she cut off a slice for each of us – usually my cousin John and I and one of my parents. It was customary to put treacle on it before we ate it. We rarely ate meat with the bread because meat was so expensive, but we did have cheese and if all else was missing – sugar.

I always went to my nanna’s on Christmas Eve in the morning, just when the excitement of Christmas was at its peak for me. I didn’t realise until much later on that the reason I went there then was so that my parents could go to town on their own and choose a present for me.

My nanna had a long life. She lived to be 95 years old and kept her health to the end. She was always cheerful and always busy and I have very fond memories of her to this day.

Here is a picture of my dad in his prime.

Frederick Harry Mills

 

Oma

My English Garden in May – Beautiful Clematis


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It’s just so nice to see flowers blooming after our long, wet winter. Here on the wall is a beautiful clematis, which gives us much pleasure.

And here a honeysuckle, just waiting to open up…

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Life feels good at the moment and here at the cottage we are all three enjoying our retirement.  There is time, at last, to do the things we want to do. Life moves slowly. We have learned to adapt and it’s good.

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Oma

 

What am I knitting today?


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I saw the pattern for this lovely jerkin in the window of my local haberdashery shop last week. The baby looks a little like my grandson, Sam, so of course I had to buy the pattern, didn’t I!

I had just the right yarn to make up the jerkin – some of my handspun, which has been sitting in a basket for a while now. Do you like the colour? Being handspun, it varies from dark to lighter shades. I like that. I like a bit of variation. So now I’m doing the V-neck of the front and it won’t be long before I’m on to the borders.

I love knitting. It’s very relaxing in the evenings after all the chores are done. I like to put my feet up, watch TV or listen to the radio and knit. Bliss!

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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.