Snow is forecast.


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There has been a lot of hoo-haa in the news about the snow storm in America and now over here in England, we are told we will be getting some snow too. For most people, this is bad news, but for some it is very exciting. I’m talking children now.

In her book ‘Village Affairs’ Miss Read is describing how her class of Infants react to snow in Fairacre…

‘Cruel weather,’ said Mr. Willet. ‘My greens look fair shrammed. What with the weather, and the pigeons, and all them other birds, I sometimes wonder why I bothers to grow them.  If I had my way I’d stick to root crops, but my old woman says we must have a bit of winter greens, so I doos my best.  ‘Tis a thankless task though, when the winter’s like this.’

‘As long as we don’t get snow,’ I said.

Mr. Willet looked surprised.  ‘You’ll get that aplenty, my dear, and afore the week’s out too.’

As usual, he was right.

It began during the dinner hour, while the children were tearing about digesting, I hoped, steak and kidney pie and pink blancmange.  Hilary was on playground duty, and I was cutting up painting paper for the afternoon sessions, when the classroom door burst open to reveal a knot of panting children, proudly displaying the spatters of snow on their clothes.

‘Snowing, miss! Ennit lovely? It’s snowing! And it’s laying too.’

They were much too excited to have understood the different uses of the verbs ‘to lie’ and ‘to lay’, and anyway I have almost given up hope of any success in that direction.

I contented myself with telling them to let Miss Norman know that they must all come in to school.

They clanged over the door scraper with enough noise for a mechanized army, and I went to the window to see the worst.

The snowflakes were coming down in great flurries, whirling and turning until the eyes of the beholder were dazzled.  The icy playground was white already and the branches of the elm trees would soon carry an edging of snow several inches deep.  Across the playground, sitting inside the window of my dining-room, I could see Tibby watching the twirling flakes as interestedly as I was doing.

The snow hissed against the glass, but that sibilant sound was soon drowned in the stamping of feet in the lobby and the excited voices of the children.  I could see we were in for a boisterous afternoon.  Wind is bad enough for raising children’s spirits to manic level.  Snow is even more potent a force.

I judged it best to give out the paints and paper as soon as the register had been called, for it was quite apparent that my voice could never compete with the drama that was going on outside the windows.

‘You can paint a snow scene,’ I said, working on the principle that if you can’t beat your rival, you join him.

‘What like?’ said Ernest.

Our Fairacre children are chary of anything involving the imagination.  If I had told them to paint the tasteful arrangement of dried flowers and leaves, concocted by Amy and kept on my desk, they would have set to without a word.  But to be asked to create a picture from nothing, as it were, filled them with dismay.’

Did that passage from Miss Read’s book stir any memories of your own childhood in snowtime?

Oma

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My New Project – yarns to be used.


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For my new project, I am using a selection of yarns. The first is a combination of the rolags I bought at Festiwool, Hitchin and some grey merino I had in my stache.

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I am also adding in some of the very white Polworth fleece, which I hand-carded recently:

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I also have some purple and grey merino which I will work in.

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This is how the finished project will be: a short waisted button-up cardigan with a large collar:

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So far I’ve done the back up to the armholes in a plain purple merino. First picture gives the true colour and the second picture shows the detail with the flash turned on:

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The flash sure makes a difference, doesn’t it. The first pic is very accurate.

This project will not be finished quickly. I am still spinning the wool into yarn and in between I am working on other projects. However, I will come back and show you as and when I finish each section. I don’t have enough of the purple to finish the back so I may use the mixed purple and grey from the armholes up. Let’s just wait and see shall we.

Meanwhile, five weeks to go until my new grandchild appears. It’s getting exciting. Pity they are in South Carolina. We won’t be visiting very soon!

Oma

A new project for a new year.


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When Larry and I were at the Festiwool wool fest recently, I bought some interesting rolags. As you can see from the picture, the rolags are multi-coloured. What you can’t see very well are the sparkly bits running through them. I’ve been spinning them up lately, mixing them in with some of the white Polworth yarn that I spun from an original fleece in the summer. I intend to make this cardigan:

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which is available as a button-up or zip-up version. I shall make the button-up version this time. I have made a start, knitting the back, up to the armholes, in a purple yarn which I had spun up ready. I don’t have enough of the sparkly rolags to make the whole cardigan.

If you would like to see more of the Festiwool get together, you can click here.

I’ll let you know how I’m getting on with the cardigan in a future post.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Oma

Happy Birthday Larry


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The cottage is buzzing with birthdays! Larry has just turned 70 years. Amazing that he’s lived that long…? no just kidding. Happy Birthday darling and many happy returns.

No, I didn’t stay up to see the New Year in, but I did hear the fireworks, which started here at about 10 p.m. They didn’t keep me awake either.

Happy New Year to all my followers.  I hope 2015 is a good one for you. Any plans for the New Year?

Oma

My English cottage garden – December 2014


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Hello everybody, I hope you enjoyed your Christmas. New Year still to come!

I am loving my Christmas present – a new shed! I’m so delighted with it, I could almost eat it, if you see what I mean.  It has been invaluable for putting the excess Christmas food in during the last week or so and the extra milk which I ordered over the Christmas period. The shed was put up a few weeks ago, but I wasn’t supposed to go inside it. I cheated! Still never mind, it didn’t spoil anything and now, every morning, I go up the path and peek inside to check on my geraniums, which are over-wintering in there. The baby ones, you’ve seen before, I keep indoors on the window sill but I don’t have enough window sills for all the others. At the last count there were over twenty of them!

The shed is going to look grand when the lilac bush comes into flower in the Spring and I will be popping back to show you when the buds are evident.

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This is the view from the inside, from the door. Geraniums on the right and at the back?

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Here’s a closer look:

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Four chicken nest boxes! Yes, I’m going to get some more chickens in the Spring. I kept chickens before, for ten years from 1990 to 2000 when their housey fell to bits! Now it’s time to have another go, I feel. I miss my hens a lot and can’t wait to get some more.

Here are some more pics around the garden this week:

View from the inside of the shed looking out, south:

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The woodpile:

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Pots of herbs by the back door. In the large pot are bluebells. I had to move them to make room for the new shed.

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I think you can tell how excited I am, can’t you?

Have a lovely Sunday.

Oma

Merry Christmas everyone.


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My turkey is defrosting in the shed; my mince pies are ready and waiting to be eaten and some of the other jobs have been done. Others are still waiting (mops brow). So it just remains for me to wish all my followers a very Happy Christmas. I appreciate your visits day by day throughout the past year. It means a lot to me to see your comments and I hope you will continue to dip into my life, here in England, during 2015.

Tale care!

Oma x

Christmas Cards


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We have received some lovely Christmas cards this year. Even now they are still coming, one or two a day. I don’t think the custom is quite so popular as it used to be but in this house at least, they are all most welcome.

The question is, ‘what to do with them?’ I have some pretty hang-ups and I clip my cards onto those. Here is one of them..

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I slot the cards in and secure with a paperclip, otherwise they sometimes fall on to the floor. How do you display your cards?

The cards I like best are the ones of the three kings. I’m not sure why but I love those. They are mysterious. It’s all about following a star wherever it leads and having trust and faith that the star will lead us to the right place at the right time and of course in the case of the birth of Jesus, it does. Maybe it’s the anticipation of what will be found at the end of the journey. Christmas is a lot about journeys. So many people are on the move, trying to get to their loved ones at Christmas or just escaping from the place where they usually live. Mary and Joseph were making a very long and arduous journey on a donkey – not the best way to travel when you’re pregnant, is it!

The three kings are on camels, again not a very comfortable way to travel. We in this day and age travel mostly by car or bus or train. Aeroplanes too are buzzing about in the sky. We all pray for good weather so that we can make our journeys safely. We watch the weather forecasts at every opportunity to see if snow is forecast or ice or whatever we dread the most.

For myself, I am not travelling this year. I am staying by my own hearth. Here it is:

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You are virtually invited to join me in front of the fire as I and my family prepare to enjoy the Christmas season. As you can see, we have chomped our way through most of the chocolates in the advent calendar already! There are just a few left.

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Oma

The Post Office is bulging!


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Well, we braved it and went into town today. It was frosty when we got up, but the frost soon cleared and the sun came out.  That always makes you want to move yourself, doesn’t it. I had two more parcels to deliver, but one can’t go yet because I’m not sure where to send it, but the other one was ready and anxious to be off.

The bus was full but not as full as last week but when we got to the Post Office in town, it was pumping. I took a ticket and discovered there were 55 people before me. I’ve never found it that busy before. To start with there wasn’t a seat wherein to wait but soon the queue started getting smaller and I found a seat, which was a relief.  There was also a queue for the self-service where people can send their post using a machine like in the supermarket.  I looked at the clock, 10.25 a.m. I wondered how long it would take for me to get seen to?  There is a machine with an automated voice in there so your number is called out when it’s your turn. It usually works extremely well. All the stations were manned. Then three tellers went off on their coffee break and the queue slowed right down.  One man had a duffle bag with about a 100 parcels in it. OMG I thought, that will take ages. I timed him. It took 15 minutes but stuffed up the queue for the rest of us. All in all it took half an hour before I was seen, but considering the circumstances, I thought that was good and at least I was sitting down.

From there we went to the wool shop. I wanted a pattern for Aran wool because that is how my spinning comes out when I spin with merino. I couldn’t quite reach the pattern book because someone was standing in the way. The next thing I knew, the pattern book was on the floor and all the patterns had fallen out of it. Blow! now I had to put them all back in again. Meanwhile, Larry was choosing his yarn and getting on very well. I eventually put the patterns back in and chose one I liked. I’ll show it to you soon. We went to the till to pay, only to be told that the card machine wasn’t working. A new one was promised some time today but they didn’t know when so could we please pay in cash? We didn’t have enough cash so we had to go downstairs in the Mall and find a cash machine. That done, we returned to the shop to pay for the goods.  It was definitely going to be one of those days!

Getting my thoughts together, a bit of a rant.


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I don’t know about you, but I find this time of the year very emotional. With all the excitement of Christmas, planning, buying gifts, extra cooking and greeting guests, there is an awful lot to do. However, in addition to all of that, there are the advertisements for help with charities. I like to give as much as possible but with the best will in the world, it isn’t possible to do what is needed and I get a feeling of inadequacy. This year in particular I feel the need to help animals because they get a very raw deal, in my opinion.

I am on Facebook and I enjoy it, particularly keeping in touch with all my Australian cousins. In the past, postage was too expensive to be in regular touch with them all and my Uncle and Auntie, who emigrated in the 60’s, but now I can tap in to their lives almost every day and it’s wonderful. However, underneath their posts are the ones about animal suffering and I find it almost impossible to comprehend. How can people be so cruel to animals? There are some horrendous stories to see. I won’t repeat them here, but you know what I mean. What can I do about it? Recently I got posts about the Soi Dog Foundation, which helps dogs in Thailand, on the other side of the world to me. They are asking us to buy a banner to let the people over there know that dogs are being taken off the streets for farming purposes. Again, I won’t go into detail but it is a horrid practice and could be stopped if people come together and stop it. A lot of the trouble is not knowing what goes on over there, I presume. If you’re feeling brave, click on the link above and see what I mean.

I considered that: buying a banner, but then I thought about all the animals over here that are being ill treated and I wondered if perhaps I should do something about that first. It is a dilemma and one not easily solved. It bothers me that there are still so many dangerous dogs on our streets even after the governments Dangerous Dogs Act, which was supposed to protect the public from these animals. In most cases it isn’t the animals that are at fault, but their owners who either deliberately train them to be vicious and/or fight or just don’t know how they should be treated. There are so many more suitable breeds of dog for keeping as pets. I can only think that people buy the dangerous kind as status symbols. It should be stopped and soon.

Do you feel inadequate at this time of the year? Do you go to bed and think about all the poor donkeys that are mistreated and abused? or is it just me?

Oma

Book Review: Snowfall in Burracombe by Lilian Harry


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This is a delightful book and just right for this time of the year. As you know, I love all things ‘village’ so this book was perfect for me.

‘In the village of Burracombe, nothing stays secret for long and behind the peaceful, rural charm, there’s always a scandal to uncover, a newcomer to the village to set tongues wagging, a happy occasion to celebrate or friends to help their neighbours through the tough times.

It’s December 1953. As the village prepares for the festivities, for many people a happy Christmas is by no means certain. For Stella Simmons, recovering from a car crash, the winter wedding that she and her sweetheart had planned seems impossible.

Elsewhere in the village, Jackie Tozer is dreaming of America and Hilary Napier, who thought the war had robbed her of her chance of happiness, has to ask herself if she could ever imagine leaving her life at the big house for the sake of love and adventure.  The darkest time of the year finds everyone asking questions with no easy answer.

As snow falls softly on the village, and everyone wishes for peace and joy, Burracombe proves once again that there’s a always a surprise around the corner.’

so say the jacket cover! Lilian Harry has written numerous books, but this is the first one of hers that I have read! I enjoyed it very much and would recommend it to you. I counted 60 characters in all. Far too many for me to remember so after reading the first chapter, I started making a list.  I wrote down the character’s name, who they were and who they were married to or in a relationship with. Perhaps if I had read other books in the series, I would know by now, who is who, but I didn’t. I found this book in a charity shop and pounced on it! Do you make lists of characters when you are reading?

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I have just completed two more doggie blankets for the Battersea Dogs and Cats home. I hope I can get them off in the post in time. I expect they won’t mind if they’re late arriving. There is a blue one and a purple one. I’m using up my stash nicely!

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Have you noticed how busy the delivery men are? It must be a very stressful time of the year for them. I hope they all get a bonus like the bankers!!! This year, here in England, we adopted the Black Friday nonsense. I say nonsense, not because it is a waste of time. If you can buy a TV at a very reduced price, then good for you, but I don’t like what I see on the television with regard to the behaviour of many of the shoppers. Frankly, it was disgusting. I would much rather we adopted the Thanksgiving Day that you have over in America. Following on from Black Friday is Cyber Monday and yes, we have that too now. Those two days of sales have caused havoc with UPS etc.

Tomorrow is the 12th so I’ll be posting my Christmas cards and putting up the Christmas Tree. I’m looking forward to doing that.

What will you be doing tomorrow?

Preparing for Christmas


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It’s time to start the preparations for Christmas, isn’t it! Time to find or remember where you put the decorations, the Christmas cards, ribbons and bows and of course the Christmas tree. Time to make that all important cake and start the shopping… I’ve noticed that my branch of Sainsbury’s is getting busier by the day. There were very few free spaces in the car park this morning. On the shelves there is change!  Familiar items have disappeared for the time being to make room for all those special treats we come to expect at this time of the year.

One of the places I love to visit is Poplars, the garden centre, which is a short drive from where we live.  They always put on a good display for Christmas and each year there is a different theme.  This year’s theme is The Snow Queen and you can see her in the picture below, sitting on her sleigh with the reindeer in front.  There is a Santa hut for the children. It gets more spectacular each year.  The restaurant does good business with mince pies galore and a view of the Christmas trees for sale just outside the window.

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Garden centres do big business over here these days.  They have changed enormously since the days when they were just nurseries. Now they are grand and full of all sorts of delights and it is possible to spend the whole day in them.

We bought a new Christmas tree for this year. I think it’s a little bigger than the previous one but we are restricted by space so it is still small. I may need to buy some new baubles for it (yeah) but must wait and see. First I need to assess the situation and where we’re going to put it etc.

Will you be having a Christmas tree in your home this year? Have you decorated it yet?

Oma

Celtic Tree Month of Elder


 

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We are just into the Celtic Tree month of Elder, an enchanting small tree…

‘The tree is said to have within itself the ‘Elder Mother’, called Elle or Hyldemoer in Scandinavian and Danish myth. She is said to work strong earth magic and according to legend, avenged all who harmed her host trees.  No forester of old would touch elder, let alone cut it, before asking the Elder Mother’s permission three times over and even then he was still in dread of her possible wrath.  Likewise, in many country districts of Europe and Britain, wise people will show respect by touching their hats when passing elder trees, in continuance of ancient custom.  Certain North American tribes also believe that elder is the Mother of the human race.

According to legend, witches would often turn themselves into elder trees, and one famous witch-tree turned a king and his men to stone, thereby creating the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire, England.  This ancient piece of folklore tells of a Danish king, on his way to battle for the English Crown with his warriors, meeting the witch and asking her what his fate would be. The witch replied:

Seven long strides thou shalst take,

And if Long Compton though canst see

King of England thou thalst be.’

Source: ‘Tree Wisdom’ by Jacqueline Memory Paterson

 

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends and family.


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Feels odd being here in England on Thanksgiving! I am English but with an American husband and time spent living in Tennessee, I have one foot in each country. I think it’s a lovely tradition and I wish we did more of it over here. Our roots here go back thousands of years and it’s hard to know, remember or even think of our origins. However we do have so much to be thankful for. My list is endless, it really is and today, such a special day, I am thankful for my family and friends and that includes all you bloggy followers.

I am making a pumpkin pie for Larry, although he doesn’t know it yet.  It must feel so strange for him being here today, his second year living in England away from his family and all things familiar. We’re going to have a turkey dinner out somewhere nice later on.

So Happy Thanksgiving one and all from my pen to your computer.

Oma x

Steam Train passes through Leagrave Station


Last week we went to our local railway station for an important event. Dylan and his dad came too. We were going to watch a steam train come through and it did, on time and at speed! Here it is:

 

 

At the end you can see Larry ducking to get out of the picture.

Dylan had never seen a steam train live before.  He wasn’t sure what he was going to see. He asked his dad if it was going to be like Thomas (the tank engine). Isn’t that so sweet? At the event, he was frightened, which is not surprising, after all he has only just turned four. He is used to seeing the electric trains go through but this was something different and it did go very fast.

It was a first for Larry too. He had never seen a real steam engine in action either and he found it very exhilarating.

The last steam engine to pull a passenger train in England was in 1968. It was the Oliver Cromwell and it went from Liverpool to Carlisle.  Is it really that long ago?

Do you have any memories of travelling on a steam train?

Oma

 

My Memoirs – Remembering the fallen of World War 1


Private Harry Davis - died at Flanders in world war 1

My great-uncle, William Harry Davis, was born in 1879 and baptised in 1882 at St. Peter’s, St. Albans. Later on, with the death of his father, the family moved to Hart Hill Lane, Luton, Bedfordshire. On 4th August 1906 Harry (as he was known) married Mary Edridge. There were two children born – Stanley and Gladys.

Harry went to France with the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, but was killed on 16th February 1916 in Flanders. He is buried in the Cambrin Military Cemetary, Pas de Calais, France, grave reference F9.

I have found out this information through family research. I didn’t know the story beforehand. Harry was part of a very large family of Davis’s. There were about thirteen children. My little nanna, Ethel was the youngest and her brother Harry was next but one up the line with Mabel in between.

I didn’t see my dad for a large part of my life because he moved to Australia when I was fifteen. I didn’t see him again until I was thirty-two years old. If I had known my dad better during those years, I expect I would have heard these stories frequently. I do know that my dad, whose middle name was Harry, was named after his Uncle. I know that now but I didn’t know it until I started researching.

When I heard that The Royal British Legion were offering commemoration for the fallen soldiers in World War 1, I decided to remember my great uncle in this way. I am hoping they will put a poppy on his gravestone, since he is fortunate to have one. Not everyone did.

I have no contact with this branch of the family. Does anyone on here know of them? All I know is that Harry and Mary were married in Northwood, Middx. but since he spent a large part of his growing years here in Luton, I felt it appropriate to remember him here.

Who are you going to particularly remember on November 11th?

Oma

Goodbye and thanks for the fish.


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This is my first car purchase, all on my own. It is (was) a Vauxhall Corsa and it’s ten years + with 110,000 miles on the clock. It’s been a brilliant car and if it’s possible to do so, I loved it very much. It did 30+ miles to the gallon and was easy to maintain. Now it’s been sold and will give someone else a few months or maybe a year or two of pleasure.

Goodbye little car. It’s been great knowing you… sob

Am I being overly sentimental? Do you get attached to your cars?

Oma

Taking care of the babies (propagating geraniums)


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Back in August I took some geranium cuttings for next year. I usually take about twelve with one or two spares and I try to pick cuttings from the different colours so that I get a continuity. I currently have red, white, pink and peach. I am always on the look-out for that elusive blue, which hasn’t been invented yet (as far as I know).

The cuttings stayed outside until last week when I brought them in to keep them safe against the risk of frost damage. I put them on a window ledge. This one faces west, which is ideal because they get the evening sun but not all day sun. They all have well established roots now and every one has started flowering. You can see in the picture how they like to grow towards the sun. Each and every one is leaning towards the light and the sun.

So my babies are indoors now. I will water them once or twice a week until April when they will go back into the borders and make a colourful show. Yes, I could go and buy plug plants from the garden centre, but this way is just so much more fun!

The next stage is for me to bring in the medium sized plants, which were the babies last year. We have been promised frost! soon so I need to get on with it.

Oma

Nothing like it!


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There is nothing like sitting with your feet up, with a cat on your lap and some comfort knitting, when you’re feeling poorly!

A couple of weeks ago I had the flu jab. So did Larry. Two days later I started feeling feverish with a sore throat. I don’t suppose it was the jab, but who knows? Since then I’ve had mild flu symptoms and felt quite low. I still don’t feel right, but I suppose it will work its way out of my system eventually.

Additionally I’ve been deaf in my left ear. I went twice to the doctor’s to have it syringed but that didn’t work so now I have to go to the hospital for a further procedure. I keep putting oil in my ear and it’s helping a lot but I’m not back to normal yet. The hearing is still dull on the left side. I now have sympathy for those who cannot hear properly permanently, including Larry. I had no idea how awful it was! It’s like living in a world of your own, detached from reality. I can’t even think straight to be honest and I am missing so much. It’s the little things which I miss the most, like hearing the birds singing in the morning. At this time of the year the birds don’t sing much anyway, but when they do, it’s beautiful and I miss it. I love to listen to the radio when I’m in bed or having a rest in the afternoons. Now I can only hear with one ear properly so if I turn over, the world goes quiet.

I discovered that with only one ear working, I can’t cope with more than one noise at once so when I go down in the mornings and put the kettle on to make my tea, I can’t hear the radio for the din the kettle is making.  All very disconcerting.

If someone is in another room and they talk to me, I can’t hear them! That’s annoying for all of us.

I can’t appreciate my music properly. It’s all lop sided.

Perhaps the worst thing is the tinnitus. It’s like standing under a waterfall at times. I hope that goes soon.

I have told myself that I will be more tolerant of deafness in future. It isn’t very nice!!

What am I making this week?


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I am a big fan of Tone Finnanger who designs the most delightful things. I just bought two of her books, which I can show you another time. These garden angels are from a previous book, ‘Crafting Tilda’s Friends’.

If I was a little girl, I would love to play with these little farmers and there would be endless possibilities. As it is I am a big (old) girl but I still like to play.

 

Oma

The Lonely Man – part two.


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Tom listened to Martin chatting away.  He knew what Martin was trying to do, but it wasn’t working.  Nevertheless he appreciated the effort and tried hard to give back a little of the kindness that Martin was sharing with him.  Martin droned on and Tom attempted a smile, but soon he was lost in his thoughts again and his coffee turned cold and the sun went in behind a cloud.

He remembered happier times in his life and tried to recapture the moments.  We all do that, don’t we?  A certain smell of flowers, grass even or perfume can take us back to our childhood or a time when the colours of our life were brighter and sounds were clearer, summers were longer.  Tom remembered the smell of a field where he used to play as a child with a group of friends. In that time he was closer to the ground. Sometimes crawling along on his tummy like a soldier and all the small animals were right in front of his nose.  Mice and voles scuttled away and the pungent smell of the weeds and flowers in such close proximity filled his mind with their presence.

‘So Tom, Tamsin and I would love it if you came over to our place on Sunday and shared our barbecue.  What do you think? Some of her friends will be there too.’

Tom smiled a little.  He appreciated the thought and ‘hell, why not. He had nothing to lose and everything to gain.’

‘Thanks Martin.  I’d love to come.  What time do you suggest?’

‘Whenever you’re ready Tom. Just turn up – late afternoon would be ideal.’

‘P

Ok mate. I’ll see you there; oh and thanks…’

Martin returned to his own table feeling pleased.  Well, it’s a start, at least he thought.

 

Over by the window, her cake now finished, Pat brushed the crumbs from her blouse and reached down to get her handbag so she could check her face in the small mirror, which was a gift from her late husband.  Out of the corner of her eye she saw Mick coming towards her so she aborted the mirror and went for her handkerchief instead. It wouldn’t do for Mick to think she was vain.  It was two years since Pat’s husband, Dick Clark, died. Every day that passed since Pat found herself thinking about him.  Sometimes the thoughts made her laugh or smile as memories came back, but more often she felt a tear in her eye at a reminder of some past event that they shared together.  Now though she must move on in life.  It was time to look ahead, not back.  There could be new memories to come, but they would need a little encouragement. She was still attractive and she still had much to give and wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to go to the theatre with now and then or out on one of those inviting day trips she kept reading about in the daily paper.

Take that nice young man in the corner for instance, the one with the striped jumper. He shouldn’t be looking so down and depressed.  What could have happened to him?  Perhaps he’s lost his job or failed his exams? Maybe his girlfriend has finished with him.  He looked well cared for.  Perhaps he’s been living at home and now he’s been told he has to move out.  We all have our problems, thought Pat.

She looked up into Mick’s kind, smiling face.  He wanted to know if she had enjoyed the cake and if today was a special occasion.

‘Yes, it’s my birthday today,’ she told him, ‘so I thought I’d give myself a treat.’

Mick smiled broadly and replied ‘Well we can’t let this day go without celebrating, how about another cup of coffee, on the house?’

to be continued …

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ps Yesterday I noticed that someone from The Faulkland Islands had looked at my Blog. I want to say ‘welcome’ to that person in particular because as you all may know, The Faulkland Islands belongs to Britain, even though it is on the far corner of the world. I was delighted to see that one of our own had found my Blog. It made my day.

Oma

Tiggywinkles Wild Animal Hospital, Aylesbury, England.


 

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A few days ago Larry, Jim and I went to visit the Tiggywinkles Wild Animal Hospital near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. That’s about 18 miles west of where we live. The hospital is set in the countryside and cares for wild animals who have been injured in some way. A lot are injured on the roads but there are also lots of natural casualties. The ultimate aim of the hospital is to release the animals back into the wild, but this is not always possible, sadly. If they cannot be released, then they will spend the rest of their natural lives in the beautiful grounds of the hospital. The first picture is of a Red Kite bird of prey (red tailed hawk if you are American!). Larry has helped me out with a lot of these sorts of words and descriptions being American himself. I also learnt a lot while I was living over there. It was quite sad to see how many of these beautiful birds were remaining in captivity but at least they are safe and they have a very large area to fly around in. They look wonderful as you can see from the picture.

Caring for wild animals is quite unlike caring for domestic creatures and requires a lot of skill. Tiggywinkles is a charity which relies on donations and benefactors and is always pleased to receive a gift.

Quite a few of the animals are nocturnal so we didn’t see all of them, e.g. the badgers and foxes but they are there just curled up in their burrows and forms etc. If we went back at night I’m sure we would be aware of a lot more, although I doubt if we would see much!

Interestingly there were lots of gulls that couldn’t fly and three legged deer and others.

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In the beginning, Tiggywinkles was set up to care for injured hedgehogs. Hedgehogs used to be very common in England, but over the last thirty years their numbers have reduced so much that now it is a delight to see one let alone have them living happily in the garden. Here at the cottage we used to have lots of them but for the last few years we have had none. Here is a video showing baby hedgehogs. I’m sure you’ll agree that they are just delightful.

Tiggywinkles was named after a Beatrix Potter character called Mrs. Tiggywinkles. Here is a video of her if you are unfamiliar:

If you would like to know more about Tiggywinkles Wild Animal Hospital, you can click here and go to their website. Please do. I’m sure you will enjoy seeing all the good work they do.

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Please let me know if the videos worked?

Oma

 

What am I making this week?


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Well it’s nearly Sunday again and Sunday is gardening day here in the cottage. Today we had some much welcomed rain. In fact we had today half the total rainfall for the whole of September. Amazing!

The picture above shows the fifth dog blanket I am making for Battersea Dogs’ Home. This one is going to be in different shades of blue and is made in an ever popular blanket stitch. The home likes this because the dogs can’t get their paws caught up in it.

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My new quilt is finished and now on my bed, ready for the cold nights ahead, which we have been promised!

Lucky me! Larry is making me a tabard on his weaving loom. Here is the pattern from the weaving book…

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and here it is in the making…

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I can’t wait to see how it comes out.

On my spinning wheel is some of the white Polworth fleece and I’m already making a jerkin with some of it, see below. Millie likes it because it is so warm so she is usually to be found curled up underneath while I’m knitting.

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So another busy week and tomorrow we’ll be in the garden.

ps there is a little good news about my son. He has found someone to share a flat with, albeit on the sofa! and he is training for a job in customer service with a well known bank. I have hope !

Oma

The Lonely Man


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The sun is shining in the Paradise City. A man enters a cafe that smells of happiness. Friends are seated at adjacent tables and they look up as he comes in. They smile when they recognise him, but he seems preoccupied. A chain of worries hangs around his neck and weighs heavy on his already strained shoulders. He buys a coffee and takes it to a seat in the corner where the sun cannot reach and taking a spoon he adds sugar and begins stirring, seeing only the world through the steam and fog of loneliness that his mind cannot shift…

The man in the cafe, the lonely man, was not young any-more, although not old either. He had seen many birthdays come and go and not all in the Paradise City. One of his friends stood up and came across, heading for the table in the corner where the sun didn’t shine. He wore a smile and a cloak of greeting as his hand came up and touched his forehead briefly.

The man in the corner, the lonely man, looked fuzzy today, not quite all there, lost in the mist. A flicker of warmth appeared in his eyes. He looked up, then down again, watching the swirling coffee as it whirl pooled around the spoon.

“What’s up?” asked the friend.

It was the first real voice the man had heard all week…

The lonely man, let’s call him Tom, was wearing jeans and a striped sweater, which suited him, thought the grey haired lady in her early sixties. She had chosen to sit at a table by the window where the sun streamed in and sent sparks of light from her knife. Carefully she cut her cake in half and lifted a portion of it to her mouth. The cake was a treat because it was her birthday and she wanted to spoil herself. To go with it she had a large coffee mocha, but that turned out to be a mistake because she found it sickly. She persevered, determined to enjoy her special day, which was just beginning. She looked across at Tom, whose friend was now seated opposite him, attempting to engage the sadness in Tom’s eyes with some lively conversation.
The owner of the Humming Bird cafe looked around at the tables to see how many were occupied on such a sunny morning in Paradise City. He noted with satisfaction that almost all the tables were hosting. The sun always brings out the customers, he thought as he mopped up a spillage on the counter. Next he checked to see how many regulars were present. There in the corner was Tom, looking sad and preoccupied, talking and listening to his friend Martin, who always seemed to have an entourage. Opposite and by the window sat Pat, eating a cake and stroking her newly coiffured grey hair. It must be a special occasion, thought Mick and he made up his mind to ask her what it could be. Mick was a widower and so much of his social life revolved around his work. Wiping his hands on a tea towel attached to his apron, he made his way towards Pat’s sunny table…

 

to be cont’d …

It’s pickle time at the cottage.


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It’s pickle time at the cottage so I’m putting my cares and worries away for a little while to wallow in the smell of salted vegetables and vinegar. Yum!

We always make mustard pickle at this time of the year and I have to add here that this is really Jim’s forte. I am just a helper. The ingredients are mainly, shallot onions, cauliflower, marrow, runner beans, a little flour and mustard and vinegar. We use the ordinary sort of malt vinegar, not the one with spices in it, but that’s just a personal choice.

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The vegetables have to be prepared and salted, then left overnight with a tea-towel over the top. This process extracts the excess moisture. In the morning, the vegetables are washed off and put in a large pan to cook. When cooked (imagine delicious smell), they are thickened with a flour paste mixture and then put into prepared jars for Christmas.

Here they are, all ready to give as gifts (just need the labels)  and to eat ourselves:

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Now, isn’t that a nice way to spend an afternoon?

Oma

Celebrate Mabon


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I love everything about this time of the year when day and night are brought into balance with the Autumnal Equinox. All our endeavours in the garden have come to fruition (hopefully). Some things have done better than others. This year, in my garden, we have had a bumper crop of runner beans and tomatoes. The tomatoes have been slow to ripen, as usual, because the sun has been hiding but indoors, on the window sill, the tomatoes are happy to turn red and we have been enjoying their fruitful taste for a few weeks now.

The blackberries are also ripe and tasty.

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The harvest moon is one of the most splendid things we can ever hope to see, isn’t it. It hangs in the night sky like a great big heavy ball, full of abundance and ready to pop. Who could not wonder at such a spectacle.

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I think that at this time of the year we all have an overwhelming urge to thank somebody for all this abundance, but who to thank? God is the obvious choice, but are there many Gods? After all, there are many Saints and we can pray to which ever one we choose depending on our circumstances.  When I took up Wicca as my main religious interest, I took a deeper look at the Gods of old, of whom there are many. Whilst retaining the God I was brought up to worship, I no longer see him/her as the only one. I am drawn to the Goddess Freya, a Norse Goddess who seems to call to me sometimes. Perhaps it is my Viking roots, who knows.

‘Freyja : Sometimes known as Freya or Frea, was the daughter of the sea god Njord in Germanic mythology and sister of Freyr. She was an important fertility goddess and a member of the Vanir, one of the two branches into which the Germanic gods were divided. After a war, the Vanir seem to have been supplanted by the younger Aesir, who were led by odin.  When peace was agreed between the two sides, Njord went with Freyr and Freyja to Asgard, where they lived with the Aesir as a token of friendship.’ taken from The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology by Arthur Cotterell and Rachel Storm.

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I think the most important thing about harvest time is that we must share what we have with others less fortunate than ourselves. We mustn’t keep it all but spread it around. Spread the love too. We all need it. Most of us have something in our lives which is giving us trouble. Perhaps if we share the trouble, it will lessen and not be such a burden on our shoulders. I need to take my own advice for even in my idyllic world there is trouble. My eldest son has recently lost his home and finds himself homeless, living on a beach in the south of England and this is giving me a lot of grief. Many times in the past he has returned home to the cottage but it never lasts. He no longer wants to live with his aging parents and we, for our part, need a quieter life now. He cannot find work and he has no proper address. It all seems very hopeless and yet when I look at the fruits of nature, I think that maybe tomorrow or the day after, the fruits of his life will appear and he will be whole again. He has troubles in his mind and these are very hard to cure, if not impossible. The troubles are not visible. If he was missing a leg, people would feel sorry for him, but when there is nothing to see, the help doesn’t come. We all turn away because none of us knows how to cope with it. His situation has done untold damage to the family in general and to those other people who love him too.

So back to Mabon, this time of celebration. A time of stability perhaps and a link to the past when we all lived in smaller communities and it was incumbent on us to help our neighbours. In this day and age many of us don’t even know who are neighbours are.

I refuse to be discouraged in my life and will carry on as if all is well. Perhaps if I do that, I can sow seeds of happiness for the future. In the Wiccan year, we are also coming up to New Year, which starts after Halloween. It is a good time to be thankful and look to the future.

I wish you all a joyous Mabon.

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The Vine Moon – Bind us together!


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At Mabon, or the Autumn Equinox, which this year falls on a Monday – next Monday, the 22nd September, we are at the point in the year when we celebrate the last harvest, the best harvest of the year – truly a cause for celebration.

I love Autumn and the harvest, particularly when all our work and efforts come together in a glorious binding together time. We gather our gifts together and share what we have. What better way of celebrating and we have done it like this for many years.

Yet this year I find myself fearful that the Scottish people, our neighbours and brothers in arms are contemplating breaking the ties that bind and taking off on their own. They feel (many but not all) that they will be better off without us down here in England. I for one will be sorry if they go their own way, yet there is a bit of me that says ‘if they want to do that, let them’. Tomorrow they vote, all 4 million who have registered. Some are still undecided. We await the outcome. The English people, though also part of the Union and without our own parliament exclusively for us, unlike our Scottish neighbours, have not been included in the vote. We have hardly been consulted and yet we will be expected to comply with the wishes of the majority up there whatever the outcome will be.

I am justified in feeling proud to be British. I am English too and proud of that. I don’t really separate the two. We all live together on the same set of Islands. We share trade and brotherhood. What’s wrong with that. If Scotland hives off, the Queen will still be Queen because ever since the Union of the Crowns of 1603 – when James VI of Scotland also became James 1 of England, precedes even the Union of the nations of 1707. Perhaps Scotland, once separated will want to become a republic. What a shame that would be and what would happen to the Queen’s properties in Scotland? Our noble Queen who has been such an example to us all has kept out of the debate recently, except to advise the Scottish people to think carefully before voting YES.

Our politicians have been promising changes if Scotland stays in the Union. I don’t agree with this. Why should we bribe the Scots to stay? They should be begging to stay if you ask me. How can a country the size of Scotland hope to do better than if they stayed in the Union. We are already subsidising them in many ways and per capita each Scot receives £1,600 more than we in England do. We are in a time of austerity and that applies to Scotland too. They think they are rich but they are mistaken. If they split off then they will be required to pay back their share of our National Debt. Their first Minister, Alex Salmond, has said he will default on the debts if asked to pay back what they owe. How does he think he will ever be able to borrow money from anyone ever again if he defaults on his debts here?

The main issue seems to be the currency. Scotland, once hived off, wish to keep the pound. That would mean that they as a foreign country would not have their own currency. How ridiculous. When asked what he would do if the banks refuse to make that path easy for him, was unable to answer. He refuses to answer because he doesn’t know. For sure several banks in Scotland will move their head offices to England. There will be job losses and a run on the bank. If I had money in a Scottish bank, I would have removed it weeks ago.

If Scotland want to join the European Union, they would have to reapply. The process would take at least five years and they would have to adopt the Euro. Then they would have to do what the European Union says and not Westminster so they still wouldn’t be free. There is no freedom these days. We are all answerable to somebody.

They want to remove the trident missiles from their shores. Wouldn’t America have something to say about that? Again, it would take years to put that into practise and how would our defense look then? We could be over-run with terrorists and immigrants from all over Europe, entering Scotland and moving down into England through the back door. Scotland would have very little defense at all. They could not depend on the support of the British army, such as it is and they would have to build a whole host of warships etc. That would all take time and money. There is not time where defense is concerned.

The Scots think they own the oil in the North Sea. Actually it belongs to the United Kingdom. If Scotland is no longer part of the United Kingdom, they they would have to renegotiate for the oil and there is nothing to say that they would get all of it. In fact the sea would probably be divided up and they would only get some of it. Since Alex Salmond thinks the oil revenue is their salvation, what plans has he in place if they don’t? and what will they do when it runs out?

Perhaps we in England we would have to put in border control and issue passports. That would interrupt trade.

Talking of trade, perhaps our government would add import duty onto all the crates of whiskey we import or maybe we’ll get it from somewhere else. I’m told that the Irish have good whiskey too.

If I was a pensioner up there, I would be very worried. At the moment their pensions are paid from a communal pot. We are apx 58 million people here, 5 million in Scotland. They would have to fund their own pensions in future.

Perhaps I will stop there. I could go on and on and on about it but like everyone else, I will have to wait and see and wonder what lies in store.

 

Oma

 

What are ‘we’ making this week?


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When I was at the recent Fibre East Festival in a village near here, I had a wonderful time looking at all the yarn, fibre, spinning wheels etc., but I felt a bit sorry for Larry because he wasn’t doing anything like it. He came round with me, gallantly and seemed to enjoy it. However, little did I know that he was taking it all in, especially the weaving looms. He was quiet about it while we were there, but when we got home, he went onto Amazon.co.uk and bought a book on weaving. He read the book twice and a week later a beautiful Ashford weaving loom arrived. After that there was no stopping him and already he has made some beautiful things.

Here is the loom:

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He has mounted it on an old bookcase so it hangs and when he sits in the chair, he can have it on his lap and weave away comfortably. This was the first thing he made. It’s a beautiful table cloth for a small occasional table. He made it in blue and white and it’s ever so even. He said I could have it as a tea towel, but it’s much too nice so it’s on display.

On top of the cloth is my weekly project. It’s a baby blanket for my new grandchild – due next February! Strictly speaking it’s a step-grandchild because he/she will be born to Larry’s youngest son Brad and his wife Morgan, who live in North Carolina. We are both very excited about the new event to come.

I am working on the border at the moment, as you can see. I’ll show you again when it’s quite finished.

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Now back to Larry’s work. The second item he finished is a beautiful scarf, which he made in an all wool ecru. Here it is, all ready for the cold winds to come:

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Each item Larry makes, he tests himself to do a little more intricately. In the scarf above, he has introduced a small pattern – two vertical lines down the sides. Lovely isn’t it.

The next item was a scarf in another all wool product. This one he found a bit more troublesome because the yarn was fluffy and hard to manage, but he finished it just the same and I think it looks lovely.

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and lastly, because he had quite a bit of the grey yarns left over, he made a chair back for himself, which will no doubt help to keep his neck warm.

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While Larry was weaving, I was finishing off a wall hanging, which I started at the beginning of the summer in my Patchwork Club. Here it is:

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We can certainly do with some peace in the world at the moment!

What are you working on at the moment?

Oma

What am I making this week?


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I’ve just recently finished a patchwork quilt for my bed, see above. After working on Larry’s American themed quilt at the beginning of the year,

dscf1805 I was ready for something ‘girlie’ and this is the result. It’s pink, red and flowery!!! Of course since I’ve finished it, the weather has turned warmer so I haven’t actually used it yet but the time is coming.

It was hard to get a picture of the quilt because it is quite big, but in the end what worked best was Larry holding it up for me. You can see his feet at the bottom!

So now I’m (almost) ready for the colder weather.

What about you? have you started squirrelling things away for the winter yet?

Oma

Dylan update – September 2014.


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My little grandson Dylan is on holiday this week, in Wales. He’s having a great time judging by this picture.

Holidays are so necessary in our busy lives but it is hard for some of us to afford them these days. Larry and I have been having days out this summer rather than weeks away and I’ve enjoyed it very much. After buying the new car in May, it made sense to be careful for a little while and although holidays can be fun, they can also be a lot of work, what with the packing, planning, navigating etc.

I’m not sure if the wetsuits were really necessary! but I’ll leave you with some more pics of the happy family enjoying their summer break:

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Barbecuing in the rain!


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Sorry about the quality of the picture. I haven’t mastered my I-phone camera yet!

Larry has been in England over a year now and is still very much enjoying his life here. Here he is barbecuing in the rain. Look how much weight he has lost since he’s been living in England! He is really slim now and looks much better for it. I have been quite strict with him because he admits to eating junk food when he was in America, living on his own. I don’t really know what junk food is. Food is food, right? However, I suppose it is obvious that some foods contain far too much sugar and fat for our health.

Next month we are going to the doctor’s for our annual check-up and it will be interesting to see how Larry’s blood tests come out. For the last few years he has been borderline diabetic and took tablets to readdress that. Here in England, the NHS (National Health Service) does not give preventative treatment for that condition so when L had his blood tests, obviously the results were good because he’d been taking the tablets. However, now he’s had a year without those tablets and only been eating the food I’ve been giving him, I’m keen to find out what the difference will be. Do you take any preventative medicines?

Actually, we have had a lovely summer but over the last week or so it turned cold. Now this week we are going to get a heatwave. Our weather certainly is changeable!

Oma

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