Archive | July 2013

My memoirs – 4 – 2013, Larry’s first week in England.


Back in 2007 I remarried to Larry. This is our wedding picture, one of them. Nice isn’t it! At the time his dad was still alive and in his 80’s and Larry was his carer. Dad lived with Larry. I went to America to live and every now and then I returned to England to be with my own family. I became a gypsy! I think I was always a bit of a gypsy really and this confirmed it. The fact that I could live this double life so easily came as a surprise to me and everybody else. I won’t say it was easy. Sometimes it was very hard and there were many mountains to climb and valleys to cross. However, our love endured under these difficult circumstances and we are still together after six years.

Larry’s dad died just over a year ago and just recently Larry has come to live here in England with me and my ex who still dwells in the same cottage as me. Life will be even more interesting from now on!
Last Tuesday I went to Heathrow to meet Larry and bring him back to the cottage. It was a magical moment when I saw him coming through the gate at ‘Arrivals’. I had been waiting for an hour, hanging on the rail as I got more tired and a bit anxious. Finally I saw him coming through the doors.
Larry has been with me here for a week now and I thought you would like to know his thoughts on his first week in England? We are all curious about what it is like to live in another country, aren’t we. Well here is his take – an American in England, part one:

‘My First Week in England – Being Three Years Old Again! – Living in a foreign country is like being three years old all over again. Everything is new and different and can be learned for the first time, even if you are 68. Some examples (some expected, some not):

• Cars drive on the wrong side of the road and come at you from odd directions
• Steering wheel, gearshift – all on the wrong side of the car.
• Car is on the wrong side of ME, putting the curb and the rear view mirror also on the wrong side of me.
• Toilet paper comes off the roll in the wrong direction (I may feel compelled to fix that one at some point)
• Clouds look familiar but move across the sky at several times the normal speed limit.
• Sun comes up at least an hour too early here – 4:30 am (I should have that corrected by December I think…)
• There is this funny “u” that keeps popping up for no apparent reason, like in colour and flavour.
• Words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently, like conTROVersy instead of CONtroversy, etc.
• Other words have new meanings, like BOOT and BONNET – yes you can wear these here on a spring day, but they are also the front end and back end of a car
• Inanimate objects have hidden desires, i.e., “the car wants washing today”, the floors want vacuuming (excuse me “hoovering”!)”
• Ten words are often used where I would use only five, but it sounds so much nicer using ten. That is a skill is simply must master!
• You can watch an entire two-hour mystery movie on the “tely” with no “adverts” to make you forget what the movie was about. This means you need to go the toilet before the movie starts, like in a movie theater (excuse me – “theatre”)
• The “toilet” here is the entire room, not just the porcelain thing you sit on.
• You can still have your milk (and bread and cheese) delivered to your door here!
• A doctor will come to your house if necessary! Absolutely amazing!!
• One is rewarded, rather than penalized for being over 60 here. I have a “bus pass” that lets me ride the local buses for free! Even gives me a discount on the train to London.
• No sales tax (“VAT”) on food or children’s clothes here.
• I used to wonder where “the good ole days” went. It appears they went here in many instances. I have fond memories of things I used to do as a child growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. To my surprise you can still do them here.
• It’s fun being three again!!!Watch this page for my second week in England…..’
For some reason I can’t get the formatting right in this post. Sorry about that. I think it is a little difficult to read? Any helpful suggestions about font size etc. would be appreciated.

ATM Machines

Bear_faceDoes this sound familiar?


A new sign in  the Bank Lobby reads:

‘Please note that this  Bank is installing new Drive-through ATM machines  enabling customers to withdraw cash without leaving  their vehicles.

Customers using this new  facility are requested to use the procedures outlined  below when accessing their accounts.

After  months of careful research, “MALE & FEMALE”  procedures have been developed. Please follow the  appropriate steps for your gender.’



1. Drive up to the cash machine.
2.  Put down your car window.
3. Insert card into  machine and enter PIN.
4. Enter amount of cash  required and withdraw.
5. Retrieve card, cash and  receipt.
6. Put window up.
7. Drive  off.



(What is really funny is that most of  this part is the truth!!!!)

1. Drive up to cash  machine.
2. Reverse and back up the required amount  to align car window with the machine.
3. Set  parking brake, put the window down.
4. Find  handbag, remove all contents on to passenger seat to  locate card.
5. Tell person on cell phone you will  call them back and hang up.
6. Attempt to insert  card into machine.
7. Open car door to allow easier  access to machine due to its excessive distance from  the car.
8. Insert card.
9. Re-insert card the  right way.
10. Dig through handbag to find diary  with your PIN written on the inside back page.
11.  Enter PIN.
12. Press cancel and re-enter correct  PIN.
13. Enter amount of cash required.
14.  Check makeup in rear view mirror.
15. Retrieve cash  and receipt.
16. Empty handbag again to locate  wallet and place cash inside.
17. Write debit  amount in check register and place receipt in back of  check book.
18. Re-check makeup.
19. Drive  forward 2 feet.
20. Reverse back to cash  machine.
21. Retrieve card.
22. Re-empty hand  bag, locate card holder, and place card into the slot  provided.
23. Give dirty look to irate male driver  waiting behind you.
24. Restart stalled engine and  pull off.
25. Re-dial person on cell phone.
26.  Drive for 2 to 3 miles.
27. Release Parking  Brake.

Are you laughing at this point? I certainly was.

It’s never too hot to knit or crochet!


Well, maybe it’s a little warm…? just a tad? Anyway, a knitter has to knit and a crocheter has to crochet and a spinner has to spin and a scrapbooker has to… you get the message. I do all of that so I’m always busy. Plus I love to cook and sew and read. I just worry that I won’t have enough time left on this earth to finish all the things I want to do. Anyone else feel like that?

Recently I became a grandma (Oma) again, to little Sam. Here is his picture again. I didn’t think you’d mind seeing it again while I wait for some new ones! As I look into his dear little face, I realise that I won’t be here for all of his growing up. I may make it till he’s 20 or so, if I’m lucky. That’s a sobering thought and while I’m on the subject, I won’t get to see the new King or Queen, to be born today, get on the throne either. All of which is why I must make the most of every minute of every day. That does’nt mean running around like a (fill in your own simile here), but it does mean getting into perspective those things which really don’t matter all that much. I must treasure every day and each visit from my beloved sons and their families because none of us knows how many more days we have. When we are young, we don’t think about those things too much, but as we get older, they fill our thoughts more.

Sam in bath 09-06-2013

So let me sit back and crochet my blanket, ready for the cold, winter winds…


Let me enjoy my roses in this delightful cottage garden.


But most of all, let me give thanks for my family and friends, near and far and that means YOU!

ps: Everything went very well this week, with the arrival of my husband in England. I know you are looking forward to hearing how he is getting on, but my feet haven’t touched the floor with so much to do and arrange, so  I will come back to that in a future post. Suffice to say that he says ‘It’s like being three years old again!  Everything here is different!’


Today’s the day…

love is 15

Kahlil Gibran on Love

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.


A Momentous Day


Today is a momentous day and no, not because I had raspberry meringue for my lunch! The Duchess of Cambridge is in labour and almost ready to produce a new King or Queen, who will be third in line to the throne, whether the baby is a boy or a girl.

Naturally I am thrilled about this. It is exciting stuff. I love that we have a Royal Family even though they are expensive. Without them our country would not be what it is. Tourists love them and come from far and wide to see the Queen or anyone else they can get a glimpse of.

So I’m writing this in the afternoon. I have no idea yet what sex the baby will be. I hope he/she will be born healthy. Perhaps it will be a new Sun King? Today is the hottest day of the year so far, nearly 30 degrees and still rising and tonight is a full moon. Surely that is good news for a baby.  No doubt the astrologers will be working on charts as soon as baby is born and of course there is much speculation about names.

Personally I favour Victoria if it’s a girl and Philip if it’s a boy. What do you think?

Gingerbread mum and baby

Beautiful Roses – High Summer


England is enjoying some spectacular weather at the moment! Yes, I did say that. Unusual, I know, but we have had hot, sunny days for a while now and more to come. Is it a coincidence, I wonder; that my husband is arriving from Tennessee next week? Is he bringing his weather with him? I rather doubt it because where he has been staying for a few weeks in South Carolina, there has been thunderstorms and heavy rain every day.  Perhaps he’ll bring those too.

I have been preparing the cottage for his arrival. There are lots of differences to life over here. I wonder how he will cope? What will he notice first? Our lack of air conditioning perhaps? The birds are different here. They look different and they sound different. There are no mocking birds, humming birds or cardinals. Instead we have blackbirds, who sing so very beautifully, wood pigeons, little English robins and tiny wrens. I’m just thinking of my own garden now. With two cats, the birds like to keep away. We have no cicadas or poisonous snakes and our butterflies are smaller. There are no fireflies either.

From my own observations I can say that the trees are different. Ours are not so tall and they are more gnarled looking. We have miles of hedges.  Did you know you can tell the age of a hedge by the number of species of plant and tree in it?

We drive on the left hand side and there are many, many roundabouts. We are allowed to park cars on the side of the road so driving becomes a bit like an obstacle course.

We have double-decker buses. Ours are painted turquoise. We use public transport a lot because our petrol is very expensive. Because I am over 60 I travel free on the local buses, whether they are in my own town or someone elses.

I don’t pay for my prescriptions because I am over 60 years old. Our National Health Service is free at the point of use.

Time for another picture:


I am more than excited about L’s arrival and have been ‘nesting’ for a few weeks now. Only a few more days now…

signpost to Tennessee

Dylan update – a trip to the park.


Last Friday, before it got really hot, we took Dylan to the park to play football and to see all the exciting things there are for our amusement.  As well as the beautiful areas of grass and trees, there is a Discovery Centre where the children can learn about bees and flowers.

Here he is, walking with his granddad, past the cactus house.


We explored the gardens where there are lots of vegetables and herbs. The smells in there are incredible!

It wasn’t long before we got thirsty and then Dylan saw a sign…


Glad of a sit down, we bought coffee and ice cream and then had a rest before finishing our explorations.


Then one last go on the slide before it was time to leave…


My Memoirs – My Dad – Mr. Frederick Harry Mills – Family History

Frederick Harry Mills

This is my dad. There is so much I could write about him that I can’t, of course, get it all in one post. So I’ll start at the beginning today. I’m writing this for my sons and their children because one day they will be interested enough to read it.

My dad was born Frederick Harry Mills in Luton, Bedfordshire, England in 1919. He lived most of his life in England, but in the 1960’s, after his divorce with my mum, he moved to Ireland for two years. After that he went to Australia, where he lived for sixteen years. I didn’t see my dad from when I was sixteen years old until I was thirty-two.

He returned from Australia to take care of his mother and his sister, who were both old and infirm. When he was 69 years old, he died of leukaemia in a London hospital.

After he died I cleared out his things, which were housed in boxes in my auntie’s garage. Amongst his belongings was a box of old tobacco pouches; some of his own and some of his father’s. I looked briefly through them and nearly missed the following treasure, which my father had never told me about.

What I found was a leather wallet, dating back to the 1700’s and containing a potted history of my father’s family. The history was written in ink on vellum and has survived to this day.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have this information and I find it hard to believe that my dad never discussed it with me.

Now I’ll let you read through the findings and I’ll come back to this in a later post.

Mills Wallet Mills Wallet Outside Mills Profile02 Mills Profile01 Mills Family02 Mills Family01 IMG_0225 IMG_0224

A pretty lace shawl for chilly evenings.


I’ve just completed this lacey shawl for the chilly evenings and I’m pleased with the result. It’s the first time I’ve used Debbie Bliss lace and the colour here is called ‘claret’.


Shawls are ‘big’ in America. I noticed that when I was over there last time. So far in England I don’t see many. Also the lace weight yarn is not so popular here yet. Correct me if you think I’m wrong knitters!

It took me quite a while to get used to the needle sizes and descriptions of yarns used in America and I’m still not as familiar as I should be but since it is best to do a tension square first, it doesn’t really matter, especially in the case of a shawl where the sizing is not crucial.

I used a pattern I’ve had for a long time and can’t remember where I got it. I didn’t use a chart. I’m working on that. Charts seem to be all the rage and I need to get up to speed on those things, particularly for shawls which are not straight forward and have more than one pattern in them. This one was quite a basic pattern and for a change I crocheted round the edge.

Today we are enjoying temperatures of 86 degs F, which is hot to us here in England. I don’t have air conditioning in the cottage so I will be using my fan and hoping it doesn’t start clattering. It seems to have developed a noise lately. Perhaps there is something caught inside it. If not, I might be heading for a new one soon!

Only ten days till I go and fetch hubby from the airport!

Have a great Saturday folks.



My English cottage garden – Dylan’s first strawberry!


Yesterday, my grandson Dylan, aged 2 1/2, picked his first strawberry at Oma’s.  The gardener and I have been watching that strawberry to make sure that the birds didn’t get it and we succeeded – only just. The strawberry plant hid the strawberry under one of its leaves, which also helped. Dylan picked the strawberry, washed it and ate it all up. He said it was yummy!

‘Any soil that is warm, firm and will work into a fine tilth is suitable for growing strawberries.  The position selected needs to be sheltered so that late spring frosts do no harm to the flowers.  Varieties can be selected to suit the particular soil and so make a good crop more certain.  For heavy soils choose Sir Joseph Paxton, while on a light soil grow Royal Sovereign.  Where the soil is peaty, Jucunda will do best.

The best method of propagation is by layering runners early in July.  Vigorous runners with compact centres should be selected, but do not allow a plant to retain more than four runners at the most.  It is best to peg down runners in small 3-in. pots rather than direct into the ground, using wire pins or wooden layering pegs.  Place a small piece of turf over the drainage hole in the pot and fill up with a mixture of loam and leaf soil, to avoid drying out of soil or upsetting.  It is important to keep the soil moist.’

Then, when the work is done, put your feet up and have a rest!


Taken from’Practical Gardening and Food Production by Richard Sudell F.I.L.A.,F.R.H.S.

Are you growing strawberries this year? If so, how are you getting on?  Ours are about one month late owing to the bad weather.