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A few days away in Ely, Cambridgeshire.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your Sunday 🙂

Oma

‘…’ from The Ely Map

My English Garden in February – something’s moving!


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

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

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

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My memoirs – J and I, our first home.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What were you doing in May 1970?

Dylan update – Dylan has a new house!


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

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

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

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

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

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

Dylan update – Dylan is three today!


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

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

Dylan's third birthday cake

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

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

Oma

Bristol Harbour


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The Matthew in Bristol Harbour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oma

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


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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.

Beautiful Roses – High Summer


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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:

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

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Visa approved – he’s on his way.


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I’m delighted to tell you that my husband’s visa application was approved and he should be here in England with me within weeks. It was tortuous waiting but now we can relax and plan for the future.

L will find many things different over here but he’s willing to give it a try so we are optimistic.

So welcome husband. Come and be happy with me.

garden heartpicture from the internet.

Oma