Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Heroes

 Do we all have heroes?   Someone we admire?  Maybe some one we would like to have been given a different set of circumstances or someone we desire to emulate in some for m or another?   I hope so.   I am sure we do as children when we begin to read about people - I have mentioned before my love as a young person of Maurice le Toumelin who wrote 'Kurun around the world' after sailing single handed round the world.   Of course I would never do it - I have never ever been on a sailling boat on the sea and would be scared stiff before we left harbour - but how I admired that man for his daring.

One of my all-time Heroes popped up in today's Times.   Betty Boothroyd.  She is now 91 so has been around for the whole of my life.   My father was a strong Labour Party supporter and her name cropped up regularly in our house - for one thing she had been born into a very working class background, which to our family made her special as we too were working class in the days when it really mattered (well to my Dad at any rate).

She was a Labour MP for almost   thirty years and for the last few of those also Speaker of the House of Commons - the only woman ever to have held that post (and never one to be afraid of speaking her mind!)  

I see in today's Times that she has decided to move out of London into a cottage in the countryside (at 91 a brave move - the thought of moving again is unthinkable to me - the rave to start with apart from the effort involved.)   Because the cottage is smaller she is having to part with some of her treasures and has found it so hard to decided which ones to keep and which to sell.   (she has decided and a sale is coming up shortly).   Each one has a memory - many were gifts - one from Boris Yeltsin for instance.

I sat here over my coffee and thought what I would do if I ever have to move again.   What would I do with all my treasures (not in the same league as Betty's financially but treasures to me because of the memories they hold).   Many things I have brought back from my travels abroad - to Russia in the days when it was the Soviet Union so including Khazakstan, Uzbekistan - the Silk Route, the Trans Siberian Railway.   And things from the US and a paper weight from Malta.   None of them precious in terms of money but the memories they hold are precious.   But those memories will die with me anyway.

Ah such food thought.   Over your coffee have a think.   Have you any heroes?  And what about 'treasures'?  How would you sort them out if it came to moving on?


Monday, 19 April 2021

Spring

 It is a bit more Spring-like every day - lovely sun, cloudless sky but still a cold breeze taking the edge off things.   Priscilla and I did a repeat of yesterday - a walk tound the block, an hour's rest with a coffee and Raynor Winn's 'The Salt Path' -second or maybe even third reading - very inspirational

 

.   Then after lunch supplied, as usual, by my carer (roast pork, yorkshire pud, broccoli, cauliflower and white sauce, carrots and roast potatoes - and jolly good it was too) we went out again.   First to my next door but one new neighbours who are looking for a cleaning lady  with a phone number of a possible candidate supplied by my carer (bush telegraph is very good around here) and then another three shovels full off my very dirty patio.  It doesn't sound much but believe me holding on to Prisclla, bending down and brushing the moss and debris from winter into a pile and then balancing enough to sweep it up is not easy.   And even so little work does give me a sense of satisfaction.

Now, looking at the time, I see that in twenty minutes I have a Zoom 'chat' with friends - that is always nice to catch up on news.

On Wednesday it will be six months since I broke my hip and on that day I had had a hair cut so when I go in at lunch time on Wednesday for my first post lockdown hairdo I know it is six months since I had it done.  (and it shows).

Off now to comb my hair in order to look reasonably  tidy for Zoom - if there is any more news I'll be back.   Just a lovely chat - nothing really to add except my friends have recently moved and have a large garden, which includes a pond.   It is full of frog spawn - has anyone any idea how long before it becomess tadpoles?

 

Just forty minutes chat

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Sunday

 Sunday is never my favourite day - there are so few people about.   It is as though everyone goes to earth on a Sunday.   I shall go for my walk in a few minutes but I doubt I shall see another soul anywhere.   What to write about today?   I don't know but I am hoping inspiration will strike on my walk.   Watch this space.

Rather pleased with myself because I did my usual walk and then after my lunch Priscilla and I went into the back garden and I - with her help - swept up the winter debris from the corners of the patio, swept up some of the moss and cut back a perennial in the long border.   Not much but a start - hopefully I will get better at it with her help.

Then I came in, made myself a cup of tea and watched Kate Humble walk a stretch of the Suffolk coastal path - a delightful programme which brought back so many happy memories of the time the farmer and I stayed for a week at the lovely hotel in Blakeney.   Happy days.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Painting a picture

I am now on my second reading of Marcel Pagnol's book about his childhood.   The second go at it is even more enthralling than the first - the way in which he paints pictures of his idyllic childhood in words is stunning.   Every chapter is an incident from childhood which is so vivid and yet  it all fits together into a whole.   Of course he did become a well known film maker so there is no question about his talent but  he ends up with a couple of chapters about when he is an adult - a couple of chapters which are astonishing, sad,  unexpected - but make his reason for writing the book in the first place so understandable.

I don't enjoy books which are almost all conversations -  I need both picture painting and talking - and here we have both.

I watched The Duke of Edinburgh's funeral today - at least I watched the build up - not the service.   As I have no religious faith I wasn't really interested in that part but I do love to see the pageantry with which they organise these things.  Nothing went wrong - or if it did it was covered up well.   I listened to a Warrant Officer who was resposible once the troops were in position for making sure they were all equally spaced out.   He said it was easy.   He knew his stride was 75 centimetres and he wanted the men and women to be 225 centimetres apart  so that was three of his strides and easy for him to estimate.   I watched him get them all in order and it was impressive.   I thought having The Duke's carriage pulled by his two Fell Ponies was a lovely idea - and having his cap on the front seat was a lovely touch.   And the way the two men leading the two ponies kept them happy and still by constantly stroking them and presumably talking quietly to them.   And as usual, HM The Queen behaved impeccably and the cameras kindly kept off her as much as possibly.   All in all an occasion for everyone involved in its preparation to be proud of.

It is another lovely day here.   Each day the weather gets just slightly warmer here as befits Spring.   We do desperately need a day's rain but at least my pots on the back patio have had a good drink and look much happier today.

Sleep well.   See you tomorrow.....



Friday, 16 April 2021

Busy bees

 Opposite my bungalow on the estate where I live there is a patch of open ground.   When the builder who built many of the dwellings on the estate built them he left this one patch free with an eye to eventually building a bungalow there for himself one presumes.   Well that day has not arrived yet and I rather like the wildness there is there.   The ground is very uneven.   Here and there are patches of daffodils and snowdrops, presumably where folk have dumped garden rubbish (although I have never seen anyone do this) and there are a dozen or so silver birch which about once every three years are pollarded - each time more 'trunks' having grown.   This year was the year and when I got up yesterday morning the builder's lorry and various bits of equipment were outside my property.   As the morning went on neat piles of branches were piled up - presumably the builder intends to collect these and dispose of them on another day.   Well all I can say is that he had better hurry up.   No sooner had the chap gone than from all corners of the estate middle aged and elderly men (ie most of the owners of property round here fall into that category) arrived with saws and wheelbarrows - often wives pushing the wheelbarrows - and began sorting through, sawing off the side branches, generally removing barrows full of wood.

Our gardens are quite large - I would say that mine is big for a town garden and many are the same size as mine.   I automatically thought beans sticks, sticks for persuading sweet peas upwards, sticks to build 'rustic' trellis for clematis.   Like flies round a honeypot many were there off and on until sundown.   When I opened the blinds at six this morning there was already one man and his wife  there hard at work.   And by the time I went out for my walk at eleven there were three more couples.   One couple L and M I knew well so I walked across to have a chat.   What were they gathering the sticks for?   Clematis?  Sweet peas?  Climbing roses?   Wrong every time.   All these people have wood burners and were gathering and sawing up the wood to stack for seasoning for next winter's fuel!!   A case of fortune favouring the prepared mind I suppose.

Before my carer went this morning she opened the patio doors for me and turned on the very stiff stop tap for the outside tap.   After J had gone Priscilla and I went out into the back garden and using the garden hose already fixed to the tap we watered the shrubs in pots - they were desperate for a good watering.   Now it is all set up and we can water once a week until we have a good rain - if we ever do.   Poor Derek - either the Nature Reserve on Sheppey is almost flooded out or - more likely at the moment - too dry for anything to flourish.   I suppose it is the same for all of us gardeners - the weather is never right.

It made me smile this morning on Breakfast television when the weather man said we were going to have a very warm and dry week end and the weather was going to continue dry well into next week - "all you gardeners will be pleased to hear" - a remark which made me immediately sure he was not a gardener.   We are all desperate for rain.

Until tomorrow friends...

Thursday, 15 April 2021

A Day Off

 I have been busy (for me) all day today so having read most of your blogs and responded to them I am having a day off.   See you tomorrow when I might have thought of something to write about.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Where do babies come from?

 There is a lovely chapter in the book I am reading about the young boy thinking he had found out where babies come from.   He had discerned by noticing his mother's tummy grow under her apron where the baby actually was - but how did it get out.   His school friend told him that the baby came out of the mother's navel.   He didn't believe this at first but then he very carefully examined his own navel in the privacy of his room and came to the conclusion that his navel did look like something that could be unlocked so he decided mothers locked themselves in their rooms, unlocked the navel and helped the baby out.  And as to breast feeding, when his little brother first saw their mother breast feeding their little sister his little brother was terrified and screamed that the baby was eating their mother.   Goodness me how innocent we all were a century ago - and yet pre-pill many marriages took place hurriedly after the would-be bride found herself pregnant.

Today I asked my son  how he found out (his was born in the fifties) and  he related the story of how he had come into the room where his father and I were entertaining his aunt and uncle and announced to the assembled company that he had found out at school that day how babies were made - 'the man and woman sucked each other'.  I don't remember this incident at all but he tells how shortly afterwards I told him the correct version!

All this reminded me of recent lettets in The Times from women who had been to convent schools and how the Mother Superiors had given talks about meeting with boys and told the girls that if they had to sit on a boys knee they should make sure there was a telephone directory between their bottom and the boy's knees.   And if there was no access to a telephone directory then at least a newspaper - preferably The Times!

Was there ever an age of innocence - maybe not.   But pre pill and pre internet maybe things were not quite so open and talked about.   Is that a good thing or a bad thing?   Have we gone too far the other way?

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Grandpas

I am reading my Book Club book 'My Father's Glory and My Mother's Castle' again.   It is magical and I want to enjoy it all over again.  Each chapter makes me want to recall an episode in my own life - so today's post from me is about Grandpas and Grandmas.   Marcel Pagnol in his book speaks of his Grandpa - of his  being 'small, broad-shouldered and sturdy with long white locks and a curly beard' - and 'black eyes that glowed like ripe olives' .   Can't you just picture him from that description?

My maternal grandma died long before I was born (my parents were in their forties when I was born and to say my birth was a surprise is an understatement)but I remember my maternal Grandpa very well indeed.   He lived to a ripe old age.   William Everton was a tall, handsome man with a shock of grey hair and a 'fashionable' moustache.   He lived with his youngest son in a beautiful house which belonged to his daughter in law  ( my uncle married a spinster 'with money') and he really had a grand old time.   He always kept a bag of mint imperials in his jacket pocket because he could suck one to disguise the fact that he had been in the pub and 'consumed liquor'.   My aunt looked after his money and doled it out in small amounts  - just enough  each day for him to have a modest drink.   Enough for William - all he needed was what he called 'a sneck-lifter'   for he could easily be persuaded to sing for the price of another pint.   His favourite song was 'The Lincolnshire Poacher' and  after a few he could also be persuaded to dance on the table while he sang it.   I adored him and his stories - usually about the poaching he had done as a young man and how he had always managed to avoid being caught.  We went to tea every other Su nday (delicious teas all home made by Auntie Jessie) - I would go round the garden with Grandpa and on fine evenings we would sit under a huge Bramley apple tree and he would tell his stories.   My parents would be stuck inside playing tiddley winks (my aunts favourite game) and finally singing hymns round the piano played by my uncle who never mastered the skill of playing both hands at the same time so the bass always came a split second after the treble.

My paternal grand parents home could not have been more different.  My grandfather had woken up one morning to hear his wife pulling up the blind and had asked her why she was doing so when it was still dark - she had replied that the sun was shining and he realised that overnight he had gone blind.   He never saw again but lived quite a few years.   On the Sunday we didn't go to my 'mint imperial' grandpa, where I could slip my hand in his pocket for a sweet when ever I wanted we went to see Grandpa Smith son. He had been a methodist lay preacher all his life.  I had to sit quietly on his knee and read to him from a book 'Childrens' Stories from the Bible' - he checked my reading progress and, as he knew all the stories off by heart I had to read every word.   Then he would question me on it -the only thing that kept me going was the delicious tea I knew would be available at the end of the ordeal.   My grandmother ruled the household.  She had been born in the 1880's and still wore long skirts and blouses - they always seemed to be tan and white striped ones.   She had a chatelaine at her waist and was 'in charge'.  They had four spinster daughters (we are speaking of  twenty years after the first world war - many young women never married after that) and they all gave her their wages (2 tailoresses, 1 milliner and 1 who stayed at home and did all the housework (I adored her).   Aunty Pat (yes I was called after her and also after my grandmother who was called Martha - but Patty was a diminutive) had done all the cooking for the tea and it was carefully scrutinised (and criticised by Grandma before we sat down to eat it).

Such a long time ago - but memories last.  In fact the older I get the more I remember about those times long ago.   I hope you have enjoyed my journey into the far distant past.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Spring two

 Well folks I really think we can say that today is spoiling us with what could be the first day when it really felt like Spring.   I say 'could be' because there are still four hours of daylight left and our weather has been so capricious this year that almost anything can happen in four hours (read JayCee today for proof of this).   But when Priscilla and I went out for our walk round the block the sun was shining - and was actually quite warm - and the sky was blue and there was practically no breeze. It lifted the spirits considerably.

The only problem is (and isn't there always a problem where our climate in the UK is concerned) that we really are getting pretty desperate for rain - that is if we are in any way connected with gardening.   My tubs round in the back garden must be desperate for water but I can't really reach them.   The pansies either side of the front door are fine.   They have been in the pots since early September and have done exactly what the owner of the Garden Centre where I bought them said they would do - they had a nice floral display in September and October and they went dormant until about a month ago and have now Sprung to life and are putting on a splendid display.  By putting a jug on my shelved wheelie I can get water to the front door and water them - and this I am doing several times a week.

There was a short delay there because I w entinto the kitchen.   Any manoeuvre which involves walking takes me a long time these days (I have to use my indoor Priscilla).   A couple of weeks ago friends brought me some sausages from a well-known butcher a few miles away from here.   I put them into my freezer but yesterday I decided to take them out and defrost them and make myself a sausage sandwich for my tea.  I had popped them into my Remoska and suddenly I could smell them cooking.   I went to look and they look just right - so now my mouth is watering.   (Thank you S and T if you are reading this).

And speaking of S and T - they have hens and a while ago they were given some eggs to hatch out.   Only two hatched.   One, already now a flamboyant and vociferous cockerel, has a loud crow and uses it throughout the day.   The other is a tiny bantam hen.   I can only think that the first thing she saw when she emerged from her egg shell was T because she obviously considers him to be her Dad and follows him everywhere.   Wherever he goes in the garden she is two steps behind.   Last week they lost her and after searching everywhere went into the shed and, sure enough, there she was on T's bench sitting happily waiting for him.

Well it is an hour later.   The sausages smell delicious so I am off to make myself a sandwich - the problem is do I put chutney/sauce in or have it plain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sunday, 11 April 2021

Spring

 Yes, it is Spring, although looking out of the window , it is hard to believe.   When I started typing this the sun was out (and the April sun has some warmth in it) - then I had a short phone call, now it is snowing.  But isn't that always the way with our Springs?   Hasn't it always been a case that people with Magnolia trees or fruit trees in their gardens have been anxiously peering up into them at sundown and again in the early morning?   And so I tell myself not to worry - but it doesn't altogether stop me doing so.

What to write about today?   Well not a lot has happened really.   I am saddened to see that one or two people who object strongly to horse racing have vowed they will not read my blog again because I enjoyed the Grand National.   That is their choice.   I try to keep off Politics and controversial subjects as far as I canfor precisely that reason but occasionally I say something or do something which offends some people.   For that I apologise.   But if I stopped blogging with everyone who had views with which I disagreed there would be no one left - and believe me when I say that blogging is a huge part of my life.   Now that I can't walk unaided and, in any case because of Covid restrictions can't go out - like everyone else - then it is even truer that your daily 'chat' is brilliant and keeps me going.  So thank you most sincerely for that.

The sun is out again, the sky is blue, I shall go and make myself some cheddar and red onion chutney sandwiches and a cup of tea for my tea (lamb chops with mashed potatoes, carrots, kale and mange tout for lunch (made and brought by my carer) followed by a banana and a couple of small sweet oranges - and then I shall go and finish reading the Sunday Telegraph.   Enjoy your Sunday evening.   See you tomorrow.