Saturday, 31 January 2009

31 January 1942

They met on 3 April 1941. He was in the Royal Air Force, stationed locally, on the South coast and was there, at the pub with his mates, celebrating his 27th birthday. She, just 19, was there with friends. They met and he asked her to go out with him the next night. It was war time and you didn't waste anything in those days, especially time. They got engaged later that year and were married a few months later - on 31 January. She borrowed her elder sister's wedding dress and unable to obtain or afford flowers for a bouquet, she carried a prayer book. Each year, on their anniversary, he bought her flowers.

He was a Geordie and they decided that for their honeymoon they would travel north so that he could introduce her to his family. Married fairly early in the morning there was just time for a couple of photographs to mark the occasion, before they had to catch the train. A troop train which was very slow and very crowded.

When I visited Mum earlier today she asked what date it was. 31 January. She glanced at the clock and said "we would have been on our way to the station now".

My parents' wedding day.

They were married for forty years. My Dad died shortly after their Ruby Wedding Anniversary.

A photographic tag

Cheshire Wife has tagged me to post the 4th photo in my 4th album.

This photo was taken in April 2007. We were on holiday in Australia visiting my son and his family and whilst there had gone to see some friends who have a small-holding. My daughter and grand-daughter went to look at and help feed the sheep and the alpaca. Grand-daughter was nearly 3 years old at the time and had obviously decided that the safest place was behind Mummy!

Now I have to tag 4 others to do the same - so the first four to comment could, if they wish, consider themselves tagged and carry it on.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Ten Things Beginning with B

Here is a "getting to know you game" devised by a fellow blogger. The "rules" are set out below.

1. Leave a comment on this blog and I will assign you a letter.
2. Write about ten things you love that begin with said letter.
3. Post the list on your blog.
4. When people comment on your list, you assign them a letter, and the game continues.

Gill - That British Woman has assigned me the letter 'B' so here goes:

1. Books - I love books of all kinds. I really enjoy reading the classics and novels and occasionally biographies but my bookshelves also hold the following:

A fair amount of cookery books, and books about cake decorating.
Gardening books, including those about ponds and wildlife.
Bird recognition
Poetry books
Childrens books - these include some of my own when I was a child, which are now about 60 years old!
Many other types, including travel books and atlases, picture books etc.

I always bought my children lots of books and now with homes of their own, they also have many on their shelves. I am delighted too that my grandchildren are already avid readers.

2. Birds - Love to watch the birds in our garden and entice them by feeding them an assortment of seeds and fruit. We now get quite a variety visiting and I am hopeful of nests in the garden again this year.

3. Butterflies - Always love to see them and there are quite a few of their favourite shrubs and flowers in our garden, including wild flowers.

4. Bees - As with butterflies we try to encourage bees with the planting in the garden. I love to see the way they crowd onto some of their favourite flowers.

5. Baking - I really enjoy baking cakes. I am not too successful with pastry - it's always a bit hit or miss with me. But cakes are different. Cakes of all kinds, but particularly celebration cakes which I then have fun decorating.

6. Bath - We live about 1 hour's drive from the city of Bath which is lovely as a lot of you will know. Actually haven't been there for quite a while - perhaps this spring or summer. I also love to have a soak in the bath. Shower mostly but occasionally a bath is just what is needed.

7. Birthdays - I love birthdays. I hope to see many, many more of my own but also enjoy the birthdays of family and friends. They are days for celebration.

8. Blogging - Began blogging during the summer of 2008 and was not at all certain what I would make of it. Had no experience of it beforehand and had to find my way through all that it entails, from setting up the blogsite to giving and receiving awards! It truly is another world and one I love to visit.

9. The Beach. I was born in a house that overlooked Chesil Beach and I have been lucky enough to have lived within a short distance of the coast most of my life. I love to walk along the beach, paddling in the water if the weather is warm enough, though it is many years since I have walked on Chesil Beach.

10. Bluebells - pretty flowers, I have them growing in the garden but particularly love to see them growing in the woods.

So there you have 10 of my favourite things beginning with the letter B. As I mentioned above, if you would like to have a go at this, leave a comment and I will be pleased to assign you a letter.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

A Moving Experience

Things the way they are at the moment - recession-wise - OH and I had resigned ourselves to the fact that we are not likely to sell our house any time soon and in all probability may be here for another year. We initially put it up for sale at the beginning of March 2008. In the past we have never had any problems selling, have had few viewers, usually finding a buyer within a week or two. This time is very different because the housing market in the UK has taken a rapid downturn and is almost stagnant. We have had only six viewings, the last in early September.

Now, for us, this isn't really a problem. We like living here, it is a lovely house and we have a lovely garden. Last year we came to the decision that we would like to downsize, to have a smaller, more economical home and a lot smaller garden, or, if we bought a flat (which was what we had in mind a year ago) no garden at all. It's just that we are keen to get on with the next stage in our lives. We are both in our 60's, have a son in Australia and a daughter in New Zealand and would like to spend the next few years travelling, not just on extended visits to our family members and have the opportunity to explore their adopted countries, but to see other parts of the world too. We have a list!

So, we will just have to sit it out. In the meantime, we decided we would change some of the rooms around (re-zone - if you like). I suggested it to OH and he agreed and we began moving the smaller items of furniture. We requested step-son's help to move larger pieces and he agreed to come round on Friday or Saturday evening. Glasses and best china had to be taken out of the cabinets, books and family photos off the shelves, pictures off walls, etc etc. (we don't go in for minimilism)! In the middle of all of this the telephone rang. "Hello - it's the estate agent - can we send Mr S round on Saturday to view the house"!! A spot of quick thinking here. SS would probably prefer to come on Friday evening anyway - so "yes that will be OK". The appointment was made for noon on Saturday. SS duly arrived on Friday evening at about 8 pm and we just got on with it!.

Saturday morning, we eventually had the house straight and were ready for our prospective purchasers. It was strange though, much as I had been looking forward to selling and being able to get on with the next stage, new home then extended holidays without the worry of an overgrown garden and/or leaving our home secure for long periods, I had now settled into staying here for one more year. The fact that we now had some-one interested in the house didn't bother me or throw me into a tizzy. In fact I almost felt like ringing the agent back and telling them not to bother. I want to stay here for another year. I'm looking forward to gardening in the spring and sitting out in the summer and another Christmas here would be lovely!!

They duly arrived, a pleasant couple, took their time looking around, asked lots of questions, said the house "ticked a lot of their boxes" (we've heard that before) and left. We immediately found the local paper and began looking at the properties advertised for sale in this area. We will do nothing yet, determined not to begin traipsing around other peoples' houses until we have a firm offer on ours. No point in raising anyone's hopes unnecessarily. And although, as I said, I am quite happy to remain here for another year or however long it takes, I can't help feeling just a little bit excited at the prospect of moving on. Contrary - who me?

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Time Out

We have had quite a variety of weather over the last few days. On Saturday it was high winds with damaging gusts, this morning we had a hard frost and the pond and bird baths were frozen over again. Once the temperature rose we had grey skies for the rest of the day and now it is pouring with sleety rain. Yesterday though it seemed as though spring was on its way. Although it was a very cold morning it was bright and sunny and I decided to wrap up and go into the garden. My main reason was to tidy and clean up the bird "feeding stations" and to make sure the drinking bowls were fresh. However, once out there I realised that it was very pleasant and after I had sorted out the birds' feeders I stayed out for about an hour and a half tidying up, a bit of weeding and picking up the twigs and branches that had blown down from the trees at the weekend.

Very enjoyable and I would have stayed out longer but my feet were beginning to go numb even though I had warm socks on under my wellies. Also the birds were beginning to get cross with me as they were anxious to get down to feed and my presence out there was putting them off. The blue tits were definitely chattering and the robin was sat high in the maple tree, singing away.

At the weekend I bought a coconut to break open and place in a strategic position in the hope of enticing some of the smaller birds. It had broken into two pieces, about one third and two thirds in size. I managed to put some string through the larger piece and hang it onto a small tree within view of our window but the smaller piece I wedged in between the branches of another tree.

Once I was back indoors it didn't take long for the birds to come down and I stood in the window watching them for a while. At one time there were six male blackbirds on the lawn, mostly just feeding and not really bothering each other. I'm sure that won't be the case for much longer, when they begin to establish boundaries. Also, there are now three robins visiting. I'm fairly sure two of them are "a couple", if you see what I mean, but the other seems to be very unwelcome, and I took a photo of two of the robins in a stance that seemed to indicate a "stand-off".

We have a few trees and thick hedges in the garden so I am hoping for a robin's nest this year.

However, this afternoon I was looking out at the garden and saw one of the squirrels with something. Watching more closely I realised it was the smaller of the two pieces of coconut - the one I had wedged into the branches of a tree. It was now on the grass and the squirrel, I thought, was trying to nibble the nut. I was wrong - he eventually managed to grip it in his teeth and made off, hell for leather, down the garden to wherever he stashes his "bounty"! I wonder how long it took him to dig a hole big enough!

Sunday, 18 January 2009


At last, under the magnolia tree in our garden yesterday, I spotted them. They have only just broken through but here they are - the first sign, for me, of spring just around the corner!

Awards Time

Last week Cheshire Wife very kindly nominated me to receive the above award and I accept with grateful thanks. So to carry on the tradition of passing it on to others, I would like to invite the following fellow bloggers to step up and accept it also.

In no particular order:

Jay at The Depp Effect - her blog is always worth visiting, not least for her humour.

Mean Mom at Mean Moody Middle-aged Mom - again a blog which has the ability to make me laugh out loud.

Pam at Life with our Lads - just because she always has something good to say and because she really does stand out in a crowd!

Mary at Faith, fabric and photos - because she posts such superb and beautiful photos of birds and other wildlife, which are always a joy to see.

Karen at The Rubbish Diet - for her enthusiasm for trying to make us all understand and strive to reach zero waste.

Do hope they will accept.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

What would you choose?

OH and I frequently listen to the radio, sometimes local radio or Radio 2 but more often Radio 4.

Our favourite programmes include "The Archers" (an everyday story of countryfolk). I can almost hear some of you groaning but expect many will be familiar with the signature tune. When I was a little girl (55 + years ago) I used to listen to it with my parents but lost track of it when I left home. However when OH and I got together and I discovered that he was an avid follower I soon became hooked again myself.

Another must for us is the quiz game "I'm sorry I haven't a Clue". This was hosted by the late, great Humphrey Lyttelton and his comic timing was perfect. The shows are funny and laden with double entendres and we never tire of listening to repeats of the recordings.

One programme I try not to miss is "Desert Island Discs". This is broadcast on Sunday mornings at 11.15, immediately after the omnibus edition of "The Archers" and repeated on Friday mornings at 9.15. This week's "castaway" was Ruth Padel. I had not heard of her prior to the broadcast but she is an acclaimed poet and has said that wildness and wild animals lie at the heart of her work. She is also the great, great grand-daughter of Charles Darwin.

For those of you who may not know the programme it was created in 1942 by Roy Plomley and he hosted it for many years. He was followed by Michael Parkinson, then Sue Lawley and now it is the turn of Kirsty Young. I have heard the story that apparently Roy Plomley had the idea one night when he couldn't sleep, wrote it down on a piece of paper, went back to sleep and the rest, as they say, is history! The guests are many and varied and names such as George Clooney, Dame Judi Dench, Johnny Cash, Jack Vettriano, Michael Eavis and Princess Margaret are just a few of the very long list of celebrities that have been invited to take part and make their desert island choices. I always find the programme fascinating, whether or not I know the name of the castaway or have any knowledge of, or interest in, their particular field. I often find myself wondering which 8 discs I would want to have with me should I find myself in those particular circumstances and it is difficult to choose from the dozens, possibly hundreds of songs and melodies I have loved to listen to over the past 60 + years! Like most I imagine, my tastes have changed, so the choice would be different from year to year probably. Two though, that do stand out for me are Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra playing "The Sunny Side of the Street" as this has been a favourite for quite a while now (click here to listen) and the other long-time favourite is the Beatles' "In My Life".

The castaways are told they are given the Bible (or other religeous work), the complete works of Shakespeare and may choose one other book. Again there have been some interesting choices and my opinion on this also varies from time to time.

Finally a luxury is allowed, as long as it is not in the form of any kind of rescue craft or communication appliance, food, shelter etc. Now of course all sorts of things spring to mind and there have been some wonderful requests (that of John Major being The Oval Cricket Ground, which was agreed!) but having had quite a while to ponder this I have decided my luxury would be a piano and a "teach yourself to play it" book. Have often wished I could play the piano, so what better opportunity - plenty of time, something to do and, hopefully, improve at and no-one to irritate!

So, what would you take to your desert island, should you by unlucky/lucky enough to be all washed up?

Friday, 9 January 2009

Skywatch Friday

This is a photograph taken in December of the sky above the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford upon Avon. Major work is being done to transform the theatre and is scheduled to be completed in 2010.

If you wish to take part in SkyWatch Friday or simply wish to look at sky pictures from all over the world - click here.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Stilton Soup

If any of you have leftover Stilton here is a Delia Smith recipe for Stilton Soup that I have made many times. It is very easy to make and is delicious. Delia's recipe also gives instruction for Parmesan croutons, also good.

2 oz (50 g) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, cleaned and chopped
1 large potato, diced small
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
1 pint (570 ml) chicken stock
5 fl oz (150 ml) dry cider
4 oz (110 gm) Stilton cheese, grated
10 fl oz (275 ml) milk
1 tablespoon double cream
salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a thick based saucepan, then add the prepared vegetables and some salt and cook gently with the lid on for 5 - 10 minutes to drawn out the juices. Next, stir in the flour to absorb the juices and, when smooth, gradually pour in the cider - still stirring. Now add the chicken stock, cover the pan and simmer gently for 30 minutes. After that, add the milk and Stilton and re-heat, stirring, until the cheese has melted and the soup is just below boiling point. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then stir in the cream. At this stage you can puree the soup in a food processor or else press it through a sieve; or, if you prefer the texture of the chopped vegetables, keep it as it is.

Hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

The New Year Begins

Well here we are - January 2009. Christmas has been well and truly packed away now in our household. I am always a bit reluctant to take the decorations down, especially the tree - the house seems bereft somehow, but it is done.

We had a lovely Christmas. Daughter and her little 4 year old had been with us for several days beforehand, having to leave for home on Christmas afternoon, and we were joined for lunch on Christmas Day by my mum and OH's aunt and uncle. Boxing Day was quiet - just the two of us - and in the early evening we went to friends, who were holding a small supper party, staying until around mid-night. A couple of times we had friends to lunch. Long and leisurely, both occasions went on until around 8.30 pm. For me that was great. I didn't have to attend any parties, straining to catch what people were saying and trying to outshout everyone else over the LOUD music, and still enjoyed "the Christmas spirit" with family and friends.

2008 was a good year as far as I was concerned. I made two trips to Australia and my first visit to India. My seventh grandchild (second grandson) was born, in fact it was only this time last year that we learned he was expected. Apart from a few aches and pains my health was good and, it being my first year of retirement, having time to myself I was able to be more organised, caught up with some outstanding chores and some outstanding friends! I also discovered the world of blogging!

So what will 2009 bring, apart from my 65th birthday! I have to admit to a certain amount of trepidation when I look forward to the year ahead, not a feeling I usually experience. Our house is still for sale and whereas this time last year we thought we would have moved into our new home well before Christmas, we have now accepted the fact that, in all probability, we will see another full year here so will make the most of it.

I do worry about the impending recession, especially when we read or hear of major stores going under. The firm my daughter works for appears to be having difficulties and, in Australia, my son says his work is drying up and he hasn't any need to return to work yet following the Christmas break. Perhaps that is where my nervousness stems from. However, not usually being one to make new year resolutions, I am determined to be more assertive and positive from now on. I usually rise to any challenge, so here's to 2009, best foot forward and I will take it on the chin, if necessary.


Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year

I would like to wish all blogging friends a Happy, Peaceful and Prosperous New Year.

Anne x