Saturday, 24 December 2011

Seasons Greetings

I would like to wish everyone a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas and hope to see you again early in 2012.

That was what I was going to post as I haven't been around since September but wanted to send wishes to all.

However, doing the rounds of blogging friends I looked in on Ladybird World Mother and her post gave me inspiration to do a longer post.

When my son was about 5/6 years old he made a shepherd, at school (he is now 43). It is a treasured part of Christmas for me and each year I bring it out from it's wrappings and place it under our tree.

As some of you may know son and his family lived in Australia for 7 years returning to UK in March this year. A couple of weeks ago they came to visit to exchange Christmas gifts and knowing this I decorated the Christmas tree early for the children to enjoy. Naturally, Shepherd took up his usual place. While the family were here I pointed out the shepherd and told my grandchildren that their Daddy had made it when he was a little boy at school. My son chuckled. He said "I can remember making it; it's made of a Fairy Liquid bottle and a papier mache head". His children were duly impressed but chuckled too as they looked at this strange and wonderfully weird shepherd.

So, as well as a thank you to Ladybird World Mother (I can recommend her blog highly) I would like to say again to you all - I wish you a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Cats on Tuesday

One summer, when young birds were newly fledged, we realised that we had one stuck in our cavity wall. I couldn't bear the thought of just leaving it there and so our son came and removed a couple of bricks. Fortunately, the bird escaped but it was a few days before the bricks were replaced -
just enough time for curious Katie to explore.

sometimes she was just plain cheeky!

Thanks to Gattina who hosts this lovely, lovely meme. For more Cute Cats please click here.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Cats on Tuesday

More of Katie again this week -

with her friend, Buster - I soon learned to keep the camera handy for moments like these.

I came down one morning to find she had been rummaging through my knitting bag! - she had very long whiskers for such a slim cat and had long legs as well.

Like a lot of cats she loved to play and hide in boxes - (this while we were trying to pack) - there was always fun to be had and time to play.

Thanks to Gattina for hosting this lovely, lovely meme and if you would like to see more cats on Tuesday, please click here.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Joys of Grand-parenthood

As some of you may know, one of our sons and his family have been living in Australia for the past 7 years, returning to the UK in March this year. When they emigrated in 2004 they had a boy of 3 and a baby girl of 10 months. It was very hard to say goodbye to them and I can still remember the dull ache I felt inside. However, I was lucky enough to be able to visit them several times during the 7 year period they were there and thus retained the bond I had with my grandson and got to know my grand-daughter as well. When they had their third child, another boy, in September 2008, I travelled with my mother to meet the newest member of our family. The last time husband and I visited Australia was in December 2009 and so at our reunion in the UK in March, two and a half year old Matthew half-remembered us.

They are now getting to know their cousins and get on together well. We have 2 grand-daughters living just down the road from us so see them from time to time, although they are teenagers now and naturally have their various activities which take up quite a lot of their spare time, but they do come to stay occasionally as and when the need arises.

Last year our youngest grand-daughter came to stay with us for a few days during the summer holidays and was keen to repeat it this year. So we asked if our two eldest grandchildren from Australia would like to come as well. It was agreed and the dates confirmed. About 3 weeks ago we picked them up from home in Worcester on a Friday morning and were back at home in Somerset by lunchtime. We returned them back to their parents at 5 pm on the following Monday.

So for 3 days and 3 nights we were in sole charge of grandson who will be 11 in September and 2 grand-daughters ages 7 and 8. We are 30 years out of practice and we were exhausted but we loved it. They were as good as gold and I think we all had fun. The weather could have been kinder but we had a list of possible things to do with wet weather contingencies. It worked a treat and when we delivered them home husband told them, in front of their parents, that their behaviour had been exemplary and that they could come visit again. They said they had had a good time too and I think they meant it.

We drove home and when we walked back indoors at about 7pm it felt so quiet and I felt again that old, familiar ache. A friend happened to ring to find out how we had got on - "I've been thinking of you" she said. I told her and explained the empty feeling. "I know exactly what you mean" she said. "Sit down and have a glass of wine and you will feel better by 9 o'clock" and do you know, she was right - well almost!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Cats on Tuesday

This is my first time at Cats on Tuesday and I would like to introduce you to Katie. We collected her when she was 7 weeks old and she was with us for 12 years. These photos were taken very early on as you can see.

In my son's pocket

With Buster our rabbit - they soon became firm friends and often played together.

Katie was a real character, very loving, full of fun and rarely still. I loved her very much. In following weeks I will show you photos of all my beloved cats. I shared my life with them for the best part of 60 years but, sadly, now live without them, for many reasons. But I do miss them. Thanks to Gattina for hosting this lovely, lovely meme and if you would like to see more cats on Tuesday, please click here.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

John O'Groats to Lands End

Well not quite but very close! In the past 2 months husband and I have taken a couple of breaks. In June we went on a coach tour of Scotland. H had never before visited "north of the border" and the last time for me had been some 45+ years ago. Recent times have seen us jetting off on long-haul flights to visit our children in Australia and New Zealand. Well now the "Australians" are back living in the UK and although our NZ family are staying put and therefore another trip there will take place, it is not on the cards at the moment. So in mid June we boarded a coach and were taken north, as far as Inverness.

We saw Loch Ness

but not "Nessie", this was the closest we got!

The Caledonian Canal is another famous Scottish waterway and we stopped here at Neptunes Staircase and saw a set of 8 locks designed to raise vessels to 70 feet above sea level and thus negotiate the surrounding area. There are 29 locks in total on the canal.

We drove through the wonderfully atmospheric Glen Coe, site of the historic massacre of the MacDonalds by the Campbells.

This monument is to the Commandos who died during the 2nd World War. The surrounding area was their training ground.

We stayed in Fort William which is very close to Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in the Bristish Isles) and from there had a train ride to Mallaig which is said to be one of the most scenic in the world. It was certainly beautiful and the morning was perfect with sunshine, blue skies and hardly a breeze so the reflections in the lochs were very sharp and clear. I didn't take many photos as I wanted to concentrate on the views and after all we were rattling along in a train.

Unfortunately we had only a brief stay in Edinburgh but did manage a couple of shots of the Castle.

and a piper

On the way home we went to Gretna Green on the border of England and Scotland, which has seen so many runaway marriages.

Last week we travelled down to see some friends who have lived in Cornwall for the past 5 years. We went via the Tamar Bridge.

We actually stayed in the village of St Keverne, on the Lizard which is the southernmost part of the British Isles. The hotel we stayed in "The Three Tuns" is reputed to have a ghost! Fortunately we didn't see anything untoward.

Lands End is a short drive away and we travelled over there one day and had lunch in a hotel overlooking St Ives.

A very pleasant few days catching up with our friends and we promised to do it again before too long. We realised on our way home that we had almost travelled the length of the British Isles during the past few weeks, but not quite!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Time Out

The last few months hasn't been all work and stress, husband and I have managed to take some time to ourselves as well.

Last Christmas our daughter gave us a membership for the National Trust and, apart from an outing earlier in the year, we haven't had the chance to make use of it. Last Thursday we paid a visit to Barrington Court in Somerset and thoroughly enjoyed our day. We were lucky with the weather which was very warm and sunny and as there are some beautiful gardens there we made the most of our time just wandering around, enjoying all the sights and scents and sounds of an English country garden. I think we appreciated it all the more because we no longer have a garden of our own. I have posted some pictures of the gardens below and hope you like them. As it was such a lovely day we decided not to go inside and look at the house but will save that for a trip later in the year when the weather is cooler.

Part of the house

Some of the old stables

Beautiful hollyhocks

A bed in the White Garden

Striking orange flowers (not sure what they are called)

The moles have been busy

A herd of cows in an adjoining meadow

We are already planning our next NT trip.

Friday, 1 July 2011

A Tough Old Bird

My 89 year old Mum is proving to be "a tough old bird" in more ways than one! The last few weeks, as I mentioned in my previous post, have been hectic to say the least, indeed, traumatic would probably be a more accurate description of recent events.

Some of you may recall that mum had a bowel cancer operation shortly before last Christmas. She was in hospital for 5 days, came home and in spite of a very severe cold, recovered very well and very quickly. In April the hospital said all was well and they didn't need to see her again. However mum didn't seem to continue to regain her strength and was spending longer and longer periods of time in bed, not like her at all. I was going in to see her each day, 2 or 3 times on some days, preparing her meals and doing whatever was necessary. She also kept having falls but each time, thankfully, it was only her pride that was hurt. On the days that I only went in once she was not averse to telephoning me to summon me to help her, once waking me at 7 in the morning.

I eventually called her GP and he said that she should be admitted to the local hospital in order for them to assess her to try to find out what was wrong. So she had 2 weeks complete rest, even though she hadn't been doing very much in the lead up to being in hospital. However, blood tests showed she was again anaemic, even though she was supposed to have been taking iron tablets. All further tests and scans proved that there were no other problems. The OT department thoroughly monitored her mobility and when she was discharged from hospital she had some extra aids to take home with her. Still very lethargic and seemingly unable to do anything very much for herself, I was back to my twice daily visits.

Husband and I had a holiday booked and it was quite worrying to know what to do. I felt I couldn't leave her alone as she seemed unable to cope with day to day tasks so I tentatively suggested to her that she have some respite care in a local retirement home whilst we were away and to my surprise she readily agreed. So all was arranged, we took her to the home 3 days before we went away. The plan was that the staff would assess her needs and mum would try life there with a view to it being a possible permanent situation. When my daughter and I visited the day before my holiday mum declared that this was just what she needed and felt that she would like to stay permanently! Early days I thought!

However husband and I had our holiday (more of which another time) and I was able to thoroughly relax. We returned home last Friday and on Saturday, full of trepidation, I called at the Home to visit mum, anxious to know how her week had been. "Not for me" she declared. "I don't want to live the rest of my life here". Fair enough. She has to like it enough to stay permanently otherwise we will both be unhappy. So this week I have been trying to set up a care package for her which will mean that someone will call in a couple of times each day to make sure she is OK and do whatever needs to be done at that particular time. I will still do things for her (bed changing, washing, ironing and making meals for her freezer) but will not go in every single day and certainly only once in any day. It will mean I can get my life back and not be constantly at mum's beck and call.

Today she told me that she hopes she can cope on her own once she is back at home as she dislikes the thought of someone going in to do things for her!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Um - Excuse me ...

Is there anybody there? I may well ask, but in fact it is I who has been AWOL for the past 3 months.

I am not going to bore you and go into the why's and wherefores, suffice to say that I have had a busy and fairly stressful few weeks and just couldn't manage time and energy for the world of blogging as well. But I have missed it. As I write it is almost midnight but I suddenly felt the urge to have a quick look round and visit some old friends to see what has been happening to you.

Over the next few days I plan to let you know what has been happening in my world and to update myself with your news too.

So, for now, it's a good night from me.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

March 2011

Here we are again at the end of another month. March has been a kinder month for me and my family than February was this year. To begin with the weather has been marvellous. Plenty of warm sunny days with few of the March winds we would normally expect and very little rain. We have even turned off our central heating although I realise that we may have to switch it back on again before Spring is well and truly over. We shall see!

The month has provided a few celebrations. To begin with there were two birthdays - my son was 43 on 4th March and my mother 89 on 9th March. Son was still in Australia for his birthday but returned to the UK on the 11th with his wife and three children. They are going to be staying with DIL's parents in Worcester for a few weeks and are looking to settle there. So a few days after their return we travelled to see them and had a bit of a family get together to welcome them home. This coming weekend they will visit us and we are planning another party!

It was lovely to see them all again and to know that they are now living so much closer. They were in Australia for 7 years but I think the longing for "home" became too much, especially for my DIL, who really and truthfully didn't really want to go in the first place. They agreed at the time that they would give it a few years and if one of them really wanted to return to UK then they would. So they are here and I just hope that all goes well for them now. The two eldest children are already in school and seem to be settling well. Jacob (aged 10) has a teacher who comes from Australia!

My mother isn't too well at the moment and is due for a check up next week. I actually called her GP to see her today but he says there is nothing wrong. I don't agree and feel that it could well be old age that is now taking its toll. We will get next week over and then I shall take it a step further to try to discover what is wrong and how to help her. My daughter has had a bout of shingles and immediately followed that up with a really heavy cold but is now well on the road to recovery and should get back to work next week.

We have had lunches with friends which is ALWAYS a pleasure. Some have been impromptu and others planned, both out and at home. All great fun, with much reminiscing and laughter.

I managed to finish my bedroom chair covers and although they are not perfect I am very pleased with the result and the chair now looks so much nicer than it did.

My next project will be to re-line a favourite winter coat, with help, of course!

Finally a picture of Springtime in Somerset.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

February 2011

I have really been finding it difficult to do any posts at all lately. I have managed to look in at some of your blogs from time, in an attempt to keep up to date with your comings and goings but even that has been spasmodic. I have decided to take a leaf out of Kitty's book at Kitty's Bloggy Bits , (having asked her if she would mind first)and do a monthly round up. Kitty does her round up on the last day of the relevant month and here we are already at 2 March. However, my February was extended by one day this year because I have a friend whose birthday falls on 29th February so we were out for her birthday lunch yesterday. I had planned that I would write about things as they occurred but didn't even get around to that so here is a potted version of my February 2011.

The month actually began on a sad note as my daughter had to have her beloved puss cat put to sleep. A pretty cat, she was beautifully marked and her paws were black which I have never seen on any other cat. She was quite temperamental, really a cat with attitude. Ian (don't ask!) was 18 years old and had been ailing and failing since last summer, being kept going by steroid injections every few weeks. "You will know when it is time" the vet had said and on 2 February I received an early morning telephone call from my heartbroken daughter to say that the time had indeed come. She arranged for the vet to visit to the house rather than cause her pet any more distress by taking her to the surgery. There were several phone calls throughout the day between us with me trying to console and support her from 100 miles away and trying not to cry myself. However the deed was done and Ian is now sleeping peacefully, in the sunshine, under the bird bath in the garden she loved so much. I shall miss her when I visit as she and I used to have some fun times playing with a ping pong ball. I will tell you more about her one day in a separate post.

Ian playing (when she was still a kitten)

Ian relaxing (about 6 months ago)

Sleep well little lady.

The weather during February wasn't that cold but we have had mostly grey days, only seeing the sun shine on a few occasions. However the spring flowers began to show their colours and the birds have been singing for a few weeks now.

I returned to my sewing classes at the start of the month and I am now making some new covers for a bedroom chair. I will post a photo when it is complete. The owners of the shop where the classes are held (upstairs, away from the shop) have just won a "Stitching Retailer of the Year" award (for the third year) so we are all very thrilled for them. They definitely deserve it as their shop is so well stocked and the staff are always so pleasant and helpful.

I began sorting through old photographs which was great fun. We have hundreds of them to be looked through and decisions made as to which we will keep and which can be handed over to our children to peruse and which we can just discard. We love looking at those from our childhood and once I have been through them all I may post some for you to see.

Husband went away for a week to promote this area for tourism, something he has done for years and a subject very close to his heart. Whilst he was gone our eldest (14 years old) grandaughter came to stay for 4 days as her parents were also away and that was a new experience (in a good way). Well not new really as I have obviously lived with teenagers before but not for many years, and it is all so different these days! However, we both survived!

The brilliant news of my month is that my son and his wife and family (in Australia) have sold their house and have their return to UK flights booked for later this month. I last saw them in December 2009 so I am very excited about seeing them again soon and to know that they will only be about 100 miles away instead of 10,000.

So that is it, my potted version of February but I cannot end before saying just how touched I was by your comments on my previous post, about my late friend. They were so uplifting and I thank each and everyone of you.

Monday, 24 January 2011

A Fond Farewell

Many years ago, when I was a young girl, I had a close friend called Margaret. We were friends for quite a few years, losing touch when I moved, with my parents, to another village about 15 miles away. There was quite a group of us really, her sister, my cousin and other children of neighbours and we were all of a similar age. We went for walks, played together in each other's gardens, sat in the darkness of sheds and told each other ghost stories, you know the sort of thing! The usual childhood activities. Margaret and I were the same age and just seemed to click. As far I can remember all this took place between the years 1952-56.

Her parents had 5 children and were very hard working, her father was a chef at a local hotel and her mother worked as well. Margaret and her older sister were expected to help out at home and because we were such friends I used to stay and help her. To eke out their income her father used to bake pasties and pies at home, in short crust and flaky pastry, which became very popular with the local villagers who would buy them. This little business did very well so that they began a delivery service which meant Margaret taking a wicker basket of the freshly baked pies, covered with a cloth, to those of the local folk who had placed an order. Again, because of our friendship I would sometimes accompany her, also with a basket and we would walk a couple of miles to deliver the goods. To this day I can still remember the delicious aroma of the pies and pasties.

As I said, we lost touch when we were about 12-13 years old and eventually, after I had married, I moved about 100 miles away from my home town. I thought of her from time to time and always on her birthday - 1 December - as I knew this was the same date as my uncle's birthday; a fact often mentioned by my mother on that particular day.

One day about 30 years ago when I was shopping in the next town to where I live now, just as I was about to leave the department store I was in a woman of about my own age approached me. She said my name and when I just looked at her said "it is Anne isn't it, I recognised you instantly". I must have looked completely blank because she then said "it's Margaret". As much as I looked at her there was no recognition at all. I just couldn't see the girl who had been such a friend, although I had always remembered exactly how she had looked. Yet she had known me immediately. I felt dreadful and apologised, of course. We chatted for a while and learned that we were both living in the same area, about 20 miles apart. She was married with 2 children and so was I. Both busy mums. We didn't exchange telephone numbers or addresses. A missed opportunity or just not to be but when we parted that was the last time I would see her.

Last year on 1 December, once again my mother and I spoke of her, remembering her birthday. A couple of days later I thought I would try to look for her on Facebook but because I don't get on with it very well and because there were a lot of Margaret ***'s, I soon gave up.

On 10 December my cousin telephoned me. "I thought you would want to know" she said, "I saw Margaret's mum today and she told me that Margaret died a few days ago". She had had cancer and died following a very short illness, 3 days after her 66th birthday. Her funeral was to take place the following Monday. We spoke of her for a while, both fondly remembering all the happy times we had shared. The next day I managed to find her death announcement by looking on-line and decided I would attend her funeral a couple of days later.

And so I went to pay my last respects. The little chapel was packed, some mourners having to stand at the sides and at the back. Her son gave the Eulogy, paying a wonderful tribute to his loving and much loved mum. I learned a little about the life she had led and felt priviliged to be amongst her family and all those people who had known the adult Margaret so well.

Afterwards I introduced myself to her husband and I also spoke to her mother and sisters and they seemed to be touched that I was there.

While I was waiting to speak to Margeret's family the undertaker brought out a huge, enlarged photo of Margaret and placed it close to the flowers. And while I stood in line I looked across at her now 66 year old image and there she was. I was so glad I could see her at the last.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

A Lovely Afternoon

The new film "The King's Speech" is showing at our local cinema. Being a Colin Firth fan I definitely wanted to see it and OH said he would like to see it as well.

On Wednesday we decided that we would go out to lunch and then go on to see the afternoon performance of the film. We asked some friends if they would like to join us and they were only too pleased.

The four of us drove the few miles to our favourite restaurant for lunch. We go there fairly regularly but our friends had never been before. It is a family run business and they serve all home cooked and prepared food. All the food is locally sourced as well and the restaurant is very popular and always busy. We all had a roast lunch and as usual it was delicious and we all enjoyed it.

We drove back in time to park the car at home and then, as it was such a beautiful day, we walked to the cinema. Most of the seats were taken and it was mostly an older audience and hardly anyone rushed out of the cinema afterwards, instead, discussing what we had just seen and exchanging views.

The film is brilliant and so well cast. Colin Firth's Golden Globe award is so well deserved for the part that he played. Geoffrey Rush as the speech therapist was also outstanding and Helena Bonham-Carter as Queen Elizabeth was perfect. It was moving and funny, thoroughly enjoyable and I would recommend it to anyone.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Happy New Year

At last - A Happy New Year to you all.

Having got myself organised for Christmas and all was well (Mum out of hospital and safely at home, all shopping done etc etc) Christmas Day was finally with us. I did manage to cook the festive meal although I struggled and later that day began to feel very unwell. Suffice to say I came down with seasonal flu and am only just beginning to feel well again. It has been a long haul and husband Bob has been brilliant.

More again in a couple of days but in the meantime I would like to wish all my blogging friends a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. A x