Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve, 10am and I am tracking Santa with NORAD. Mr M has gone out to do a few last minute errands, like go to the market for the special bacon we like and then to COSTCO for coffee and mushrooms.

I am on my own and as much as I love my husband I do still need some time to myself. I love my home when it is quiet. One of the reasons we bought this house was the atmosphere it has. The first time we came in through the front door it felt peaceful. We live on a main road into the city centre so there is traffic most of the day, unless it is snowing, but even before we had double glazing the house is peaceful. It's not just us that feel it. All the friends who have come to visit tell us that it is such a relaxed house, so peaceful. We like that.

This kind of set me thinking about other places I have lived and whether they were peaceful too, and I think there was only one other place that has the same feeling and that was the Mill. It also set me thinking about other Christmas Eves and wondering why this one feels so different.

Perhaps because it is the first one where I really feel I don't have to worry about my children. They are all finally where they want to be. Each one has said things this year that show they are making long term plans, something they haven't really done before. Perhaps it's just because I have a genuine Italian Pannetonne in my pantry and I intend eating it. Perhaps it's because this year Mr M and I have kind of decided that we don't need to give presents to each other to show how much we care, that it is sufficient for us to sit together on the sofa and hold hands while we talk. We know how much we care for each other and there isn't a gift on this earth that he could give me that would get anywhere near expressing how much I am loved. We tend to buy things we need when we need them so, this year we are content.

You see, that's it! I have just realised as I am writing that the difference is contentment. I am content, Mr M is content, we don't need anything else to make Christmas complete.

So I wish everyone who reads this a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I could write it in Welsh but that would just be showing off as I don't speak the language even though I am Welsh

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Christmas Club story 4

My first husband left us in the September. We were all living with my parents in an old water Mill but even the idyllic surroundings couldn't prevent the marriage from falling apart. Any way he had packed his bags and after waiting for the children to come home from school he announced "Your mother has something to tell you" and left.
We had a roof over our heads and my mother would not let us go short of food but it was still going to be a Christmas without their dad and the youngest was already convinced that it was all his fault and if he had been a good boy daddy would still be with us. In November after having no contact I was summoned to court so that he could demand access. I don't have to say that I told the court that he could see the children whenever he wanted to, he could have them every weekend if they wanted to go and he could ring them every night as long as it was before they went to bed. He was setting me up you see because then he demanded that they go to him for Christmas. I said yes IF THEY WANT TO. and suggested that there should be a witness present when they were asked, just to make sure that I didn't unfairly influence them.
The court appointed a Guardian ad Litem to oversee this most difficult situation and a date was arranged. The day arrived and we went to the offices where he was to ask them to go and stay with him - I am sure that he had been promising them all sorts of things during his saturdays with them - He asked them if they would like to go and stay with him for Christmas and before the youngest could say anything my daughter asked "Where will we sleep?" "At Nanny and Bampi's house, with me" he replied. "How long do we have to stay?" she asked. "You'll come on Christmas Eve and stay until Boxing day" "Oh, no," she said, sounding quite relieved "We can't, we have to be in church for Choir on Christmas Eve and on Boxing Day we go to the Village hall for the party." She looked thoughtfully at her father and I suddenly realised that she had planned all this "Dad, why don't you just bring our presents to the mill on Christmas morning and then we can see you and we can still have our dinner with Granddad and Granny." The boys nodded their heads in agreement. The G.a.L was satisfied so that's what happened.
My father did make the children invite their father to eat Christmas dinner with us but he refused. "It's alright," he said, "I have my sandwiches."
My daughter refers to this as her father's martyrdom period and often reminds us all that you can't be a martyr without an audience.
I owe that Christmas to a 12 year old girl who knew how to manipulate her father - and I occasionally remind her of it. She insists that she didn't plan it at all and then she always smiles that smile - G*D! I love my daughter!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Christmas Club3

When my children were small we (my now ex husband, me and the three children) lived with them in an old water mill. It was three miles outside the village, nestled into a dip in the landscape so no views just the sound of the countryside. My daughter was six so that makes the boys four and three. She was a bit of an actor and was always making up shows and plays for us. He christmas production involved both her brothers - this was not a wise move as they giggled a lot and forgot their lines.
The plot was long and complicated and had the good and bad fairies - both played by the author - fighting for dominance over the elves (the boys, see I said it was not a wise thing) The performance began after we had all partaken of a pretty darned marvellous Christmas Dinner. The audience was me, my Mum and Dad, My Dad's sister Muriel, a Siamese cat called Penny who belonged to Aunty Mu and joined in with everything. The ex was "too busy" and took himself off to the kitchen where he could sup from his secret booze store (he hated that mum and dad didn't drink so didn't buy so anything he wanted to drink he had to get with his own money not theirs. Where was I? oh yes!
The audience were arranged by the director and told that they would be expected to join in. The show began and pretty soon one of the elves had been stolen from toyland by the bad fairy and the good fairy had to rescue him. The bad fairy was chasing the good fairy - this had to be seen to be believed as the director was playing both parts and at some point in the chase the Good fairy gave THE MAGIC RING to my Dad and asked him to "Keep this safe, kind man, I 'seech you"
I know, six years old and she had words like beseech in her vocabulary, spending so much time with her granny was obviously a good thing. Back to the plot.
Dad took the MAGIC RING and with sleight of hand appeared to swallow it. I did say that it was after a good lunch didn't I? and even though we never drank much my dad did like a glass of wine with his Christmas dinner. The good fairy was horrified "Oh Grandad," she wailed, "You've spoilt it now!
"Bernard!" said my Mum, "Behave yourself! " and then a little voice from the corner of the dining room (the bad fairy's domain) said
"I'll never get out of Toyland now!"
with all the sad resignation that a four year old can put into such a statement. The result was absolute hysteria. My Dad roared with laughter and if he laughed then everyone else just had to follow suit because he had an infectious laugh. My Mum hugged the good/bad fairy. the tiny elf that didn't get stolen joined in without the faintest idea what was funny (which made me laugh even more) Aunty Mu was wiping her eyes with her table napkin and the cat hid behind the door and peered, wide-eyed around the edge at all her humans who had gone mad.
We never did see the end of that play but it is one of the first things that is talked about when my children do the Do-you-remember-that-Christmas-when thing.
My youngest granddaughter will be six in February and she is just like her mother, she throws words like beseech and vulgarity into the conversation and they are always in context. We have a notebook where we write all the things she says so that we can always remember exactly what she says and one day I will put them together into an album for her.
Oh, and we never saw the MAGIC RING again!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Christmas Club Story two

When I was young, and I mean really young, still in single figures so we are looking at the 1950s here, I remember only cold. We lived in an old Nissen hut, the picture was taken when I was about three and you can see the corrugated steel wall of the hut. My Dad bought it right after WW2 and built it on the piece of land he had bought. we moved in there in 1947 just in time for the hardest winter on record. Well the following winters were pretty hard too. The walls of the hut were simply a double skin of steel with a 6inch gap between them. The only source of heat was the fireplace in the living room. The condensation hit the steel and froze so we had icicles hanging from the ceiling. I remember that we shut all the internal doors except the one between my parents bedroom and the living room and we all bundled into my parents feather bed so that we could put ALL the blankets on the top. The water pipes froze but my mother had filled every pot and pan so we could melt enough to have a warming drink.
I remember that the Christmas tree had real candles on it and I had a train-set as my present.
So the next time someone talks about the good old days, remind them that most people in the 1950s were just getting used to indoor plumbing and the majority still regarded a bathroom as a luxury. No-one had central heating unless they were rich and very few had a car. Yes I look back with fondness to a simpler time but would I go back? not on your nelly!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Christmas Club story

Sian has a Christmas Club

She asks for Christmas stories so here's one

Christmas 1980 was different for me and my three children. We had been living with my parentsfor eight years, together with my first husband and then I divorced him for reasons that are irrelevant to this tale. In August 1980 I met Mr M, in October I asked my children what they wanted for Christmas and they said they wanted Mr M to live with us. My father threw a hissy fit and refused to let him through the door so we found an expensive house to rent and the children and I moved out. So we had no money because what we didn't spend on rent we spent on the fuel to get Mr M to work and back.
We asked the children whether they wanted a present or a Christmas dinner because we couldn't afford both. They said they would have a dinner because their father would give them lots of presents.
On Christmas Eve they all went to bed quite late because they had helped to prepare vegetables and make mincepies and do all the things they hadn't been able to do before. Mr M suddenly put on his coat and gave me mine to put on. "Come on" he whispered "this is what my Dad always did"
We went out into the garden very quietly and hid behind a big bush, and from his pocket he produced a string of jingle bells which he shook vigerously. The curtains on the boys' bedroom window shook slightly. Mr M shook the bells again and two little faces appeared.
"I don't care what your name is!" Mr M bellowed "You can't park those reindeer on my roof!"
The curtain dropped, we scurried inside, throwing our coats at the coathooks and kicking off our shoes. We sat ourselves in our chairs as we heard footsteps on the stairs. I carried on with my crocheting and Mr M pretended to be asleep as a little head came around the door.
Nothing was said to us but as they went back upstairs the youngest one asked his brother "How did he do that? How can he be outside shouting and inside asleep?"
If he reads this blog he'll find out won't he?

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Moving day dawns

The weather has been miserable here for the last few days. Foggy, raining and a frost on a couple of mornings. All this is because this week mt youngest son and his partner and family are moving to a new house. New for them, not new built. It is really nice in a quiet location, with what seem to be good neighbours and none of the parking wars that they had in their old house. They have a drive where they can park both cars, the children can still go to the same school and they are much closer to their grandmother so she can collect them from school and take them to their own home to wait for mum rather than have to take them to her house and sometimes keep them until the next day because mum and dad were both working until way past their bedtime.

We decided that we would go to see his new place after we had been to the Dr for our flu jab. As I am a pensioner now and Mr M has diabetes we are both considered 'vulnerable' so we are offered the flu jab. I hate it because my arm always aches for days afterwards and I always have the "flu-like symptoms" that some people experience. This means a week of misery, BUT I had the flu once. The real flu, the one that grabs you by the chest and throws you down then sits on you until you are so weak you just give up. I was three weeks before I had the strength to walk the length of our house and it was a month before I could walk the 100 yards to the corner shop. When people say they had the flu and it lasted 24 hours I laugh because what they have had is a cold. Influenza is totally debilitating and I can see why so many people died from it in the early 20th century.

Anyhoooo, we went to see the new place and it is lovely. I suddenly realised that I had given quilts to the two oldest of my children but had never given one to my youngest so I corrected that today when I gave him two. I should also give quilts to the children but I haven't decided whether to make a couple more for them or to just give them two of the many I have left.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Of Taps and apple muffins and panic dances

You get those sort of days don't you? the ones where you just know that things are conspiring to annoy you. A day when staying in bed would have been a good idea except that so many things would not get done that you can't.

Today was one of those happy days. I had to get up because I take Little Miss to school when her Daddy is on morning shift. On the way to school she stepped into a puddle and splashed me. It was totally accidental because we were talking and we weren't looking where we walked. I came home and there were several things that had to be done before I could do what I wanted to do so I was pottering about. Mr M came downstairs and had his breakfast before going off to see his mum. She has dementia and is in a home now so he goes at least once a week to visit.

I decided to make some apple cake to use up some of the free apples we were given - the bag weighed about 10 pounds so there are a lot. I also made apple muffins. I made them using splenda instead of sugar - for diabetic eating doncha know.

I got them into the oven and then turned my attention to the bowl from the Kenwood, I turned on the hot tap ran sufficient water and turned the tap off - and that's when everything went to hell in a handbasket.

We have lever taps that just need to be pushed gently to turn them off. For weeks the hot tap has been turning itself back on again so we have been pushing it a little harder to turn it off. At one stage we were using an elastic band to hold the tap closed by looping the band oveer the lever onto the cold tap. This worked a treat but I said that we should get it fixed. Mr M muttered about it having to be a complete new tap and as it is a mixer tap it will be expensive.

Instead of stopping when I pushed it to where the limit should have been it just twizzled around (sorry to be so technical) and the tap kept right on running. I tried to fiddle with it, hoping that whatever should have stopped it would miraculously work and turn off the water, but no luck.

I ran around shrieking for a few seconds then remembered my mobile phone had Mr M's mobile in its phone book. I rang him and as soon as he answered a shrieked down the phone "The hot tap! It broke! I can't stop it running!"

He explained about the isolation valve under the sink so I grabbe the tool box and sprayed the contents over the floor in my hurry to get the screwdriver out. I still had Mr M on the phone at this point. I opened the cupboard and swept the contents of the shelf out and onto the floor.

It was dark in there.

I rushed down the ha..... I'll try that again. I struggled up off my knees and rushed down the hall to get the torch, came back to the kitchen got onto my one good knee switched on the torch and peered into the cupboard. Did I mention before that I wear varifocal lensed glasses? Well I do. I could now see the pipe where the valve was, I could see the valve. I could not clearly see the slot in the valve for the screwdriver because the angle of my head meant that I was looking through the top or distance part of the lens and I needed to look through the bottom or detail part. I put the torch onto the shelf, changed hands with the screwdriver, adjusted the phone that was wedged between ear and shoulder - this was part of the cause of the funny angle that I was looking from - moved my glasses so I could see the valve and the slot and realised that I now had to change hands with the screwdriver because the angle I was kneeling at meant that I couldn't stretch my left hand out that far.

All the time Mr M is listening and trying to be encouraging and calming.

I decide that trying to keep the phone under my ear is pointless so I tell him I will ring him back if I can't do it. He says he is coming home NOW and won't answer while driving. I sob but not until after I have disconnected. all the time the water is still running into the sink and down the drain and because money has been so tight lately I can only see the coins wasting away. I rearrange everything so that I am now holding the torch in the left hand and the screwdriver in the right. I adjust the glasses again, wrinkle my nose to try and keep them in place and I put the blade of the screwdriver into the slot and turn.

The water stops and starts again. I realise that it is a valve and therefore I should be turning it just until it is closed. It starts to drip hot water onto the shelf! I fling more stuff out of the cupboard until I find a container that will fit under the leaky valve, then I turn it gently until the water stops running into the sink.

I crawl into the breakfast room and drag myself up onto my feet and as I do Mr M arrives breathless and worried. I sob onto his shirt front and he lets me. He doesn't make me wait until he has checked that I have done everything right, he holds and comforts me until I am calm again and then asks if I am sure it is ok. And that's one of the reasons I love him. He trusts me.

So now we have no hot water in the kitchen sink and we have to live with it until we can afford to get it fixed. It has been a bit expensive this last month or two what with two 18th birthdays and a 21st today and a 16th next week and the car insurance.

So how was your day?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Renewing my Promise

Tonight my daughter and my granddaughter and I took part in a Lantern Walk with over 100 other Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, Rangers and Leaders.
We sang several songs and at 20.10 20/10 2010 we made and renewed our promise. I didn't expect to be quite as moved by this as I was.
I go to help with my daughter's unit occasionally but haven't really had much to do with the movement for several years. I had recently decided that I would join the Trefoil Guild just to keep in contact.
Actually this decision was a direct result of being told that the woman who was District Commissioner of the place where I was Guider is no longer a member. She upset me so much all those years ago that I would never be in any organisation that she was a member of. She spoilt Guiding for me and even after we moved here it was still the same county so she was still within striking distance.
I was going to say that what she did was a small thing but it wasn't it was huge and nasty and ... well it was spiteful. I was Guide Leader for two Guide companies, there were more than 40 girls in them and we had two Brownie Packs feeding into the guides. I was divorced, and had been for several years and during the course of the summer I met a man and fell in love. My children asked if we could all live together so we found a home for us all and when Guides restarted after the summer holidays I had a phone call from the District Commissioner who told me that as I was living in sin I could not continue to be a Guide Leader, effective immediately.
Yes I was upset, but I took what she said as gospel. I just didn't think she would tell me something that wasn't true.
It was not until Mr M and I were married a year later and I asked if I could go back as an assistant guider and she told me that as I had resigned I could not go back. This was when I quaght the first whiff of rodent.
I then contacted the division Commissioner who told me that living with someone I wasn't married to was not a reason to stop being a guide leader and she had been surprised when I resigned because she had thought I enjoyed being a Guider. I explained what had happened. She had a word with the District Commissioner who said that I was lying, I had resigned, that I never liked her and was trying to get her into trouble. The Div. Commissioner immediately backed off and said it was purely a district thing and we should sort it out. I knew then that it was hopeless to try and go against her and then we moved away from that district but by that time she was involved at county level so I stayed away.
Tonight was really good. I enjoyed being a part of the family of Guiding again. Seeing the girls from my daughter's unit being a part of it as they start out on their Guiding careers was marvellous and haveing my granddaughter there as a Rainbow was very special.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Parties and excitements

One of my four Granddaughters celebrated her 18th birthday a few days ago and yesterday was the party. I didn't go. I am really not a party person - at all. I hate loud music, no I'll correct that, I hate this modern marching music.
They call it dance music but all it is really is the same beat with different twiddly bits and it sounds just as mindless loud as it does at any other level. Songs should have words that fall tunefully on the ear not the rhythmic chuntering of rap. Some of which is quite clever but most of it is just look-at-me-I'm-a-bad-person-I-make-threats-to-the-back-beat-and-make-signs-to-ward-off-the-evil-eye.

Anyhooooo. We were invited but decided that unless the party came here we would not attend. All her relatives from her maternal side came down from London to share her birthday with her so that was really good and I am told that the party was a great success. Youngest granddaughter - age 5 did go to the party, dressed up as requested. She stayed all night, danced all night and wore everyone out

The excitement comes from two things. I have a letter printed in the October edition of Your Family History - the Star letter no less. I won 100 credits to use - excellent! and yesterday I arrived home from a meeting in Taunton (more family history stuff but this time with the South West Area Group of Family History Societies) to find that I am joint prize winner for the September competition on They have an excellent forum on the site that is so helpful and so friendly and occasionally they put on a competition. Mostly they are just for members but this one included moderators too so I could put in my four pennorth. Then then entries were judged by the members through a poll and I came joint first! I was so thrilled I forgot to look and see what the prize is. Not that it matters really. I am just so excited.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Unsolicited Testimonial

I have another blog in another place. I have had it for years and the circle of friends that I have live role-played with are the circle of friends that I regularly read with on there.

At present a few of us are doing a "meme" This particular one lasts for the whole of October and every day there is a topic to write about. Yesterday's topic was "Your Parents: in great detail"

I happily wrote my bit about how Mum and Dad met just after WW2 and then went to read what one of my dearest friends had written.

He made me cry.

He is estranged from his mother and has no contact with her. I have known him since he was 17 and came to our house to play a role-playing game with the group I ran.

He says I am his surrogate mother and tells everyone that I am wonderful and funny and all sorts of other really lovely stuff.

The best bit is that he says Mr M is a man of integrity and honour. This is absolutely true and it is so lovely to see someone saying it out loud.

No-one has ever said out loud all those nice things about me and it quite took my breath away. Then in the comments to the blog several other people agreed with him and said that we were their family of choice!

I am so so blessed! To have children and grandchildren like mine is really such a wonderful honour I never expected more. Now I am shown that we have really special friends who honour us with their friendship, that makes me truely blessed.
Mr M says it could just be that they want to be on the Christmas card list

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Now here's the thing...

I have just read another blog and it has stirred me up enough to want to write something. The person was very upset because they had taken a squirrel to the vet and it had to be put down. They were told by that if you trap or capture a grey squirrel you cannot release it back into the wild and could not understand why. They thought it was perhaps because the grey squirrel is considered vermin. That's part of it. The other part is that they are not a native species so releasing them is against the law. You would not dream of releasing crocodiles into our countryside because they are not native to this island so why should the grey squirrel be any different.
Because it looks cute, that's why. Because for some reason fully grown, mature adults seem to get emotionally tangled up and transfer their own wildly inaccurate feelings to an animal. This seems to mean that no one should shoot or trap or reduce the population of these interlopers because they are sweet. They are not sweet they are disease carrying vermin and these same people would be the first in line shouting for Something To Be Done if one of their family caught an infection or disease from this cute little squirrel.
Lets just hope they nver have to worry about that.

Monday, 13 September 2010

typing in a language you can't speak

I am taking a break here from my penance for the day. Well, it's not really a penance. I am re-typing the information leaflet for the family history society - in Welsh. Being Chairman of the society means I get all the exciting jobs

I don't speak Welsh, I have never tried to learn Welsh so I am not privy to the mysteries of the spelling and pronounciation of the language. I just have to type it into the draft copy of the information leaflet so that we have the said leaflet in both Welsh and English to satisfy those who think that the old county of Monmouthshire should be Welsh-speaking just because it is in Wales.

Several years ago when I was just (those were the days) Sales Officer for the Society I managed to persuade a welsh speaking member to translate the information leaflet for me. I then typed it into the correct template, had it corrected and proof-read and got it printed so that we had copies of it for the National Eisteddfod and the few who insisted on having a welsh copy and not just a boring old english one.

Now we have had several changes withing the Society, including one branch closing and two Branches moving their meeting place - oh and all the branches changing their name slightly - so the leaflet needs to be brought up to date. Because I did the last one it is understood that I will do this one.

I have been in front of this screen for three hours with the Welsh/English dictionary in front of me so I can compare the English leaflet with the copy of the Welsh and know exactly what I am about to delete. My brane is mushed! I am going to go and play tennis for ten minutes on the Wii just to get my legs and arms moving then I might do a session of step aerobics - again on the Wii and then I might sit down for a bit of mindless daytime TV watching, or a nap. Which ever comes first.

Then I will scrap a couple of pages about our holiday in the Lake district and then, well who knows it might just be 9pm then and time to watch Who Do You Think You Are for the last time this season.

This is one of the many funny signs we have collected over the years. I have decided that I am going to make an album of them and keep it on the table where most of our visitors sit.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

A day for Remembrance

I knew today was going to be difficult. Even though my Dad died in October 2003 it is this day that springs into my memory as my first thought of him. I want to remember him as he was when he was with his brothers and sisters because he was always laughing with them but the memory of him standing in front of the TV in the kitchen watching the dreadful events in New York unfold haunts me.

Mr M is always pretty sensitive to my moods and he knew exactly how to cope with me today. We were potching as we say round yer, potching about in the house not doing very much - all those little things that tend to get left until they are bigger. Vacuuming, wiping work surfaces, scrubbing the water and food containers for the chickens. That sort of stuff. We had lunch and my goodness are we being good. and afterwards Mr M suddenly said "There's a Marks and Spencer outlet in The Festival park, I need new knickers, do you fancy a trip to Ebbw Vale?"

I put my shoes on grabbed the camera and we were away. Well, it was a delightful trip up the valley. If you are asking How Green is My Valley now then I have to say it is very green, beautifully lush and green. The conifer plantations are gradually maturing and being removed and they are being replaced with broad-leaved native trees. The light this has brought in is amazing and where everything used to be covered in a film of grey-black dust now the grass is green and the earth is brown in the rare places it shows through the vegetation.

We came home the "pretty way". For us this means trying roads we haven't travelled before. On the way up I mentioned to Mr M that a memorial sculpture to the 45 miners who died in the Six Bells Colliery disaster in 1960 had been erected and if it was possible I would like to see it one day. On the way home we saw a sign that pointed to the Memorial Car Park so we followed it. The sculpture is amazing!it is 12 metres tall and you can see through it but at the same time it is totally solid. I have never seen anything like it before. I have seen this artist's work before and if you can be a fan of an artist - well Anthony Gormley has fans - then I am a Sebatian Boyeson fan. This sculpture could step off that plinth and walk - and yet, and yet you can see right through him, like a ghost...
Just to make our day complete Mr M has bought an Actifry. We have seen one in action because my cousin has one so this was an informed purchase. Having bought it we just had to try it out and as peppered steaks with oven chips is the diet meal, yep the diet meal for tonight we did the chips in the actifry. They cooked in 20ml of fat. I have to say that again. I did two portions of fresh cup chips in 20ml of oil, that's less than a tablespoon full. They were the best chips I have ever cooked, no, really. They were crisp, dry crunchy on the outside and floury in the middle just like dream chips are supposed to be.
I love chips. I would happily live on fich and chips and the occasional steak for the rest of my life. Mr M insists that we have to eat vegetables and fruit too so I do eat pretty well. I have been reading the recipe book that comes with the actifry and there are loads of things that can be cooked in it. We had stewed plums last week at my cousin's so I will be having a go with some damsons we have in the freezer, if only so we can use the totally 0% yogurt with a little sweetener mixed in as a cream substitute.
It is very hard to cater for a diabetic on a diet. everything that is low fat has increased sugar or it is sweetened with aspartame and we don't like that. But I digress.
We came down from Six Bells via the old road and just as we were nearing Mr M's favourite houses - they are two storey at the front and four storey at the back - the road was closed and we had to take the diversion. This meant we had to go through Swffryd (pronounced soffrid). OH OH we also went through Llanhilleth and I am sorry to say that Abersychan no longer holds the title of "Back of Beyond" this crown has now been awarded to Llanhilleth. This was due, in no small measure, to the rugby club spilling out into the road as we came through the village. They made little attempt to get out of the way and I had visions of them pinging off the front of the car.
So a different cause for remembrance and it made the day lighter and more in perspective. I don't suppose I will ever forget my dad on that day but I do now think I can cope with the memory much better.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Continental Lentil Toad in the Hole

I am in a Circle Journal. For those that don't know what it is, quite simply there is a group of people and each one makes a journal (scrapbooking type journal) no bigger than 8"x8" and there is a theme. Sometimes the theme is the same for all the participants but in this group we have each chosen our own theme. My CJ (note the use of jargon here, I'm just showing off cos I know what it means) has the theme of favourite ancestor and I started it off with a picture of my great Grandmother and a little bit of writing about her and sent it on to the next person on the list.
I then received the journal of the person before me in the list and she has chosen favourite recipes as her theme. I could not find any pictures of my two favourite recipes, at least not pictures that I liked and actually looked like what I cook. So I was forced to make the recipes so that I could take pictures. What a hardship!

I chose the new recipe I found for Blueberry muffins and also the good old faithful Continental lentil toad in the hole from Ruth Elliot's "The Bean Book"

Now let's just get one thing quite clear here, we are not vegetarian we just don't eat a lot of meat. My cousin,Louise, G*d rest her soul, introduced me to the Bean Book and the very first time I made Continental lentil toad-in-the-hole Mr M said it was his most favourite meal ever. He hasn't changed his mind in more than 20 years. This is the first time I have ever done a recipe CJ and I think it is brilliant! I think I might just use that as my theme when I do another CJ. In fact I might go to UKscrappers and see if there is another CJ asking for members - ah, no I am not going to join anything else until October because Shimelle's class Learn Something New Everyday starts on September 1st and this year I am determined to complete it. This will be my third time so it should be lucky. My problem has been the number of family birthdays at this time of year - including my own. there are four between now and the end of September and then another two three in October. No excuses! This year I will complete the class.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Horace and Hector

Bit of background first. There are rules to going on holiday
1. no newspapers except those local to where you are on holiday.
2 No radio
3. No TV
4. Everyone has a nickname that is just for the holidays

Mr M is always Horace when we go on holiday and I am always Hector. This started not long after we first met - August 1980 - at my cousin's wedding. That is a story in itself but not one I want to tell online. Anyhow, I was recently divorced with three teeenage children and not looking for entanglements of any sort.

So less than three weeks later we took my three children for a weekend at the seaside. They discovered what it was like to be treated as adults by a man who didn't shout or hit. I discovered how to laugh out loud without fear and we all discovered how to play the hungry Horace video arcade game. I was so relaxed that I kept falling asleep so Mr M called me tired old Hector and then he ate a cornish pasty and my daughter said he munched it just like the yellow face munched the dots in the hungry Horace game.
I was relieved because until then I was called Tattoo because that was the character from Fantasy Island that kept saying "The Plane, boss, the plane" simply because I had once been very excited when passing Manchester airport on the M6.
Ever since that holiday we have kept our nicknames and every scrap album of our holidays has been titled "Horace and Hector..........."
It is much easier to write the holiday journal and talk about Hector throwing a wobbly because the car park entrance looked like a cave than to say that "I had a panic attack" so When we go on holiday he is Horace and still munches the occasional pasty just like the yellow head in the game and I am tired old Hector who falls asleep with the greatest of ease.

A Week in the Lakes

Well, not actually IN the lakes but round and past and alongside. Mr M tells me that there is only one lake in the lake district, all the rest are meres or tarns or waters. This means we went all the way there and didn't see a lake!

This picture is the Hoad memorial, just outside Ulverston. See that blue sky? well that is what we had every day except Friday.

I only took 357 pictures. Some are useless, most are through the windscreen of the car because Mr M can't walk too far now, his knees can't cope with his weight (he has finally decided to do something about this). Just being together without interruption was the best bit. Mobile phone service is patchy and the cottage was in a "no service" zone so that was wonderful. We turned the phones off to save battery power and only turned them on when we remembered. The area is stunningly beautiful even for non-walkers and even at the busiest time of the year.
This is the inside of the tiny cottage we rented. The sitting room was about 10 feet by 8 feet and the bedroom above was exactly the same size. The kitchen was 8 feet by 7 feet with the bathroom above. Full of knick-knacks and "stuff" with hundreds of books of all sorts. Not really fitted for people of large girth it was still delightful and a really homely place to come back to at the end of the day. The bed was extremely comfortable the bed linen smooth and clean and crisp, the towels in the bathroom were all soft and lovely. Highly recommend it. We booked it through, also highly recommended.
I am sorting the pictures and I will be scanning the pages of the holiday journal ready for the album. I think the title will probably be "Horace and Hector get Lively in the lakes"
I'll explain about Horace and Hector another day - if anyone is interested.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

I am a grandma again! That makes 8 plus the step-grandchildren so altogether 11 grandchildren the oldest will be 21 in November and the youngest was born this morning at 2.30am in Colchester. He weighed in at 8lb 14oz. Mother and baby doing fine and are already back home.
Apparently this was to be a home birth but the midwife wasn't available so they had to go to hospital. They arrived there at 2.00am and baby arrived half an hour later - I remember doing that too.
It will be a while before we see him because they live in Colchester and we don't. I don't travel well on motorways and the thought of going all that way makes me feel ill.
Thank goodness for tinternet!
Now I must make a quilt for him

Monday, 2 August 2010

What Grandma does to keep a five year old occupied

On Thursday last week I had Miss Em so first we did the project on the CeeBeebees comic
and then we did some baking.
We made special sugar free sultana cake and sugar free chocolate cake for Grandpa and then we made blueberry muffins.
There was a momentary imitation of a headless chicken when I opened the cupboard and discovered that DD had taken all the muffin cases.
I then found the role of greaseproof paper and cut out circles to line the tins. This gave us some interesting shaped muffins but did not detract from the flavour at all - so I am told.
I suddenly realised last week that I have no sense of smell. I did have a good sense of smell until the really bad cold we all had a month or two ago. I think I can smell some things but I am not sure. I couldn't smell the bacon frying when I made bacon butties for lunch and I couldn't smell the "Good country air" that made Mr M's eyes water on Saturday and meant that we had to have all the car windows open for ten miles to get rid of it. I can taste sweet, I can taste salty but flavour totally passes me by.
This is a problem because I automatically sniff the milk before pouring it into the tea and coffee but if it is off I can't smell it and when I drink it I can't taste it I could be in trouble.
As milk doesn't go sour any more it only goes bad I suspect that at some point I am going to get caught and suffer the consequences. I also cannot smell the eggs. Now this is something that I have always done ever since I first was introduced to cookery, probably because we had free range chickens and could not guarantee that the eggs we found under the hedge weren't more than a week or two old. So we learnt to crack the egg and sniff, the rule being that if you could smell it it was off.
Fresh eggs have very little smell, just like fresh milk. Give them a few hours and you begin to smell them but if you get a strong whiff then don't consume.
I hope I get these senses back really soon because I feel quite restricted by their loss. I suppose there is hope as long as I have sweet and salty but isn't it strange that the cold should have done what a lifetime (until 7 years ago) of smoking couldn't stop.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Go for a little ride

Yesterday we popped out to the Post Office and then decided to go "for a little ride. I had not expressed a preference for a destination so we headed out along the M4 and the M48 to Chepstow and then towards Gloucester. "Are we going to stop at the Silver Fox?" I asked. "I need to get some money if we are" Mr M replied so we stopped in Blakeney to use the cash machine and drove on.

Unfortunately the sign didn't say open it said CLOSED. We drove on.

We stopped at the Severn Valley Smokery just for a cuppa but as always, when you get inside there is always something we desperately need. We bought Kalamata Olives some ginger spice cheese, a black bomber cheese for me and a large pork pie for mr M, just incase he was peckish as we travelled. Then we had a delightful cup of tea and coffee. I was very restrained and didn't even look at the pastries and cakes available - sigh.
Mr M then said he thought we would "have another go at finding the church in Miserden. This kind of makes it sound like a big difficult thing and it isn't. We just kind of misplaced it last time we went. This time was much better and we soon were exploring the burial ground looking for his Painter ancestors. from there to Cirencester was a short hop and we made the mistake of going to Waitrose for a bite to eat. it cost £8 something for a cup of tea, a cup of coffee and two bacon buns. The bacon was cold, there was no butter on the buns and they were dry. They are off the list of places to stop, that's for sure. We travelled on. At one point we thought we had strayed onto the motorway but it was ok we had just manged to find a bit of dual carriageway. Lechlade has a great shop, well it has lots of great shops. Small individual traders with good stuff. As we didn't have a responsible adult with us we couldn't go into the book cave or Arkwright's Hardware because thye always have stuff we desperately need.
Chips in Tewkesbury, not bad either and then home via Ross and Monmouth. I love these special days out because it is just the two of us with no TV and no computers to distract. So special. Now all I have to do is put the pages in the scrapbook

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

No Going Back

"They" tell you that you should never go back. Well, today I went back to the place I grew up from 9 months old to 14 years. I have to tell you it was great!

My Dad built the bungalow and there were so many 'original' features still there. The light switches my mother chose, the airing cupboard doors that didn't shut properly and still don't. The windows that were put in too high up the walls so no one under 6 feet tall can see out. The tiny kitchen that really should be upgraded. All just fabulous. I wasn't sure if I would like it but I did. There were no emotional strings, I am my father's daughter after all, and places and things do not hold my heart strings. Dad always said "Things are just things and can be replaced, places are just places and can be revisited. People, Ah now there's what's important. People can steal your heart and they cannot be replaced your time with them is precious so use it well."

It brought back a few memories that I will put into the memory books and we took a couple of photographs. Miss Em got to see where Grandma lived when she was a small girl - and that thought alone set her seriously thinking. The first time she has really realised that we didn't spring into existence fully formed.

So a learning experience for all of us. Mr M was able to see where I grew up and the people who live there now were able to dredge my memory for information about boundaries and the history of the house.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Well, It made me larf

Someone sent this to me, I just love it!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

A boring mundane life

Many years ago (in the 1970s) we lived in a village that had and still has, a great community feeling. There were many, many organisations that met in the village and sometimes it was difficult to fit everything into life. I ran the Girl Guides on Tuesdays; my boys belonged to cubs and scouts on Mondays and Thursdays and I helped out occasionally. My daughter and I were in the Church Choir so that was Wednesday evening and Sunday every week. Once a month there was WI on Wednesday evening (a bit of a rush after choir practice) and there was Young farmers, Village Produce Association, Junior Football, senior football, Rugby club, Cricket Club, Young Wives, Mothers' Union, several darts teams and The Village Hall association (Bingo every week).

I was not a member of Young Wives but I did get roped in to help with the entertainment they put on every year for the Senior Citizens club. This was always in the summer because there was so much else going on around Christmas time. One of the props for one of the sketches was a log that was thick enough for someone to sit on but, theoretically, was small enough to go in the back of a Ford Cortina - the one with the ban the bomb rear lights.
My friend J, who always managed to persuade me to help her had been clothes shopping in the village and when I arrived at her house for lunch before taking the log to the village hall she had several pairs of jeans to try on before making her final choice and returning the unwanted ones to the clothes shop in the High Street. We had pasta and salad for lunch, together with a bottle of sparkling wine and then she tried the first pair of jeans. Someone had said that if your jeans were tight you could lie on the floor and zip them up so J hobbled into the lounge with the jeans around her knees, lay on the floor and tried to get them on. Within seconds I was crying with laughter as she wriggled and twisted. She decided that this particular make of jeans had small sizes and then attempted to get out of them. I was no help because I couldn't pull the bottoms of the legs while standing on the settee because it was soft and I wobbled. Every time I wobbled I laughed and this made me wobble even more. The wine was having a slight effect on my balance too.
Eventually we lay exhausted on the floor the jeans between us and decided that it would be better to take them all back and try again tomorrow when we had more time. We finished a second bottle of sparkling wine - it is thirsty work trying on jeans - and then went outside to put the log in the car. What we found was half a tree! there were twigs and everything. We opened the back doors and began. First I pushed and J pulled then we swapped. Then we sat on the log while we got our breath back - laughing and pushing is hard. Then we both pushed and then we both pulled and then a friend's husband took pity as he walked the dog and he put the log into the car while we held the leash and stopped laughing.
As we were driving to the Village Hall a neighbour stopped us and asked where we were going. We explained and she sighed, "LIfe is so boring and mundane isn't it?" she asked and then stared in amazement as we both shrieked with laughter.
I remembered this story today because I have spent the last two weeks looking after my DGD who has had Rubella (even after her shots and boosters) followed by a tummy upset and now she has Chicken Pox. I mentioned this to a neighbour and she said "Well at least your life is not mundane". I told her the story of the log and she agrees that my life has certainly never been boring or mundane

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

what to do when your favourite forum is temporarily offline

I am at a loss, Bejeweled Blitz id being upgraded on facebook AND the British-genealogy forum is temporarily down! Two of my must visit places are off limits, what ever will I do?
I'll go to bed and finish reading 'The Return' by Victoria Hislop. This is such a good book I have been so glad that the eczema on my feet is really bad, so painful that I don't even want to stand long enough to make a cup of coffee. This has left me with nothing else to do but sit on the settee and either read or knit and watch TV.
As I have just started knitting a jumper for Mr M. I can tune in to the history channel or Yesterday or Blighty and happily spend an hour or two knitting away and watching stuff like "The Making of Britain" or "The War" this is a really interesting series about WW2 that has been done by the same guy that did the award winning series about the American Civil War. It is really interesting to see the conflict from the viewpoint of the people who stayed at home in America. Perhaps I am odd but this sort of stuff interests me and to hear people talking about their experiences is just so fascinating.
Tomorrow Mr M is taking me to the Post Office so I can post all the books that people have requested on and the Circle Journals that I belong to and the parcel of Christmas presents that were put under the table in the corner, ready for DS1 to collect only he didn't get here because of the weather so the presents were forgotten.
The cold weather is not good for eczema - hot weather isn't much better either. I am fed up with the horrible cream stuff I have to put on my feet to soften the eczema and prevent it cracking because none of it works.
No, No, No, I am not going to go down that miserable road tonight. I am taking my book to bed.