Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Bluefunnels and how they got their name

photographer Onassis Bluefunnel preparing for a shoot
I am an only child from a big family. Now that sounds like a contradiction in terms but let me explain. I am the only child of my parents. My mother had two brothers, my father had eleven brothers and sisters. Of all those "siblings" there were only two that did not have children. My father's family was very close. So close that very often his big sister Mu ( short for Muriel and pronounced Mew) would arrive on the doorstep and say "I told everyone to be here for Sunday tea, today" and she would carry in her shopping bags and load down the table with fruitcake and other wonderful comestibles.
This meant that all us cousins knew each other quite well when we were small. We all developed the same sense of humour and the same protectiveness about our family. That was the way things went until Mu died. She was the glue that held our family together so the cousins drifted away from each other. We married, had children and got together for weddings and occasional visits from uncles and aunts that lived abroad.
Mr M, Onassis Bluefunnel, Mrs Bluefunnel
OK so that's the background. Now fast forward thirty years, My Dad died in 2003. Everyone came to his funeral and we realised that there weren't many of that generation left - Just four in fact. Then two of those died and we all went to the funerals and someone said "We only seem to meet at funerals these days, wouldn't it be nice to have a meet up when no one had died" So we did. It was good so we organised a second one
Cousin Russell came over from Mexico at the right time so he was able to be there and that's where it happened. I had been researching Cousin Colin's ancestry - we have the same grandfather but he was married twice so we have different grandmothers - and he told us that Ma (his grandmother) always said that her father was a shipping tycoon and she had been put in the workhouse when he died to cheat her out of her inheritance. Cousin Colin insisted that when his ship came in he would be the sole inheritor of the fabulous wealth so he became first 'the Shipping Magnate' on the hill. They live on top of a hill.
Cousin Russell preparing the ground
During the course of one conversation Cousin Russell managed to use lots of shipping line names when referring to Cousin Colin, always using Onassis as the forename. For example he was Onassis Cunard, Onassis Whitestar... you get the picture?
Then they went on to discuss ways of increasing this mythical fortune and it was decided that Viagra was the answer. If they could grow organic Viagra somewhere and ship it in using Onassis Bluefunnels shipping line they could really be quids in. All Cousin Russell had to do when he got back home to Mexico was buy some land in Chile, grow organic viagra and ship it over here. Onassis Bluefunnel would -to quote his exact words - "get it into Waitrose and make our fortune". Then the credit crunch happened and they decided they can't afford the seeds yet...
So that's why my cousin Colin and his wife Ann (yes that's the same as me and Mr M but we never get confused because they are Colin and Ann and we are Ann and Colin) are now "the Bluefunnels"
The name Bluefunnel is the one that has stuck

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

ooh that was exciting!

I just had to register a book on and when the number came up - each book is allocated a unique ID number - it was 10000702. That's ten million seven hundred and two books registered on bookcrossing.
I registered one yesterday and it was 9997456 and I idly thought that the ten millionth book should be soonI think it's wonderful!

Off to the proof readers my pretty!

I have just posted out the proof copy of the quarterly Journal of Gwent Family History Society. I am the Editor - again. I was Editor from issue 42 to issue 80, so three journals in the first two years and then four journals a year after that is ten years - good heavens! I didn't think it was that long.
Anyway, I stopped enjoying the experience and I had somehow become the sales officer as well so I let someone else have a go. I guess they thought it was easy because the first person managed one edition. The next person managed three editions and then resigned saying that he couldn't work if I was part of the "Journal Committee" because I was looking over his shoulder and correcting him and telling him what to do.
The correcting bit was because I became a proof reader, and that's what a proof reader is for. The telling him what to do was because I reminded him of the decisions made by the Executive Committee of the Society about the font and the margins and the cover-art. The result was a booklet that listed the details decided by the Exec in 1994.
The Editor's post was then taken as a temporary measure by one of the pillars of the Society. He gently took it back to the quiet, staid publication it had been when I took over. This was fine because it seemed to be what people wanted, well they never wrote in and complained about it so we have to assume that they liked it.
My daughter then took over and brought back a personal touch that had been lost and people wrote in to say how much they enjoyed the journal again! She did the job happily for a year and then she changed her job and suddenly she was going to Northampton for meetings and going to the Welsh Assembly for meetings about the Mental Health act and I stepped in to cover for her. I found that I enjoyed the task again. Writing has always been part of my existence and writing about pesky ancestors to people who are interested is just such a great thing to do.
AJ decided that she couldn't carry on doing the journal, even though she liked it very much, because her job was just too interesting and she would rather give more time to that for the moment.
So here I am three quartes of the way through my second year of my second stint as Editor.  The proof readers will receive the pages from the September edition and by the middle of next week the corrections should be completed and the copy will go to the printers.
I have done the happy dance in the hall, a kind of ritual at this stage, and when the final draft goes to the printer I will do the REALLY happy dance. In the meantime I intend to do something meaningless for half an hour to empty my brain.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

10 on the 10th part deux - food

 It seem that whenever we go out anywhere with the Bluefunnels ( I will tell the story of how Ann and Colin got this name, honestly I will) the day revolves around food. We went to Dryham Park and deliberately arrived early so that we could have a cuppa before going around the house
This is MY plate after a day out with the Bluefunnels to bristol and the surrounding area. When we got back to their house we had dinner. Onassis Bluefunnel is a good cook!

This was a day out for just the two of us. We were heading for the OK Diner at Leominster but needed to stop for refreshment so we had a light lunch - it was Mr M's birthday treat.

This is the OK diner with the birthday boy ready to tuck in. He had the Chilliburger and I had the steak and eggs we shared the stack of onion rings. No room for dessert!

Miss Em's birthday cake. We could only look on and drool as there is FAR too much sugar in that frosting ~sigh~

Another meal at the Bluefunnels. a fabulous lentil pie, yum. My sense of taste was destroyed last year by a virus and it is being slow to come back. However, I could taste the herbs in this pie and it was delicious

At a posh coffee shop/restaurant on world book night day, if that makes sense. We went to Cribbs Causeway to buy a camera for Cunard Bluefunnel and after the hard work of ccarrying it to the car we were forced to seek refreshment. I gave away three books there.

More food at the Bluefunnels

all day breakfast at Usk Garden Centre. They doo fabulous food there and we were buying chickens so we needed the energy.

Miss Em and Harry Bear enjoying the dinosaur biscuits sent to me by a blogging friend. Harry said they were delishhhhhh.

This is part of the 10 on the 10th project from Shimelle why not take a look

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Didn't we have a lovverly time the day we went to Dinefwr

Da Gang, and by this I mean Mr M and me and my cousin and his wife who we call The Bluefunnels - I promise I will explain that one day - like to have a day out occasionally. We are all members of the National Trust so we decide the date and the direction and then, depending on whose care we use, we choose the destination (the driver get the choice).
Recently we went west to Dinefwr Castle (pronounced by us as Dinn ay vor because we comes from Newport) This is at Llandeilo so we had to stoke up on breakfast before we went

From Breakfast we headed towards Brecon, because just outside Bwlch there is a most important place. The Venison Centre. They have the most stupendous venison sausages and burgers as well as joints of meat and because venison is so lean it is excellent for diets! They also sell fresh vegetables and local produce

Then we went to Dinefwr. We arrived just as the doors opened and after such a long and arduous journey we had to pause for refreshment. Mr and Mrs Bluefunnel were having a day off from the diet so they had Bara Brith with their cup of tea. Mr M and I were still full of breakfast so we just had our tea and coffee

Dinefwr is a fabulous place. It is a "hands on" house so we could open cupboards and touch things - and the children can try on costumes and ha...... ah as you can see the boys were really getting into things.

There is so much to see in the house and the staff and volunteers are so helpful and friendly it was a really good day out. Just to top things off there is a picture frame on a pole alongside the path and it is for you to take pictures of each other in front of the house. I didn't get the frame in properly but that's because I was so entranced by the lovely expressions on their faces. Three of the people I love most dearly

We stopped in a cafe for lunch and then headed for "WHAT" in Cardiff so that Mrs Bluefunnel and I could buy lots of stuff we desperately need. They do crafting stuff - embellies and pens and bling and diecuts and .....and.....and. They have all this as well as boring mundane stuff like garden fairy lights and socks and kitchen utensils and bamboo furniture. All the stuff that comes from China in containers and we lap up. Then we headed to Farm Foods because we had vouchers and the freezer needed topping up so now I can't find anything in the freezer because it is packed full with vegetables.
All in all it was a grand day out. We are going out again at the end of this month, I think we are going to either Laycock Abbey or Snows Hill Manor - so many places so little time.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Storytelling Sunday - July

Way back in the 1980s We had lodgers. MY daughter’s boyfriend said I collected lame ducks. Well yes, perhaps I did but that’s all that is wrong with them they just need a bit of time to get onto their own feet and then they can fly away. Mr M rolls his eyes sometimes

My children had grown up and moved out, the boys were in the army in Germany and my daughter was living with her boyfriend in Manchester. We had five bedrooms – we still do – and it seemed a shame to have them empty so when one of the guys we Role played with needed a room to live for a while because he couldn’t live with family any more we said yes, and yes when another of the guys was moving closer to Newport and needed somewhere to........... you get the idea. I did their washing with ours and if they were going to be in at meal times they told me, and I made sure I cooked enough to feed them. This meant that most days they had a good meal and if they went out and had Kebabs on their way home, well serve them right I said.

Sometimes They would be in at odd times – they both worked shifts as did Mr M in those days – and then they would cook for themselves.

We had one of those electric deep fat fryers too – spawn of the devil though it may be. So one evening while I was running a game of Warhammer Role Play Lodger One, we’ll call him John, decided to cook some burgers for himself. Lodger Two, let’s call him David, decided that he would like some too so John was in the kitchen putting burgers under the grill and turning on the chip fryer while David cut some bread and butter and then disappeared to turn on the TV in the sitting room.

David came back a while later just as things were nearly ready in the kitchen. The chips were cooked and the basket had been lifted out of the oil. The burgers were sizzling under the eye-level grill and John was just about to get the plates out of the oven when David pointed at the grill and said

“What’s that funny grey stuff on the burgers?”

“Grey stuff? What the he.................OH SH*T!!!”

From where I was sitting I could see David’s face but I could only see the back of John’s head. I saw John fling something off the top of the eye-level grill and lift the grill pan out of the grill before he turned to David.

David began to laugh, he leaned on the countertop and held his side while he laughed. He sank to the floor and rolled onto his back while he laughed and because he was laughing everyone else began to grin and laugh too – except John who stood, frozen by the cooker with one hand on the grill pan and the other half stretched out towards David, who continued to laugh and now to cry.

I could see, now what it was that John had flung from the top of the grill so I waited. Gradually David’s laughter subsided and he was able to point at the flung object and look at me and say

“I’ll buy a new one, honestly it was worth it for the laugh”

“No, I’ll replace it,” said John “I put it up there so it’s my fault, I’m SO sorry, I didn’t mean that to happen”

I waited until he had run out of words and said that I accepted the offer. Then and only then did I start to laugh.

I wish I had been able to see his face. David said that the look of stark horror as John realised that the ‘funny grey stuff’ was plastic from the lid of the fryer, melting where it had been put onto the eye-level grill when he lifted the basket out of the oil was a sight he would treasure until he died.

I got a new fryer and John learnt that putting things on top of an eye level grill is so tempting but must never happen

This story has been brought to you through Story-telling Sunday invented by Sian at High in the Sky. why not go and see what other stories have been told?