Sunday, 30 September 2012

50 Years? but it was just last week, surely?

 I went to a reunion lunch today. Apparently it has been fifty years since we went to Usk College of Agriculture. Now you and I both know that this is impossible right? I mean how can it be fifty years since September 1962? I can't be that old can I? Well, I suppose that as I am a great grandmother the answer to that has got to be yes.
I didn't think I would remember anyone except those few people that I had maintained contact with but as people began arriving I recognised them. They looked just the same, but wrong.
One or two had to tell me who they were and then I could see the young faces hidden in the..... mature ones.
These are the people I spent a year of my life living with. The college had two "hostels" one for the girls and one for the boys and there were strict rules about boys and girls getting together - it wasn't allowed! Girls had to be in their hostel by 9.30pm and in bed lights out by 10pm. It sounds positively archaic but a lot of the students were like me and still only 15 or 16 years old so the staff had a heck of a responsibility to keep us safe.
Most days everyone had to get up early because there were animals to care for and that comes first. The 'Dairy' students had milking to do and the 'Gen. Ag' had pigs to feed and calves and sheep to tend.
As a Rural Domestic Economy student we had to take a turn in the milking parlour and in the poultry sheds as well as our own duties where we learnt to do housework and cleaning and to cook. We also did dairy science, butter and cheese making horticulture, butchery, book keeping and accounting wallpapering, dressmaking, soft furnishing and preserving fruit and vegetables. This was a time before freezers were in domestic homes so everything was either canned or put in jars.
In 1962 there were only six students on the RDE course and this gave us some advantages. We were able to go to Smithfield Show with the other students. We went to the Dairy Show too. We had our own trip to the Ideal Home exhibition but it was the chance to spend hours - no M4 to get us home you see so it was the A48 through Gloucester and Chepstow - on a cold rattling bus with the boys!
I remember the trip to I think it was Smithfield, where a thick fog descended while we were in the show and when we came out and started home it just got thicker and thicker. At one point the boys were taking it in turns to hang out of the door of the bus and shine a torch on the side of the road so our driver could see where we were going. We left London at 6pm and arrived back at the college around 4am. Those people on 'sheds' just went straight across to start work while the rest of us tried to decide if three hours would be enough sleep.
I was the second youngest girl there that year, only Frida was younger than me, and I was expected to behave like an adult. I hadn't really been a kid yet so the freedom went to my head a little and I must have been an absolute pain to live with.
These people don't seem to hold it against me though and giving and receiving hugs and kisses was wonderful.

 I did find it odd to look around at the familiar faces and to picture in my mind what they had looked like back then - Ann bringing the year photograph was a great help. All those boys we drooled over have turned into bank managers! Well, not really but they do look like it.
Discovering Speedy's real name was one of the highlights. He had a moped and the song "Speedy Gonzales" had just come out so that's what I called him and it stuck.

Our year was the one that had the most marriages between students, So Clive informed us, and it is really good to see that several of those couples were there, still together and still smiling.
All in all it was a fabulous couple of hours. A chance to chat with my daughter's godmother and to listen to Liz, still talking after all those years.
I think I will go to the next reunion - as long as it isn't another 50 years

Friday, 28 September 2012

The Scottish Trip: part eight

Day 15: Saturday 21st July 1979.  Rained during the night and continued while we ate breakfast (Wilmot had been to the shop)
Tended the wounds while Selwyn washed the dishes. Off to Oban. followed the nasty people from the next tent who sprayed mud on our tent trying to get their car onto the grass. Kelly put a curse on them and later their car broke down. Don't mess with Kelly!
Parked on Platform four then walked around. No, really! we parked on platform four of what was the railway station.
Lots of touristy spots but one shop gave free samples of shortbread and fudge. Heard piped and followed the noise. Managed to get some film of the Pipe Bands marching. Stood on the quay and listened for ages while they played some lovely old tunes.
On the way out of Oban Wilmott explained to the man in the blue van that before driving on a public highway one needed instruction in the use and control of a vehicle (he didn't use those words). We nearly had female mascots on the bonnet, then we gave two old ladies something to think about. On the command NOW! Everyone waved. One old lady waved back!
Back in Glencoe and a visit to the museum. All the clothes and trinkets were beautiful. A pair of white silk stockings that belonged to Queen Alexandra, a tiny piece of Bonnie Prince Charlie's tartan. Swords and guns used at Culloden. Book and books on all sorts of subjects. Photocopies of documents relating to the massacre.
Back to the tent for tea - pie and chips then apple tart for afters. Started a quiz which went on until 1am. got to bed at 2.30am - another early night.
Note from all travellers: Kelly is a patient Nagavator.

Day 16. Sunday 22nd July 1979. Cloudy, dull no drizzle.
Up early (11am). Breakfast and then up to the White Corries. Wilmott and Kelly went up on the ski lift. All recorded on film. Saw one of the tinkers in a layby, that Angus told us about, playing the pipes. He had a chair with small rocks on it so that people could put paper money on it and it wouldn't blow away. Took pictures (now lost) Into the craft shops in the village (Glencoe) then back to the tent. Had curry for tea. Kelly and Wilmott went out for a drink. on their return Doctor Tattoo operated on wounded-but-getting-better Wilmott. More quiz questions and then to bed before 12.

Day 17. Monday 23rd July 1979. Drizzle Cloudy dull.
Up 8.45am. Coffee then packed up and away by 11.45am. First to Oban to the glass works. Then fish and chips, then off towards Edinburgh. Arrived at a site with a vacancy about 7pm put up the tent and had a look around. FREE SHOWERS!!! A laundry.
We lost Hotlips to the TV room - the Waltons were on. Had tea. Chips, beans, sausage or egg. Tattoo had a glass of cider in the bar - ohh decadence! Where Wilmott did the stern parent with Radar and Hotlips. they were fighting in the sleeping bag.
The weather has caught up with us and let us know. On the way here we stopped at a woollen mill where we saw the Davidson Tartan.
Note from surprised tourist party: Kelly can nagavate with maps that don't work!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Scottish Trip: part seven

Day 11. Tuesday 17th July 1979. Dull, drizzly, brightening up and getting windy (gale force)

A lot of Scotch mist about in the morning and it was drizzly when the bank arrived*.
Went for a little drive round to Tarbet, Foindle etc then to Badcall Bay.Note from nagavator Kelly as we approached a car and a passing space - "He is going to cross the road!" and he did!  Back to the tent when we were visited by Angus and wee Gordie. They had brought us a "wee bit o' Salmon." It looked like half a fish but is was just a 'wee bit'.
By this time the wind was getting up to quite a firece blow.
Salmon, new potatoes, peas and wholemeal bread for tea - lovely!.
More chapters of Robin Hood from Literary Wilmott. Most of the washing is dry so we might move on tomorrow or the next day. Went for a walk and looked at the stones in the cemetery. One for Robert Ross who was a private in the South Wales Borderers, killed in action in 1917. Lots of McKay, Ross and McCloud. Taught Wilmott and Kelly to play Binny. Note from losing Wilmott: "It's a stupid game anyway!"

Day 12. Wednesday 18th July 1979. Drizzle, rain, high wind.

Wilmott's leg is very painful where he got bitten by the GREEN BOT FLY. Watched everybody pack up and go. We stayed in the tent all day playing games. More chapters of Robin Hood read by Literary, in-pain Wilmott. A game of Star Turn (TV style charades) while Mother Tattoo cooked curry for supper. Selwyn and Hotlips did a weird dance based loosely on karate (very loosely) then a quiet pause while we all gathered strength to face the ordeal of going to bed. One bright interlude was when Radar shut himself in the pit (the small section under the trailer where the boys slept) declaring "I'm not coming out until next week! I'll starve myself!" We all wondered if he meant it - no such luck. He did NOT sulk.

Day 13. Thursday 19th July 1979. WET

Rained all day. Spent the morning playing Star Turn. Radar did NOT sulk. Wounded Wilmott lay in bed giving out titles for the game. Went to the shop for milk, bread etc. Wilmott cooked tea and then couldn't eat it, the pain in his leg being so bad. He returned to his bed where, on examination he found that the bite had come to a head and burst. No great detail just that Surgeon Tattoo operated twice during the rest of the day.
Played scrabble during the evening while the tribe were outside playing rounders.
Note from disgruntled Wilmott: "They wouldn't let me have M I R E N so I could score 94.
Our early night was 1.30am
Typical Selwyn question "What's a Harley Davison?"

Day 14. Friday 20th July 1979. Wet, dry, wet, dry, wet, dry, windy

Got up latte and after slight indecisiveness involving Wilmott throwing the tent poles across the site, we packed up the tent still wet. Washed the groundsheet with a mop and bucket and after Wilmott had apologised to Angus for the soggy mess, set off. Note from Fed-up Kelly: "Much more and he will be living in Scourie ON HIS OWN!"
Stopped at the shop, "Two minutes to get what you want from Volcanic Wilmott.
Ten minutes down the road after travelling in complete silence a voice from the back said quietly
"Aunty A is it safe to talk to Uncle C yet?"
The rest of the journey passed as normal. Lairg, Dingwall, Drumnadrochit, Loch Ness, (no sign of Nessie even though Hotlips had his Nessie hunting hat on). Spean Bridge, Fort Augustus, Fort William and finally Glen Coe. Arrived 9.30pm, chose a pitch and started putting up the tent at 9.50pm. All up and everything done by 10.50pm.
Note from all the passengers on the 2.45pm to Glen Coe. Kelly is a good Nagavator.
No milk no butter so cheese on raw toast and water to drink because the gas ran out too. Tattoo operated on wounded Wilmott and we all went to bed.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Only one view?

Sian over at From high in the sky asked us if we could only have one view to look at forever which would it be?
That was an easy question to answer it would be the view from Mr and Mrs Bluefunnels patio.
You see, they live on top of a hill and from their vantage point a person can see right across the Bristol Channel to England. Both the Severn crossings are visible and if you were to look to the right, on a clear day, you could see as far down as Brean Down. Flat Holm and Steep Holm would be visible if the trees were not there and with binoculars I think a person might just see Lundy.
We visit Mr and Mrs B quite often and I have never seen the same picture twice. Can you imagine being able to go onto the patio in deepest winter and to look out over that stunning vista and see it covered in snow? Mr B says that they still stop and gasp at the beauty of it even after living there for such a long time. I am not an envious person. I am satisfied with what I have and wouldn't change my life for anything but if I could have just one view to look at for the rest of my life it would be this one so, a little touch of envy now and then. Thank goodness my cousin lets me share it every so often.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Scottish Trip: part six

Day 9. Sunday 15th July 1979. Cold, dull with the threat of rain.

Up early, Manfred, Tomas and the rest came to say goodbye. We were sorry to see them go because they are such nice kids. Slept or read most of the day. Tattoo made Curry, rice and chips which everyone said was great. Note from surprised Tattoo: "I only made it with what was there!"
Started to rain then everyone went fishing. Wilmott caught a sea trout and everyone got soaked. The groundsheet was floating in places when we got back so everything up off the floor and into bed.

 It poured down all night. Note from Fisherman Wilmott: "I put six night-lines under the ground sheet, no luck!"

Day ten. Monday 16th July 1979. Pouring with rain.
It was chucking it down when we got up and even though everyone was miserable it doesn't really matter. Breakfast. Note from fishmonger Kelly:" I cut off the fish's head and EVERYTHING!"
The cry of "Unca Bernard!"* went up - Wilmott broke his chair.
Went to the chippy - three chipped steak, one haggis, one sausage. "The haggis was great". This comment from Gourmet Wilmott.
Note from Poetical Wilmott "Hotlips, you're not a batter eater, you're a batter eater's son and you're only eating batter 'til the batter eater comes."
A few chapters of Robin Hood read by Jackanory Wilmott rounded off the day.

Uncle Bernard is my Dad. He was a role model for all my cousins as they grew up because, I suppose, he had lost his right leg at the end of WW2 and spent his whole life proving that he was just as good as any man with two legs. He could make things from whatever was lying around and could fix things too. He repaired clocks and could do really fine work but he was also what he called a "Hedge carpenter" and would use great lumps of wood and a huge hammer where perhaps smaller would have been better. Whenever anything broke in the whole family they would all look to "Uncle Bernard"

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Scottish Trip part Five

Day 7. Friday 13th July 1979. Wet, cool, dull with one sunny spell.
Kelly showing off her muscle
Everyone except Selwyn got up late. Went for a walk to Badcall Bay - the long way. They neglected to tell me that it meant walking along the tops of cliffs and doing an impression of a sheep. Tattoo spent the whole time muttering and sliding into puddles. Found a pool with water lilies growing in it. Looked for serpentine stone - I found one - Selwyn found a "Haggis Shell" she was very proud of herself. Discovered that Radar's shoes have holes in the soles. The darned things are only two weeks old. He has worn them out from the inside. He spent the day with soggy feet.
Selwyn with her "Haggis" shell

Wilmott and Kelly went to see Gaynor and Angus while Hotlips Radar and Selwyn kept the campsite awake with their shouts.

 Day 8 Saturday 14th July 1979. Cloudy, drizzly cold.
Up about 9am. Breakfast then off to Lochinver. Went to the stoneware pottery. The things are beautiful. Tattoo bought a bowl with a pouring lip. Wilmott and Kelly bought a dinner service*.
Went to the harbour, ate chips, then back to the site. A quiet read, a little sleep then supper was the plan.
Selwyn wanted a translator to ask some German boys to play football. Wilmott sent Janice (Selwyn's campsite "best friend") to say "Wollen sie Wilmott?" it broke the ice.
A mad game ensued with everyone on a different team running around like mad in all different directions. Sometimes trying to catch the ball and sometimes trying to avoid it. Wilmott was on one team with Hotlips and Radar and what seemed like a hundred German scouts (slight exaggeration) while Kelly and Tattoo with Selwyn had about a hundred German girl scouts (more exaggeration) - it just fell that way ok? At one point Kelly forgot all about tactics and yelled "Just grab Twizzle in the dungarees!" so we tried.
Wilmott finished up falling off the path and breaking the glass on his expensive watch. He got told off by Kelly for wearing it to play. We all retired to the palace and spoke Platt Deutch and pidgin English. Then Manfred brought his guitar.

Note from Worried Kelly: "Would you all like coffee?"
Chorus of yes please
"Could you go and get your own mugs please, we've only got ours?"

Thunder of feet as 12 Germans leave the tent.
More thunder as 16 Germans come back.
We sand Cat Stevens and Beatles until Angus asked us to be quiet. "Come on Taffy, your not in your valleys now"
Answer from Musical Wilmott "I was just going to get the pipes out"
Splutters and an expletive or two were heard as Angus retreated.
A really good day

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Scottish Trip part 4

Before I give you the journal entry for day five I just had to share these two pictures, taken from outside the door to the toilet block - good view eh?

Selwyn sat on the low wall there waiting for the sun to set. She waited for hours, watching the sun travel along the horizon and finally gave up at 11.30pm when it slid past the cliffs and it still didn't get dark!

We tried to explain about being so far north that it doesn't get totally dark in Summer but she didn't believe us. I suppose she'd been caught once too often by Wilmott and his convincing stories so the one time he is telling the truth she simply would not believe.
She took the "night" picture just before she gave up and came back to the tent and went to bed.

Day 5. Wednesday 11th July 1979 Hot, Sunny, Shorts ON

Continental brekkies then off to Durness to the craft village. Lots of lovely things. Beautiful marquetry, jewellery, leather-work, woodwork, metalwork and Siamese cats. Went onto Balnakiel beach at Durness, it was beautiful with white sand, blue water, sand dunes and not much wind but FLIES!

Wilmott built a racing car for Hotlips and a speedboat for Radar, then wrote DON'T LOOK MARTHA! down the beach (the song The Streaker was in the charts around this time).

Radar swam under water, all of him not just his face. Found the loo then went to Kinlochbervie to book for tomorrow. Back to Scourie for tea and then down to the beach for a walk. The tribe all decided to go in the water. After a great deal of throwing one another in they all picked on Tattoo. Goodness me that water was freezing cold. She couldn't feel the benefit of the gulf stream at all.
All these antics just served to convince the two French boys next to us on the beach that the British are insane. When I squelched back up to the palace they were outside their tent, laughing at me in French. They thought I couldn't understand.
9pm. sat outside the tent watching technical Wilmott set up the fishing rods for tomorrow. Tattoo is NOT going. A silly game of scrabble then we all fell into bed exhausted.

Day 6 Thursday 12th July 1979 Hot, sunny, slight breeze + cloud.
The fishermen went off early to get their boat. Selwyn and Tattoo left behind. A lazy day much of the time spent asleep. The fishermen caught two jellyfish and each other's lines. Radar caught a fish but it escaped. The reason they came back early was explained by Kelly. Here is the fishermen's tale.

"We were way out in the loch - a sea loch - and we were all fishing when suddenly Wilmott said 'Time to go!' He started the engine and whisked us back to the quayside before we even had a chance to reel in our lines. We were a bit confused but we bought some fish for tea and while the boys were climbing into the back of the car Wilmott said 'I saw a shark, so I had to make sure the boys were safe'.
What he had seen was the fin of a dolphin but he won't ever admit it."

We had fresh fish for supper. then Nastase Wilmott played tennis with three boys on bikes as the net.
PLayed scrabble and Tattoo came over all unnecessary because she got rid of all her letters at once and scored an extra 50 points.
Preparing for bed when there was a knock at the tent. Selwyn has started having callers.
Kelly did a superb balancing act when she threw her chair out of the trailer and then tried to do a back flip over the top. Request from sarcastic Wilmott: Will she do it next time with the chair on fire so she can join the circus and make him lots of money?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Scottish Trip part three

The view from the toilet block of the sea wall
Day 4. Tuesday 10th July 1979. Fine but windy.

Got up at 7.45hrs, all except Wilmott who was up at 7.30hrs to cook breakfast. Upsticks (or tent poles) and away by 10.15am. Arrived Scourie 13.30hrs All sitting down relaxing with coffee by 15.00hrs.
Wilmott Nastase played a match in front of the tent and then they gave the first public performance of THE WILMOTT. This is the dance devised and choreographed by the side of the A9 when we were waiting for the AA man. It involves the gripping of clothing and shaking of legs - oh and falling about laughing. There is cine film of this*.
looking out to sea
Walk to the shop for grub and then Selwyn and Hotlips went to the beach and wrote rude words in the sand. They saw several imaginary sharks and one real - deceased - jellyfish. Back to the palace for chips and beans, then we went for a walk. Kelly found a "sharks tooth" and gave it to Radar. Kelly asked a serious question:
"If the female stones are called Granite are the male ones called Grandadit?" Wilmott refused to answer.
A game of "chicken on the slipway ends with Selwyn getting wet feet. On the way back another game of chicken ended with Selwyn wet all over and having to drip and squelch all the way back to the palace. Note from eclesiastical Wilmott: Selwyn's Jesus impression did not work, she couldn't walk on water.
Kelly washed Wilmott's knickers and the grand unveiling was at 4.30pm. The real highlight of the day was listening to the piper playing his pipes down on the sea wall.
looking north
A discussion during scrabble about whether to allow Wilmott to have essence of snow, spelled S-N-O-T. Decidedly NOT.

The full Story about the second game of chicken is as follows.
View from the headland
Wilmott could sell sand in the sahara, he is a really good salesman so when he told the children that they could cross the dip in the pebbles by waiting and counting the waves they believed him. He said that the seventh wave was the biggest and the next one would be small so they waited and counted. the seventh wave came and the three of them started down the slope to cross what was actually the stream flowing outwards. Selwyn headed straight across, Radar was slow to start and then chickened out. Hotlips started down the slope but kept his eye on the waves so he saw that the eighth wave was even bigger and he stopped and ran back. He got wet to his knees but Selwyn saw the huge wave, stepped on a wobbly pebble and stumbled as the wave went over her. She was so angry she couldn't speak. she stormed up the lane and into the campsite and hissed at the lovely Danish lady who looked at the water dripping from everywhere and said "Oh, you are werry wet!"
looking towards the village.
Selwyn went straigh into the shower block while I rushed to the tent and grabbed a ten pence piece for the hot water. When I got into the showers there was a very surprised woman standing by the basins waiting for whoever was in the other shower cubicle. Selwyn heard me call her and opened the door of her cubicle just enough to drop all her clothes out and to receive the towel and soap. I put the money into the slot, picked up the clothes and took them outside to the washup where I rinsed them with cold water and then took them back in and shoved them into the spin dryer. All the time the woman is boggle-eyed because Mrs B and I are laughing so much. Selwyn exited the cubicle and the shower block with her nose in the air, she swept out like a duchess. We trotted along behind her carrying the damp clothes and trainers. She didn't speak to any of us until the next day.

* I haven't yet managed to find out how to put the film onto the computer. I did have it put onto DVD but the man put all the films in blocks of four so there are three unrelated films connected to it. I will get Hotlips to try and separate it and then see what I can do.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Scottish Trip part two

 During the course of our stay in Bunchrew we heard many strange things. Or should I say we overheard many strange things. Mrs B and I were washing the dishes in the washup place. A row of sinks with free cold water and hot water for two pence a time in a slot meter. There were several other women in there with us and we heard one ask another "Have you seen that huge trailer tent that is by the river bank, the orange one?"
"Yes", replied her friend "It's like Buckingham palace on wheels!"
We finished washing the dishes in silence, not trusting ourselves to speak and then took our clean and sparkling cups and plates back to Buckingham Palace.  Now on to Day 2.

Sunday 8th July. Weather dull - drizzle

Tattoo woke up at 6am all on her own. Went to the loo (a short trek across the site), stepping on Selwyn in the process. Read her book for a while and then put the kettle on and woke the sleeping beauties. Breakfast, courtesy and Monsewer Wilmott, was great. Kelly and Tattoo went for a walk. Selwyn found silver in the rocks and is convinced that her fortune is made. Rader spotted a seal in the river. Kelly found a stopper for a bottle.
Had a lovely shower for 10p and then had an uneventful evening except when Kelly got stuck in the mud on the river bank in her new yellow wellies.
Early to bed because we have to be up early to take the car to the Ford Hospital.

Day 3 Monday 9th Dull, sunny intervals.
Up at 6.45am, Coffee, breakfast, wash and into Inverness for 7.45 to get the car fixed. Walked around the town and bought supplies. Had a look at the castle. Hotlips is now the proud owner of a "Private" station and Sheriffs Court (I will explain this at the end). Wilmott convinced Radar (who was only ten) that P-O-L-I-C-E spelled Private in Scottish. So the police station in Inverness Castle is really a Private station.
Caught the 10.15 bus back to the campsite to wait. On the way into the site we "took the humps fast". This meant that we got into the same formation as we would have been in the car and with Wilmott making the engine noises we ran, in formation, over the speed restriction humps. This meant that we were still giggling hysterically when we reached the tent.
Hotlips and Radar played tennis. Wilmott found a phone box and rang up about the car.
Note from mechanical Wilmott: Loss of compression due to a malfunction of maladjusted tappets.
We read book and played scrabble. Wilmott collected the car and went to get chips for supper. Tattoo went to the loo and heard two french boys practising their english for the benefit of some girls. (please read with a french accent)
Boy one:     Have you any engleesh cigarettes?
Boy two:     Yes I 'ave
Boy one:     Give me one of your cigarettes
Boy two:     You are seeting on my cigarettes!
Packed up a lot of things for tomorrow.
Sad note from unhappy Wilmott: the chip shop was out of Haggis!

Hotlips "owning" the private station is something that my Dad started when I was small. When ever we went to a castle or ahouse or even a beach my Dad would offer to sell it to me for thruppence (three old pence) I own half the castles in Wales because of this, and Mr Bluefunnel who was usually with us on our travels owns the other half. We jointly own Cardiff Castle as that is a big one. After the breakup of my marriage I was able to bring this delight to my children. Being on holiday with Mr B meant that he was quicker than me to remember - and he was a sales rep then so I didn't stand a chance and he sold Inverness Castle with its private station and Sheriffs court for three new pence to Hotlips. Radar did not sulk.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

The Scottish Trip part one

Writing about holiday names brought back a lot of memories of that trip to Scotland in 1979 and I thought I should share it with you - or at least some of the journal entries and a few of the pictures. Before I bring you day one I thought it would be fun to show you how I scrapbooked 33 years ago. Yes that's right a Mr Men scrapbook from WH Smith.
The Title page was done with a thick felt tip pen because it was what I had. The album is beginning to show signs of age now, because it has been well used over the years. Now, let's get down to the start of the trip.
Oh, one more thing and then I will copy the journal entry. We didn't tell the children where we were going. We told them it was a top secret trip and national security meant they were not allowed to know until we had been travelling for two hours.We did, however, give the trip a code name (Mr Bluefunnel was an officer with the Army cadets) and we called it Operation Bournemouth - would they guess?
Oh and I will refer to shutups in the first journal entry. these are the junk food items that every parent carries in a car for that moment when you cannot take any more whinging and moaning and fighting and you say "For goodness sake have this and SHUT UP!" and you give them the toffee or the bag of crisps or whatever your favourite shutup is at that moment.
For this trip I gathered together an icecream container of stuff for each child. Exactly the same for each child, no matter what they might try to tell you. Right, let's get that journal open

Operation Bournmouth: Departure date July 6th 1979.

Departed Rhiwlas 19.30hrs. Stopped on Raglan bypass (four miles into the journey) for Wilmott to adjust his knickers. Repeated questioning from rear compartment (the boys) as to destination. Slight muttering from rear compartment over not being allowed to open shutups until one hour travelling time had passed.

 A Quiz caused more trouble, then everyone had to guess where we were going. The first vehicle seen on the M5 north was a van on hire from Bournemouth. Radar insisted that we were really going to Bournemouth. DID NOT SULK.

Fairly uneventful journey to Birmingham where Wilmott adjusted his knickers. All asleep when we passed Stoke -on-Trent exit. Hilton Park the first Loo stop. Selwyn poured herself a drink of orange squash then tried to wash her jeans with it. this not being very successful she leapt out of the car and dried them with her pillowcase. Then she dried the seat as well. Result one soggy brown and blue stained rag. The look on her face made it worthwhile when Tattoo told her she had to sleep on that for the next three weeks.
The two gents in the rear compartment had insisted that they couldn't possibly sleep in that tiny space and then kept Wilmott and Tattoo awake with their snoring. The loo stop took longer than planned because them in the back had stripped off and climbed into their sleeping bags.
Waved to Carlisle at 2.30am Tattoo feeling very proud of herself for guessing correctly. When we passed the border Radar was the only one asleep.
Selwyn saw a house on wheels. "Look there's a whole street still awake there, oh it's moving! Look!"
We looked and saw a train.
Saturday 7th
Waiting for the AA man
Tattoo asked for a stop to pour coffee from a new flask, then poured it over her leg anyway. The day dawned rainy. Wilmott found a garage with insulation tape and taped the trailer cover down as the rest of the crew slept on. Tattoo still determined to stay awake (she said she was the one with her foot on the brake). Pat Hamilton, but they wouldn't show us their academicals. Glasgow soon behind us and Green Loanin. On towards Crieff! This was where Wilmott began to suspect that the chariot was malfunctioning. On to Dunkeld where we re-joined the A9. Found an AA box and made a phone call - time 6.45am.
At 8.20am AA man arrived and spent 40 minutes under the bonnet agreeing with Wilmott. Then we followed him to Pitlochrie.
General concensus of opinion was that he must be their first-aid-on-people man because he "Don't know nowt about cars!"
Garage man not helpful. Didn't know when he could do anything or how long it might take so we decided to push on to Inverness where there was a Ford depot.
Note from observant Tattoo: "It's all uphill in Scotland."
Reached Inverness safely and found the Ford dealership who said they could fix the car on Monday.
Note from Technical Wilmott: The probable cause of the trouble is the compression on no. two cylinder has decreased to 50% due to either an orifice in the cylinder head or a mulfunctioning valve.
Found a campsite at Bunchrew, nice site, clean loos and showers. Situated on the banks of the river Ness. Not much in the shop in the way of food. Sausages, fish, tinned meat.
Loads of hot water for 2p in the basins.
Had sausage, egg and chips for our first meak then Tattoo lay down for a while. Woke up sometime during the night. It was dark and everyone had gone to bed. Went back to sleep.
It was reported that Hotlips, Radar and Selwyn saw a swan. Tattoo refused to confirm this as she was unconcious at the time. This is marked as an unconfirmed sighting in the log book.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Holiday names

Yesterday I mentioned that when we go on holiday we don't use our real names to each other we have "Holiday Names". This began on The Scottish Trip which I mentioned yesterday .
Today I will try and explain by using that trip as my example.
Mr and Mrs Bluefunnel with Mr and Mrs M
There were six of us in the car, three adults and three children. It was 1979. Mrs Bluefunnel had been asked by Mr Bluefunnel (who is not a small person) to get him some comfortable cotton underwear because he would be driving for a long time. She bought Airtex Y front underpants in what grew to be size extra huge.
These he donned for the outward journey, however, the loading of the car and trailer and the walking back and forth to get all of us and our pillows and "shutups" (I'll explain those in another post) caused the said underpants to.... how shall I put this?...... ride up, shall we say?
We set off from the house and had driven only four miles when we pulled into a layby (for those of you reading from abroad this is a parking space on the side of the road) so that Mr Bluefunnel could step out of the car and adjust his clothing. To do this he had to stick his leg out to the side and shake it vigorously, then shake the other leg and finally do a little wiggle of the hips before getting back into the car and driving off.
The stunned silence in the vehicle eventually caused him to say "What? What? My underpants wanted to be a vest (singlet) so I had to shake them down again!"
My daughter suggested that he looked like a character called Wilmott, from a TV programme called Rosie that was popular at the time. He had his holiday name.
My daughter also suggested that Mrs Bluefunnel's hair was just like "Aunty Val's dog Kelly" and she had her name.
As we passed Manchester airport I pointed to a plane coming in to land saying "The plane! the plane!" and I became Tattoo (courtesy of Fantasy Island)
My daughter has the innate ability to destroy things by touching them and between south Wales and the scottish border she poured a cup of orange squash over herself and then wiped it up with the pillowcase she was going to be sleeping on for the next three weeks and then simply by trying to clean the viewfinder on her camera she pushed the little tiny piece of perspex into the camera body. She became Selwyn after the TV character Selwyn Froggett.
Youngest son was always too busy trying to emulate his big brother to notice stuff going on around him and he became Radar - because he was the absolute opposite of the M.A.S.H character. His brother became Hotlips at his own suggestion just to keep youngest son company in the same TV programme.

So there you have it. Holiday names They can be continued to all holidays or they can be for just one. They can be added to during the holiday, for example there was a heated game of bicycle tennis in one campsite where Hotlips Navratilova and Radar Goolagong were up against Wilmott Nastase in what proved to be a nailbiting match - well it was until the German scouts arrived. You get the idea though, don't you? It's because you are in a place where no one knows you and you are acting totally out of character with sightseeing and stuff so you need a good name for the holiday journal............ You do keep a holiday journal don't you? yes, I thought so.
Mr M and I have holiday names that we have used for thirty years now. He is Horace, after the Hungry Horace arcade game and I am Hector. Tired old Hector from Hector's House. This because he is always hungry and I can sleep anywhere.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Goooooone Fishing........

I have been meaning to share this for a while but the distance between the back yard and the computer is just sufficient for me to forget on the way here.
One of my chickens, Koala, has a really mournful voice. I mean really mournful. When she is talking to the other chickens it sounds like she is the class moaner, you know, the one in every group that always finds fault with everything. When I talk to the girls, as I do every time I go out there, she has this thing of starting her croon very quietly and gradually increasing the volume and finally doing a couple of clucks at the end and it sounds just like................well, let me tell you a story.
Mr and Mrs Bluefunnel back then

In 1979 we, that's me and my three children, went on holiday with my cousin and his wife - they are now known as the Bluefunnels - to Scotland. This became "The Scottish Trip" and it was a godsend because my marriage had ended ten months previously and the kids and I were still reeling from the after effects.
We drove up from South Wales over night and three kids and three adults in a Ford Cortina estate car is a bit.... testing. It wouldn't be allowed now because the boys travelled in the very back of the car with pillows and sleeping bags tucked in around them - just like dogs are carried now. During the journey and the wait for the AA (I'll explain that in another post) we all acquired nicknames because you don't use your real name on holiday you have a holiday name. As part of the discussions about names there was a short interlude of doing impressions and my eldest son came out with his impression of Louis Armstrong doing an impression of Bing Crosby singing Gone Fishing.
His mournful warbling reduced the rest of us to tears of laughter and for years after all he, or anyone else on that holiday, had to do when in the company of anyone from the Scottish trip was to start with G O O O O R R R N N N Fishing. We would all fall about laughing and then go straight into the Do-you-remember? thing.
Imagine the scene when I go out to let the chickens out or feed or whatever and I speak to them. Immediately Koala starts her croon and she sounds just like my son so I smile and then I chuckle. I told my daughter about it and showed her by speaking loudly enough for Koala to hear me through the window. The look of delight on my daughter's face was just marvellous

Saturday, 8 September 2012

What a wonderful Day!

Some days are just so good you find yourself being glad you got out of bed early enough to really enjoy it. Today I had an appointment with the optician. My daughter had promised to take me there and she arrived early enough for us to be able to park the car and walk to Boots without having to rush.
As we walked out of the carpark and into the shopping centre we saw them. DRAGONS! lined up for everyone to see. They have been dotted about the city all summer so that people could follow the Dragon Trail and learn a little more about our city. The vandals took advantage of this too and wreaked their stupidity on a few of the Dragons causing them to visit the dragon hospital. Oh yes! one vandal even carved his initials into one of the dragons - so that narrows down the list of suspects, and as he is probably still boasting about doing it I think we shall see him in court ere long.
As soon as my torture eye examintation was done we came back and spent ages looking at all of the beautiful work done by the artists. Some names we "got" immediately others totally baffled us but that's a good thing. We liked the way the children touched the dragons - and in one case sniffed the dragon. No she hadn't gone mad it was just that one of the artists just happened to be in the lift with us in the car park and told us that when we found the Chocolate Dragon we should sniff the bell around his neck because it smells of chocolate, and it does! We wanted to stand by him and tell people to sniff! but felt that we would possibly be locked up.

After all the sniffing and petting we went home and then Mr M and I went to a birthday party for a three year old. Can you believe that my great granddaughter is three on Monday? NO, I had a problem accepting that too. She was far too engrossed in playing with her new dolly to look up at me when I was getting the camera out so I just took a few snaps while her Aunty Hannah read her the birthday cards.
We didn't intend staying too long because I don't cope too well with crowds and there were certainly a lot of people there when we arrived. We hugged and said hello to all the important people, watched while the birthday girl opened her presents and then something happened that made the sun shine even brighter.
I like my granddaughter's partner, he is a really lovely boy and he cares deeply for all his family. He worries about his Mum and his sister, both of whom have not been well. He adores his beautiful daughter, and he thinks about other people and takes note of important stuff. I knew all this already but today he went that one step further. Because Mr M is Diabetic he had made a sugar free cake especially for him. Now isn't that thoughtful?
I told my granddaughter that "he is definitely a keeper" and she agreed. I keep thinking about him taking the trouble to do this and it makes me smile every time.
Today has just been so worth getting up for.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Too Cool for School

This story is part of the Storytelling Sunday brought to you by Sian at Fromhighinthesky After you've read my contribution why not follow the link and go read all the other wonderful stories? As soon as I have written mine that's what I am going to do.

The youngest soon after the event
When my children were small we lived three miles outside the village of Raglan. This meant that every school day we had to be up by seven o' clock so that the children had time to eat breakfast, get dressed and then walk the quarter of a mile to the junction in the lane where the minibus would pick them up. This would transport them to another junction where several busses met to exchange children from various routes and then transport them to school. My two oldest children were well used to the routine when their little brother joined them at age 5, when he started school. He soon fell into the pattern and pretty soon I could trust them to come straight home in the afternoon when the bus dropped them off at the junction. My boys were very good friends with the Peterson boys - for some reason always known as Big Paddy and Little Paddy ( This meant that their parents soon became known as Mr and Mrs Paddy - I have no idea so don't ask) and as they all went home on the same bus they got to spend even more time causing trouble being typical boys together.

 Things were going swimmingly until the lovely summers day when it was time for the children to arrive home and I was doing the "not-worrying-they'll-be-fine-walking-home" thing while getting their meal ready and finishing off the daily chores. I heard the sound of running feet and hurried out of the door to greet them. My daughter skidded to a halt, put the back of her hand to her forehead and declaimed dramatically "He Didn't Get On The Bus!" Eldest son (just 13 months older than his baby brother so far more worldy-wise) was dancing, actually dancing from foot to foot with glee and singing "He Didn't Get On The Bu u ssssss! He didn't get on the bus!"
Now I don't know about you but for me if there is a stupid question to ask then I always ask it so I said "Where's Mark?"
A pause of a nano-second and the performance was repeated and then my mother, G*d bless her asked the other stupid question
"What do you mean, he didn't get on the bus?"
My daughter swapped hands so that she could to the dramatic gesture with her right hand while keeping the left firmly fixed to the forehead "Granny!" she wailed "He didn't get on the bus!"
I ran to the phone - no mobiles in those days - and called the school. The headmaster said he would get the staff to search around the school while he called every parent of the children in Mark's class. I asked what I should do because I couldn't just do nothing and my mother would sit by the phone. Mr Clark said I should drive into the village and look in fields to see if he was walking home. So I did.
I stopped at every gateway and looked in expecting to see a little broken body, while my mum calmed the other two and waited for the phone to ring. That was the longest three mile journey of my life but there was no broken body and no little boy walking home.
By now it has been over an hour since they came out of school. Mr Clark was cool and calm when I got to the school. The staff were just about to begin the first sweep of the gardens and the churchyard next to the school while Mr Clark had contacted all but three of the parents of Mark's classmates. As he was about to lift the phone again it rang. We all stopped moving - I think we stopped breathing too - as Mr Clark answered the phone. "Hello Mrs G" (Oh G*d! it's my mother!) "Really, oh that is good news, yes, Ann is here, I'll tell her straighaway. Thank you for ringing so quickly, goodbye". He turned to me and explained that Mark was safe. He had gone home with a boy from his class and they had stopped somewhere on the way and had just rung my home to ask if it was alright for Mark to be with them. I burst into tears and was hugged by several members of staff and offered a large kleenex by Mr Clark.
"When I go to fetch him, how should I react?" I asked Mr Clark "I don't want to be angry and frighten him but I do want him and his friends parents to know just how scared we have been."
"Quiet and deadly, with wringing motions" He replied, twisting his hands as though wringing out a towel "That should do it." So That's what I did. I stopped the car ouside the friends house and when everyone came out of the house I was so angry I couldn't trust myself to say a word to the child's parents so I pointed to the back of the car and said "IN". Mark got in. His friends mother then gave me some pathetic drivel about having to stop on the way home and not being able to ring us to see if it was ok until they got home and they were really sorry... ". Through gritted teeth I said "I'm sure you are." Then I put the car in gear and drove sedately away. NO wheel spins no surge of speed I was so good.
The following week Little Paddy didn't get on the bus and the staff and parents swung into action again. Once again there was a safe and happy ending because his grandmother was driving into the village and saw a little shape trudging along the side of the road. She thought "That looks like our little Paddy" so she stopped and asked what he was doing. "I'm walking home," he said. "Why aren't you on the bus?" asked Granny. "Because Mum said I must always do what Big Paddy says and he said get lost so I am trying to."
"Get in the car, I'll help" said Granny.
The following day a register for the bus was created and children were not allowed to go home with anyone unless a note was sent to school and the register was marked accordingly. Mr Clark added a new paragraph to his welcome to school message for new children and Raglan village settled down to normal life again - for a while.