Satisfaction achieved

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This photo shows me and my four children just before setting off for my son’s wedding.  It is definitely the moment that sums up my feelings of deep pride, joy, and satisfaction.

If my children ever read my blog, which they don’t, they would be mortified to see themselves publicly displayed.  Young people are never satisfied with how they look, and mine guard their privacy to greater or lesser degrees!  However, I am so proud of having raised these wonderful, kind, caring, funny, hard-working and loving people that I am going to risk it.

We are so rarely all together, as three of them live abroad.  But when we are together there is a bond so strong it feels incredible.  We will all be together again in less than 2 weeks for my 70th birthday and I can’t wait.

I feel blessed to have such a family.

Burford Wildlife Park

 

We are truly spoilt for choice in our local area for interesting places to go.  I am so lucky to have grandchildren who I can use as an excuse for going to all the farm parks, forests, steam railways and adventure playgrounds.

There certainly wasn’t anything like that where I grew up in the North of England.  My playground was the shipyards on the River Tyne, abandoned coal mines, or the sand dunes and castle ruins on the North Sea Coast.

The child in me can never get enough of our local Wildlife Park at Burford.  It is so well run and the animals are the first priority.  It is such a joy to see the beautifully maintained grounds and healthy happy animals living as naturally as it is possible and safe for them to be.  I have a season ticket there and go as often as I can with the grandchildren.

 

 

Partners

Partners

I just have to post photos of my grandchildren to illustrate this week’s photo challenge.  The theme is Partners and these two are definitely partners when it comes to getting up to mischief.  But they adore each other!

Following on from the surprising result of our referendum on membership of the European Union this week, I feel sad that our partnership with the other European countries is coming to an end.  So many people gave so much to bring peace and partnership to Europe during the wars, not least the combined services of army, airforce and navy.  In their honour I am posting some photos I took on Remembrance Day at Westminster Abbey in London.

I can’t resist putting in some of my favourite photos.  Of course my little Dachsund, Dayna, is a wonderful companion for me, but her hero is my husband.  When he is at the hospital for dialysis she often sits beside (or on) his slippers waiting for his return. The pair of ponies share a field near me so I guess they qualify as partners.  And of course the garden birds are my constant delight and we have a partnership.  I feed them regularly and they reward me by coming into my garden and sometimes even into the house like this little one!

And last but not least, partners for life ….literally!

My mum and Dad lived in parallel streets as children and went to the same school.  They were friends from the age of 8 and eventually married in 1945.  They were inseparable until my father died in 1993 and she followed him some years later.

terry & stella wedding

My mum and Dad on their wedding day in 1945

 

Eloquent Barcelona

Eloquent Barcelona

Anna in Barcelona

I’m feeling very jubilant today as my middle daughter, Anna, has started her own business in the wonderful arty quarter of Gracia in Barcelona, Eloquent Barcelona  Anna has lived and worked in Barcelona for many years, having travelled the world as a dancer and fallen in love with the Mediterranean climate.

Spain, like everywhere in the world these days, is a hard place to build a successful business.  It would give Anna so much encouragement if all my blog’s followers logged onto her website and sent her good wishes and positive vibes.  And, if you are on Facebook, could you like and share her Eloquent page please.  This would give her just the boost she needs.

I know I am her mother, BUT, she really is a multi – lingual, very talented, highly skilled and experienced, hard-working and beautiful young lady.  Not only does she provide English language lessons and tutoring for adults & teenagers (age 16-19) in Spain, but she also offers bespoke language services for businesses, including translations, editing and copywriting. She is also able to provide language & logistical support for International businesses setting up or working in Barcelona.

Anna local in Gracia Eloquent Barcelona

 Thank you

 

“O this learning, what a thing it is!”

In honour of Shakespeare I found appropriate quotes for my grandchildren.  They are my treasures, full of life, fun, personality and potential.  But what are their prospects?

Thankfully, they are too young for school yet.  They are busy enjoying whatever experiences their family can offer.  They are soaking up knowledge, developing skills, growing in understanding, and learning a rich vocabulary, as they play.  They don’t have a target in sight except to have as much fun as they can with people they love and trust.

“O this learning, what a thing it is!”

With all the furore in UK over proposals to turn all schools into academies over the next few years, I do worry for their future.

I am so concerned that I wrote to my MP and we continue to have a very rational debate about the issue.  But it is always on my mind.  That and the educational methods employed these days.

While wallowing in the peace of Kew gardens, I observed the various stages of development of the different trees and wished that one day we could have a Minister for Education who truly understands child development.

As the bard said~

“No profit grows where no pleasure is taken In brief, sir, study what you most affect”

But sadly we often seem to be saddled with pompous people who, as in the present case, have never studied either education or child development.  And, as the bard knew~

“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool”

As Shakespeare knew, it is so much easier to tell teachers what to do, than to train, gain experience, develop your skills, complete further study and work night and day for the good of your pupils~

It is a good divine that follows his own instructions I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching.”

I believe that each and every person, of whatever age and ability, has the right to an education which equips them with the knowledge, skills and understanding they need, to discover and learn from the past, to experience, explore and enjoy the present fully, and to enrich the future.

For this they need stimulating experiences and active learning to trigger their interest;. They need a variety of ways to express themselves (poetry, art, music, drama). And they need enthusiastic, knowledgeable facilitators/teachers/mentors/carers to work alongside them, enabling their learning.

They do not need arbitrary targets to aim for, endless tick sheets and multiple choice questions to answer, and pointless tests at the end of every learning opportunity.  Having watched my older grandchildren doing homework I can say that these methods kill any potential excitement in learning and discovering.

What was, What is, and What will be!  3 Trees on the same day, all beautiful, all allowed to develop at their own pace.  Would that children were!  Shakespeare knew it, even Solomon knew it!  Pete Seeger, the influential folk singer and activist of the 60s paraphrased Solomon’s words from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 in his song released by the Byrds in 1965 ~ Turn, Turn, Turn.  You can hear the song by clicking on ‘when they are ready’ at the end of this post!

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven”

 

I believe children need to learn about the past, enjoy the present, and enrich the future and they will ~ given the opportunities ~ when they are ready!

Victory

 

Oh my goodness I know I should be writing a learned and worthy post on the theme of remembrance for this week’s victory prompt, but I just have to diverge.  I beg your forgiveness for the poor quality of my photos but I was laughing so much as I took them.

This sequence took place on Tuesday morning as I looked after my adorable one year old granddaughter.   The lounge, hall and bedrooms were filled with toys for her to play with, but now that she can walk the kitchen is her favourite place.   For the kitchen is where my little dog hides in her bed when grandchildren appear.

There truly can be nothing more amusing than watching a one year old negotiate with a dachsund.  It was clear the poor dog had no chance of winning and eventually she had to give up her bed, which she did very reluctantly.  Then it was blankets out as soft toys and granddaughter moved in.

If there is such a thing as a saintly dog, my little dachsund truly is one!  She is so good natured and patient under severe provocation.

 

 

ROY-G-BIV ~ Rambles and rainbows

Indigo denim jeans on  Jungle playmat

Jungle playmat

The differences between being a child in postwar Britain, a parent in the 1970’s, and a grandparent today are amazing to me.  When I was a child there were still shortages of food which meant essential supplies were rationed while luxuries were just none existent for the ordinary family.  This made for a simpler diet with few choices and little chance of overindulging.  However, undernourishment was such a big issue for children at the time that the government provided orange juice, cod liver oil, malt extract and often a tonic like Minadex for every school age child.  Babies and schoolchildren were given free milk.

Food was basic, grown, fished or farmed, and home cooked.  There was very little processed food and no such thing as ready meals!  Packaging was practical and simple too.  Butter and cheese was cut off a large block and wrapped in greaseproof paper then put in a brown paper bag.  Sugar, flour and dry goods were scooped out from large sacks, weighed and poured into paper bags.  Fresh fish was bought straight from the quayside or from a man who brought it round the houses in a horse and cart.  Bread and pastries were usually baked at home or bought from the local baker, while meat was from the local butcher and chickens were often still alive!  Every town had a High Street which had a selection of specialist shops and there were ‘corner shops’ in most residential areas.  In fact when my grandfather left the army in 1952, he bought a corner shop right next to the hospital off the West Road in Newcastle.  Some shops, like Woolworth’s, were quite large, but nothing like the huge supermarkets of today.

Women, and it was almost always women, had large sensible shopping bags, which were used over and over again.  Plastic bags had not been invented.   Often the shopping was delivered to the housewife in a cardboard box by a lad on a bicycle or a man in a van.  This was essential as working class women, or indeed men, would not have had a car.  We have gone full circle here as so many supermarkets deliver shopping now, but not for the same reason!

But to get back to childhood, babies as far as I remember were dressed and treated as babies until they were about 3 years old. They would be put in a big pram and stuck outside in the garden or yard, or often, on the street outside the front door.  Here the child would sleep or watch the world go by for hours between feeds with a few toys.  My soft toys would have been knitted by my mum while my dad would occasionally make wooden toys.  Toys, being few,  were treasured.  I still have the doll I had when I was 1 and the golly (sorry) my mum knitted when I was 4.  Boys would often have tin cars or lead soldiers, both of which would be considered dangerous now.

Today things are so different.  Babies are socialised and stimulated from the earliest age.  My grandchildren are taken to ‘bounce and rhyme’,  baby gym, play barns, swimming classes, baby massage  etc. etc.  It amazes me to see the speed of their development.  And at home the range of toys is breathtaking.  Everything seems to have movement, music, colour and lights built in.  Even books have appropriate sounds alongside the story.  And, before babies can even crawl they have play mats like the one in my photo.  This 3D mat has all the colours of the rainbow in it.  It is based on a jungle theme so there are animals adorning it.  It is soft, safe, supportive and stimulating.  It plays a variety of music, animal noises, and even waterfall sounds.  It has given my grandchildren hours of pleasure.  I chose this photo for a couple of reasons.  It shows  my two and a half year old grandson teaching his 8 month old sister how to roll over.  It is so cute and the clothes just tickle me.  Denim jeans on a baby I find hilarious and absolutely adorable.

So this week’s photo challenge was to illustrate the colours of the rainbow and I think this photo does that.  The denim jeans qualify as Indigo while all the other colours of the rainbow are in the playmat.  but just in case you want more I have added a little group of colourful shots below.

 

Afloat

my grandchild afloat in her mother's womb my grandchild afloat in her mother’s womb

Goodness I have been down memory lane again with this weekly photo challenge  In fact I went through various stages ~  philosophical ~ historical ~ scientific ~ photojournalistic ~ spiritual and ended up just reminiscing.  I have included a 3D photo of my youngest granddaughter afloat in her mother’s womb and a beautiful photo of a good friend afloat on Taung Tha Man Lake in Myanmar (Burma), which I did not take but have permission to use. So here are my offerings for the theme Afloat!

The Ephemeral and Ethereal Quality of Childhood

Rosie's 3rd Bithday

Rosie’s 3rd Bithday

This photo captures a fleeting moment so fulfils the brief for this week’s photo challenge.   The definition of the word ‘ephemeral’ is ‘fleeting, transient, short-lived’,  and for me that epitomises childhood.

This is a photo of my granddaughter at her third birthday party, which was 6 years ago.  The blurred quality expresses the fleeting nature of childhood I think; so brief it is to be treasured.

But it also brings to mind the word, ‘ethereal’, and captures what I think and feel about children in general, and my grandchildren in particular.   Children are such precious, fragile things; innocent, trusting and dependent.  They seem to belong to another, more heavenly world.

The light shining on Rosie gives the photo a deeply spiritual quality for me.  It reminds me of the beautiful poem, Desiderata written by Max Ehrmann 1927

She is just one tiny child, but ‘she is a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars’, and she has a right to be here.  Like every child she also has other rights:~ to love, shelter, health, education, equality, protection, and to be treated with humanity, respect and compassion.

I worked with children all my life but now that I am retired my time, energy and funds are limited.  However I have found one small, local charity with minimal administration costs that punches well above it’s weight in working with children who are less fortunate for one reason or another.  It is called Hands Around the World and I would urge you to click on the link, find out what they do, and see if there is anything you could do to support their work.  Or look them up on Facebook if you are a member.

 

Wet and Windy in Wiltshire

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Rule of Thirds

Ben and Rosie set out on a treetop adventure

Ben and Rosie set out on a treetop adventure

 

This week was half term for the local schoolchildren.  As often happens, the weather, which had been mild for February, decided to turn nasty, wet, windy, and very cold.  Now I know from my daughter who is snowed up in Vermont that we have nothing to moan about in the Cotswolds, but I did feel sorry for the families who had planned to have days out during the holiday.  As I take my grandmother duties very ‘seriously’, I had planned all sorts of exciting things to do with my own adorable grandchildren.  There are lambs being born at the farm park, there is a baby rhino at the wildlife park, and the woods are full of snowdrops.  Oh what fun we could have ~ if it would only stop raining!  Undeterred we opted to go to Lydiard Park early to see if we could have some fun.

Having never been there before I decided to let the SatNav direct me.  This caused great hilarity as I had set it to stay off the motorways and we ended up on some of the tiniest country lanes with the weirdest names.  We made up a game of seeing who could find the funniest or strangest name.  I kid you not we found a house called Tadpole cottage, at the end of Tadpole Mews, in Tadpole Lane in a place called Tadpole Garden Village!  It is a new village built on the site of… you guessed it…. Tadpole Farm!

At last, and in a very cheerful mood, we reached our destination.  Lydiard Park is a beautiful historic estate in Wiltshire.  Back in medieval times, there was a deer park and manor house on the land as well as St Mary’s Church.  The estate as we see it today dates back to Elizabethan times and was owned by the same family for over 500 years until 1943.  There is a beautiful Palladian House, the medieval church and a restored walled garden, set in 260 acres of parkland.  In the grounds there is a lake, woods, sweeping avenues which are great for walkers and cyclists, and a superb ice house.

Despite the rain we had a great time.  The children braved the treetop adventure course which has over 50 hair-raising activities including zip wires, cargo nets, Tarzan swings, see-saws, rocket slides, wobbly logs, and tree trekking.  We warmed up and drip-dried in the café drinking hot chocolate before setting off to take photos of the snowdrops and the ice house.

 

I wanted to use my photos for the Weekly Photo Challenge but I really am not sure that I have the skills.  I could blame the weather, or my iphone camera but really I just haven’t understood the Rule of Thirds.  I took some photos of my garden hellebores and tried to crop them to the rule of thirds. Did it work?  Do let me know how I could improve.

 

Family ~ Weekly Photo Challenge


Many years ago, it seems like another lifetime, I was a busy single mum to 4 wonderful children. I had a full time job that I loved, a nice home that was all my own work, an adorable miniature wire haired dachshund and a stray cat who turned up one day and stayed for 17 years. Over the years I progressed from teacher to deputy head and then Headteacher of a great primary school at the heart of an estate in my adopted home town. Luckily my profession fitted in perfectly with being a single parent as I was usually around in school holidays and always at weekends. But if ever there was a crisis due to illness or something I had the backup of my mum who lived nearby and was always delighted to look after the children or pets!

My school and parish was my community and together with my family, was the source of all the joy, friendship and social life I needed. Although I knew my immediate neighbours, my life was much too busy to get involved in the local community or the people in the wider neighbourhood.

And so life went on and my children became adults and gradually left home. I had always encouraged them to follow their dreams and take any opportunity they could to travel and sample other ways of life and other cultures. I was lucky enough to travel extensively through my job, working with schools in Russia and Africa. I also took great holidays in America, Canada and many parts of Europe. So I think I probably went a bit too far with this advice as now 3 of my children live and work abroad!

As my children grew more independent I filled my spare time travelling to Lourdes at every available opportunity as a volunteer/helper with the sick or disabled whom we called VIPs. This was one of the most rewarding 10 years of my life. It also indirectly brought me my wonderful second husband who was also a volunteer.

I knew that I was very lucky in every way and I worked very hard to try and improve the life chances of the children in my school. But of course life has a way of turning your world upside down sometimes. For me several events occurred to produce the perfect storm that would shatter my well ordered life. I buried my feelings and worked harder and harder until my body refused to do any more and I had to retire.

There then followed 5 very gruelling years which felt like 50 years. I was caring for my mum who was disabled after a heart attack. I only ever went out of the house to shop or for their hospital appointments. I became reclusive, antisocial and anxious. By 2009 my life and social circle was as limited as it could possibly be.

Then in that Autumn my youngest daughter said some women wanted to start a WI in our area. She said she thought it would be good for me so she would go with me to the inaugural meeting. It took all my courage to turn up that night and fortunately there were only a handful of women there. In fact there were so few that almost everyone there ended up on the committee by default! My daughter said I was good on computers so could be the secretary.

Now, almost 4 years on, I know that joining the WI was the best thing I could have done. At first I forced myself to go to all the meetings as I had to take notes. Gradually it became a pleasure to attend the meetings and I looked forward to them. I joined the Book Club and started reading again. I started putting my name down for trips and events. To give me the courage to turn up for them I took my camera to hide behind and became our unofficial photographer. I ventured out to concerts and big events like the AGM in Cardiff. It still takes quite a lot of courage for me to attend these things but I know that if I am struggling I will not be alone. The friendship and support WI members offer each other is very special. I even joined the Public Affairs Committee at our Federation.

Usually I find that the speakers at meetings are so interesting that I completely forget to worry or panic and just enjoy myself!

Now the WI is my community and my family. Through joining, I have rediscovered my creative side, writing a blog at http://www.heavenhappens.wordpress.com I have become outgoing and physically active again and renewed my interest in campaigning.

Best of all, when I walk anywhere in my local area now I seem to know everyone and they all stop for a chat. I feel that I am part of a vibrant and supportive community.

The WI offers all kinds of opportunities to all kinds of women. I would advise any woman of any age to join and get involved to whatever extent you feel able.

The WI is all about inspiring women. It is a rich source of experiences, knowledge and skills passed down through generation ~ and updated every day!

WI even enriches my now rare holidays, as I try to pop in to a local meeting while I am away. It is fascinating to see how different WIs conduct their meetings. But I can honestly say that whichever WI I go to, I know a warm welcome is guaranteed.

I am so happy with my life now and I thank God every day for my wonderful family, friends and community.

It’s The Simple Things

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Reflecting on the week ahead of me I am delighted but a little daunted by the prospect of amusing 3 children under 10 while their parents work. These are my adored grandchildren and I love them to bits, but will I have the energy to keep them all amused?
Chekhov considered the work of an artist/writer, to be “the proper presentation of the problem”, so I tried to analyse the root of my anxiety. It became clear that I feel bound to stimulate and educate the grandchildren, while feeding them nutritious meals, sticking to their proper sleep patterns, keeping them clean and safe, and ensuring that they are happy and having fun at all times.  When I consider these goals, I see that they are idealistic and possibly unrealistic given a) the British weather and b) my age and situation.

So I cast my mind back to the things they have really enjoyed in the past and I realise that it is the simple things that bring the most pleasure.  So we can put away the Ipads, Xboxes, Dvds and electronic games and instead get out the wellies and walk!

Dodging the raindrops dressed in wellies and macs,

Jumping in puddles to make a big splash

Picking up pebbles to throw in the stream,

Peeping through fences, who knows what you’ll see

Goats, cows, pigs and hens abound

Sheep in the fields with their lambs all around

Watch a man in a red tractor cut grass in the park

Ring grandma’s doorbell and hear her dog bark.

In the sky there are seagulls,  helicopters and planes

As we walk past the airport along country lanes.

The roads are too busy with vehicles galore

Lorries, trucks, buses, police cars and more.

Popping into the pet shop to see what is new

Stanley climbs up a ladder to get a good view

Of fish, bearded dragons, geckos, rabbits, snakes too.

Reaching the playground we ride the model train

Taking trips to the seaside and then back again

Eating our picnic in the playhouse was fun

The day passed too quickly but now it is done

Walking back was an adventure, we walked on the walls

Spotting birds, trees and flowers, ladybirds and snails

I can’t wait for tomorrow to do it all again.

Grandma’s Angels

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She’s 5 going on 25 with long red hair that gets tangled in the shower. She has a smiley face and the loveliest nature. She lives with her brother who’s 8. He has the same red hair but short. He’s cool with a cheeky grin and a mischievous nature. They live in a small market town in Wiltshire with mum, dad, 2 guinea pigs and a whippet-cross dog from the rescue centre.
She loves to copy her mum; her hair, her makeup, her clothes, and especially her jewellery!
She would love to go horse riding, but it costs too much, so she goes trampolining instead. I watch open mouthed as she bounces; doing front drops, swivel hips, back somersaults, straddles and turns. She is fearless.
He loves to copy his dad; playing football, tennis and golf; soaking up anything sporty. 2012 will be his best year yet, Olympics in Great Britain, what a dream! He is already collecting commemorative 50 pence pieces. He knows every design and every sport. He has collected 15 so far with 14 to go. I could order him a complete set but there’s no fun in that. It is far better to search in pockets, purses and change.
I love it when they come to stay for the weekend to give mum and dad a break. All thoughts of housework fly out of the window as our home is transformed into a tiny version of Disneyland. We do beading and baking, chalk patterns on the patio, create fairyland in the shed, tie imaginary horses to the gazebo and sail pirate ships on a gravel ocean.
He wanders off to find grandad. She sits on my knee and we chat. Tugging at my gold cross and chain she asks,
“Grandma, why do you always wear that?”
“My mummy wears pretty necklaces. She changes them all of the time. She has lots.”
I’ve heard this question before and I usually say,
“I wear it to remind me of my dad because he bought it for me a long time ago.” And that’s true, but today I will tell her the whole story.
A long time ago before your mummy and daddy met, your daddy lived by the seaside in Somerset in a fisherman’s cottage. The cottage was 200 years old and it was a wreck when he bought it. It had pine panelling all over the kitchen and lounge. When he took the panelling down he found 57 types of mould growing on the inside walls. It was very colourful mould, some of it quite pretty, but not healthy to live with, so he had to pay someone to come and treat it. The cottage roof leaked, the windows didn’t open, and the walls were damp. But bit by bit he repaired it and made it beautiful. He put on a new roof, damp-proofed the walls, sealed the floors, replaced the windows and doors, and put in a new white bathroom. He did all this quite cheaply because he searched through scrap yards for things he could use. One day he found an old church window in a scrap yard and he bought it for his bathroom. He knocked down part of the wall and put in the beautiful stained glass window. It was full of colour, rich red and blue, and it had angels on it. When the sun shone into the bathroom it glowed with a heavenly light.
Now he was happy with his cottage and he decided to invite the whole family down for the weekend to celebrate the end of the work. Grandma and Grandad went of course, and your daddy’s three sisters. They were teenagers then and they had a little mini car which they shared.
It was a perfect weekend, sunny and warm. We scrambled on the beach and hunted for bits of pink quartz washed out of the rocks by the tide. I still have them in the garden.
I had my cross and chain on then too, it wasn’t long after my dad died. I felt that when I wore it he was close to me and he would watch over me and keep me safe.
It was a long and tiring day so we all went to bed early. I took my cross and chain off and put it on the cabinet beside the bed. We slept really well then got up early to go home. I had a shower in the bathroom and I was fascinated by the coloured lights shining through the stained glass window. It was so beautiful that I said a little prayer before we left. I said thank you for my beautiful family and thank you for a lovely weekend. Then off we set for home.
On the way back home I realised that I had forgotten to pick up my cross and chain. I was a bit cross with myself for forgetting it, but I wasn’t worried because I knew it would be safe. The girls were staying for another day so I guessed they would bring it home for me when they came. There were no mobile phones in those days so I couldn’t call them!
The next day was Sunday and the girls were sharing the driving home after a lovely weekend. They had found my cross and chain and remembered to pop it on the dashboard before they set off. They were very happy driving along, listening to their music and singing. They reached a sharp bend in the road just as another driver was speeding along. He misjudged the corner and crashed right into the little mini. The car was dreadfully smashed up and my 3 precious girls were taken off to hospital in ambulances.
The policeman who came to the crash shook his head sadly thinking the girls would be badly hurt. But at the hospital they were absolutely fine, just a few bruises and a bit shocked. The girls did not want to tell me about the crash as they knew I would be really worried and upset, so they phoned their brother to come and collect them. He got into his car and drove along the same country roads that his sisters had travelled. When he reached the bend in the road he saw the mini being towed onto a breakdown lorry. He got out to watch and was shocked to see the damage to the car. Just then he noticed something glinting in the road. It was my cross and chain. He picked it up and put it in his pocket, then drove on to the hospital to pick up his sisters and bring them home.
When I saw them and heard the whole story I knew that my dad and the angels had been watching over my girls as they travelled in their car that day. They protected them from harm. That is why I always wear my cross and chain. It reminds me how blessed I am.
One day I will give my cross and chain to her, my angel.

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Grandma’s Words of Wisdom

I have been trying to think who my ideal readers would be ~ apart from your good self of course!
I thought maybe my blog would be appreciated in the future by my much loved grandchildren, the ones I know and any who come along later. It may be that I am not around when they are adults and they might be as curious about their ancestors as I am. My blog would be a useful resource for them in finding out what my life was like and what type of person I was. It would certainly give them an idea of what I believe in and how I feel about things. So I decided to do a little series of tips or words of wisdom that I have gleaned over my lifetime so far. I can always add to it if I do manage to get any wiser!
Another exercise on Zero to Hero is to customise your site with some of the widgets and technical wizardry available on WordPress. I must admit I found that very difficult but I am learning how to put text onto photos so that is what I have done with my tips!

Always treat others gently, you never know what they have endured, or what they are going through

Treat others as you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes

Treat others as you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes

Be friendly to other people and be part of a supportive community

Be friendly to other people and be part of your community

It is a beautiful world.  Appreciate it and protect it

You live in a beautiful world. Appreciate it and protect it

Do something that makes you happy every day.

Do something you enjoy every day.

If you know someone who has a problem be kind to them and try to help

If you know that someone has a problem be kind to them and try to help

be polite and courteous to others always

be polite and courteous to others always

When someone speaks to you give them your whole attention and listen to them

When someone speaks to you give them your whole attention

Realise that people are all different in their shape, size, colour, beliefs, education and circumstances.  Try to see beyond the differences to what you have in common

People are all different in their shape, size, colour, beliefs, education and circumstances. Try to see beyond the differences to what you have in common with them

If you can't say something positive about another person, don't say anything negative

If you can’t say something positive about another person, don’t say anything negative

Know that you are perfect and precious just as you are.  Respect yourself and expect others to treat you with respect

Know that you are perfect and precious just as you are. Respect yourself and expect others to treat you with respect

Know that you are loved

Know that you are loved

Food for thought

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Sitting round the boiler
In the old school room
We sewed as we sang
“Flow gently sweet Afton…”
Stoking memories for the future
Solid fuel for our fires
Sited next to the cattle market Early lessons in fatality
Like lambs to the slaughter, we.
Filtered by failure, our futures foretold
“You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

I wonder where they are now

I wonder where they are now

Its a Perfect day

Stanley finds pegs fascinating

Stanley finds pegs fascinating


One of the songs sung by the choir I belong to at our recent concert is Perfect Day.
Laughter and Lyrics Choir

Laughter and Lyrics Choir

Today has been just perfect. It is usually called Grandma day as I look after Stanley on Wednesdays and Thursdays. But today it was Turtle Day as I had bought a turtle shaped sand pit for him to play in.
Stanley really is a delight in every way and just spending time with him makes me feel wonderful.
It was especially good today for two reasons
1. We have both been feeling very unwell until today, with chest infections followed by throat infections
2. The sun was shining in a clear blue sky and it was lovely and warm.
Stanley usually arrives at 8am to be greeted by my little dachshund, Dayna who races out of the front door to greet him. They both then race in to get to the best armchair ~ Dayna, and the Chuggington corner ~ Stanley. Now when my children were little it was all Thomas the Tank engine and I do feel a bit disloyal saying this but Chuggington is just so much more exciting! I have collected all the trains ~ wooden and die-cast, some track, two carrying cases, a hard back story book and a floor layout for imaginative play. Now Stanley is only 16 months old but he plays with Chuggington things for hours. He ‘rides the rails’ around, across and under furniture whether or not the dog is sitting on it, he builds tunnels with mega bricks (or grandma’s legs), and he drives the trains in and out of their sheds in the carrying cases endlessly. He just never seems to tire of it. At lunchtime as a special treat he gets to watch an episode of Chuggington which I have pre-recorded while he eats what I have prepared. I have 78 episodes recorded now so that pretty much guarantees peaceful lunchtimes until he starts school!
I jokingly say to my daughter that if I were to go on Mastermind, the BBC high brow quiz show, my specialist subject would be Chuggington ~ I know so much about it I have started creating new storylines as I watch. I also make pictures for Stanley by cutting out the card trains which come with each new toy and building a scene around them with the train names written on. I then laminate them. Stanley loves these and it is how we both learned all the names.
But today, even Chuggington came second to the TURTLE sandpit. I sited it on the patio near a gazebo so that Stanley would have some shade and Grandma would have somewhere to sit. Having forgotten to buy buckets and spades etc., I gathered old plastic containers, a colander and a jug, spatulas and wooden spoons, which worked almost as well. And then the fun started.
When Stanley had enough of that exercise he thoroughly inspected the garden. Being his first Spring at an age where he could make sense of his surroundings it was a joy just to follow him watching and listening. But the highlight for me was sharing the discovery that two of the birdhouses my daughter made for me are occupied by nesting blue tits. Stanley adores watching birds in the trees and bushes, in the sky or on the ground, at the water table or on the feeders. So to show him where they are nesting was a joy.
After that he toddled up to my shed. Now anyone who has read my post “Windows” will know that my sheds are very special places for relaxation and meditation and usually no-one else ventures in there. However, today Stanley looked at the shed, pushed at the locked door and said, “Open, Yea?” in a voice that would totally melt the polar ice cap. Of course I said yes and in no time at all the nicknacks in my sanctuary were all rearranged. There was a moment when I looked at him, ancient toy car in one hand and orange wooden rosary prayer beads in the other and the happiness I felt took my breath away. And I realised that at that moment Stanley and I were both in that place where ‘heaven happens’.

NaPoWriMo 6 ~ A Good hare Day

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For NaPoWriMo on day 6 there was a simpler challenge than Saturday’s thank goodness. We were asked to look out of a window and write a poem using what we observed. Having to be always contrary I decided to look into windows instead.
This is because I went to Cirencester to see the March Hare Festival.

A dreary day in the Cotswolds,
Wind blows and cold rain drizzles down
Stone cottages are looking weathered and worn,
Daunted daffodils and bluebells bend low
Agitated pheasants scurry, flapping over Ermin Way,
Committed we continue, to Cirencester for the day.

Like Brigadoon this market town appears out of the mist,
One of those magic moments, a place by angels kissed.
A colourful celebration reflecting local life is underway;
A Festival of March Hares, some dazzling some restrained,
In windows, doorways, churches and shops creatively displayed

Cultured, cosmopolitan and colourful vignettes,
Cameos of ancient times are captured in mosaic,
Homages to industry, hospitality, trade and faith
Veterans of two world wars amusingly portrayed
Childhoods caught in acrylic, nature, myths and legends true
Captured by artistic celebrities, dignitaries and ordinary people too

Visitors and residents alike, excited and involved
Chat, sharing what they have found, advise, inspire, enthuse
Pubs overflow with merriment, cafes are buzzing too
Music pours from the Brewery Arts, crafters’ skills on show
Working in glass and gold and silver, in wood and pottery and silk,
Local artists interpret the world in paint and pen and ink.

In recent years there has been a spate of large ceramic or stone objects appearing in towns and cities of the UK. Having mentioned it to my daughter last night I know that they have been seen in the USA too. The first time I came across it was when my grandchildren, Ben and Rosie went to London and were photographed alongside large colourful elephants. Wallace and Gromit were in Bristol recently too.
Next I heard of a Gorilla festival in Torbay and Exeter. There was also a festival of decorated horses in Cheltenham in honour of the races. Now there are 5 foot tall hares in Cirencester.
Why hares you might wonder?
Well Cirencester was a very important place in Roman times. It was called Corinium and had very good road links to the rest of the UK, such as Ermin Way and the Fosse Way. In 1971 during an archeological dig in Beeches Road near to the River Churn, a Roman mosaic was discovered depicting a hare. The original is now on show in the Corinium Museum. Hence the theme of hares for this festival. There will be about 50 hares around the town eventually. Most of them will be 5 foot tall and decorated by local people including schoolchildren, members of the public, celebrities and artists. All of the large hares are named to reflect their sponsors. One of the most beautiful hares is on display in the Corinium and it is named Tess.
Apart from the large hares there are lots of smaller hares dotted around the town and there are prizes for discovering and photographing them. I think I will have to go back as I only found 10 large ones! I did however find the solid chocolate one which weighs 10kg in a lovely little chocolatiers called ‘Lick the Spoon’.
The festival does have a serious purpose which is to boost trade and tourism in the town. Judging by how much money I spent yesterday they are going to be very successful!
They are also aiming to raise the £50,000 needed for Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to begin to develop the Green Hare Churn Walkway around the River Churn in Cirencester. This new trail project will involve schools and community groups and will have lasting benefits for residents and visitors alike. The hares will be auctioned off at the end of the festival to raise the funds.
I hope they do well as we had a wonderful day, and we will certainly be going back. The Festival of Hares is on until 14th September and is well worth a visit at any age. To give you a helping hand I have listed the names of the hares that are on display at the moment and where you can find them. Tomorrow there will be more as phase two will be hidden around the town! Some of them are in schools which won’t be open now til after the holidays.

Bare Hare at the Agricultural College
Harry, King of the Hill at Kingshill School
Mr Harebushes at Organic farm Shop, Burford Road
Via Albatine at Whiteway Workshops
Harebelle at the Twelve Bells
Flame, The Phoenix Wayfarer at Phoenix Way
Hareoh the Phareoh at St John Baptist Church
Whare’s Davey in Davey Law Offices
Haretherop in Waterstones Bookshop
Harriet in Mistral Clothes Shop
Harold O’Hare in Zippy Pix Photo Shop
Hartley in 51 Dyer Street
Harrison in Hampton’s Estate Agents
Daniel George in Bishop’s Walk
Hopportunity Hare in Cirencester opportunity Group
Corina at the Corinium Hotel
Tess at the Corinium Museum
General Lievre at Gardiner Haskins
Harelequin at Beeches House
Miles, the Millionhare at Limes hair Company
Wooly Jumper outside the Fleece
Madame Butterfly at McGill’s Chartered Accountant
Hicarus at Cotswold Airport
Eostra at Rendcomb College
Sign the Hare at Bingham House

Comings and Goings

Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday


It was Mothering Sunday in the UK yesterday and I had a wonderful day. Having accidentally dropped a hint on ‘What’s App,’ my three children who live abroad remembered to send me cards, flowers, text messages and most importantly, their love. I am very fortunate though to have my youngest daughter and my adorable grandson living very near me. They came round for lunch bearing flowers and a beautiful gift that little Stanley had personalized. It is a ceramic train that he painted red and it has his little finger prints all over it ~ I will treasure it always.
As usual Mothering Sunday brings a mixture of feelings. It is less than 30 months since my mum died and my emotions are still very raw. My mother lived in the same road as me, which was great when I was caring for her. But now that the house is empty and up for sale, I find it sad to go there and deal with its disposal.
The house is on a corner plot. At the front there is a lovely park with a stream and woods beyond where my children played when they were young. In the distance there are the beautiful Cotswold Hills. After my mother became unable to move around, she sat at the front window literally 24 hours a day. She loved her views and the constantly changing scenes being played out ‘over the park’. The sequence of events has varied little over the years, although the main characters grow, move, die and are replaced.
Early in the mornings there is the noisy clatter of the milkman who still delivers pints in glass bottles to his customers of many years. When my son was a teenager he used to get up at 4am to help the milkman with his round to earn his pocket money, before going to school.
This is followed by the dog walkers who go out in all winds and weathers to exercise their dogs before going to work.
Next, the many locals who work at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) pass by. GCHQ is a major local employer and is housed in a magnificent building nicknamed ‘The Doughnut’, because of its unusual shape.
Sometime later, the mums, dads, grandparents or carers taking children to the nearby schools pass by, the children happily skipping and chatting as they rush along the pavement. The parents are usually struggling with pushchairs, schoolbags, toys and umbrellas. It is noticeable that no-one seems to use prams now, just very complex buggy systems.
Later the local retired men gather on the corner of the field having collected their daily newspaper. They sit on the bench, put there in memory of a previous resident, and put the world to rights.
Once the children are settled in school, the dog walkers come out in force. Some are on a mission and walk briskly from one end of the field to the other. Others gather in little groups to chat while the dogs run about, sniffing each other warily before chasing each other and playing boisterously together. There are professional dog walkers who bring 4, 5 or even 6 dogs at a time to get their daily exercise. Then there is the dog trainer, a very serious young man, who displays an impressive control over his beautiful sheepdogs as they sit, lie, wait, come or fetch at the sound of his voice or a brief series of whistles. His praise is their only reward.
Much later the local postman, Gary, comes and parks his little red van opposite the house. He must walk miles in a day but he is always cheerful and concerned for everyone on his round.
Occasionally, in an ageing community, there will be a paramedic’s car or an ambulance outside a house. News of this travels fast, usually via the hairdresser, which is how most local news is carried round the estate.
There have been a few dramas and terrible tragedies on the park in the past. Some years ago a distressed young man sat in the local pub talking to himself and having a pint of beer alone, with a rope beside him. Although people thought this was strange no-one thought to interrupt him, get involved, or get help. Later of course he was found hanging from a tree in the park. I do wonder if a well-chosen word, a friendly face, or an offer of help might have saved him. But people don’t like to intrude on others’ privacy.
Another young man was found dead in the playground after an apparent accidental overdose of drugs. Such a waste of a life, and so sad. The night does strange things to people and young men seem to be particularly at risk I think.
But most of the time the park is a happy, friendly place and the scene of a lot of fun and games.
Four years ago it was noticed that there were daffodil stems growing in a strange pattern on the grassy field. Now virtually every grass verge in the Cotswolds is covered in daffodils each March, either wild or cultivated. In Cheltenham it is the first thing that greets visitors to Cheltenham races. In the forest there are so many wild daffodils that there is a dedicated daffodil walk.
But it was very unusual to see them growing in this spot and they had appeared so mysteriously. As I walked my dog each day I noticed the pattern growing but it was not until the flowers appeared that the message was clear. The daffodils spelled out “MARRY ME”.
The local newspaper begged for details of who the romantic person was who planted this unusual proposal and eventually a young man owned up. He also revealed that his girlfriend had said “Yes”.
I walked there last night and the words are still visible. Isn’t that a lovely way to propose? I find it very touching.
I have lived opposite this park for 30 years and I never tire of it. It brings me a great deal of comfort to know that in her later years when she couldn’t get out and about, my mum was able to sit and enjoy this bustling and beautiful little corner of the world.
The house is empty and silent now except for prospective buyers being shown around it. No doubt they will renovate the whole place with new bathroom and kitchen and decor. My mum’s home will be unrecognizable and the past will be obliterated, every trace of the lovely couple who lived there will be gone. But they will never be forgotten.

If you still have parents, or anyone who is special to you, do tell them before its too late.
This poem was included in the funeral sheet for a dear friend of mine who used to travel ACROSS to Lourdes with us on the Jumbulance. I have written posts about our trips to Lourdes before. The poem was written by Susan M Greenwood of North West Hosanna House Group

If with pleasure you are viewing
Any work that I am doing,
If you like me, or you love me, tell me now.
Don’t withhold your approbation
Till the Father makes oration
And I lie with snowy lilies o’er my brow.
For no matter how you shout it,
I won’t care so much about it,
I won’t see how many tear drops you have shed.
If you think some praise is due me.
Now’s the time to slip it to me,
For I cannot read my tombstone when I’m dead.

More than fame and more than money
Is the comment warm and sunny,
Is the hearty warm approval of a friend.
For it gives to life a savour
And it makes me stronger, braver,
And it gives to me the spirit to the end.
If I earn your praise bestow it,
If you like me, let me know it,
Let the words of true encouragement be said.
Do not wait till life is over
And I’m underneath the clover,
For I cannot read my tombstone when I’m dead.