Posts tagged family

Those quiet weekends!

I just love the weekends, or maybe I should say I love the unpredictability of weekends. Ok Saturday we shop, like it or not there is always that trip or two to the shops but after that anything goes. I just love waking up knowing there is no need to get up early on a Sunday morning. Harry doesn’t have to go to work and generally the housework is all done so I can relax. Then once I get up there is nothing to do and somehow I miss the structure of the week and I’m bored. The weather isn’t good enough to garden yet, although maybe someone should tell the bugs that. In particular the snails.

Most people know how I have battled the bugs and diseases in my garden, well it looks like this year is going to be no exception. Barely have the first few green plants poked their shoots above ground then they are there, waiting like a wave of germ warfare at its strongest, to dessimate the few plants that have survived the feline invasion trying to unearth them while they slept.

Outside my back door the light wall seems to attract snails, they even park themselves on the bathroom window, watching, taunting me. A daily roundup does nothing to lessen their numbers and despite a vigourous ‘sweep’ of the wall and surrounding garden, another marauding wave arrives to start all over again the next day. Tender leaves on a goji berry plant disappear overnight, flowers on the primula that struggled to get above ground level last year are once again a tasty meal for either the slime brigade or the fodder to ease the hunger of the green and mutiple legged walking mouths.
The pond is another trap for anything that is destructive and the blanket weed that has resisted all treatment finally choked the pump, filter and fountain to death halfway through the winter.

Well, we planned to spend time on trying to eradicating the problems as soon as we could but never quite got around to it. Then this weekend two of my children came over, one of whom was my very energetic and strong son. It took him less time to fix the pond pump etc, sort the electrics and get everything working and catch a few baby fish promised to a friend than it took for me to prepare the Sunday lunch for him, my daughter who popped over too see him, and two granddaughters who played perfectly in the garden gathering snails.

I think I should maybe retitle this entry as those wonderful, unpredictable weekends. What a super day, and far from being a relaxing, do nothing, lazy kind of day, more was achieved in the garden than would take me a week to get half way through, Harry managed to recycle some old timber to make a bridge cover for the drain, we fitted in a visit to friends in the country to deliver the fish and share a cuppa and a chat with, we ran a couple of errands to my other daughter’s as well as spending the precious time with the children. Best of all, after all that ‘hard work’, a lazy take away supper was the final order of the day. The bugs and slugs will have to wait until another lazy Sunday.

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Memory…. is the diary we all carry about with us – Oscar Wilde

What a wonderful statement and so, so true. We tend to carry on living our lives and enjoying different experiences and often sharing them on our blog page or in personal journals to look back at in the future. I for one never stopped for one moment to think of my memory as the most wonderful diary of all. The best thing about that diary is that it is so totally limitless. There are no boundaries tied up in words and even the most creative writer can never conjure up the best images that are triggered by the other senses – touch, smell, taste or sound. There are no words to describe or produce images that you would get on experiencing a certain smell, for instance.

I remember years ago when my children were small, we lived on top of the West Hill in Hastings. Every day I trundled them all, including baby in the pram, down and up this hill that cars struggled to get to the top of, those living in Hastings will know Mt Pleasant Hill very well. Anyway, right at the top just before we rounded the corner to home, there was a bakery and a few doors up a wool shop. As a very ‘crafty’ sort of person, I was always in the wool shop buying wool, patterns and the like and after reading the above quote, which did trigger off loads of memories, I realised why it was my favourite shop.

As a child I lived a lot with my grandparents in their tiny cottage. two up and two down with a tiny kitchen out the back no hot running water , no bathroom and an outside loo with a solid wooden seat that always smelled of jeyes fluid. We bathed once a week in front of the living room fire in a tin bath filled with water heated in the copper and transported by my grandfather in a tin bucket…but that wasn’t only memory it triggered. It was the smell. The kitchen always smelled of homebaking and Lux soap. So what does this have to do with the quote and the reference to the wool shop? I hear you ask. Walking into that wool shop was like walking into my grandmother’s kitchen. The smell transported me back immediately to that time and place. I mentioned the smell to the lady in there once and she couldn’t smell it but smiled sweetly at me and nodded as if I were mad. I guess the smell from the bakery must have permeated the wool shop, the soapy smell was maybe co-incidence, but to me it was just heaven. A moment’s escape from a very busy world.

As I wrote about my Grandparent’s house a million memories came flooding back to me, more and more with each one I remembered. a mountain of tumbling thoughts and words, feelings, smells, sounds, words, experiences that I have never written down. Each one bringing its own feelings to add to an experience from a lifetime ago and it is just wonderful. I do write many of life experiences down, notes, thoughts, images and memories so that I don’t ever forget the wonderful times I have known. However, that statement brought back to me more memories than I would ever be able to transcribe to page and I have a whole new concept on life.

Life is a series of experiences, good and bad, happy and sad but there are none that we haven’t learned anything from. Our ego, our consciousness tells us we should be sad or angry about things that happened to us, sometimes it brings happy times up and then tells us to regret that we no longer have those times. For me, each person that has passed through my life, those who were there for a short while, or even longer – what is the reference ? a reason, a season or a lifetime? Some were with me for a moment, for the reason they needed to be to play their part in my experience, some saved my life, offered words of kindness yet others were cruel and left me with painful memories before they faded out of my world. Others stayed for a season or two and held my hand through difficult times, supported or encouraged me before moving on and yet others have remained with me, even if it is from a distance, from the moment we first met. I now know that each and every one was as important as the rest and as important to me and my life experience as each moment that passed. And that if I stand back and reflect, my own personal memory diary is always open to be remembered. The difference is, as I have got older, I am able to see the wider picture and now understand the whole reason for needing to record everything… I simply forgot about my wonderful memory..

I know that doesn’t make much sense but I know that one day my memories will be lost just as the memories I had with my grandparents mean nothing to my children. But in recording them in the only way I can – in words on paper – or on digital memory systems these days, I feel I try to keep the memories of past generations alive for those future generations that will never have known them. My experiences might help them to make sense of a strange and sometimes cruel world. I hope it will be useful to them and maybe a little more than just a snapshot of a time past for when my own personal diary has closed.

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Goodbye 2011, welcome 2012

What a wonderful year 2011 was! Ok, not terribly successful on the writing front but absolutely brilliant for my art. It’s funny, I always visualised myself to being a writer, I mean that was why I went to University and took English,  literature and creative writing, wasn’t it? It is still dear to my heart and I still feel I have a novel or two inside me. I have been reading a lot these last few months, over thirty books actually, with the idea of grasping what framework successful authors use when they write series of books. It is so simple and yet it still escapes me, my brain fails to assimilate it into my understanding. I have one novel almost finished and another written in note form but when I read them they lack the something that makes them ‘live’.

My problem is that I am unable to get inside the protagonist’s head, or even to sustain a plausible protagonist that lives to the end of the book. I have read so many crime series, some of which are so simple to follow, and still I struggle. I haven’t given up on the whole novel-writing thing yet so will have another go this year. I guess the best thing for me is when I pick up something I have written and not looked at for a while, so many times I look at what I wrote and cannot believe that is actually my work. Well I like reading it anyway.

2011 saw a door opening for a wonderful opportunity to explore the world of  illustrating thanks to the fantastic writer, Trevor Belshaw. He writes children’s books under the name Trevor Forest and I for one think they are brilliant. It has been an honour to work with him and so encouraging to me. I have never been able to draw people terribly successfully and have been stretched out of my comfort zone of seascapes and the flora of the countryside but I feel I am improving all the time. If you’d like to take a look at Trevor’s children’s writing here’s a link for you , he  also writes some really great adult stories so do check him out. Of course you will see my art work on his books as well. ; )

On the art front and comfort zones, just before Christmas I was asked to paint a picture to give as a gift. Nervously I asked what the subject was and was told a dog…. My brain immediately screamed  at me… DON’T DO IT! I mean there are so many brilliant artists out there and I couldn’t possibly  copy someone’s loved pet. I mean I have never even attempted that sort  of work before. Anyway, because it was someone close to me I said I would have a go with ‘no promises’ as a get out clause.

Now I have always viewed my ability to create a picture something as a precious gift that I really appreciate. I often wonder just how such amazing pictures end up on my canvas or paper. They seem to just want to be painted and somehow they have chosen me to paint them. I sat down with a photograph and a plea for any help I could get to the heavens. Here is the result… I can tell you, I was just so amazed that I could actually produce anything like this, just like with my seascapes, that I feel sure someone is painting it for me.  I am happy to say the person I painted it for was delighted with it.

It is this little painting that has encouraged me to push myself further with my art and that, in turn, tells me that I need to apply that theory to my writing. Who knows, maybe 2012 will be the year I actually get my novel up to publishing standard. I am sure gonna try anyway.

So I am looking back at 2011 with a sort of affection, from all the things that went wrong, I learned important lessons. From all the soul-searching and analysing of things from my past, close and distant, I learned that I don’t have to be perfect; how others perceive me is for them to form an opinion, as long as I am as good as I think I need to be;  as long as I recognise that it is ok to fail sometimes I can learn from everything that happens to me.

I also learned that I am getting older and it is both painful and joyful to watch my children as the competent adults they all are. Painful because my role as a mother is changing, becoming less important. Joyful because I have a new role as a grandmother. It takes some getting used to, stepping back and seeing your children being totally independent of you,  but the feeling of pride is amazing when watch them as parents being totally wonderful having learned from all my mistakes.

Speaking of being a grandmother, we had a new addition on the 1st August.. Matilda Felicity Dawn weighed in at 9 lbs 11 oz and another amazing privilege for me to be one of my daughter’s birth partners. A perfect water birth for her.. and a wonderful day for me. I  am one blessed lady, I can tell you.

2011 also saw me changing myself. As you know from my previous blog entries, I went on a slimming programme.. Many of you have asked how I did.. I can now tell you with pride that in eight months, I have lost 4 stone – 56 lbs for my American friends – I still have a long way to go and apart from a Christmas slip… hmmm… I shall be back on my diet from tonight… the dreaded post-Christmas weigh in…

This leads me to look forward to 2012, New Year resolution time? Hehe, in my experience resolutions never quite work out as I plan. Full of optimism and good intentions I always start well.. the weight losing is of course still a priority… but then life and loved ones seem to take over. Something that I really enjoy, and isn’t an excuse for failure as such, I mean I was thinking just the other day that each moment I spend with my family is precious, all the little things they do and say will never be captured again, a one-off experience. I have missed so much of my older grandchildren due to distance and different countries, that I am really enjoying the younger four that do live close. No doubt I shall be writing about them more, showing the pictures of the things we get up to and …. actually, that’s a good resolution for me, yes!

For 2012 my resolution is to be more organised, to set out specific times for writing and painting and stick to them.. at least that way I will get more done. I also intend to go out more, in the garden – slowly – visiting friends and family and just going out for little walks, as much as I am able,  in the sunshine. That’s it and to enjoy each moment for its own worth… Bearing in mind I have a 60th birthday this year : (.   Meanwhile I wish you all a really HAPPY, HEALTHY and PROSPEROUS 2012 .xxx

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Postaday2011: making mistakes

There is so much I could say on making a mistake and when I think back on all the decisions in my life I can honestly say I have made my share of bad ones. But have I? I am aware of all the right decisions as they shine out with positive vibes and the consequences have all led to other things. I sometimes think my life has been charmed or at least I have an absolutely amazing guardian angel who gets it right every time!

Each decision I have ever has had two sides to it. Even though it was the right decision for me then someone else had to hurt. On the other hand, had I not made those decisions then I would be hurting. Sometimes we have to choose, those choices are the most difficult in the world.

At one stage in my life I was at the point of suicide, I am ashamed to say that now, but it was just the kindness of someone I knew who sat with me over a cup of tea that got me to take control of my life. That I wasn’t responsible for anyone else’s happiness if they weren’t prepared to meet half way. I made my decision, there was a lot of pain, a lot of bad stuff happened but on looking back to then and examining where I am now, I know it was all part of a pathway I had to travel. I needed those lessons to give me strength for other challenges in my life. My children were hurt back then, but we learned to talk.

Today, they are all fantastic people and all succesful in the pathways they have chosen for themselves. They are also children to be proud of. None of them have been in trouble, they respect the world around them , people and other’s property, nature and each other and well as myself. They all have great interests, hobbies or employment that they excel in and are really good people to be with.  Considering I have 8 children, from different marriages, I think we did ok and I am certainly very proud of each one of them.

Some of my decisions I have regretted initially but it is only on reflection and comparison to my life today that I realise it had to be. I am glad I made those decisions and am proud of myself for making the necessary adjustments to make my life work. It has all been worthwhile to be right where I am at this moment in time.

My secrets are: never hold a grudge; make the best of what you have instead of wishing for something more; forgive easily; never stop loving; never be afraid to say ‘I made a mistake’ and ‘let’s talk’; never be too proud to apologise; if life isn’t working – change it, it’s nobody else’s problem but yours; eliminate the word ‘hate’ from your vocabulary; Love – totally and utterly unconditionally; forgive yourself; smile a lot; be thankful for everything you have and always remember we are all on a different journey, it’s just great if sometimes we cross another’s path and decide to stay, if it doesn’t work out there are always other friends passing through.

So for me, I don’t think there are mistakes, if it happens – it is meant to be, for whatever reason. We might regret a decision at the time but that’s not saying it was a mistake, maybe it just takes a bit of adjustment before we realise that actually, life is great because of… not in spite of. So there are no mistakes, merely new adventures and experiences that will open new worlds and each one of us are responsible for ourselves.

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Postaday2011: Baking with Maica

I had today all planned. My fifteen minutes of exercise and then as the house was clean, a day of gardening but , as they say… The best laid plans of mice and men ….. everything went haywire for me. I was just about to embark upon my daily exercise ‘dance’ routine… well fifteen minutes of the only exercising and, sort of , dancing that an arthritic nearly sixty year old can do, when my daughter arrived with Maica, my gorgeous three year old grand daughter.

Not having been pre warned I wasn’t prepared and said to my daughter that I promised her we would make teddy bear bread, a recipe Maica had seen in her cookery book. My plans for the garden were on hold. Don’t worry said my daughter I will explain to her that you need to go in the garden and do some work. I couldn’t do that! I had made a promise to her that we would bake pan, Spanish for bread, the next time she came and had to keep that promise. After all children need to know they can trust what grown ups say, especially grandparents.

We made biscuits while we were waiting for the first rising to complete. Maica loved cutting out the shapes and was so excited when they came out of the oven. Soon the bread dough was ready and Maica loved the feel of the dough, warm and soft. She helped to knead it down before she built little teddy bears from the balls of dough I gave her. ‘Mama bear, Papa bear and baby bear. Just like in Goldilocks.’ she said.

   The picture is very small because we took them on my daughters camera but I am sure you can see on Maica’s face just how proud she was of her pan teddy bears. She also wanted to show off her biscuits. She cut many shapes, flowers, stars, birds, fish, horses, elephants, circles, you name it, we made them. I had to tell her mummy that when we made the horse, the head was loose but we put it on the tray anyway and when it was cooked it had mended. Here is a little picture of one of her biscuits. A star biscuit. Before she took them home she insisted she left a flala (flower) biscuit for Grampy Harry.

Before Mummy came, Auntie Tabby and millie decided it would be great to go to park behind where Grandma lived so off we trouped. Maica had so much fun with Auntie Tabby chasing her and racing her up the steps and down the slide, being pushed on the swing and playing on the seesaw. Bet she will sleep well tonight. Grandma sat on the seat most of the time watching with pride and looking after Millie. Millie loved it all too, she adores Maica. So today, was a busy day for me and Maica but exhausted as I am, it was a great one. Here’s to girl power!


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Postaday2011: A marathon holiday

It has been such a great holiday, with four bank holidays in two weeks, many peple strategically booked their three days off smack in the middle and got eleven days off losing only those three statutory days. The bank / public holidays were Good Friday, Easter Monday, The Royal Wedding and May day s0 taking in the weekends that is a really good holiday. My own has been busy, busy, busy. I have had visitors and Harry at home.

We are continuing our decluttering, which, even though no one would notice, seems to make the house just feel better. Still a long way to go but we are on a roll here. This weekend we took huge bags to the charity shop and are still fighting how to get all the recycle stuff into the bins so they will be taken without question… still working on that one. I think I might just have to catch the refuse collectors and talk nicely to them..

A little while ago H thought he might like to take up wood turning as a hobby once he retires in a couple of years or so, he went out and bought a lathe and chisels and several other bits, he was also given some wood and books, and subscribed to a magazine. Needless to say he discovered it wasn’t for him and so all the equipment was going to the charity shop when we learned that my uncle was restocking his workshop with the same… It was such a pleasure to give the stuff away to someone who really apreciated it. On top of that I got to spend a few hours with my aunt who, as 15 months older than me, I had grown up with. How nice it was to look at old photo’s that reminded me of my younger years and remember my grandmother too.

We naturally took some photos and here is a picture of myself, with my aunt, Uncle, my daughter Tabby and her daughter Millie.

It was such a wonderful conclusion to a great holiday, well not so much for me because I am at home all the time anyway, but for Harry, to have such a long break was really nice. There is something special about the times he is at home. We do more together and because he doesnt have to get up at 4.30am, we can lie in and enjoy a restful day doing just what we want. I don’t reckon he bargained for 15 minutes of physical exercise every morning before breakfast though..

On the topic of hobbies, I have plenty and am actually very busy but H has none, he has thought of photography and bought a bigger camera for that very purpose but most interestingly he and his former lodger, and now my daughter’s husband, have got together, following one of my previous entries, and have decided to get a boat between them to sail on the local pond. Warship? Torpedo boat? who kows but the last I heard a fishing boat was favourite…. watch this space!

Before I conclude this post I have to add the most wonderful picture of our little Millie that Harry took so maybe photography will be a good hobby for hm too. See what you think.

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Postaday2011: An almost perfect day..

I am a day late with this entry and my only excuse is busy, busy, busy… actually enjoying myself. Apart from a sulky teenager after I had spoken to her about ..well nocturnal timekeeping and typical teenage stuff but well… that’s life…. Actually I think I have a picture that typifies the moment, well the day actually.

Bless her, she spent the entire day not speaking to me or communicating. She eventually changed her mind when her friend returned in the evening and Harry had made her laugh in the fantastic way he makes everyone laugh.

We set out to find a sandy beach and on the recommendation of our neighbour went to Hayling Island, one of a series of little peninsulas on the South Coast of England. As you can see it was what Harry would call a quarry, a pebble beach but as Switzerland has no beaches I would have thought it would be nearly as good anyway. However we had taken Tabby and Millie with us. This was Millie’s first trip to the beach and I was just so blessed to be a part of it.

Millie loved the beach and the sea and spent the entire time trying to eat the pebbles, we took some lovely pictures to remember the moment.

Having seen some other children, she wanted to join them. Although we didn’t find the sandy beach, we did at least have a wonderful picnic and couple of hours where we were.

I had arranged to take my granddaughter to see her uncle, my number three son in Midhurst. It was about a forty minute journey through the most wonderful countryside ever. The 13 mile motorway jaunt led us further and further into rural West Sussex from Hampshire. The road had been cut through the Downs and now a few years on had grown into a beautiful journey, the trees and chalky banks having now grown into  a green mass of countryside. I imagined a beetle running through the grass as we drove up this cleared slice of the journey.

As we left the town the shades of green varied from a dark hunter green to sap green and finally at the yellow tinged lime green, Each tree giving a different shade to the roadside as we passed. Above us the blue sky lost the bright sunshine glare and began to darken slightly as the sun sank toward the top of the hills. By the time we arrived the evening was beginning to cool but not too cool to enjoy a cup of tea in the garden of my son, Scott, and daughter in law, Claire. We had arrived as they got home from work and before little Emily was going to bed… perfect. Claire’s parents joined us from next door for a lovely get together before we had to leave.

We left as Emily was going to bed and began the journey back home. Without the constraints of time we were able to enjoy the scenery around us. The hills of the Downs rolled out in all directions and the countryside reminded me of the nearby village we used to live. Before we reached the motorway again the skies had changed from blue to an orangy pink. Because we were below the high landline the silhouettes of the trees and houses stood out like a greetings card picture, black against the pink evening sky. The chimneys of cottages and farm houses dotted through the fields sent up wisps of wood smoke from the evening fires adding to the atmosphere.

I was in my element and it concluded a beautiful day. My granddaughter eventually came out of her sulk by the time we got home and the following day, my next entry, was just as wonderful.

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