Posts tagged memories

A re-post

I wrote this blog entry in 2009 and somehow it still has some relevance to what I am writing today. Do things go round in circles? I have promised myself will post properly again later but till then I hope this will be an interesting read again.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Little Boxes

I am a bit of a squirrel and after reading Millie Johnson’s book ‘A Spring Affair’ I decided to have a bit of a clear out myself. I am the one who says to my daughter, ‘tidy house, tidy mind.’ You can imagine the response and her bedroom still looked like a major explosion had happened in it. Until, that is, a friend was coming over for a girly day in. For two days before she attacked things that I wouldn’t go near without checking my vaccinations were up to date, but they say penicillin grows on mould so maybe I was being a little melodramatic. According to Tabby I was anyway. Well, she emptied all her drawers and her cupboards into a huge heap on the middle of the floor. ‘I don’t know what I started,’ wails she. I went to look, it looked no different to me but she assured be it was such a mess! Over the course of the entire two days she medothically hung clothes up, sorted the washing, gathered her make up together into a little basket, bagged up rubbish for recycling, throwing away and the charity shop and sorted her CDs and DVDs. At the end of it all there were three bags of rubbish besides the recycling and I mean black sacks, not bad for one room.
She polished, vacuumed and washed walls, changed the bedding and cushion covers and really worked hard on it. At the end of it all she came downstairs. ‘I hate to say this,’ she says, ‘but you were right.’ ‘Oh?’ said I innocently, ‘what do you mean love?’ ‘I feel really sort of clear in my mind, it looks really good and I feel so much better.’ I resisted the impulse to say I told you so instead congratulating her on what she had achieved. All this made me think about my own tidiness. I love everything to be neat and then I can relax and write or do whatever without that nagging guilt taunting me. I also like things to be neatly put away so … I collect boxes. I have always been a collector, as a child it was those little wooden matchboxes , scrap books, little charms from jamboree bags, ‘diamonds’, – well coloured glass beads – and I had a place for everything. Today I still collect, glass bottles, books, bits of paper with interesting writing on, all my papers from University, pens, pencils –  forever searching for that perfect pen or pencil, little things that I won’t throw away in case it is useful, paints, art paper, brushes, wool, sewing things, oh, and of course boxes. I used to have a beautiful collection of tins, old tins that I kept buttons in, pressed flowers, ribbons, needles and pins, all the sort of things I use from time to time. Useful things yes! Then I moved house two or three times and each time I had to thin my stuff down until now it is , and I even say so myself, a manageable amount for the way my life has changed. So, why is it I am still drawn to keeping little boxes, tins, containers that could hold….. I find it so hard to throw these things away and I do use them from time to time.
I am good at justifying. Harry recently said to me, ‘Do you really need all these jars in the shed.’ ‘They’re for when I make jam or pickles and things.’ Says I. I went to look, I was never going to fill four boxes of jam jars, sauce bottles, pickles jars etc. How easy it would have been to say ok I’ll keep one box but the memories of when I wanted to make pickled onions and jelly after someone had given me a lot of fruit to use up and I couldn’t find a jar anywhere… this was after I had thrown everything away on one of my moves… sprung into my head. Instead, I had to go through every one and keeping those that looked pretty, had a nice shape, was just perfect for sauces and on and on. Why can’t I just throw things away?
 I got to thinking about my life while I was having a clear out today and it has been so complicated, sad, bad, unhappy, ecstatically happy, so many things I didn’t want to remember, so many things I did and it suddenly dawned on me. I even store little boxes in my head. Many things from my childhood I didn’t want to remember so I started to build a cupboard with lots of little boxes in it, a bit like my grandfathers shed. I filled each little box with those I didn’t need to look at often and labelled them ‘ for when I know the answers’ Then, to counteract the bad ones, I filled the box next to it with ‘happy memories’ then ‘my Grandparents’ or ’sunny days in the garden’, ‘ sad times’, ‘painful times, ‘joyful…’ and so on and so on until my mind was an organised room of memory boxes. Once that was done I was content, the past was no longer an issue, I learned to forgive, and I could look forward to the rest of my life without the jumble of thoughts and feelings tripping me up or popping up just when I didn’t need them to. In this case it was tidy mind, tidy life…
Well it has hardly been that but little boxes are important to me. I know where everything is when I need to look at it or use it, There is always room for more, They don’t get in the way when I don’t want them to… it keeps me happy anyway. Today I looked at a small cardboard box that I had been saving ‘just in case’ and decided it hadn’t been used for nearly four weeks so I threw it away, I was proud of myself for that but I did notice in the store the other day a nice little set of basket work drawers that would look so nice beside my settee…….

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Resolution, inspiration, dedication and time management.

That is the plan. This year I am not making any rash promises that I know will be broken within a few weeks but I am going to read more for inspiration, dedicate more time to art and writing and make sure I use all the time management skills I can muster. Trouble is I am the queen of procrastination. Maybe because I have that butterfly mind and love to be busy pottering and doing stuff. I rarely watch TV and never during the day, I do read but I consider that research ahum… good enough for me. What I must stop doing is sitting near the window to type or paint. I start to work really seriously then ‘ …oooh there’s a bird in the garden, hope the cats are indoors…’ or saying to myself…’ I’ll just do that little job before’, followed by ‘while I am here I’ll sort out that pile of mail on the dresser’. Before I know it a morning is gone.

So my resolution is to dedicate certain times for doing things, a bit like working really. Then I must get back into reading something other than novels. I have so many inspirational books and texts, they really fire me up but my procrastination sort of fizzles my enthusiasm down… I have my library all organised in subject matter, partly because I am a neat freak Virgo, partly because I can’t bear to waste time looking for things but mostly because I love my books. The local library is going to do well when I pop my clogs. I should have been a librarian, no, maybe not, I’d be reading all the time. Still I reckon these resolutions should be manageable, even for me.

My other resolution is to be a little more selfish and take time out for me. I am going to meet an ex work colleague later on in the month which I am really looking forward to. She was always such inspiration to me when we worked together. It was because of her that went into teaching and recently when I spoke to her, it was because of me that she did an art course when she retired.. We spend so much of our lives thinking about what people do for us and I tend to forget that maybe I might be giving something back totally unknowingly. So this year I am going to listen to my own advice … I mean I tell my children all the time to go about your business with a smile and a kind word because you have no idea just what a difference it might make in someone’s life and not to be grumpy if an older person wants to sit and talk to you on the bus, you might be the only person they speak to on that day… Time to spend a moment or two to meditate on my day. Hehehe but not so much as I could call it procrastinating, honest.

When I stop and think of all the things there is for me to do my mind goes into a whirl, housework, cooking , laundry, they’re the boring bits but my garden is a mess and stuff needs pruning that should have been done back in the autumn – my excuse is that I was too busy… doing what?! Add the garden to my list of projects to include in time management.  My art is a priority because I do it for other people often and my writing is my indulgence, along with reading but I am sure I can fit it all in. I need to recover from over indulgence at Christmas, the rich food and sugar has upset my poor bones so I need to get back on the healthy eating wagon so I can at least sit comfortably. I am so pleased with myself that I only had any alcohol on Christmas day and New Years Eve… I have done quite a lot of writing over the past 6 years or so, over a glass of wine, so I have promised myself only for special occasions this year and that it is ok to put the cork back in the wine bottle. At the very least it will help to make a great casserole if I leave it too long.

Well, no set resolutions but here’s to a productive, thoughtful 2012, doing the things I like to do, things I need to do and sharing more time with those that inspire me. Easy! It’s all down to priorities and time management. Right? Yes! and remembering that every day is another chance to make some precious memories for the future.

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Postaday2011: What do I want to accomplish with my blog?

What a brilliant title for a blog entry and one that gives me so many ideas for writing. You know, at first I got caught up in the draw to be noticed, a bit like good old Facebook. Your success was the number of friends you have, never mind that half of them were so obscure as to be insignificant in your life, if they are on your friends list, they count. I think not! A friend, to me, is someone who is touchable, reachable, at least knows something about you that you can’t read on Facebook and someone you can call on for a night out, a meaningful chat, a hug, a friendly word, someone who knows you personally, I could go on and give you a million definitions of a friend but at the end of the day they are more than a name on an internet list…

I began much the same, other bloggers were boasting large numbers of readers and ‘like’ clicks, I wanted to be like that and when my readers rose from four or five to seventy odd once I was so excited and wanted to write more and more. Then I noticed other bloggers were getting hundreds of hits and it suddenly hit me, I would have to be amazing and work really hard at achieving that. My computer life is far less than is necessary to read and reply to that many readers, in fact it is a miniscule part of life for me because my family and real people that I know and love are extremely important to me. Besides, if someone dropped by my blog I would consider it so rude not to reply, I could be all day on my computer! No, I decided there and then that my blog was for many reasons but none of them to achieve popularity in cyber space with people I shall never meet.

I don’t want to sound at all ungrateful to all the lovely people that I have ‘met’ through my blog, those wonderful people who share similar lives or journeys, that it is a pleasure to share with are so important to me. I love to read their blogs and read their comments and would miss them but to me those few are far more precious to me because I can spend time getting to know them through my blogging and theirs, whereas, if there were’ hundreds’ would any of them be as special? I think not.

Mainly I write my blog for me, my children and friends who like to keep tabs on me. I keep a copy of it all and this postaday challenge will give me a year of thoughts, tipsy ramblings, actual events and well, my life and me daily for a whole year. I am notoriously hopeless at keeping a journal but I have always kept everything I ever wrote, even if it was just a few days of a holiday. It is fantastic to look back and see what I was up to, what I was feeling and best of all remember the moments when I was actually writing them. They serve as a strong memory link for me. I wrote some of my first poetry as a child and I have them still, every time I read them I am whisked back to that time and remember exactly what I was thinking when I wrote them. A bit like certain smells or perfumes that trigger a thought or memory from the past, my writing does the same, only better.

My children are scattered all over the world and although we keep in touch regularly, they all tell me they feel more in touch because they read my blog and know how I am feeling. How much more of a reason would I need for writing a blog? Hearing that made me feel so emotional, I never thought of that. When you live with someone you know the little idiosyncrasies, moods, silly stuff we do and how they are feeling but once we all scatter and have families of our own, we lose that intimacy. That is my second best reason for writing my blog.

Thirdly, I have friends who say the same and query when I miss my blog. I find this so really touching and it makes me realise just how many people out there actually do think about me and care. It’s a warm feeling and I love it.

Lastly, but not at all least, are the people I have never met who pop by and comment on my blog. The biggest compliments I have had was like the one I had yesterday.  When I have finished a day’s work and I need to relax I can read your blog and either escape or be inspired. This is something several people have written to me. I love that so much, not the just compliments but the fact that the mindless meanderings through my butterfly mind can actually be useful to somebody else. Can help them to forget a stressful day, can inspire them to rethink their own thoughts and take a breath or unwind. My blog can actually be meaningful in a positive way! That is awesome!

So, I am glad I gave up on being popular to many and am absolutely thrilled to be comforting to my children, inspiring to other bloggers, offer an escape for a few moments from the busyness of life and most of all give myself a book full of happy memories that I can recall at the turn of a page. I thank everyone who reads my blogs and who take away something from them for themselves, that is precious, that is what life should be like. Letting me know that is like returning the gift tenfold. The pebble in the pool or the smile to a stranger syndrome? It all helps to make the joy and love of life go round. Thank you all.

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Postaday2011: The nest is not so empty!

Eeek! late again and not making the bewitching hour in UK time! Still at least I am posting. Today we invited Thomas, who is Julia’s father, for dinner with us. After all it seems silly if he is staying in the UK and we don’t get to meet him. I was a little nervous at first but I then thought that of how many times I had been for a meal with people I didn’t know and began to relax. I needn’t have worried because he was such a lovely man. What I also noticed that he must have been as nervous as I was because his hand trembled a little as we ate dinner.

The meal was good and he seemed to enjoy it, it was really lovely to meet the father of our young guest. It was funny to see the difference in the two girls. Before, Amanda seemed to be the stronger one, taking responsibility for her friend, not always to her agreement. We said nothing, well Harry did, bless him, to the point and caring as he is, was doing a great job of being a grandparent, again. There have been times of silence between the two girls which must have been so difficult for Julia, who is basically more the guest than Amanda, then tonight the tables turned and Julia was more confident and Manda the quiet one.

As we chatted over the meal, I was able to totally reconnect with having Tabby at home, my last fledgling. How absolutely lovely it was to hear music, maybe not my type, coming from the upstairs room. And when they went from being silent with each other one minute, the next they were giggling and laughing like nothing had happened. It was so really lovely to have young people in the house again. I was concerned at first that Harry wouldn’t cope with it because he hasn’t really ever been there for his own family, not that they mean any the less to him than mine do, but he was a Navy man and not always there for them. He missed a great deal of special stuff and it is interesting how my family has seen him realise how much he missed and how much more loving he feels toward his own.

It really is so wonderful seeing him blossom and realising just how much his lovely daughters mean to him and at the same time have my empty nest filled, even for such a short while.

I have always been so really proud of the artistic and dramatic achievements of my own children. Those precious recordings, songs written by the artist, dramatic events that record a cast iron memory forever in my heart mean so much and have made up a really special part of my life. From the oldest to the youngest, each of them have excelled or achieved something that I look back on with eyes full of tears and a heart bursting with pride, wanting to capture each moment as a lasting gift to myself. That pride is something so really special to me, a gratitude and a gift that surpasses no other.

Today I heard my granddaughter sing for the first time. It brought back every one of the memories of my own children. She sings with the same confidence as her Daddy and uses similar techniques. I wanted to post the recording on here but it wouldn’t accept the format. I will have to find a way to change the formatting of her song and those of my own children to post. I am always saying how talented they are, I just want to show everyone else too.

I think this week is going to go too fast for me, not that I haven’t got my little grandchildren to enjoy which is a pleasure immeasurable, but it is so nice to spend time with and have our house filled with teenagers again.

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Postaday2011: A message from my son.

I wrote yesterday that I had run out of ideas and floundered misreably with my post. I also said that writing about my family might be boring to anyone reading my blog apart from my family. Then this morning I got a wonderful message from number one son on facebook… He said he loved reading my blog, seconded by my oldest daughter, and he also suggested some ideas. Well those questions have triggered off a million thoughts and a renewed excitement for writing. I have had an amazing life and such a lot of experiences so I am going to look at the things he has asked me over the next few days.

First of all my son, David, is my first born. I was just sixteen and a half when I gave birth to him. I hear many people saying ‘but you were just a child’, and yes maybe I was but my life experience had hardly been that of a child since I was nine years old. By today’s standards, I would have been labelled a ‘teenage Mum’ but to me, it was no problem,  I was a mum and so very much a proud mum.

See, when I was thirteen I was admitted to hospital with stomach pains and was told I had some unpronouncable problem and that I would never have children. Red rag or what? I was the oldest of a family of seven and my life experiences led me to want a baby of my own more than anything in the world. But, that is part of the later story.

I will look at the brilliant questions that Dave has asked me one by one… We can and do talk about anything but I feel and I think he knows, I might just reveal a little more about my life, our life, than I would in one to one discussion. So the next few blogs are for my children as much as anybody but I do hope that anyone else reading them will gain a little understanding about their own lives too.

His first question was about my earliest memories. As time has passed memories, although clear, are more difficult to place in time. My first memories are playing in the garden with my brothers. In those days the sun always shone and we created games and activities that lasted for ever. Well they seemed like forever. We made mud pies, built camps, pinched vegetables from my father’s vegetable garden and just played. I had four brothers, Denis, John, Colin and George… it was only later that I had two more siblings, Peter and Katie, one slightly older than my sons and the other younger.

To me my life was well, just my life. When you are young you don’t question what is good or what is bad, you just are. I remember summer days when my aunt and cousins came over and we had wonderful afternoon meals in the garden, salads, home grown of course and just playing. Memories then were only of the basic, playing and eating.

My other happy memories were when I visited my father’s family. They were to become my saving grace in a very roller coaster kind of childhood. My grand parents were everything to me and the only place I felt really loved. I never knew why and I never really understood this until later in my life. Unfortunately, much later and long after I was able to go to them and say thank you for everything they gave to me.

The first time I came to realise that life sucked was when I was around nine years old.. My Dad left my mother and although he had never been prominent in my life it was to become the beginning of the realisation that the unhappiness I had experienced when my parents fought was when I began to understand sadness, confusion and most of all, a lack of love or close relationship with anyone apart from my brothers.

When I went to Uni when I was fifty, it was that first traumatic experience I chose to write about. My story gained me a brilliant mark. I will conclude this post with that story but I have to say that there were other memories that were more important to me, it was onlymany years later that I was given them back, having lost them during a very unstable childhood, when I was training to be a play therapist. But that is another story and I will save it for another time.


Colour Me Yellow

I screwed my eyes against the yellow glare of the sun as it emerged from behind clouds that had spread across the sky like sour milk in coffee. The wind blew into my face and I could taste the sea. As I squiggled my toes into the cool sand, a young mother struggling with a small child and an armful of brightly coloured bags and buckets wandered into my view. Several slightly bigger children clung to her skirts as they limped over the stones. Their excitement tuned their voices to a higher and louder pitch as they made their way toward the sand. “Come on Dad, we’re leaving you behind.”

The man was struggling too, he carried a pushchair and as he walked the wind kept whipping the canopy into his face so that he couldn’t see.

A knot tightened in my stomach as I watched the little family find a place to sit. I hastily brushed away a tear that had trickled the length of my face. It dropped onto the sand and disappeared, sucked down to become a part of the sea. As I looked up the older girl caught sight of me watching and waved. I smiled and waved back.

Mum had been awfully quiet that day. As my brothers and I ate breakfast, we passed knowing looks between us and tried to fit in with the seriousness that hung heavily and statically across the kitchen. If one of us laughed another kicked their ankle under the table. We tried not to look at each other; a glance from any one of us would initiate the gut-jerking snigger from the throat that would start us all laughing. We were used to this.


Having finished our meal, we gathered our things for school and left the house. I leapt over the huge flagstone step and past the pillars, so big to my smallness. I stopped. The boys hadn’t noticed.

We often helped Dad to load his market things into the van, but today he shouldn’t have been here. Here should have left a long time ago. The market started early.

His mouth gave a smile but it never reached his eyes.

I looked on up the hill to where I could see my brothers walking ahead of me.

“ I want to talk to you, you can catch them up in a minute.” Dad nodded toward my brothers.

I waited, holding my breath.

“I must go away for a while.”

I barely felt his arms as he hugged me. I was too busy concentrating on holding back the sobs and tears that threatened to burst into the world from somewhere not so deep inside me. How I wished this wasn’t happening. How I wished those warm, safe arms would stay; I needed them.

Home became clouded by a shadow that was difficult to understand. Mum no longer sang around the house. The difference was invisible to all outside our family, and it was silent. A colourless void of colossal proportions filled with unspoken words, hastily reclaimed glances and deafening silence.

Spring came and our world began to change colour. The sun brightened our hearts and lives; flowers bloomed red and yellow in the garden, the perfume of the wallflowers floated lightly in the air and crept over the sill and in through the open windows. We made daisies into long chains, picked buttercups and held them against our chins. ‘Do you like butter?’

Soon it was summer.

One sticky day we were bored, hot and fussy until Denny had a bright idea.

“Can we go to the beach?” We looked pleadingly at Mum; four bright eyed faces and a baby who didn’t know why.

“ Pleeease?”

Mum smiled, “I need to do something first, keep an eye on the boys will you? Shan’t be long.”

It seemed like forever before Mum arrived back…. I noticed a white mark on her finger as she held out a brown paper bag full of beach shoes.


The beach was hot and smelt deliciously of salt. The sand was soft beneath our feet and we squiggled our toes into its coolness. We laughed and ran through the tiny lapping waves and searched rock pools that reflected the clouds as they scudded across the sky above us. We leaned so close to the water that the smell of the rotting seaweed made us wrinkle our noses as we dipped and searched with our fingers in the sand at the bottom of the pool for the creatures that had been left behind by the tide. Gentle breezes blew across our faces and tousled our hair leaving it dry so that our fingers no longer slipped through it. Jam sandwiches tasted sweeter as the salt clung to our fingers and lips. The gritty sound of the sand on my teeth made me wretch.

Nothing mattered that day. The sun beamed down on us, I lifted my face to feel its warmth on my cheeks. Yellow shone through my closed eyelids,

enveloping me in a blanket of sunshine. We had been so busy playing and building sand castles that we hadn’t noticed the tide pushing us further up the beach until there was no more sand and the huge black rocks had disappeared beneath the waves.

“ Time to go home!” Mum’s voice broke into our playing. We pleaded for more time to fill our pockets and buckets with shells and pebbles to take back with us.

Mum didn’t see me watching her. Her thoughts were far away; as far as the horizon that she was staring at beyond the ocean, maybe further, but somewhere I had never been and where, I felt, I was not wanted. I watched her brush a tear from her cheek; she, too, didn’t want the day to end.

The boys clung to Mum’s skirts as they stumbled over the pebbles and back up the beach. It was late but we were tired and happy. I dragged the pushchair up the beach while Mum carried Georgie.

“Come on, we’re leaving you behind.”

The sun glowed orange as it sank toward the sea. I looked back and half closed my eyes against the brightness; The yellow had gone.

I guess that this post answers two of my son’s questions, my earliest memories and the time when I realised that the world was not such a happy place.

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Postaday2011:Deciding when a post is ready to publish?

As an aspiring writer I was taught to write, read, read out loud and re draft, many times , certainly no less than five, before a piece of work was to even be considered for publishing. However, writing a blog is such a different thing and I guess it depends on the reason for blogging in the first place. It is easy for me to get hooked into wanting loads of people to read my blog and comment. It is sort of warm comforting treat to know that people are out there and interested in what I might have to say. But then equally, I love to read other blogs and hear from people with similar interests too. Most of all, I love writing for writing’s sake. I write for me.

As I look over my blog entries, whether I write for a topic or something more personal, each piece of writing contains a little of me in it. Like writing a diary, which I am totally hopeless at keeping up by the way, it is so interesting to look back and see what I was thinking in the past. It sort of helps me to understand me a bit more and see how and what I have changed in my life. Reading back helps me to also see where I have come from and not to mention the little things that I write about that I might have otherwise forgotten as unimportant.

I always keep every little piece of writing I do, a note, a reminder, an idea and so forth and just reading those brings back the seconds when I first had those thoughts, where I was, what I was doing and who with. I think that is such a powerful and precious thing. Here are a few examples :

‘They entered, they stole, they wore gloves but they dropped something, it had a fingerprint. They entered my space, my time and destroyed my comfort, they invaded my life and left me insecure, fragile and unsafe.’      =My son had his flat broken into and I can see the smashed window and all the aluminium fingerprint powder over everything. I can remember where everything in that room was because it was attached to my son’s emotions.

‘I said I miss you, and I do. I don’t know where you are, where we are.’ = Before a broken relationship.

‘March 26 ’02 – Dusk is nearly upon the valley and the previously bright sky is darkening. Across the field a mist creeps over the ground and covers the countryside with a blanket of white as if to keep in the last of the heat from the day. Houses and trees emerge from the milkiness in shades of grey forming a pattern of lines. The sky turns from blue to grey and pink and compliments the mist. The whole world has been sapped of colour apart from the sky. Darkening blue and grey, the night slips silently across the heavens. Small bats flutter on leathery wings, they are awake too early in the year because even the crickets do not sing yet; the earth is still too cold.’   = Diary entry from our time in the village.

‘I swapped the white sparkle of a million stars for the coloured twinkles from artificial decorations on a Christmas tree.’ = first christmas after leaving the village.

‘What impression has each of my moments in the world meant??’ = a low moment in my life… long-winded way of saying what’s the point. haha.

‘Inside every woman there is passion and power.’ = Don’t remember writing this but I jotted it down when I was trying to get myself together again.

So, you see everything I write has a meaning from the smallest note, a single word in some cases or a short piece to help me never to forget. As such each piece is so important to my life. Some are just as they were written, some have been drafted but I treasure them all no matter how good or bad the grammar and spelling. They are part of my store cupboard for future writing ideas. The only thing I can see different between my blog entry and my writing notes is that others might read it. I do re read it and run the spell check on it before posting usually but sometimes I just post it as it came straight from my heart. The decision also depends on just how much time I have, especially if I have only been able to get to the computer late at night. One thing for sure though, every entry I write means something special to me and inside I always hope it gives something to who ever reads it too.

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Postaday2011: A Country Life.

Before I begin this blog I must have a moan. I spend ages sorting my photos and placing them carefully next to the text then when it is published they are all over the place and the words no longer match the pictures. Ah well, methinks I am doing something wrong. I have tried re-arranging the pictures and resizing them but it looks worse. I think I shall leave well alone.

Meanwhile, I have written before about country living. How much I miss it following moving back into town but, I have some wonderful memories of an idyllic life. Ok it is very different to the town, the rules are soo different, I mean two of my children worked in a pub, washing up and preparing salads from the age of twelve for their pocket-money. The boys would go out beating for the pheasant shoot, they had air rifles and so much more freedom than there is in the town.  It was harder in as much as there was no central heating in some of the cottages we lived, the weather dictated whether the phones or electricity worked  and buses were only every two hours. It was worth it though, some of  the wonderful memories have been captured on film and while looking for pictures yesterday, I found one or two to share.

We lived in working farm villages and Suzi loved the cows, so much so that she would spend as much time as she could in the barns with the babies. When she wasn’t on the farm she bred hamsters and rabbits.  This picture is just one of many with Suzi with her hand in a calf’s mouth.   

Quite often the children would find something to amuse themselves. When builders came and left a pile of bricks in a lean-to overnight, they came back next day to … a pyramid!   We have no idea what they thought about it but the kids found it very amusing.  If they were up at the farm, there was always a cart and a friend to lend a hand.                                                                    



 We were surrounded by farmland and in summer the cows would be let in the adjoining field. Our chickens were and really curious but I wonder if they knew they were being watched.                    When we were fairly new to rural life stupidly we planted runner beans next to the fence not realising the cows would let in the field later on.. Yes, you guessed, they stripped all the plants as far as their long tongues would reach. A definite learning curve there. The winters were cold, the valley had its own little biosphere and one winter we had a leaking pipe. The resulting icicles outside the back door were spectacular this particular year.

Finally, this last picture of the field next to the house showed me that there is not always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We searched where this rainbow ended in the field to no avail but it was still beautiful to think that we were lucky enough to actually experience standing beneath the glorious colours at the rainbow’s end.                                                                                            

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Postaday and three topics to cover….

I know I said no excuses for this year but this virus is still knocking me for six but as a true writer, I am battling on. I have yesterday’s blog to catch up on and I guess I won’t have time to do both. I am going to go with today’s suggestion which is ‘what is my favourite sound?’

All these topics are just so hard because I can never pin the answers down to one thing. The most immediate thought I have for this topic is water. Water running, water splashing, trickling,dropping… anything to do with water. I grew up practically on the beach in St Leonards, every day I was never far away from the water if I wasn’t in it. I really cannot think of anything that provokes passion and feeling as much as the sea. On a clear, calm day the tide gently splashes its rhythm like a heartbeat onto the shore then takes its breath along with the sliding shingle on the ebb flow. What a perfect place to sit and contemplate when you are in love. There is a magic in everything around that soothing sound. The salt smell of the air, the sounds of the gulls as they call and squall above in their search for food, the crunch of footsteps on shingle and the impression of footprints in the sand are all enhanced when just sitting and watching and listening in front of the vastness of the ocean.

Moonlight on the waves gives an even more romantic feel to the air, especially when shared with someone special. But then everyone knows what I feel about the moonlight so there might be a bit of bias there. The sea-shore is a magical place but then so is a stream or a river as it rushes over a weir and the mist from the spray gives a medium for all the colours in the water rainbow. Such a gentle vision against the roar of fast flowing water. As strong and as violent as the sea in a storm when waves six feet, seven, ten feet high crash down as loud as thunder onto the black rocks, the weir is constant, controlled and noisy.

In the silence of meditation, the gentle sound of a waterfall or the trickle of the filter in the pond provides a comforting sound that carries me away to anywhere I choose to go. These days my hearing has changed and I no longer hear the same as I used to. In the shower I hear music. More than the water splashing on the tiles or on my skin, I can hear its journey from the shower head to the drain outside and each movement has a different note. Together they sometimes sound like a choir of heavenly voices, other times I have heard an orchestra or jazz music. Often they are just gentle notes that rise and fall as a single clear voice. The drain has a deep echoing sound and depending on the wind reminds me of a soulful song that echoes in a large empty room. It is without a doubt the most wonderful sound for me and even though my hearing of normal sounds has changed dramatically, I am thankful I can hear the other sounds that before I never noticed.

I was in the supermarket today, not feeling my best and I heard a small child of about three giggling. Immediately it lifted my mood so much. This wonderful, infectious laughter reminded me of the other sound that I love as it rose above all the supermarket noises but it does sort of connect with the water too. During the week the junior school take their classes swimming to the pool not far from where I live and, especially in the summer I hear the crocodile of children through my open windows as they walk by excitedly chattering. It reminds me so much of a brook that tumbles its way, laughing over rocks and dodging round boulders on its way to the sea. The more I listen to the little chattering the more the rise and fall of their voices recalls the river to me. Little individual giggles, the laughter that crescendos over the other gentler murmurs before falling back to join the sea of voices and allowing another to take its place is no less emotive than the river.

So I guess that the sound of children’s voices comes a close second to water. Whether in a group or laughing, shouting, whispering, singing or baby coos, each individual sound is really close to my heart. OK, OK I agree, there are times they drive you mad, both children’s voices and water but if I sit and really listen, both can carry me away to another place and time with all the images and sounds that go with them. I guess this entry has reminded me that instead of just hearing, it is important to stop for a moment and listen…. really listen.

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What would I like to be remembered for?

For me this was such an interesting topic and one I have strong feelings on, how I wish I hadn’t left it till 11pm before starting it. I shall have little time to craft it properly.  Mind you a day with my two youngest daughters, their babies and one of their friends was something that I would give anything up for. Despite it being yesterday’s topic I shall write today and catch up on the other topics as I go.

I believe that the mere fact that I exist in the universe, be it a mortal being on this small planet, my presence automatically makes a difference. If I had never existed there is a whole chunk of life that just would not exist so I believe my small part is as important as the smallest atom and as huge as everything that we know, or don’t know yet, exists. Every part of my being is a part of the energy that each one of us belongs to and I am just so glad for the wonderful opportunities that life has given me. I may not always be remembered for my existence but I will have made a difference to all the lives I have touched in this world.

But on a simpler and more materialistic level I am happy to be a part of the family chain. In me I carry the blueprint for a future generation that my parents and grandparents passed on to me. So although I know it will be only for a couple of generations, I am happy to be remembered as a mother, grandmother, Auntie, sister, friend and even a daughter. To take it at a much more basic level and one that is important to me, I would like to be remembered for the memories I have given people. Ok not every memory might be as good as others but it is still a memory that someone has learned something from. Today I watch my children carry out the little traditions that we all shared when they were small, with their own. These little things and ideas came from one of two places, my own childhood and things from my grandparents or from something in me that I missed and wanted so much to have. For me all these little things have come from four generations ago that I know of. Before that I never learned of some of my ancestors on my father’s side but today with internet research I have found so much about my mother’s side. I can see a thread running through the family from the 1700s right down to my grand children. What a thing to leave behind and what a fantastic thing to be a part of.

On a purely selfish level, I love to paint as many people know. I love that in the future, long after I am gone there is a small part of my life that could exist for hundreds of years, with my name on it. I feel honoured when people buy my paintings but I have bartered many for something I needed done in the house, others I have given as gifts. Each one of these are out there and someone enjoys them. In the future their owners might not know who I am but will have shared in my wonderful gift and enjoy them as much as I did when I painted them. What an absolutely wonderful thing to be known for. Selfish maybe? I just love the idea that something I loved doing will be still giving pleasure long after I am gone.

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Just today…

Today has been one of those days, much like another. For me I spend every day alone in our little house. I have got to like being alone, it means I can please myself what I do. I can meditate, I can do the housework, the laundry, the gardening, you know , all those boring house things that we have to do. I have my routine; get up, make the bed,  make myself a hot lemon drink, a cup of tea, take a shower, have breakfast. Then the day is mine.. today I painted. A hobby of mine that gives me so much freedom.

I love to paint seascapes, countryside or anything to do with the natural world. The picture I am doing at the moment is one that takes me back to our holiday a couple of years ago when Harry took me to his home country, Cookstown in N. Ireland. I have only seen such wonderful coastline once before, in Scotland. Last year we went to Cornwall, which was beautiful and where I would love to live one day, and although the coastlines there were beautiful, I never saw anything as wonderful as Ireland. My painting transported me back to a wonderful place with wonderful people.

When I paint I am no longer in my little house, no longer trapped by pain or inability to do the things I want to do. My mind is free to go anywhere I choose. I visit each rocky shore again and again. I notice things I missed when I was walking there and I can put them in my picture. I can smell the sea and fly with the birds, swim in the water, fly through the air, squelch my toes in wet sand and lay with warm sun on my skin. Painting transforms my world like a mini holiday.

I have little to say about today apart from the fact that I painted. I painted the sea, the bay and countryside across the water. I painted the rocks. Today it was the rocks that took me a long time away, back to when I was much younger. My two eldest children were very small when I used to take them to the beach when the tide was out. We used to gather tiny shell from the rocks, pebbles and bits of driftwood from the beach. We lived very close to the beach , a few minutes walk in fact, so it was always a lovely place to go, especially off season when the shores were nearly empty. Anyway, these tiny shells would be taken home, mine in my boxes and the children’s in their buckets. The boys would wash and play with theirs but mine were carefully boiled to remove any creatures or debris and placed in my collection to be made into something another day.

In those days we had no money so I had to make do for my amusement. The little shells and pebbles were transformed into paperweights and ornaments. Little men fishing from a rock, animals, people walking on a stony beach or maybe tiny shell houses. I never did anything  with them apart from give them to friends but each time I made one it took me away from the lonely, boring world I was in. Thinking of these little models reminds me of the time I spent painting plaster models to be sold in the little shop in the caves on the West Hill, also at Hastings. I spent hours painting pirates with treasure chests, parrots, pirate ships and all for a few pennies.

Well, like I said, today I did nothing much to see but in my little world of colour and memory I travelled a long way.

A holiday walk

This painting is the last coastline I finished before doing a sunset , just for a change. I imagine standing at the edge of the cliff where the picture was taken. If I were a bird I could fly way out over the cliffs. I could lay on the grass and dream as I watched the changing sky. I can hear the sea birds shrieking and squalling as they dive into the sea for fish. I can feel the wind in my hair, the sun on my skin and know who I am in this big old beautiful world.

So you see, when I say I am just painting, I really escaping to the wonderful world of nature where I can be and do anything I want. So today.. I just painted, I painted a dream or two.

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