Saturday, 26 February 2011

World Book Night

Next Saturday is World Book Night. This is when 20,000 people will each give away around 50 books so that one million books will be given away.
I volunteered to be a giver and was quite prepared to donate the books too but that wasn't necessary because there are 25 different books already chosen. There has been a special print run of each of them and I have been given 48 copies of A Life Like Other People's by Alan Bennett.
We are told that they are all registered with Bookcrossing - if you don't know what this is then look here
I have been a bookcrossing member since 2004 and I find it a truely liberating thing to do to release books into the wild for other people to find.
Anyhoooo, we are told that each book will have an identity number so that people can read it and then pass it on to someone else and they go to the WBN website and leave a journal entry for that book so that they can see where it goes.
Pretty exciting eh? well, I think so. That's why I have volunteered to be a giver. I have 48 copies of a really good book by Alan Bennett, the most excellent writer in this country today (in my opinion) and next Saturday I will be handing them out to people.
Just thought I'd let you know.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Family likeness can you see it?

I have just read Ruth's blog about then and now and family likeness and thought about some of the likenesses in our family. The likeness that I find truly fascinating is this one. The monchrome picture is Leroy. He is the grandson of my great grandmother. He was born in USA in the 1920s and until recently none of the family here knew anything about him. His mother married an American sailor at the end of WW1 and she went to America in 1921.
My father and mother went out to see her in 1981 because they had managed to re-connect. My Dad had not seen hi aunt since he was 6 years old so it was a very emotional reunion. She told him a little about her life but glossed over the number of times she was married and how many children she had.
The other picture is my grandson. He is 21, about the same age as Leroy in the picture. His hair grows the same way, the eyes and ears are the same and there is - to me - something in the expression that has been passed down through the genes, and with the rich genetic mixture that they both carry I shouldn't be amazed but I am.
I think it is simply that because there is such a rich mixture I am amazed that there is any likeness, there being so much to choose from.
So all those ties take us back to previous generations and make me want to know more about our ancestors. It's good to look at the pictures and realise that the nose has come down through the generations, and then DGS tells a story and we see flashes of his great grand father in the way he speaks and the way he leads us through his tale.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Bash it down Bernard...

My grandfather coined this nick-name for my father when we first moved to "the Farm". The year was 1960. My father had found out about the farm from one of his customers - he had a workshop where he made gates and railings and welded broken council lorries. He decided that having built our bungalow and lived in it for 4 years it no longer seemed like a home for life because a whole estate had been built in the fields next to us.

Dad bought the farm and we moved in. August 1960. there were a few small renovations he had to do but he had sold the bungalow so we had to move.

There was no electricity, no indoor plumbing - the only tap was out in the yard. There was a lavatory at the end of the garden, the old earth closet type where you waved the spider stick around before entering and after you had done what you needed to do you shovelled a small coal shovel full of earth onto it - does that conjure up a good picture? good, because cameras were not thought of then.

The oldest part of the house had been built around 1600, at least that's what the expert on roof beams and stuff told us. He thought it had been a Welsh long house originally but had been "modified" somewhat.

We had to live upstairs while all this was going on and my grandparents lived in a small caravan in the yard.

Pretty soon we were all involved in the work of building new walls inside the walls to prevent the damp and fitting a bathroom! Still no indoor plumbing or electricity though.

My grandfather would come into the house every day and look around him. then he would say "I wonder what Bash-it-down-Bernard will knock down today". He would sometimes make calculations on a scrap of paper and once, after a lot of scribbling and tongue-out-of-the-corner-of-the-mouth moments he took us all to the kitchen and pointed to the pantry wall that was being built "see that," he said, "come with me"

He took us out into the yard where he paced from the wall of the house to a point not far from the middle of the yard "If he keeps on building that wall as he is this is where the arch will land"

We looked at the X he had scuffed on the ground, looked at each other and then all trouped back into the kitchen to look at the wall.

He was right.

One day as they were scraping the old plaster off the dairy wall Dad discovered a window that had been blocked up - Please bear in mind that as the building was so old the walls were over five feet thick at the bottom. At five feet one inch tall I could lie on the window sill with the top of my head against the window frame and my feet did NOT hang over the edge of the sill.

He decided that we should have a window where the blocked up one was because it would "shed a bit of light on the sink when you are washing up, love" My mother thanked him for his thoughtfulness. There were barrow loads of stones and rubble in that window space and it took ages to get it all out. finally there was one small jagged piece of stone to be removed from the top right-hand corner of the now empty window space.

Dad reached up and tapped it with the hammer and everything seemed to go into slow motion.

There was a brief silence after the hammer tap then there was the sound of stone grinding on stone and as we all took a pace backwards everything above the window space fell down in the sort of dusty, tumbling, crunching, grinding roar that hollywood reserves for earthquake movies.

We staggered outside, coughing and gasping because of the clouds of dust that followed us out through the doorway. We looked at one another covered from head to foot in grey dust and we realised that we would be making an unscheduled trip to the public baths - they still had baths that people could pay to use in those days.

Dad led us around the house to see what the extent of the damage was and we could see that the whole of the wall, up to the roof line had collapsed because that little jagged rock was holding a huge square block of stone (later it was weighed and it was 2.5 tons) in place and this in turn had held the rest of the wall.

We stood in silence for a while, just staring at the HUGE hole in the wall. My Dad turned to Mum and said

"We'll have a window upstairs as well, shall we?"

and we did.

This is part of the Storytelling Sunday experience thought up by Sian why not pop over there and see who else has told a story for Sunday.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

We have hot water in the kitchen!

I have a hot tap again! and it is wonderful. Some of you might have read my post on November 12th when the tap broke and I was flapping around in the cupbard under the sink trying to turn off the isolation valve. It isn't something I want to remember but it was an experience so I duly photographed and blogged it - for the children LOL.
Today the plumber came and put in the new tap. I had quite forgotten what it was to turn on a tap and have hot water in the kitchen sink (ok so that bit's a fib because I have been carrying buckets of water from the shower-room) I was immediately fancying doing some baking just because there is running hot water, but even though the last chicken has been laying nearly every day since Christmas there weren't enough eggs to make muffins AND apple cake so Mr M had to buy eggs on the way home and I will bake tomorrow!
I have developed a sugar free muffin recipe that Mr M says tastes good. Little Miss agrees with him but my sense of taste is still missing so I can't tell.
I have also managed to get rid of some large insulated boxes (polystyrene ones that Lime tree Pantry send their pies in). They were too good to throw away and are perfect for putting bags of frozen food into in the back of the car to bring home from the supermarket. Or to keep food insect free when alfresco dining - especially if you are barbecuing and have cats around. I suddenly remembered that I could put them on freecycle and they were gone in 24 hours. I have now put the four poster single bed on there and had four replies so far.