Thursday, 27 December 2012

Not a single Picture

A warning about this lurgy that is sneaking in and catching everyone by the throat. There is an aftermath! I had the dread lurgy a week before Christmas and had thought myself lucky to be recovered while the rest of the family seemed to fall under it. On Christmas Eve it was like walking into a solid stone wall. Not a cold or a runny nose or a sore throat but a definite drop in the mood department. I could have cried, and with no reason. There we were, Mr M and I watching TV together. All the shopping and running around done. All the presents packed and messages sent to special people and all I wanted to do was crawl under a blanket and sob.
It continued all day on Christmas Day and then on Boxing day too. This morning I got up had breakfast and then sat on the sofa and slept until 2pm and now I feel a little better. So I am putting it down to the cold I had and this is the backlash, the secondary infection that usually means a bacterial infection has this time got me in the miseries.
I am now going back to my sofa for a few hours perhaps to snooze some more.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

I thought the Onions were lovely.....

We went to the ballet today. none of us have ever been to the ballet before so it was a very exciting adventure for all of us, and especially for Miss Em.
We went to see The Nutcracker, performed by the the Russian State Ballet of Siberia. It was wonderful! the place was full of children and they were mostly well behaved. The little boy who sat behind Miss Em wasn't very nice but his mother moved to different seats before things started so he could kick the back of someone else's seat.
Miss Em was totally entranced by everything. She sat motionless all the way through Act 1 then helped Mummy buy the ice creams and then sat transfixed through Act 2. she stood and clapped with everyone at the end and was bubbling about the dancers and the mouse king and the Chinese dancers all the way back to the train.
When we were on the train she asked if she could look at the programme and Mummy asked "What did you think of the snowflakes?" and pointed to the picture in the programme. "Oh I thought the onions were lovely." she replied and then her brain caught up with what had been said. She looked up from the picture "Snowflakes? I thought those things were little onions. They are round and white and dangley." Anything else she might have said was drowned out by the train revving up and moving out. This was fortunate because then she couldn't hear us laughing into our coats.
I bet you didn't even know there were onions in the Nutcracker did you? Made the day complete.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

It's all in the tone of voice

The Christmas 24 channel is a godsend with a sick seven year-old, when you are fed up to the back teeth with cartoons and that shmaltzy sugar-sweet Disney channel. I like that it is child-safe while some of the cartoons that are on are really violent and somewhat scarey.
It does get a little trying for Mr M though, but he watches it with Miss Em and suffers in relative quiet - most of the time. Sometimes he just can't help himself and will make a comment like "...and he'll open the cupboard and find the thing in there" or perhaps "When she opens the box she'll see it's exactly what she wanted".
When such things come to pass there are questions from Miss Em. "How did you know, Grandpa? How did you know it would be in the box?"
"I wrote the script." he said and she asked no more.

Fast forward to the following week when Miss Em is at her own home and is watching Christmas 24 with her Mummy. "This is my favourite Christmas film EVER!" She said."Oh really?" said Mummy "Why do you like it so much?"
"Grandpa wrote the script" she replied, rendering her mother speechless for a moment.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

There was an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman...

I was going to save this story for a storytelling Sunday but having remembered it I thought I should just get it recorded before I forget it again.

Way back in the 1970s I was a Guide Leader with the Girl Guides. My friend Viv was the Assistant Guider - as I have said before she was so much more than that - and on many occasions we would all end up in her kitchen after a day of events for the Church or the Guides or the Scouts. Viv had five children and I had three. She and her family lived in a small cottage that was - and I am quoting her now "...nine feet wide and fifty-two feet long". When there were eight children from age 16 down to 7 and three adults in the kitchen it could get a bit noisy.
It was getting close to Christmas and we had just come back from a Christmas Fayre or coffee morning and we were all sitting around the table or leaning on the sink and all the children were bubbling over because of the nearness of Christmas and having been so good while "on duty" and "In public".

A series of silly jokes were told by the older ones and the youngest, not to be outdone, began
"There was an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman..."
One of the other children jumped in with a one liner that made everyone roar with laughter and when the hubbub died down slightly the little voice began again
"There was an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman..."
Another joke, provoked by the one liner, over-rode the little voice and again the room rocked with laughter, some of it caused by the expression on the face of little voice. She began again
"There was an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman..."
Yet another one liner and a couple of the boys are lying on the floor hooting with laughter, as only the under tens can do. Little Voice waits patiently.
"There was an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman..."
Everyone roars with laughter because no one interrupted. Viv spoke up "Right, everyone, this time we'll let Little Voice tell her joke, OK? she hasn't complained about us so everyone be quiet."
"There was an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman....." a long silent pause as Little Voice looked at each face around her. "I've forgotten the rest now!"
The laughter threatened to shake the glass out of the windows, so much so that Viv's sister-in-law who lived next door up the lane, came to see if everyone was alright because she had heard "A lot of shouting".

Monday, 17 December 2012

Simply a moment - December

Amber at the back, GLC to the left, Koala to the right
It's Sunday. Mr M is playing Angry Birds on his computer, the washing machine is struggling with our waterproof coats and the meat is waiting on the counter top to be seasoned and thrown in the oven. I need something to focus on for a minute or two. What can I write about? what would be good? I lean against the windowsill and rest my forehead against the cool glass. Immediately the chickens look up at me, waiting. If I were to open the window they would rush across the garden and stand beneath the window - one floor down because of the slope of the hill - and make little jumps to try and get closer to me.
Koala can stand the tension no longer and in a flurry of feathers she shoots up four feet into the air and then does a clumsy half circle before colliding with the honeysuckle and landing in an ungainly heap. She leaps to her feet and turns around to prepare another flight. Her determination to one day succeed in flying the 15 feet up to the window can be seen in that beady eye. The other two watch her efforts with the resigned patience that only a chicken can exude. I throw them a handful of corn and immediately Amber responds with that funny Tuk, Tuk, Tuk noise that hens make when calling their chicks to a tasty morsel. Koala and GLC (Goldie Lookin' Chicken) rush to her side to see why her corn is so much better. They glance up at me just to make sure there is nothing better coming and then return to pecking up the corn as quickly as possible.

I turn away from the window, fill the kettle and prepare the cups for the tea and coffee. I still have a smile on my face from watching my "girls". Then I realise that my moment is done. Just one perfect moment when everything made me smile.
Why not take a moment to read some other "moments" over at Alexa's blog Trimming the Sails I am sure you will find something to enjoy.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

A Visit to Santa

a Princess under the tree
We went to Santa's Grotto yesterday. I know I am a pensioner and perhaps a little old for that sort of thing but..... and it is a good but...... we had Miss Em with us, and her mother so that made it right. In fact I am not sure who was more excited Miss Em or her mother. After a moment's contemplation I would say that Mummy was by far the most excited of all of us.
The Nidus Choir - beautiful voices made me cry

We went to Tredegar House. The former home of the Morgan Family and one of the best things Newport Council has ever done. You see they bought the house off St Joseph's school in the 1960s. The school had bought it when the last Lord Tredegar died and the whole estate was sold off. The school outgrew the building and wanted sleek modern so they built a new school close by and the council bought the house. It needed a lot of work and restoration.

My Dad restored the railings and side gates on the front of the house so I was able to go into the place before it was cleaned and restored.

Mummy you are so embarrassing - on the day bed in the Gilt Room
At the beginning of this year the Council and the National Trust came to an agreement that for the next 50 years Tredegar House would be under the care of the National Trust. In that time they will conserve and restore the property. This means that the house is added to the NT handbook and every NT member gets a copy. They said in March that they wanted to try and get 40,000 visitors through the house by the end of October. The final number was over 41,000.

A few people (members of the friends of Tredegar House) have complained that things are not the same. That the ground floor of the house has been turned into a 'theme park'. I think the atmosphere in the house now is friendly and welcoming and it really does feel as though the residents have just left. It feels alive and warm and welcoming. I could be biased.

Stir the pudding and make a wish
 The Christmas things have always happened even when the council was running things so we were able to see all the beautiful decorations in every room - except Mr Scrooge's room. Oh Mr Scrooge said that there was hope for Miss Em but no hope at all for her Mummy. This was because Em said she would share her prize from the mousehunt with Mr Scrooge, if it was money. Fortunately it was a pencil so she didn't have to go back up the stairs.

She was able to stir the Christmas pudding with Cook and she made a wish. Then we had Mulled wine - well Mummy did and it made her legs wobbly
Cheeky Elves
Grandma and Grandpa had orange squash with Em and we also had Stollen and mince pies. Then on to see The Man in his Grotto, pausing for Mummy to pose as an elf. She just loves pulling faces.

By this time the lurgy that had gripped me last weekend was encroaching on Miss Em and she was beginning to flag a little. She managed to smile when posing in front of the glow-in-the-dark-reindeer, but we could see she was getting more and more tired and weak.

Glow in the dark reindeer
We didn't have to wait long, thank goodness, as we had picked exactly the right time to visit.

Santa was very nice. He told the children that they had to be very honest when they answered his questions. Then he asked if they had all been good and they all said NO!

He talked for a moment and then gave them all a present. I managed to catch him giving Em her squirrel. She just loves cuddly things so a so squishy red squirrel was perfect. Then Mummy had to carry her back to the car because the bug was tightening it's grip.

Santa gave her a Squirrel. It's name is now Lacey
By 8 o'clock her temp was up but Calpol was working so she and her Daddy were on a sofa each while Mummy was forced to sit on a hard chair while she tended to the poor sicky people.

So a lovely afternoon in a fabulous house.

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas



Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Ten on the 10th - a bit late

I couldn't find this yesterday so I am a bit late. This is a list of reasons not to do housework

1. I don't do windows - I love birds and don't want one to fly into a clean window and get hurt.

2. I don't wax floors - I am terrified a guest will slip and get hurt (plus they might sue)

3. I don't mind dust bunnies - they are good company, I have named most of them and they agree with everything I say.

4. I don't disturb cobwebs - I want every creature to have its own home.

5. I don't spring clean - I love all the seasons and don't want the others to get jealous.

6. I don't pull weeds in the garden - I don't want to get in G*d's way. He is an excellent designer.

7. I don't put things away - my husband would never find them again.

8. I don't do gourmet meals when I entertain - I don't want my guests to stress out over what to make when they invite me back.

9. I don't iron - I choose to believe it when they say "Permanent Press"

10. I truly believe that a clean house is a sign of a broken computer.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Twinkle Twinkle Chocolate Bar...


isn't this fabulous? We love Costco cake
At the recent family reunion we - well some of those who got there early - were treated to a rending rendition of that well known nursery song Twinkle Twinkle Chocolate Bar. What? you've not heard that one? Well, here's the words, you know the tune

Twinkle, twinkle chocolate bar
My Dad drives a Vauxhall car.
Brmm the engine, pull the choke
Drive away in a cloud of smoke.
Twinkle, twinkle chocolate bar
My Dad drives a Vauxhall car.


Singing for Grandma
Miss Em hasn't heard it before so she was waiting her turn to sing. The boys sang it all by themselves and little J did very well even though he is only two. Master M is three and a half so he was teaching us.

It's such a good feeling having cousins!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Postal charges!

I posted the calendars to my relatives and friends in various parts of the world. I also posted Christmas cards to relatives and friends in other parts of the world. The total bill for six calendars and seven cards came to
more than £46. each of the cards cost more than £2.50 to post - except one which cost something like £1.78.

I do wonder how long Royal Mail hopes to continue. The charges will go up again in April next year, as they have done every year. Part of me says that these are realistic charges for an expansive service. The rest of me says ..........WHAAAAAAAAT THEEEEE F...............!!!!!!

Rant over!
Feel better now. I shall go and tell my chickens all about it.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Reviewing the Situation...

This story comes to you through the inspiration of Sian over at From High in the Sky If you have come here from there - Welcome and enjoy the read. If you are one of my faithful readers - bless you for your stamina and why not click on the link and read some of the other stories that have been told especially for today.
Sian suggested a theme of coming home and I did have a sort of story BUT this happened last week and I am still remembering and beginning to laugh.

Every year I am called to our doctor's surgery for a diabetic review. My blood pressure is checked and blood taken and I am weighed, measured and found wanting.... that's how it feels anyway, but the practice needs those QOF points. Because points mean pounds. I digress.

The procedure has changed a little these days as the goal posts are moved and standards are changed and now we have to go see the phlebotomist and she takes the blood samples and sends them off and a few days later we go to the practice nurse who does the rest.

One of the things required is a urine sample, and to ensure we don't give them half a pint of wee in an old jam jar they supply a neat plastic vial and a small pot for us to pee into. I can now say that I actually have a pot to pee in!!! Sorry, I'll behave myself now.

The other thing you have to do is fast the night before the appointment, so.... I fasted and knowing that I would need to pee in a hurry when I woke up I took the little pot - which is about 3 inches diameter and about 2 inches deep - into the bathroom upstairs and put it where I could grab it quickly. I then went to bed.

When I woke I needed to "go" quickly so I hurried to the bathroom, pulled down the pyjama trousers, grabbed the teeny, tiny pot and struggled to position it where it would .... do most good.

Now let me just say that I am not the right shape for trying to get my head between my legs. No, those days are long gone. I have an expanded waistline that doesn't allow such acrobatics, so it wasn't easy to get that minuscule pot into position but I managed it.

I stopped peeing when it was full - thank goodness for pelvic floor exercises - and pulled my hand out from the depths. That's when everything went to hell in a hand-basket. The pot, even though it seemed so small, now assumed the proportions of a mixing bowl and caught on the elastic of my pyjama trousers - this being around my knees. The pot slipped out of my... damp fingers and flipped upside down into said pyjama trousers, making my legs, the trousers and the bathroom floor very wet.

A lot of cussing followed, to the extent that Mr M tapped on the door and asked if everything was OK.
"Everything's fine!" I said, stepping out of the soggy trousers and scooping them into the bath. Making sure they didn't splash. "That was irony, right?" he said and the sound of his footsteps faded as he went down stairs.  As I wiped the floor then washed my legs I realised that I still needed a urine sample and do you know what? Thanks to those horrible boring exercises the midwife made me do after my children were born, there was still enough left in the tank to fill that pot again and ensure that this time it really was a "mid stream specimen"

As for the review, well, my weight is exactly the same as last year, cholesterol fine, retinopathy results fine, my tummy measures the same as the last two years and the blood sugar is still within guidelines.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

A surfeit of Lemons

recently I made a sugar free lemon meringue pie and while I was gathering the ingredients together I realised that I needed more lemons so I texted Mr M who was doing the shopping and asked for more lemons.
"too late" he replied. This meant he out of the supermarket and would not be going back just for some lemons. I texted my daughter who was also out shopping and asked if she could get some lemons. She was in the market and right next to the greengrocer's! Hurrah!
Mr M arrived and as I unpacked the shopping I found a net bag of four lemons. I gave him the look, you know the one, not yet cross but still wanting to know what's going on.
"I stopped at Aldi on the way home," he said, "You wanted lemons, I got lemons." I gave him a hug and a kiss for being so thoughtful and then asked for the loose change from his pocket so I could pay my daughter for the lemons when she brought them, which she did. Another four big lemons from the market.
I used two for the lemon meringue and then wondered how to use the rest.

Thank goodness for my Good Housekeeping Cookbook. It has to be the best thing I ever received. I think I bought it about 1970. All the recipes are in Imperial and metric measurements so it has to be early 1970s when we were changing over.
It has wonderful things in it like Eve's pudding, and Chutney recipes and ...

Lemon Curd.

I first made lemon curd when I was in Agricultural College - class of 1962 - I know it has sugar in it and Mr M can't eat huge amounts because of the Diabetes but he does without so much and I know we are hopeless about diets but I just had to make it.
4 eggs, beaten
The grated rind and juice of four lemons,
100g of butter,
450g of sugar.
Put all the ingredients into a bowl and stand this on a pan of simmering water. make sure the bowl does not touch the bottom of the pan. If you have a double saucepan then use that.
Stir the ingredients until the sugar has dissolved and then continue to stir until the mixture thickens.
It is difficult to describe how to know when it is ready you just keep stirring and it thickens, then thickens some more and then even more. Then when you dip the wooden spoon in and lift it the curd kind of flakes away from the spoon.
You can drop a little onto a cold plate and if it keeps its shape and dosen't run across the plate when you tilt it then it is ready. Put into sterile jars. put the lids on tight and leave to cool. Will keep for about a month in a cool place. There are no artificial colours no preservatives except the lemon juice and sugar.
This recipe makes about one and a half pounds. I deliberately put it into 8oz jars because they will be used up quickly after opening.
We had to lick the spoons and scrape out the bowl so we have had our sugar allowance for today - YUUUMMMMMM.


Friday, 16 November 2012

One Moment

11.45am Friday. As I decide that now is a good moment to reflect Mr M arrives back from visiting his mother. She has dementia and now resides in a nursing home. My loving, funny, adorable, irritating, exasperating beloved mother-in-law left us a long time ago. What we have now is a stranger that continues to exist within her physical form. This stranger talks in scribble, strings of unconnected words mingled with the occasional chuckle or a saucy glance or sometimes a wagged finger and a stern look. I close my eyes and take a slow quiet breath.
"How's your mum?" I ask, but I really dread the answer. She doesn't walk anymore as her brain has forgotten her legs now. She eats like a bird and forgets to drink unless a straw is put to her mouth and you over ride the scribble and keep saying "drink this, drink this now Mam."
"She knew me today," Mr M replies, hanging his coat up and slipping off his shoes. "She lifted her hands the way she used to." He turns to me and the tears are welling into his eyes.

When ever she saw him she would lift her hands to his face and cup his cheeks in them "oh my baby," she would say and I would feel a stab of impatience that she was doing this to her grown-up son. Every time we visited she did this and even after she went into the home she couldn't remember his name but her hands would go to his face and you just knew that the scribble was meant to be "oh my baby" She hadn't done this for months. Not since before our anniversary in June so for her to remember was the final straw and my moment ended with tears from both of us

This is part of the Simply a moment that Alexa started and I love.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

New Baby!!

Yesterday my eldest granddaughter gave birth to a baby boy. 8lb 7oz. His big sister is, apparently very glad he has finally arrived, and mummy is pretty pleased too.

~Happy dance for the new baby~

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Sugar free lemon meringue

I don't have a photograph because I used my phone and now I have no idea how to transfer the picture to my blog but I made sugar free Lemon Meringue pie and it worked!
The Meringue was a little ..... delicate but that's because the sugar usually gives it strength and a bit of oomph. The splenda whisked into the egg whites just fine and it looked just like real meringue when I spread it on the pie - OH and the pie was just so simple to make. I followed the recipe in my good housekeeping cookbook.
I ate too much of it, of course, and it was extremely lemony. Well, it would be, wouldn't it, being made of cornflour, water lemon juice, grated lemon rind and two egg yolks. There's not much to deflect the lemony flavour of the grated rind of two lemons so it did kind of make my eyeballs bulge a little with the first mouthful. Probably because I just didn't expect it to be that flavourful.
Anyway, it was a great success, much much nicer than the pumpkin pie I made the other day. That was just...... goppin'! to quote my ex-army son.

oh and if anyone knows how to transfer pictures from my blackberry to the blog please tell me

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Pumpkin Pie

I have found a recipe for pumpkin pie that doesn't entails hours of pureeing. I have made a pie! I have no idea why I am so excited about it other than I can actually smell it. The virus two years ago stole my sense of smell and left me with a kind of random smellometer that would give me strange perfumes and scents at really strange times, the worst being the smell of smoke at 2am. Mr M didn't like that one either as it was his job to go and look. I would smell furniture polish in the cheese shop and cheese in the flower shop until this summer when I had a virus again. It sent me out of my tree for a day or two and poor Mr M didn't sleep for nearly 36 hours because I was talking. I wondered why I lost my voice and then he told me. Anyway when I came back to earth I could smell things. Real things. When they were there. So cooking chutney and jam has been a delight this weekend and making the pumpkin pie today was wonderful. My favourite son-in-law came in to find me standing in the kitchen breathing in deeply through my nose.
"Are you alright?" he asked looking as though he would be ringing my daughter at the first opportunity.
"I'm fine," I said, taking another deep breath. "I am just smelling the pumpkin pie."
"Oh, OK," he said, then paused for a second to compute all the information. He then remembered where he was and who he was with and his face cleared and resumed its usual happy expression. It was Mother-in-law! so perfectly normal.
Tomorrow I make lemon meringue pie from scratch - a mix up about lemons for the pumpkin jam has resulted in an excess of lemons. I can't wait to smell that!

A tasty snack for a chicken

I left the gate open at the top of the steps today so that the girls could come up and scratch for insects and look longingly through the glass door at me.
They soon found this milk thistle and began tucking in to a tasty snack

 It didn't take long for them to make short work of it and they were off down the steps to the barren wastes of what used to be my garden. There is absolutely nothing green under chicken-head-height down there and the one flower bed is just a mudbank pitted with wallow holes.
.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Jams and Chutneys

some of the 17 jars of Pumpkin Ginger Jam
On Saturday I made 11 pounds of Pumpkin Ginger Jam because one of the men that Mr M works with gave us a pumpkin from his allotment - wasn't that kind? we thought so. It was quite large so, having experienced the tediousness of pureeing pumpkin for a pie I decided to make some jam and some chutney. I got a little distracted after I finished making the jam.... who am I kidding? I was too tired to stand up after I finished making the jam so I didn't make the Chutney until Sunday. Mr M cooked the dinner on Sunday which was a lovely treat and I made about 5 pounds of Pumpkin Chutney.
I still have several pounds of pumpkin left so tomorrow I will be making pumpkin pie - a sugar free one because we are both diabetic. We can't eat the jam either and Mr M is only allowed a tiny spoonful of the chutney sometimes. This means that there are a lot of people who will be getting pumpkin jam for an extra Christmas present this year. I just hope they return the jars when they are empty

Sunday, 4 November 2012

It was a dark and stormy night...

Today is the first sunday in the month and that means one thing for me.... Storytelling Sunday2 is here again. Take a look at Sian's page over at From High in the Sky to read the stories from around the world, but please don't go there until you've read my story. It is a very short one today.

It was a dark and stormy night, three men sat in a cave and one man said "Tell us a story Bill." ..... sorry wrong story. It was a dark and stormy night here in The Towers when Mr M came into the study to sit at his computer and get down to some serious stuff (he had new levels of Angry Birds to achieve).
He rubbed his hands together and said "In this weather I should be wearing a woolly jumper to keep me warm." I reminded him that I had knitted one for him some time ago and without another word he got up from his chair and went out of the room. In moments he was back and that's when I remembered why I decided never to knit again.
This is what happens when you don't knit a tension swatch before starting.
Now you can take a look at Sian's blog and read all the other lovely stories. Thanks for dropping by

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Another Food Festival?

Today we were up and out of the house by 7.30am because we were going to Hereford with Mr and Mrs Bluefunnel. This meant we had to stop for breakfast and where else could we stop than Jo's Place on the A48. As usual the breakfast was fabulous and set me up for the day. I just can't put into adequate words how much I enjoy our days out with Mr and Mrs B.
Mr B is my cousin and he is more like a little brother to me. We have always got on well, even when we played Monopoly. When he met Mrs B and introduced us it was like he had given me a sister - more than that - he had given me someone who thought a lot like me and liked a lot of the same things and yet was so different to me that we got along like a house on fire. I'm digressing.

When we got to Hereford it was still not quite 10am so the farmers' market was still opening up and a lot of the traders weren't ready for customers. We were forced to sit down and have a cuppa. There were lovely heaters under these umbrellas and the tea and coffee was just gorgeous.

Then we made our way into the traders tent for the food thingy and Mr M pointed to the roof. It looks like the leaves are dangling from the roof when they are actually lying on the outside, because it is a tent! I took several pictures but none of them really show it too well.

While Mr and Mrs B sat down and had a coffee Mr M and I went to see the Mappa Mundi. This has been on my list of things to see before I die for ages and although we have been through Hereford hundreds of times we have never stopped and walked about before. I highly recommend a trip to Hereford Cathedral just to sit quietly in the Nave and listen to the history whispering to you is fantastic but to be able to see a map of the world, drawn in the 13th century is just amazing. We also sat and stared at the chained library. I have to say that it brought Terry Pratchett's books to mind where the books in the library of the unseen university are chained to prevent them opening and spilling their magic. The ones we were looking at were chained to stop scholars taking them home. What an experience!

We walked until Mr M's knees were giving out and Mr B's were right there with them, creaking and aching together we all limped back to the car. It was the Bluefunnels turn to drive so when we got into the car Mr B asked the satnav for the shortest route somewhere - on the way home - and then we had to follow exactly what the lady said. If we saw something we wanted to look at we could stop but we could not deviate from the route. Shortest doesn't mean quickest. It can mean going up teeny tiny lanes and over mountain tops... a magical mystery tour.
It took us through Talgarth and as the Mill and Cafe were open we stopped and had a late lunch which was just superb. I took a picture but the food was took fast to catch it all I got were the empty plates. They make their own bread from flour ground in the mill and they use local produce - pickled red cabbage, ham, cheeses, fruit, celery, salad, that was all just yummy. I am not a big fan of chutney, it's usually too sweet for me but the apple chutney that came with our food was so delicious I had to stop myself eating Mr M's portion too.
We continued with the mystery tour and at one point we were high above the town of Govilon looking across to Abergavenny in the far distance. It was a little country lane that eventually came out at Black Rock.  Not the one by the River Severn but the one above Govilon near the Heads of the Valleys road. We then went up through Llanhilleth onto the mountain and came down through Pontypool to home.
We had a simply fantastic day, found some good Christmas presents for a couple of people and stuffed our faces with great food.
Oh I bought a 5 kilo bag of pickling onions for £2.99 which is really good value and also two huge cabbages for my chickens for a pound for the two.




Thursday, 25 October 2012

Calendars - how hard can they be?

at the 50th anniversary reunion for
Usk College of Agriculture
Lidl had some Just-add-pictures calendar thingies, two in a pack for £2.99. "We'll get some of those and send them to people." said Mr M, picking up the three packs that were there. I nodded, I mean how hard can it be to choose twelve pictures plus one for the front, stick them on the pages and then choose which people we want to send them to..... ah, well!

 This has been the problem. Should I choose places, or use the scavenger hunt pictures? Would pictures of the family be best? Should I go for funny ones? Oh, but will the recipients get my humour? Who am I going to send them to?

The spooky eyes caused by contact lenses
Her eyes are dark brown!
I spent two weeks going through pictures and trying to decide which ones to use. I had it narrowed down to 86 and asked Mr M to look. We finished up with three.
I started again. I didn't have a theme, I didn't have a list of recipients and I was getting heartily sick of the stupid idea.

Then I weighed the calendars and realised that if I post them to relatives overseas it will cost an arm and a leg, and probably a few other bits too. I mentioned this to Mr M expecting him to say we couldn't send them abroad but he just nodded and said "That's OK, it's for Christmas."
Not Greenday!

I had briefly forgotten just how much he loves Christmas. So sending them abroad is not a problem, but we still needed to choose the right pictures.

I went through the 2012 pictures again and noted that, as usual, there are a lot of pictures of us in cafes and diners. There are lots of pictures of food, all sorts of food. A pictorial history of our travels through the medium of food. There are also pictures of who we had with us at these eateries.

Youngest son and wife looking at my
photograph keyring
So that's what it will be. Twelve pictures of places we have eaten in 2012, including the special people we have taken with us.

Now, who to send them to...... I don't have addresses for some relatives, how do I get them without alerting said relative to the surprise in store. Oh this is so hard, whose idea was this anyway?

Monday, 22 October 2012

Proof reading complete!

Beautiful daughter and favourite son-in-law
Today's Happy Dance was brought to me by the completion of the proof reading for the December edition of Gwent Family History Society Journal. Tomorrow I send it to the printer and the copies should be flying out to the members by the first week in December!
I remembered to wish my son-in-law a happy birthday, out loud. This is very different to telling him that his card is on the diary by the phone. I also said happy anniversary out loud. My daughter says she chose his birthday to give him more chance to remember, it seems to have worked.
Eldest son and beautiful wife
Good news from North Wales, Eldest son and family will be attending the family reunion in November. This means my lovely daughter-in-law will get to meet all the cousins, and will perhaps begin to understand just what she has let herself in for.

Youngest son and beautiful wife
 Youngest son is also coming to the reunion with his family, and while my other lovely daughter-in-law has had more experience of this family she hasn't met all the cousins either. Mr M says they can both sit and not know anyone with him. He says that even after 32 years with me he still hasn't met them all and doesn't think anyone can possibly remember all the names. I said he just doesn't try hard enough.

I made a very successful quorn lasagna for dinner with a summer fruits pie for afters.

So, in spite of the weather today has been a good day for everyone. Oh, yes even for Miss EM. It seems that the child who has blighted her school life since reception class was, and I quote, "kicked out of gardening club, Grandma! and guess what for?"
I shook my head, not trusting myself to speak.
"For making mud castles, putting worms in them and then squashing them! She killed worms!"
As you can tell our budding Buddhist doesn't believe in killing anything but she was secretly delighted that for once The Bane had not managed to implicate Miss EM in her naughtiness.
What today didn't bring was the man from the insurance to inspect the sinking drains. We have hopes for tomorrow.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Just a couple of old fossils

The Knap, looking east
Today has turned out to be one of those priceless, special days. You know the ones I mean. Not much happens but you are with people who care for you and you care for them and it just works.
I went to bed fairly early last night. No point in staying up if you have to stand up to stay awake is there? I don't remember Mr M coming to bed but he must have done because when I got up at 4am - A Pox on getting old I say! - to go for a wee he was snoring for Britain. By 7am, when I woke again I just knew I was completely recharged and no more sleep could get into my batteries so I got up and did all the morning things that this household requires, plus the odd reset of the central heating boiler that isn't usually on my list.
The Knap, looking west
Slight tangent here but if you knew before you bought it that a central heating and hot water boiler would require you to occasionally twiddle taps and recalibrate pressure would you buy it? No, I thought not and if I had known that this all singing all dancing combi boiler was going to require me to do anything except adjust the timer I certainly wouldn't have let them put it where they did! OK rant over.
Fossils
I let the chickens out and filled their food and water, took the tablets required to stop my head blowing off with high blood pressure, discovered that there wasn't enough washing to make a complete load - that made the day get off to a good start - and then Mr M was awake and sitting........ no I'll rephrase that..... And then Mr M was sitting at the end of the table looking all fuzzy and out of focus.
another fossil

A cuppa in Porthcawl
"How about," I said in a clear voice that would cut through the deafness of sleep, "How about Bacon and Eggs?"
"OOh, bacon and egg sandwiches!" he said still looking a bit fuzzy.
"No, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, black pudding and a slice of fried bread, how about that?"
The fuzzy edges were gone, he sat at the end of the table fully awake and smiling from ear to ear.
After this repast we had to go out to a shop called Buyology. They always have something we desperately need and they didn't fail us this time. I have a Christmas card holder that is crying out for me to "embellish " it a bit and there were some excellent stocking filler type things for the older grandchildren and some cute little LED candlelights that look like mince pies. I also found a pocket diary and a desk diary for next year so now all the important dates have been transferred and when we go to the dentist next month I have Mr M's shifts all sorted for when I have to make the next appointment.
"Where shall we go now?" he asked as we climbed back into the car. "Anywhere you like" I replied.
So we went to Morrisons in Barry for a cuppa and then carried on along the coast to The Knap.
Now I have never been there! How could my father not have taken us there? anyway I was enchanted. The beach is totally made of pebbles but when you look at the cliffs they are of a totally different type of stone - how can that be? It's not man made, as far as I am aware. It is certainly a good beach for finding fossils as Mr M shows. The pebbles are quite a uniform size, or they were where we were standing. It's just so lovely. We decided that we could live there in one of the waterfront apartments with a big patio space so that Mr M can sit and listen to the waves splashing over the pebbles and then sucking them back as they retreat.
From there we travelled past Cardiff Airport to Porthcawl. This used to be the holiday destination for the welsh miners and every year the town would be full to overflowing with folk from the valleys, during miners fortnight. Of course it wasn't just miners but steelworkers and foundrymen who came to Porthcawl for their annual few days of fresh air and sunshine. Plus the odd pint of beer. Porthcawl was traditionally the place where people came for a holiday while Barry was the day trip capital of south Wales.
The Knap is the posh part of Barry, where the white collar workers would stay in bed and breakfast for  their holidays and the middle classes retired there. The rich went to Penarth of course.
You cannot go to Porthcawl without going to the fairground or having a cuppa at the chip shop. My cup of coffee was absolutely what you expect from a sea front kiosk, weak and tasteless, but it was hot and did go down very well. Mr M said his tea was just the same.
We had a little walk along the front and watched the people for a while. Then the sea breeze reminded us that even with such beautiful sunshine it was still October and the cold was creeping under our fleece jackets so we climbed back into the car and came home.
The sunshine was a delight, the company was superb. The conversation flowed between us with barely a pause, except for a few moments on the beach where we stood arm in arm and just listened to the waves. Just a couple of old fossils

Saturday, 20 October 2012

One little Moment

It's 2.15 Saturday 20th October.

I am sitting on an uncomfortable chair in the front row at a meeting. The Annual General Meeting of the Family History Society. The Chairman is reading the minutes of last year's meeting and I am irritated.
I wriggle and look at my blank notebook, then back at the Chairman, willing him to look up and realise that everyone has a copy of the minutes and if he asked for corrections everyone would read them, but he continues to read them aloud.
The people behind me are quietly correcting his mispronunciation of some words and I realise that they too wish he would just ask for corrections. This reduces the irritation I feel and induces a slight smile. I glance quickly to the side to see if anyone has noticed and once again think how clever I am to have chosen a seat in the front row.
This sets my mind on a little meander through why most people will sit at the back of the hall no matter what and I am interrupted by the chairman asking for corrections to the minutes! Hurrah, now we can get on with the meeting and then listen to the speaker who is supposed to be good!

Have a look here, to find the way to other simple moments my thanks to alexa for this idea

Thursday, 18 October 2012

My pictures in a magazine!

I am so excited because some of my pictures have been published in a magazine - and a teeny tiny bit of writing too.
http://www.monmouthshirecountylife.co.uk/edition.asp?edition=44
take a look at page 80
I took quite a few pictures, in dreadful light, at the recent college reunion. One of the girls, I still think of us all as girls even though it was the 50th reunion, sent me an email asking if I could send some of the pictures to the magazine and a little bit of writing to explain what it was all about, so I did.
I hoped they would use it but deliberately kept a lid on my anticipation. Today I had an email from that same girl telling me to look at the online copy of the magazine and there are all the pictures! The one of Mr M and me was taken by my daughter's godmother.
I still find it difficult to believe that it was fifty years ago that I got away from home to go to Agricultural college. I have said before that it was the most important year of my life, although I didn't know that when it was happening. I don't have photographs from that time although I did have a camera and thinking back I am sure my reluctance to take pictures was because I didn't want to share that time with anyone who was not a part of it.
I remember how difficult I was to live with and what a dangerous person I must have seemed to be but they still talk to me even now - that says such a lot for the kind of people they are.
Now, for my next trick.......................... watch this space!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

If I had a Vacuum Cleaner......

We went out today, with Mr and Mrs Bluefunnel. We had a place we wanted to take them. We didn't tell them where we were going so it was, to quote Mr M, "a magical mystery tour without the magic"
We took them to Lechlade-on-Thames where there is a wonderful shop - The Christmas Shop - google it. If you like any little part of Christmas, and even if you aren't that bothered, it is just a fabulous place AND it is open all year around.
Mrs B was so excited she couldn't remember any of the tree decorations that she had and her mind went blank. So did mine because I totally forgot to take a single picture while we were there. I think this is because I want to go back again. Perhaps I'll take my daughter...

We hadn't really planned anything for after the Christmas shop so we let Mr B give directions to Mr M about which way to turn at junctions even though it was a non badge day. Um, I need to explain that don't I? Right.
When Mr M and I were in the Lake District we went on the Ravenglass to Dalegarth Railway and in the little shop I found some badges Driver, Fireman, Guard and Signalman. Ever since then we have worn those badges for our day out. Depending on who is driving as to who gets what badge. Today I searched my handbag and realised that I had taken the badges out since last time and forgotten to put them back in!!! Then, as we drove out of Wales over the Severn Bridge we realised that Mr B had forgotten his blue badge for disabled parking - sigh - it was a non badge day.
It's spitting! let's get in there
Mr B saw a sign for the Cotswold Woollen Weavers Mrs B and I decided that we did want to go there and have a look so we did a turn around and followed the signs. It was amazing! I was so strong and didn't buy a single piece of the fantastic woollen cloth they had, although my mind was conjuring up images of things I could make.

We nearly sprinted across the car park because it was just starting to rain as we got out of the car.
impossible not to touch
Mr B headed for the coffee shop while Mr M headed for the loos and Mrs B and I went in and began the meticulous investigation. There is a weaving museum mixed in with all the stuff for sale    and it is just so interesting to come across ancient tools and things when you are just admiring a particularly fine weave. Well, it is for me anyway.

Upstairs was even more exciting with loads of old fashioned toys and games to buy. I think I need to go back there too.

There were huge leather-bound books with real vellum pages that contained the pattern library for the weavers. Each one has hundreds of pages and each page can have a dozen samples of a particular weave in different colourways. There were five long shelves of them!
each one of these tomes is a pattern book with the
 weave patterns stored in them

 From there we went to a farm-shop with a restaurant. I have forgotten the name of it but the food was delicious even though the shop was just ok. We were heading slowly towards Cheltenham so that we could then go towards Gloucester and stop at Over Market. Now that's a farm shop! They have huge wooden crates outside the door with Pumpkins and cabbages of all colours and bags of apples - 2.5kilos for 3pounds, I bought Bramleys and Russets. I also bought a big Red Cabbage because I want to pickle some for Christmas.

The Silver Fox Cafe, under newer management
We then travelled towards Chepstow. This meant we had to stop at the Silver Fox Cafe - highly recommended on previous occasions but it has been transformed! It used to be a truckers cafe, all formica topped tables and pictures of old trucks on the walls. Now there are squishy sofas in the first room and there are table cloths and placemats on the tables. It was here that I said it.
We were reading the menu and Mr B pointed at something and said "does that say Waghorns of Prestbury?" I looked at it and said "If I had a vacuum cleaner I could read that."
My mind was saying magnifying glass but my mouth said vacuum cleaner. Of course they ribbed me all the way home about it and everytime something came up about reading or seeing Mrs B would say "She could see it if she had a vacuum cleaner. On two occasions I said it myself! I suspect that this will be one of those phrases that remains as a family joke for centuries.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Were you invisible today, Grandma?

I have often felt invisible, you know the feeling don't you? Sometimes someone will prove it to be true. They bump into you and then say "Oh, I'm terribly sorry, I didn't see you." and as they are so obviously not visually impaired you have to believe that until they touched you the invisibility spell had made you....well, invisible.
This was something we discussed when we played Advanced Dungeons and Dragons - AD&D for those of us who are in the know. Just how invisible was invisible? We decided this: If you cast an invisibility spell on yourself then you can see where you are and you can see your hands and feet and stuff like that but everyone else can't. If you think about it for too long it makes your brain creak and start to smoulder. In a different game system there was an invisbility spell that worked as long as no one touched you. Once that happened you became visible again. This is how it works in real life. You are invisible until they touch you and then you can be seen. Then the spell takes hold again and you disappear, until someone touches you.... The problem is that you don't always know when the spell is on, until someone bumps into you and says "Oh, I'm sorry....."

What's all this leading to? Well, yesterday I was waiting in the school yard for Miss Em to come out of school - This is something that has helped me no end and I can do it every day without a panic attack now.
Long straws take a lot of effort
I was reading my Kindle and in the space of three minutes three different people bumped into me and said the usual "Oh, I didn't see you." It just so happens that they were all men, and none of them said sorry. They made it sound like it was my fault. I was a bit cross because they were rude so when Miss Em arrived with bags and water bottle I told her that I must be invisible and why I thought this. She agreed that it must be a spell but that it only made me invisible to people who weren't my family because she could see me when she came out of the door.
Today she came skipping across the playground and as she reached me she said, with the bell-like clarity of voice that only a seven year old can produce. "Were you invisible today Grandma? Or did the rain stop it working?"
I chuckled all the way home

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Why do I blog?

Sian asked this question and I realised it would take more than a comment on her blog to answer it. I started blogging as a way of getting out of the house without actually leaving. After my parents moved in with us, so that I could look after them, I wasn't able to go out without arranging for someone to be here. If I did I could guarantee that my mother would forward roll out of her chair - picking up something she thought she could see on the floor - or she would empty her ashtray into the waste paper bin. The problem with this being that usually there was a lighted cigarette in the ashtray and the waste paper bin was full of tissues. They rarely burst into flames, by the way, but oh boy do they smoulder and produce smoke!
Gradually they needed more care than I could give. I couldn't lift my mother from the armchair into the wheelchair and then onto the loo and when she fell out of bed, note the when not if, Dad would ring the panic bell and then I would have to untangle her from her nightie to make her decent so that my wonderful husband could lift her back into bed. This got to be too much even with respite and so they went to a nursing home.
My Dad hated it and kept telling me that he hated me for "throwing us away now we are no use", I was so exhausted that those months are a bit of a blur and then my Dad died. So there I was, not going out and blaming myself for his death. My Mum surprised us by not following him straight away. She hung on for three years and then passed away quietly in my arms.
This still left me with no one to talk to except my family and how do you rant about your father being horrible to the grandchildren that adored him? Well, you don't.
All this conspired to make me have panic attacks every time I got to the front door. Mr M was wonderful and has been my rock always there to hold me and bring me through the panic attacks encouraging me to go out with him and gradually increasing the distance between me and home until I was able to go out with other people sometimes.
Blogging became a way of making new friends, talking to new people and this has helped me to get to the point where - and I am very proud of this - yesterday evening I remembered that I had to pay the deposit on the hire of the hall for the family reunion.
I put on my coat and shoes, grabbed my purse and keys and went out the door and across the road to see a woman I had never met before. We chatted for a few minutes and as I crossed the road on my way back I realised what I had done. All on my own, just like a normal person. I texted Mr M who was in work and then had a celebratory cup of decaf.
That's why I blog.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Storytelling Sunday: Let's dress up!

The first Sunday in the month is Storytelling Sunday. This is brought to you through the lovely Sian over at FromHighintheSky. Why not go over there after you have read my contribution and take a look at all the other stories from around the world.

The story that sprang to mind when I read Sian's suggestion for this month isn't long, it has only one photograph but does, once again involve Mr and Mrs Bluefunnel.

It takes place in the mid 1970s in the village of Raglan - famous for being the last Castle to surrender to Cromwell's forces in the Civil War (This was the English Civil War in the 1640s not the American one a bit later)
Every year the village held 'Raglan Day' on August Bank Holiday Monday. Every organisation in the village had a part to play. There was a craft and horticulture show. The Junior Football Club ran the Five-a-side-football competition. The Girl Guides had a welsh cakes stall. The Boy Scouts had Mr Deakin and his win a fish stall where my three children won a fish each and I had the invisible one (I will explain later). Young Farmer Club did the skittles and the guess the weight of the piglet (boy was that noisy when people picked it up to try and guess) The cricket club organised the bar and various other events took place on the sports field during the day.
The main event was the carnival procession. The Carnival Queen was chosen from the village school and she sat on the back of a decorated lorry with her four attendants. There was always a celebrity or "important Person" to open the proceedings and give a little speech that no one could hear because the sound system never worked. The Celeb would then hand out the prizes to the entrants who had dressed up and processed through the village to the sports field.
Mr and Mrs Bluefunnel loved it and always thought of good costumes. Mr Bluefunnel went as the incredible hulk one year and they made me dress as wonderwoman. Thank goodness no pictures were taken (I am the picture taker you see so when I am dressing up the camera stays home.
This particular year - 1974 - Mrs Bluefunnel decided that she would make a large cardboard box look like a book and with her head sticking out the top and her legs at the bottom she would be a book worm. I wore a tailcoat with a dress shirt, black trousers and a flat cap and flippers on my feet, and had a large sheet of paper on my back proclaiming me to be a Penguin Paperback.
Mr Bluefunnel and my first husband both wore kilts and army jackets and became MacFish and MacChip. Macfish had a set of bagpipes that he had bought on a trip to Scotland but he couldn't get a peep out of them so he put a cassette tape player inside the bag and played the tape of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Band playing the introduction to Mull of Kintyre. This was great as long as he remembered to stop it and rewind before Paul McCartney started to sing.
My boys dressed up as Indian Braves. The only time we ever managed to persuade them to do this and I have a picture of them that was taken by a lady from the village and she gave me a copy.

At the end of the day MacFish and MacChip took the children home while Mrs Blue and I collected all the prizes they had won on the various stalls and all the other stuff that had been borrowed and squeezed it into her Fiat126. We visited the win a fish stall last and collected the little plastic bags with the goldfish in them. There were four bags. "There are four bags, John," I called to Mr Deakin. "Yes" he replied, "the fourth one has the invisible fish in it."
We nodded our understanding and I got into the passenger seat and Mrs Blue handed the bags to me. I held those four bags as though they were made of spun sugar. Mrs Blue drove carefully through the lanes and we arrived safely at the Mill not having spilled a drop of water.
"Look!" I called to Mr Bluefunnel as I climbed carefully out of the car "We have three fish and one invisible one."
He looked at the bags, looked at Mrs Bluefunnel, looked at me and then said
"I don't know who's the daftest, you for carrying a bag of water," he turned to Mrs Bluefunnel, "Or you for letting her!"
We looked at one another and only then did we realise how daft we both were.
As is always the case the goldfish soon died, except the invisible one who lives on even now.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

What's the best thing at a food festival?

What would you think is the best thing at a food festival?

Nope! you are all wrong

It's this


Of course you have to be seven to really appreciate bouncing on a trampoline instead of tasting goat cheese or falafel - or fudge, or chocolate brownies, or chutney in any on forty two flavours.
None of those tasters were as good as bouncing on the trampoline.

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Scottish Trip: part nine.

It is obvious from the entries in the diary that we were all getting a little tired of living in a tent with each other. Much as we loved one another it is still quite a feat to live in such close proximity and not feel a little stressed. The fact that there was nowhere to talk privately wasn't as bad for me as it was for Wilmott and Kelly and yet here we are 33 years later and we are still as close, if not even closer. I have always thought that Wilmott is the closest thing I have to a younger brother and we have been that close since he was born. He has a brother and sisters but he has always been the closest of my cousins. Not even his sister who was my age was as close - isn't that strange?

Day 18. Tuesday 24th July 1979. Cloudy, a few specks of rain with SUNSHINE occasionally.
Went into Edinburgh. Kelly doesn't like the silly streets because they change their names as you go along them.
Walked down Princes Street, then up to the castle. Had a good look at all the museums. Spent ages in there. Walked the long way around, passed the Scot Memorial, stopped to look at the park.
Back to the car, back to the site. Complicated game of tennis after a super tea of mushroom omlette, chips and curry sauce.

Day 19. Wednesday 25th July 1979. Sunny with heavy rain showers.
Kelly and Wilmott went into Edinburgh and got wet. Tattoo stayed in the tent and read. Had fish cakes, peas and potatoes for tea then played a game of non-stop cricket. This gradually involved everyone around us including a whole German Scout Troop who slowly took us over.
Hotlips lost his cool when Radar disobeyed his orders to CATCH THE BALL!
When Kelly tried to explain that Radar was 50 yards from where the ball landed, Hotlips looked scornful and said
"He could have RUN!"
Note from technical-but-not-back-at-work Wilmott: "I sell Gabelstapler"*
Further note from Deutcher Wilmott: "Meines Auto ist ein combi!"
* Gabelstapler = Forklift truck

Day 20. Thursday 26th July 1979. No weather report because we decided to pack up and go home. Sent a telepathic message to Raglan saying "Mum, get the dinner on."
When we arrived home dinner was ready because Dad had said when he got up "They'll be back today missus, get the dinner on."
Pretty good eh?

And that was the end of the Scottish trip. It was at such an important time for my children. There father had left and they all secretly blamed themselves because they weren't "good". Their lives had become a great deal more stable but they still didn't really believe what was happening so having the undivided attention of three adults and being able to let off steam and to laugh and cry as they wanted to began the healing and maturing process. For me it was three weeks away from the pressure of my Dad's rules and for my cousins it was an experience that put them off children for life (I think this is a joke)
My children still talk about things that happened - some of them burned into the memory and not mentioned in the journal. For example while in Scourie Radar went to have a shower and a few minutes later Kelly came rushing back from the loo telling us to "Quick, come and listen!"
We all scurried across the campsite and stood outside the men's showers where we listened to Radar singing
"New Persil automatic washes whiter...." The influence of television eh? I have to say that he knew all the words to the whole advert.
I do hope you have enjoyed reading about our adventures. perhaps I'll put another holiday journal on here at another time.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

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

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

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

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