Sunday, December 24, 2006
I have in a box on top of the wardrobe, along with three ancient teddy bears, a little artificial Christmas tree, green branches with red berries set on a little red wooden block. My mother bought this for my first Christmas, of course I don’t remember that as I would have been only four months old. My first real Christmas memory is standing on a street corner, in Leicester where I was born, clutching a toy which I had been asked to donate to another child whose family couldn’t afford presents or perhaps it was going to a child in an orphanage – I just remember a large vehicle stopping and a man taking the toy – I can’t remember what toy it was. Not that we were a well off family, far from it, but my father had a job with the city council as a patisserie chef cooking for Lord Mayor’s functions and city events so at least we had a regular income.
Cut to Shirebrook in Derbyshire and my grandma’s house. I wake up, upside down in a small bed on the floor of grandma’s bedroom. I am hot, sweating, bright pink and the skin is peeling from my hands, grandma is trying to untangle me from the twisted sheets and cool me down with a damp flannel. I have Scarlet Fever. In the room next door my mother lies ill with an allergic reaction to sedatives administered by the doctor. Grandma, widowed only the year before, now has to cope with a newly widowed daughter and a granddaughter who had lost her father. I think I’ll forget this Christmas.
On to the village of Scarcliffe in Derbyshire. Mum has married again and we have left the city behind and I’m now attending a small village school where there are only 35 pupils. I am to be an angel in the school nativity play and the day of the dress rehearsal dawns. It is a very cold morning so Mum dresses me in warm clothing including the regulation vest and liberty bodice over which are my school blouse and pinafore dress topped off with a thick, home knitted, doubled breasted, cardigan. The teacher places a white sheet with a hole for my neck over these clothes and then adds a halo and some huge paper wings. I am then lifted on to the top of the stable. The rehearsal goes on and on, the headmistress makes us sing the same carol over and over, I feel hot and slightly strange and very hungry. The next thing I remember is coming round and finding myself laid out on a dining table in the school hall, teachers flapping round me. Apparently I fainted, fell off the top of the stable and scattered the shepherds and their flock across the stage – no one was physically hurt – just my pride. Thank goodness it was only the dress rehearsal and not the actual performance.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
I was up at 4a.m. tending to a sick cat so feeling slightly strange this morning. I have so much to do and so little time to do it in but still I'm messing around on here - borrowed this from Sissy's blog - hope she doesn't mind - wish I could unfurl some angelic wings and fly down to the bank to get some cash then on to the surgery to collect my prescription then to the library to take my books back, I could be home in an instant to sort out the laundry and tackle the ironing - but I suppose my feet will have to work hard instead
|You Are an Angel|
A truly giving soul, you understand the spirit of Christmas.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
When we had finished our visit we drove up to Chesterfield and had lunch with my sister and brother-in-law, swapping cards and presents and then set out to pick up my niece and her children and it was off to the family party where we met up with my other niece and her family and many members of my brother-in-law's family whom I hadn't seen for ages. The children were entertained by a circus act who showed them how to juggle, spin plates and ride a uni-cycle amongst other things and then Father Christmas arrived and all the children received a present and a cracker before quiet descended as supper was served and little mouths were silenced as food was consumed. Their little faces shone with happiness and delight.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Yesterday I wrote out all my Christmas Cards and typed up all my letters and got them ready to post, that's one thing I can tick off my ever growing list. Today I wandered down to the post office and posted them. On the way back I chose a rather nice holly wreath to put on Mum and Dad's grave when we go over to Scarcliffe on Saturday and then on to Chesterfield for a family get-together and present swapping. Still on the list are a few last bits for presents to take with us.
When I got home I made some jars of Christmas Chutney from the recipe on Nigella's Christmas Kitchen show last week. I'm definitely going to make the Mulled Cider on Christmas Eve. How does she manage to make food look so wonderful and sensual? Although I hugely enjoyed the glamour that is Nigella my favourite TV programme this week just has to be 'Housewife, 49' written by and starring Victoria Wood. The acting was superb and the story of Nella Last - not so ordinary housewife - had me laughing and crying at the same time. Victoria Wood has excelled herself with this one.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Next morning we set out on foot from the hotel on Clifton road and walked into the city. Having seen Paul safely into his meeting I set out to start the day I’d planned out in my head many times. The Minster was first on my list but I fell at the first hurdle because it was closed for a graduation ceremony. On to my next stop the Cat Gallery on Stonegate where I had a wonderful time choosing one or two items and a nice chat with the lady on duty before moving on to my next adventure. As the Minster had been closed I popped down to see if Barley Hall was open, I’d been before a number of years ago but thought that if it was open it would replace the Minster for the morning’s activity but alas it too was closed.
I decided to look in one or two shops around the Stonegate/Shambles area and then wandered down towards Betty’s Tea Shop which always looks so elegant from the outside but I decided to have coffee in Border’s bookshop instead as I can’t resist the combination of books and coffee.
Entrance to The Shambles
My next port of call was Clifford’s Tower as a) I wanted to use my new English Heritage card and b) to take some photos from the top. I climbed the steps to the kiosk and flashed my card at the girl on duty in the kiosk – ‘Are you going in on your own?” she enquired “Yes.” I replied – it was only afterwards that I wondered why she asked that question. Is it strange for people to go in alone? I clambered up the steps to the top and took photos of the views from all sides. Looking across at the Minster’s towers, the York wheel and the ice rink that was being constructed in front of the courthouse and the Castle Museum.
Roofscape showing the York Wheel
Then I went across to the Castle Museum where I had a warm bowl of soup before setting off to look at the exhibits. All the wonderful street scenes like Kirkgate and Half Moon Court I remember from previous visits were still there – enlivened by sights and sounds and animators dressed in period. The policeman made me jump as he stepped out in front of me. About two hours later I returned to the café for a pot of tea and a piece of carrot cake.
Then it was time to meet Paul from his meeting at the Hilton and we set off to wander around the now dark streets all lit with Christmas lights.
Christmas Tree in Fountain Square
After a wonderful evening meal at Bella Italia on Petergate we walked back up Bootham and Clifton road to our hotel.
The next morning after a wonderful breakfast we set off to drive home via Tadcaster, Otley (where we had morning coffee) and Ilkley. Then down to Halifax, Huddersfield and Holmfirth where we stopped for a late lunch/afternoon tea and then down to Glossop, Buxton, Leek and home.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Me ….. I recognise this song
P……. does sound familiar.......
Me….. it’s that hot dogs thing.....
P….... oh, yes hot dogs, chocolate logs
Me……chocolate logs? It’s not Christmas yet – jumping frogs?
P……. it’s that Albu whatsit song....
Me …. Albuquerque...
P…….How do you remember these things?
Me….Prefab Sprout – they sang it.
P……Oh. Well at least it isn’t a Dexys Midnight Runners situation
Me… God, I know – it took us three days to remember their name – I kept thinking
it’s something like the Bow Street Runners.
P… and it wasn’t even them we were talking about at the time.
Me… No, it was all because I was telling you I’d once seen Geno Washington and the
Ram Jam Band's van with their name on the side. More coffee?
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
On Monday we popped over to the retail park at Trentham Gardens where all is tastefully lit for Christmas including a German Christmas Market and piped festive music competing with the sounds of Germany from the purpose built bierkeller - on the way home we saw the first house decorated for Christmas. Now this is all very well, I love Christmas but not on the 13th November - could it all start on 1st December please? This early start ensures that by the time Christmas actually does arrive - it's lost it's magic and that is a real shame.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Outside Outside ............... Inside Outside
The Round Building
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
I decided this year not to give sweets so I got a couple of punnets of baby clementines from the supermarket, thinking that their colour was rather festive. They seemed to be acceptable, especially to the parents hovering anxiously a few yards down the drive.
My next job is to go and find the cats and coax them out of their hiding places now all the knocking on the front door has ceased and things, well apart from the odd firework hissing and banging in the backgound, are back to normal.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Why are some people so vicious and nasty? Why do they have this antagonism and arrogance towards other people whom they feel are in their way, or who are vulnerable? What happened to patience, tolerance and understanding? If you have any amount of intelligence you know when something is an accident or when it is deliberate. I can only guess that some people react that way towards older people because they are afraid of getting old themselves. As indeed, that man will be old one day and so will the child in the buggy. I just hope no one treats either of them the way he treated my neighbour’s mother.
* I think if I’d got a child in a buggy, I’d be more careful around swinging doors and I certainly wouldn’t spend time yelling after someone, I’d be more concerned that my child wasn’t hurt in any way.
Friday, October 20, 2006
On Wednesday a very dear friend phoned to say that his mother had died that morning, just woken up, told her husband she felt ill and died before the ambulance arrived. She was a lovely lady, we’d met her a few times, even, some years ago, had a holiday in her flat on the south coast, and now she’s gone.
Last night, another friend telephoned to tell me she has been diagnosed with macular degenerative disease of the eye; which probably means she will eventually lose her sight. She’s elderly and lives alone and her main comforts apart from music are reading, writing loads of letters and watching TV. How on earth will she cope?
Earlier this year another friend rang to say she had been diagnosed with the early stages of breast cancer, she has now undergone treatment and all is well, as somehow deep down inside, I knew they would be, but the worry for her was always there.
I think these things, which wonderfully brave people have to cope with every day make you feel your own fragility and make you slightly uneasy for your own future. As you get older you start to worry about these things. Today I feel really old.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I’m up by 7.30a.m. As I draw the bedroom curtains I can’t see down to the bottom of the street for the damp & dismal fog. My first task is to rush downstairs to feed the cats and open up the cat flap. Breakfast is eaten whilst listening to and half watching the BBC news programme, then I rush around the house tidying up, washing breakfast pots and getting ready to go out. I set out about 9.30a.m.to walk down to the Post Office. I always try and walk rather than catching the bus as it is my way of getting exercise. I have to post a letter to my friend in Lincolnshire and to buy some more stamps. Most of my friends have the internet and we communicate by e-mail, except for birthdays and Christmas when traditional cards are sent through the post. The fog has lifted a little but as I walk through the recreation ground I pass a man walking his dog; he smiles ruefully at me and declares ‘Rum weather’. I nod my head and smile in agreement. The topic of conversation in the queue at the post office counter is, of course, the weather. Why are we never happy unless we are complaining about the weather? Still, it gets us all talking to each other, I suppose.
Next stop is my local supermarket for a little food shopping. I have to use the cash machine first and of course, there is another queue, no talk of the weather here though, just anxious hurried faces willing people to press the buttons a bit more quickly than they are doing. I finally get my money, after the machine has asked me various questions about my requirements. No I don’t need to ‘top-up’ my mobile phone today, thank you. I grab a trolley and set off towards the aisles where I know I can quickly pick up what I want, but no, I can’t, I have to go off on a hunt for lettuce and tomatoes because they have been moved – again. I never did find the coleslaw.
Back home I put away my shopping, drink coffee, read the newspaper headlines and then pop next door to see if my neighbours are ok – they recently had to have one of their cats put to sleep and are still upset about it. This afternoon I have various tasks to do on the computer. I’m in the middle of proof reading a booklet I’m doing for a friend but I’m distracted by an e-mail from a distant relative I have been in touch with over our family history - we share great grandparents. He found me through my web site and we have done quite a lot of detective work to find out where our great grandmother was buried, a story of accidents, widowhood, re-marriage and family disapproval has emerged. It’s too long and personal a story for here but it’s so good to have solved a mystery. Anyway, he has sent me a couple of photographs of the house our ancestors lived in, so, of course I have to thank him and download them and then print them. I think the word I’m searching for is procrastination.
The worker will soon return from his teaching job in a college so I start to think about an evening meal. Oatcakes filled with cheese, tomatoes and mushrooms with a side salad and mango chopped into mango yoghurt, not very interesting but the best I can do for now. I also manage to bake an apricot madeira cake, ready for tomorrow. Cats are fed again and then we eat and chat, watch the news and generally mull over the days events before the washing up is done, the curtains are drawn against the darkening sky and he disappears upstairs to the study with marking and lesson planning and I sit with the cats watching the television before deciding I'd much rather read and listen to some music.
Monday, October 16, 2006
We then wandered over the bridge and down to the Imperial War Museum North. Here again I found myself gazing upwards at the actual structure of the building as I wandered around the exhibitions. There is so much to see here that we were ages. P was particularly fascinated with the suspended Harrier jump jet and the T34 Russian tank. We decided to have lunch in the museum but after finding the café and deciding it was just too noisy we left but not before we climbed up the 166 steps to the viewing platform where we could see the Lowry in its full glory across the canal and in the distance the Old Trafford football ground. We found lunch in the Lowry shopping centre and then wandered back along the quayside paths to the metrolink, where there were lots of football supporters from both teams making their way up to Old Trafford. In no time at all we were headed back towards Altrincham where we picked up the car and drove home.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Monday, September 25, 2006
I have great attachments to the book having studied it at school for GCE (as they were then) and because after that my education went down the unconventional route of A levels at night school and a degree with the Open University I found myself studying the book three times. So you might say that I know the work inside out, back to front and upside down.
I did find that they ‘hurried’ the early childhood stages along just a little too quickly and anyone not knowing the story could have been slightly confused, especially the Helen Burns friendship and her influence on Jane, but apart from that it was ravishing. Not having to concentrate on the plot I found myself gazing in awe at the familiar scenery and settings in the background. Places I have been familiar with for most of my life. Bolsover Castle, the setting for Lowood School, was just 3 miles from the village I lived in for many years. Ilam Church is just half an hour away by car from where we live now, and what can you say about Haddon Hall, the setting for Thornfield? I have happy memories of the twice I have visited it and we often pass it by on our way to Rowsley to buy flour at the mill. I feel another visit coming on but I guess it may have to be next season.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
When she first appeared in my neighbours' garden she would hide under the hedge and hiss and spit at anything that moved - hence her name - including my neighbours' cats and dogs, our cats, other people’s cats and the foxes that visit at dusk. Each evening they left food out for her until she eventually started to come to ask for it and then, when last winter was at its coldest she started to go into the house; after a while, she stayed.
Earlier this year they noticed that she had something wrong with her eye. Several trips were made to the vet but it gradually got worse and the swelling bigger. In early summer she had and operation to remove the growth from her eye which entailed removing the eye as well. Prognosis was fair but the growth had been malignant and the vet couldn’t tell whether or not the tumour had spread.
Spit was fine all summer and she seemed to be recovering well until this weekend when she began to act strangely and hide in unusual places and start back from food; although she wanted to eat and drink she couldn’t. My neighbours began to fear the worst, that the tumour had spread; but yesterday after a visit to the vet all seemed to be revealed. Apparently she has an infection in her throat and gums and needs teeth removing. Whilst she has this treatment they will also check the roof of her mouth and take blood tests but it seems, thank goodness, that little Spit will live to fight another day.
Monday, September 11, 2006
For my birthday I had flowers, perfume, a book '1599 - A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare' by James Shapiro, a CD - American Idiot by Green Day and a key cabinet in the shape of a three story house which is the exact same colour as the kitchen walls and looks as if it has always been there. I don't know what this assortment of items says about either me or my friends and family - but I'm enjoying them all.
Just had a long power cut which left washing sloshing about in rather grey soapy water in the machine for ages now have to go to the vets with my next door neighbour - and her cat, Spit - (long story), I'm very afraid it may be bad news, so I think she needs some support. I need to go and cuddle my cats first.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
As we wandered back along Nefyn beach towards the strange huts on stilts and the pale yellow painted ice cream parlour we could only surmise how the poor mole had ended up there. A landslide of earth from the cliff top perhaps? If so, how did it survive such a fall? How long had it been there? Would it survive? What did it eat? Was it the only one? Who knows? Some people may add who cares? Strangely, somehow I do care.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
It does have one redeeming feature though. At this time of year the seed pods are full of seeds and if you so much as touch one they burst forth with such power as to make you jump even though you expect the force of it. Popping these seed pods gives even more enjoyment than popping bubble wrap.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Many words and phrases spring to mind which I won’t use here, but suffice to say what an incredibly, rude, thoughtless, selfish and stupid person I thought he was.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
On our way back we stopped off at Bristol. Our second floor room at the Holiday Express was overwhelmingly hot and felt oppressive after being able to sit out late at night at the cottage. We spent a whole day in the centre where there was a harbour festival taking place. Brunel's SS Great Britain took a whole morning to explore, then we made for the Museums and the cathedral. Next morning before leaving for home we walked around Clifton Village and over Brunel's suspension bridge.
So many happy memories. I'm sure there will be photos later.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
The thermometer on the car hit 32 degrees yesterday as we drove back from Alderley Edge so last night we sat in the garden until very late and watched the bats flitting around the trees, the cats were mooching around the garden until late too. When I came downstairs at just after 3a.m. one of them was still out. I just couldn't sleep in the heat so tossed and turned for another couple of hours and then got up just in time to catch one of the cats who had a frog cornered on the patio. P managed to catch the frog and put in on a lily leaf in the pond, it was shocked but soon shot off to safety.
Here are a few pics taken around the garden.