Sunday, May 29, 2005


Had a lovely wander around Ashbourne today, got there about 9.30a.m. and had a good look at the antique shops and the book shop and the super second hand book stall on the market, didn’t see anything we wanted to purchase but really enjoyed looking. Had a cup of coffee in the café bar near the bridge and then drove up to the garden centre before heading home via what we call the Roman road which actually runs from the outskirts of Derby to Caverswall, Blythe Bridge and into Stoke, we picked it up at Cubley and came through Rocester and past the JCB factory where people walk and enjoy the lakes around the factory, there are some interesting water birds and many folks stop and park up and get an ice cream from the van and just sit and watch the fountain in the middle of the lake.

Got backhome and mowed the lawns, they always look so much better after a cut. The new bird bath looks wonderful bathed in sunlight.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Mid Year Resolution

I feel I have been rather neglectful of this blog recently, finding it hard, not to find the time to write, but to actually know what to say. I have therefore made a resolution that I must write something, even if it is no more than two lines every day to get myself into the swing of things again. I don’t know why I’m particularly lacking in inspiration, June is nearly here, the sun is shining, the birds are singing and yet for some reason things still seem grey. I can’t concentrate for very long on reading anymore and my favourite TV programmes seem so shallow and tedious. I have written quite a lot today though. I have started a story about juggling with one’s priorities in life and completed two exercises from the previous two weeks writing course homework a dialogue piece about an argument or misunderstanding and one of two character descriptions. So I have sort of been productive.

I’ll be back tomorrow.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Glasses and Bird Baths

Friday was the All Write meeting at Hanley Library. I really enjoy these meetings and there is a nice lively crowd of people who attend. I like listening to them read out their work and today one of them had brought along a trial piece of dialogue and had produced four copies so that others could join in and read the parts, this certainly livened things up and was quite entertaining. I’m constantly surprised at how good people are and sometimes feel quite inadequate; their ideas for stories and poems are excellent.

On the bus home a young woman came to sit next to me, I’d seen her at the bus stop in her afghan coat and flowery head scarf, tied in a knot at the back, clutching a rather flamboyant wine glass in one hand and a huge bag in the other. I watched, fascinated as she managed to clutch the wine glass and her MP3 player in one hand whilst she struggled to break bits off a Toblerone bar with the other. She had more than one ring on every digit and more than one ring in both her ears and her nose. She saw me looking at her glass and started to explain to me how she had decorated it with suns and moons and then described the other pieces she had decorated. We had a nice conversation which whiled away the journey time on the rather overcrowded bus.

Saturday we wandered around Bakewell, popping in and out of the lovely little shops, arcades and interesting alley ways, had coffee in the café over the farmer’s market shop and walked by the river. Here we saw swans, ducks and geese with their young and a pair of coots who had decided to nest on a little ‘island’ close to the bridge and the seats where everyone gathers to eat their fish and chips or their ice creams (depending on the weather – yesterday there was a mixture of both!) We then ventured to the Chatsworth Garden Centre for lunch and here we picked up a great bird bath for only £16.99. We’d wanted one for ages to replace the one that was frost shattered last year and now we have it. Only, of course, today we have had to spruce up the garden again so that the bird bath looks good in its new home.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Where, What and Why?

During this week, in the potteries town* which is the nearest to where I live there have been two major incidents, a murder and a fire on one of the main shopping streets. This fire gutted an already empty and semi-derelict building and made it unsafe so major parts of the town had to be sealed off whilst building experts secured it. The murder we know little about yet but a young mother of two was found in an alleyway almost opposite the Gladstone Museum at two in the afternoon, in the local paper there was a picture of her on CCTV just over an hour before she was found dead. A man was arrested almost immediately and charged a day or so after, and thank goodness for that but it does make you feel very uneasy. All you can say is why?

Yesterday, to escape the confines of the city we ventured out to our favourite garden.** It is set in beautiful countryside on the Staffordshire/Cheshire/Shropshire border. Constructed in an old quarry, now full of the most beautiful rhododendrons and azaleas in every colour imaginable, it is so pleasing on the eye. Each year when we visit we find something new has been added, another corner has reached maturity and more and more people have been delighted by their visit, including us.

Well, our tadpoles have developed legs. About a month ago we took some tadpoles from the garden pond and put then in a bowl in doors to save them from becoming newt food. They have prospered so well and are now fat and healthy and ready to be returned to the garden. Not to the main pond but to a small sunken container that has been set up a little away from it. Last night the container was filled with pond water and weed ready to receive them. Today they will go to their new home and hopefully soon we will have some little frogs.

* The city of Stoke on Trent is made up of six towns, not five*** being from north to south Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton.
** It is The Dorothy Clive Garden
*** Local author Arnold Bennett, left out Fenton when he wrote Anna of the Five Towns.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Le Marché

On Friday I was wandering, in the sunshine, through the market. The stalls were bright, cheerful and welcoming with flags and balloons dancing in the breeze. The stall holders were calling to each other and to the passers by. I hovered around one or two stalls; the smell of the olives, so many different varieties, drew me in and then I was hooked. I dallied around the cheese counter, eyed up the crusty fresh bread, the brioche and the croissants and then the intricately plaited bunches of garlic which nestled at the side of the rich red strawberries and luscious looking asparagus. I moved on to the Breton biscuits; they had those tasty butter ones and the gorgeous prune tart. Mmm. The crepe stand was doing excellent business, a crepe and a coffee was just the thing for lunch. I sat at the table watching people drifting from stall to stall. The sun was warm the food was tasty and the most wonderful thing was the smell of the cut lavender on the stall opposite – it was warm, heady and sensual. I drifted away into a gentle reverie “Bonjour Madam” said the man serving the crepes, “c’est tout?” enquired the woman on the biscuit stall as she weighed out biscuits for her customers.

Then, all of a sudden I was jolted out of my dream. “Ey-up duck, where’s tha bin?”
“Up Marks, shug, ar’t catchin’t bus home?”.

Oh no, drat, I wasn’t in Brittany at all, but on Piccadilly, Hanley. Still, it was nice while it lasted.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Past Times

So we have another election looming. The feeling of security goes out of the window and in comes that uneasy feeling in the pit of the stomach that things may get worse.* I mutter to myself every day, “Oh, please don’t let MH get to be PM.” I cringe every time I see him on television because he brings back memories of those awful, fearful Thatcher years and will be forever associated with her in my memory. I could just about tolerate a Conservative victory, if I really had to, but, please God, not with him at the helm. I know I will support Labour, I always do, even though I was very upset with TB when he took us into the war against the wishes of the UN and the rest of Europe and a lot of us Brits too. At that time I was really ashamed of and aghast at what we had done, but I can’t, in all honesty vote for any other party. I will vote for the party and all it has stood for in the past; not for its present leader because he probably won't be PM for the whole five years if they get in. It would be against my very being to step away from my beliefs, no matter how archaic others may think they are, it would seem like letting down my ancestors who for generations until the last two, have worked down the mines. My great grandfather was killed in an awful pit cage accident, my grandfather died from pneumoconiosis or “miners lung”. Generations before them struggled for survival in poor conditions and for low wages. My 5 x great grandfather was a prospector who traveled, in the 1780s, from the Welsh Borders and the Forest of Dean into Derbyshire with a gang of men and they would open up coal seams and try to get local business men interested. No doubt they would all have been issued with settlement orders naming the parish of their birth. What a precarious life. On the other side my great - great grandfather was a tailor who came down into England from Fife, Scotland, again I assume looking for work and again, I would imagine settlement orders were an issue.

* I don’t want to go back to those days of worry, when either one or the other of us was unemployed because of redundancy,** when we had to move from the area we had grown up in, getting further away from our families. Luckily, unlike my ancestors, we didn’t need settlement orders in case we became a burden on the parish we moved to.
** by sheer luck we were never unemployed at the same time so we always worked on the principle of one wage for two when taking up rental agreements or seeking mortgages – just in case it should ever happen again.