Monday, 11 December 2017

Christmas memories 8. Infant school Christmas party

None of us can truly remember our childish wonder at Christmas but  we can look back through adult eyes with enormous gratitude for the little things which grown-ups did to give us wonderful memories.

For me the infant school party was truly magical.  We each took in a cake or something similar which was whisked away from us as soon as we arrived at school in the morning.  The morning of the school party was a time of barely controlled excitement.  Each classroom had been decorated using the craft creations of the children.  One year we made snowflakes to stick on the window, another year was cotton wool snowmen and yet another a host of angels.  Crepe paper streamers would be high on the ceiling in a way which I am told would make any fire officer these days need more than an angel to soothe him.  Each classroom had a tree usually hung with toilet roll lanterns and there would be a huge banner wishing everyone Merry Christmas.

Lunch was usually a little early and then we were shooed out into the playground so that teachers, school staff and a bevy of parents could set to work.  The dinner ladies must have had a hard time with us that day!

Eventually we were allowed back into school for The Party.  Games took place in our classrooms and always included Pass the Parcel, Musical Statues and whatever else the teacher could think of.

And finally, the party tea.  This was always laid out on long tables in the dining room by the kitchen staff and those wonderful parents.  It was less than two hours since lunch but I don't remember being even slightly inhibited when it came to eating my share.  Sandwiches, jelly, cakes went down in rapid succession.

At last there would be a lull in the noise and then there would be a huge BANG!  Santa and his sleigh had arrived on the school roof!  All eyes went up to the high windows around the hall to watch Santa striding along the roof of the adjacent corridor on his way down to an ecstatic band of children.

Soon he came into the hall carrying a huge sack.  Had we been good?  Of course, Santa, we were always good.  He asked his question of the whole school as he arrived and then of each class before he handed out presents.  He checked with the teachers that we had indeed been good and we looked anxiously at Miss Higgins and Miss Gulliver as they gave their reports.

All too soon, Santa left and we had a final story before we too were sent home to tell our parents what a wonderful time we had had.

All this took place early in the final week of term.  It had to be so that there would be time to eat the rest of the huge cakes our mums had sent for the party. 

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Christmas memories 7. Singing for my supper

Throughout my grammar school career I always sang in the school choir,  Fortunately enthusiasm was enough qualification, and joy in singing was considered to be more important than innate ability.  There were of course a few star singers but the rest of us were there to provide volume rather than quality.

The choir formed almost as term began in September with weekly rehearsals but by early December the rehearsals were several times a week as the music master tore out his already thinning hair trying to get a decent sound out of his motley crew.   My recollection was that by the time the carol service came along we sounded more than OK.  Best white blouses, neatly tied school ties, and perfectly pressed skirts were required for girls and boys wore their school blazers as well.  (And trousers not skirts before you ask.)  We had to rehearse getting in and out of position, how to sit when we were not performing and indeed how to stand up and sit down together.  I wonder if schoolchildren today would consent to being so regimented.

The carol service was always done three times: twice for parents and other guests and once as the final assembly on the last day of term for the whole school so it marked being let off the leash for Christmas.  

There were perks to being in the choir.  We would go out en masse (about sixty of us) and go carol singing on  few streets around the school which could be great fun and I know it was appreciated by the local residents.  We would collect cash for a local children's home but one or two householders would have mince pies or gingerbread ready for us as well.

The best perk however, was the party at the headmaster's house.  "Sir" was normally quite a distant figure but once a year he would invite the choir to his home.  We would sing for his family and neighbours, his wife would provide a nice supper, then he would provide a shuttle service in his camper van to take us back into town.  A wonderful man.  

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Do you remember my pet unicorn?

Some weeks ago I told you about my pet unicorn whom I adopted at the November meeting of the WI.  

He is a unicorn of style and I always knew that he would be a bit of a show-off.  Right from the start he made it clear that he wouldn't be content living with me in a simple bungalow.  He needed a public arena in which to prance around.

And now he has found just the place.  He's settled himself on a Christmas tree in a festival at Caistor Parish Church.  As is fitting, he has flashing lights and is surrounded by hearts sent by fans to tell him how wonderful he is, and pots of tea made by his admirers.

Pity he's only made of wood.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Growing up is optional

Growing old is, sadly, inevitable but growing up is entirely optional and Christmas is a good time for anyone's inner child to come out to play.  

Last night was our Women's Institute Christmas Dinner and each of us was asked to take a gift for the Secret Santa.  

Imagine our amazement when Santa and an elf arrived to distribute the presents.

And imagine our even greater surprise when, despite the beard, Santa was revealed to be female.

I wonder what Santa will be when/if she grows up?

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Christmas Memories 6. Meal planning

Back in the fifties Christmas Day was a day of feasting to be remembered all year.  Everything was home made and it had to be well planned. These were the days before domestic freezers.  

The first things which were made each year were the chutneys and pickles.  We had a large garden and Daddy grew a lot of the vegetables to be used, for example cauliflower, onions and beans for the piccalilli.  Mummy would make quite a range of pickles - plum and apple chutney, pickled onions, tomato chutney, pickled red cabbage among others - and the first jars would be opened around Christmas time although enough would have been made to last the year around.  Spices, sugar and vinegar would need to be bought and this was a way of spreading the cost of Christmas.

Next would be the mincemeat.  Mother would mix the dried fruit, apples, spices and suet along with a healthy glug of brandy well in advance of Christmas so it had plenty of time to mature.  She had a good cold store in the garage (naturally cold, not refrigerated) and with the mincemeat, pickles and jam it would be filling up nicely.

The Christmas cake too had to be made in good time so that it could "have a drink".  She would marzipan it herself and decorate it with royal icing.  One year she forgot to put glycerine in the icing and the results were spectacularly hard.

But the best bit of food preparation was Christmas puddings.  She used to make quite a few as gifts but the big one for our own table was very special.  The fruit would be well soaked in brandy a day before the puddings were made and on pudding day she would mix all the ingredients and everyone had to stir it and make a wish.  Before our own pud went into the steamer she would put silver thrupenny bits in it,   These were precious coins which she would buy back from the lucky finders on Christmas Day. 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Christmas memories 5. Making presents

No child was ever allowed to think that the Christmas present thing was just about getting: it was about giving too.  

I had a lovely Grandad.  He was quite authoritarian and his word was law but he loved his grandchildren and he was dearly loved by us.  In early December Grandad always gave each of us half a crown (2/6) worth 12.5 pence in today's money so that, with a few pence saved from pocket money, we could buy our parents a small gift.  I can't remember anything I bought but I do remember the excitement of that special visit to Woolworth's.  

My suspicion is that the presents we made at school were much more appreciated.  One amazing construction I remember was a vase made out of a jam jar.  The jar was covered with many layers of small pieces of newspaper then painted and varnished.  I made four bumps on mine and those bumps became four children dancing around the pot.  

My first ever school make for my Mother was a simple green felt purse. She used to keep it in her evening bag and whenever she went out she would put a few coins for the cloakroom in that purse and I was always so proud that I had made it.  It was only after she died that I discovered that not just coins had gone out in that purse.  For over fifty years she had kept in it the note that a five year old me had written,  "I love you Mummy."

Yesterday was the anniversary of her death, today is the anniversary of my Father's death.  I'll extend that note just a little.  I love you Mummy and Daddy.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Christmas memories 4. Letter to Santa

Once December arrived I was allowed to send a letter to Santa.  Best handwriting was called for as were exquisite manners.

Santa made only one visit a year so the present requested had to be carefully considered.  It was always "the present" never "the presents" and I think we were guided by our parents as to what Santa would consider to be a reasonable request.  I was a child of the fifties: more consumer goods were becoming available than there had been in the immediate post-war years but money was a lot tighter than today

The earliest present that I remember asking for was for a till and some pretend money so I could play shops.  I remember promising Santa that I would be very careful with my sums.  I have a feeling Mummy may have suggested that was a good promise to make.  

It may have been that Daddy had some input another year when I asked for a train set. It was a Hornby clockwork set and came with one engine,a tender and two carriages with a simple oval track.  Over the next few years I acquired more engines, rolling stock and track and I think Daddy continued to enjoy it.

After the letter was written it was looked over by Mummy "to check my spelling" before the grand ceremony of sending it up the chimney.  I don't suppose many children can do that today.

Santa always left a reply to my letter when he brought the loot.  But I'll tell you about that another day.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Christmas Memories 3 The Advent Crown

Yesterday in church it fell to me to light the first candle on the Advent Crown and my mind went back to the first time I ever saw an Advent Crown,

Like many British children of my generation I was an avid fan of Blue Peter.  For non-Brits, Blue Peter is a magazine style programme and is the longest running children's TV programme in the world.  Its style has changed greatly over the years and it is most famous for its "makes".  Back in the day these were usually made of plastic bottles, cereal boxes and sticky back plastic but I suspect they may be a little more sophisticated these days.

Oh how I longed to be allowed to find four wire coat-hangers, four candles, a few baubles and some tinsel to make my own advent crown!  It was never to be.  I had to enjoy that bit of Advent/Christmas vicariously by watching John Noakes (and I think he was the best BP presenter EVER) as he twisted and shaped those hangers, struggled with greenery and tried in vain to get the candles to stand up straight.  I wanted to be there in the studio, helping.  I would show him! 

However, that's where the great catchphrase of Blue Peter came in, "Here's one I made earlier" as I doubt if the one we saw being made would have stood up to being hung and the candles lit.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Christmas Memories 2. The School Play

By early December rehearsals for the school play would be in full swing.  I can't remember them all but there are a few highlights in the memory box.

At my first Christmas at Priory Lane Infant School I had a starring role in my class's performance at the school concert.  As many of my classmates were still only four even though I had achieved the dignity of five,  we didn't do a play, we just sang, "I had a little nut tree" and I was the child chosen to carry the golden pear and skip around the outside of the circle whilst the whole class sang.  

A couple of years later we were all old hands at school plays and I was in some sort of crowd milling around in Bethlehem.  That was until my classmate Philip proved incapable of learning his lines as the inn-keeper so I got the stunning words, "We haven't got any room."  Really I wanted to be Mary.

Junior School saw me in the seven to eight year olds play as Princess April.  I had two qualifications for that - very long fair hair and I could remember my words of which there were a lot.

In my final year at Junior School one of the teachers had been on a course on puppetry so we all made puppets for a performance of "The Pied Piper of Hamelin".  We performed using a tape recording of the poem so there was no need to learn lines by heart and my particular skill was unneeded.  Long blond hair was irrelevant.  I ended my school drama career ignominiously as the controller of a rat.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Christmas memories 1, Santa arrives

There was always a very exciting Saturday in late November or early December when I was a little girl.  That was the day Santa arrived in town.

I was brought up in Scunthorpe and the big retailer in our town was Scunthorpe Co-operative Society.  You could get anything from the Co-op.  My school uniform, and shoes, Mother's knitting wool and most of our kitchen equipment was from one of their stores.  The High Street had several Co-op shops including a pharmacy, a jeweller and a department store.  My sister's first "Saturday" job was selling ties in that department store.

I digress.  Back to Father Christmas.

Santa had his grotto in the Co-op departmental store but he had to arrive with ceremony so on the first Saturday in December a very special passenger arrived at Scunthorpe railway station.  He then had to travel to the shop in style but style in Scunny came on a co-op lorry.  It was always decorated and I can remember the day that Santa arrived in a space ship (see photo) but in other years he arrived in a train, an outsized cracker or even on a sleigh, always based on a Co-op lorry.

Every child in the town would be taken to see his arrival and he would be greeted with great cheers as he made his way up the High Street and most of us knew that some time before Christmas we would be taken to see the great man.  I'll tell you about one of my visits another time.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

What a month!

I can't remember when I last had such a roller coaster of a month!  

My dear friend Amy came to stay for a few days early in the month and as always we hardly stopped talking!  We went to The Deep, the wonderful marine aquarium in Hull and as always I was mesmerised by the creatures which inhabit our oceans.  I just love watching fish!  I took loads of photographs but they were uniformly awful so you won't be seeing any of them.  We also had a day at a spa which was wonderful.

I had seven meet-ups for coffee or lunch.  I think everyone is trying to get  meet-ups accomplished before December!  Most of my friends will be spending December supporting their grandchildren at school plays and carol services, acting as taxi drivers, or as elves for Santa so early socialising with friends is essential if it's going to happen at all.

I had my annual visit to Donna Nook to see the seals.  It is the most amazing sight.  I never tire of seeing this mammalian maternity site.

The bathroom floor has been replaced, not good while it was happening but it now looks much better.  

I've managed to get rid of quite a bit of "stuff" including a recliner chair so the house feels as though it has lost weight.  Plenty more still to go, though.

As I reported yesterday, I published my Kindle book. 

The month has, however, ended badly.  And old friend's son phoned to tell me his mother's life will soon be over.  At one time we were very close and our friendship was still important.  I set out to visit her (it's at least a two hour drive) but about ten minutes from home I was in a road traffic accident.  Not my fault and no-one was hurt but I'm a bit shaky.  And I feel very sad as I won't see my friend again.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Feeling excited

I haven't been around much in Blogland but I haven't been entirely idle.  I've had a crack at publishing on Kindle!  

You can find Teabreak in the Archangels' Restroom on Amazon.  I'd better come clean though - most of the material has been on this blog over the last few years.  I'm still quite excited though!

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Would anyone mind if I have a moan?

I'm not a happy bunny.  That doesn't happen very often.

It's not been a good year domestically.  Back in March the kitchen floor had to be replaced.

So in May the kitchen was decorated.

And then the hall and dining room were decorated.

And while that was happening I discovered that the hot water tank was about to burst, so it was replaced.

And now I have discovered that the bathroom floor has to be replaced.  The stopcock has been leaking, probably for years and the floor is rotting.

Where are the tissues?

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

One month slides into another

October has been a very pleasant month,  Weather-wise maybe not brilliant, but very pleasant otherwise.

A personal highlight of every October is that I mark another year.  I'm now 66 and still wondering what I will do when I grow up.  I think birthdays get even better as one gets older,  These days I acquire very little "stuff" which needs stuffing away somewhere but instead I get loving messages and cards, I'm treated to special lunches and I get loads and loads of flowers.  For a week or two it feels as though I am living in a florist's shop!  
Some of my birthday flowers

I've had the decorator in which always feels like a very mixed blessing.  It's lovely when my house feels extra fresh and clean but I find preparing rooms for decorating and then setting them straight very difficult.  Fortunately I have kind and loving friends and cousins who would do far more for me if I would let them and they are happy to come and do their bit.  

I've got a good start on writing Christmas cards and most presents have been bought and are ready for wrapping.  

And November begins tomorrow.  A friend will be coming to stay for a few days.  November is one of my "me months" when I allow myself more time for myself.  And it's the month when slow cooked soups and stews, hot buttered crumpets and cosy days at home come into their own.  Wonderful!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

A Quick Update

One "thing" is conspicuous by his absence from my Blog.  The mighty Jack.

I am missing Jack's help very much.  I have been very lucky and have found someone to help me with the garden and some DIY but Jack and I have been friends for many, many years and despite what he tells you about what a dictatorial bully I am, I let him do (more or less) what he likes in the garden.  The front garden is referred to as Jack's garden!!

However, I am not missing Jack's friendship for the simple reason that I have visited the great man every few weeks.  I went this week and I can promise you that he is as cheeky as ever.  He is waiting for knee surgery but is still the same old Jack.  He and Mrs Jack now have a Shih tzu called Millie who is keeping both of them on their toes.  His own garden looks immaculate and Mrs Jack keeps him in order as well.  They enjoy their caravan at Mablethorpe and they have a son and a daughter as well as three grandchildren to keep them busy.

In his absence I have planted three hebes in "his" garden.  He loathes hebes but I didn't know that until I had planted them.  However, he now has a very definite reason to come back and get me back in order.  

I know he will read this so - "Look after yourself, Jack.  The garden and the blog are both missing you".  

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Today is the day you meet a unicorn

Now there's lucky for you.  Unicorns are known to bring good luck so today is definitely your lucky day.  

I met this chap at the WI (Women's Institute) on Thursday.  He is wooden and was a little plain when I met him so I decorated him using pyrography (pokerwork).  It was my first shot at this craft but I was very well supervised!

I don't think I'll be doing any more so he's come on my blog to see if he can find any friends.  Any takers?

Sunday, 1 October 2017


Hopscotch was an odd one.  It was a game which adults could remember from their own childhood and so it was approved of - but not at our school!  The problem was we weren't allowed to chalk on the playground and hopscotch needs markings.  

These days most playgrounds have painted hopscotch pitches.  I found this one at the Eden Project when I was in Cornwall.  This isn't quite the same as "our" layout but there are many variations.  The idea was to throw a beanbag (or whatever!) into the first square and then hop over it and continue down the pitch and back again.  On the way back you stopped at square two, picked up the beanbag, hopped into square one and home.  You then threw the beanbag into square two and repeated the hopping, this time hopping over square two and so on.  The people awaiting their turn watched with eagle eyes and woe betide a hopper who put a toe where no toe should be or if the beanbag didn't land cleanly within its proper square as that was instantly the end of the "go".  To overbalance was the end of respectability and a cue for pitying or contemptuous remarks.

No-one stopped us from chalking on pavements so it was a good game after school.  I remember it especially in the long summer holidays.  I actually preferred playing alone as the wait for one's turn could otherwise be very long!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

One for the girls

Collecting conkers was not (to use a phrase unheard in the fifties) gender specific but playing conkers was much more a boys' thing.  
Image result for girl skipping fifties

Skipping was for the girls. Every girl had a rope, either a fancy one with painted wooden handles or more likely a piece of worn out washing line.   We would skip on our own at home but in the playground it was generally a group thing.  We had loads of skipping rhymes.  They had to be short so no-one would have to wait too long for their turn.  One of my favourites was

Mary drank some marmalade
Mary drank some pop
Mary drank some other things
That made her stomach flop.
Whoops went the marmalade!
Whoops went the pop!
Whoops went the other things
That made her stomach flop!

That one was accompanied by an enthusiastic pretence at throwing up.

Being the rope turner was never popular so it became a sort of forfeit if you "missed a link" or made any other mistake.

Skipping ropes also made the walk home more fun too.  We would all run home turning our ropes as we ran.  Happy days

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Season of , , , ?

September (and maybe even more October) is a great time for musing and remembering.  The nights are drawing in and although I no longer have a real fire I do sometimes light candles and the gentle light is more conducive for looking into the past than trying to organise the present.

September was back to school.  I loved school - well until I was about seventeen then I wasn't so keen.  Primary school was wonderful, lessons were exciting, learning came naturally.

Apart from lessons though there was playtime and at this time of the year conkers were the game of choice.  I've been told that conkers aren't looked on with quite the same favour now as they were in my childhood but the fifties were a great time to be a kid.  I was never much good at playing conkers but I loved collecting them.  Those wonderful shiny "nuts" ready to be prised out of their spiny coating.  They were just the right size for keeping in your pocket or clutching in your hand.  Mention that something is chestnut coloured and it's conkers (horse chestnuts) rather than sweet chestnuts which come into my mind.

Everybody had their own theories about the best way to harden a conker.  Some soaked them in vinegar, others burnished them with shoe polish.  We had a Rayburn in the kitchen and Mother would put my offerings in the slow bottom oven.

I've really enjoyed writing this post.  I shall have a smile on my face all day!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Mooc-ing around

I love Moocs!   Moocs are Massive Open Online Courses and you can find them at Futurelearn and Coursera.  They are free courses offered by top universities all over the world.  There's no written work just discussion forums to allow participants to engage with each other on line.  

I've done several including
You and your money - offered by the Open University
Strategies for successful aging offered by Trinity College Dublin
Exploring anatomy offered by the University of Leeds
Researching your family tree, offered by the University of Strathclyde
Maths puzzles offered by the Weizman Institute
and quite a lot more.

Not all are on offer at the same time so you need to check regularly.

Today I have started a course about the weather.  It's being offered by the University of Exeter and I'm not sure if it's offered internationally although most Futurelearn courses are  but the examples in this one seem to be all British. It promises to teach about the weather with regard to walkers, photographers and gardeners so it should prove interesting and IT'S FREE!!!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Treasure hunting

Many years ago, when I was still training for the ministry, one of my teachers said something like, "God has given the church a huge treasure to care for but he hasn't entrusted the whole of his treasure to any one part of his church,  Each part needs to look at the others to see more and more of his treasure."

When I retired I decided that I wanted to go treasure hunting: I wanted to look beyond my own denomination, to worship with other Christians.  I didn't want to go to special services but to ordinary Sunday worship.  

For a long time that couldn't happen.  God still wanted me for proclaiming the good news as a leader,  However, when the congregations where I had been leading worship got their own vicar I  again looked forward to treasure hunting.

And today I was able to worship with our local independent church.  I have many friends there (they have wonderful Ladies Lunches!) so I was made most welcome.  There I enjoyed the vigour of the worship and the informality of the atmosphere.  Today was cafe church so I also enjoyed a generous slice of carrot cake!  

And I came away feeling refreshed and thankful again that God has given his church such a rich treasure.  

Saturday, 2 September 2017

A Roman Camp

No prizes offered for guessing that the name Caistor derives from Castrum, the Latin term for a fortress or camp.  There's no evidence of a fortress here so let's stick with camp, even if this wood carving suggests something very military.  

We've got little bits of Roman wall including this bit behind the parish church.  I know it looks like part of someone's rockery but I promise it is part of a Roman wall.  It has its own blue plaque to prove it!

A few years ago the local co-op built a new shop, or rather they converted a pub to create a shop.  When the pub carpark was excavated a Roman cemetery was discovered with forty six sets of human remains, including men, women and children,  They were dated to the fourth century.

Local tradition says that Simon the Zealot (one of the twelve apostles) was martyred here in AD61 on the orders of the Roman Procurator Catus Decianus.  However Beirut, Jerusalem and Turkey also lay claim to being the saint's place of death.  

So Caistor isn't just a pretty town!

Friday, 1 September 2017

Civic Pride

I've lived in this lovely town for seven and a half years now and I love it!  It's a small town, many would call it a village: either way it's friendly and there is a tremendous civic pride.  We have community events, we have a flourishing arts and heritage centre run mostly by volunteers and we have a library which is open seven days a week again because of volunteers.

A bank planted with semi wild flowers 
Ferns planted around a street sign

An old trap planted with flowers to beautify the church path
And we have flowers.  Gardens here are fantastic but what amazes me are the public floral displays, again maintained largely by volunteers.  

Sunday, 27 August 2017

And the winner is

Mama, could you let me know your address, please?  E mail link is on my profile.  Thanks to all who entered.

Thursday, 24 August 2017


Just  quick reminder that you have until midnight tomorrow to win these three books.

Just make a comment on this thread.  Sorry, UK only.

Monday, 21 August 2017


I've been winning a few competitions and I'd like to share some of my good fortune!  Actually I won these books pre-Christmas last year and decided to hang on to them until now so that the winner could have them ready for the winter as they all have "cold" titles.  "The Winter Folly", "The Snow Goose" and "The Snow Rose" all by Lulu Taylor  All are new and unread.  
Sorry, this one is just for UK addresses but I have something else in mind for international posting in a few weeks.  Just leave a comment below before Friday 25th August and I'll do the hatty thing.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Gift of Time

Today has been my Sabbath.  I have been keeping this special day for over three years now and each week I still look forward to it.

If you had come to my home today you would have been welcomed and offered a cuppa but you wouldn't have been pressed to stay.  This is a day of quiet and seclusion.

It's nothing like a Jewish Sabbath which is a family celebration and starts with a family meal.  I am a single woman and I use this special day to embrace my solitary life.  My meal each Friday night is special.  I make sure I use a freshly laundered tablecloth and napkin.  Plonking the food on the plate is not an option: this is a day for serving dishes and maybe even ceremony, even if just for me.  Or maybe especially just for me.  A candle may be lit or a small vase of flowers placed on the table.

After my meal I settle with my sewing or knitting or maybe I write a letter or two.  I read or listen to an audiobook and after Compline I often have a early night.

Today I have been making Christmas cards, a lovely thing to do as I think of all the friends I will be sending them to.  I delight in my home which I have cleaned and tidied to make sure it feels calm and is an aid to tranquility,

It is a time for thanking God for the great life I have, not regretting what  I don't have, a time to remember that contentment is about wanting what I have rather than having what I want.  It is a time for thinking what is important and resolving to pursue it.

It is indeed God-given time.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

A little upcycling

The kitchen notice board was much too small and was looking a bit tired.  I looked around for a new one but I knew all too clearly what I want and I wasn't going to find it.  So I had to make it.

First I needed a canvas.  a new plain one would probably be around £10 but I visited a few charity shops and found this one for £1.  24 inches square.  I found a piece of red fabric in my stash.  I bought a piece of cheap thin wadding for £2 and 7 metres ribbon for £2.80.  Add a squirt of fabric adhesive spray and a few staples and I've now got a notice board  for around £5.80.

I'm rather pleased.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

A Parcel and a Puzzle

"Me time" means I get some thinking time and when I get thinking time I like to keep my hands occupied.    I sew, I make cards, I crochet and I knit.  Nothing too complicated.
I've made dozens of these hats over the years.  I knit them for The Sailors Society.  This brilliant charity helps seafarers at sea and ashore.  Looking around my sitting room I'm pretty sure that many things (or their components) were brought to this island by sea.  Wood, computer parts, cotton, even the ingredients for paint are imported and most will have come by sea.  Next year The Sailors Society will celebrate two hundred years of providing chaplaincy, welfare and health services (and a lot more besides) to seamen all over the world.  They are well known for giving woolly hats to sailors and in fact they give out over 10,000 hats each year so they need quite an army of knitters.  

And yesterday's picture?  I've made one small change to it.  I'm not going to show you the completed cards as a few readers may get one of them!  (With apologies to anyone who gets the collywobbles at any whiff of C******* before mid-November.)

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Summer time and the living is easy

August is a strange month.  A lot of people are away and those of my friends who are around are on grandparent duty.  Many groups don't have August meetings or they have trips out.  September is when things start up again and then life gets more hectic towards Christmas.  

So I've decided to have some "me time".  I realise that retirement is theoretically all me time but if you believe that you're probably not retired!  I'm not the sort of wrinkly who can't think how she ever found time to work but I spend quite a lot of time visiting people who get few visitors and although it is sometimes fun, on other occasions I come back feeling a little low, maybe even guilty that I can't visit more often.  So, as I said, I've decided to have some "me time".  For the next few weeks I am going to catch up on myself, do things which I have been longing to do for ages, enjoy days out if the weather gets better.  

So here's a puzzle for you.  Look at the picture and guess, what have I been doing today?

Saturday, 8 July 2017

A Privilege

Privileges come in all shapes and sizes.  I've just had one.

This young man lives in Romania.  He was dependent on a wheelchair which meant that he relied on others to push him to wherever he wanted to be.

I was able to send him my spare trundle truck.  Where he goes now is his choice.  

Is there any greater privilege than to be able to give another human being a taste of freedom?

Friday, 7 July 2017


My monthly morning of making at Mandy's today!   I was rather tired and made only three cards but here you go.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

The Sting in the Tail

I love small town life!  Many people would call Caistor (population 2600) a village but Caistorians are adamant that they live in a town.  

We have quite a lot of community events.  Last week was the scarecrow trail and open gardens, this week was the street party and 10k run, known as "The Sting in the Tail".  The "Sting" is the hill on which Caistor is built and which those poor runners have to get up right at the end of the run.  

Over 500 people took part this year, coming from towns and villages up to thirty miles away. Some brave souls run in fancy dress and our community also turns out to cheer them on.
 Most are rather more conventionally dressed but still cheered enthusiastically.
There are nice, "encouraging" signs around

And money is raised for local charities. 

Monday, 3 July 2017

Just for the record

I've just come back from my swimming session.  
Way back in March I could manage only 25 metres.  
Today I swam 200 metres.  

Whoo Hoo!

Sunday, 2 July 2017


I retired (again!) on 4th June.  Today I started working again.  Today I went to Claxby to preach and celebrate Holy Communion.  As you can see it's a pretty little church at one of the highest points on the Lincolnshire Wolds.  (Which never get very high.)  I'd taken a funeral service in a snow storm there many years ago (the only time that I have worn wellies to conduct worship) but apart from that it was a new church to me.

And I was made so welcome!  It would be easy to think that of course they're grateful - if I didn't go they couldn't have a communion service!  But it goes further than that.  These lovely people were sorry that their much-loved Rector has retired but they are enjoying seeing new faces, hearing new "takes" on the gospel and most of all knowing that no matter what changes they may see (or hear) God's love will always be constant and he has them in mind.

And I was reminded too that although specifics may change, God will always have plans for me too.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Family picnics

Way back the the nineteen fifties my extended family had a lot of family picnics.  We used to go to Laughton Forest, a beauty spot about ten miles from home.  Back seats of cars were a bit squashed as everyone heaped into two or three cars and off we would all go.  Each mum packed a picnic for her own brood but everyone just helped themselves from each others' sandwiches and cakes and very little food was taken home uneaten.

Move forward sixty years and the children who pigged out on sandwiches now form the oldest generation of the family.  We seem to meet up very rarely.  Back in 2011 my cousins came to my sister's funeral as we meet at all family funerals but I took a decision - funerals are not the best place to catch up.

Four cousins
And so in 2012 I organised our first family picnic for over fifty years.  Of twenty cousins only thirteen remain.  Some live some considerable distance away, even overseas.  Sadly there have been arguments and although I am in the happy position of being in some sort of communication with all my cousins not everyone is still on speaking terms with everyone else.  In 2012 six cousins and twelve other relations met up.  Since then death and divorce have taken their toll and some people just couldn't come but yesterday four cousins and four others met up at Clumber Park.  

I'm glad we don't just meet up for funerals now.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

I don't like to moan but . . .

Innit 'ot?  I just don't do hot.  With cold I'm fine.  A few more layers of clothing and a wrap, nice hot soup and (keep this secret!) maybe have the heating on all day and cold is coped with.  Hot is a different matter.

I was rather glad that I didn't have a service to take today as it meant I could take the trundle truck up to church for the eight o'clock service.  Now church is comfortable.  Cool.  Quiet.  Lovely.

Anyway, less of this moaning.  I've had a pretty good week (with one ghastly exception) including a card making session at Mandy's.  Here you go.

The ghastly exception couldn't have been much more ghastly.  Auntie Hettie managed to fall out of her armchair while I was with her.  My cousin and I spent six hours in A & E with her.  She's got two really black eyes but no further injuries.  Old ladies of 92 just don't bounce.  

Monday, 5 June 2017


Six years ago I offered to help for one or two Sundays a month at a group of churches not far from here.  It would just be for a few months.

Over the last six years I have led worship on 222 Sundays. conducted fifteen funerals, three weddings and twelve baptisms.  I have prepared two people for Confirmation, visited the sick, and offered pastoral care.

In return I have been loved and appreciated, supported when facing major surgery, helped to recover from a mental breakdown, and encouraged as I have faced increasing disability.  I have been given tomato plants, flowers, cakes, wine and gin.  Those lovely people have laughed at my crummy jokes, forgiven me my boo-boos and made me one of their own.

Later this month they are getting their own vicar and I shall move on to other places where there is no priest available.  Yesterday I took my final service for the Brocklesby Park Group of Churches.  I cried then and I am crying as I write this.  I left with prayers, blessings and an incredibly generous gift.  Thank you.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Card making

I've went to Mandy's again last week.  These are the four cards I made.

I was also fed coffee and chocolate biscuits.  A very good morning out.  Thanks, Mandy.