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Friday 31 October 2014


Fridays are very busy in my house as Friday is the day I get ready for Saturday!

Saturday is, for me, the Sabbath.  Now I am not Jewish but Sabbath is one of those aspects of Judaism which fascinates me.  At the beginning of this year I decided to make Saturday very special, not trying to copy the Jewish Sabbath but making a day to refresh my soul.  For me it is a day of withdrawal which I spend alone.  Sometimes that just isn’t possible but most weeks I can manage it.   And it is very important that my home helps me to feel calm.

So on Fridays I do most of my housework.  I am not very good at house work.  In fact, let’s be totally honest, I am rubbish at housework.  Every couple of months I pay someone else to clean the house through for me and I consider it to be money very well spent.  But each week I dash through with a duster and the vacuum cleaner, I replace the flowers and it’s the one day of the week when the bed is sure to be made properly.

I also make sure that I have done the preparation for taking services on Sunday.   My quietness tomorrow is not to be spent thinking about what I will say on Sunday.

I plan my meals so that everything on Saturday is really easy.  However, Friday evening is often a special meal to start my special day.  After my evening meal I will load the breadmaker so that on Saturday I wake to the wonderful smell of baking bread.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Grumpy Old Man

I woke up this morning full of good intentions about things I would do today.  And I’ve done none of them.  It’s been a glorious warm day here and I decided that the trundle truck and I would go to Normanby Hall.  It’s the first year that I’ve bought a season ticket to go there and it has been so worthwhile.  I was there for a couple of hours today.  

The autumn colours were magnificent.

The walled garden is being readied for winter

And it is half term so the place was teeming with children. Usually I go at times when there won’t be many youngsters (they do unpredictable things when they see my trundle truck) but I had forgotten about half term and watching them was sheer joy.

The land train was running and little ones were enjoying rides.  So were a few grandads and grandmas.  

This grumpy old man didn’t look as though he thought half term was a good idea – but his life will get more exciting on 5th November!

Last blooms of summer

Yesterday Jack came and put my garden to bed for the winter.  He drained my little fountain.  He emptied the pots.  And he pulled up the remaining summer bedding plants after picking this final bunch of sweet peas and cosmos.  

I was sorry to see them go for this has been my best summer garden ever.  The vegetable bed gave me tasty meals.  The flowers brought joy to my life.  The fountain with its tinkling accompanied many afternoons of sitting and knitting or sitting and thinking or maybe just sitting.

And summer itself has faded.  Last weekend the clocks went back.  I’ve had to put the central heating on for a couple of hours each day.  I’m glad to draw the curtains and settle down with my knitting now.

I don’t have a favourite season.  They are all special.  And each is to be anticipated and savoured.  Life is good.

Monday 27 October 2014

The Letter

Elizabeth at recently organised a letter swap and I had my name down for it like a shot! 

E mail is great for quick no fuss communication, but for sheer joy you can’t beat good old-fashioned snail mail.  I’ve been anticipating receiving my first letter since I wrote to my partner a couple of weeks ago and I think our letters crossed in the post.  Today it arrived!  The postman rang at the door as he also had to deliver a parcel and he was greatly amused when I cheered when I saw the letter.  It has come all the way from Texas, from a lady who I’ve never met and she was telling me all about her life and her connections with the UK.

But I’m racing ahead of myself.  Such an important thing as a handwritten letter demands a cuppa and a slice of cake to accompany it.  There’s the stamp to examine, the handwriting to admire, (although I doubt if my partner will be admiring my handwriting) and the joy of perusing something which has been written especially for me.  No e mail can deliver that!

And there’s the joy of writing the letter as well.  I have a leather writing case with my father’s initials on it.  I love to buy good quality writing paper and letters demand the use of my fountain pen.  Sad to say my handwriting is appalling but the recipient has received something which I have created and for the time I was writing it, she was topmost in my mind.

I hope she has received as much pleasure as she has given me.

Sunday 26 October 2014

Oh dear!

As I have said before, I suffer from CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) big time.  As I write this I am sitting in a room with the contents of my handbag scattered over the floor because I emptied it to find my purse for the poppy seller who came to the door and then  I didn’t pick everything up after I’d bought the poppy.  The kitchen looks as though a bomb has hit it and the hallway is full of the Christmas presents I was wrapping on Friday.  (I couldn’t resist a bit of bragging about having got something done ready for Christmas.)

But Jack is coming tomorrow.  As I have also said before Jack is brilliant.  He’s hardworking, focussed and hard to distract but there is one major problem with him – he makes me feel guilty.  He doesn’t mean to but when I see how much he achieves in a day I feel totally pathetic.  So this evening I shall be busy tidying, wiping, dusting, vacuuming, ironing and all the thousand and one other things I have been neglecting. 

Where did that extra hour go?

Saturday 25 October 2014

An unusual birthday "treat"

I had a birthday this week – twenty one for the third time around, thank you for asking.  I try and do something memorable each year and this year it just had to be a visit to the Tower of London to see the poppies.  Trips to London are rare for me as disability makes them both exhausting and expensive as I need to use taxis.  So all I did was get to Kings Cross, go to the Tower, see the poppies and hear the Last Post and then reverse my journey which might seem like a lot of effort for not very much.

But it was so worthwhile.  I knew there would be 888,246 poppies but had never really thought how many poppies that would be!  I’ve seen the pictures but they are all of the same part of the moat but in reality they are spread out very wide.  I’m not ashamed to say I shed a tear.  The acoustics are pretty awful but as the 180 names were read out I listened to the names of the regiments and heard places from throughout these islands and beyond.  Just 180 names are read each night but that is 180 lives which were sacrificed and they are a mere fraction of the total. 

 I was surprised that the people standing next to me were German and I was glad to see them there but didn’t like to ask how they were feeling.  After all eleven German spies were shot in that same Tower in the Great War.  Last year I visited the German war cemetery in Flanders, having already visited Tyne Cot and the Menin Gate at Ypres.  History is written by the victors but the defeated are also dead.

Tuesday 21 October 2014


I really don’t like the use of the word “grounded” to describe a punishment meted out to recalcitrant teenagers.  For me being grounded is an ideal state to aim for.  It’s about having my feet firmly on the ground, being connected with the world I live in and having a realistic view of life.

I've been thinking about the idea of “groundedness” in the sense of being connected today.  I've got a birthday soon but today is the birthday of an old school friend.  I haven’t seen her in forty years and we are no longer in touch although I saw her parents a few years ago and they told me that she is the mother of grown up children.  I have lovely memories of playing with her.  She was quite an athlete and no-one would ever describe me like that.  She had brothers and a sister close to her in age so there was always someone to play with at her house while mine was quieter as my only sister was several years older than me.    I don’t know why she wanted me as her friend but for those few years of childhood she was important to me.   Yes, we've lost touch but she was part of the childhood which made me what I am today.  Happy Birthday, Glenda, wherever you are.

But today I met up with Doreen, a friend I met when I was in my twenties.  Her daughter was in the Guide Company which I ran and we were members of the same church.  We’re both looking an awful lot older than we did but today we met up for lunch and it was two hours of non-stop laughter.  She’s a woman with her feet firmly on the ground but she has a real joy which is infectious.

So today I feel truly grounded. I’ve remembered an important friend of my childhood and I’ve met up with a friend of my middle age.   And it’s great!

Sunday 19 October 2014

A Village Church

I went to church again this morning.  It was another of those nice friendly services where we have about twelve to fifteen people, all of whom are there because they want to be there and most of whom make very definite contributions to the service.  There’s the lady who plays the organ.  She’d be the first to say that she’s not a real organist but few of us are real singers and we just “make a joyful noise unto the Lord”.   There’s the lady who read the lesson.  Her son has just written his autobiography which describes her vividly and although she seems a very nice quiet lady when she comes to church she must be a formidable woman.  A retired teacher led the prayers and assisted at the communion.  Someone made some coffee and a lovely lady welcomed everybody who came.

For me, that’s what village churches should be about.  Our great cathedrals commission great artists, employ master craftsmen, attract near professional flower arrangers and have world famous choirs but our village churches are enriched by love and each person’s offering of his or her best.  Even when there is no service in progress they are witness to the devotion of countless men and women over the centuries.
Here’s the Lord’s Prayer, crocheted by a village lady.

Here is a modern window, commissioned to commemorate the airmen from the nearby airfield who died in WW2.

And most intriguingly here is a three faced grotesque, not a gargoyle as it is not a water spout.  What thoughts did the mediaeval craftsman have in his mind when he made this for the village church?

Friday 3 October 2014


I’ve been to Normanby Hall again today and I’m feeling very frustrated because I can’t upload my photographs!

However, while I was there I had one of those incidents which make me think.  I wanted to get a photograph which involved leaving the metalled path.  Like a lazy idiot instead of getting out my walking stick I rode my trundle truck (mobility scooter) under the trees.  The leaves and a few twigs have started falling and soon my TT was stuck.  The back wheels had become jammed with damp leaves and I wasn’t going anywhere.  I got off, sorted out my stick and started to poke the leaves out.  It wasn’t easy.

Two ladies saw me struggling and came over to see if they could help and with their aid I tilted the TT,  the wheels were soon freed and I was free to trundle off.  And I was VERY grateful!

I’m very lucky.  People are usually willing to help me.  But sometimes I really don’t want help.  I know that if other people do too much for me I will lose some of the abilities I have.  I have thought long and hard about this and I have come to this conclusion – disability involves me trusting that people want to help when I need help but it involves my friends trusting that when I need help I will ask.  I hope I don’t sound ungracious. 

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Yellow belly, born and bred

That’s what I am!  Just in case you were wondering if I have permanent jaundice, I’ll tell that means I was born and brought up in the lovely county of Lincolnshire.  And today is Lincolnshire Day.

Lincolnshire Day is not an ancient feast but it does have historical inspiration.  On the 1st October 1536 the Lincolnshire Rising began in St James Church in Louth as a protest against the religious reforms of Henry VIII.  Actually when I think about it I’m not sure if I should be celebrating – it was a protest against the establishment of the Church of England of which I am now a retired vicar!  And the priest who inspired it was hung, drawn and quartered.

Anyway I digress.  Lincolnshire Day is an expression of pride in our county.  Lincolnshire has a reputation for being flat but I live in the glorious Lincolnshire Wolds.  It’s a limestone area with gentle hills.  Lincolnshire is proud of its food – bangers and mash using our local pork in Lincolnshire sausage is a very popular dish.  We also grow great potatoes which form the mash to go with the bangers or the chips to eat with Grimsby fish.  There’s Bateman’s beer, Lincolnshire plum loaf which doesn’t contain any plums and Poacher Cheese which doesn’t contain any poachers.  I love our local haslet for which every butcher has his/her own recipe but basically it’s a spiced pork meatloaf often including liver.  My mother and grandmother used to make it and in these parts we say hay-slet.

We have produced our share of notables including Isaac Newton, physicist and mathematician; John Franklin, arctic explorer; Alfred Tennyson, poet; Margaret Thatcher, prime minister; John Harrison, chronologist and winner of the Longitude Prize; Tony Jacklin, golfer; and John Wesley, founder of Methodism.

I lived away from this county of my birth from 1981 to 1995 but was glad to come back here.  It’s a quiet county, friendly and unpretentious.  And I love it.

And I love the smell of my breakfast which is now cooking – bacon and sausage made from Lincolnshire pigs.  Bliss.

(I still haven’t got my laptop back so very sorry for the absence of photographs.)