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Thursday 28 February 2019

February flew past!

I know that February is the shortest month of the year but so often it feels so long!  It's Foggy February, February Fill-dike, and other dismal sayings abound.
The Petwood Hotel, Woodhall Spa

But this year has been different.  I was brought up short yesterday by an email from Michigan telling me that the weather there was blustery cold, windy, snowy as usual.  Here we've had the warmest February on record, definitely warm enough for taking my cuppa outside and sitting on the swing.

Some time ago I resolved to have some Jam Months, a time of Jam today, and leaving yesterday and today to their own devices, and February has been Jam Time again.  I had a lovely break at Woodhall Spa, an experience which I shall definitely repeat.

A tank at The Deep, Hull

I visited The Deep, the marine aquarium at Hull.  It was very busy with school parties and I'm not sure I will be repeating that experience any time soon.  I had hoped for a quiet, meditative day but I shall have to seek peace and quiet somewhere else.

Someone not to talk to at Normanby Park
I went to Normanby Hall, my first visit there for a very long time.  Maybe I shall try again in the summer.

I went to a book launch, seven lunches out, a WI meeting, Trefoil Guild and card making and had three competition wins.I've been busy with church activities and seemed to be well booked up for  some time to come.

Not surprising that February flew past!

Saturday 23 February 2019

Three cards

It was my monthly card making session yesterday.  I couldn't be there for the whole session but, with even more help than usual from Mandy, I made three cards.  

Thursday 21 February 2019

What is going on?

I enter a lot of competitions and have done so for many years but I've never had a winning streak like I'm having at the moment.   In January I had three wins.  I normally have one win every six weeks or so.

In February I have again had three wins.  The first two were tickets to an event and I've given them away.  This gives me pleasure - I've had the thrill of winning and I've had the pleasure of enabling four people to go to an event which they will enjoy.  The third prize is a large selection of candles and associated products and I'm keeping those.  I will use some and I will give some away as Christmas and birthday presents.  Believe it or not, the retail value of this lot is supposed to be around £250!  

I enjoy comping but it is time consuming.  At the beginning of the month there was a bit of a lull in the number of competitions available but more are coming up now.   It takes me less than an hour and I do them as I have my first couple of cups of coffee at about 5am.  I would not do them if someone was hoping to converse with me or if I were very busy but I live alone and I am retired. 

Somehow a comping win reassures me that the universe is on my side

Wednesday 20 February 2019

It's the little things

I've found a new favourite  short read.  It's an occasional column in The Guardian called, The Joy of Small Things.  It's very occasional: only seventeen articles have appeared since the column first appeared in October but Oh! I feel inspired!

I'm a great lover of simple pleasures.  A few years ago I wrote a post about a lovely book called just that - Simple Pleasures.  It's a book which is never far from me.  It's got more than its fair share of coffee splashes and pencilled notes.  As I said then, it's not so much that I have the same simple pleasures as the writers of that book but rather that they help me to appreciate the sources of joy in my own life.  

One of the pleasures featured in the Guardian column is the joy of a new dressing gown.  I maybe ought to be ashamed of my dressing gown.  It's at least fifteen years old. It's a towelling robe but in some places the fabric has worn out and there are holes.  A few years ago I dyed it and really it needs the same treatment again and it may even get that treatment for it is an old friend.  I love it!  While I am wearing it I am at leisure: fashion and looking good are far from my mind and I am at peace.  It has seen me through happy Christmas mornings when I open my presents and days when I am trying to shake off a cold.  Ir wraps me when I am fresh out of the shower and getting ready to go out and it envelopes me in my armchair when sleep eludes me in the middle of the night.  I keep looking at rather more respectable new robes but I love this old friend.

I'm sitting in this tatty garment as I type this.  I hope you feel as happy and contented as I do.  

Thanks for reading.

Thursday 7 February 2019

Bouncing Bombs and Chilling Words

A prototype bouncing bomb

I hadn't meant my last post to be a teaser - honest Marcia!  Bouncing bombs are part of British history and as a Lincolnshire lass, they are especially part of my history as the Dambuster Raid was launched from my county.

Even before the Second World War started the Ruhr Valley in Germany had been identified as a "desirable" target for attacks.  It was at the heart of German industry and its dams were especially important in the supply of hydro-electric power and water for the canal transport system and steel making as well as for drinking water.  The dams would be a difficult target as they were very well defended so a specialist weapon was needed and Operation Chastise was conceived. 

Barnes Wallis was an eminent engineer and he started work to design a bomb which would avoid the underwater anti-torpedo defences and explode against the wall of the dam - a difficult problem as suitable bombs would be too heavy for any aircraft at the time.  He worked at the problem and came up with a bomb which would "bounce" along the water and eventually hit the dams.  A special group of pilots and other servicemen was formed with personnel from Canada, Australia and New Zealand as well as the UK.   The "Dam Buster" raid was on the night of 16th - 17th May 1943 and resulted in the deaths of about 1600 people, the destruction of two hydroelectric power stations and considerable damage to the German war effort.

And the chilling words?  This is part of a speech made by Field Marshall Montgomery at Woodhall Spa.  "We are doing to the Germans in Europe the same as we have done to the Italians in Sicily and Italy.  We are softening them up by bombing: after that we will go in and kill them.  It will be quite simple."  They may have been appropriate in 1944 but they chill my heart today.

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Woodhall Spa

Let's get one thing straight.  I'm a Travelodge fan.  Or failing that Days Inn or Premier Inn.  Whatever - my first search for accommodation is at the budget end of the scale. However, I rather enjoy staying in a "good" hotel.  I like having my meals cooked and my room serviced.  I like wandering down to the bar for a sherry or the lounge for morning coffee.  It's just that my bank balance doesn't have quite the same tastes as I do.

But many rather nice hotels have very good deals in February.  The meals are still a bit on the pricey side but the accommodation is a bargain.  It gives me something to look forward to in the dullest months of the year too!

Prototype bouncing bomb
So this week I have had a few days at Woodhall Spa.  This is a lovely village in the depths of Lincolnshire.  It first became popular in the Victorian period when "beneficial" waters were found by accident when coal was being sought.  Railways, hotels and golf courses were built over the years and  by the Edwardian period Woodhall Spa was a very fashionable place.   Baroness Von Eckhardstein decided to build a holiday home there in her "pet wood" so the house became Petwood.  There she entertained royalty, stars of stage and screen, sportsmen and women and the great and good of her day.

Woodhall Spa again became famous in the Second World War when two of its large hotels were requisitioned as messes for officers from the nearby airfields.  Most famously the Petwood housed officers of 617 squadron as they trained for the Dambuster raids.  

Woodhall is famous locally for the Kinema in the Woods, the last cinema in England to use back projection.  There's still an organ played during the interval of the film and an usherette still sells ice creams in the auditorium.  Sadly, I didn't get to the Kinema this visit.  

Sunday 3 February 2019

Rather big for Brownies!

Sixty years ago I thought Brownies were wonderful!  I joined 1st Old Brumby Brownies when I was seven and became first a gnome and then an elf.  I was an enthusiastic Brownie until I "flew up" to Guides and eventually I went to Rangers before becoming a leader myself.

There was one thing I didn't like about Brownies though.  I didn't like sewing badges on my tunic.  This wasn't a minor dislike in our household as Mother insisted that all badges had to be unpicked and sewn on again each time my tunic was washed.  Most Brownies' mums in those days did the sewing (and left the badges on when the garment was washed) but as soon as I turned nine I had to do my own.

Move on sixty years and I feel as though I am back in the Brownies again as I have been sewing badges on a Brownie blanket.  They take far more badges these days than we did sixty years ago!  In this case not only couldn't the Brownie do it for herself, her mum didn't feel up to the task either and as she's a busy teacher I was happy to help.

So out came my pins, needles, thread and thimble and here's the result.    It's all too rare an occurrence these days for me to feel I have anything practical to offer so doing this for a lovely little girl was a pleasure.

I was told that I could stitch them on in any order I liked.  Although I enjoyed doing the sewing I'm hoping that's true as I really don't want to have to unpick them and start all over again.  

Friday 1 February 2019


My most important aim this month was to keep my spirits up.  January can be such a bleugh month but this year it really hasn't been too bad.

Sharon did more than her fair share at helping by taking me out for a delicious afternoon-tea-at-lunchtime.  Hard to feel depressed when there's a treat like that.

Mandy hosted her usual card making session.  I say "usual" but we never know what we will be doing until we get there!

I received three comping wins and had the pleasure of sharing them with others.  I've even been over to visit Jack this morning and he and Mrs Jack were glad to get a tin of Quality Street.  

I think I've got a bit fitter by increasing my daily step count.  I've started work on my Vision 2020 (more to come on that one), I wrote eleven blog posts, I've knitted a scarf, I've led worship on three Sundays and baptised two babies as well as conducting one funeral, Annie-the-home-enhancer and Paul-the-gardener have both been and helped me, I've been to Women's Institute and Trefoil Guild, I've been out for several meals and in between all  that the usual round of daily life has gone on. 

I've also got plans for February.  There will be workmen in doing house maintenance and improvement next week.  I've got a short break booked.  I'm going on a snowdrop walk,   I've got lunch booked with friends several times.  I'm going to a book launch.  And there will be the usual round of daily life again.

I might find time to write a few blog posts as well!