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Wednesday 29 November 2023

Z is for Zest

 Not the stuff removed with great care from the skin of a lemon but the sheer joy of living!

And that's what I want!  I want to live life with zest.  I want to embrace new experiences and treasure old ones.  

In this series of twenty six blog posts over one year, two months and four days I have reflected on my life ranging from big things like doing VSO in Nigeria and later being one of the first English women to be ordained priest to minutiae like enjoying a cup of coffee or taking pleasure in make do and mend.  I have shared things with you and many of you have responded with the events of your own life.

So for you too I want zest.  May your life have zing and zip.

Sunday 26 November 2023

Y is for youth

Library of the State Scool Library Service, Uyo, Nigeria 1973

 When I was young I never thought about being old.  I'm older now than my grandmother was when I was born but she always seemed very old to me so I suppose I seem very old to the children around me now.

I think I made the most of my youth.  George Bernard Shaw said that youth is wasted on the young but I don't think so. 

One of the most exciting things I did as a young woman was to go to Nigeria on Voluntary Service Overseas.  I was a newly qualified librarian when I flew to Lagos in September 1973 to help set up school libraries in the area which had seen the Civil War just a few years earlier.  Schools had been commandeered as army camps by both sides and such libraries as there had been, had been looted.  I helped set up a model library and train library assistants who had never seen a library until they were employed to run one!

My VSO came to a very abrupt end in September 1974 when I was in a motorcycle crash and I had to be repatriated.

Saturday 25 November 2023

The X Factor


What's your X factor?  By which I mean, what's the thing which makes your life really worthwhile?  I know that for many of you, the X factor will be your family: the children, grandchildren and maybe even great grandchildren whose faces are not just in the photographs around your room, on your phone or in your wallet, but even more. always in your mind and heart.  

I've never had children so my closest relative is a nephew whom I see about three hours each year and after that it's cousins.  I get on with all of them but I don't think they are really the source of life's meaning for me.

I've heard it said, "If you've got your life and your health, that's everything" and that may be true but my health isn't all that wonderful either!

And yet I think I have a wonderful life.  My faith is central to that life and that faith brings with it an attitude of gratitude.  I've no children or close family but I have lots of people who care about me and help me.  My health isn't great but I am able to live a rich life and I can afford to buy things to enable me to live independently and safely.  I am able to contribute to community life by being a good neighbour and by being a worship leader.  I have enough commitments to make me feel valued but not so many that I feel overwhelmed.

So, what's your X Factor?

Thursday 23 November 2023

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to any American readers who have popped in.  Have a lovely day.

We don't have anything like Thanksgiving here but an American lady has married into my (extended) family so we had an early Thanksgiving dinner last night for fourteen of us.  Tonight only four of us would have been able to be there, and she felt that all the family giving thanks was more important than doing it on the right day.  So I feasted on turkey and a whole lot more last night.  I was too podged to eat desert.  Hope you enjy your meal as much!

Wednesday 22 November 2023

W is for Worth it!

 It's been sad to see several bloggers decide not to post anymore but it was kind of them to tell us and not leave us wondering what had happened to them.  

I've been blogging on and off since July 2014.  I've two blogs and the other one is "off" even more than this one!  I only post if I have something I really want to say.  Blogging is a creative outlet for me, the only regular outlet I have for writing.  It's a way of recording some of the events of my life in an orderly manner.  I can float my hopes and dreams.  I can make friends through reading and commenting on other people's blogs and appreciating their comments on  mine.

Because I only write when I have something special to say, I take very long breaks and it is always hard to get back after a break.  

But I enjoy other people's blogs and this is my contribution to the blogosphere.  Like all bloggers I love reading comments.  Non bloggers may not know that we can see the number of visitors we have (but not their identity) and I find it amazing what a high proportion of visitors have no inclination to comment.  I wonder why?  Is it too complicated?  I know some blogging platforms are more complicated than others.  Are they deterred because some blogs (not this one) don't publish comments until after the blogger has approved them?  Personally I delete comments which are obviously intended to advertise betting or escort services but very rarely anything else but other bloggers have had big problems with inappropriate comments so pre approval is understandable.  

For it is commenters and fellow bloggers who make the effort worthwhile.  Thank you for reading.    

Yes,  it is definitely WORTH IT!

Monday 20 November 2023

V is for Village (now updated)


According to people who were born here, I live in a town.  According to incomers I live in a village.  Because I was stuck for V, for the purposes of this blog post, I'm calling Caistor a village.  Sorry, Caistorians.  T was for Treats. 
Roman wall

Caistor has been here quite a long time and its centre is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, being the site of a Roman encampment.  The only "Roman" bit which can be seen today is a smallish heap of stones which looks rather like a rockery.

The Gad Whip
This heap of stones is just to the south of the church of St Peter and St Paul.  The oldest parts of that date only to around 1050.  Inside the church there is a curious article called the Gad Whip.  Until 1846 each Palm Sunday the whip was waved three times over the head of the parson during the second reading at Mattins.  There's more about this peculiar ceremony here.  There are well over fifty listed buildings in Caistor, a significant number for such a small place but most are Georgian or Victorian.  

There's quite a lot going on here.  We have a Civic Society, a Women's Institute, Brownies, Rainbows, sports clubs, amateur dramatics and social events for everyone.  Volunteers keep the place looking wonderful both with flowers on the summer and lights and displays around Christmas.  

When I retired I had to choose somewhere to live and I wanted somewhere that was friendly with things to do.  I think I chose well

I understand there is a problem with the link to the Gad whip,  It can be found at  Scroll down and you will find it!

Friday 17 November 2023

U is for UFOs

 Show me some one who has no UFOs and I'll show you someone who isn't a crafter!

UFOs (UnFinished Objects) or PhDs (Projects half Done) seem to be an inevitable part of being creative..  

There's the garment cast on but only the back and half the front actually knitted.  I started a jumper in 2018, shoved it in a drawer and when I got it out a few weeks ago I discovered a hole, maybe moth, more likely mechanical damage.  I pulled it down completely as it was knitted on a circular needle and I'm trying again with a different pattern.

I started a patchwork quilt in 1975.  It was intended to be for a single bed but it's now heading for king size.  In a couple of years it will reach its Golden Jubilee.  Maybe that's a good target for finishing it.  

Then there's the stash of fabric and wool just waiting to be used:  sometimes it's materials bought for a project which never materialised or just as often, it's stuff kept "just in case". 

But I am now sharing with you one object which is no longer unfinished.  Two years ago I started my temperature scarf, knitting one row for each day and using a different colour for each degreee celsius.  I started on my seventieth birthday and finished the day before I was 72.

MyPhD has now graduated.

Thursday 16 November 2023

T is for treats

 Not the big treats like a cruise or a wonderful meal out, but the little things, often very inexpensive, which bring a smile to my face each day.

There's the first cup of coffee when I get up in the morning.  Or later in the day, iced water by my side,  

There's the pleasure I get each time I open my cupboard and see the lovely china which I now use everyday and not just on special occasions.

There's the joy of an audiobook read by a talented actor who brings the story alive in a special way.  

There's the gratitude I feel when someone brings me a bunch of flowrs, especially flowers fresh from their garden.  

There's the hilarity I feel when Jack means to tell me he's ravenous but instead tells me he's ravishing.  Fortunately for his blushes that was said on the phone!

There's my annual treat which I had this week, of visiting the seals who each year come ashore not too far from here and have their pups.  

At the end of each day getting into a bed made up with white, pure cotton sheets.  

Wednesday 15 November 2023

S is for Sabbath, Sunday and the Shape of the week

I was very amused at the comments about my early rising time on my last post.  No-one would want to rise at 4am!  Neither do I but that's how it is.  I often wake much earlier than that but I don't allow myself to get up before 4am.  

But the shape of my week is something about which I make very conscious decisions.  Sunday has always been a special day for me.  Worship is central.  Sometimes I lead and preach, sometimes I am grateful for someone else's ministry.  Then it's usually home for a quiet day at home.

And before that I usually have my Sabbath.  I started this habit many years ago.  Lockdowns seemed like one long Sabbath!  My Sabbath is less structured now but it is more part of my nature.

Then Mondays I often swim, Tiesdays and Fridays it's the gym, Wednesday Annie-the-home-enhancer or Jack-the-lad may come.  There might be a Women's Institute meeting or coffee or lunch with friends.  I could shop in Brigg or just go out on my trundle truck to enjoy this lovely town.

But always I am glad to come home to the peace of my bungalow. to listen to audiobooks or to knit or just to be.  

Tuesday 7 November 2023

R is for Retirement


I love it!

The other questions from "Q is for Questions" were about retirement and how I spend my time.

I spend my time with a smile on my face.  I get up between 4am and 5am and look at how the day is likely to unfold but, when I switch the light out at night and think back, the day has rarely gone as planned.  

I think I am very lucky to have been born in the nineteen fifties.  Childhood was a time of innocence and wonder.  The sixties were a time of change and challenge.  My whole life has been a time of scientific advancement in ways that would have been unimaginable when I was a toddler.  Opportunities for women have opened up more and more as my life has gone on.  

And now I am fourteen years into a lovely, secure retirement.  The bungalow is comfortable and safe thanks to my lovely landlord and the efforts of Annie-the-home-enhancer and Jack.  I have a car and trundle truck so can get out when I want to.  I have hobbies to enjoy while I am at home and friends to laugh with when I go out.  I still lead some worship but am choosing to do that less.  

I am able to drop everything and go out for the day or spend a few days dog sitting.  If I would prefer to be at home, the craft stash provides me with challenges and entertainment.  

And in everything I am secure in the love of God.  I am truly blessed.

Saturday 4 November 2023

More answers: ambitions

Poppy Patchwork asked What plans have you, things to do before you get too old and regret not doing them?

Can I let you into a secret?  I want to go on another cruise!  

I felt a little deprived when I was seventy as covid was raging and anyway I had just had a replacement knee so my activities were limited.  When I was sixty I had hosted a lunch party but at seventy it was a quiet lunch at home with just a couple of people.  So I decided that I would celebrate when I am seventy five.

I never thought that I would enjoy cruising but about twenty years ago my sister, who was in poor health, decided she wanted to achieve a few life ambitions which included cruising off Alaska and seeing whales in their natural habitat.  She was a wheelchair user and needed an assisitant so our Mother paid for me to go as well.  I loved it and when I retired I took another cruise to see New England in the Fall.  It was on Queen Mary II and left Southampton on my birthday so I felt it had my name on it!  
Queen Mary II

This time I want to go to either the Arctic or the Antarctic.  Probably the Arctic.  I've seen a wildlife watching cruise which I quite fancy.

This ambition influences quite a lot of things I do.  It's motivated me to get fitter so that I can enjoy the trip.  It's motivated me to continue to lose weight.  It's motivated me to organise my finances.  The very idea brings a smile to my face.  All those things are contributing to a happy, healthy retirement now.  

Friday 3 November 2023

More answers: disability

 Elizabeth in Cornwall asked, "With your 'truck', do you find that people are less or more helpful nowadays? And what about accessibility in general?" 

I love my truck!  Most people call them mobility scooters but that sounds so dreary that mine is my trundle truck.

I'm on truck number three.  They last about six years before their reliability becomes doubtful.  I replace the batteries after about three years.  My "Rascal" was paid for largely by a grant from a charity for decrepit Anglican clergy and I was very grateful as scooters are nearly £2000 each time I need one.  I have a car with a ramp so together the TT and I can go places.  

It's a freedom which I really value.  Maybe you can walk anywhere you want.  Maybe you don't have to plan your activities as a disabled person living in an able-bodied world.  I don't want much help and I value my independence and TT means I can do so much more.

I'd like to be able to do even more.  I'd like to travel by rail but Network Rail allows only very small scooters.  They are more accommodating for wheelchairs.  Most public transport is the same which means that only accompanied people can use it and I usually travel alone.  

I use a Blue Badge, not because I need to park very close to stores etc, but because I need to open my car dor fully.  Occasionally I hear people sounding off about this privilege but I have been known to tell someone, "Yes I agree it's very unfair.  I would give you my disabiity if I could but I can't so I am very sorry."

For the most part people are very good about offering assistance.  In shops they will offer to get things from high shelves.  Friends and strangers alike will carry hot drinks or trays for me in cafes.  Doors will be opened so I can ride through. 

My biggest problem can be fending off inappropriate help.  People grab hold of me without asking what sort of help I need.  I find that annoying and, to be honest, disrespectful.  We don't grab people without their permission except in an emergency and I resent being treated as an inevitable emergency.  If you grab my right arm when I am walking you run the risk of both of us tripping as you will be depriving me of the ability to control my stick and it will become a trip hazard.  If you ask me if I need help I will explain what I need or I will thank you for the offer if I decline it.  "No thank you" is a reasonable response so please don't assume you know my needs better than I do.  

Thursday 2 November 2023

Questions and answers

 I'm going to take a few posts to answer questions starting with one from Jackie.

How did you and Jack meet?

When I was working, my vicarage had a coal fire in the sitting room and Jack had a side-line as a chimney sweep.  That's how we met originally but, as I am sure you realise, nothing is straightforward with Jack.

As he was leaving the first time he told me he always gave a present to his customers.  The first time it was a tin of shoe polish but  subsequent gifts included Winnie -the-Pooh sticking plasters, rum flavoured bubble bath and a bunch of carrots with a knife to scrape them.

Soon after that first visit I went to see an elderly gentlman whose wife had just died and there was a familiar face in the corner.  The funeral was for Jack's mum.

Jack continued as my chimney sweep for as long as I lived in that house but one day I came home and found him waiting to talk to me.  His daughter wanted to get married in the same church in which Jack and Mrs Jack had been married.  I explained the procedure and we shared a cuppa before he left.

As he was leaving he said, "Your garden looks a mess!" so I said, "If you think it looks a mess you do something about it."  And he's been looking after me ever since.  

I conducted the wedding of both his daughter and his son, and the funerals of both his parents and his brother.  Sadly Mrs Jack died during the first lockdown and I wasn't allowed to take her funeral but I did write something for another minister to read.

Bereavement is always hard but it was especially hard during lockdown when the usual sources of support weren't avaiable so I tool to phoning him each morning and we still talk most mornings.

I still make lists for him.  But then again, I still make bacon butties and leek soup for him.  So he shouldn't complain,

But he will.  Even though I gave him a hat labelled "Horticultural Enhancer".

Wednesday 1 November 2023


Several people have emailed to ask if I am OK.  Thank you for your concern.  I'm fine.  I'm sure you will be glad that you haven't shamed me.

Jack has been nagging at me.  But that didn't shame me even though he tried very hard..  

The person who has REALLY shamed me is Sue in Suffolk.

Last year she too started an alphabet of blogging.  She finished within the thirty days of November.  Mine started in September and is still not finished over thirteen months later.

She's started at A again today.  So I think the time may have come to get back blogging and answer the questions you kindly left for me.  I really ought to finish my first alphabet before she finishes her second!

See you tomorrow.