Thursday, 24 February 2011

New Life

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

Last week I searched the garden for any sign of new life and there didn't seem to be much going on. I noticed a few daffodils that were just beginning to shoot from the soil and I thought, *When they get a little taller I will take a photo.* We had a week of rainy weather and I didn't get to go out again until this morning when the sun was trying to shine.

In just the space of a week, the daffodils had grown a lot and I wished now that I had taken a picture of them so that you could notice just how much they'd come on.
My plants and my photos are not prize specimens but they just convey a few of the surprises that I found after a week of rain and very dull weather. It is always good to see new life.

I am expecting my daughter and my grandsons today and they will be staying until Sunday because it is half term, so I might be a little bit busy for the next few days.
I hope where ever you might be, that you are having some good weather too.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Hobbling Along

It is amazing how I can walk past the most dull and horrible places in our city and yet suddenly see something that lifts my heart. This time it was a mass of snowdrops.

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Harry and I were invited to my sister in law and my brother Eddie Bluelights home for lunch the other day.
It had been a while since we had seen each other in the flesh, though we are in contact via email, blogs and sometimes phone, but we still always have a lot to catch up on. Our son, Sam was also invited and we piled into his car and set off as soon as the children had been dropped off at school.
We knew that we had to leave early enough to collect them again in the afternoon.

I suppose it is about a 45 minutes journey by car, as they live on one side of the city and we live on the other side. So we arrived bright and breezy because we hadn't come across as much traffic as we had anticipated. Sometimes we are gridlocked for ages.
I think they had overslept as they seemed surprised to see us so early.

We chatted away and I suppose that as we were in comfy chairs and we hadn't moved about for ages, when we did all get up together to go through to the back room we were all very stiff and our painful joints caused us all to hobble across the room terribly slowly and with great difficulty. Once we got launched we were not too bad and quickly improved, but we must have looked a sorry sight as we struggled across the floor. It was a bit like a day out for the disabled and we all fell about laughing.
This ageing process and the cold wet weather affects our arthritic limbs.
Although Sam is obviously still young compared to us, he has met some terrible health problems lately which you can catch up on his latest post. Here. So as it turned out, he hobbled as badly as we did. Mrs Bluelights was the only one who walked normally. I think she thought we were having a laugh.
Next time we go, I will arrange for a set of zimmer frames to be on the ready.
In case people from overseas don't know what that means, it is what you might refer to as Walkers for the disabled.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Mary and Max

I just want to draw everyone's attention to this little animated film, Mary and Max.
You really do need to see it.

Its about two misfits. The first one, Mary is a small, Australian child, who feels she has been disfigured by a birthmark and she has come from a dysfunctional family, who told her she wasn't a planned or wanted baby.
At eight years old, she is very lonely.
Mary decides to choose a name at random from a Manhattan telephone directory and picks out Max, a 40 something man who is grossly overweight and is a solitary figure who also has Asperger's Syndrome.
Obviously when Mary chooses his name from the directory, she doesn't have any idea how old he is or what type of person he is but she just wanted someone to tell her whether it was true that babies were found at the bottom of beer glasses.
She decided to write her first letter.

Neither of these two friendless individuals would have had any idea that their letters would develop into a friendship that would last for twenty years.
I will keep you guessing as to whether these two would ever meet.
If you do watch this film, then have a stack of tissues with you. Or maybe you will find it humorous?
In spite of the emotional impact......I can thoroughly recommend watching it.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

A Right Pane

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

In one of my recent posts The Missing Glass Panel, I explained why my front porch looked a bit strange to other people because it had a whole section of stained glass missing and had been replaced by frosted glass before we moved into this house in 1970. Of course we were quite used to seeing it like that.
Anyway, my friend, Paula, offered to make a completely new panel for us and after what seemed like a very complicated procedure of measuring, drawings and glass cutting, the finished panels arrived the other day, in what seemed like no time at all.

While my son was taking out the old glass and preparing the cavity in order to fit the new panels, I took a snap of them while they were standing in my front room.
The colours look stunning and just as a reminder of how the porch looked like before, just refer to the bottom photo.
I am so pleased with the results, Paula. Thank you very much.
Any idea what I could do with the glass panel in the door?

Monday, 7 February 2011

The Field

Photos Copyright: Maggie May.

In my last post when I wrote about 7 things, I found myself remembering the time when we went to the Lake District every Summer Holiday and I felt I wanted to expand on that.
I was six years old and my brother, Eddie Bluelights, was 4 when I remember our first camping trip, but we may have gone before that, I don't know.
We had a grandfather, his two sisters and a brother, as well as my Dad's disabled cousin who rented a farm house in the Lake District. The farm was called Bark House because it used to be a tannery and they used bark in the process of smoking the leather. However, that was long before my assorted relatives moved in.

As we lived in what is now Cheshire, but used to be Lancashire, we went to visit the relatives every year, as it was considered fairly close.
However, getting there was no easy feat, though by todays travelling it would be fairly simple. Of course that was in the days before Motorways were even thought of and the journey took hours and we had to go through major towns like Preston and Lancaster on twisty roads with masses of traffic lights, where we got held up for ages.

I think my brother and I were privileged children in so far as we had a few more material possessions than most. (In the area where we lived, that is), but my father spent much of his money on his hobbies, such as photography, his huge record collection, and of course his car and any technical piece of apparatus that caught his fancy. My mother had to make do and mend when it came to clothes and other luxuries and we didn't ever seem to have enough things to wear. Anyway, it was post war days and lots of things were rationed. There were not so many people who had cars in those days either.

We looked forward to the Summer Holidays for weeks beforehand but from my point of view, these holidays never seemed to come up to my expectations even by the time we got home. I was always glad to get back to our little house that I loved.

Typically, at the beginning of our holiday, we ended up after a tremendously tiring journey, in a stark field with very few other campers. There was very little there except a stream that branched off a fast flowing river on the other side of some land that separated the two. The field was a reasonable walk away from Newby Bridge and we were about twelve miles away from the nearest town of Ulverston.
In other words it was in the back of beyond.

We had a tiny tent, which wasn't wholly waterproof.
Our drinking water had to be collected from a tap at the end of a field.
The toilets would send todays Health and Safety into a frenzy because they consisted of two boxed in seats, side by side in a kind of shed and whatever was dispelled from our bodies, ended up in a pit underneath. The smell was horrendous as lots of families used it and everything was swarming with flies.
My mother was constantly worrying about us getting polio because there seemed to be an outbreak of it in other parts of England and there were no vaccinations against it. I think it was a real worry, but thankfully we managed to stay well.
There were no washing facilities.
We used to go to Bark House once a week and have a bath.
That seemed the norm in those days, a weekly bath and hair wash.
My mum cooked bacon and eggs on a small paraffin stove when it wasn't raining, as the stove could only be lit outside our flimsy tent.
We bought our supplies daily from a nearby farm. The man there (who knew my grandfather), gave us honey on the comb, from the bees that he kept.
We ate copious amounts of this, on bread.

Eventually, we upgraded to a caravan that was called *The Cub.* It was rather an ugly thing, I thought, but at least we were fairly dry when the rains set in. My dad's little Morris Eight, seemed to find pulling that van up hills, a major struggle and my mother used to carry an old fashioned flat iron on her lap for the duration of the journey, just in case she needed to quickly pop it under a wheel to stop us being dragged down a hill backwards.

I seem to remember it raining continually for the duration of our three week stay.
We regularly went into Ulverston to collect exercise books and crayons and things that might keep us amused, but the rain went on and on.
We were kitted out with souwester hats and wellingtons. We must have had raincoats too but strangely, I don't remember them. I think we had gabardine school macs which were only shower proof.
My mother constantly worried that the stream would flood with all this rain and sweep us away in the night. Looking back, I think she was justified.
However, in those days a woman didn't have much say in the running of things, so she just had to put up with whatever came her way and my dad didn't move the van.
She used to call the Lake District the *Leak District*. Those lakes had to be kept filled.

By now we used to bring a cousin with us, who was my brother's age and together with our spaniel, we were extremely cramped when we battened down for the night, though there were no black beetles in the van, like there had been in the tent.

I remember a little girl whom we had befriended, called Sheila and one day, we were all crossing the stream on a little wooden plank, which was slippery after rain, so that we could get to the land between the stream and the river, in order to play there.
Sheila was only about four years old and I remember very clearly that she slipped off the plank and was swept slowly down the stream under the water, and her little white wellingtons were the last things I saw of her. I ran as fast as I could and told a man who was coming out of the toilet shed, that Sheila had fallen in.
I remember he was doing up his flies, but he quicky ran to the stream and hauled her out. She was being dragged slowly towards a Mill Race (whatever that was) but the grown ups kept saying how dangerous it was. There was an eel trap in that area and we had stood and watched them squirming while they were being skinned. Apparently there had been a few cases of children drowning during past years at this place, so the man who owned the place said.

Looking back, I cannot for the life of me think why we were allowed to run wild like that but all the children of that time were allowed freedom to explore and do quite dangerous things by todays standards. It was the norm then.
Sheila was confined to bed for the rest of the holiday as she had swallowed a lot of water. However, I think her aunty, who was bringing her up, thought we were a bad influence. Maybe that was why she was kept inside. We all thought that it wasn't fair because after all, I had got help for her. No one said thank you.
I now feel very sorry for my mother who had to go on these holidays that were obviously very stressful, year after year. I think her endurance was remarkable.

I am sorry that the photos had to be put on the blog via my camera as I don't have a scanner available.
What dangerous things did you do as a child?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Silly Spider and a Meme

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

I am normally the kind of person who doesn't like spiders, so you may well ask why I have given this one pride of place on top of this post.
Well one of the granddaughters brought it home last Halloween and it ended up on my wall and has been there ever since.
Not sure how it has ended up on my blog though.

I get a lot of memes and awards and I apologise to the kind people who send them. I am really bad about passing these on and I know that someone asked me to write seven things that you didn't know about me. I have done this kind of thing before. Now I will attempt to write another seven.

1) When I was a child, I spent much of my school holiday in the Lake District because we had relatives there. We used to go camping in a field each year, first in a tent and later a small caravan that was fairly near to the relatives farm near Coniston Water. We used to spend three weeks of every year there and it always rained for those three weeks.

2) When I was about 17, my father let me try out his Lambretta scooter on our drive and unfortunately, he didn't tell me how to stop the machine and I went straight into our front gate, which I knocked off its hinges.

3) I've never enjoyed cooking and regard it as a chore. I was taught as a child to bake cakes and make simple meals but I've never really enjoyed the process..... only the eating.

4) The house where I live now, is the 5th house that I've ever lived in and I have been here longer than any of the others. (41 years!)

5) I prefer living in a city to the country. However I do love to visit the country for short spells (especially the sea) but I am happier in the city, where everything is at at hand.

6) My first memory is probably of me being left in a pram outside a butchers shop, where my mother (and everyone else's mother) had to queue for ages to get a small bit of meat, during the war years. I can remember bouncing about with boredom until the pram tipped up and my poor mother had to come to the rescue and missed her place in the queue.

7) My favourite colour is blue, but I also like green, pink and purple. Brown is my least favourite colour.

I am really sorry that I can't remember who set me this meme.
If anyone else would like to take up the challenge then that would be great. Let me know when you do it and I'll go and read it.