Saturday 28 March 2009

The Great Escape

Memory Lane

Now I don't want to blacken My Dad's name, as he could be very kind and by the time my children had come along, he had mellowed into a lovely grandfather.
However, when I was a child, he could turn from being a very tolerant man to 'losing it altogether' and nothing in between. Yes.... he had a very short fuse.

One such occasion recently came to mind.
I was about eleven years old and my brother Godfrey was two and a half years younger.
I had adopted a small summer house at the bottom of the garden, where I played with my friend. One day, I had spent a long time stencilling pictures with paint onto paper and I was particularly pleased with the results and decided to decorate the little house with these masterpieces.

I probably wasn't the perfect sister and may well have provoked Godfrey in some way and as a result, he snatched the pictures down and ripped them up.
The Third World War broke loose. I screamed the place down and Dad, probably thinking I was being murdered, ran out to find what all the fuss was about.
Now one thing my Dad could not stand was wanton destruction and he turned on Godfrey to give him a 'thrashing' as he called it. This was very common when I was a child and parents could whack their children without getting arrested.
Godfrey knew what was coming and he was ready for it.

We lived in an end of terrace house and there was a wooden fence running the whole length of the garden. Godfrey had been blessed with long legs and he was a good sprinter. He jumped the fence no trouble at all and as he was built like a greyhound raced off over the wasteland that was on the other side of the fence.
Unfortunately my Dad was more of a bulldog in stature and although he managed to leap the fence, Godfrey was a dot on the horizon before he even started pursuing him.

After some time, my Dad came limping back, looking hot and sweaty and rather silly, I thought. He slunk into the house without saying anything and sat down to recover.
Godfrey knew from experience, that if he lay low for a couple of hours then the matter would be forgotten and that is exactly what happened....... only I didn't forget the incident.

Friday 27 March 2009

A Perfect Mother's Day Weekend

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

In England we celebrated Mothering Sunday (Mother's day) last Sunday. I am not sure if other countries celebrated it on that date or not.
I was fortunate to have my granddaughters come to spend Friday night and Saturday, along with their Dad and they returned home in time to be with their own mum/wife for the Sunday. My daughter also came over from the east coast with the grandsons and spent the whole weekend. We had a packed house and Harry and I were kept very busy.

On Saturday we decided to go and visit a lovely Garden Centre, where we browsed for much of the afternoon.
I helped the eldest grandson, Rick to buy a present for his mum. I had thought it was going to be hard for Deb this year as she didn't have her husband to organize present buying with the children, as he died the previous autumn. Rick is autistic so he really needed to have some help with present buying. Dean, the younger brother, had already managed to buy a small gift from a school sale and both the boys had made their own cards.

I managed to get Rick on his own and asked what he wanted to get for his Mum. He had no money so I knew I would have to buy a present! He spent quite a long time looking and then spotted a huge dragon ornament. It was breathing fire and had wings open. It was obviously too expensive and was getting on for a hundred pounds!
Rick understood that he couldn't buy it but was hankering after that dragon for a long time and couldn't take his eyes off it and talked about it for a while afterwards.
Eventually we saw some small garden ornaments that we could afford, as Rick was completely set on buying one of these and he eventually bought a small stone donkey pulling a basket with room for a little plant to go in the back. He was very pleased with that.
We all bought something at the Garden Centre. My son, Sam, concentrated on buying things to eat for planting in his garden and came home carrying assorted currant bushes as well as a small tub of pretty flowers for the girls to give their mum.

On our way out, we noticed these upside down plants in pots and I just couldn't resist taking a photo of them. I have never seen anything quite like them before. However I resisted the temptation to have one as there was nothing that I could have attached one to in my pocket sized garden.
It was lovely and warm over the weekend.... just like summer. This week the weather turned around and it is as cold as winter again. However I will remember that Mother's Day weekend as a really pleasant one, spent with my family, receiving presents and being taken to put some silk flowers on my parents' grave.
The love of a family for each other, is not to be taken for granted.
I feel I shall remember this particular one in years to come! Maybe I am just being sentimental.

Photostory Friday is hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek.

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Weird Weir Picture

Whenever I look at this photo of a pleasure boat giving a tour at Pulteney Weir in Bath, Somerset, I always think that there seems to be something wrong with it.
It gives the impression that the boat might be stranded on dry land, probably because the eye is not expecting to see a boat so high up in the scene. Am I the only one that feels that way?

Although it looks as though the boat might end up being swept over the weir, the stretch of water is much wider than it looks, though one boat did capsize once. Fortunately everyone on board was rescued, including a heavily pregnant lady.
I took this photo in the height of our summer last year. It is a lovely place and I do like to visit Bath whenever I can.
If you'd like to go on a trip, click the link above and hold on tightly!

I wonder what my son Sam is publishing on his Watery Wednesday this week?

Sunday 22 March 2009

Screen Cursors?

I overheard a strange conversation the other day between Millie and her granddad.
"Granddad, are you dead yet?"
His reply was, "No but I am tied up in a net waiting to be rescued."
They were playing Bugdom on an old laptop. The latest craze of the granddaughters when they visit us.

When I was a child we had no television. In fact I cannot recall anyone having a TV until I was well into my teens. Obviously there were no computers either.
Books were always great joy and having some one read me a story was a wonderful treat. I was a fairly good reader though and spent many happy hours reading my own stories.
My brother and I loved the radio and while listening, we could draw, and do any other craftwork that we wanted to.
We were out in the fresh air most of the time exploring our local environment, long before it was considered a terrible risk to go out unaccompanied by a grown up.
How things have changed.

I have noticed when my four grand children come to visit, they come armed with Nintendo DS, favourite DVDs, in fact anything that is dependent on a screen! From the four year old to the almost thirteen year old, they are not happy unless they have their heads down staring at some game or video.
However when I can prise them away, they do usually enjoy an outing even if it is after much protesting beforehand.
What is going on? Why is it such a battle to get them to go out?
Why are children only interested in staring into a screen? Is it the curse of modern day living?

"Come on," I say, "We are going to go for a lovely walk and get some exercise."
Completely blanking me out, I raise my voice.
"Ding, ding, ding......... I am over here...... look at me. We are going out for some exercise."

When I eventually get their attention and they protest about my unreasonable request to leave the screens, and I mention that there's no way you would get me to stare at a screen all day, Amber casually looks up and says, "But you're a blogger!"
Uhhhhmmmmm well ......

Friday 20 March 2009

Bridge That Gap.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

I met up with my good friend, Hetty and she took me to this wonderful place, Clifton Suspension Bridge, that is the pride of Bristol. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel the work on the bridge was started in 1862 and completed in 1864, five years after his death. So he never got to see it!

The bridge spans a great chasm (known as the Avon Gorge) there is a span of 213 metres and is 61 metres above the River Avon.

A favourite place for rock climbers, the Avon Gorge can provide plenty of practice but it isn't for the faint hearted. It's a long way down!

Had to risk life and limb to get this picture! There is a toll to get across the bridge but nothing to pay if you go on foot as Hetty and I did!

Even walking on this footpath makes you feel a bit giddy when you look down and the bridge does shake and rock a bit when traffic goes over it.

Look at the lovely view though, and the tide was in on this occasion. We are looking out towards the Bristol Channel that meets the Avon just beyond the corner, on the horizon of the water.
Hetty and I sat for a while on the other side of the bridge and had a good gossip. Then we walked back again, had a walk on top of the cliffs and ended up in a little cafe in Clifton village. We gossiped some more before going home. Hetty is one of those friends that you could say anything to and she accepts you just as you are.
A real, true friend and good company! Hope you are reading this Hetty!

Photostory Friday is hosted by Cicely and MamaGeek. Why not pay them a visit?

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Oasis In A Busy City

I thought that it would make a change to enter a Watery Wednesday post instead of my usual Wordless Wednesday.
There is seldom a shortage of water in England and we don't have to go far without coming across it in some form or another.
Although I am allowed to write on this post, unlike Wordless Wednesday, I'm not sure what else to say! Isn't it always the way?

Footnote: My son, Sam is also joining in with this theme today. Why not pay him a visit?

Monday 16 March 2009

Freedom At A Price

Once again it is time to write Portrait of Words, which is a monthly challenge to write a fictional story about a given theme. You could go to Jeff B's Blog and look at the photos. I do not use the photos in my stories.
The March story had to be about a trendy boy in his twenties, feature a coach with a Japanese background, a piano, a dentist and a rusty bag of screws. Brilliant!

Only in his early twenties, Tom Berry knew that he was really lucky to have found a sponsor to send him to Tokyo for two weeks. This seemed to be beyond his wildest dreams. He was excelling in his piano playing and he was a good singer too. He had played in several English cities and had proved to be popular. This was to be his first tour overseas. A different culture. A different race, on the other side of the World.

Tom flew from Heathrow to Narita and was met by Miho Tanaka, who was the representative of the firm who had sponsored him.
She gave a short bow, produced a business card and ushered Tom towards a luxury coach that was to take him the two and a half hour journey into Tokyo.
Miho was a typically slim, petite Japanese woman in her thirties. After the first courteous greeting and then the small talk, they relaxed into the plush seats and into an easy silence.
Tom had been travelling for a long time as his plane journey had been twelve hours long, but he had spent hours travelling to Heathrow before he even started the flight. It had been mid day when he boarded the plane in England and now it was first light in Japan. The excitement had kept him awake on the plane, so now he was feeling jet lagged.
In between dozing, Tom stole glances at Miho when he thought she wasn't looking, but he knew she had been looking at him and had pretended to be shy and diverted her eyes when she realized he had noticed.

Not long into his tour, Tom developed a gnawing toothache that threatened the whole trip. He had appeared on stage in Tokyo for three nights when it first started to bother him. Miho had soon found a dentist for him and he was surprised at the difference between Japanese and English dentistry. This dentist took out the old filling and made an impression of the hole that was to be filled. The filling would be tailor made and fitted at the end of several visits. He left his first visit with a temporary filling and his pain had gone. On his last appointment at the dentist, Tom was very impressed with his new white filling that was cemented in to the cavity. He was really grateful to Miho for finding him such a good dentist.

Most of the audience at the theatre where he was playing, seemed to be made up of what looked like schoolgirls in white socks and short skirts and they tried to mob him afterwards. He was proving to be quite popular.
Tom was seeing Miho regularly and she seemed very eager to meet him in sushi bars and to accompany him for a drink after his gigs.
Although she was a good deal older than he was, Tom found Miho really attractive, especially after all those school girl fans. They had slept together several times but Tom realized that this relationship wasn't going anywhere and he had tried to cool it.
Miho wouldn't take no for an answer. She turned up everywhere that Tom went, whether it was at the theatre or in a bar - whether alone or with people from his sponsor group, Miho was always there. She shadowed him wherever he went, so he began to ignore her.
Her eyes were dark and steely. He had no idea what was going on behind them. They could be soulful one minute and look cold and distant the next. All Tom knew was that he had to get away from her. He felt he was being stalked. He needed his freedom. He was young.
She had told him she was going to come to England to be with him. She was going where he was going and for the first time in his life Tom felt suffocated and disturbed.

The night before he was due to go home, Tom spent the evening in an English bar that he'd frequented over the last few days and lots of British people as well as other foreigners spent time there. All foreigners were known as Gaijin to the Japanese. The exact meaning of the word is outside people.
Laughing and drinking with some people who had befriended him, Tom looked up.......... to find himself looking straight into those deep pools that happened to be Miho's eyes.
He walked over to her.

"You know its my last night,"He stated. "Tomorrow I fly back to England."
Miho showed him her ticket. She was flying too. She was looking for a sponsor so that she could stay there a long time.
He took her arm and they walked out into the night. Tom kissed her in a stairway and Miho leant against a door, while Tom pressed his body against hers. The door started to open and they stopped and looked at the steps that went down into a kind of cellar.
"Let's go and find a place to be alone," Tom suggested as they made their way down the steps and Miho eagerly went down into the cellar, following him.

There was not much light down there and there was nobody about. A window at street level let in enough light for Tom to see the surroundings and it seemed to be a place where carpentry items were stored. He noticed saws and hammers and nails.
He drew Miho towards him and she surrendered to his kisses.
With a swift movement of his right arm, he picked up a bag of rusty screws and clutching the bag firmly in his hand, he smashed it into the back of Miho's head.
She gave a gasp and her legs crumpled slightly. Her eyes reflected horror and disbelief when she realized what was happening and she started to struggle. By then Tom had snatched a hammer which he smashed into her head with all his strength.
She crumpled down onto the floor like a rag doll.
Tom slowly walked out of this place into the Tokyo night. He felt free again.

Sunday 15 March 2009

Recovering Garden

I am pleased to say that my little garden is slowly recovering from the shock of the recent underpinning work under the kitchen, that left trampled plants and flowers and mud and cement everywhere as well as all the litter and things that builders leave around.

I spent a very pleasant afternoon tidying up rubbish and washing cement from surfaces. I expect I will ache all over tomorrow but it is worth it to get my little garden in some kind of semblance again. Do you like the pulmonaria? It is one of my favourites.
Can you see the wheelbarrow leaning against the back gate? I wish I knew what to do with it. I asked Harry this afternoon and he said, "Put it on top of the shed!" Now that would look good, wouldn't it? Unfortunately there is no room inside the shed. It was bought to do the underpinning and has become a much loved piece of equipment. Not by me!

Friday 13 March 2009

The Environment and Bags

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

As many of you know, I am very much into recycling and saving things.
Harry and I have both taken large things to the city tip and smaller unwanted items get taken to Charity shops.

I am still putting out my clippings from my garden shrubs for the Council to pick up weekly and that seems an endless task. By the time the honeysuckle on one side of the garden has been brought under control, it is time to prevent the shrubs on the other side from taking over. Never mind, I do not begrudge the Council from taking my cuttings and turning them into compost to be sold, even though I pay for the bin hire. No I think that is a very good thing to do.
I am still saving all the paper and separating it from card. The aluminium is still going to Church to sponsor a girl in Bangladesh and I still tend to pick up cans in the street for recycling when I see them cluttering up our local area.
I sort out glass and tin for the kerbside collection and I take plastic to recycling points. Now we can take plastic bottles and plastic bags to the same point and also even silver lined milk cartons too.
I've mentioned before that it is all rather time consuming but I don't mind in the least.

I am sometimes concerned when I read that things that have been carefully separated and recycled have been seen to be squashed back together only to be sent to China or another faraway country, in containers for disposal there. Other news bulletins have proclaimed that recycled things do end up in landfill sites either here or in distant lands, but I give the Council the benefit of the doubt, thinking to myself that it is all worthwhile and the majority of recycled stuff does go to where it is supposed to.

The latest thing is to try and get rid of the use of plastic bags. They are horrible things and take years to break down and animals get their heads stuck in them and suffocate or chew them up and die. Many shops are now asking if you can manage without a bag and some even charge for plastic bags and this seems to be a very sensible idea.

I cannot resist the temptation to buy a cheap cotton bag from a charity shop or supermarket to help a cause and to save the planet and have more than the collection in the photograph. So please tell me why I inevitably get to the shops and forget to pick up the bags before I set out? Thus leaving me bag-less!
Might it be better to give out paper carriers with our goods, like they did when I was young, even if there was a small cost? Of course that was in the days before plastic bags were invented.

Photostory Friday is hosted by Cicely and MamaGeek. Why not pop over and see some really good posts?

Wednesday 11 March 2009

Wordless Wednesday.

Look up Sam's blog and last weeks Wordless Wednesday on my blog.

Sunday 8 March 2009

Noises From Above

I recently had a little chuckle when I read a comment that my blogging friend Jackie, otherwise known as Mother's Pride had left in my last post about happiness/contentment.
I had listed things that had hardly cost me anything money wise, that brought me contentment and she wrote "You could have put....... not hearing noises from above."
Well yes..... this would have given me immense pleasure, make me really happy even. Definitely happy. Not hearing noises from above.

Her remark brought to mind all sorts of things though.
"Have I got bats in my belfry?" Does she think I am hearing noises in my head?

"Have I got access to noises from God above my head?" Some people think that thunder is God moving his furniture around!
Well when God speaks to me it is in a gentle way through my thoughts, things I read, especially in the Bible and feelings ....... not by noises from above!

Jackie was of course referring to the rat noises in my kitchen roof, just above the ceiling.
Well, why have I got a squirrel picture on this post and not a rat? You might well ask. Have you ever tried to take a picture of a rat? I might be able to hear the wretched things but I cannot see them. Now that sounds like the bats in the belfry interpretation again!
Anyway, a squirrel is the best I can do for now. Some say they are as bad as rats anyway. If they were in my roof they would do just as much damage, so I have been told. The smells would be just the same, though squirrels do seem more respectable than rats, don't they?

I was not going to say anything until May Day! That seemed a perfect day to announce one way or another whether the underpinning has worked and whether we have still got rat problems or not.

I was too hasty when I wrote telling you about The Empty Silence some time ago and that didn't have a happy ending.
I will not tempt fate a second time by saying that nothing more has been heard. I think Cath was right when she said in a comment that she thought the rats read my blog and that they like to wind me up! All I know is that the one we heard that night, died! How do I know that? Don't even ask. All I am saying is that the incense sticks that we had left over from the last mass death above the ceiling, came in mighty handy.

Nothing more is being said on the subject then till May Day! Do you get that all you readers! I am NOT BOTHERED one way or the other!
The kitchen roof is coming off in the summer, ANYWAY!

Friday 6 March 2009

That Sinking Feeling

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Ever had a sinking feeling, when everything seems to get you down?
While I was feeling in that kind of mood not long ago, I was half listening to the radio when something caught my attention. A councellor was giving a little talk and explained that when things start to get one down, it was a good idea to make a list of things that made one feel happy and concentrate on those things for a while.

Apart from the usual things like family, friends, pets and personal faith, what makes me happy?
I think that content is  a better word than happy, as happiness tends to be fleeting and contentment lasts much longer.
I started to think about it and made a little list and these are the things that came to mind.

* I am contented when I have a few hours to myself after a busy day at school.

* The start of a school holiday (though this tends to wear off as the time goes on and I might even start to get bored!)

* Spending time with a good book and no interruptions.

* Looking out of the window and watching the birds feeding.

* Snuggling between clean sheets.

* The smell of clean washing.

* Sitting by a fire and watching TV, when the wind howls outside, feeling safe, warm and secure.

* The way the sun shines on a flower or shrub and how intense the light is in the Spring sun.

* Settling down to uninterrupted sessions of photography, writing and crafts.

* Receiving a letter from a loved one who has not written for ages.

* A Saturday evening sharing a take a way and a bottle of wine with my other half.

* Getting on a bus to the sea using a free bus pass!

* The satisfaction felt after doing a dreaded household chore.

* Singing my favourite praise songs with friends in Church.

I could go on and on. Have you noticed that most of these things cost next to nothing? Am I easily pleased or what?
So go on, what things make you happy? 

Photostory Friday is hosted by Cicely and MamaGeek. Why not pay them a visit?

Sunday 1 March 2009

A Serious Conversation!

Millie aged four, announced unexpectedly, "Granny I was in Mummy's tummy, one day. How about you?"

"I was also in my mummy's tummy a long time ago," I replied.

She looked at me incredulously and asked the inevitable question.
"Which mummy? I haven't seen her."
I replied, "My mummy died because she was very old and so did my daddy. They are in Heaven now and that is why we can't see them."

Millie thought for a bit and replied, "I buried some one once but I can't remember who it was. Who was it Granny?"

I had to think for a moment. Was it the Japanese great grandmother? 
Then the penny dropped!
"Oh...... that was Rick and Dean's daddy, last summer," I replied.

Millie nodded and I expected some more very difficult questions because the whole thing had been very traumatic for all the family.
The conversation was obviously going to be carried on.
"Granny, why is Buzz Light Year doing that?" She asked as she continued to watch the video that was still on, but had been temporarily forgotten ........

Footnote for newcomers:- My son in law died last September and the children went to the funeral. Rick and Dean are Millie's cousins.

A few minutes later on her way to nursery with her Daddy, she continued her conversation. See Sam's Blog for more. (I hope you like Morris dancing!)