Tuesday 28 February 2017

Say Sandwich!!!

Yes Joe, I STOLE your post title!!!

For those who have no idea what that title means take a look at this post and all will be explained.

So Yesterday I was doing a little sorting out.  There's been a lot of that going on around here in the last few months.

For reasons I won't go into detail about now I have been getting my house (literally and figuratively) into order.  Putting things in place, sorting finances, getting paperwork straight.

Now it strikes me that I'm making it all sound a little sinister!  Fear not Fudgers, it's all good here I'm just looking to clear the decks and have a fresh start.

Anyway, yesterday was the turn of the top of one of the wardrobes!

I knew there was stuff up there but I'll confess it had been some considerable time since I'd known exactly what that stuff may be.

As it turned out there were all the baby records including discharge papers from the hospital and new born photos taken by the hospital photographer.

There were also many cards hand made by the children, a couple of defunct desk fans and a bag of Christmas presents from years ago that I'd completely forgotten about.

There were also a few old school reports and several text books belonging to Miss Mac from when she first started school.

And rather a lot of dust ...

Of course I ignored the dust and sat down on the bedroom floor amid the mess that I had made to read those books from cover to cover and I laughed, and I cried and I laughed until I cried.

Want to see why?


(go on, read that post - you know you want to!).

Well, the first book I read was clearly an English book.  It was full of spelling tests, comprehension and, the best bit, stories about Miss Mac's weekends.

This was the first entry in March 2006:

Would any Muthers Day be complete without flours, some cack and a braslut?

I think not ...

Then I turned the page and it got even better!

I want to go to a party where they play my oozicol statuous (2 times!) and have singing cone tests!

I want to go to a party where they have kack and gine pigs.

And then ...


Funnily enough it happens to be Shrove Tuesday today and so I will be making pancakes for Miss Mac and I.

SD, very oddly in my opinion, isn't a fan of pancakes - this I cannot comprehend.

Perhaps he is scarred by the childhood belief that what he is being offered is in fact 'Pancocks'!!!

Finally, I could really empathise with Miss Mac's teacher with this one:

Because I too was worried that I might not ever stop laughing.

Happy Pancake Day everyone!

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Broken Dreams

Broken Dreams

There is grey in your hair.
Young men no longer suddenly catch their breath
When you are passing;

William B Yeats

It's Big D's Birthday tomorrow and I'm making him a chocolate cake.  I'm going to cover it in chocolate ganache and decorate it with galaxy mini eggs covered in gold if I can find them.  Of course, I COULD have decorated them with the ones I bought last night if I hadn't eaten them ...

Big D is going to be 33 ...

THIRTY THREE!!! How did that happen???

Gosh that makes me feel old ...

Age is a funny thing isn't it.  In my head I'm still probably in my early 30's but I really can't escape the fact that next month I will be 51 and in April my youngest child will be 18.

Does it bother me?

Well, I'd like to think it doesn't really but I'm not sure that's true.

The truth is that getting older is so much better than the alternative but it's still something I'm learning to live with (ironic as that may sound).

In the last year I've started to need reading glasses to read a book or to see the texts on my phone.  That seemed to happen really suddenly.  I even asked my doctor if it was connected to the high blood pressure I'd also developed but no, he seemed to think it was just age related.

I've noticed a stiffness in my joints that was never there before.  If I've been sitting for a while then I have to stretch out the stiffness when I get up.  I think twice about sitting on the ground these days because I can't just bounce back up like I used to and, when I look in the mirror, there are the signs I can't ignore.  The lines around my eyes, the grey that threads through my hair and the loss of that youthful glow that I took so much for granted.

I wish I'd appreciated my youth more.  I guess I though it would last forever.

I don't wish for my life to be any different from that which it is right now.  I'm happy, my life is good.  I have good people around me so maybe I'm being greedy.

It's easy to blame society for those feelings.  A world that focuses on youth, that defines people by their age and of course that plays a part but it's more than that.

I miss the energy I used to have.  I forget that I'm not quite as young as I used to be and I take on tasks in the same way I always have.  I will walk the coastal path all day and spend a couple of hours digging in the garden or cycle along the canal for hours and I am so grateful that I'm able to do all of those things but the next day or the day after I am reminded by the aches and pains that my body, although it allows me to do those things, struggles a little more and I hate that.

I've also become aware that I no longer turn heads in the same way that I used to.  How shallow does it sound to say that 'out loud' but it's true.  It's just another thing that I took for granted that has gradually declined.

I tell myself that that's ok, it's not a big deal, I don't need the constant validation that I used to crave and it's true, I really don't because I'm so much happier in my skin than I was when I was younger.

I wish I'd had the confidence I have now when I was young.  It seems to me it would have been the perfect combination.

If I had to choose I would be me now (which is just as well really) but I'm a little sad that younger me didn't see the possibilities.  Didn't have that self belief.  Needed that validation and possibly didn't fulfil her potential because of those insecurities.

So maybe what I'm really sad about is that younger me didn't have the advantages that older me now has NOT the other way around ...

Sure it was nice to be admired, it was great to have all that boundless energy - it's amazing that feeling of being invincible but what I have now is more real.  To use a few catch phrases, I'm more grounded, more centred, I have found myself rather than blindly running around trying to be SOMETHING.

Sacrificing the odd glance, the pretty compliments from strangers is a small price to pay for that I think.

So, although it may sound like the superficial things are so important to me they really aren't. 

I'm just being honest. 

Thursday 9 February 2017

The Scourge Of The Self Checkoutt (a re-run and and update)

THINGS happen to me!

Now, I'm not convinced (however many people tell me otherwise) that THINGS don't happen to other people too.

You know what?

I'm RIGHT!!!

I saw this today on Facebook:

And it reminded me of a post I wrote a few years ago:

This new craze for self checkout in supermarkets.

Never yet has it given me the 'seamless shopping experience' it promises. Why does it talk to me if it doesn't want me to answer back? 'Unexpected item in bagging area' is the favourite! Why wasn't it expecting it? I just bloody scanned it didn't I? 'Please remove item from bagging area', which one? I have 12!!! ' Please wait for assistance', flashing lights, loud beeping, everyone's looking at me like I'm trying to make off with 3 bananas, a twin pack of loo roll and a packet of custard creams!

My children now prefer not to shop with me, it always ends in (my) tears but, unsuspecting friends still insist I use the self checkout despite my protestations, telling me its so quick, so easy, what can I say MORE FOOL THEM, they learn the hard way.

Sainsburys last week, 'friend' use the self checkout, 'me' no, 'friend' use the self checkout, 'me' noooo, 'friend' use the damn self check out will you, 'me' ok. Five items required three visits from the assistant with their magic swipe card and then, just when you would think nothing else could go wrong, I emptied the contents of my purse into the little change compartment (don't you love it when you do that and the total cost of your shopping is four pounds ninety eight, your change that you've poured in comes to four pounds eleven and you only have a ten pound note to pay the balance, you end up with more change than you were trying to get rid of!).

Anyway, I digress, this time, the machine happily swallowed my money but the screen still flashed, 'please insert coins or notes to the value of your shopping' It had EATEN my money! No flashing light, no beeping, no bloody call for assistance. I stood there jumping up and down waving my arms (my 'friend' long gone) until eventually I attracted the notice of an assistant. Followed lots of head scratching and 'are you sure you put the money in', Yeees. 'I'll just call someone else' and 'I think we need a supervisor' by which time I was hanging my head in shame.

Have you ever seen the inside workings of one of those machines? Fascinating! Ten minutes unlocking various bits, tracing the path my money should have taken, 'are you sure you put the money in', YEEES before finally, they located it. A further five minutes to put the machine back together and then, THEY EXPECTED ME TO DO IT ALL AGAIN!

Since writing this post they have introduced a 5p charge for bags which in theory is a GREAT - unless ...

Well, UNLESS you are at a self checkout.

If you are at a self checkout THIS is what happens:

1. It asks you before you start if you want to purchase any bags and you say no because you've brought your own

 2. but then it wont let you pack directly into them because 'unexpected item' and it thinks you are trying to STEAL a bag

3. So you have to scan everything first and put it on the postage stamp sized bagging area

 4. But stuff falls off because you've piled it so high

 5. So it announces that you have 'removed' an item from the bagging area.

 6. THEN you have to try and pack everything (and all the soft stuff is now on the top)

 7. while you are trying to pack everything without crushing your eggs and bread it repeatedly shouts at you 'Thank you for shopping in (wherever) - please take your items while the huge queue that has formed behind you tuts at how long you're taking!

Monday 6 February 2017

Where Are You From? (A Rewind From Waaay Back)

Something go me thinking about the place where I grew up earlier.  I'm not sure what it was, maybe another blog post I was reading, I'm not sure.

I remembered this post that I wrote many years ago, probably in the first year I started blogging and I thought I'd share it here again ... 

Where Are You From?

When I’m asked this question I pause, where am I from? I've lived in many places but only really felt I belonged in one.

 My formative years were spent in a variety of places from Scotland to Australia but if home really is where the heart is, then I’m from South Devon.

I spent much of my childhood on and off in a small seaside village in South Devon. This is the village where my Grandparents lived, the village in which my Mother grew up.

It was our base, our security. When everything else fell apart around us (as it frequently did) this is where we would run.  Sometimes it was in between moves (My Father was in the Navy), sometimes for holidays and when I was 9 and my parents marriage broke up we moved back there to live.

The village  is split into 3 parts.  The start of the village is called St Anns Chapel, I'm not sure why.  Maybe there was a chapel there at some point but if so, it's long gone. There is a Pub, the Pickwick Inn although I believe the name has been changed in recent years, a  shop where you could buy just about everything and a small group of houses.  There used to be a small gift shop selling little ornaments with 'A Gift from Devon' stamped on them and sticks of Rock with Devon right through the center.

 A little further down the road, before you get to the village proper was the small group of mismatched houses where we lived.

My Grandparents had  built a long low bungalow on a large plot of land  they bought when they first married.

The bungalow was split into two  parts. The main house from which my Grandmother ran their Bed and Breakfast business during the Summer months and a small annex with one bedroom.  This annex they used to rent out to a gentleman, Mr Price, I never did know his story.  He was always smartly dressed and very proper. He used to buy us liquorice stick sometimess, not the black sticky commercial kind but real twigs that when you chewed them had a strong liquorice taste.

There were 4 houses on our side of the road.  Next door lived an elderly lady, Mrs Warren who used to be the village midwife. Her son reputedly lived with her but in all the years I lived there I never saw him.  She was very much a loaner but sometimes she used to stop and talk to me  and once she gave me a painted wooden train that had belonged to her son.  In return I picked her a bunch of Sweet William from my Grandmothers garden and left them on her doorstep.

Across the road  in the old police house lived Uncle Max and Auntie Mary. The police house was a large imposing building with a beautiful garden.  They weren’t really our Aunt and Uncle but as in the familiar way of country life we had many ‘Aunt’ and ‘Uncles’ in the village.

Not actually Auntie Mary but very reminiscent of her
They were an extremely dashing pair. The epitome of 1940’s chic, an era they had obviously decided so suited them that they chose not to leave it.  Auntie Mary wore beautifully tailored linen slacks and crisp blouses and a scarf tied around her head and wrapped around her slender throat Grace Kelly style.  Uncle Max smoothed his abundant jet black hair back with Bay Rum Pomade and belted around the country lanes in his little red sports car with his golf clubs in the back.  they always seemed so happy, so in love, so full of fun and life.

Also not the actual kissing gates but similar
A little further down the road was the church.  You could get  to get to it, either by road, or take the shortcut through the kissing gates and across the cornfield.  The corn of my youth was so much taller than today.  I may have been a lot smaller then but the corn reached my shoulders, waving its golden ears gently in the breeze alive with butterflies and ladybirds.

St Lawrence's Church Bigbury
I spent a lot of time at and around the church as a child.  Granddad was a bell ringer and sometimes used to take me up to the bell tower, this was reached by a narrow staircase up the side of the building, he would let me pull on the ropes and laugh when I couldn't elicit a sound from them.

Every Sunday after Church he would go to the other pub in the village, The Royal Oak, for two halves of mild and a game of domino's. .  I don’t know why he never drank pints but it was always two halves

My Grandmother  the driving force in their marriage as so many women of her era were was a stickler for tradition.  Sunday lunch was served at one pm, never mind that Granddad was never home on a Sunday until 1:15.  One o’clock was lunchtime every other day of the week and so it was on a Sunday too. We would sit there waiting while our food cooled until Granddad, on the dot of the quarter hour made his appearance.

Granddad  also sometimes filled in for the local gravedigger (excuse the pun).  I would sit on a nearby grave and watch him first carefully remove the layer of grass exposing the rich soil underneath and then digging down, the earth in a neat pile beside him. I was fascinated by the way he seeming disappeared into the earth, almost as though he were being absorbed until only his flat cap was visible.

This could be the same window
My Grandmother was in the privileged position of having a church window of her own.  This was a much coveted honour.  Every Harvest Festival, Christmas and Easter the church was decorated.  There was an unspoken rivalry between the ladies of the village to have the most spectacular window display.  Great boughs of holly and Ivy would be gathered at Christmas, offerings of  giant pumpkins, russet apples and sheaves of corn at harvest time.  Delicate bunches of primroses and daffodils filled the deep stone sills at Easter filling the dusty air with their perfume.

Next to the church was a house that always stood empty.  It was a three stories high, made of dark grey brick and stood in its own grounds.  At one time it had been a very grand manor  house but now it was neglected, empty and rather run down.  It had its own little stone stairway up to the church.  At the top of the stairway tucked under the hedge grew Violets, purple and white, tiny delicate flowers with a delicate scent.  But the best thing of all was hidden from view.  There was secret garden!  At one time it must have been magnificent but now it was overgrown and had fallen into decay. But to us it was a wonderland of small stone walls and bushes to play hide and seek.

Behind the garden was an orchard where, despite not having been tended for many years the small gnarled trees still bore an abundance of sweet rosy apples in the Autumn and we used to fill our pockets with them as fuel when we went exploring.

The second part of the village boasted the another pub, this was where Granddad would sup his ale on a Sunday after church.  There was also the local village shop and Post Office where they weighed out sweets by the ounce and broke up toffee with a hammer.  There was a garage attached to the shop where self service had never been heard of and Mr Bardons clad in his oily overalls would fill up your tank for you while discussing the weather or the price of fish or just about anything else you wanted to chat about.

The prettiest houses were in this part of the village. Proper chocolate box houses with thatched roofs and roses around the door.

Here, down a small winding lane lived Miss Pierce and Miss Burrows, the founders of the BCC, Bigbury Cheery Christians.  This was in the days before computers, games consoles or even morning television. When children were encouraged to be out all day everyday. They were well travelled ladies and their house was crammed with memorabilia from all over the world.  At Christmas the postman was laden with cards with exotic stamps from every corner of the globe.
Theirs was like this but in a dark green

These ladies drove around in a Morris Minor Woodie. This set them apart from the bread baking, flower arranging WI women of the village as most ladies of their age didn't drive.

The BCC was designed to encourage children to think of others. They told us tales of their travels, about the hunger and difficulties faces by many children in other countries.  They showed us how to be grateful for the things we took for granted. We used to go Primrose picking in the Spring and then deliver the bunches of flowers around the village.  To the elderly, the ill, new mothers, whoever these lovely ladies felt could do with a bit of cheering up or joy in their lives.

They used to provide our little mixed band of half a dozen children with squash and biscuits and devise treasure hunts in their garden which was full of little streams and waterfalls with winding pebble paths.

Our parents trusted us with these ladies and were no doubt, in part, grateful for the free babysitting service.  The ladies had an air of peace and contentment, a happiness that comes of a life well lived and no regrets.  They didn’t participate in the mainstream of village life, they were ‘different’ maybe slightly exotic although they were English to the core.  They had been to places and seen things which set them aside from the average villager but they were well liked and very much respected.

The third part of the village was about two miles further on down a long road with a very steep hill.

This part of the village has a story of its very own which I will share in its own post another time.

But here's a sneak preview ...

And, if you have a few minutes to spare and you would like to hear about Edward and Mrs Simpson - Agatha Christie - Lord Mountbatten - Noel Coward and many more who visited this place - check out the video below.