Thursday, June 28, 2012

What day is it?

MTL reminded me that today is 33 years since I left everything to come and live with him.  There has so much been happening lately I quite forgot.

MTL: ‘Are you glad you came?’

Pat:     ‘Of course (remembering the late Norah Ephron’s mother’s deathless phrase) it’s all copy.’

 So many reasons to celebrate but I am leaving the champers till tomorrow night when our Australian family return from two days in Bath.

Ooh and Andy Murray won!.

Norah Ephron Requiem in Pace

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Results of Saga Life Story Competition

The winner was announced in the July Issue of Saga – out today.  She is Iris Jones Simantel and her book ‘Far from the East End’ is already published and available from July 19th.  It is the true story of a former evacuee from the East End.

The two runners-up are Patricia Crayton who was one of the first female members of the police force, and myself.

"Our two runners-up each win a £100 and the glory of beating some 5,000 submissions to the podium.
Penguin hopes that these life stories will also find their way into print in due course.

Pat Mackay fell in love as a young nurse but was jilted by her boy friend without explanation.  Left heartbroken she picked herself up and began a roller coaster of a life, nursing children during the Forties, being a top photographic model in the Fifties and starting her own business in the Sixties.  Then after 30 years of no contact, she and her first love were reunited and they have been happily married for 32 years."

Penguin editor's comment:
"Books about nurses’ experiences are immensely popular, but Pat's was the story of a fascinating life on top.
To have rediscovered her 'true love 'was remarkable and testament to the saying that life can often be stranger than fiction'.

Congratulations to Iris and Patricia and I hope that both Patricia and I will see our life stories in print in the not too distant future.

Finally thank you once more Daphne http://daphnewaynebough.blogspot/
for making me enter the competition

A gift
Not many people have it – my DIL certainly has; the ability to choose exactly the right present for the right person at the right time.  It is no secret that I am an Helenophile but she can’t possibly have known that I was having an intense orange phase.

 I treasure the many gifts she has given me over the years but this one – a most unexpected surprise during their visit here - rivals the old favourites.

 The scarf is designed by Julia Abadie and is based on Cretan ceramic art from the Minoan period.  It marries fine lines with solid colours.
The design seduces with its expressive simplicity and its consummate decorative art.  Beauty transcends time, always.

Photos below.
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Congratulations Tom on your degree and your new job.

 Tom with Grandma and Great Grandma
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Chapel Cleeve

Chapel Cleeve is a Grade 11 listed manor house – quite close to us; in fact one of its many guises throughout the years was as an hotel where Sheila, my help, remembers going to dances with chicken in a basket as the plat de jour.  This was about 40 years ago.  Another young girl who enjoyed the dances was Jeannie Wilkins now a delightful lady in her sixties.

In 1998 Jeannie and her partner bought the crumbling manor - which dates back to the 1400s - at auction for £360,000.  With a group of friends dubbed ‘The A Team’  they started to renovate the mansion but then sadly six years ago – after 33 years the couple parted, ‘The A Team’ disintegrated and Jeannie was left alone, barely surviving with her six cats.

Then – courtesy of Channel 4 along comes a knight in shining armour: business man and entrepreneur Simon Davis.  His aim is ‘to help house owners achieve what they themselves can’t …and to stop Jeannie crying.’  Jeannie wonders if Simon hasn’t been sent from above.  On a tour of the house Simon is impressed by the beauty of the rooms that have been renovated and appalled by the ones that haven’t.

The renovated rooms are freezing as Jeannie cannot afford to heat them other than by  inadequate log fires.  There are some magical camera shots where you can see the Minehead steam train puffing by and Chapel Cleeve with a wintry moon above its towers is the most romantic of visions.

After a restless night for Simon – listening to all the creepy sounds - he elicits from Jeannie that at least half a million pounds is needed to finish the renovation.  Possibly inspired by his restless night he comes up with a number of ideas.  One is to organise ghost tours enacted by a local drama group.  Customers will pay £24 and be delivered by the steam train.  After the ghost tour, refreshments are served which are paid for.  Personally I can’t wait to try it out.

Another idea of Simon’s is to let some of the rooms to a local arts charity – a group of them came to inspect the house and became enthused after doing a tour with Jeannie.  His best – most brilliant idea was to engage trainee artisans from a local college to practise plastering, decorating and carpentry supervised by their instructor.  To see ten of them hard at it in one of the rooms with Jeannie beaming at them was heart-warming.  Jeannie thought she was in Heaven.

In spite of her age Jeannie seem pretty fit; she takes the stairs at quite a lick and scrambles over the roof replacing tiles.  She really deserves to prosper and see benefit from all the years of hard work and heart-break.

Country House Rescue Channel 4

Chapel Cleeve

 Jeannie and Simon
 The Ghost Busters
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

This is an experiment to see if I can add captions. I took these photos in Chard Museum'

I suspect this school teacher had another life as a shop window model in Selfridges.

Workers - young and old. Sometimes very young

Hornsbury Mill

What I specially like about Hornsbury Mill is how easy it is to find compared to the other Inns we frequented on our recent holiday.  On the A358 from Chard to Donyatt take the turn to the left and voila there it is.  We didn’t even overshoot it.  It was a beautiful day and we happily drifted round the grounds admiring the wild-life (birds in the nest do not always agree especially if one of them is a peacock), the landscaped gardens, lake and fountain.

It was Monday lunch-time - not the best time to find lunch in a country restaurant but we got a a delighted response when we enquired and after a quiet drink were ushered into a pleasant restaurant where we could gaze at the magnificent wheel - 18’ in diameter- 6’ wide and weighs 4 tons.  It has a 15’ main axle and 48 buckets each holding 20 gallons.  1500 gallons of water can flow over the wheel every minute.

In the garden the long man-made leat brings water to power the wheel.  It is diverted from the river, three quarters of a mile upstream.  From the hotel it continues its journey by rejoining the River Isle.  Obviously it is an excellent venue for Weddings and Occasions but all we wanted was a good lunch so that a healthy snack would suffice back at the barn in the evening.

Jackie gave me a pretty notebook with matching pen which I used on holiday to record things such as what we had for lunch.  Just now it is hiding somewhere but MTL vaguely remembers I had an expensive fish - as one does - and he had steak and kidney pudding.  I do remember that both that and the dessert were scrumptious and I suggested we could possibly come again on an anniversary and stay the night.  A definite maybeJ

After lunch we returned to Cricket St Thomas and I went on the little puffer train through the gardens.  Did I tell you the guard said it was planned to stop the train after this year but a troop of young girls were so angry that it should be stopped they were going to make a lot of noise on You tube.  Power to their arm!

Photos below.

Hornsbury Mill

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Losses and Gains

I lost my brand new hold-all and combed the house for days.  I even phoned shops I remembered visiting in the last few days.  Then I decided as it was so inexpensive I would try to get another of the same shade.  I was passing the shop on Monday when visiting the doctor.  Luck was on my side; the shop was closed on Mondays (I later found the bag) and I got reassuring comments from the doctor.

More good news – the arbour is recovering and slowly getting back to its former glory.  Look at the photographs and see if you can see where that pesky bag was hiding.  I must have been in that room a dozen times.  Only when I was not looking did I see it.  There must be a moral in there somewhere.

Photos below.

Losses and Gains

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

The One fine Day

That was yesterday so I suggested we made the most of it and have lunch on Exmoor.  MTL’s enthusiasm waxed when we discovered I had been given a voucher for two free glasses of wine at the re-vamped Culbone Inn from our one remaining, stylish dress shop.  I was in there the other day and bought a navy straw shopping bag which I intended to use as a hand-bag –as we did when modelling in the fifties.  Fortunately it was only £10 because it has since disappeared – to my chagrin.

Exmoor was looking beautiful and the Inn has the most lovely view falling away from it.  Inside was freshly decorated, comfortable and welcoming.  The food compares well with the better eating places locally and there was a wide ranging menu to choose from.  I had a most unusual spicy bream – delicious and no carbs so far as I could see.  MTL had what I can only describe as posh fish and chips – (thrice cooked) with mushy peas and tartare sauce.  He loved it.

I only drink at the week-end now but the wine was so good I had two small glasses and of course a dessert –well worth the guilt trip. I’m a little unsure about abandoning plates.  As you can see the bream was served on a wooden platter – and it does look quite messy and the lemon tart on slate.  Needless to say I wiped the slate clean.

They have all sort of interesting offers on and with a bedroom overlooking that view we may well have one of our many anniversaries there.

The One Fine Day

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Thursday, June 07, 2012

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Forde Abbey and Gardens

One of the greatest Gardens in the West Country

Alan Titchmarsh.

 Wandering round the 30 acres in perfect weather was the highlight of our holiday.  The Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks over 800 year ago and was one of the richest and most learned monasteries in the country.  After the dissolution it was empty for 100 years and then was transformed into a magnificent house which has been maintained by the Roper family.

 The Great Pond - which was originally the head pond for a watermill, feeds a series of cascades down the hill to the three smaller ponds.  On the edge of the Great Pond is the Beech House made in the1930’s to provide a bird watching hide.

In the second largest pond the Mermaid pond, the family installed the Centenary Fountain in 2005 (160’) to commemorate a 100 years of their ownership.

The original Victorian kitchen garden is now used as a nursery to provide plants for sale to visitors.

 After lunch I left MTL soaking up the sun and did a lightening tour of the house, which wasn’t easy as the guides are eager to impart information.  I was itching to get out into the heavenly gardens and photos were not allowed in the house.  I enjoyed all the rooms and remember particularly a portrait of a strange looking woman who had just ‘left the asylum.’  And there was a most beautiful plant- lined corridor with sunlight streaming in where I was sorely tempted to break the rules.

.I despaired of ever getting these photos posted: it wouldn’t post with labels or without and after about the fifth time of trying I gave up and then saw posting was taking place.

The fourth photo down is Blacksmith Hill with the statue of the Blacksmith.  He is supposedly throwing a stone towards Winsham, the local village further up the hill.

The fifth photo down is the tear- drop- shaped Mermaid pond.  It once was the home of a mini replica of the Mermaid that sits at the entrance to Copenhagen harbour.  However ‘she did not sit well in the pond’ so Mrs Roper replaced her with ’Leda and the Swan’ by Enzo Platzotta.
I think Alan Titchmarsh got it right

Forde aAbbey and Gardens

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