Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Catching up

Jackie's Quilt.
Coffee with the girls today.  W tried to imagine what it must be like if we were on the 14th floor in New York with no power - so no lift, no phone, no TV, no fridge, no cooker.  Our thoughts are with the New Yorkers and our prayers.

Fifty odd years ago, when Jackie's daughter was moving into her first bed she wanted a quilt and the shot is of half ( now divided into two halves)of the quilt Jackie and her MIL crocheted for her.  The little girl chose the colours herself.  Jackie now has them as two very useful throws.

Joy was remembering when she and her late husband and two children lived in Rangoon in the early sixties where her husband was a river pilot and guided boats down the Rangoon river to the ocean.  One Japanese captain used to dole out apples and wanted to know why Mike didn't eat his.  Mike said he was taking it home for his children as they were unavailable.  The next time he saw the captain there was a large bag of apples for the family and Joy still keeps a doll - a present from the captain.
We had coffee and shortbread - fortunately before one of the cats lovingly licked the shortbread left on the coffee table.

It's MTL's birthday on Sunday and three times today I have raced downstairs to answer the door bell - three presents for himself - all delivered by three different posties. My present has yet to be delivered.  I must say Amazon could teach some of the other firms about delivery.
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Monday, October 29, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Visitor

The Visitor

It is quite a few months since I had the exciting phone call from Daniel Bunyard to tell me I was runner up in the Saga life story competition - out of 5,000 entries.  The winner was to be published by Penguin and the two runners up each got £100.
Daniel said he would like to have a chat about my story and maybe I could meet him up in London.

It is a while since I have travelled to the metropolis; the nearest mainline station is 30 miles away and the bus is a bit of a bone shaker.  One way and another it was not going to be easy.  We decided to leave it until after the Olympics.  Meanwhile Daniel was very busy getting Tom Daley’s book out.  For the whole of the summer I had done nothing book-wise beyond correcting a few typos.

I got in touch with Daniel again and to my delight and amazement he said he could probably come to Minehead and wasn’t at all fazed by the prospect of a bus ride from Taunton to Minehead, although when I questioned him later he admitted he had been reading and had begun to feel a little queasy prompting an homily from Pat.

Meanwhile he asked me to send the latest copy of my ms and he would have it printed out.  I swear I heard a weather forecast which promised an Indian summer on Monday and Tuesday - but both turned out to be grey, gloomy and damp.  Sorry Daniel.

Promptly at 12.30 the doorbell rang and with a deep breath I raced round the front of the house to avoid bringing him through garage, back porch and kitchen.  I gasped when I caught sight of him – he looked fresh out of UNI but actually is in his early thirties.  In spite of the weather he was very taken with the area and our house.

After introductions and expressing our grateful thank for his epic journey, he and I repaired to the family room for a coffee (he wasn’t drinking so neither did) and a chat.  Then we joined MTL in the kitchen for lunch (he loved my coddled eggs) and more chat.  Then back to the family room for coffee and a chat.  Eventually Daniel thought he would wander off and get the bus and I was shocked to see it was almost 3.30pm.

More as a joke than anything I asked if he would like a cream tea (our French son had suggested we give him the West Country experience) so back to the kitchen and more chat.  Daniel said he would be in the gym tomorrow – he does cycle about10 miles into work each day and looks extremely fit.

I was really touched that he had gone to so much trouble and that I had had the benefit of his knowledge and experience for the best part of three hours.  I had realised that my ms wasn’t as focussed as it needs to be and I was at somewhat of an impasse.  Things are clearer now – I have a plan and it’s up to me to see if I can pull it off.  Whether I manage it or not I know Daniel will help me in another direction.

He sweetly allowed me to take a photograph of him but my battery was flat.  He wrote in the Visitor’s book:
It has been so lovely to meet you and thank you for making me so welcome and for being so open about discussing your wonderful memoir.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Busy busy!

I really am busy for the next two days. Back on Wednesday.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Back Porch - Almost Finished.

Not a spider in sight.  They'll be back

Doors to a loo and garage

Door to Garage which is really the utility room full of white goods

Door to sheds.  Enter at your peril.

Door to Kitchen and windows of old sculleries combined to make a shower room but presently
housing MTL's stuff.
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The Detritus

Better out than in!

I tried to lift this - it weighs a ton!
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Quiet woman

After my recent small success (runner up out of 5000 entrants in Sage life story comp) I was touched to receive warm congratulations from a number of old members of a couple of writing groups – now defunct – I used to belong to.

 One of them – Doris Sloley had had her poetry book published and was going to be reading from it at our library on National Poetry Day.  I decided to go and support her and buy her book which she obligingly signed.

 Doris always emanated a warm tranquillity – quite rare in writer’s circles –and to me she personifies Somerset and Exmoor.  She was born between Wheddon Cross and Timberscombe and moved to a farm at the age of four.  She composed her first poem aged nine lying in bed at night.  Although she never wrote it down she can still remember it.  At thirteen, encouraged by her teacher, she wrote four poems which appeared in the school magazine.

 Then she had a fallow period when she was aware her poetry didn’t come up to Keats or Tennyson and writing poetry was considered very eccentric.  You didn’t tell anyone you wrote poetry.

 She had an idyllic childhood on the farm with her beloved sheep and all the sights, sounds and smells of Exmoor.  When she was about 39 her father retired from farming. This was a traumatic time for Doris; she took a job in an office but after three years the stress of life in the fast lane got to me and I had a nervous breakdown.

 Jenny Glanfield who encouraged and helped Doris put the book together says:
 unlike so much contemporary  poetry you don’t need a key to get into  Doris’s poems; there is no intellectual barrier  shutting out the reader.  On the contrary her poems are ‘hooky’- hooking you in and making you want to read on.
Dipping into Bluebells, Rainbows and Sheep over the last week I have found this to be true.  In Doris’s words it is accessible.  It is beautifully illustrated with Doris’s old photos underlying the verse as if one is looking through the mist of the years

I asked Doris which was her favourite poem and she said that was like asking a mother which was her favourite child. .
Heartbreak, joy, sadness and humour are present in this book.  What more is there?

Return to Exmoor

by Doris Sloley

Pick me a bluebell, next time you go there.

Walk through the wood and on over the stream,

Up the green slope with grasshoppers singing,

Just where I, oftentimes go in my dreams.

I can go back, myself, if I want but

If I return to the place that I knew,

All of my memories will crowd in and then

I shall be sad- but it’s different for you.

You haven’t known the fun of haymaking,

Watched tadpoles wriggle and dart in the pond,

Helped to ‘head out’ a corn rick by moon light,

Rode through the fields to the moorland beyond,

Run to a meadow where lambs were playing,

Skipping and racing in boundless delight,

Climbed up the hill where we would go sledging

In winter when all was coated in white.


Is there a tree, still, in the old orchard?

Can you find lanes where wild strawberries grow?

Are there blackberries, now in the cow field?

Do you hear calls of a distant curlew?


I want to keep all these memories of mine

Locked up in my heart, unaltered by time.

Doris now lives in the pretty village of Monksilver – so near and yet so far.  On a lighter note;

Compliment – or Not

It was all a long, long time ago

And I’ve no regrets, not now.

But did you have to give my name to

Your pedigree Friesian cow?

This is a book I shall be keeping close to hand.  Available from Amazon £9.99

A Quiet Woman

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Friday, October 12, 2012

Krewel Weather

I found these in the attic.  When we sold our cottage in Yorkshire I couldn't bear to get rid of them as Mary my MIL did them. They are the reason I waxed lyrical about the lamp shade in Hawkchurch.  The Lamp, of course is much more delicate.

It has been like this all week.  My new laawn mower is meant to be tried out in the first week. In this weather?
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Thursday, October 11, 2012

The last of the Break

We decide to wander NE and find the Windwhistle Inn at Chard as we had eaten very well there last June.  En route we drove gingerly through a flooded area and as we didn’t stop once we were through, I determined to take a photo on the way back.  Amazingly on our return a couple of hours later, it had virtually dried up.  The Windwhistle Inn didn’t let us down (the same name as the cottage)
We stopped at a rare village shop somewhere north of Hawkchurch and bought a few goodies including some delicious nutty bread.  I had asked for sliced – for the toaster
and felt a bit chastened when the nice man said they never stocked sliced. After tasting the bread we knew what he was talking about.  These shops are worth their weight in gold and long may they continue.

 The area around Chard and Crewkerne was our stamping ground when we were house hunting in the early eighties.
We loved the area, despite – even then – the very busy roads – especially in the holiday season, but the houses, although there were some fantastic gardens, were not to our taste – with no flow to them. 

 Another day we drove to Broadwindsor –but there was nowhere to park and the Inn didn’t grab us.  We briefly drove into a sort of craft fair but that didn’t appeal either.  Off we tootled to Beamster and that looked very inviting but by the time I spotted somewhere to park we had over shot.  I began to despair but MTL remembered we had passed a sign on the right saying Stoke Abbott lunch at the New Inn.
We back tracked – found the turning and embarked on narrow lanes which seemed to go on for ever.  We have done this a number of times only to find that the Inn at the end is now defunct or closed for lunch!  This time we were lucky – a lovely spot, an Inn with a buzz and a super lunch.  The drive back was full of delightful views and glimpses of the coast.  At one point we stopped so I could take a photo of a small hill and noticed – tucked behind the stile a woman sitting on the ground and frantically trying to comfort her dog – a greyhound who was having some sort of crise de nerfs.  I didn’t want to disturb them so took a quick shot and left.  Maybe the sign on the gate had upset him.

All too soon it was time to go home so we cleaned, packed and ate at our local The Old Inn.  Certainly this was one of the cottages we would happily revisit in spite of finding ourselves on a strange road coming home.  Our orienteering skills seem to have gone to pot somewhat.

Photos below.

The last of the Break

The WindwhistleInn Chard.

The New Inn Stoke Abbott

Glimpse of theDorset coast.

The nervous greyhound being comforted.

The sign-post will tell you where we are.
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Where is it?

# 2 son said  this is even better in the flesh but wifi is...not good.  He forgot to say where it was.  My guess is somewhere NW of Vegas.  Do you know better?
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Monday, October 08, 2012

Saturday lunch at Porlock

The Ship Inn

From the Ship Inn look to the left up Porlock Hill

Straight ahead the Bristol Channel and Wales

To the right the village Hall and lovely Selworthy Hill.
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Sunday, October 07, 2012

Bric-a-brac at the Cottage

I loved this lamp at the cottage.  It was crewel work.  Goodness knows how they got it to fit so neatly.

This was the nearest we got to the Cobb

Love these figures

Who can tell me what this is?  MTL guessed a water carrier.
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Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Hell it is.

Monument Valley -the furthest east on # 2son's US trip.  The petrol crisis in California makes the prices almost British.
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Friday, October 05, 2012

The Gripes of Wrath

The Gripes of Wrath

Saturday was promised to be fair and so it was.  I fancied a trip to Lyme Regis to revisit the Cobb where Meryl Streep, in billowing cloak, agonised in The French Lieutenant’s Woman.  We left our narrow lanes for the hectically busy A35.  Sadly we missed the unobtrusive turning to Lyme Ragis.  The road became quite hazardous; double white lines in the centre and speed restrictions of 30mph and 20mph which – being us - we slavishly followed. 

Thence began a nightmare of non stop blaring horns and bully boy tactics.  Out instinct was to get off the road as soon as, but we were trapped.  I have to confess I did feel a little wrathful myself, but commonsense prevailed and at the first opportunity we drove off the road.  I do have some sympathy with the young bloods who know exactly what they are doing, feel safe to bend the rules and are incensed by the old geezers holding them up.

However I must point out that if this type of driving becomes the norm we oldies may well give up the struggle to be independent and have to rely on others - which will be costly and possibly use up any inheritance you may be expecting.  I exclude our off spring who are kindness itself, and encourage us to be as independent as possible.

Eventually we managed to turn round and find the turning to Lyme Regis.  A friend had told me to follow the signs to the Cobb so we could get down the hills so MTL wouldn’t have to cope with climbing.  No Cobb signs were seen but we followed P signs which took us down into the harbour and then back up the other side so again we were on a hill.  We made the decision that I should ‘run‘ down to the harbour, take some photos and come back.  It was that sort of day and when I went to put money in the machine it wouldn’t work.  Back at the car MTL was parked very close to the next car and was having difficulty getting out.  Not for the first time I wished for super human powers to be able to actually lift the car.

Once MTL was back in the driving seat I asked him to explain why we hadn’t got a ticket and ran down the hill.  Fortuitously I bumped into the ticket inspector and he explained that new £ coins didn’t work.  One of the few times when I was rendered speechless.  It looked such fun down by the sea – hustle and bustle, lots of super eating places and a sparkling sea.  I decided the Cobb must be way further along the coast so settled for the very photogenic place I was in.

Back up the hill we drove on up- through Uplyme and back to our village – bloody but unbowed and discovered the joys of eating at our local - The Old Inn.
Back at the cottage we discovered a lovely painting of the Cobb over the fireplace.  So that will have to do.

See photos below.

The Gripes of Wrath

Lyme Regis twixt carpark and the sea.
The lovely silver sea.  Now where is the Cobb?

We seek it here.

We seek it there.

We seek it every bloomin' where.  Do look at the small redhead.

MTL liked the look of the motor.  Alas back to the car park.
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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

My bit of sky tonight

The view from my office window.  Had a 'flu jab today and felt a bit precious.  Don't forget it if it is relevant for you.
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